(father of peace), third son of David by Maachah, daughter of Tamai king of Geshur, a Syrian district adjoining the northeast frontier of the Holy Land. Absalom had a sister, Tamar, who was violated by her half-brother Amnon. The natural avenger of such an outrage would be Tamar’s full brother Absalom. He brooded over the wrong for two years and then invited all the princes to a sheep-shearing feast at his estate in Baal-hazor, on the borders of Ephraim and Benjamin. Here he ordered his servants to murder Amnon and then fled for safety to his grandfather’s court at Geshur, where he remained for three years. At the end of that time he was brought back by an artifice of Joab. David, however, would not see Absalom for two more years, but at length Joab brought about a reconciliation. Absalom now began at once to prepare for rebellion. He tried to supplant his father by courting popularity, standing in the gate, conversing with every suitor and lamenting the difficulty which he would find in getting a hearing. He also maintained a splendid retinue (2 Samuel 15:1) and was admired for his personal beauty. It is probable too that the great tribe of Judah had taken some offence at David’s government. Absalom raised the standard of revolt at Hebron, the old capital of Judah, now supplanted by Jerusalem. The revolt was at first completely successful: David fled from his capital over the Jordan to Mahanaim in Gilead, and Absalom occupied Jerusalem. At last, after being solemnly anointed king at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 19:10), Absalom crossed the Jordan to attack his father, who by this time had rallied round him a considerable force. A decisive battle was fought in Gilead in the wood of Ephraim. Here Absalom’s forces were totally defeated, and as he himself was escaping his long hair was entangled in the branches of a terebinth, where he was left hanging while the mule on which he was riding ran away from under him. He was dispatched by Joab in spite of the prohibition of David, who, loving him to the last, had desired that his life might be spared. He was buried in a great pit in the forest, and the conquerors threw stones over his grave, an old proof of bitter hostility (Joshua 7:26).
Smith's Bible Names Dictionary (1866).