2 Samuel 14:27—Why does this passage say Absalom had three sons when 2 Samuel 18:18 says he had none?

Problem: The passage in 2 Samuel 14:27 states that Absalom had three sons and one daughter. However, in 2 Samuel 18:18 Absalom set up a pillar for himself because, as he says, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” Which is correct?

Solution: Both passages are correct. It is significant that 14:27 names Absalom’s daughter (Tamar), but does not give the names of Absalom’s three sons. Probably, these sons died in infancy, and their names were not recorded because they left no posterity. Consequently, Absalom set up a monument in a vain attempt to memorialize his name precisely because he had no male children who could carry on his family name.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.