Absalom: Father of peace; i.e., "peaceful" David's son by Maacah
(2 Samuel 3:3) comp.
(1 Kings 1:6) He was noted for his personal beauty and for the
extra-ordinary profusion of the hair of his head
(2 Samuel 14:25,26) The
first public act of his life was the blood-revenge he executed
against Amnon, David's eldest son, who had basely wronged Absalom's
sister Tamar. This revenge was executed at the time of the
festivities connected with a great sheep-shearing at Baal-hazor.
David's other sons fled from the place in horror, and brought the
tidings of the death of Amnon to Jerusalem. Alarmed for the
consequences of the act, Absalom fled to his grandfather at Geshur,
and there abode for three years
(2 Samuel 3:3; 13:23-38) David mourned his
absent son, now branded with the guilt of fratricide. As the result
of a stratagem carried out by a woman of Tekoah, Joab received
David's sanction to invite Absalom back to Jerusalem. He returned
accordingly, but two years elapsed before his father admitted him
into his presence
(2 Samuel 14:28) Absalom was now probably the oldest
surviving son of David, and as he was of royal descent by his mother
as well as by his father, he began to aspire to the throne. His
pretensions were favoured by the people. By many arts he gained their
affection; and after his return from Geshur
(2 Samuel 15:7) (marg., R.V.) he
went up to Hebron, the old capital of Judah, along with a great body
of the people, and there proclaimed himself king. The revolt was so
successful that David found it necessary to quit Jerusalem and flee
to Mahanaim, beyond Jordan; where upon Absalom returned to Jerusalem
and took possession of the throne without opposition. Ahithophel, who
had been David's chief counsellor, deserted him and joined Absalom,
whose chief counsellor he now became. Hushai also joined Absalom, but
only for the purpose of trying to counteract the counsels of
Ahithophel, and so to advantage David's cause. He was so far
successful that by his advice, which was preferred to that of
Ahithophel, Absalom delayed to march an army against his father, who
thus gained time to prepare for the defence. Absalom at length
marched out against his father, whose army, under the command of
Joab, he encountered on the borders of the forest of Ephraim. Twenty
thousand of Absalom's army were slain in that fatal battle, and the
rest fled. Absalom fled on a swift mule; but his long flowing hair,
or more probably his head, was caught in the bough of an oak, and
there he was left suspended till Joab came up and pierced him through
with three darts. His body was then taken down and cast into a pit
dug in the forest, and a heap of stones was raised over his grave.
When the tidings of the result of that battle were brought to David,
as he sat impatiently at the gate of Mahanaim, and he was told that
Absalom had been slain, he gave way to the bitter lamentation: "O my
son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O
Absalom, my son, my son!"
(2 Samuel 18:33) Comp.
(Exodus 32:32; Romans 9:3)
Absalom's three sons
(2 Samuel 14:27) comp.
(2 Samuel 18:18) had all died
before him, so that he left only a daughter, Tamar, who became the
grandmother of Abijah.