Tomb of Absalom/Avshalom

 

The Tomb of Absalom, King David’s rebellious son, is located in Kindron Valley in Jerusalem. Located at the western foothill of Mount Olives, just outside the Old City walls, the area is filled with many cemeteries from various historical periods.

According to the bible, the tomb was built by Absalom himself, due to the fact that he had no sons. This story is recorded in Samuel I 18:18:

"Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place."

According to tradition, Jewish, Christian and Muslim pilgrims used to throw stones at the tomb. This caused a huge pile of stones to build up around the tomb. The area was cleaned in 1925, with the rocks removed from the site. Another story relates that parents used to bring their rebellious children to the site, as a means of changing their behavior.

The Absalom pillar is 14 meters (47 feet) high, and is made of a broad base that measures 20 feet square. The architectural design of the tomb is in the Greek design style. The designs are believed to have been introduced during the Seleucid period. Therefore, many archeologists believe that this is not the actual site of Absalom's tomb. They believe that the tomb was constructed in the first century, 1000 years after Absalom’s death. It is also believed that the design of the tomb dates it to the Second Temple period, when rich Jewish families erected monuments for their burial site.

In 2003, an inscription was found on the walls, declaring that the tomb belonged to John the Baptist's father, Zechariah. The inscription is believed to have been engraved around the fourth century, which is an indication that monks used to live in some of the tombs in the Kidron Valley.

Absalom's rebellion is believed to have been a result of King David's sin, when he slept with Bathsheba and killed her husband Uriah. The prophet Nathan provided the following verdict in Samuel II 12:11-12:

“Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”

Absalom fulfilled this prophecy when he slept with his father’s concubines in public. Absalom was killed in battle by David’s General, Joab who stabbed him to death. It is believed that Absalom was first buried in the battle field, but later his remains were transferred to the tomb he had built.