Absalom, the third son of David, first features in the Bible story when his sister Tamar was raped by Amnon, their older brother by a different mother (2 Sam 3:2-3; 13:1-22). Absalom was determined to have his revenge, no matter how long he had to wait. After two full years he found a suitable opportunity, and had Amnon murdered. He then fled into exile (2 Sam 13:23-27). After three years without a recognized heir to David in Jerusalem, David’s army commander Joab was worried about the stability of David’s dynasty. He therefore worked out a cunning plan to re-establish Absalom in Jerusalem, without the necessity for Absalom to face trial for murder (2 Sam 13:38; 14:1-24).

Although Absalom returned from exile, David refused to receive him into the palace. But after two years Absalom forced his way in (2 Sam 14:28-33). Over the next four years Absalom built up a following for himself among the country people, particularly those from the south (2 Sam 15:1-7). He then launched a surprise attack, seizing the throne and forcing David to flee for his life (2 Sam 15:8-18; 16:20-23). But one of David’s chief advisers stayed behind as a spy in Absalom’s court. By appealing to Absalom’s vanity, he was able to persuade Absalom to ignore the wise words of Absalom’s chief adviser (2 Sam 15:32-37; 17:1-14). As a result Absalom decided to glorify himself in a full-scale battle with David’s army. His troops were no match for David’s hardened soldiers, and he himself was killed (2 Sam 18:1-15)

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