Political Reasons for the Success and Failure of Absalom’s Rebellion (2 Sam 15-19)

In: Vetus Testamentum
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  • 1 Theologisches Seminar, Heidelberg University, Germany
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This study reads the Absalom narrative as an instructive discourse on the modes of human behavior in the form of a historical narrative. Concretely it focuses on the intended change in leadership and analyzes the political processes during the initial success and final failure of the revolt. Absalom’s rebellion can best be described as an irregular dynastic succession. As such it has elements of both continuity and discontinuity to the preceding and competing kingship of David. Maintaining an aura of power and gaining personnel resources, i.e. both elites from the established hierarchy and a wide base within the population, are identified as the two main reasons for the initial success. But later, the inaccurate handling of these very same personnel resources result in Absalom’s failure and death. In the end, a final redactional layer transfers the causality for Absalom’s failure to the divine level.

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