Hushai the Archite

views updated


HUSHAI THE ARCHITE (Heb. חוּשַׁי הָאַרְכִּי), biblical figure listed in i Chronicles 27:33 as holding the office of "the king's friend" under David. In ii Samuel 15:37; 16:17 he is referred to as "David's friend." Hushai figures prominently in the story of the rebellion of *Absalom. At the time of David's flight from Jerusalem, Hushai, deeply grieved and wearing the traditional rent garments and ashes, sought to join David's company on the Mount of Olives, to which they had fled when Jerusalem's capitulation to Absalom appeared inevitable. David, however, persuaded Hushai to return and offer his allegiance to Absalom, so that he might defeat the counsels of *Ahithophel, David's adviser, and that he might supply information to David (ii Sam. 15:32–37). Hushai, accepted as a loyal adviser by Absalom, successfully opposed Ahithophel's plan to pursue and attack David immediately, proposing instead that Absalom mass his forces and attack David in person. Having thus afforded David time to escape, Hushai sent word to David through his couriers, the sons of the priests *Abiathar and *Zadok, to cross the Jordan immediately (ii Sam. 17:5–16). Although no more is heard of Hushai himself, Baana son of Hushai, one of the prefects of Solomon listed in i Kings 4:16, is probably his son.

The term "the Archite" indicates that Hushai belongs to the clan named in Joshua 16:2–3 as dwelling in the vicinity of Ataroth, on the border between Ephraim and Benjamin. The name Hushai itself is most probably a short form of the name Ahishai, Ahushai.

[Tikva S. Frymer]

In the Aggadah

Various interpretations are given to the epithet "The Archite." According to one opinion it was because he was one of David's highest officials (from the Greek archē, "chief of government"); according to another it is the name of his birthplace; and others that he was so called "because through him the house of David was to be put on a firm footing, and through him the house of David was to be kept in good repair," the word ארך in Aramaic meaning to keep in good order (Mid. Ps. 3:3). After Absalom's rebellion, David wished to serve an idol, in order that people should attribute his public disgrace to Divine punishment for this sin, and not think that God had punished him without cause. Hushai, however, pointed out to David that his punishment had, in fact, already been foretold, in the Scriptures. Although David had been permitted to marry Absalom's mother (Maacah), who was a captive slave, he had failed to take note of the fact that the passage immediately following the biblical permission to do so speaks of the dishonest and rebellious son (Deut. 21:18) to teach the lesson that this was the natural issue of such a marriage (Sanh. 107a).


de Vaux, Anc Isr, 122–3; idem, in: rb, 48 (1939), 403–5; van Selms, in: jnes, 16 (1957), 118–23; Albright, in: jbl, 58 (1939), 179–80; Dupont-Sommer, in: Syria, 24 (1944–45), 42 (Fr.); Donner, in: zaw, 73 (1961), 269–77. add. bibliography: N. Fox, In the Service of the King (2000), 121–28.