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A Warning to Disobedient Children in Israel's Kidron Valley

A portion of a public domain work depicting the death of Absalom The death of Absalom, Hochschul-und Landesbibliothek Fulda, Public Domain, Wikipedia

An Israeli couple recently took a tour of Jerusalem’s Kidron Valley, located between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, and shared their experience in The Times of Israel. The area is rich in biblical history – and has offered a unique teaching moment for parents throughout the years.  

We then descended steps to Absalom’s Tomb, by far the most magnificent structure in the Kidron Valley. A lofty 22 meters in height whose bottom portion was hewn out of the rock, it is completely separate from the slope behind it. Semi columns and capitals decorate the massive lower part of the monument, which is distinguished by a round top ending in a long, thin point.

The Bible tells us that during his lifetime Absalom, King David’s third son, “had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as a monument to himself… He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.” [2 Samuel 18:18]. Despite that fact that the shrine dates back to the end of the Second Temple period — nearly a millennia after Absalom rebelled against his father and was run through with a javelin by the King’s captain – tradition places that monument here, identifying the Kidron Valley with the King’s Valley.

In earlier centuries, passersby of all religions would throw stones at Absalom’s mammoth structure. Indeed Muslims, who revere King David, almost covered it with rocks. It is said that Jewish parents would bring disobedient offspring to the almost hidden monument, point out the stones, and warn them that “this is what happens to children who behave badly to their fathers.”

Iron bars block the entrance to a structure on one side of Absalom’s Tomb. Uncovered in 1924, and thought by some to be the tomb of 9th-century B.C.E. King Jehoshaphat, it contains several chambers and a splendidly ornamental lintel.

Tags: Life in Israel

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