When David had gone a little beyond the top of the hill, he was suddenly met by Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, who had with him a couple of donkeys loaded with 200 loaves of bread, a hundred bunches of raisins, a hundred bunches of fresh fruit, and a leather bag full of wine. 2King David asked him, “What are you going to do with all that?”
Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for Your Majesty's family to ride, the bread and the fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is for them to drink when they get tired in the wilderness.”
“Where is Mephibosheth, the grandson of your master Saul?” the king asked him.
“He is staying in Jerusalem,” Ziba answered, “because he is convinced that the Israelites will now restore to him the kingdom of his grandfather Saul.”
4The king said to Ziba, “Everything that belonged to Mephibosheth is yours.”
“I am your servant,” Ziba replied. “May I always please Your Majesty!”
5When King David arrived at Bahurim, one of Saul's relatives, Shimei son of Gera, came out to meet him, cursing him as he came. 6Shimei started throwing stones at David and his officials, even though David was surrounded by his men and his bodyguard. 7Shimei cursed him and said, “Get out! Get out! Murderer! Criminal! 8You took Saul's kingdom, and now the LORD is punishing you for murdering so many of Saul's family. The LORD has given the kingdom to your son Absalom, and you are ruined, you murderer!”
9Abishai, whose mother was Zeruiah, said to the king, “Your Majesty, why do you let this dog curse you? Let me go over there and cut off his head!”
10“This is none of your business,” the king said to Abishai and his brother Joab. “If he curses me because the LORD told him to, who has the right to ask why he does it?” 11And David said to Abishai and to all his officials, “My own son is trying to kill me; so why should you be surprised at this Benjaminite? The LORD told him to curse; so leave him alone and let him do it. 12Perhaps the LORD will notice my misery16.12 Some ancient translations misery; Hebrew wickedness. and give me some blessings to take the place of his curse.” 13So David and his men continued along the road. Shimei kept up with them, walking on the hillside; he was cursing and throwing stones and earth at them as he went. 14The king and all his men were worn out when they reached the Jordan,16.14 One ancient translation the Jordan; Hebrew does not have these words. and there they rested.
15Absalom and all the Israelites with him entered Jerusalem, and Ahithophel was with them. 16When Hushai, David's trusted friend, met Absalom, he shouted, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”
17“What has happened to your loyalty to your friend David?” Absalom asked him. “Why didn't you go with him?”
18Hushai answered, “How could I? I am on the side of the one chosen by the LORD, by these people, and by all the Israelites. I will stay with you. 19After all, whom should I serve, if not my master's son? As I served your father, so now I will serve you.”
20Then Absalom turned to Ahithophel and said, “Now that we are here, what do you advise us to do?”
21Ahithophel answered, “Go and have intercourse with your father's concubines whom he left behind to take care of the palace. Then everyone in Israel will know that your father regards you as his enemy, and your followers will be greatly encouraged.” 22
So they set up a tent for Absalom on the palace roof, and in the sight of everyone Absalom went in and had intercourse with his father's concubines.
23Any advice that Ahithophel gave in those days was accepted as though it were the very word of God; both David and Absalom followed it.
171Not long after that, Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose 12,000 men, and tonight I will set out after David. 2I will attack him while he is tired and discouraged. He will be frightened, and all his men will run away. I will kill only the king 3and then bring back all his men to you, like a bride returning to her husband. You want to kill only one man;17.3 One ancient translation like a bride… only one man; Hebrew like the return of the whole, so is the man you seek. the rest of the people will be safe.” 4This seemed like good advice to Absalom and all the Israelite leaders.
5Absalom said, “Now call Hushai, and let us hear what he has to say.” 6When Hushai arrived, Absalom said to him, “This is the advice that Ahithophel has given us; shall we follow it? If not, you tell us what to do.”
7Hushai answered, “The advice Ahithophel gave you this time is no good. 8You know that your father David and his men are hard fighters and that they are as fierce as a mother bear robbed of her cubs. Your father is an experienced soldier and does not stay with his men at night. 9Just now he is probably hiding in a cave or some other place. As soon as David attacks your men, whoever hears about it will say that your men have been defeated. 10Then even the bravest men, as fearless as lions, will be afraid because everyone in Israel knows that your father is a great soldier and that his men are hard fighters. 11My advice is that you bring all the Israelites together from one end of the country to the other, as many as the grains of sand on the seashore, and that you lead them personally in battle. 12We will find David wherever he is, and attack him before he knows what's happening. Neither he nor any of his men will survive. 13If he retreats into a city, our people will all bring ropes and just pull the city17.13 Some ancient translations the city; Hebrew him. into the valley below. Not a single stone will be left there on top of the hill.”
14Absalom and all the Israelites said, “Hushai's advice is better than Ahithophel's.” The LORD had decided that Ahithophel's good advice would not be followed, so that disaster would come on Absalom.
15Then Hushai told the priests Zadok and Abiathar what advice he had given to Absalom and the Israelite leaders and what advice Ahithophel had given. 16Hushai added, “Quick, now! Send a message to David not to spend the night at the river crossings in the wilderness, but to cross the Jordan at once, so that he and his men won't all be caught and killed.”
17Abiathar's son Jonathan and Zadok's son Ahimaaz were waiting at the spring of Enrogel, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, because they did not dare to be seen entering the city. A servant woman would regularly go and tell them what was happening, and then they would go and tell King David. 18But one day a boy happened to see them, and he told Absalom; so they hurried off to hide in the house of a certain man in Bahurim. He had a well near his house, and they got down into it. 19The man's wife took a covering, spread it over the opening of the well and scattered grain over it, so that no one would notice anything. 20Absalom's officials came to the house and asked the woman, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”
“They crossed the river,” she answered.
The men looked for them but could not find them, and so they returned to Jerusalem. 21After they left, Ahimaaz and Jonathan came up out of the well and went and reported to King David. They told him what Ahithophel had planned against him and said, “Hurry up and cross the river.” 22So David and his men started crossing the Jordan, and by daybreak they had all gone across.
23When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and went back to his own city. After putting his affairs in order, he hanged himself. He was buried in the family grave.
24David had reached the town of Mahanaim by the time Absalom and the Israelites had crossed the Jordan. 25(Absalom had put Amasa in command of the army in the place of Joab. Amasa was the son of Jether the Ishmaelite;17.25 One ancient translation (and see 1 Chr 2.17) Ishmaelite; Hebrew Israelite. his mother was Abigail, the daughter of Nahash and the sister of Joab's mother Zeruiah.) 26Absalom and his men camped in the land of Gilead.
27When David arrived at Mahanaim, he was met by Shobi son of Nahash, from the city of Rabbah in Ammon, and by Machir son of Ammiel, from Lodebar, and by Barzillai, from Rogelim in Gilead. 28-29They brought bowls, clay pots, and bedding, and also food for David and his men: wheat, barley, meal, roasted grain, beans, peas,17.28–29 Some ancient translations peas; Hebrew peas and roasted grain. honey, cheese, cream, and some sheep. They knew that David and his men would be hungry, thirsty, and tired in the wilderness.
181King David brought all his men together, divided them into units of a thousand and of a hundred, and placed officers in command of them. 2Then he sent them out in three groups, with Joab and Joab's brother Abishai and Ittai from Gath, each in command of a group. And the king said to his men, “I will go with you myself.”
3“You mustn't go with us,” they answered. “It won't make any difference to the enemy if the rest of us turn and run, or even if half of us are killed; but you are worth 10,000 of us. It will be better if you stay here in the city and send us help.”
4“I will do whatever you think best,” the king answered. Then he stood by the side of the gate as his men marched out in units of a thousand and of a hundred. 5He gave orders to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake don't harm the young man Absalom.” And all the troops heard David give this command to his officers.
6David's army went out into the countryside and fought the Israelites in the forest of Ephraim. 7The Israelites were defeated by David's men; it was a terrible defeat, with 20,000 men killed that day. 8The fighting spread over the countryside, and more men died in the forest than were killed in battle.
9Suddenly Absalom met some of David's men. Absalom was riding a mule, and as it went under a large oak tree, Absalom's head got caught in the branches. The mule ran on and Absalom was left hanging in mid air. 10One of David's men saw him and reported to Joab, “Sir, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree!”
11Joab answered, “If you saw him, why didn't you kill him on the spot? I myself would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.”
12But the man answered, “Even if you gave me a thousand pieces of silver, I wouldn't lift a finger against the king's son. We all heard the king command you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake don't harm the young man Absalom.’ 13But if I had disobeyed the king and killed Absalom, the king would have heard about it — he hears about everything — and you would not have defended me.”
14“I'm not going to waste any more time with you,” Joab said. He took three spears and plunged them into Absalom's chest while he was still alive, hanging in the oak tree. 15Then ten of Joab's soldiers closed in on Absalom and finished killing him.
16Joab ordered the trumpet to be blown to stop the fighting, and his troops came back from pursuing the Israelites. 17They took Absalom's body, threw it into a deep pit in the forest, and covered it with a huge pile of stones. All the Israelites fled to their own homes.
18During his lifetime Absalom had built a monument for himself in King's Valley, because he had no son to keep his name alive. So he named it after himself, and to this day it is known as Absalom's Monument.
19Then Ahimaaz son of Zadok said to Joab, “Let me run to the king with the good news that the LORD has saved him from his enemies.”
20“No,” Joab said, “today you will not take any good news. Some other day you may do so, but not today, for the king's son is dead.” 21Then he said to his Ethiopian18.21 Ethiopian: See Word List. slave, “Go and tell the king what you have seen.” The slave bowed and ran off.
22Ahimaaz insisted, “I don't care what happens; please let me take the news also.”
“Why do you want to do it, my son?” Joab asked. “You will get no reward for it.”
23“Whatever happens,” Ahimaaz said again, “I want to go.”
“Then go,” Joab said. So Ahimaaz ran off down the road through the Jordan Valley, and soon he passed the slave.
24David was sitting in the space between the inner and outer gates of the city. The watchman went up to the top of the wall and stood on the roof of the gateway; he looked out and saw a man running alone. 25He called down and told the king, and the king said, “If he is alone, he is bringing good news.” The runner came nearer and nearer.
26Then the watchman saw another man running alone, and he called down to the gatekeeper, “Look! There's another man running!”
The king answered, “This one also is bringing good news.”
27The watchman said, “I can see that the first man runs like Ahimaaz.”
“He's a good man,” the king said, “and he is bringing good news.”
28Ahimaaz called out a greeting to the king, threw himself down to the ground before him, and said, “Praise the LORD your God, who has given you victory over the men who rebelled against Your Majesty!”
29“Is the young man Absalom safe?” the king asked.
Ahimaaz answered, “Sir, when your officer Joab sent me, I saw a great commotion, but I couldn't tell what it was.”
30“Stand over there,” the king said; and he went over and stood there.
31Then the Ethiopian18.31 Ethiopian: See Word List. slave arrived and said to the king, “I have good news for Your Majesty! Today the LORD has given you victory over all who rebelled against you!”
32“Is the young man Absalom safe?” the king asked.
The slave answered, “I wish that what has happened to him would happen to all your enemies, sir, and to all who rebel against you.”
33The king was overcome with grief. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he cried, “O my son! My son Absalom! Absalom, my son! If only I had died in your place, my son! Absalom, my son!”