Absalom was the third son of David and Maacah, the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur (2 Samuel 3:3). He can be found on the Bible Timeline Chart around 1029 BC. Absalom had a sister named Tamar whose rape by their brother Amnon played a crucial role in Absalom’s rebellion.
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Absalom was one of the sons born to David in Hebron and described as a handsome man who had no rival in Israel when it comes to physical beauty (2 Samuel 14:25). Over the course of time, Absalom had three sons and one daughter also named Tamar. He was known to be a charming man who insinuated his way into the hearts of the people of Israel to gain power (2 Samuel 15:1-6).
The Rape of Absalom’s Sister Tamar and His Escape to Geshur (2 Samuel 13)
The Bible does not gloss over the mistakes and weaknesses of many of its central characters, especially the House of David. It is ironic that the meaning of Absalom’s name was “Father of Peace” when his violent deeds resulted in a struggle for the kingdom with his father David that ultimately led to Absalom’s death. The narrative started in 2 Samuel 13 when Amnon schemed with his cousin Jonadab to bring Tamar, his half-sister, and Absalom’s sister, into his quarters by pretending to be sick and have her cook for him because he lusted after her.
King David unwittingly agreed when Amnon made the request and sent his daughter to Amnon’s quarters to prepare the food. She was then raped and cast out by her half-brother. The news reached her brother Absalom and her father, David. While they both were angry with Amnon, the incident was hushed up. Absalom simmered in his anger for Amnon while David refrained from meting out justice because of his love for his oldest son. Absalom had Amnon murdered afterward. Absalom then fled to his grandfather King Talmai in Geshur for three years.
Reinstatement and Rebellion (2 Samuel 14 and 17)
David longed to see his son Absalom in spite of his crime. Absalom returned to Jerusalem after a successful scheme by Joab involving a woman from Tekoa. She told the story of her two sons who killed each other. After his reinstatement, Absalom conspired to overthrow David and declared himself king over Israel in Hebron. David had to leave Jerusalem after most of the people sided with Absalom. Meanwhile, David sent his adviser Hushai back to serve and spy on his son. To add insult to injury, Absalom also slept with his father’s wives as advised by Ahithophel, David’s former counselor.
Ahithophel also promised Absalom to kill David himself so a civil war could be averted, but Hushai fooled Absalom and counseled against a direct assassination. Hushai suggested that they gather an army and go to an open war with David and his men. The news of the attack reached David, and they were able to escape. He assembled his men to prepare for a battle against his son but instructed his commanders and the soldiers not to harm Absalom.
Death (2 Samuel 18)
During the battle, Absalom got his hair caught in the branches of a tree. He was killed by Joab and was deeply mourned by David when news of his son’s death reached him. Absalom was buried in Ephraim’s Forest where Joab’s men threw his body into a deep pit and put piles of rock over it (2 Samuel 18:17).
Picture By William Brassey Hole – http://www.orientalism-in-art.org/David-fleeing-from-Jerusalem-is-cursed-by-Shimei.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20344164