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The Death of Absalom by Gustave Dore

Absalom or Avshalom "Father/Leader of/is peace" or "Salem is my Father" was the third son of David, king of Israel with Maachah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur. 1 Chronicles 3:2 NIV

2 Samuel 14:25 NIV describes him as the most handsome man in the kingdom. Absalom eventually rebelled against his father and was killed during the Battle of Ephraim Wood.

Murder of Amnon[]

Convito di Ansalonne

The Banquet of Absalom attributed to Bernardo Cavallino

After his sister Tamar is raped by David's eldest son, Amnon, Absalom, after waiting two years, avenged her by sending his servants to murder Amnon at a feast to which he had invited all the king's sons. 2 Samuel 13 NIV

After this deed he fled to Talmai, "king" of Geshur his maternal grandfather, and it was not until three years later that he was fully reinstated in his father's favor. 2 Samuel 13:37 NIV see also Joshua 12:5 NIV or Joshua 13:2 NIV 2 Samuel 13:38-39 NIV (see Joab)

The revolt at Hebron[]

Four years after this he raised a revolt at Hebron, the former capital. Absalom was now the eldest surviving son of David, and the present position of the narratives (15-20)--after the birth of Solomon and before the struggle between Solomon and Adonijah---may represent the view that the suspicion that he was not the destined heir of his father's throne excited the impulsive youth to rebellion.


Valley of Jehoshaphat and Hinnom Jerusalem. Stairway in Absalom's Pillar; Another view inside Absalom's Pillar

All Israel and Judah flocked to his side, and David, attended only by the Cherethites and Pelethites and some recent recruits from Gath, found it expedient to flee. The priests remained behind in Jerusalem, and their sons Jonathan and Ahimaaz served as his spies. Absalom reached the capital and took counsel with the renowned Ahithophel (sometimes Achitophel).

The pursuit was continued and David took refuge beyond the Jordan River. However, David took the precaution of instructing a servant, Hushai, to infiltrate Absalom's court and subvert it. To that end, Hushai convinced the prince to ignore Ahithophel's advice to attack his father while he was on the run and instead to better prepare his forces for a major attack. This gave David critical time to prepare his own troops for the coming battle.

The battle of Ephraim Wood[]

Yerushalayim Tomb of Absalom 1860s

Photo of Absalom's Tomb in Kidron Valley - 1860s

A fateful battle was fought in the Wood of Ephraim (the name suggests a locality west of the Jordan) and Absalom's army was completely routed. Absalom himself was caught by his head in the boughs of an oak-tree. David had charged his men to deal gently with Absalom but Joab, David's commander, killed Absalom by thrusting three spears through his heart as he struggled in the branches followed by his ten armor-bearers who came around and slew him.

Memorial to Absalom[]

Despite Absalom's revolt, David was overwhelmed with grief for his son's death and ordered a great heap of stones to be erected where he fell.

Another monument near Jerusalem (not the modern "Absalom Tomb" - "Yad Avshalom" which is of later origin) was erected by Absalom in his lifetime to perpetuate his name 2 Samuel 18:18 NIV:

"Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a monument, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's monument."

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