Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken
Had taken it into his head, had of himself devised it, as Kimchi explains it; he contrived the following scheme to perpetuate his memory:
and reared up for himself a pillar, which [is] in the king's dale:
or valley, the valley of Jehoshaphat; this pillar was of marble, as Josephus F15 says, and stood about two furlongs or a quater mile from Jerusalem. The author of Cippi Hebraici F16 places it at the bottom of the mount of Olives: this is observed to show how vain are the devices and contrivances of men's hearts; Absalom intended to have been buried under or by this monumental pillar near Jerusalem, and, lo, he was buried in a pit, under an heap of stones, in a wood on the other side Jordan; whether his bones were ever removed hither it is not certain, though a notion has obtained that his grave was near this pillar. Rauwolff F17 says, that as you go from the valley of Jehoshaphat F18 to the Mount of Olives, you see below, towards your left hand, near unto the bridge of the river Kidron, an old square building like unto a steeple; this, although it is believed to this day, not only by Christians, but also by Turks and Moors, to be the grave of Absalom, as you shall see them fling stones into it as they go by, to revenge his unfaithfulness to his father, yet was he not buried there. Sandys F19 says, at the east end of the bridge (over Kidron), and a little on the north, stands the pillar of Absalom, being yet entire, and of a good fabric, rising in a lofty square, below adorned with half columns, wrought out of the sides and corners, of the Doric form; and then changing into a round, a good height higher doth grow to a point in fashion of a bell, all framed of the growing stone; against this there lies a great heap of stones, which increaseth daily, by Jews and Mahometans throwing stones as they pass by; so that the frontispiece of it, which faces the road, as Le Bruyn F20 says, looks like a mountain of stones; but as to the fabric itself, he says, there is not a finer piece of workmanship to be met with in all those parts; it takes up a compass of ground of eighty two feet and an half square; the body, which is square, with its moulding, is one entire piece; and the coping, which is an ornament to it, and runs up into a point, taken with the rest of the work, is above thirty feet high; twenty columns, cut out of the same rock, add to the beauty of this pile; one sees through a broken window a great many pieces of antiquity that hang up in a chamber. Adrichomius also relates F21, from travellers, that in the king's valley is now a tower, and a large heap of stones, which is increased every day more and more; for Heathens and strangers passing by there have a custom to cast everyone a stone at it, as it were revenging, according to the law, Absalom's rebellion against David his father, and curse him after this manner; let Absalom the parricide be cursed, and whoever unrighteously persecutes their parents are cursed for ever:
for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance;
for though he had three sons, it seems they were all dead, see ( 2 Samuel 14:27 ) ;
and he called the pillar after his own name, and it is called unto this
day Absalom's place;
or his "hand" F23, the work of his hand; some wrongly think it was in the form of an hand; it was an obelisk, or monument, erected to preserve his name; but since it became so infamous, it would have been better to have had it buried in oblivion. Such sepulchral monuments were used in other nations; so Minerva advised Telemachus F24 to go in quest of his father Ulysses, and if he could not find him, but was assured of his death, then to raise a signal or monument in memory of him, which he resolved to do.
F15 Antiqu l. 7. c. 10. sect. 3.
F16 P. 26. Ed. Hotting.
F17 Travels, part 3. c. 21. p. 310, 311. Ed. Ray.
F18 So Benjamin. Itinerar. p. 43.
F19 Travels, l. 3. p. 147. Ed. 5.
F20 Voyage to the Levant, c. 48. p. 188.
F21 Theatrum Terrae Sanet. p 174.
F23 (dy) (ceir) , Sept. "manus", V. L. Montanus.
F24 Homer. Odyss. 1. ver. 297. Odyss. 2. ver. 243.