Absalom, Hebrew, «Father of Peace,» was the third son of David and Maacha, the daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur. Absalom did not live up to the Hebrew meaning of his name since he stirred up a rebellion against his father after killing his half brother Amnon, who had raped their sister Tamar. Absalom since became the perennial name for a rebellious child.

After fleeing the royal court and with the army that he raised, Absalom established a military headquarters at Hebron. Knowing this, David left Jerusalem, a stratagem which forced Absalom to enter «the forest of Ephraim» east of the Jordan River. There with his military knowledge and skill David easily defeated his son. Against David’s orders Absalom was killed by David’s general, Joab, an act which caused the king to utter a cry which has become a classic expression of a father’s grief: «Oh my son, Absalom, my son, my son, Absalom! Would I have died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son» (2 Samuel 13-18).

Counseled by the treacherous Achitophel, their named supplied the title of Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel, «In pious times, ere priestcraft did begin, Before polygamy was made a sin…» A.G.H.


Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. 11-12
Schreiber, Mordecai, The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia, Rockville, Maryland, Schreiber Publishing, 2nd. ed., 2001, pp. 14-15