This article is about the biblical figure. For other uses, see Absalom (disambiguation).
The death of Absalom, hanging from a tree by his hair (14th-century German miniature).

Absalom or Avshalom (Hebrew: אַבְשָלוֹם, Modern Avshalom, Tiberian ʼAḇšālôm; "Father of peace") according to the Hebrew Bible was the third son of David, King of Israel with Maachah, daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur.[1]

2 Samuel 14:25 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.[2]


Absalom, David's third son, by Maacah, was born in Hebron,[3] and moved at an early age along with the transfer of the capital to Jerusalem, where he spent most of his life. He was a great favorite of his father and of the people. His charming manners, personal beauty, and insinuating ways, together with his love of pomp and royal pretensions, captivated the hearts of the people from the beginning. He lived in great style, drove in a magnificent chariot and had fifty men run before him.

Little is known of Absalom's family life, but it is said[4] that he had three sons and one daughter, whose name was also Tamar. From the language of 2 Samuel 18:18, it is inferred that his sons died at an early age.[5][6]

2 Chronicles 11:20, says Absalom has another daughter, named Maacah, who later becomes the favorite wife of Rehoboam.[7]

Murder of Amnon

The Banquet of Absalom attributed to Niccolò de Simone around 1650

After his full sister Tamar was raped by Amnon, their half-brother and David's eldest son, Absalom waited two years and avenged her by sending his servants to murder Amnon at a feast after he was drunk, to which Absalom had invited all the king's sons (2 Samuel 13).

After this deed he fled to Talmai, the king of Geshur;[8] see also Joshua 12:5 or 13:2), his maternal grandfather, and it was not until three years later that he was fully reinstated in his father's favour and finally returned to Jerusalem[9] (see Joab).

The revolt at Hebron

Two views of the burial chamber inside the so-called Tomb of Absalom in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, Jerusalem, which has no connection to biblical Absalom.

While at Jerusalem, Absalom built support for himself by speaking to those who came to King David for justice, saying, “See, your claims are good and right; but there is no one deputed by the king to hear you," perhaps reflecting flaws in the judicial system of the United Monarchy. “If only I were the judge of the land! Then all who had a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give them justice.” He made gestures of humility by kissing those who bowed before him instead of accepting supplication. He "stole the hearts of the people of Israel."[10]

After four years he declared himself king, raised a revolt at Hebron, the former capital, and slept with his father's concubines.[11] All Israel and Judah flocked to him, and David, attended only by the Cherethites and Pelethites and his former bodyguard, which had followed him from Gath, found it expedient to flee. The priests Zadok and Abiathar remained in Jerusalem, and their sons Jonathan and Ahimaaz served as David's spies. Absalom reached the capital and consulted with the renowned Ahithophel (sometimes spelled Achitophel).

David took refuge from Absalom's forces beyond the Jordan River. However, he took the precaution of instructing a servant, Hushai, to infiltrate Absalom's court and subvert it. Hushai convinced Absalom to ignore Ahithophel's advice to attack his father while he was on the run, and instead to 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's Wood

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.[12] Absalom's head was caught in the boughs of an oak tree as the mule he was riding ran beneath it. He was discovered there still alive by one of David's men, who reported this to Joab, the king’s commander. Joab, accustomed to avenging himself, took this opportunity to even the score with Absalom.[13] Absalom once had Joab's field set on fire[14] and then made Amasa Captain of the Host instead of Joab. Killing Absalom was against David’s command, "Beware that none touch the young man Absalom." Joab killed Absalom with three darts through the heart. When David heard that Absalom was killed although not how he was killed, he greatly sorrowed. "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"

Memorial to Absalom

Absalom erected a monument near Jerusalem to perpetuate his name:[15]

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.

This is not the monument known as the Pillar or Tomb of Absalom, which is dated to the first century AD.

Absalom in art




Video games

As a name

"Avshalom" (אבשלום), the original Hebrew form, is commonly used as a male first name in contemporary Israel. Other variants, used either as a first name or a surname, include "Absalom", "Absolon", "Avessalom", "Avesalom", "Absalon", and "Absolom".


  1. 1 Chronicles 3:2, 2 Samuel 3:3.
  2. 2 Samuel 14:25
  3. 2 Samuel 3:3
  4. 2 Samuel 14:27
  5. "www.Bibler.org - Dictionary - Tamar". 2012-10-21.
  6. "www.Bibler.org - Dictionary - Absalom". 2012-10-21.
  7. "2 Chronicles 11:20 cev : Then Rehoboam married Maacah the daughter of Absalom; 2 Chronicles 11:21 cev : Rehoboam loved his wife Maacah the most".
  8. 2 Samuel 13:37
  9. 2 Samuel 13-14
  10. 2 Samuel 15
  11. Kirk-Duggan, Cheryl A. (2004). Pregnant Passion. BRILL. p. 59. ISBN 9789004127319. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  12. 2 Samuel 16:18
  13. 2 Samuel 14:30
  14. 2 Samuel 17:25
  15. 2 Samuel 18:18
  16. Rilke, Rainer Maria. "The Fall of Absalom". Neue Gedichte. Trans. Stephen Cohn.
  17. Infernal North (8 April 2008). "Un Alma Oculto". blogspot.com. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  19. "Brand New Shadows" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2011.
  20. Kenny Gradney. ""Gimme a Stone"". BubbleUp. Retrieved 13 November 2016.

External links

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