The Rebellion of Absalom
David had a beautiful son named Absalom. In all Israel there was no one so much praised as Absalom for his beauty. From the crown of his head to the sole of his foot there was not a blemish in him.
But he was a rebellious son and did a great many things to grieve the heart of his father, King David. At last it came about that he dwelt in his own house and the king would not let him see his face.
After two full years had passed and Absalom had not seen the king, he sent for Joab, the king's captain, but Joab would not come. He sent for Joab the second time and again he would not come. Then Absalom said to his servants: "Joab's field is near mine and barley is growing there, go and set it on fire." And Absalom's servants set the field of Joab on fire.
Joab hastened and came to Absalom and said to him: "Why have your servants set my field on fire?"
"I sent for you and you would not come, therefore, I set your field on fire that you might come, for I would see the king's face and if he finds any iniquity in me, let him kill me." And Joab went and told the king what Absalom had said. Then David let Absalom see him and the young man fell on his face before the king and David lifted him from the ground and kissed him, because he was very fair and much beloved by his father.
But Absalom was wicked in his heart and always rebellious against his father. He had for himself, chariots, horses, and fifty men who ran before him that he might make a great display of his rank. When he wanted to be popular with the people he would rise early in the day and stand by the gate of the city where the people came to have their causes judged.
When any one would come with a complaint he would say to them: "Your matters are good and right and there is no one sent by the king to hear them. If I were made judge in the land then every man which had a suit or a cause could come to me and I would do him justice."
It also happened that when any man came near to Absalom and bowed before him as to a king's son, then Absalom would put forth his hand to him and would kiss him. In this way Absalom won the hearts of the people of Israel and David did not know what Absalom was doing.
After many years and much preparation on the part of Absalom, he said to the king: "Let me go and pay my vow in Hebron for I have made a vow that if the Lord should bring me to Jerusalem, I would serve Him." The king said to Absalom: "Go in peace," and the young man arose and went to Hebron.
But it was not Absalom's intention to pay his vow in Hebron, as he had told his father. Instead, he sent spies throughout the tribes of Israel, saying: "As soon as you hear the sound of trumpets, then you shall say, Absalom reigns in Hebron." The spies did their work well and the conspiracy against David became very strong and the followers of Absalom continually increased.
The messenger came to David saying: "The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom and there is a great conspiracy to make Absalom king over Israel."
David was in great alarm at this news and said: "Arise, and let us flee for we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and smite the city with the sword." Then the king fled from Jerusalem, he and all his servants and many of the people and they crossed the brook Kedron and went into the wilderness.
The priests and the Levites came after him, bringing the ark of the Lord, but David told them to take it back into the city so that the Lord would be kind to him and bring him back into the city. And when the ark had been sent back, David went over the mountain Olivet, weeping as he went with his
head covered and barefoot, and all they that were with him went with covered heads and barefoot. After David had left Jerusalem, Absalom and his rebellious followers came and entered the city but David and his followers passed over Jordan and came into the land of Gilead. All of his followers were weary with their long flight and when they had come to the city of Manhanaim, the people there brought beds for them to rest upon and also wheat and barley, and flour and honey and butter and other things to eat and David and his men ate and were refreshed after their long flight through the wilderness.