Ahitophel, King David’s Divine Betrayer


Part 2 of 4 in this week’s “How a Jew Gets Screwed for Eternity” series. 

Counselor and confidant to King David, Ahitophel was a wise man. He used his supernatural access to divine wisdom to counsel David, and David, reverent of holy men, hung on every word.

Corrupted by his own hunger for royal power, Ahitophel often withheld advice from David in hopes of seeing him flounder. On one occasion, Ahitophel stood by passively as David excavated too deeply for the foundations of the Temple, causing tremendous flooding. David threatened his untrustworthy counselor, and Ahitophel acquiesced, finally advising him to write the name of God on a tile and to toss it into the water. Sure enough, the water receded.

Ahitophel’s worst betrayal, howeverthe one that really sealed the dealwas his participation in Absalom’s rebellion against his father, David. After that, there wasn’t much hope for Ahitophel maintaining his share in Olam Ha’ba.

The seedy counselor winds up hanging himself at the age of 33, which is odd considering David had previously cursed him to death by strangulation. As to whether he learned his lesson? Sort of. His will states:

“1. Refrain from ought against a favorite of fortune. 2. Take heed not to rise up against the royal house of David. 3. If the Feast of Pentecost falls on a sunny day, then sow wheat.”


» Get into the Talmudic nitty-gritty of the tale

» Reserve your spot in the World to Come

» Read more about the Ahitophel legend

» Freshen up on King Solomon, one of David’s three sons


Recommended from JTA