2 Samuel 13:23-19:8
23 Two years later Absalom was having his sheep sheared at Baal Hazor, near the town of Ephraim, and he invited all the king's sons to be there. 24 He went to King David and said, “Your Majesty, I am having my sheep sheared. Will you and your officials come and take part in the festivities?”
25 “No, my son,” the king answered. “It would be too much trouble for you if we all went.” Absalom insisted, but the king would not give in, and he asked Absalom to leave.
26 But Absalom said, “Well, then, will you at least let my brother Amnon come?”
“Why should he?” the king asked. 27 But Absalom kept on insisting until David finally let Amnon and all his other sons go with Absalom.
Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king 28 and instructed his servants: “Notice when Amnon has had too much to drink, and then when I give the order, kill him. Don't be afraid. I will take the responsibility myself. Be brave and don't hesitate!” 29 So the servants followed Absalom's instructions and killed Amnon. All the rest of David's sons mounted their mules and fled.
30 While they were on their way home, David was told: “Absalom has killed all your sons—not one of them is left!” 31 The king stood up, tore his clothes in sorrow, and threw himself to the ground. The servants who were there with him tore their clothes also. 32 But Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shammah, said, “Your Majesty, they haven't killed all your sons. Only Amnon is dead. You could tell by looking at Absalom that he had made up his mind to do this from the time that Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 So don't believe the news that all your sons are dead; only Amnon was killed.”
34 In the meantime Absalom had fled.
Just then the soldier on sentry duty saw a large crowd coming down the hill on the road from Horonaim. He went to the king and reported what he had seen. 35 Jonadab said to David, “Those are your sons coming, just as I said they would.” 36 As soon as he finished saying this, David's sons came in; they started crying, and David and his officials also cried bitterly.
37-38 Absalom fled and went to the king of Geshur, Talmai son of Ammihud, and stayed there three years. David mourned a long time for his son Amnon; 39 but when he got over Amnon's death, he was filled with longing for his son Absalom.
Joab Arranges for Absalom's Return
1 Joab knew that King David missed Absalom very much, 2 so he sent for a clever woman who lived in Tekoa. When she arrived, he said to her, “Pretend that you are in mourning; put on your mourning clothes, and don't comb your hair. Act like a woman who has been in mourning for a long time. 3 Then go to the king and say to him what I tell you to say.” Then Joab told her what to say.
4 The woman went to the king, bowed down to the ground in respect, and said, “Help me, Your Majesty!”
5 “What do you want?” he asked her.
“I am a poor widow, sir,” she answered. “My husband is dead. 6 Sir, I had two sons, and one day they got into a quarrel out in the fields, where there was no one to separate them, and one of them killed the other. 7 And now, sir, all my relatives have turned against me and are demanding that I hand my son over to them, so that they can kill him for murdering his brother. If they do this, I will be left without a son. They will destroy my last hope and leave my husband without a son to keep his name alive.”
8 “Go back home,” the king answered, “and I will take care of the matter.”
9 “Your Majesty,” she said, “whatever you do, my family and I will take the blame; you and the royal family are innocent.”
10 The king replied, “If anyone threatens you, bring him to me, and he will never bother you again.”
11 She said, “Your Majesty, please pray to the Lord your God, so that my relative who is responsible for avenging the death of my son will not commit a greater crime by killing my other son.”
“I promise by the living Lord,” David replied, “that your son will not be harmed in the least.”
12 “Please, Your Majesty, let me say just one more thing,” the woman said.
“All right,” he answered.
13 She said to him, “Why have you done such a wrong to God's people? You have not allowed your own son to return from exile, and so you have condemned yourself by what you have just said. 14 We will all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which can't be gathered again. Even God does not bring the dead back to life, but the king can at least find a way to bring a man back from exile. 15 Now, Your Majesty, the reason I have come to speak to you is that the people threatened me, and so I said to myself that I would speak to you in the hope that you would do what I ask. 16 I thought you would listen to me and save me from the one who is trying to kill my son and me and so remove us from the land God gave his people. 17 I said to myself that your promise, sir, would make me safe, because the king is like God's angel and can distinguish good from evil. May the Lord your God be with you!”
18 The king answered, “I'm going to ask you a question, and you must tell me the whole truth.”
“Ask me anything, Your Majesty,” she answered.
19 “Did Joab put you up to this?” he asked her.
She answered, “I swear by all that is sacred, Your Majesty, that there is no way to avoid answering your question. It was indeed your officer Joab who told me what to do and what to say. 20 But he did it in order to straighten out this whole matter. Your Majesty is as wise as the angel of God and knows everything that happens.”
21 Later on the king said to Joab, “I have decided to do what you want. Go and get the young man Absalom and bring him back here.”
22 Joab threw himself to the ground in front of David in respect, and said, “God bless you, Your Majesty! Now I know that you are pleased with me, because you have granted my request.” 23 Then he got up and went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 The king, however, gave orders that Absalom should not live in the palace. “I don't want to see him,” the king said. So Absalom lived in his own house and did not appear before the king.
Absalom Is Reconciled to David
25 There was no one in Israel as famous for his good looks as Absalom; he had no defect from head to toe. 26 His hair was very thick, and he had to cut it once a year, when it grew too long and heavy. It would weigh about five pounds according to the royal standard of weights. 27 Absalom had three sons and one daughter named Tamar, a very beautiful woman.
28 Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king. 29 Then he sent for Joab, to ask him to go to the king for him; but Joab would not come. Again Absalom sent for him, and again Joab refused to come. 30 So Absalom said to his servants, “Look, Joab's field is next to mine, and it has barley growing in it. Go and set fire to it.” So they went and set the field on fire.
31 Joab went to Absalom's house and demanded, “Why did your servants set fire to my field?”
32 Absalom answered, “Because you wouldn't come when I sent for you. I wanted you to go to the king and ask for me: ‘Why did I leave Geshur and come here? It would have been better for me to have stayed there.’” And Absalom went on, “I want you to arrange for me to see the king, and if I'm guilty, then let him put me to death.”
33 So Joab went to King David and told him what Absalom had said. The king sent for Absalom, who went to him and bowed down to the ground in front of him. The king welcomed him with a kiss.
Absalom Plans Rebellion
1 After this, Absalom provided a chariot and horses for himself, and an escort of fifty men. 2 He would get up early and go and stand by the road at the city gate. Whenever someone came there with a dispute that he wanted the king to settle, Absalom would call him over and ask him where he was from. And after the man had told him what tribe he was from, 3 Absalom would say, “Look, the law is on your side, but there is no representative of the king to hear your case.” 4 And he would add, “How I wish I were a judge! Then anyone who had a dispute or a claim could come to me, and I would give him justice.” 5 When the man would approach Absalom to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out, take hold of him, and kiss him. 6 Absalom did this with every Israelite who came to the king for judgment, and so he won their loyalty.
7 After four years Absalom said to King David, “Sir, let me go to Hebron and keep a promise I made to the Lord. 8 While I was living in Geshur in Syria, I promised the Lord that if he would take me back to Jerusalem, I would worship him in Hebron.”
9 “Go in peace,” the king said. So Absalom went to Hebron. 10 But he sent messengers to all the tribes of Israel to say, “When you hear the sound of trumpets, shout, ‘Absalom has become king at Hebron!’” 11 There were two hundred men who at Absalom's invitation had gone from Jerusalem with him; they knew nothing of the plot and went in all good faith. 12 And while he was offering sacrifices, Absalom also sent to the town of Gilo for Ahithophel, who was one of King David's advisers. The plot against the king gained strength, and Absalom's followers grew in number.
David Flees from Jerusalem
13 A messenger reported to David, “The Israelites are pledging their loyalty to Absalom.”
14 So David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “We must get away at once if we want to escape from Absalom! Hurry! Or else he will soon be here and defeat us and kill everyone in the city!”
15 “Yes, Your Majesty,” they answered. “We are ready to do whatever you say.” 16 So the king left, accompanied by all his family and officials, except for ten concubines, whom he left behind to take care of the palace.
17 As the king and all his men were leaving the city, they stopped at the last house. 18 All his officials stood next to him as the royal bodyguards passed by in front of him. The six hundred soldiers who had followed him from Gath also passed by, 19 and the king said to Ittai, their leader, “Why are you going with us? Go back and stay with the new king. You are a foreigner, a refugee away from your own country. 20 You have lived here only a short time, so why should I make you wander around with me? I don't even know where I'm going. Go back and take all your people with you—and may the Lord be kind and faithful to you.”
21 But Ittai answered, “Your Majesty, I swear to you in the Lord's name that I will always go with you wherever you go, even if it means death.”
22 “Fine!” David answered. “March on!” So Ittai went on with all his men and their dependents. 23 The people cried loudly as David's followers left. The king crossed Kidron Brook, followed by his men, and together they went out toward the wilderness.
24 Zadok the priest was there, and with him were the Levites, carrying the sacred Covenant Box. They set it down and didn't pick it up again until all the people had left the city. The priest Abiathar was there too. 25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the Covenant Box back to the city. If the Lord is pleased with me, some day he will let me come back to see it and the place where it stays. 26 But if he isn't pleased with me—well, then, let him do to me what he wishes.” 27 And he went on to say to Zadok, “Look, take your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan and go back to the city in peace. 28 Meanwhile, I will wait at the river crossings in the wilderness until I receive news from you.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the Covenant Box back into Jerusalem and stayed there.
30 David went on up the Mount of Olives crying; he was barefoot and had his head covered as a sign of grief. All who followed him covered their heads and cried also. 31 When David was told that Ahithophel had joined Absalom's rebellion, he prayed, “Please, Lord, turn Ahithophel's advice into nonsense!”
32 When David reached the top of the hill, where there was a place of worship, his trusted friend Hushai the Archite met him with his clothes torn and with dirt on his head. 33 David said to him, “You will be of no help to me if you come with me, 34 but you can help me by returning to the city and telling Absalom that you will now serve him as faithfully as you served his father. And do all you can to oppose any advice that Ahithophel gives. 35 The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be there; tell them everything you hear in the king's palace. 36 They have their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan with them, and you can send them to me with all the information you gather.”
37 So Hushai, David's friend, returned to the city just as Absalom was arriving.
David and Ziba
1 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 two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred bunches of raisins, a hundred bunches of fresh fruit, and a leather bag full of wine. 2 King 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.”
3 “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.”
4 The king said to Ziba, “Everything that belonged to Mephibosheth is yours.”
“I am your servant,” Ziba replied. “May I always please Your Majesty!”
David and Shimei
5 When King David arrived at Bahurim, one of Saul's relatives, Shimei son of Gera, came out to meet him, cursing him as he came. 6 Shimei started throwing stones at David and his officials, even though David was surrounded by his men and his bodyguards. 7 Shimei cursed him and said, “Get out! Get out! Murderer! Criminal! 8 You 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!”
9 Abishai, 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?” 11 And 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. 12 Perhaps the Lord will notice my misery and give me some blessings to take the place of his curse.” 13 So David and his men continued along the road. Shimei kept up with them, walking on the hillside; he was cursing and throwing stones and dirt at them as he went. 14 The king and all his men were worn out when they reached the Jordan, and there they rested.
Absalom in Jerusalem
15 Absalom and all the Israelites with him entered Jerusalem, and Ahithophel was with them. 16 When 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?”
18 Hushai answered, “How could I? I am for the one chosen by the Lord, by these people, and by all the Israelites. I will stay with you. 19 After all, whom should I serve, if not my master's son? As I served your father, so now I will serve you.”
20 Then Absalom turned to Ahithophel and said, “Now that we are here, what do you advise us to do?”
21 Ahithophel 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.
23 Any advice that Ahithophel gave in those days was accepted as though it were the very word of God; both David and Absalom followed it.
Hushai Misleads Absalom
1 Not long after that, Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men, and tonight I will set out after David. 2 I 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 3 and then bring back all his men to you, like a bride returning to her husband. You want to kill only one man; the rest of the people will be safe.” 4 This seemed like good advice to Absalom and all the Israelite leaders.
5 Absalom said, “Now call Hushai, and let us hear what he has to say.” 6 When 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.”
7 Hushai answered, “The advice Ahithophel gave you this time is no good. 8 You 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. 9 Right 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. 10 Then 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. 11 My 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. 12 We will find David wherever he is, and attack him before he knows what's happening. Neither he nor any of his men will survive. 13 If he retreats into a city, our people will all bring ropes and just pull the city into the valley below. Not a single stone will be left there on top of the hill.”
14 Absalom 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.
David Is Warned and Escapes
15 Then Hushai told the priests Zadok and Abiathar what advice he had given to Absalom and the Israelite leaders and what advice Ahithophel had given. 16 Hushai 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.”
17 Abiathar'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 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. 18 But 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 in it. 19 The 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. 20 Absalom'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. 21 After 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.” 22 So David and his men started crossing the Jordan, and by daybreak they had all gone across.
23 When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and went back to his hometown. After putting his affairs in order, he hanged himself. He was buried in the family grave.
24 David 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; his mother was Abigail, the daughter of Nahash and the sister of Joab's mother Zeruiah.) 26 Absalom and his men camped in the land of Gilead.
27 When 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. 28-29 They brought bowls, clay pots, and bedding, and also food for David and his men: wheat, barley, meal, roasted grain, beans, peas, honey, cheese, cream, and some sheep. They knew that David and his men would get hungry, thirsty, and tired in the wilderness.
Absalom Is Defeated and Killed
1 King David brought all his men together, divided them into units of a thousand and of a hundred, and placed officers in command of them. 2 Then 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 ten thousand 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. 5 He 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.
6 David's army went out into the countryside and fought the Israelites in Ephraim Forest. 7 The Israelites were defeated by David's men; it was a terrible defeat, with twenty thousand men killed that day. 8 The fighting spread over the countryside, and more men died in the forest than were killed in battle.
9 Suddenly 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 midair. 10 One of David's men saw him and reported to Joab, “Sir, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree!”
11 Joab 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.”
12 But 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.’ 13 But 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. 15 Then ten of Joab's soldiers closed in on Absalom and finished killing him.
16 Joab had the trumpet blown to stop the fighting, and his troops came back from pursuing the Israelites. 17 They 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 hometowns.
18 During 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.
David Is Told of Absalom's Death
19 Then 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.” 21 Then he said to his Ethiopian slave, “Go and tell the king what you have seen.” The slave bowed and ran off.
22 Ahimaaz 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.
24 David was sitting in the space between the inner and outer gates of the city. The lookout 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. 25 He called down and told the king, and the king said, “If he is alone, he is bringing good news.” The runner kept coming closer.
26 Then the lookout 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.”
27 The lookout 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.”
28 Ahimaaz 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 all right?” 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 told him; and he went over and stood there.
31 Then the Ethiopian 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 all right?” 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.”
33 The 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!”
Joab Reprimands David
1 Joab was told that King David was weeping and mourning for Absalom. 2 And so the joy of victory was turned into sadness for all of David's troops that day, because they heard that the king was mourning for his son. 3 They went back into the city quietly, like soldiers who are ashamed because they are running away from battle. 4 The king covered his face and cried loudly, “O my son! My son Absalom! Absalom, my son!”
5 Joab 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. 6 You 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. 7 Now 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.” 8 Then the king got up, and went and sat near the city gate. His men heard that he was there, and they all gathered around him.
David Starts Back to Jerusalem
Meanwhile all the Israelites had fled to their own hometowns.