This hidden story in the life of King David was brought to light by the Anglican priest John James Blunt in his famous book Undesigned Coincidences in the Writings both of the Old and New Testaments (1833). The summary below is by Alan Hayward from Chapter 9 of God’s Truth.
Ahithophel’s Treachery Explained
In another chapter Blunt brings together a whole string of apparently unrelated chapters from one book, with remarkable results. The Bible passages involved are too numerous to quote here in full. I shall just give the substance of them and quote the references.
But first, a little background information. There were two great tragedies in the later part of King David’s life. The first was his terrible moral lapse, when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband, Uriah the Hittite. The second occurred when his own son Absalom rebelled against him and temporarily seized his throne.
The Bible tells us that the second incident was God’s punishment on David for the first. But it does not tell us that there was also a purely human connection between the two incidents. The Bible left that for some future student to dig out for himself.
This is what Blunt discovered. When Absalom decided to stage a rebellion, he sent for a man called Ahithophel the Gilonite to join him.9 Now this was a very surprising action. Ahithophel was David’s own right hand man, “mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted”, as David called him.10
It was a remarkable act of treachery on Ahithophel’s part. It was so unexpected to David that he never could get over it.11 Yet Absalom clearly expected Ahithophel to change sides readily.
Blunt found a clue to the answer in one of those long lists of names that many Bible readers skip over. In the list of the 37 officers of David’s guard occur two ‘vital names: Uriah the Hittite (the man David murdered), and “Eli am the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite”12 -that is, the son of the traitor. So the son of the future traitor and the murdered man had been close colleagues, and probably friends. But this is not all. From an entirely different part of the book we learn that Bathsheba, the wife of the murdered man, was “the daughter of Eliam”.13 Uriah had evidently married the daughter of his fellow-officer. (It was common in those days for older men of the upper class to marry very young women.)
With these facts before us it is easy to see why Absalom anticipated Ahithophel’s treachery, while David was astonished by it. The girl that the elderly David had seduced was Ahithophel’s granddaughter. The man David had murdered was Ahithophel’s grandson by marriage. Blinded by his own passion, David could not see what effect this had upon Ahithophel. But Absalom was well aware that Ahithophel was seething with anger, and ready for revenge.
A later chapter confirms that revenge was one of Ahithophel’s motives. When they first captured David’s palace, Absalom asked Ahithophel what to do next. “Go in unto thy father’s concubines (wives)”14 was the reply. As much as to say: “Pay him back in his own coin. He stole another man’s wife; now you steal his!” The record continues: “So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house, and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.”15 Thus the wheel had turned full circle. It was upon his housetop that David was walking when he caught his first glimpse of Bathsheba washing herself and lusted for her.16 Now, in the self same place, her wily old grandfather arranges David’s public humiliation.
It goes without saying that this fascinating story-hidden-within-a-story could not have been deliberately contrived. No forger would hide his forgery so carefully that it remained undiscovered for nearly 3,000 years, as this did. Either these passages represent a whole series of lucky coincidences or-much more probably-they are an integral part of real history, told with meticulous accuracy.