2 Samuel 15

Absalom's Rebellion

City Gates

Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate (2 Samuel 15:2).

Tel Dan’s gate system provides the best archaeological window into the varied purposes of Israelite gates. Besides the double four-chambered gates, this complex includes two separate shrines made up of a row of standing stones, a marketplace, and a throne. Notably, 1 Kgs 22:10 indicates that there was a throne and a threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria.


For your servant vowed a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram (2 Samuel 15:8).

The kingdom of Geshur is mentioned fourteen times in the Bible (Deut 3:14; Josh 12:5; 13:2, 11, 13; 1 Sam 27:8; 2 Sam 3:3; 13:37–38; 14:23, 32; 15:8; 1 Chron 2:23; 3:2). The references in Deuteronomy and Joshua refer to the kingdom in relation to the tribal borders and the pre-existing geo-political realities of Canaan. Significantly, most of these references group Geshur with Maacath. The impressive site of et-Tell, pictured here, is thought to have been associated with Geshur.

Cherethites and Pelethites

And all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, 600 men that came after him from Gath, passed on before the king (2 Samuel 15:18).

The Cherethites and Pelethites occur frequently in the narrative associated with David, as they appear to have made up a significant part of the military force that remained loyal to David. Two later passages connect these peoples with the seacoast and the Philistines (Ezek 25:16; Zeph 2:5), but the exact relationship between the Cherethites and Pelethites and the Philistines remains unclear.

The Kidron Valley

The king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over (2 Samuel 15:23).

The Kidron brook was the stream that flowed from the Gihon Spring, located on the eastern flank of the city of Jerusalem. Because the subsequent narrative makes it clear that David turned north to pass by the “place where God was worshipped” (2 Sam 15:32), and because the opposing slope of the Mount of Olives is rather steep, it seems likely that David and his company moved up the Kidron Valley even as they passed across it. This view of the Kidron Valley is taken from below the Temple Mount, north of the ancient City of David. The modern buildings perched on the far side of the valley belong to the Arab village of Silwan. The ancient City of David is mostly hidden behind the green foliage on the right side of the photo.

The Mount of Olives

David went up by the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up (2 Samuel 15:30).

Although located immediately east of Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives is only mentioned explicitly in the Old Testament a few times. In addition to its reference here during David’s flight, the Mount of Olives is also mentioned as the place of the Lord’s return in Zechariah 14. And the Gospels mention Jesus crossing over the Mount on multiple occasions. This aerial view looks southeast over the Mount of Olives and toward the Judean wilderness.

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