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Answering The Atheist
March 14, 2004 / Volume 4, Issue 11

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
How many sons did Absalom have? 2 Samuel 14:27 says three sons, but 2 Samuel 18:18 says he had no sons. Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Indeed, Absalom had three sons born to him (2 Samuel 14:27). Thus, it would seem odd that he would have to set up a monument to himself, claiming, "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance."

There are a couple possibilities for this. It may be that on account of his actions (murder, 13:23-33; treason, 15:1-12), Absalom's sons were taken from him. David, on account of his actions (adultery, 12:9-15; failing to protect his daughter, 13:1-20; failing to punish Amnon for raping Tamar, 13:21-22; failing to punish Absalom for murdering Amnon, 13:23-33, etc.) lost three of his sons. It may have happened the same for Absalom.

It might also be possible that Absalom's sons remained, but he simply did not consider them to be worthy to keep his name in remembrance in Israel. Throughout the Bible record of Absalom's life, we are witness to a self-absorbed man, and it may be that this attitude even reigned his thoughts with regard to his own offspring.

With these, and perhaps other possible explanations of why Absalom set up a monument to himself to carry on his name, rather than it occurring through his sons, we might confidently conclude that there is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible