Shmuel 2-Chapter 15: Avshalom rebels against Dovid

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Chapter 15: Avshalom rebels against Dovid

1. Avshalom becomes a self-appointed judge and acts like a king:

  • Avshalom begins acting like a king: After the above event, Avshalom made for himself a chariot with horses and 50 men would run in front of him.
  • Avshalom begins to judge the nation: Avshalom rose up and stood by the road that leads to the entrance gate to the city, and he would greet every person who would pass by that road on his way to have an audience with the king for the sake of having the king pass judgment regarding a civil claim. Avshalom would summon the individual and ask him as to which city he is from, and the person would tell him “your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Avshalom would then say to him, “Look, I see your claim is very good and solid, however be aware that your claim will not receive the proper attention by the king.” Avshalom then proclaimed that he should be appointed a judge within the land and that every person who has a claim should come to him and receive justice. And so it was, that when people would come to him [for judgment] they would bow to him and Avshalom would then stretch his hand to take hold of him and he would kiss him. Avshalom began performing this amongst all the Jewish people who came to the king for judgment, and so it was that Avshalom stole the heart of Israel.

2. Avshalom openly rebels against the king and attempts to overthrow the monarchy:

  • Avshalom travels to Chevron: At the end of the 40-year period [from when the Jewish people asked Shmuel for a King to be appointed[1]], Avshalom turned to the king asked him, “Let me go to Chevron, and I will pay my dues of the vow that I made to G-d, as while your servant was living in the city of Geshur in Aram, I made a vow stating that if G-d returned me to Jerusalem then I will serve G-d [and bring him sacrifices, as the city of Chevron has the choicest sheep to bring for sacrifices[2]].” The king said to him, “go in peace.” And so it was that he got up and he traveled to Chevron.
  • Avshalom sends spies to prepare the land for a revolt: Avshalom sent spies amongst all the tribes of Israel saying, “When you hear the sound of the shofar, that is a sign that Avshalom has become king in Chevron.” Together with Avshalom traveled 200 men who were invited from Jerusalem [under the distorted orders of the king[3]] and they would go innocently together with Avshalom as they were unaware of anything going on.
  • Achitofal, the advisor of Dovid, collaborates with Avshalom: At the time that the slaughtering of the animals was taking place, Avshalom sent for Achitofal the Golanite, the advisor of Dovid, to be brought from his city of Megillah [as part of his planned rebellion against his father Dovid].
  • The rebellion intensifies: The rebellion grew very strong and the people who followed Avshalom grew from day to day to an enormous number.

3. Dovid and his men flee the capital:

  • Dovid is informed of the rebellion: A messenger came and informed Dovid of the upcoming rebellion and he informed him that the heart of the Jewish people has been captured by Avshalom and that they are now following him.
  • They flee the city: Dovid told all of his servants who were with him in Jerusalem that they should get up and flee as they will not find any refuge from “Please hurry and leave, lest he hurry and reach us and bring evil upon us and smite the entire city with the sword.” The servants of Dovid replied to the king, “Whatever my master the king desires your servants are here to perform.”
  • The King and all of his household left by foot.
  • The concubines are left by the Palace: The King left his ten wives, who were concubines, by the palace in order to guard it.
  • The people who left with Dovid: The King and all his men left by foot and stood by a distant home. All of his servants passed by him, including the archers and 600 Gittite men who came by foot from Gath. The King then spoke to Itaiy the Gittite, “Why should you also travel with us? Go sit with the King [Avshalom[4]] as you are a gentile [and people will not have mercy on you to give you food and drink[5]] and even if you do not wish to be with the King, then at least return to your home.” Itaiy replied to the King that he will go with him wherever he goes, whether to life or to death. Dovid then replied to Itaiy saying that he and the [600] men and children who are with him should pass before him.
  • The nation cries and travels to the desert: The entire land cried a great cry, and all of the nation [who was with Dovid] passed by Dovid. The king crossed the channel of Kidron while the entire nation [that was with him] passed to the road leading to the desert.
  • The Aron: Tzadok and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of G-d [from Jerusalem] and it was placed down [by the side of Dovid who wanted to carry it with him[6]]. Avyasar [the father of Tzadok] had resigned [from his post in the priesthood due to lack of being answered by the Urim Vetumim[7] and his son Tzadok took his place[8]]. They waited until the entire nation passed from the city. The king then said to Tzadok that he should return the ark of G-d to the city [of Jerusalem] and if G-d finds favor in His eyes “He will allow me to once again see Him. And if He no longer desires me and he should do to me as he sees fit in his eyes”

4. The king sets up spies in Jerusalem:

  • Tzadok and his sons return to Jerusalem as spies: The king stated to Tzadok the priest, “If you believe it is safe, then return to the city [of Jerusalem] in peace and Achimatz your son and Yehonason the son of Avyasar will be with you [and you will act as spies on my behalf to inform me as to what my son is doing[9]]. In the meantime, I will delay in the wilderness until I hear from you.” So Tzadok and Avyasar returned with the ark of G-d to Jerusalem and settled there.
  • Dovid mourns his sad state: Dovid ascended the Mount of olives barefoot, in a state of weeping, with a turbine wrapped on his head like a mourner. As he ascended, he continued to cry.
  • Dovid is informed of Achitofel: Dovid was then informed by one of the spies that Achitofel had joined Avshalom in the rebellion, and as a result Dovid then prayed to G-d that he should uproot the evil plans of Achitofel.
  • Dovid meets his friend Chushaiy who is set up as a spy: When Dovid arrived at the head of the mountain he prostrated himself to G-d there. While there, he met a friend of his Chushaiy the Arki who had a torn shirt and had earth on his head [as a sign of mourning for the state of his friend Dovid]. Dovid told him that it would not be wise for him to travel together with him as it would be a great burden upon him. Dovid then asked him to return to the city and [connivingly] tell Avshalom that just as you were his father’s servant until now so too you will now become his loyal servant. “Through doing so you will help me overcome the evil scheme of Achitofel. On your side together as a spy will be Tzadok and Avyasar the priests, and whatever you hear from the king’s home you should tell them, and they will inform their two sons Achimatz the son of Tzadok and Yehonason the son of Avyasar, and they will then be sent to inform me of the details.” So Chushaiy the friend of Dovid traveled back to the city and Avshalom arrived to Jerusalem.


[1] Rashi 15:7

[2] Rashi 15:7; Sotah 34b

[3] See Rashi 15:12

[4] Rashi 15:19

[5] Rashi 15:19

[6] Rashi 15:24

[7] Rashi 15:24; Yuma 73b

[8] Rashi 15:24

[9] Rashi 15:27

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