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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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THE REBELLION OF ABSALOM

DAVID had a great many children, and among them was a son named Absalom, who he loved more than all the others. He was tall and handsome, and he had very long and beautiful hair, which hung down his back. But he was a wicked [158] man, and when one of his brothers, named Ammon, sinned against him, he killed him and fled away to another country. At first David was very angry with Absalom, but after three years his anger died away, and he sent for him to return to Jerusalem. Still he refused to see him, and commanded him to remain in his own house, and not to come to the royal palace.

For two years Absalom lived in Jerusalem without seeing his father. One day he sent for Joab, because he wanted Joab to go on a message to the king. But Joab would not come to him. Then Absalom called some of his servants, and bade them go and set fire to Joab's grain. When Joab heared who had done this he was angry, and came to Absalom and asked him why he had ordered his grain to be burnt. Absalom replied that it was because he wanted him to come and take a message to the king. "For," he said, "I am much distressed on account of my father's anger, and I be of thee to pacify him, since, if I cannot see the king, I might as well have remained in a foreign country."

Joab was touched by the young man's sorrow, and he agreed to carry his message to the king. David loved his son so much that he easily allowed himself to be persuaded, and he sent for Absalom to come to him. Absalom came, and cast himself down on the ground and begged for forgiveness. And the king raised him up and forgave him, and promised to forget what he had done.

Absalom was only pretending to be sorry, for he really did not love the king his father, but only wished to be a great man among the Israelites. He procured a great many horses and chariots, and had fifty armed men to go before him whenever he rode out . He also used to rise early in the morning and go every day to the king's palace, and speak kindly to the men who came there to ask for favors or to have their quarrels decided. And those against whom judgement had been rendered he took aside, and said to them that if he had [159] been king he would have decided in a different manner. In this way he made himself very popular with the people. When at last he thought the time had come to set up a rebellion, he asked leave of his father to go to Hebron and make sacrifices to God, for, he said, he had sworn to do this when he fled out of the country.

When Absalom had reached Hebron, he sent out word to the people of Israel that he was going to make himself king in place of his father. And a great multitude of men came to Hebron to help him, for they preferred him to David. Among those that came was one named Ahitophel, a very wise man, who was David's counsellor or adviser.

David was much troubled when he heard of Absalom's rebellion. As many of his bravest men had left him, he was afraid to remain in Jerusalem, and resolved to fly to the lands beyond Jordan. Collecting the few faithful friends who still remained to him, he went out of the city. The priests and Levites would have followed with the ark, but David advised them to stay behind. The king went out of the city weeping and bareheaded, and when he ad reached the Mount of Olives, there came one who told him that Ahitophel had gone over to Absalom. This distressed him more than anything, for he knew that Ahitophel was a prudent and wise man, and that Absalom would receive much benefit from his counsels; and he prayed to God that He would make Absalom distrust the counsels of Ahitophel and refuse to takae them. At the top of the mountain David was met by a faithful friend of his named Hushai. Hushai wished ot go with him, but David asked him to remain in Jerusalem as a spy, and to send him word of everything that happened there. He also told him to pretend that he was a friend of Absalom's, and to contradict all the counsels given by Ahitophel for in this manner, said David, Hushai could do a great deal of harm to the rebels.

A little farther on, at a place called Bhurim, there came [160] out to meet him a kinsman of Saul's, whose name was Shimei, and he threw stones at David, and cursed him and called him evil names. When Abishai, David's nephew, would have attacked the man, David withheld him, for he said that the Lord was allowing Shimei to curse him, and it was part of the punishment He was sending upon him. So he went on his way without taking any notice of Shimei, who ran along the other side of the mountain, and continued to curse him.

Meanwhile, Absalom had come to Jerusalem with his counsellor, Ahitophel, and all his army. And David's friend Hushai, went to Aabsalom and bowed down before him, and offered him his services. Absalom was glad to receive him, for he knew he was a wise and prudent man.

Absalom asked Ahitophel to advise him what he should do in the war against his father. Ahitophel said that if he would let him have ten thousand men, he would go out against David and slay him, and bring the soldiers back again in safety. Absalom was pleased with this advice, and he sent for Hushai, and, informing him of what Ahitophel had said, he asked for his opinion also. No Hushai feared that if the advice of Ahitophel were followed, David would be taken and slain, for he had not yet had time to raise an army to defend himself. He therefore advised Absalom not to send out so small a body of men, but to wait until he could raise a large army, and then he would surely defeat the king. And God made Absalom prefer the advice of Hushai to that of Ahitophel.

Then Hushai went to the priests, who were the friends of David, and told them what had been decided upon, and they sent a messenger to David. But when Ahitophel learned that his advice was rejected, he saddled his ass and rode away to his own country. Calling his family together, he told them that Abslom would not follow his advice, and that he would surely be defeated by David. "Therefore," he said, [161] "I do not wish to live any longer, and fall into the hands of David, who will certainly punish me for having given my assistance to Absalom."

When he had spoken thus, he went into another room and hanged himself.


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