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!”
191Joab was told that King David was weeping and mourning for Absalom. 2And so the joy of victory was turned into sadness for all David's troops that day, because they heard that the king was mourning for his son. 3They went back into the city quietly, like soldiers who are ashamed because they are running away from battle. 4The king covered his face and cried loudly, “O my son! My son Absalom! Absalom, my son!”
5Joab went to the king's house and said to him, “Today you have humiliated your men — the men who saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and of your wives and concubines. 6You oppose those who love you and support those who hate you! You have made it clear that your officers and men mean nothing to you. I can see that you would be quite happy if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. 7Now go and reassure your men. I swear by the LORD's name that if you don't, not one of them will be with you by tomorrow morning. That would be the worst disaster you have suffered in all your life.” 8Then the king got up, and went and sat near the city gate. His men heard that he was there, and they all gathered round him.
Meanwhile all the Israelites had fled to their own homes. 9All over the country they started quarrelling among themselves. “King David saved us from our enemies,” they said to one another. “He rescued us from the Philistines, but now he has fled from Absalom and left the country. 10We anointed Absalom as our king, but he has been killed in battle. So why doesn't somebody try to bring King David back?”
11The news of what the Israelites were saying reached King David.19.11 Some ancient translations The news… David; Hebrew The news… David, to his palace, and places this sentence at the end of the verse. So he sent the priests Zadok and Abiathar to ask the leaders of Judah, “Why should you be the last to help bring the king back to his palace? 12You are my relatives, my own flesh and blood; why should you be the last to bring me back?” 13David also told them to say to Amasa, “You are my relative. From now on I am putting you in charge of the army in place of Joab. May God strike me dead if I don't!” 14David's words won the complete loyalty of all the men of Judah, and they sent him word to return with all his officials.
15On his way back the king was met at the River Jordan by the men of Judah, who had come to Gilgal to escort him across the river. 16
At the same time the Benjaminite Shimei son of Gera from Bahurim hurried to the Jordan to meet King David. 17He had with him a thousand men from the tribe of Benjamin. And Ziba, the servant of Saul's family, also came with his fifteen sons and twenty servants, and they arrived at the Jordan before the king. 18They crossed19.18 Probable text They crossed; Hebrew The crossing crossed. the river to escort the royal party across and to do whatever the king wanted.
As the king was getting ready to cross, Shimei threw himself down in front of him 19and said, “Your Majesty, please forget the wrong I did that day you left Jerusalem. Don't hold it against me or think about it any more. 20I know, sir, that I have sinned, and this is why I am the first one from the northern tribes to come and meet Your Majesty today.”
21Abishai son of Zeruiah spoke up: “Shimei should be put to death because he cursed the one whom the LORD chose as king.”
22But David said to Abishai and his brother Joab, “Who asked your opinion? Are you going to give me trouble? I am the one who is king of Israel now, and no Israelite will be put to death today.” 23And he said to Shimei, “I give you my word that you will not be put to death.”
Then Mephibosheth, Saul's grandson, came down to meet the king. He had not washed his feet, trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes from the time the king left Jerusalem until he returned victorious. 25When Mephibosheth arrived from19.25 One ancient translation from; Hebrew at. Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, “Mephibosheth, you didn't go with me. Why not?”
26He answered, “As you know, Your Majesty, I am crippled. I told my servant to saddle my donkey so that I could ride along with you, but he betrayed me. 27He lied about me to Your Majesty, but you are like God's angel, so do what seems right to you. 28All my father's family deserved to be put to death by Your Majesty, but you gave me the right to eat at your table. I have no right to ask for any more favours from Your Majesty.”
29The king answered, “You don't have to say anything more. I have decided that you and Ziba will share Saul's property.”
30“Let Ziba have it all,” Mephibosheth answered. “It's enough for me that Your Majesty has come home safely.”
Barzillai, from Gilead, had also come down from Rogelim to escort the king across the Jordan. 32Barzillai was a very old man, eighty years old. He was very rich and had supplied the king with food while he was staying at Mahanaim. 33The king said to him, “Come with me to Jerusalem, and I will take care of you.”
34But Barzillai answered, “I haven't long to live; why should I go with Your Majesty to Jerusalem? 35I am already eighty years old, and nothing gives me pleasure any more. I can't taste what I eat and drink, and I can't hear the voices of singers. I would only be a burden to Your Majesty. 36I don't deserve such a great reward. So I will go just a little way with you beyond the Jordan. 37Then let me go back home and die near my parents' grave. Here is my son Chimham, who will serve you; take him with you, Your Majesty, and do for him as you think best.”
38The king answered, “I will take him with me and do for him whatever you want. And I will do for you anything you ask.” 39Then David and all his men crossed the Jordan. He kissed Barzillai and gave him his blessing, and Barzillai went back home.
40When the king had crossed, escorted by all the people of Judah and half the people of Israel, he went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went with him. 41Then all the Israelites went to the king and said to him, “Your Majesty, why did our brothers, the men of Judah, think they had the right to take you away and escort you, your family, and your men across the Jordan?”
42The men of Judah answered, “We did it because the king is one of us. So why should this make you angry? He hasn't paid for our food nor has he given us anything.”
43The Israelites replied, “We have ten times as many claims on King David as you have, even if he is one of you. Why do you look down on us? Don't forget that we were the first to talk about bringing the king back!”
But the men of Judah were more violent in making their claims than the men of Israel.