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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Absalom

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("father of peace".) Third son of David, by Maachah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur, a Syrian region N.E. of Palestine, near lake Merom. Polygamy bore its fatal fruits in engendering jealousies among the families by different wives, each with a separate, establishment (2 Samuel 13:8; 2 Samuel 14:24), and in fostering David's own lust, which broke forth in the sad adultery with Bathsheba. Absalom, the fruit of David's polygamy, was made the divine instrument of David's punishment. Amnon, the half brother, violated Tamar, Absalom's whole sister. David, though very wroth, would not punish Amnon, because he was his firstborn by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess. As Simeon and Levi avenged on Hamor their sister Dinah's violation, so Absalom after two years' dark, silent hatred, took vengeance on Amnon at a sheepshearing feast at Baal Hazor to which he invited all the king's sons (2 Samuel 13). Then he fled to his father-in-law at Geshur for three years.

Joab perceiving how the king took to heart Absalom's exile suborned a woman of Tekoa, by an imaginary case, to extort from the king (whose justice would not allow his love for Absalom to let him escape some penalty for Amnon's murder) the admission of the general principle that, in special cases where the life taken could not be recalled, means for restoring the loved and living banished one should be devised; just as God, considering the brevity of man's life, weak and irrecoverable when gone, "as water spilt on the ground, does not take a (sinner's) soul away" (so the Hebrew text of 2 Samuel 14:14 for "neither doth God respect any person"), but deviseth means that His banished be not (for ever) expelled from Him." David yielded, but would not see Absalom, though living at Jerusalem, for two more years. Impatient of delay in his ambitious schemes, he sent for Joab, and, not being heeded, he burnt Joab's grain (as Samson did to the Philistines, Judges 15:4), which drove Joab to intercede with David for Absalom's admission to his presence. possibly he feared the succession of Bathsheba's son to the throne, to which he had the title, being alone of royal descent by his mother's side, also the oldest surviving son (Amnon being slain, and Chileab or Daniel dead, as his name does not occur after 2 Samuel 3:3).

Nathan's mission from Jehovah to David, announcing that the Lord loved the child, and that his name therefore was to be Jedidiah, "beloved of the Lord," implied Jehovah's choice of Solomon as successor to David (2 Samuel 12:24-25). This excited Absalom's fears. At all events, directly after receiving the king's kiss of reconciliation, he began popularity hunting, to the disparagement of his father, whose moral hold on the people had been weakened by his sin with Bathsheba, and who probably as years advanced attended personally to judicial ministrations less than is the usual policy of oriental kings. Absalom intercepted suitors, lamenting that there was no judge appointed to help them to their rights such as he would be. His beauty too, as in Saul's case (1 Samuel 9:2), and his princely retinue, attracted many (2 Samuel 14:25-26, where probably some error of number has crept in: though doubtless 200 shekels after the king's weight is much less weight of hair than ordinary shekels would be; 2 Samuel 15:1-6).

Judah, from jealousy of Israel, with whom they had been merged by David, seems to have been too ready to be seduced from loyalty. Accordingly, Absalom chose Hebron, Judah's old capital, as the head quarters of the revolt. He repaired thither after four (so we ought to read instead of "forty," 2 Samuel 15:7) years, under the hypocritical pretense of a vow like that of pious Jacob (compare 2 Samuel 15:8 with Genesis 28:20-21); David alludes to the hypocrisy of the rebels in Psalms 4:5. Amasa, son of Abigail, David's sister, and Jether, an Ishmaelite, owing to David's neglect of him, and preference of his other sister Zeruiah's sons (probably because of his Ishmaelite fatherhood), was tempted to join the rebellion, and Ahithophel of Giloh also, because of his granddaughter Bathsheba's wrong (2 Samuel 11:8; 2 Samuel 23:34). Both were of Judah; Amasa became Absalom's general, Ahithophel his counselor. This David felt most keenly (Psalms 69:12; Psalms 55:12-14; Psalms 55:20; Psalms 41:9).

By Ahithophel's abominable counsel, Absalom lay with his father's concubines, at once committing his party to an irreconcilable war, and him to the claim to the throne (according to oriental ideas: so Adonijah, 1 Kings 2:13, etc.), and fulfilling God's threatened retribution of David's adultery in kind (2 Samuel 12:11-12). Hushai, David's friend, defeated treachery by treachery. Ahithophel, like his anti-type Judas, baffled, went and hanged himself. Absalom, though well pleased at the counsel of "smiting the king only" and at once, was easily drawn aside by fear of his father's bravery, and by indecision and vanity; all which Hushai acted on in his counsel to summon all Israel, and that Absalom should command in person. He waited to have himself anointed king first (2 Samuel 19:10). He lost the opportunity of attacking his father that night, while weak handed. The battle in Gilead in the wood of Ephraim (called from Ephraim's defeat, Judges 12:4) resulted in the defeat of his cumbrous undisciplined host.

His locks, on which he prided himself (Judges 14:25-26), were the means of his destruction, for they kept him suspended from a terebinth tree until Joab pierced him; and David, whom the unnatural son would have gladly smitten, but who charged Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, his three generals, to spare the youth for his sake, mourned pathetically for his death: "O Absalom, my son, would God I had died for thee; my son, my son!" His grave was a pit, over which the insulting conquerors heaped stones, as over Achan and the king of Ai (Joshua 7:26; Joshua 8:29). After losing his three sons (2 Samuel 14:27; compare Psalms 21:10), he had erected in the king's dale (Genesis 14:17) a pillar to commemorate his name; a sad contrast to this was his dishonored grave. The so-called tomb of Absalom, in the valley of Jehoshaphat outside Jerusalem, betrays its modern origin by Ionic columns; and besides could not have outlasted the various sieges and conquests to which the city has been exposed. David seems to have been a fond but weak father; and Absalom's and Amnon's course showed the evil effects of such indulgence (1 Kings 1:6). Absalom's fair daughter Tamar married Uriel, by whom she had Michaiah or Maachah, wife of Rehoboam and mother of (See ABIJAH.


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Absalom'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/a/absalom.html. 1949.


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Monday, June 26th, 2017
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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