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ABSALON
ABSOLUTE
60

lessness of pursuing David, prevails against the urgent counsel of Achitophel, who urges Absalom to attack the King, lest he gain time to organize his bodyguard, lately strengthened by the accession of six hundred Gethæan soldiers. The event proves the accuracy of Achitophel's foresight. David is secretly informed of Absalom's delay, and forthwith sends his three generals, Joab, Abisai, and Ethai, to attack the rebel hosts from the eastern side of the hill. Shielded by a forest, David's men proceed and meet Absalom's unguarded forces on the edge of the woods which fringe the circular plain at a point marked by the present site (presumably) of Mukaah. A frightful slaughter ensues, and the disorganized rebel party is quickly routed. Absalom madly flies. Suddenly he finds himself stunned by a blow while his head is caught in the fork of the low hanging branches of a terebinth tree. At the same time his long loose hair becomes entangled in the thick foliage, whilst the frightened animal beneath him rushes on, leaving him suspended above the ground. Before he is able to extricate himself he is espied by one of the soldiers, who, mindful of the King's words, "Spare me the life of Absalom", directs Joab's attention to the plight of the hapless youth. The old general, less scrupulous, and eager to rid his master of so dangerous a foe, thrice pierces the body of Absalom with his javelin. When the news of Absalom's death is brought to David, he is inconsolable. "My son Absalom, Absalom my son: would to God that I might die for thee, Absalom my son, my son Absalom." The sacred text states that Absalom was buried under a great heap of stones (II Kings, xviii, 17) near the scene of his disaster. The traveller today is shown a tomb in Græco-Jewish style, east of the Kidron, which is designated as the sepulchre of Absalom, but which is evidently of much later construction and probably belongs to one of the Jewish kings of the Asmonean period (Josephus, De Bello Jud., V, xii, 2). Absalom had three sons, who died before him. He left a daughter Maacha (Thamar), who was afterwards married to Roboam, son of Solomon (II Par., xi, 20), although there is some doubt as to the identity of this name mentioned in the Book of Kings and in Paralipomenon.

2. Absalom, father of Mathathias (I Mach., xi, 70). Perhaps identical with Absalom, father of Jonathan (I Mach., xiii, 11).

3. Absalom, one of the two ambassadors whom Judas Machabeus sent to Lysias, procurator of Antiochus (II Mach., xi, 17), identical with the foregoing.

Absalon of Lund, also known as Axel, a famous Danish prelate, b. in 1128, at Finnestoë in Seeland; d. 21 March, 1201, in the Benedictine monastery of Soröe (Sora) founded by his father. He was a graduate of the University of Paris, and taught for a while in the school of Ste. Geneviève. In 1158 he was made Bishop of Roskilde, and in 1178 Archbishop of Lund, Primate of Denmark and Sweden, and eventually Papal Legate. In this capacity he laboured zealously for the final extirpation of paganism in the Scandinavian world, notably on the Isle of Rügen, its last stronghold. He exercised great political influence under King Waldemar I (1155–81) and Canute VI. It was at his request that Saxo Grammaticus composed his "Historiæ Danicæ Libri XVI". A tribute to Absalon is found in the fourteenth book of that work.

Hefele, in Kirchenlex., art. Axel, 1, 1708; monographs by Estrup-Mohnike (Leipzig, 1832), and Hammerich (Copenhagen, 1863).


Absence, Ecclesiastical. See Ecclesiastical Residence.

Absinthe, Hebrew lá'ănah, wormwood, known for its repulsive bitterness (Jer., ix, 15; xxiii, 15; Deut., xxix, 18; Lam., iii, 19; Prov., V, 4). Figuratively it stands for a curse or calamity (Lam., iii, 15), or also for injustice (Amos, V, 7; vi, 13). In Apoc., viii, 11, the Greek equivalent ὁ ἄψινθος is given as a proper name to the star which fell into the waters and made them bitter. The Vulgate renders the Hebrew expression by absinithium, except in Deut., xxix, 18, where it translates it amaritudo. It seems that the biblical absinthe is identical with the Artemisia monosperma (Delile), or the Artemisia herba-alba (Asso); or, again, the Artemisia juidaica Linné. (See Plants in the Bible.)

Hagen, Lexicon Biblicum (Paris, 1905); Vigouroux, in Dict. de la Bible (Paris, 1895); Tristam, Natural History of the Bible (London, 1889).

Absolute, The, a term employed in modern philosophy with various meanings, but applied generally speaking to the Supreme Being. It signifies (1) that which is complete and perfect; (2) that which exists by its own nature and is consequently independent of everything else; (3) that which is related to no other being; (4) the sum of all being, actual and potential (Hegel). In the first and the second of these significations the Absolute is a name for God which Christian philosophy may readily accept. Though the term was not current in the Middle Ages, equivalent expressions were used by the Scholastic writers in speaking, e.g. of God as Pure Actuality (Actus Purus), as uncaused Being, or as containing pre-eminently every perfection. St. Thomas, in particular, emphasizes the absoluteness of God by, showing that he cannot be classed under any genus or species, and that His esseuce is identical with His existence. Aquinas also anticipates the difficulties which arise from the use of the term Absolute in the sense of unrelated being, and which are brought out quite clearly in modern discussions, notably in that between Mill, as critic of Sir William Hamilton's philosophy, and Mansel as its defender. It was urged that the Absolute could not consistently be thought of or spoken of as First Cause, for the reason that causation implies relation, and the Absolute is outside of all relation; it cannot, therefore, be conceived as producing effects. St. Thomas, however, offered a solution. He holds that God and created things are related, but that the relation is real in the effects only. It implies no conditioning or modification of the Divine Being; it is in its application to, God merely conceptual. The fashion of our thought obliges us to conceive God as one term of a relation, but not to infer that the relation affects Him as it affects the created thing which is the other term. This distinction, moreover, is based on experience. The process of knowledge involves a relation between the known object and, the knowing subject, but the character of the relation is not the same in both terms. In the mind it is real because perception and thought imply the exercise of mental faciilties, and consequently a modification of the mind itself. No such modification, however, reaches the object; this is the same whether we perceive it or not.

Now it is just here that a more serious difficulty arises. It is claimed that the Absolute can neither be known nor conceived. "To think is to condition"; and as the Absolute is by its very nature unconditioned, no effort of thought can reach it. To say that God is the Absolute is equivalent to saying that He is unknowable.—This view, expressed by Hamilton and Mansel, and endorsed by Spencer in his "First Principles", affords an apparently strong support to Agnosticism, while it assails both the reasonableness and the possibility of religion. It is only a partial reply to state that God, though incomprehensible, is nevertheless knowable according to the manner and capacity of our intelligence. The Agnostic contends that God, precisely because He is the Absolute, is beyond the range of any knowledge