Third son of King David (2 Sam. 3.3). The story of Absalom is presented as a subplot of the life of David, a consequence of David's adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah (see 2 Sam. 12.7–12; 16.20–22). He kills David's oldest son, Amnon (Absalom's half‐brother), for raping his sister, Tamar (2 Sam. 13.1–29). After a brief exile in Geshur, his mother's home, he is allowed to return to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 14). Apparently fearful that David's judicial inactivity is creating enough discontent to endanger his—or any son's—chances to succeed his father, Absalom conspires against David. He wins a sizable following in Israel, has himself declared king in Hebron, and chases David out of Jerusalem (2 Sam. 15–16). He soon attacks David in a wooded area of Ephraim, where he is defeated and, contrary to David's wishes, is killed by Joab, the commander of David's forces (2 Sam. 17–18). David's grief at his son's death is characteristically intense (2 Sam. 18.33–19.8).

Timothy M. Willis