The Advice of Ahithophel and Hushai

Second Samuel 16:15 to 17:29

The central unit of Absalom’s rebellion against his father and David’s return to Yerushalayim deals with the conflicting advice of Ahithophel and Hushai. The previous file (Du – Shim’i Curses David) ended thus: The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself (Second Samuel 16:14). This file ends thus: The people were exhausted and hungry and thirsty in the wilderness (Second Samuel 17:29). Three key verses, interspersed throughout (16:23, 17:14 and 17:24), provide the clue for analyzing the section as three chiasms arranged within a larger chiastic structure, the clash between Ahithophel’s advice and Hushai’s advice serving as a focus for the whole.413

A. Arriving in Jerusalem, Absalom is befriended (16:15-19)

B1. Ahithophel advises Absalom (16:20-22)

B2. Ahithophel is described in glowing terms (16:23)

B3. Ahithophel advises Absalom (17:1-4)

C1. Hushai advises Absalom (17:5-13)

C2. Hushai’s advice is declared better than Ahithophel’s (17:14)

C3. Hushai advises Zadok and Abiathar (17:15-16)

B1. David crosses the Jordan (17:17-22)

B2. Ahithophel commits suicide (17:23)

B3. Absalom crosses the Jordan (17:24-26)

A. Arriving in Mahanaim, David is befriended (17:27-29)


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