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Wednesday, May 7 2014

2 Samuel 18: The Fall Of The Rebel Prince

"The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is"

Absalom's revolution against his father King David began with a popular-politics uprising (see 2 Samuel 15: The Treason Of Absalom and 2 Samuel 16: Sticks and Stones) and ended with a single battle.

Absalom was lured away from the relative safety of the palace, while David's restored army kept him out of the battle - this time. Apart from not risking the life of the true king, David's army commander, Joab, had another reason, a personal one, for keeping David away - after many betrayals of his own from Absalom (see 2 Samuel 14: The Flames Of Absalom), Joab was going eliminate the rebel once and for all. As we will read, David wanted Absalom captured alive, while Joab just wanted the incorrigible criminal (murder, arson, treason) Absalom dead.

"18:1 And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them. 18:2 And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.

18:3 But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city.

18:4 And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do.

And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands. 18:5 And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom." (2 Samuel 18:1-5 KJV)

The battle against the liberal rebels was a rout from the start. Absalom's forces were "scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured." Absalom himself immediately fled from the battle.

Absalom had started the rebellion for his own vanity; his vanity also cost him his life - the "pretty boy" got his flamboyant hair ("14:26 And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year's end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight." 2 Samuel 14:26 KJV) caught in a tree, from which he was left hanging. At that point, Absalom could have been taken alive, but Joab "took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak." Then, "ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him."

The Death of Absalom

"18:6 So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim; 18:7 Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men. 18:8 For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

18:9 And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.

18:10 And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak.

18:11 And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle.

18:12 And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom. 18:13 Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me.

18:14 Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. 18:15 And ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him." (2 Samuel 18:6-15 KJV)

Absalom's body was then left in a simple grave in the woods. There would be no royal funeral for the traitor prince (see 2 Samuel 17: The Spirit Of Traitors).

"18:16 And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people. 18:17 And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent.

18:18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, 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 place." (2 Samuel 18:16-18 KJV)

The other reason that Joab had wanted David to remain in the garrison (apart from not needlessly risking the king's life - the whole point of the war was to see which leader would survive) was then made evident. David mourned for his fallen rebel son, with the emotion-based proclamation "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" Nevertheless, David would soon recover his wisdom.

"18:19 Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the LORD hath avenged him of his enemies.

18:20 And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the king's son is dead.

18:21 Then said Joab to Cushi, Go tell the king what thou hast seen. And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran.

18:22 Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi.

And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready?

18:23 But howsoever, said he, let me run.

And he said unto him, Run.

Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi.

18:24 And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone. 18:25 And the watchman cried, and told the king.

And the king said, If he be alone, there is tidings in his mouth. And he came apace, and drew near.

18:26 And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, Behold another man running alone.

And the king said, He also bringeth tidings. 18:27 And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.

And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings.

18:28 And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the LORD thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.

18:29 And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe?

And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.

18:30 And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still.

18:31 And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the LORD hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.

18:32 And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe?

And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.

18:33 And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (2 Samuel 18:19-33 KJV)

Fact Finder: If Absalom's vanity revolution had succeeded, what sort of country would Israel have become?
See When Freedom Crosses The Line

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This Day In History, May 7

351: The Jewish revolt against Constantius Gallus erupted (see also A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad and A History Of Jerusalem: Hadrian and Simon bar Kokhba).

558: In Constantinople (named after Roman Emperor Constantine, the inventor of the Church of Rome; see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy), the dome of the Hagia Sophia (a Roman patriarchal basilica, later a Muslim mosque, now a museum) collapsed.

973: German King Otto the Great died at age 61.

1274: The Second Council of Lyons convened under Gregory X, attended by approximately 500 Church of Rome bishops. It accomplished a temporary reunion of the separated Eastern Orthodox churches with the Roman Catholic Church.

The Lusitania 1664: King Louis XIV of France formally instituted the Palace of Versailles.

1697: Stockholm's medieval royal castle was destroyed by fire.

1487: The Siege of Malaga began during the Spanish Reconquista.

1718: The city of New Orleans was founded by French colonial governor Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville (who was born in Montreal, Quebec). Louisiana was named in honor of King Louis XIV of France by French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle.

1727: Jews were expelled from the Ukraine by Empress Catherine I of Russia.

1763: Pontiac's Rebellion began. Chief Pontiac attacked the British at Fort Detroit.

1794: During the French Revolution, Robespierre proclaimed "the Cult of the Supreme Being" in the National Convention as the new state religion of the French First Republic.

1840: The Great Natchez Tornado struck Natchez, Mississippi. 317 people were killed. It is the second-deadliest tornado in U.S. history.

1915: During the First World War, the British liner Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine. More than 1,100 passengers and crew perished.

1934: The world's largest pearl was found at Palawan, Philippines. It weighed over 14 pounds / 6.4 kilograms.

1940: Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Britain.

1941: Joseph Stalin became Premier of Russia.

1942: During the Battle of the Coral Sea, U.S. and Japanese naval forces attacked each other with carrier-based warplanes. It was the first battle in the history of naval warfare where two enemy fleets fought without actually having each other in sight. When it was over, the Japanese had lost 1 carrier and had another damaged; the U.S. lost 1 carrier (the Lexington) and had another damaged.

1945: Germany signed an unconditional surrender to end the Second World War in Europe. "V-E Day."

1948: The Council of Europe was founded during the Hague Congress.

1954: Vietnamese forces took Dien Bien Phu from the French; some historians mark this event as the defeat of the French by the Vietnamese. When the French left (the divided Vietnam of "North" and "South" that the French themselves created, thereby triggering the Vietnam civil war), the U.S. involved itself in the same civil war until the 1970s - when the U.S. left and Vietnam was re-united as the single country that it had been before French and U.S. involvement.

1960: Leonid Brezhnev became President of the Soviet Union.

1986: Canadian Patrick Morrow became the first person to climb each of the Seven Summits - the highest mountains of each of the seven continents (Mount Everest in Asia, Kosciuszko in Australia, Elbrus in Europe, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Aconcagua in South America, McKinley in North America and Vinson Massif in Antarctica).

1998: German auto manufacturer Mercedes-Benz purchased the U.S. auto manufacturer Chrysler.

1999: Pope John Paul II traveled to Romania, becoming the first pope to visit a predominately Eastern Orthodox country since the "Great Schism" in 1054.

2000: Vladimir Putin was inaugurated as President of Russia.

2007: Israeli archaeologists discovered the tomb of Herod the Great in Jerusalem (see also Israel In History and Prophecy: Herod).


Copyright © Wayne Blank