13 Aug. 2 Samuel 14:21-33

13 Aug.  Absalom returns to Jerusalem

“The king said to Joab, ‘Look, I will do what I promised. Bring back the young man Absalom.’ Joab bowed face down on the ground and blessed the king. Then he said, ‘Today I know you are pleased with me, because you have done what I asked.’”

“Then Joab got up and went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. But King David said, ‘Absalom must go to his own house. He may not come to see me.’ So Absalom went to his own house and did not go to see the king.”

“Absalom was greatly praised for his handsome appearance. No man in Israel was as handsome as he. No blemish was on him from his head to his foot. At the end of every year, Absalom would cut his hair, because it became too heavy. When he weighed it, it would weigh about 2 kilogrammes by the royal measure.”

“Absalom had three sons and one daughter. His daughter’s name was also Tamar, and she was a beautiful woman.”

“Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two full years without seeing King David. Then Absalom sent for Joab so he could send him to the king, but Joab would not come. Absalom sent a message a second time, but Joab still refused to come. Then Absalom said to his servants, ‘Look, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley growing there. Go and burn it.’ So Absalom’s servants set fire to Joab’s field.”

“Then Joab went to Absalom’s house and said to him, ‘Why did your servants burn my field?’ Absalom said to Joab, ‘I sent a message to you, asking you to come here. I wanted to send you to the king to ask him why he brought me home from Geshur. It would have been better for me to stay there! Now let me see the king. If I have sinned, he can put me to death!’”

“So Joab went to the king and told him Absalom’s words. Then the king called for Absalom. Absalom came and bowed face down on the ground before the king, and the king kissed him.”

          (2 Samuel 14:21-33)

 

 

David was getting to be an old man, and his decision-making was not as incisive as it had been in the past. His attitude towards his son Absalom was very ambivalent, and he appears to have vacillated between punishing Absalom for the murder of his brother Amnon, and welcoming him back as a treasured son.

Absalom had fled to his maternal grandfather, the king of Geshur, after he murdered his half-brother Amnon because he had raped his sister Tamar. While in self-imposed exile in Geshur, the Bible tells us that “David missed Absalom very much.” (2 Samuel 14:1)

Joab, David’s army commander, was fully aware that David was consumed with this dilemma, so he engineered a meeting with a “wise woman” from Tekoa (probably a forbidden fortune-teller – see Leviticus 19:31) in order to get David to come to a decision about punishing or repatriating Absalom (see 2 Samuel 14:2-20).

The woman pretended to be a widow, and told David a concocted story about having two sons, one of whom had murdered the other. She asked David to intervene and to save her only son who is “all I have left.” (2 Samuel 14:7) Her relatives wanted to kill her remaining son to punish him for the murder of his brother (see Leviticus 24:17), but David had pity on the woman and promised to protect her son.

At this point, the woman reminded David that he was in a similar situation; the Jewish Law said that Absalom, as a murderer, should be put to death, but David, as his father, was reluctant to follow the Law. And she admitted that it was Joab who had arranged their meeting, “So you would see things differently.” (2 Samuel 14:20)

So David finally made a momentous decision. He sent for Absalom, and accepted him back into the family with a kiss, apparently forgiving him for the murder of his brother.

But there is unease at the end of this passage. While forgiveness is vital, so too is appropriate punishment for committing a crime; and David appears to have taken no action against Absalom for killing his brother. It’s also clear that Absalom is no ‘prodigal son’ returning to his father begging for forgiveness for what he’s done wrong. Indeed, Absalom has no contrition and appears to think he has done nothing wrong – that the murder of his brother was fully justified. And, as we will see shortly, Absalom likes to get his own way, and appears to have nothing but contempt for his father in his old age.

The photo (by Deror avi) shows remains of the City of David in Jerusalem.

You can read more about David and Absalom @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/30-israel-becomes-a-kingdom-under-saul-and-david/absaloms-flight-amp-his-rebellion-against-david/


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