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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Ahithophel

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Ahith´ophel (brother of foolishness), the very singular name of a man who, in the time of David, was renowned throughout all Israel for his worldly wisdom. He is, in fact, the only man mentioned in the Scriptures as having acquired a reputation for political sagacity among the Jews; and they regarded his counsels as oracles (2 Samuel 16:23). He was of the council of David; but was at Giloh, his native place, at the time of Absalom's revolt, whence he was summoned to Jerusalem; and it shows the strength of Absalom's cause in Israel that a man so capable of foreseeing results, and of estimating the probabilities of success, took his side in so daring an attempt (2 Samuel 15:12). The news of this defection appears to have occasioned David more alarm than any other single incident in the rebellion. He earnestly prayed God to turn the sage counsel of Ahithophel 'to foolishness' (probably alluding to his name); and being immediately after joined by his old friend Hushai, he induced him to go over to Absalom with the express view that he might be instrumental in defeating the counsels of this dangerous person (2 Samuel 15:31-37). Psalms 55 is supposed to contain (Psalms 55:12-14) a further expression of David's feelings at this treachery of one whom he had so completely trusted, and whom he calls, 'My companion, my guide, and my familiar friend.' The detestable advice which Ahithophel gave Absalom to appropriate his father's harem, committed him absolutely to the cause of the young prince, since after that he could hope for no reconcilement with David (2 Samuel 16:20-23). His proposal as to the conduct of the war undoubtedly indicated the best course that could have been taken under the circumstances; and so it seemed to the council, until Hushai interposed with his plausible advice, the object of which was to gain time to enable David to collect his resources [ABSALOM]. When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was rejected for that of Hushai, the farseeing man gave up the cause of Absalom for lost; and he forthwith saddled his ass, returned to his home at Giloh, deliberately settled his affairs, and then hanged himself, and was buried in the sepulchre of his fathers, B.C. 1023 (2 Samuel 17). This is the only case of suicide which the Old Testament records, unless the last acts of Samson and Saul may be regarded as such.

 

 

 

 


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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Ahithophel'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/kbe/a/ahithophel.html.

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