A wise man from the tribe of Giloh, known primarily as the royal counselor of King David. The name “Ahithophel” raises certain question since it many mean “my brother is folly.”3Ahithophel is the only fellow-conspirator of Absalom (third son of David) who is mentioned by name in the story.


Ahithophel was the father of Eliam, one of David’s warriors who may be identified with Ammel (1 Chronicles 3:5), the father of Bathshua. Ahithophel is Bathsheba’s grandfather.

Joins Absalom

King David was told Ahithophel was among the conspirators of Absalom. David prayed to the Lord for Ahithophel’s counsel to be foolish (2 Samuel 15:31). As a wise man, Ahithophel was believed to be “like the oracle of God” (2 Samuel 16:23). It was his advice that Absalom violated David’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. He advised Absalom to take a body 12,000 men and strike David immediately, while they were weak. Hushai the Archite, one of David’s counselor denied Ahithophel’s request. Hushai who secretly worked for King David, proposed to Absalom to wait for all of Israel to gather to him. Then, when Absalom and the Israelites met David in the field they would overrun David by force of numbers. Absalom decided to listen to Hushai’s advice so Ahithophel went home, set his affairs in order and hung himself.


Ahithophel knew if his advice was not followed David would kill his son. At the battle of Ephraim David slaughtered Absalom’s army. Joab had intentionally killed David’s son Absalom. Ahithophel’s participation in Absalom's revolt is an indication of the deep frustration with David’s rule. His reason may have been private but the most obvious was the motivation from the murder of Bathsheba’s husband. He had been a counselor for David and he knew his motives were fraudulent.

David’s Mention of Ahithophel

Ahithophel is surely in David’s mind in Psalm 41:9, “Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” David couldn’t picture his trusted counselor would do such an evil thing. He prayed that God would intervene (2 Samuel 15:31).4

1. William McKane, Prophets and Wise Men (London: SCM Press, 1965).86
2. Giuseppe Petrelli, From Darkness to Light ([New York: Van Rees Press, 1957). 37
3. D.G. Scheley, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 1st ed. (New York: Doubleday, 1992). 121
4. Walter A Elwell, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, 1st Volume. (Michigan, Baker Books, 1988). 44