father of peace; i.e., "peaceful" David's son by Maacah (2 Sam. 3:3; comp. 1 Kings 1:6). He was noted for his personal beauty and for the extra-ordinary profusion of the hair of his head (2 Sam. 14:25,26). The first public act of his life was the blood-revenge he executed against Amnon, David's eldest son, who had basely wronged Absalom's sister Tamar. This revenge was executed at the time of the festivities connected with a great sheep-shearing at Baal-hazor. David's other sons fled from the place in horror, and brought the tidings of the death of Amnon to Jerusalem. Alarmed for the consequences of the act, Absalom fled to his grandfather at Geshur, and there abode for three years (2 Sam. 3:3; 13:23-38). David mourned his absent son, now branded with the guilt of fratricide. As the result of a stratagem carried out by a woman of Tekoah, Joab received David's sanction to invite Absalom back to Jerusalem. He returned accordingly, but two years elapsed before his father admitted him into his presence (2 Sam. 14:28). Absalom was now probably the oldest surviving son of David, and as he was of royal descent by his mother as well as by his father, he began to aspire to the throne. His pretensions were favoured by the people. By many arts he gained their affection; and after his return from Geshur (2 Sam. 15:7; marg., R.V.) he went up to Hebron, the old capital of Judah, along with a great body of the people, and there proclaimed himself king. The revolt was so successful that David found it necessary to quit Jerusalem and flee to Mahanaim, beyond Jordan; where upon Absalom returned to Jerusalem and took possession of the throne without opposition. Ahithophel, who had been David's chief counsellor, deserted him and joined Absalom, whose chief counsellor he now became. Hushai also joined Absalom, but only for the purpose of trying to counteract the counsels of Ahithophel, and so to advantage David's cause. He was so far successful that by his advice, which was preferred to that of Ahithophel, Absalom delayed to march an army against his father, who thus gained time to prepare for the defence. Absalom at length marched out against his father, whose army, under the command of Joab, he encountered on the borders of the forest of Ephraim. Twenty thousand of Absalom's army were slain in that fatal battle, and the rest fled. Absalom fled on a swift mule; but his long flowing hair, or more probably his head, was caught in the bough of an oak, and there he was left suspended till Joab came up and pierced him through with three darts. His body was then taken down and cast into a pit dug in the forest, and a heap of stones was raised over his grave. When the tidings of the result of that battle were brought to David, as he sat impatiently at the gate of Mahanaim, and he was told that Absalom had been slain, he gave way to the bitter lamentation: "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (2 Sam. 18:33. Comp. Ex. 32:32; Rom. 9:3). Absalom's three sons (2 Sam. 14:27; comp. 18:18) had all died before him, so that he left only a daughter, Tamar, who became the grandmother of Abijah.
(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. (Born B.C. 1050.) 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 Baalhazor, 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 Dictionary (1884) , by William Smith.