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Davids Sons at Hebron

INTRODUCTION: David escaped when his first wife Michal let him down through a window because King Saul had sent men to the house to kill him. Then Michal was not reunited to David for quite some time. David traveled around various places to remain out of reach until Saul finally died in battle with the Philistines, then David moved into Hebron for several years. While at Hebron, six sons were born to David, but each one had a different mother. Only three of those sons have any Scriptural record of events in their lives, and the events for the first son Amnon will be fully covered in this study. Some passages about Absalom are necessary in regards to Amnon, but the bulk of passages about Absalom will be in a separate study with his name.

NOTE: All passages are from the 1901 American Standard Version.


2 Samuel 2 "1 And it came to pass after this, that David inquired of Jehovah, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And Jehovah said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron. 2 So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. 3 And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. 4 And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, The men of Jabesh-gilead were they that buried Saul. 5 And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of Jehovah, that ye have showed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him. 6 And now Jehovah show lovingkindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing. 7 Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be ye valiant; for Saul your lord is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them."

COMMENTS: David had two opportunities to take King Saul's life during the years that Saul and his troops pursued him, but David refused to take the life of one who had been anointed to serve Jehovah. And he would not tolerate anyone else to claim that they would do so for David. He also was very pleased that the men of Jabesh-gilead were the ones who had buried King Saul's body. David already had two wives when he arrived at Hebron, but the detail of when or how he added four more wives for himself is not given. The "David's Elegy" Character Bible study is based on his reaction when he learned of the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan, and some subsequent developments. Every Character Bible study on has a full list of links to all other Character Bible studies for easy access to material about historical people who lived either in the Old or in the New Testament era.


2 Samuel 3 "1 Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: and David waxed stronger and stronger, but the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker. 2 And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his first-born was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3 and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4 and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5 and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron. 6 And it came to pass, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner made himself strong in the house of Saul."

1 Chronicles 3 "1 Now these were the sons of David, that were born unto him in Hebron: the first-born, Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; the second, Daniel, of Abigail the Carmelitess; 2 the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; 3 the fifth, Shephatiah of Abital; the sixth, Ithream by Eglah his wife: 4 six were born unto him in Hebron; and there he reigned seven years and six months. And in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years; 5 and these were born unto him in Jerusalem: Shimea, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, four, of Bath-shua the daughter of Ammiel;"

COMMENTS: Three of the six sons born to David in Hebron have no detail about their lives as sons of King David except the two references above. The first to be born, and the third and the fourth to be born have passages about parts of their lives; but those references are not complimentary about them. The second to be born was named shileab, and his mother was Abigail the former wife of Nabal the Carmelite. After Jehovah struck Nabal and he died, Abigail became David's wife. In 1 Chronicles that same son by Abigail is called Daniel without any explanation of the difference in names. "Abigail the Carmelitess" is one of the studies available from the Character Bible studies links list.

The fifth son was named Shephatiah of David's wife Abital, and his name apparently was fairly common; as seven other men in various sections of Scripture had that same name, but his mother's name appears only in the two passages above. The sixth son born to David was Ithream, of David's wife Eglah, and the name of both that son and his mother appear only in the two above passages. Since there is no further detail of the three sons of David that I have named in this COMMENTS section, I will not have any more about them in this study.


2 Samuel 5 "1 Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. 2 In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was thou that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and Jehovah said to thee, Thou shalt be shepherd of my people Israel, and thou shalt be prince over Israel. 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a covenant with them in Hebron before Jehovah: and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah."

COMMENTS: On the links list of Character Bible studies, "David's Elegy" can be accessed for the following details: (1) the praise David gave after Saul and Jonathan died, (2) the penalty of death for the Amalekite who brought the message about Saul with a false detail he hoped would earn favor for him, (3) the period of mourning David required for his people after Joab cunningly avenged the death of his brother in armed conflict, by killing Abner who had made an agreement with David and THEN left Hebron. (4) Later David required the death of the two men who murdered Saul's son Ish-BoSheth in his sleep and beheaded him, hoping to win favor from David; (5) David required a period of mourning for the murder of Ish-Bosheth, then respectfully buried his head in the tomb of Abner at Hebron. Those were things that were part of the respect for David in the sight of all Israel.

In the above passage of 2 Samuel, David's age is given as 30 when he began to reign as king in Hebron. So, he would have been about 37 or 38 when he began his 33 years as king in Jerusalem, until about the age of seventy when Solomon became his successor to the throne before David's death. All of the recorded events related to his sons Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah began some time after the death of David's unnamed son who was born of Bathsheba.


2 Samuel 10 "19 And when all the kings that were servants to Hadarezer saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, they made peace with Israel, and served them. So the Syrians feared to help the children of Ammon any more."

2 Samuel 11 "1 And it came to pass, at the return of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried at Jerusalem. 2 And it came to pass at eventide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. 3 And David send and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? 4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her (for she was purified from her uncleanness); and she returned unto her house. 5 And the woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, I am with child."

2 Samuel 12 "1 And Jehovah sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds; 3 but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own morsel, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. 4 And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him, but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. 5 And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As Jehovah liveth, the man that hath done this is worthy to die: 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. 7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; 8 and I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added unto thee such and such things. 9 Wherefore hast thou despised the word of Jehovah, to do that which is evil in his sight? thou hast smitten Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thy house, because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. 11 Thus saith Jehovah, 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 neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. 13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against Jehovah. And Nathan said unto David, Jehovah also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. 15 And Nathan departed unto his house. And Jehovah struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. 16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. 17 And the elders of his house arose, and stood beside him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. 18 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he hearkened not unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead! 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; and David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. 20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel; and he came into the house of Jehovah, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. 21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. 22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who knoweth whether Jehovah will not be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me. 24 And David comforted Bath-sheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon. And Jehovah loved him; 25 and he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, for Jehovah's sake."

COMMENTS: After the Syrians would no longer help the Ammonites against Israel, David stayed in Jerusalem while Joab led the army when the next season of warfare began. David fell to sexual temptation and took the wife of one of his mighty warriors who was away in battle. The remaining verses of chapter eleven (not shown above) describe David's failed attempts to have Uriah go to bed with his wife Bathsheba, so he sent him back to the field with instructions to Joab to make sure Uriah died in battle. Since he couldn't make it appear that Uriah was the father of the child, he wanted to be able to quickly take Bathsheba as his wife to cover up his adultery.

In chapter 12, Jehovah sent Nathan to David with an allegory and David responded with anger, first saying that man should die. Then Nathan told him he was the man represented by this example because he was responsible for Uriah's death by the sword at the hand of the children of Ammon, and had taken his wife to be his own wife. Therefore, Jehovah said armed conflict (the sword) shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Jehovah also said he would bring evil against David out of his own house; and he would take his wives and give them to his neighbor, who shall lay down with them in a public manner known by all Israel, unlike the way David had done it secretly.

When David said he had sinned against Jehovah, Nathan said he would not die; Jehovah had put away his sin, but the child would die because he would give occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme. When the child was born and immediately ill, David fasted, wept, and prayed for grace from Jehovah for the child until he learned that the child had died on the seventh day. (Note: died before circumcision on the eighth day). David arose from the earth and washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothing; then he went into the house of Jehovah and worshipped. Afterward he went to his own house and ate some food. When he was questioned, he answered that there was no further reason to fast and pray for the child because he could not come back to David. Jehovah graced David and Bathsheba with another child who was born in good health, he was given two special names, and Jehovah loved that child. Though David had committed terrible sin as one who had the fallen nature which is present in all mankind, he was forgiven in wonderful grace and mercy because Jehovah had set David apart as one who truly had a heart for God.


2 Samuel 12 "26 Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city. 27 And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah; yea, I have taken the city of waters. 28 Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it; lest I take the city, and it be called after my name. 29 And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it. 30 And he took the crown of their king from off his head; and the weight thereof was a talent of gold, and in it were precious stones; and it was set on David's head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city, exceeding much. 31 And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brickkiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. And David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem."

COMMENTS: Joab's message to King David had an element of coercion as he knew he could complete the capture of this chief Ammonite city, and David would not have this important victory to his own credit. Joab also held the secret favor he had done for David in the death of Uriah the Hitite, which could be a point of leverage to bring David into the field of battle. When David came out there was complete victory over Rabbah, and David obtained the lavish royal crown as his own. All of the other Ammonite cities fell to Israel, and Ammon came under the control of Israel. Rabbah is the same city where Uriah had died as Joab had followed the instructions of David. It is not clear in Scripture whether This took place before or after Solomon was born, but in either case, it must have caused some thoughts within David as he was at the city where Uriah's death had been arranged by his orders. Verse 31 in the above passage sounds unusually cruel, but the parallel passage does not soften the meaning. 1 Chronicles 20 "3 And he brought forth the people that were therein, and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes. And thus did David unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. And David and all the people returned to Jerusalem."


2 Samuel 13 "1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. 2 And Amnon was so vexed that he fell sick because of his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and it seemed hard to Amnon to do anything unto her. 3 But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother; and Jonadab was a very subtle man. 4 And he said unto him, Why, O son of the king, art thou thus lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister. 5 And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and feign thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, Let my sister Tamar come, I pray thee, and give me bread to eat, and dress the food in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it from her hand. 6 So Amnon lay down, and feigned himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, Let her sister Tamar come, I pray thee, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand. 7 Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon's house, and dress him food. 8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took dough, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes. 9 And she took the pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him. 10 And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the food into the chamber, that I may eat from thy hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. 11 And when she had brought them near unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come, lie with me, my sister. 12 And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly. 13 And I, whither shall I carry my shame? and as for thee, thou wilt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee. 14 Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice; but being stronger than she, he forced her, and lay with her. 15 Then Amnon hated her with exceeding great hatred; for the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone. 16 And she said unto him, Not so, because this great wrong in putting me forth is worse than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her. 17 Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her. 18 And she had a garment of divers colors upon her; for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her. 19 And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colors that was on her; and she laid her hand on her head, and went her way, crying aloud as she went. 20 And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but now hold thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; take not this thing to heart. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house. 21 But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth. 22 And Absalom spake unto Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar."

COMMENTS: Amnon knew Tamar was a virgin, and that was apparently to him a deterrent to have sex with her. The term here translated as "love" can range in meaning from friendship to marital love, and even for God's love; but the context of the passage reveals that Amnon was driven by sexual lust. That desire for Tamar was so strong it made Amnon feel sick, and his friend Jonadab (a cousin) advised him of a deceptive way to get a visit from Tamar. Amnon took the advice, and his father, David, believed the purpose of the request; and he sent instructions to Tamar to dsgo to her brother and prepare food for him. This seems to me to be somewhat naive of David.

Tamar prepared the food in front of Amnon, but he sent everyone else out, and then told Tamar to bring it into his chamber to serve him. Then he grabbed her and forcibly raped her, despite her plea not to do such a foolish thing, but rather to ask the King to give her as his wife. Then Amnon hated her in measure much greater than he had "loved" her, and he told her to get out. She said that would be even a greater wrong than what he had already done to her, but he ordered his servants to put her out. Tamar had a beautiful garment which designated virgins among the King's daughters, and she tore it and put ashes on her head as she went her way crying aloud. Absalom told his sister to keep silent and not take this thing about her brother Amnon too seriously. So Tamar remained in Absalom's house without husband or children; but Absalom now hated Amnon and would not say anything to him good or bad. When king David heard of "all these things," (whatever details he actually knew) he greatly burned with anger; but that is all that is said, there is no record of action by him in any manner. Tamar had no result of pregnancy and there is no record of any charges brought against Amnon by David's advisors or anyone else.

I have included three passages from the Law of Moses but there is no clear indication the content was considered for action in this matter.
Leviticus 18 "9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or the daughter of thy mother, whether born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover."
Leviticus 20 "17 And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a shameful thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of the children of their people: he hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity."
Deuteronomy 27 "22 Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen."


2 Samuel 13 "23 And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom had sheep-shearers in Baal-hazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king's sons. 24 And Absalom came to the king, and said, Behold now, thy servant hath sheep-shearers; let the king, I pray thee, and his servants go with thy servant. 25 And the king said to Absalom, Nay, my son, let us not all go, lest we be burdensome unto thee. And he pressed him: howbeit he would not go, but blessed him. 26 Then said Absalom, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said unto him, Why should he go with thee? 27 But Absalom pressed him, and he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him. 28 And Absalom commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now, when Amnon's heart is merry with wine; and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon, then kill him; fear not; have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant. 29 And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled. 30 And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that the tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left. 31 Then the king arose, and rent his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent. 32 And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother, answered and said, Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men the king's sons; for Amnon only is dead; for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar. 33 Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead; for Amnon only is dead. 34 But Absalom fled. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill-side behind him. 35 And Jonadab said unto the king, Behold, the king's sons are come: as thy servant said, so it is. 36 And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king's sons came, and lifted up their voice, and wept: and the king also and all his servants wept very sore. 37 But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai the son of Ammihur, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day. 38 So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years. 39 And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead."

COMMENTS: Absalom waited two long years before he had the opportunity to take his revenge on Amnon. He had a believable celebration setting, and invited all of the king's sons. When he asked his father to take part with everyone else, King David declined. Absalom asked specifically for Amnon, and David asked why Amnon should go, but when Absalom pressed the request, David consented for Amnon and all the king's sons. Absalom had commanded his servants to kill Amnon when he was in high spirits from the wine, and they did so. All the other sons fled rapidly, and David received a false report before they arrived that all of his sons were dead. David tore his clothes and lay on the ground, and all his servants tore their clothes as well. Jonadab told the king not to believe the report, because Absalom had planned to kill Amnon from the day he had forced his sister Tamar. The watchman saw the other sons returning, and when they arrived they wept greatly with the king and his servants. Jonadab was the one who had suggested to Amnon the scheme to get Tamar to come to him, and after Amnon was killed two years later, he told King David that Absalom had wanted to do that from the day Amnon forced his sister. There are no more references about David's nephew Jonadab anywhere in Scripture, so there is nothing to explain his actions, motives, or any consequences for him.

David mourned for his first-born son Amnon every day. Absalom had fled, and went to Talmai the king of Geshur, who was the father of Absalom's mother. Absalom remained there for three years, and king David longed in his soul to go to Absalom: for he was no longer in mourning for Amnon, because he had now accepted that he was dead. David's desire to see Absalom again is stated without any further detail at this point.


LORD, I began this study by considering the wives and sons that David had at Hebron as king over Judah, before he was accepted by all Israel to be their king at Jerusalem. When I found that only three sons had biographical information in Scripture, those passages gave evidence that even a beloved king could have great family difficulties. But I know Jehovah, that a major factor in those heartaches for David ensued after he had fallen to temptation and committed adultery with a very attractive woman, then gave orders that brought the death of her husband. There are many other biographies throughout Scripture that support the truth that pride can easily result in a fall before God. David had been very loyal to you, Jehovah, and humbly demonstrated his dependence on your will consistently, until he was well established as King of Jerusalem. Your mercy, Jehovah, to spare David's life, and the sorrow brought by his sons Amnon and Absalom is part of the mystery of your ways being far above our comprehension to fully understand. David did not suffer the penalty called for by the Law for his sin; but as I concluded this study, he was just beginning some very difficult times. I praise you my Savior and God that I have experienced both forgiveness and consequences for actions in my life as well. I pray for guidance by the Holy Spirit to turn away from future temptation through your strength, and to use the gifts I have received to bring honor to the name of my Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. Amen, and amen. .

Published 15 November 2018