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A Battle of Wits and Words: Hushai, Ahithophel and the Absalom Rebellion (2 Samuel 16–17)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the roles of Hushai and Ahithophel during Absalom's rebellion, and especially on their contributions in the setting of Absalom's war council. The plural in "Give (pl.) [us] your advice" (16:20) has been interpreted as addressing Ahithophel and Hushai, and more specifically the former, rather than the members of Absalom's council. Ahithophel and Hushai are in the business of "suasion". Hushai's objective is the buying of time for David, and his use of figurative language is crucial in this regard. The relevance of the divine council to the present discussion depends, of course, upon the assumption that this concept is in some degree modelled on earthly realities experienced in the royal council. It is difficult to view the Absalom narrative as a warning to kings on the dangers of relying on "counsel" in preference to the divine word mediated through prophecy.

Keywords: Absalom rebellion; Absalom's council; Ahithophel; Hushai; suasion



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