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Third son of David and his wife Maacha, the daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur. The Hebrew Av-Shalom, “Father of Peace,” is an ironic name for the son who stirred up a rebellion against his father in order to wrest the throne from him and who became a perennial symbol of a rebellious child. For four years Absalom secretly plotted and then openly set up military headquarters in Hebron. David withdrew from Jerusalem, a stratagem which proved successful, for it brought Absalom to “the forest of Ephraim,” east of the Jordan River, where David, long skilled in guerrilla fighting, had no difficulty in defeating his son. As Absalom fled from the battlefield on a mule, his long hair caught in the branches of an oak tree. His mule trotted on, leaving him helplessly trapped. He was killed by David’s general, Joab. Hearing the news of this act which he had expressly forbidden, David the King uttered a cry that has become a classic expression of a father’s grief: “O my son Ab­salom, my son…would I had died for thee…” (II Sam. 19:1).

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