We often associate the Biblical characters with vast amounts of piety and holiness. We think of guys like Moses who parted the Red Sea (or possibly Sea of Reeds). And what about Joshua the brave? He courageously entered the promised land, leading the Israelites into a victorious battle for the land flowing with milk and honey. These are fun people to explore. But this is dedicated to the other fun sub-set of Bible characters; The Jerks!
Absalom was unlike any biblical person you have ever met. For one, he was totally full of himself. Secondly, even the biblical author who wrote 2 Samuel seemed to agree that he was a beautiful thoroughbred of a mammal.
2 Samuel 14:25-26 In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him. 26 Whenever he cut the hair of his head —he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it
And another thing, he was a complete diabolical genius.
Why he is a jerk
1. He plotted the murder of his own brother for two long years.
2. He lead a coup against his own father’s empire.
3. He slept with his father’s wives/concubines.
4. He set an innocent man’s fields on fire.
5. He was completely full of himself.
Absalom Kills Amnon
23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. 24 Absalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?” 25 “No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing. 26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.” The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.
28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave. ” 29 So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled. 30 While they were on their way, the report came to David: “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.” 31 The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn.
32 But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 My lord the king should not be concerned about the report that all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”
34 Meanwhile, Absalom had fled
After escaping Jerusalem for 3 years, waiting for his father (king David) to cool off a bit, he relocated back to Jerusalem and started a family. After some time he wanted to sent word to his father that he wanted to be reunited, but the desired messenger was Joab, the king’s 2nd in command. Joab ignored his requests. He ignored Absalom until Absalom decided to send a personal message to by setting Joab’s barely fields on fire! After having his fields set afire, Joab decided to go see what Absalom wanted. (2 Samuel 14)
Not convinced of his jerkery just yet? Absalom and his father eventually did reunite and Absalom jerk-tastically devised a grass roots program to steal his father’s throne!!
2 Samuel 15:1-4 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. 2 He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” 3 Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” 4 And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”
Absalom’s Finest Feat
Keep reading the story and you will find that the coup was so well put together that David had to flee the land while in hot pursuit. And what did Absalom do while King David was on the run? He did what any jerk-faced spoiled son would do to steal his father’s throne…..he slept with his wives (concubines)!
2 Samuel 16:22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
I don’t know about you, but sleeping with your father’s live-in girl friend(s) might put you in deep trouble, but in biblical times it was a sign of power and you better believe Absalom was sending a message to his pops. Perhaps also setting up the best joke of all time; he could now play the “I slept with your Mom” card on just about every young adult that lived in the palace. Now that is real power!
But like every other story about King David in the Bible, somehow the adulterous murdering king comes out on top. In one of the most EPIC and ironic endings of all Bible stories ever, Absalom ends up getting caught up in a tree by his hair while David’s warriors are chasing him down. Despite David’s command to bring him back alive, the servants decide to take vigilante justice out on him and they slayed him while helplessly hanging by his beautiful long locks. (2 Samuel 18:14)
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9 thoughts on “Jerks Of The Bible Series | Entry #1: Absalom”
I mean, if I was Absalom, I wouldn’t have had the patience to wait 2 years to murder my brother for brutally raping my sister….but that’s just me.
Of course, Amnon was just taking after his dad there, eh? And I guess Absalom too, with the murder and all. At least Absalom had a good reason, though.
That’s quite true. It’s not like he killed a “good guy”. His sister’s life was ruined.
Actually, Absalom didn’t “wait in some unknown part of Jerusalem for his father to cool off”; he fled to his maternal grandfather, the king of Geshur, where he stayed as a refugee for 3 years (2. Sam 13:37; 2. Sam. 3:3). Absalom didn’t send word that he wanted to be reunited, nor did he set his father’s fields on fire – they were fields belonging to Joab, David’s military commander – not the same thing… that’s like saying your fields belong to the governor of your State. He did not sleep with ALL of David’s wives; he slept with 10 of his concubines.
I would suggest you read 2. Samuel 13-17 a bit more thoroughly, with a bit less interpretation. I’m actually surprised that you’ve got a seminary degree and claim to love history and the Old Testament, when you’ve portrayed so many inaccuracies in this post.
It appears that we’re both a bit wrong and a bit right. Absalom did indeed run to Geshur but I skipped over that. After he returns from Geshur, he hangs out at his own house in an unnamed location and raises a family. While at that location (it appears 2 years) he Burns down Joab’s field (not his father’s, as you correctly pointed out).
The concubines are indeed 10 in number since those were all the wives that were currently at the palace… Which is pointed out in 2 Samuel 20, four chapters later, which I forget existed when crudely typing this poorly made post.
It’s certainly a good thing to make some corrections to this post since accuracy is important. However, it was written in 2012 before I finished seminary, and was clearly a sarcastic piece that I assumed 5 people would ever read, which is why it’s a hack-n-slash version of the story. It’s not an exegetical paper.
Nevertheless, I will be following up with edits for clarity and corrections, and your observations will be used in the corrections for this post. I do appreciate your observations but keep in mind that once upon a time this was merely a poorly managed blog by a young seminary student who had extra time between classes and started jotting down thoughts in a blog. The early works on this site (c. 2011/2012) are poorly written, poorly proofed, highly sarcastic, hyperbolic, and over all non-professional in nature.
I understand; it would be good to update it with more accuracy and references. I study the Bible, but many people don’t study and also, sadly, don’t show discernment. Some might go off with a half-baked idea and spread it further – I see that all the time on blogs, unfortunately – that’s why I commented. More power to you as you continue to write and improve!
Thanks! It’s probably time to review and update many other early posts that are done so poorly. Sometimes comments pop up on old posts and I forget I even wrote it ??
Great read. I recently studied the story of King David and Bathsheba, with a focus on Bathsheba’s point of view…David was quite the jerk to her! Despite his asking God for forgiveness for 7 days, it seems he really reaped for a lifetime what he sowed in that period of his life…death of his baby with Bathsheba, trouble with his sons… David had a difficult family life because of his poor choices earlier on!
You got that right Sarah!