Who’s Buried in Absalom’s Tomb?

Absalom | Let's throw stones at Absalom's Tomb Monument

Actually, nobody. Not any more. But was “Absalom’s Tomb” ever Absalom’s tomb?

The building in the picture (above) has been called Absalom’s Tomb for centuries, by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Local people used to throw stones at it, cursing Absalom for his revolt against his father, King David. The Bible records that David’s general, Joab, killed Absalom and buried him in a pit in the woods (2 Samuel 18:17).

Scholars say the building was created in the First Century A.D.. That does not tell us why there was such a strong, persisting tradition that Absalom was buried there. David loved his wicked son. Would he have left Absalom’s body in a pit scratched out in the woods? The Bible does not tell us he did, nor does it tell us that he didn’t. But if David had moved the body to the site of the tomb, it’s very likely that the building that’s there now really was erected in the First Century and was never intended as a tomb for Absalom. No one has found any inscriptions that tell us who was buried there.

Would David have buried his son without an imposing monument? He might have: Joab warned him that his continuing love for Absalom was beginning to exasperate his subjects. Maybe a monument would have been a step too far.

Anyway, the tradition that the building in the picture is Absalom’s Tomb is a strong and enduring tradition… and should be taken seriously.

7 comments on “Who’s Buried in Absalom’s Tomb?

  1. It’s hard to tell with antiquities, whether there is any substance to the history attributed to a certain place.

    1. Many ancient buildings have disappeared because local people, for centuries, have recycled the building materials. Why carve stones when someone else already carved them hundreds of years ago?

  2. Maybe the tomb is at the spot where Absalom erected his pillar:

    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. 2 Samuel 18:21

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