Third son of David, by Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur (2Sa 3:3). His sister Tamar having been wronged by her half-brother Amnon, and David having failed to punish the criminal, Absalom assassinated Amnon and fled to Geshur, where he spent three years (ch. 13). Joab procured his recall, but he was not admitted into his father's presence. In his usual imperious fashion he next compelled Joab to bring about his full restoration (2Sa 14:29 ff.). Then he assumed the position of heir-apparent (2Sa 15:1; cf. 1Sa 8:11; 1Ki 1:5), and began undermining the loyalty of the people. Four (not 'forty') years after his return he set up the standard of rebellion at Hebron, a town which was well-affected towards him because it was his birthplace, and aggrieved against David because it was no longer the metropolis. The old king was taken by surprise, and fled to the east of the Jordan. On entering Jerusalem, Absalom publicly appropriated the royal harem, thus proclaiming the supersession of his father. By the insidious counsel of Hushai time was wasted in collecting a large army. But time was on David's side. His veterans rallied round him; his seasoned captains were by his side. When Absalom offered battle, near Mahanaim, the king's only anxiety was lest his son should be slain. This really happened, through Joab's agency. The father's natural, but unseasonable, lamentation was cut short by the soldier's blunt remonstrance (2Sa 19:5 ff.). On the face of the history it is clear that, if Absalom lacked capacity, he possessed charm. His physical beauty contributed to this: 2Sa 14:25-27 is probably a gloss, but certainly rests on a reliable tradition; the polling of the hair was a religious act. According to 2Sa 18:18, Absalom had no son: this is more reliable than the statement in 2Sa 14:27. It is said that later generations, following Pr 10:7, always avoided the name Absalom, preferring the form Abishalom (which appears in 1Ki 15:2,10).
ABSALOM (in Apocr).