I think Absalom has something up his sleeve, does he?
“And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.
And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.
Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!
And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.
And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the Lord, in Hebron.
For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the Lord shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord.
And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron.
But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron” (2 Sam 15:1-10).
Absalom took 200 men out of Jerusalem with him and they had no idea what he was doing. Absalom then sent for David’s counselor, Ahithophel, while he was offering sacrifices.
The amount of people that Abasolom managed to trick to fall into his conspiracy continued to grow.
“And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, OLord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.
And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head:
Unto whom David said, If thou passest on with me, then thou shalt be a burden unto me:
But if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; as I have been thy father’s servant hitherto, so will I now also be thy servant: then mayest thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel.
And hast thou not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the priests? therefore it shall be, that what thing soever thou shalt hear out of the king’s house, thou shalt tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests.
Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok’s son, and Jonathan Abiathar’s son; and by them ye shall send unto me every thing that ye can hear.
So Hushai David’s friend came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem” (2 Sam 15:31-37).
“And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine.
And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king’s household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink.
And the king said, And where is thy master’s son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father.
Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king”(2 Sam 16:1-4).
When David came to Bahurim, Shimei came out of Saul’s house cursing and throwing rocks at David and everyone with him.
“And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial:
The Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.
Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.
And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because theLord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?” (2 Sam 16:7-10).
“David then told Abishai and his men that Abasolom was out to kill him, but for them to leave him alone because God had bidden him. And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei continued to curse and throw stones.
And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.
And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save the king, God save the king.
And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend?
And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; but whom the Lord, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide.
And again, whom should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his son? as I have served in thy father’s presence, so will I be in thy presence.
Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do.
And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father’s concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong.
So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom” (2 Sam 16:15-23).
Among the Hittites
Expunging the bloodline of one’s opponent was common practice in ancient monarchies.
The decree of the Hittite King Telipinu describes the political upheaval that often ensued as a throne changed hands.
This document provides a historical account of the succession of Hittite kings from the 17th-14th centuries B.C.
At the outset succession was orderly, and the land prospered. Soon, however, the princes’ servants (often family members) in a lust for power began to conspire against their lords.
A series of palace intrigues ensued, during which a relative of the king would rise up, kill his master and assume control.
He would exterminate all of descendants so that no threat to his rule remained.
Eventually one of his family members, sometimes his own son, would rebel against him, and a new cycle of regicide would begin.
Telipinu was the first Hittite king to attempt to end such bloodshed.
Having exiled the monarch who had tried to eliminate him, Telipinu himself became king, but he treated the family of his predecessor kindly.
He then established rules of succession and proclaimed that future kings were to unite the royal family rather than to splinter it by murderous intent.
Finally, he decreed that anyone conspiring to kill members of the royal family would be executed, even if that individual were a prince himself.
The problem of palace intrigues and dynastic succession had its parallels in Israelite society.
Like Telipinu, the Biblical David demonstrated that he would not condone the murder of his rival’s family.
When a young man claimed to have slain King Saul and two others reported that they had killed Saul’s son, David had them executed for their purported treacherous deeds.
He went on to seek out Saul’s living relatives for the purpose of showing them kindness, to the extent of providing personal care and protection to Saul’s lame grandson, Mephibosheth.
David’s own family, however, was not immune from the pattern of the surrounding cultures.
His son Absalom attempted to usurp the throne and to kill his father in battled When Absalom himself was killed; David grieved so profoundly that the victory celebration was overshadowed by his mourning.