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Absalom and David
By James Vasquez
Absalom - Highborn Son and Knave
Now patiently you’ve listened as,
I’ve told of David’s pain,
The day both Saul and Jonathan,
Upon the field were slain.
He mourned as seldom he had mourned,
His king and friend were dead,
‘Twas Jonathan who wished he take,
The people’s crown instead.
And then, as king, he ventured once,
Beyond what God ordained,
And with Bathsheba prudence lost,
Nor virtue kept nor feigned.
A prophet then rebuked him for,
The depths to which he fell,
And crushed in spirit he cried out,
That God would cleanse him well.
And yet another time there was,
A third, when David’s heart,
Was torn so deep it seemed, in truth,
The pain would ne’er depart.
I speak of this just now and pray,
Each word you’ll fathom well,
For of his son, young Absalom,
I am about to tell.
So handsome he, in all the land,
Was none could be compared,
From head to sole of foot there was,
No blemish ever bared.
And in particular was he,
Of hair most fully proud,
‘Twas long and silky, black like coal,
As few men were endowed.
But things went far amiss one day,
His sister Tamar fell,
Into the hands of Amnon who,
Was quite beneath her spell.
And though a brother yet he longed,
To know her carnally,
And satisfied himself nor rued,
This wanton treachery.
Now Absalom then bode his time,
Revenge he’d surely seek,
And so, but two years thence, he did,
His will most fully wreak.
And having thus dispatched Amnon,
He fled his father’s ire,
And once returned to David’s house,
He set forth to conspire.
He took his place beyond the gate,
As men went out and in,
And listened well to each complaint,
Their loyalty to win.
"If I were but a judge," he’d say,
"Your cause I would defend,
Assuring you’d be treated well,
And all injustice end."
And Absalom within four years,
The hearts of men thus won,
And led an army ‘gainst the throne,
This base, rebellious son.
So David fled along with all,
His household, servants and,
Officials with the people who,
Were faithful in the land.
Now Absalom was crafty as,
His deeds have clearly shown,
But quite his equal was the guile,
His father then did own.
He sent his servant, Hushai, to,
Jerus’lem there to feign,
As Absalom’s wise counselor,
And thus subvert his reign.
Disdaining other counsel, then,
(Ahithophel’s, in fact),
Young Absalom demurred a while,
And for this foolish act,
Allowed his father to escape,
Restore his army and,
Recruit his thousands who would fight,
‘Neath his unmatched command.
He sent them forth determined to,
Obliterate the foe,
And gave strict orders that his men,
On Absalom bestow,
Some kindness, dealing not with him,
As sternly as the rest,
For he was yet a son though he,
Had seriously transgressed.
And David’s army routed, then,
The rebel army well,
They fled in all directions and,
In every place they fell.
Now Absalom, astride his mule,
Apace was fleeing, too,
He passed beneath a branch of oak,
And there received his due.
His hair was caught around the branch,
And held him in the air,
And shortly David’s men approached,
Who found him hanging there.
And led by Joab, in command,
They thrust him through and through,
With spears, with swords and javelins,
This vengeful retinue.
There in the woods they buried him,
This highborn son, this knave,
With nothing more atop than rocks,
To mark the royal grave.
Now David then was told just how,
His son had met his end,
And offered up this mournful chant,
As few have ever penned.
"Oh, Absalom! My son! My son!
If only I had died,
Instead of you, beloved son,
Oh, Absalom!" he cried.
And were there yet more sorrows that,
This noble king would face?
Perhaps but on another day,
Their stories we’ll embrace.
from the September, 2005 Edition of the Jewish Magazine