Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Absalom

Absalom comes from the Hebrew name Avshalom which means "my father is peace". In the Bible (specifically 2 Samuel 13-21) we learn about Absalom, the rebellious son of King David. We are also told that “in all of Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish.” [2 Samuel 14:25]. Not only do we learn that Absalom was one cold stone fox of ancient Israel, but, like Samson in the book of Judges, he also has some pretty famous Biblical hair. So abundant are these tresses that when he gave himself his annual haircut it weighed “200 shekels” (about five pounds). With all of these fine blessings and good fortunes in life, Absalom still can’t seem to suppress his rebellious streak. First, he kills his older half-brother and heir to the throne Amnon (for good reasons, we might add) and, fearing reprisal from his father, flees Jerusalem for a few years (eventually they reconcile and Absalom returns). Once back in Jerusalem, Absalom wastes no time conspiring against his father by making all sorts of “campaign promises” to the Israelites “if he were king.” Eventually, he steals the hearts of the people and declares himself king (forcing David to flee). David raises an army that would finally defeat Absalom in the famous Battle of Ephraim Wood. In an attempt to escape, the young son jumped on a mule and fled. Only, remember the long hair? Well, like Samson, it ended up being his downfall. Absalom’s hair got caught and tangled in an oak tree leaving him there dangling vulnerably “between the earth and the heavens.” David’s army commander orders Absalom killed despite David’s firm orders that no harm should come to him. Upon hearing of his death, David famously laments in 2 Samuel 18:33 “O my son Absalom, my son, my son! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” This story is the classical Freudian tale of a son’s rebellion against his father, only in this case, Absalom’s “father is peace.” Interestingly, the name Absalom has never been particularly common in the English-speaking world. The Scandinavians, however, don’t shy away from this Biblical story. They embrace their form of the name: Axel. It is currently the 15th most popular name in Sweden.

All About the Baby Name – Absalom



The number Nine personality represents the completion or ending of the cycle, and a need for perfection. This is the personality that moves from "self" to a greater understanding and compassion for the human condition and the world order. They want to make the world a better place. Nines are capable of great spiritual and humanitarian achievements. They are courageous and fearless, able to fight great battles on behalf of worthy causes. These personalities will not tolerate injustice. They are compassionate people with a strong sensitivity to others. They are able to both educate and inspire. Friendships and relationships are the lifeblood to the Nine, and they place a high value on love and affection. Nines are often exceptionally gifted artistically, and they have a keen imagination and enterprising mind.



Although Absalom is a fairly familiar Biblical name from the story mentioned above, as a male given name it has been rarely used. In fact, Absalom is so rare that the name has never managed to hit the U.S. naming charts since the government first began tracking naming trends in the late 1800s. Absalom was likely in use during the time of colonization when the Puritans were known to adopt more exotic and lesser known names from the Bible as given names for their children. Absalom Jones was a notable Black abolitionist and the first African-American to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church, while Absalom Baird was a distinguished Union Army general in the Civil War. But as far as the 20th and 21st centuries go, Absalom is seriously off the American radar. It’s just a little too exotic for the American palate today. Still, the Biblical story is colorful and what parent doesn’t appreciate a little rebellious spirit in their sons? Of course, a boy like Absalom needs a “father of peace” to handle him correctly and set him on the right path. If anything, we see Absalom as a rather humble name.

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My father is peace










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Absalom

Literary Characters


Rosa Coldfield is a character in William Faulkner’s 1936 novel, Absalom, Absalom, who initially narrates the story of Thomas Sutpen, which mirrors the lifespan of Southern plantation culture against a Gothic background. Here are intrigue, miscegenation, madness mayhem and hints of incest. Rosa is the sister of Ellen Coldfield, who marries Sutpen and bears him a son and a daughter. When Rosa’s sister dies, and Sutpen’s son has gone into self-imposed exile after killing his half brother, who has Negro blood and who wants to marry his sister (see, we told you), Sutpen proposes to Rosa. One little catch – he wants Rosa to bear him a son before he marries her, so that he may be sure of a male heir. Rosa, wisely, takes this as an insult (ya think?) and leaves him. Needless to say, this turns her into something of a bitter minded woman, and she obsesses over the issue for years to come. It is she who brings the young Quentin Compsen out to the family home to tell him their story and try to fathom their secrets. This she does, but with dire results to herself, and she dies soon after, yet another victim of that particular Gothic cult of the South.

Judith Sutpen is the ill-fated daughter of Thomas Sutpen in William Falkner’s novel, Absalom, Absalom!, published in 1936. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, this is a tumultuous story of battle, slavery, miscegenation and incest. Judith is as strong-willed as her father, and she is determined to marry Charles Bon, a university mate of her brother Henry. One little catch – Bon is her half-brother, a result of the illegitimate union between her father and a woman of mixed race. Judith’s father tries to stop the marriage, while Judith goes doggedly about her plans, touchingly making her wedding dress out of scraps in war-deprived times. Her brother, Henry, is at first for the marriage, in spite of the familial relationship, but opposes it once he learns of Charles’ racial background (perhaps just a wee misplacement of priorities?). Henry then murders Charles and goes into a self-imposed exile. Poor Judith – somehow amidst all this tragedy she manages to bury the body of her beloved, run the plantation, and make a home for Charles Bon’s own illegitimate (!) son. Finally, she dies of yellow fever while nursing young Charles through his own illness. Now this is Faulknerian Southern Gothic at its best!

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