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Absalom

2 Samuel 13:23-19:8
2 Samuel 13:23-19:8
2 Samuel 13:23-19:8
2 Samuel 13:23-19:8

2 Samuel 13:23-19:8

23 After two full years Absalom had sheepshearers at Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king's sons. 24 And Absalom came to the king and said, “Behold, your servant has sheepshearers. Please let the king and his servants go with your servant.” 25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son, let us not all go, lest we be burdensome to you.” He pressed him, but he would not go but gave him his blessing. 26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.” And the king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom pressed him until he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him. 28 Then Absalom commanded his servants, “Mark when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then kill him. Do not fear; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.” 29 So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and each mounted his mule and fled.

30 While they were on the way, news came to David, “Absalom has struck down all the king's sons, and not one of them is left.” 31 Then the king arose and tore his garments and lay on the earth. And all his servants who were standing by tore their garments. 32 But Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David's brother, said, “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men, the king's sons, for Amnon alone is dead. For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day he violated his sister Tamar. 33 Now therefore let not my lord the king so take it to heart as to suppose that all the king's sons are dead, for Amnon alone is dead.”

34 But Absalom fled. And the young man who kept the watch lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, many people were coming from the road behind him by the side of the mountain. 35 And Jonadab said to the king, “Behold, the king's sons have come; as your servant said, so it has come about.” 36 And as soon as he had finished speaking, behold, the king's sons came and lifted up their voice and wept. And the king also and all his servants wept very bitterly.

37 But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son day after day. 38 So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. 39 And the spirit of the king longed to go out to Absalom, because he was comforted about Amnon, since he was dead.

14:1 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah knew that the king's heart went out to Absalom. And Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman and said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner and put on mourning garments. Do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead. Go to the king and speak thus to him.” So Joab put the words in her mouth.

When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and paid homage and said, “Save me, O king.” And the king said to her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead. And your servant had two sons, and they quarreled with one another in the field. There was no one to separate them, and one struck the other and killed him. And now the whole clan has risen against your servant, and they say, ‘Give up the man who struck his brother, that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed.’ And so they would destroy the heir also. Thus they would quench my coal that is left and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth.”

Then the king said to the woman, “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.” And the woman of Tekoa said to the king, “On me be the guilt, my lord the king, and on my father's house; let the king and his throne be guiltless.” 10 The king said, “If anyone says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall never touch you again.” 11 Then she said, “Please let the king invoke the Lord your God, that the avenger of blood kill no more, and my son be not destroyed.” He said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”

12 Then the woman said, “Please let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.” He said, “Speak.” 13 And the woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again. 14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast. 15 Now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid, and your servant thought, ‘I will speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his servant. 16 For the king will hear and deliver his servant from the hand of the man who would destroy me and my son together from the heritage of God.’ 17 And your servant thought, ‘The word of my lord the king will set me at rest,’ for my lord the king is like the angel of God to discern good and evil. The Lord your God be with you!”

18 Then the king answered the woman, “Do not hide from me anything I ask you.” And the woman said, “Let my lord the king speak.” 19 The king said, “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?” The woman answered and said, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, one cannot turn to the right hand or to the left from anything that my lord the king has said. It was your servant Joab who commanded me; it was he who put all these words in the mouth of your servant. 20 In order to change the course of things your servant Joab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God to know all things that are on the earth.”

21 Then the king said to Joab, “Behold now, I grant this; go, bring back the young man Absalom.” 22 And Joab fell on his face to the ground and paid homage and blessed the king. And Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, in that the king has granted the request of his servant.” 23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24 And the king said, “Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence.” So Absalom lived apart in his own house and did not come into the king's presence.

25 Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king's weight. 27 There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar. She was a beautiful woman.

28 So Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, without coming into the king's presence. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king, but Joab would not come to him. And he sent a second time, but Joab would not come. 30 Then he said to his servants, “See, Joab's field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” So Absalom's servants set the field on fire. 31 Then Joab arose and went to Absalom at his house and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?” 32 Absalom answered Joab, “Behold, I sent word to you, ‘Come here, that I may send you to the king, to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still.” Now therefore let me go into the presence of the king, and if there is guilt in me, let him put me to death.’” 33 Then Joab went to the king and told him, and he summoned Absalom. So he came to the king and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king, and the king kissed Absalom.

15:1 After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

And at the end of four years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. For your servant vowed a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to the Lord.’” The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron. 10 But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’” 11 With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. 12 And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.

13 And a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.” 14 Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” 15 And the king's servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.” 16 So the king went out, and all his household after him. And the king left ten concubines to keep the house. 17 And the king went out, and all the people after him. And they halted at the last house.

18 And all his servants passed by him, and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, passed on before the king. 19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. 20 You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” 21 But Ittai answered the king, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” 22 And David said to Ittai, “Go then, pass on.” So Ittai the Gittite passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23 And all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness.

24 And Abiathar came up, and behold, Zadok came also with all the Levites, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God until the people had all passed out of the city. 25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. 26 But if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.” 27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Go back to the city in peace, with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28 See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.

30 But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. 31 And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O Lord, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”

32 While David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and dirt on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father's servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. 35 Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So whatever you hear from the king's house, tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36 Behold, their two sons are with them there, Ahimaaz, Zadok's son, and Jonathan, Abiathar's son, and by them you shall send to me everything you hear.” 37 So Hushai, David's friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.

16:1 When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, bearing two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred bunches of raisins, a hundred of summer fruits, and a skin of wine. And the king said to Ziba, “Why have you brought these?” Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who faint in the wilderness to drink.” And the king said, “And where is your master's son?” Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father.’” Then the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” And Ziba said, “I pay homage; let me ever find favor in your sight, my lord the king.”

When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.”

Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” 10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 11 And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.” 13 So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust. 14 And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan. And there he refreshed himself.

15 Now Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. 16 And when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!” 17 And Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?” 18 And Hushai said to Absalom, “No, for whom the Lord and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain. 19 And again, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? As I have served your father, so I will serve you.”

20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give your counsel. What shall we do?” 21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father's concubines, whom he has left to keep the house, and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof. And Absalom went in to his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23 Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the word of God; so was all the counsel of Ahithophel esteemed, both by David and by Absalom.

17:1 Moreover, Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged and throw him into a panic, and all the people who are with him will flee. I will strike down only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man, and all the people will be at peace.” And the advice seemed right in the eyes of Absalom and all the elders of Israel.

Then Absalom said, “Call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he has to say.” And when Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, “Thus has Ahithophel spoken; shall we do as he says? If not, you speak.” Then Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good.” Hushai said, “You know that your father and his men are mighty men, and that they are enraged, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. Besides, your father is expert in war; he will not spend the night with the people. Behold, even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits or in some other place. And as soon as some of the people fall at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’ 10 Then even the valiant man, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and that those who are with him are valiant men. 11 But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beersheba, as the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. 12 So we shall come upon him in some place where he is to be found, and we shall light upon him as the dew falls on the ground, and of him and all the men with him not one will be left. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there.” 14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom.

15 Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel, and thus and so have I counseled. 16 Now therefore send quickly and tell David, ‘Do not stay tonight at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means pass over, lest the king and all the people who are with him be swallowed up.’” 17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at En-rogel. A female servant was to go and tell them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they were not to be seen entering the city. 18 But a young man saw them and told Absalom. So both of them went away quickly and came to the house of a man at Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard. And they went down into it. 19 And the woman took and spread a covering over the well's mouth and scattered grain on it, and nothing was known of it. 20 When Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house, they said, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” And the woman said to them, “They have gone over the brook of water.” And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.

21 After they had gone, the men came up out of the well, and went and told King David. They said to David, “Arise, and go quickly over the water, for thus and so has Ahithophel counseled against you.” 22 Then David arose, and all the people who were with him, and they crossed the Jordan. By daybreak not one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.

23 When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order and hanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.

24 Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25 Now Absalom had set Amasa over the army instead of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ishmaelite, who had married Abigal the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother. 26 And Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead.

27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, 28 brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans and lentils, 29 honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat, for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”

18:1 Then David mustered the men who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. And David sent out the army, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the men, “I myself will also go out with you.” But the men said, “You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore it is better that you send us help from the city.” The king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood at the side of the gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands. And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom.

So the army went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. And the men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the loss there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. The battle spread over the face of all the country, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword.

And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10 And a certain man saw it and told Joab, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king's son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’ 13 On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.” 14 Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. 15 And ten young men, Joab's armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him.

16 Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained them. 17 And they took Absalom and threw him into a great pit in the forest and raised over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled every one to his own home. 18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself the pillar that is in the King's Valley, for he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom's monument to this day.

19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Let me run and carry news to the king that the Lord has delivered him from the hand of his enemies.” 20 And Joab said to him, “You are not to carry news today. You may carry news another day, but today you shall carry no news, because the king's son is dead.” 21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed before Joab, and ran. 22 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, “Come what may, let me also run after the Cushite.” And Joab said, “Why will you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward for the news?” 23 “Come what may,” he said, “I will run.” So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and outran the Cushite.

24 Now David was sitting between the two gates, and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he lifted up his eyes and looked, he saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out and told the king. And the king said, “If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.” And he drew nearer and nearer. 26 The watchman saw another man running. And the watchman called to the gate and said, “See, another man running alone!” The king said, “He also brings news.” 27 The watchman said, “I think the running of the first is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, “He is a good man and comes with good news.”

28 Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, “All is well.” And he bowed before the king with his face to the earth and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king.” 29 And the king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king's servant, your servant, I saw a great commotion, but I do not know what it was.” 30 And the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.

31 And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you.” 32 The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man.” 33  And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

19:1 It was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.” Then the king arose and took his seat in the gate. And the people were all told, “Behold, the king is sitting in the gate.” And all the people came before the king.

Now Israel had fled every man to his own home.

23 Two years later, Absalom's servants were cutting wool from his sheep in Baal-Hazor near the town of Ephraim, and Absalom invited all of the king's sons to be there. 24 Then he went to David and said, “My servants are cutting the wool from my sheep. Please come and join us!”

25 David answered, “No, my son, we won't go. It would be too expensive for you.” Absalom tried to get him to change his mind, but David did not want to go. He only said that he hoped they would have a good time.

26 Absalom said, “If you won't go, at least let my brother Amnon come with us.”

David asked, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom kept on insisting, and finally David let Amnon and all his other sons go with Absalom.

Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king. 28 But he told his servants, “Keep an eye on Amnon. When he gets a little drunk from the wine and is feeling relaxed, I'll give the signal. Then kill him! I've commanded you to do it, so don't be afraid. Be strong and brave.”

29 Absalom's servants killed Amnon, just as Absalom had told them. The rest of the king's sons quickly rode away on their mules to escape from Absalom.

30 While they were on their way to Jerusalem, someone told David, “Absalom has killed all of your sons! Not even one is left.” 31 David got up, and in his sorrow he tore his clothes and lay down on the ground. His servants remained standing, but they tore their clothes too.

32 Then David's nephew Jonadab said, “Your Majesty, not all of your sons were killed! Only Amnon is dead. On the day that Amnon raped Tamar, Absalom decided to kill him. 33 Don't worry about the report that all your sons were killed. Only Amnon is dead, 34 and Absalom has run away.”

One of the guards noticed a lot of people coming along the hillside on the road to Horonaim. He went and told the king, “I saw some men coming along Horonaim Road.”

35 Jonadab said, “Your Majesty, look! Here come your sons now, just as I told you.”

36 No sooner had he said it, than David's sons came in. They were weeping out loud, and David and all his officials cried just as loudly. 37-38 David was sad for a long time because Amnon was dead.

David Lets Absalom Come Home

Absalom had run away to Geshur, where he stayed for three years with King Talmai the son of Ammihud. 39 David still felt so sad over the loss of Amnon that he wanted to take his army there and capture Absalom.

1 Joab knew that David couldn't stop thinking about Absalom, 2-3 and he sent someone to bring in the wise woman who lived in Tekoa. Joab told her, “Put on funeral clothes and don't use any makeup. Go to the king and pretend you have spent a long time mourning the death of a loved one.” Then he told her what to say.

4 The woman from Tekoa went to David. She bowed very low and said, “Your Majesty, please help me!”

5 David asked, “What's the matter?”

She replied:

My husband is dead, and I'm a widow. 6 I had two sons, but they got into a fight out in a field where there was no one to pull them apart, and one of them killed the other. 7 Now all of my relatives have come to me and said, “Hand over your son! We're going to put him to death for killing his brother.” But what they really want is to get rid of him, so they can take over our land.

Please don't let them put out my only flame of hope! There won't be anyone left on this earth to carry on my husband's name.

8 “Go on home,” David told her. “I'll take care of this matter for you.”

9 The woman said, “I hope your decision doesn't cause any problems for you. But if it does, you can blame me.”

10 He said, “If anyone gives you trouble, bring them to me, and it won't happen again!”

11 “Please,” she replied, “swear by the Lord your God that no one will be allowed to kill my son!”

He said, “I swear by the living Lord that no one will touch even a hair on his head!”

12 Then she asked, “Your Majesty, may I say something?”

“Yes,” he answered.

13 The woman said:

Haven't you been hurting God's people? Your own son had to leave the country. And when you judged in my favor, it was the same as admitting that you should have let him come back. 14 We each must die and disappear like water poured out on the ground. But God doesn't take our lives. Instead, he figures out ways of bringing us back when we run away.

15 Your Majesty, I came here to tell you about my problem, because I was afraid of what someone might do to me. I decided to come to you, because I thought you could help. 16 In fact, I knew that you would listen and save my son and me from those who want to take the land that God gave us.

17 I can rest easy now that you have given your decision. You know the difference between right and wrong just like an angel of God, and I pray that the Lord your God will be with you.

18 Then David said to the woman, “Now I'm going to ask you a question, and don't try to hide the truth!”

The woman replied, “Please go ahead, Your Majesty.”

19 David asked, “Did Joab put you up to this?”

The woman answered, “Your Majesty, I swear by your life that no one can hide the truth from you. Yes, Joab did tell me what to say, 20 but only to show you the other side of this problem. You must be as wise as the angel of God to know everything that goes on in this country.”

21 David turned to Joab and said, “It seems that I have already given my decision. Go and bring Absalom back.”

22 Joab bowed very low and said, “Your Majesty, I thank you for giving your permission. It shows that you approve of me.”

23 Joab went to Geshur to get Absalom. But when they came back to Jerusalem, 24 David told Joab, “I don't want to see my son Absalom. Tell him to stay away from me.” So Absalom went to his own house without seeing his father.

Absalom Was Handsome

25 No one in all Israel was as handsome and well-built as Absalom. 26 His hair grew so thick and heavy that when he got it cut once a year, it weighed over two kilograms .

27 Absalom had three sons. He also had a daughter named Tamar, who grew up to be very beautiful.

Absalom Finally Sees David

28 Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without seeing his father. 29 He wanted Joab to talk to David for him. So one day he sent a message asking Joab to come over, but Joab refused. Absalom sent another message, but Joab still refused. 30 Finally, Absalom told his servants, “Joab's barley field is right next to mine. Go set it on fire!” And they did.

31 Joab went to Absalom's house and demanded, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?”

32 Absalom answered, “You didn't pay any attention when I sent for you. I want you to ask my father why he told me to come back from Geshur. I was better off there. I want to see my father now! If I'm guilty, let him kill me.”

33 Joab went to David and told him what Absalom had said. David sent for Absalom, and Absalom came. He bowed very low, and David leaned over and kissed him.

Absalom Rebels against David

1 Some time later, Absalom got himself a chariot with horses to pull it, and he had 50 men run in front. 2 He would get up early each morning and wait by the side of the road that led to the city gate. Anyone who had a complaint to bring to King David would have to go that way, and Absalom would ask each of them, “Where are you from?”

If they said, “I'm from a tribe in the north,” 3 Absalom would say, “You deserve to win your case. It's too bad the king doesn't have anyone to hear complaints like yours. 4 I wish someone would make me the judge around here! I would be fair to everyone.”

5 Whenever anyone came to Absalom and started bowing down, he would reach out and hug and kiss them. 6 That's how he treated everyone from Israel who brought a complaint to the king. Soon everyone in Israel liked Absalom better than they liked David.

7 Four years later, Absalom said to David, “Please, let me go to Hebron. I have to keep a promise that I made to the Lord, 8 when I was living with the Arameans in Geshur. I promised that if the Lord would bring me back to live in Jerusalem, I would worship him in Hebron.”

9 David gave his permission, and Absalom went to Hebron. 10-12 He took 200 men from Jerusalem with him, but they had no idea what he was going to do. Absalom offered sacrifices in Hebron and sent someone to Gilo to tell David's advisor Ahithophel to come.

More and more people were joining Absalom and supporting his plot. Meanwhile, Absalom had secretly sent some messengers to the northern tribes of Israel. The messengers told everyone, “When you hear the sound of the trumpets, you must shout, ‘Absalom now rules as king in Hebron!’ ”

David Has To Leave Jerusalem

13 A messenger came and told David, “Everyone in Israel is on Absalom's side!”

14 David's officials were in Jerusalem with him, and he told them, “Let's get out of here! We'll have to leave soon, or none of us will escape from Absalom. Hurry! If he moves fast, he could catch us while we're still here. Then he will kill us and everyone else in the city.”

15 The officials said, “Your Majesty, we'll do whatever you say.”

16-17 David left behind ten of his wives to take care of the palace, but the rest of his family and his officials and soldiers went with him.

They stopped at the last house at the edge of the city. 18 Then David stood there and watched while his regular troops and his bodyguards marched past. The last group was the 600 soldiers who had followed him from Gath. Their commander was Ittai.

19 David spoke to Ittai and said, “You're a foreigner from the town of Gath. You don't have to leave with us. Go back and join the new king! 20 You haven't been with me very long, so why should you have to follow me, when I don't even know where I'm going? Take your soldiers and go back. I pray that the Lord will be kind and faithful to you.”

21 Ittai answered, “Your Majesty, just as surely as you and the Lord live, I will go where you go, no matter if it costs me my life.”

22 “Then come on!” David said.

So Ittai and all his men and their families walked on past David.

David Sends the Sacred Chest Back to Jerusalem

23 The people of Jerusalem were crying and moaning as David and everyone with him passed by. He led them across Kidron Valley and along the road toward the desert.

24 Zadok and Abiathar the priests were there along with several men from the tribe of Levi who were carrying the sacred chest. They set the chest down, and left it there until David and his followers had gone out of the city.

25 Then David said:

Zadok, take the sacred chest back to Jerusalem. If the Lord is pleased with me, he will bring me back and let me see it and his tent again. 26 But if he says he isn't pleased with me, then let him do what he knows is best.

27 Zadok, you are a good judge of things, so return to the city and don't cause any trouble. Take your son Ahimaaz with you. Abiathar and his son Jonathan will also go back. 28 I'll wait at the river crossing in the desert until I hear from you.

29 Zadok and Abiathar took the sacred chest back into Jerusalem and stayed there. 30 David went on up the slope of the Mount of Olives. He was barefoot and crying, and he covered his head to show his sorrow. Everyone with him was crying, and they covered their heads too.

31 Someone told David, “Ahithophel is helping Absalom plot against you!”

David said, “Please, Lord, keep Ahithophel's plans from working!”

David Sends Hushai Back as a Spy

32 When David reached the top of the Mount of Olives, he met Hushai the Archite at a place of worship. Hushai's robe was torn, and dust was on his head. 33 David told him:

If you come with me, you might slow us down. 34 Go back into the city and tell Absalom, “Your Majesty, I am your servant. I will serve you now, just as I served your father in the past.”

Hushai, if you do that, you can help me ruin Ahithophel's plans. 35 Zadok and Abiathar the priests will be there with you, and you can tell them everything you hear in the palace. 36 Then they can send their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to tell me what you've heard.

37 David's advisor Hushai slipped back into Jerusalem, at just about the same time Absalom was coming in.

Ziba Gives Food to David

1 David had started down the other side of the Mount of Olives, when he was met by Ziba, the chief servant of Mephibosheth. Ziba had two donkeys that were carrying 200 loaves of bread, 100 handfuls of raisins, 100 figs, and some wine.

2 “What's all this?” David asked.

Ziba said, “The donkeys are for your family to ride. The bread and fruit are for the people to eat, and the wine is for them to drink in the desert when they are tired out.”

3 “And where is Mephibosheth?” David asked.

Ziba answered, “He stayed in Jerusalem, because he thinks the people of Israel want him to rule the kingdom of his grandfather Saul.”

4 David then told him, “Everything that used to belong to Mephibosheth is now yours.”

Ziba said, “Your Majesty, I am your humble servant, and I hope you will be pleased with me.”

Shimei Curses David

5 David was near the town of Bahurim when a man came out and started cursing him. The man was Shimei the son of Gera, and he was one of Saul's distant relatives. 6 He threw stones at David, at his soldiers, and at everyone else, including the bodyguards who walked on each side of David.

7 Shimei was yelling at David, “Get out of here, you murderer! You good-for-nothing, 8 the Lord is paying you back for killing so many in Saul's family. You stole his kingdom, but now the Lord has given it to your son Absalom. You're a murderer, and that's why you're in such big trouble!”

9 Abishai said, “Your Majesty, this man is as useless as a dead dog! He shouldn't be allowed to curse you. Let me go over and chop off his head.”

10 David replied, “What will I ever do with you and your brother Joab? If Shimei is cursing me because the Lord has told him to, then who are you to tell him to stop?”

11 Then David said to Abishai and all his soldiers:

My own son is trying to kill me! Why shouldn't this man from the tribe of Benjamin want me dead even more? Let him curse all he wants. Maybe the Lord did tell him to curse me. 12 But if the Lord hears these curses and sees the trouble I'm in, maybe he will have pity on me instead.

13 David and the others went on down the road. Shimei went along the hillside by the road, cursing and throwing rocks and dirt at them. 14 When David and those with him came to the Jordan River, they were tired out. But after they rested, they felt much better.

Hushai Meets Absalom

15 By this time, Absalom, Ahithophel, and the others had reached Jerusalem. 16 David's friend Hushai came to Absalom and said, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”

17 But Absalom asked Hushai, “Is this how you show loyalty to your friend David? Why didn't you go with him?”

18 Hushai answered, “The Lord and the people of Israel have chosen you to be king. I can't leave. I have to stay and serve the one they've chosen. 19 Besides, it seems right for me to serve you, just as I served your father.”

Ahithophel's Advice

20 Absalom turned to Ahithophel and said, “Give us your advice! What should we do?”

21 Ahithophel answered, “Some of your father's wives were left here to take care of the palace. You should have sex with them. Then everyone will find out that you have publicly disgraced your father. This will make you and your followers even more powerful.”

22 Absalom had a tent set up on the flat roof of the palace, and everyone watched as he went into the tent with his father's wives.

23 Ahithophel gave such good advice in those days that both Absalom and David thought it came straight from God.

1 Ahithophel said to Absalom:

Let me choose 12,000 men and attack David tonight, 2 while he is tired and discouraged. He will panic, and everyone with him will run away. I won't kill anyone except David, 3 since he's the one you want to get rid of. Then I'll bring the whole nation back to you like a bride coming home to her husband. This way there won't be a civil war.

Hushai Fools Absalom

4 Absalom and all the leaders of the tribes of Israel agreed that Ahithophel had a good plan. 5 Then Absalom said, “Bring in Hushai the Archite. Let's hear what he has to say.”

6 Hushai came in, and Absalom told him what Ahithophel had planned. Then Absalom said, “Should we do what he says? And if we shouldn't, can you come up with anything better?”

7 Hushai said:

This time Ahithophel's advice isn't so good. 8 You know that your father and his followers are real warriors. Now they are as fierce as a mother bear whose cubs have just been killed. Besides, your father has a lot of experience in fighting wars, and he won't be spending the night with the others. 9 He has probably already found a hiding place in a cave or somewhere else.

As soon as anyone hears that some of your soldiers have been killed, everyone will think your whole army has been destroyed. 10 Then even those who are as brave as a lion will lose their courage. All Israel knows what a great warrior your father is and what brave soldiers he has.

11 My advice is to gather all the fighting men of Israel from the town of Dan in the north down to the town of Beersheba in the south. You will have more soldiers than there are grains of sand on the seashore. Absalom, you should lead them yourself, 12 and we will all go to fight David wherever he is. We will fall on him just as dew falls and covers the ground. He and all his soldiers will die! 13 If they go into a walled town, we will put ropes around that town and drag it into the river. We won't leave even one small piece of a stone.

14 Absalom and the others liked Hushai's plan better than Ahithophel's plan. This was because the Lord had decided to keep Ahithophel's plan from working and to cause trouble for Absalom.

Jonathan and Ahimaaz Tell David the News

15 At once, Hushai went to Zadok and Abiathar. He told them what advice Ahithophel had given to Absalom and to the leaders of Israel. He also told them about the advice he had given. 16 Then he said, “Hurry! Send someone to warn David not to spend the night on this side of the Jordan. He must get across the river, so he and the others won't be wiped out!”

17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz had been waiting at Rogel Spring because they did not want to be seen in Jerusalem. A servant girl went to the spring and gave them the message for David. 18 But a young man saw them and went to tell Absalom. So Jonathan and Ahimaaz left and hurried to the house of a man who lived in Bahurim. Then they climbed down into a well in the courtyard. 19 The man's wife put the cover on the well and poured grain on top of it, so the well could not be seen.

20 Absalom's soldiers came to the woman and demanded, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”

The woman answered, “They went across that stream.”

The soldiers went off to look for the two men. But when they did not find the men, they went back to Jerusalem.

21 After the soldiers had gone, Jonathan and Ahimaaz climbed out of the well. They went to David and said, “Hurry! Get ready to cross the river!” Then they told him about Ahithophel's plan.

22 David and the others got ready and started crossing the Jordan River. By sunrise all of them were on the other side.

Ahithophel Kills Himself

23 When Ahithophel saw that Absalom and the leaders of Israel were not going to follow his advice, he saddled his donkey and rode back to his home in Gilo. He told his family and servants what to do. Then he hanged himself, and they buried him in his family's burial place.

Absalom Puts Amasa in Charge of the Army

24 David went to the town of Mahanaim, and Absalom crossed the Jordan River with the army of Israel. 25 Absalom put Amasa in Joab's place as commander of the army. Amasa's father was Ithra from the family of Ishmael, and his mother was Abigal, the daughter of Nahash and the sister of Joab's mother Zeruiah. 26 The Israelites under Absalom's command set up camp in the region of Gilead.

Friends Bring Supplies to David

27 After David came to the town of Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash came from Rabbah in Ammon, Machir the son of Ammiel came from Lo-Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite came from Rogelim.

28-29 Here is a list of what they brought: sleeping mats, blankets, bowls, pottery jars, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, yogurt, sheep, and cheese.

They brought the food for David and the others because they knew that everyone would be hungry, tired, and thirsty from being out in the desert.

David Gets Ready for Battle

1 David divided his soldiers into groups of 100 and groups of 1,000. Then he chose officers to be in command of each group. 2 He sent out one third of his army under the command of Joab, another third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, and the rest under the command of Ittai from Gath. He told the soldiers, “I'm going into battle with you.”

3 But the soldiers said, “No, don't go into battle with us! It won't matter to our enemies if they make us all run away, or even if they kill half of us. But you are worth 10,000 of us. It would be better for you to stay in town and send help if we need it.”

4-6 David said, “All right, if you think I should.”

Then in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, he said, “Joab! Abishai! Ittai! For my sake, be sure that Absalom comes back unharmed.”

David stood beside the town gate as his army marched past in groups of 100 and in groups of 1,000.

Joab Kills Absalom

The war with Israel took place in Ephraim Forest. 7-8 Battles were being fought all over the forest, and David's soldiers were winning. Twenty thousand soldiers were killed that day, and more of them died from the dangers of the forest than from the fighting itself.

9 Absalom was riding his mule under a huge tree when his head caught in the branches. The mule ran off and left Absalom hanging in midair. Some of David's soldiers happened by, 10 and one of them went and told Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging in a tree!”

11 Joab said, “You saw Absalom? Why didn't you kill him? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a special belt.”

12 The man answered, “Even if you paid me 1,000 pieces of silver here and now, I still wouldn't touch the king's son. We all heard King David tell you and Abishai and Ittai not to harm Absalom. 13 He always finds out what's going on. I would have been risking my life to kill Absalom, because you would have let me take the blame.”

14 Joab said, “I'm not going to waste any more time on you!”

Absalom was still alive, so Joab took three spears and stuck them through Absalom's chest. 15 Ten of Joab's bodyguards came over and finished him off. 16 Then Joab blew a trumpet to signal his troops to stop chasing Israel's soldiers. 17 They threw Absalom's body into a deep pit in the forest and put a big pile of rocks over it.

Meanwhile, the people of Israel had all run back to their own homes.

18 When Absalom was alive, he had set up a stone monument for himself in King's Valley. He explained, “I don't have any sons to keep my name alive.” He called it Absalom's Monument, and that is the name it still has today.

Ahimaaz Wants To Tell David

19 Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Joab, let me run and tell King David that the Lord has rescued him from his enemies.”

20 Joab answered, “You're not the one to tell the king that his son is dead. You can take him a message some other time, but not today.”

21 Someone from Ethiopia was standing there, and Joab told him, “Go and tell the king what you have seen.” The man knelt down in front of Joab, then got up and started running.

22 Ahimaaz spoke to Joab again, “No matter what happens, I still want to go. And besides, the Ethiopian has already left.”

Joab said, “Why should you go? You won't get a reward for the news you have!”

23 “I'll run no matter what!” Ahimaaz insisted.

“All right then, run!” Joab said.

Ahimaaz took the road through the Jordan Valley and outran the Ethiopian.

24 Meanwhile, David was sitting between the inner and outer gates in the city wall. One of his soldiers was watching from the roof of the gate-tower. He saw a man running toward the town 25 and shouted down to tell David.

David answered, “If he's alone, he must have some news.”

The runner was getting closer, 26 when the soldier saw someone else running. He shouted down to the gate, “Look! There's another runner!”

David said, “He must have some news too.”

27 The soldier on the roof shouted, “The first one runs just like Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.”

This time David said, “He's a good man. He must have some good news.”

28 Ahimaaz called out, “We won! We won!” Then he bowed low to David and said, “Your Majesty, praise the Lord your God! He has given you victory over your enemies.”

29 “Is my son Absalom all right?” David asked.

Ahimaaz said, “When Joab sent your personal servant and me, I saw a noisy crowd. But I don't know what it was all about.”

30 David told him, “Stand over there and wait.”

Ahimaaz went over and stood there. 31 The Ethiopian came and said, “Your Majesty, today I have good news! The Lord has rescued you from all your enemies!”

32 “Is my son Absalom all right?” David asked.

The Ethiopian replied, “I wish that all Your Majesty's enemies and everyone who tries to harm you would end up like him!”

David Cries for Absalom

33 David started trembling. Then he went up to the room above the city gate to cry. As he went, he kept saying, “My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! I wish I could have died instead of you! Absalom, my son, my son!”

1 Someone told Joab, “The king is crying because Absalom is dead.”

2 David's army found out he was crying because his son had died, and their day of victory suddenly turned into a day of sadness. 3 The troops were sneaking into Mahanaim, just as if they had run away from a battle and were ashamed.

4 David covered his face with his hands and kept on crying loudly, “My son, Absalom! Absalom, my son, my son!”

5 Joab went to the house where David was staying and told him:

You've made your soldiers ashamed! Not only did they save your life, they saved your sons and daughters and wives as well. 6 You're more loyal to your enemies than to your friends. What you've done today has shown your officers and soldiers that they don't mean a thing to you. You would be happy if Absalom was still alive, even if the rest of us were dead.

7 Now get up! Go out there and thank them for what they did. If you don't, I swear by the Lord that you won't even have one man left on your side tomorrow morning. You may have had a lot of troubles in the past, but this will be the worst thing that has ever happened to you!

8 David got up and went to the town gate and sat down. When the people heard that he was sitting there, they came to see him.

Israel and Judah Want David Back

After Israel's soldiers had all returned home,

Absalom's Revenge

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.

Absalom Has Amnon Put to Death

13:23 Two years later Absalom’s sheepshearers were in Baal Hazor, near Ephraim. Absalom invited all the king’s sons. 24 Then Absalom went to the king and said, “My shearers have begun their work. Let the king and his servants go with me.”

25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son. We shouldn’t all go. We shouldn’t burden you in that way.” Though Absalom pressed him, the king was not willing to go. Instead, David blessed him.

26 Then Absalom said, “If you will not go, then let my brother Amnon go with us.” The king replied to him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But when Absalom pressed him, he sent Amnon and all the king’s sons along with him.

28 Absalom instructed his servants, “Look! When Amnon is drunk and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ kill him then and there. Don’t fear! Is it not I who have given you these instructions? Be strong and courageous!” 29 So Absalom’s servants did to Amnon exactly what Absalom had instructed. Then all the king’s sons got up; each one rode away on his mule and fled.

30 While they were still on their way, the following report reached David: “Absalom has killed all the king’s sons; not one of them is left!” 31 Then the king stood up and tore his garments and lay down on the ground. All his servants were standing there with torn garments as well.

32 Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, said, “My lord should not say, ‘They have killed all the young men who are the king’s sons.’ For only Amnon is dead. This is what Absalom has talked about from the day that Amnon humiliated his sister Tamar. 33 Now don’t let my lord the king be concerned about the report that has come saying, ‘All the king’s sons are dead.’ It is only Amnon who is dead.”

34 In the meantime Absalom fled. When the servant who was the watchman looked up, he saw many people coming from the west on a road beside the hill. 35 Jonadab said to the king, “Look! The king’s sons have come! It’s just as I said!”

36 Just as he finished speaking, the king’s sons arrived, wailing and weeping. The king and all his servants wept loudly as well. 37 But Absalom fled and went to King Talmai son of Ammihud of Geshur. And David grieved over his son every day.

38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he remained there for three years. 39 The king longed to go to Absalom, for he had since been consoled over the death of Amnon.

David Permits Absalom to Return to Jerusalem

14:1 Now Joab son of Zeruiah realized that the king longed to see Absalom. 2 So Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He told her, “Pretend to be in mourning and put on garments for mourning. Don’t anoint yourself with oil. Instead, act like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for some time. 3 Go to the king and speak to him in the following fashion.” Then Joab told her what to say.

4 So the Tekoan woman went to the king. She bowed down with her face to the ground in deference to him and said, “Please help me, O king!” 5 The king replied to her, “What do you want?” She answered, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6 Your servant has two sons. When the two of them got into a fight in the field, there was no one present who could intervene. One of them struck the other and killed him. 7 Now the entire family has risen up against your servant, saying, ‘Turn over the one who struck down his brother, so that we can execute him and avenge the death of his brother whom he killed. In so doing we will also destroy the heir.’ They want to extinguish my remaining coal, leaving no one on the face of the earth to carry on the name of my husband.”

8 Then the king told the woman, “Go to your home. I will give instructions concerning your situation.” 9 The Tekoan woman said to the king, “My lord the king, let any blame fall on me and on the house of my father. But let the king and his throne be innocent!”

10 The king said, “Bring to me whoever speaks to you, and he won’t bother you again!” 11 She replied, “In that case, let the king invoke the name of the Lord your God so that the avenger of blood may not kill! Then they will not destroy my son!” He replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, not a single hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.”

12 Then the woman said, “Please permit your servant to speak to my lord the king about another matter.” He replied, “Tell me.” 13 The woman said, “Why have you devised something like this against God’s people? When the king speaks in this fashion, he makes himself guilty, for the king has not brought back the one he has banished. 14 Certainly we must die, and are like water spilled on the ground that cannot be gathered up again. But God does not take away life; instead he devises ways for the banished to be restored. 15 I have now come to speak with my lord the king about this matter, because the people have made me fearful. But your servant said, ‘I will speak to the king! Perhaps the king will do what his female servant asks. 16 Yes! The king may listen and deliver his female servant from the hand of the man who seeks to remove both me and my son from the inheritance God has given us!’ 17 So your servant said, ‘May the word of my lord the king be my security, for my lord the king is like the angel of God when it comes to deciding between right and wrong! May the Lord your God be with you!’”

18 Then the king replied to the woman, “Don’t hide any information from me when I question you.” The woman said, “Let my lord the king speak!” 19 The king said, “Did Joab put you up to all of this?” The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, there is no deviation to the right or to the left from all that my lord the king has said. For your servant Joab gave me instructions. He has put all these words in your servant’s mouth. 20 Your servant Joab did this so as to change this situation. But my lord has wisdom like that of the angel of God, and knows everything that is happening in the land.”

21 Then the king said to Joab, “All right! I will do this thing! Go and bring back the young man Absalom! 22 Then Joab bowed down with his face toward the ground and thanked the king. Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, because the king has granted the request of your servant!”

23 So Joab got up and went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 But the king said, “Let him go over to his own house. He may not see my face.” So Absalom went over to his own house; he did not see the king’s face.

25 Now in all Israel everyone acknowledged that there was no man as handsome as Absalom. From the sole of his feet to the top of his head he was perfect in appearance. 26 When he would shave his head – at the end of every year he used to shave his head, for it grew too long and he would shave it – he used to weigh the hair of his head at three pounds according to the king’s weight. 27 Absalom had three sons and one daughter, whose name was Tamar. She was a very attractive woman.

28 Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without seeing the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent a message to Joab asking him to send him to the king, but Joab was not willing to come to him. So he sent a second message to him, but he still was not willing to come. 30 So he said to his servants, “Look, Joab has a portion of field adjacent to mine and he has some barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set Joab’s portion of the field on fire.

31 Then Joab got up and came to Absalom’s house. He said to him, “Why did your servants set my portion of field on fire?” 32 Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent a message to you saying, ‘Come here so that I can send you to the king with this message: “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there.”’ Let me now see the face of the king. If I am at fault, let him put me to death!”

33 So Joab went to the king and informed him. The king summoned Absalom, and he came to the king. Absalom bowed down before the king with his face toward the ground and the king kissed him.

Absalom Leads an Insurrection against David

15:1 Some time later Absalom managed to acquire a chariot and horses, as well as fifty men to serve as his royal guard. 2 Now Absalom used to get up early and stand beside the road that led to the city gate. Whenever anyone came by who had a complaint to bring to the king for arbitration, Absalom would call out to him, “What city are you from?” The person would answer, “I, your servant, am from one of the tribes of Israel.” 3 Absalom would then say to him, “Look, your claims are legitimate and appropriate. But there is no representative of the king who will listen to you.” 4 Absalom would then say, “If only they would make me a judge in the land! Then everyone who had a judicial complaint could come to me and I would make sure he receives a just settlement.”

5 When someone approached to bow before him, Absalom would extend his hand and embrace him and kiss him. 6 Absalom acted this way toward everyone in Israel who came to the king for justice. In this way Absalom won the loyalty of the citizens of Israel.

7 After four years Absalom said to the king, “Let me go and repay my vow that I made to the Lord while I was in Hebron. 8 For I made this vow when I was living in Geshur in Aram: ‘If the Lord really does allow me to return to Jerusalem, I will serve the Lord.’” 9 The king replied to him, “Go in peace.” So Absalom got up and went to Hebron.

10 Then Absalom sent spies through all the tribes of Israel who said, “When you hear the sound of the horn, you may assume that Absalom rules in Hebron.” 11 Now two hundred men had gone with Absalom from Jerusalem. Since they were invited, they went naively and were unaware of what Absalom was planning. 12 While he was offering sacrifices, Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s adviser, to come from his city, Giloh. The conspiracy was gaining momentum, and the people were starting to side with Absalom.

David Flees from Jerusalem

13 Then a messenger came to David and reported, “The men of Israel are loyal to Absalom!” 14 So David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come on! Let’s escape! Otherwise no one will be delivered from Absalom! Go immediately, or else he will quickly overtake us and bring disaster on us and kill the city’s residents with the sword.” 15 The king’s servants replied to the king, “We will do whatever our lord the king decides.”

16 So the king and all the members of his royal court set out on foot, though the king left behind ten concubines to attend to the palace. 17 The king and all the people set out on foot, pausing at a spot some distance away. 18 All his servants were leaving with him, along with all the Kerethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites – some six hundred men who had come on foot from Gath. They were leaving with the king.

19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come with us? Go back and stay with the new king, for you are a foreigner and an exile from your own country. 20 It seems like you arrived just yesterday. Today should I make you wander around by going with us? I go where I must go. But as for you, go back and take your men with you. May genuine loyal love protect you!”

21 But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king is, whether dead or alive, there I will be as well!” 22 So David said to Ittai, “Come along then.” So Ittai the Gittite went along, accompanied by all his men and all the dependents who were with him.

23 All the land was weeping loudly as all these people were leaving. As the king was crossing over the Kidron Valley, all the people were leaving on the road that leads to the desert. 24 Zadok and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. When they positioned the ark of God, Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving the city.

25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back to the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s sight he will bring me back and enable me to see both it and his dwelling place again. 26 However, if he should say, ‘I do not take pleasure in you,’ then he will deal with me in a way that he considers appropriate.”

27 The king said to Zadok the priest, “Are you a seer? Go back to the city in peace! Your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan may go with you and Abiathar. 28 Look, I will be waiting at the fords of the desert until word from you reaches me.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and remained there.

30 As David was going up the Mount of Olives, he was weeping as he went; his head was covered and his feet were bare. All the people who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went up. 31 Now David had been told, “Ahithophel has sided with the conspirators who are with Absalom. So David prayed, “Make the advice of Ahithophel foolish, O Lord!”

32 When David reached the summit, where he used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite met him with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you leave with me you will be a burden to me. 34 But you will be able to counter the advice of Ahithophel if you go back to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king! Previously I was your father’s servant, and now I will be your servant.’ 35 Zadok and Abiathar the priests will be there with you. Everything you hear in the king’s palace you must tell Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36 Furthermore, their two sons are there with them, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. You must send them to me with any information you hear.”

37 So David’s friend Hushai arrived in the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.

David Receives Gifts from Ziba

16:1 When David had gone a short way beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth was there to meet him. He had a couple of donkeys that were saddled, and on them were two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred raisin cakes, a hundred baskets of summer fruit, and a container of wine.

2 The king asked Ziba, “Why did you bring these things?” Ziba replied, “The donkeys are for the king’s family to ride on, the loaves of bread and the summer fruit are for the attendants to eat, and the wine is for those who get exhausted in the desert.” 3 The king asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?” Ziba replied to the king, “He remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give back to me my grandfather’s kingdom.’” 4 The king said to Ziba, “Everything that was Mephibosheth’s now belongs to you.” Ziba replied, “I bow before you. May I find favor in your sight, my lord the king.”

Shimei Curses David and His Men

5 Then King David reached Bahurim. There a man from Saul’s extended family named Shimei son of Gera came out, yelling curses as he approached. 6 He threw stones at David and all of King David’s servants, as well as all the people and the soldiers who were on his right and on his left. 7 As he yelled curses, Shimei said, “Leave! Leave! You man of bloodshed, you wicked man! 8 The Lord has punished you for all the spilled blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you rule. Now the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. Disaster has overtaken you, for you are a man of bloodshed!”

9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head!” 10 But the king said, “What do we have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he curses because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David!’, who can say to him, ‘Why have you done this?’” 11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son, my very own flesh and blood, is trying to take my life. So also now this Benjaminite! Leave him alone so that he can curse, for the Lord has spoken to him. 12 Perhaps the Lord will notice my affliction and this day grant me good in place of his curse.”

13 So David and his men went on their way. But Shimei kept going along the side of the hill opposite him, yelling curses as he threw stones and dirt at them. 14 The king and all the people who were with him arrived exhausted at their destination, where David refreshed himself.

The Advice of Ahithophel

15 Now when Absalom and all the men of Israel arrived in Jerusalem, Ahithophel was with him. 16 When David’s friend Hushai the Arkite came to Absalom, Hushai said to him, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”

17 Absalom said to Hushai, “Do you call this loyalty to your friend? Why didn’t you go with your friend?” 18 Hushai replied to Absalom, “No, I will be loyal to the one whom the Lord, these people, and all the men of Israel have chosen. 19 Moreover, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? Just as I served your father, so I will serve you.”

20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give us your advice. What should we do?” 21 Ahithophel replied to Absalom, “Have sex with your father’s concubines whom he left to care for the palace. All Israel will hear that you have made yourself repulsive to your father. Then your followers will be motivated to support you.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom had sex with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

23 In those days Ahithophel’s advice was considered as valuable as a prophetic revelation. Both David and Absalom highly regarded the advice of Ahithophel.

The Death of Ahithophel

17:1 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me pick out twelve thousand men. Then I will go and pursue David this very night. 2 When I catch up with him he will be exhausted and worn out. I will rout him, and the entire army that is with him will flee. I will kill only the king 3 and will bring the entire army back to you. In exchange for the life of the man you are seeking, you will get back everyone. The entire army will return unharmed.”

4 This seemed like a good idea to Absalom and to all the leaders of Israel. 5 But Absalom said, “Call for Hushai the Arkite, and let’s hear what he has to say.” 6 So Hushai came to Absalom. Absalom said to him, “Here is what Ahithophel has advised. Should we follow his advice? If not, what would you recommend?”

7 Hushai replied to Absalom, “Ahithophel’s advice is not sound this time.” 8 Hushai went on to say, “You know your father and his men – they are soldiers and are as dangerous as a bear out in the wild that has been robbed of her cubs. Your father is an experienced soldier; he will not stay overnight with the army. 9 At this very moment he is hiding out in one of the caves or in some other similar place. If it should turn out that he attacks our troops first, whoever hears about it will say, ‘Absalom’s army has been slaughtered!’ 10 If that happens even the bravest soldier – one who is lion-hearted – will virtually melt away. For all Israel knows that your father is a warrior and that those who are with him are brave. 11 My advice therefore is this: Let all Israel from Dan to Beer Sheba – in number like the sand by the sea! – be mustered to you, and you lead them personally into battle. 12 We will come against him wherever he happens to be found. We will descend on him like the dew falls on the ground. Neither he nor any of the men who are with him will be spared alive – not one of them! 13 If he regroups in a city, all Israel will take up ropes to that city and drag it down to the valley, so that not a single pebble will be left there!”

14 Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite sounds better than the advice of Ahithophel.” Now the Lord had decided to frustrate the sound advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord could bring disaster on Absalom.

15 Then Hushai reported to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Here is what Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the leaders of Israel to do, and here is what I have advised. 16 Now send word quickly to David and warn him, “Don’t spend the night at the fords of the desert tonight. Instead, be sure you cross over, or else the king and everyone who is with him may be overwhelmed.”

17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying in En Rogel. A female servant would go and inform them, and they would then go and inform King David. It was not advisable for them to be seen going into the city. 18 But a young man saw them on one occasion and informed Absalom. So the two of them quickly departed and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. There was a well in his courtyard, and they got down in it. 19 His wife then took the covering and spread it over the top of the well and scattered some grain over it. No one was aware of what she had done.

20 When the servants of Absalom approached the woman at her home, they asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” The woman replied to them, “They crossed over the stream.” Absalom’s men searched but did not find them, so they returned to Jerusalem.

21 After the men had left, Ahimaaz and Jonathan climbed out of the well. Then they left and informed King David. They advised David, “Get up and cross the stream quickly, for Ahithophel has devised a plan to catch you.” 22 So David and all the people who were with him got up and crossed the Jordan River. By dawn there was not one person left who had not crossed the Jordan.

23 When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and returned to his house in his hometown. After setting his household in order, he hanged himself. So he died and was buried in the grave of his father.

24 Meanwhile David had gone to Mahanaim, while Absalom and all the men of Israel had crossed the Jordan River. 25 Absalom had made Amasa general in command of the army in place of Joab. (Now Amasa was the son of an Israelite man named Jether, who had married Abigail the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother.) 26 The army of Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.

27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, Makir the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought bedding, basins, and pottery utensils. They also brought food for David and all who were with him, including wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, 29 honey, curds, flocks, and cheese. For they said, “The people are no doubt hungry, tired, and thirsty there in the desert.”

The Death of Absalom

18:1 David assembled the army that was with him. He appointed leaders of thousands and leaders of hundreds. 2 David then sent out the army – a third under the leadership of Joab, a third under the leadership of Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under the leadership of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the troops, “I too will indeed march out with you.”

3 But the soldiers replied, “You should not do this! For if we should have to make a rapid retreat, they won’t be too concerned about us. Even if half of us should die, they won’t be too concerned about us. But you are like ten thousand of us! So it is better if you remain in the city for support.” 4 Then the king said to them, “I will do whatever seems best to you.”

So the king stayed beside the city gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands. 5 The king gave this order to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake deal gently with the young man Absalom.” Now the entire army was listening when the king gave all the leaders this order concerning Absalom.

6 Then the army marched out to the field to fight against Israel. The battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 The army of Israel was defeated there by David’s men. The slaughter there was great that day – 20,000 soldiers were killed. 8 The battle there was spread out over the whole area, and the forest consumed more soldiers than the sword devoured that day.

9 Then Absalom happened to come across David’s men. Now as Absalom was riding on his mule, it went under the branches of a large oak tree. His head got caught in the oak and he was suspended in midair, while the mule he had been riding kept going.

10 When one of the men saw this, he reported it to Joab saying, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree. 11 Joab replied to the man who was telling him this, “What! You saw this? Why didn’t you strike him down right on the spot? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a commemorative belt!”

12 The man replied to Joab, “Even if I were receiving a thousand pieces of silver, I would not strike the king’s son! In our very presence the king gave this order to you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.’ 13 If I had acted at risk of my own life – and nothing is hidden from the king! – you would have abandoned me.”

14 Joab replied, “I will not wait around like this for you!” He took three spears in his hand and thrust them into the middle of Absalom while he was still alive in the middle of the oak tree. 15 Then ten soldiers who were Joab’s armor bearers struck Absalom and finished him off.

16 Then Joab blew the trumpet and the army turned back from chasing Israel, for Joab had called for the army to halt. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a large pit in the forest, and stacked a huge pile of stones over him. In the meantime all the Israelite soldiers fled to their homes.

18 Prior to this Absalom had set up a monument and dedicated it to himself in the King’s Valley, reasoning “I have no son who will carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and to this day it is known as Absalom’s Memorial.

David Learns of Absalom’s Death

19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Let me run and give the king the good news that the Lord has vindicated him before his enemies.” 20 But Joab said to him, “You will not be a bearer of good news today. You will bear good news some other day, but not today, for the king’s son is dead.”

21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go and tell the king what you have seen.” After bowing to Joab, the Cushite ran off. 22 Ahimaaz the son of Zadok again spoke to Joab, “Whatever happens, let me go after the Cushite.” But Joab said, “Why is it that you want to go, my son? You have no good news that will bring you a reward.” 23 But he said, “Whatever happens, I want to go!” So Joab said to him, “Then go!” So Ahimaaz ran by the way of the Jordan plain, and he passed the Cushite.

24 Now David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate at the wall. When he looked, he saw a man running by himself. 25 So the watchman called out and informed the king. The king said, “If he is by himself, he brings good news.” The runner came ever closer.

26 Then the watchman saw another man running. The watchman called out to the gatekeeper, “There is another man running by himself.” The king said, “This one also is bringing good news.” 27 The watchman said, “It appears to me that the first runner is Ahimaaz son of Zadok.” The king said, “He is a good man, and he comes with good news.”

28 Then Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “Greetings!” He bowed down before the king with his face toward the ground and said, “May the Lord your God be praised because he has defeated the men who opposed my lord the king!”

29 The king replied, “How is the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz replied, “I saw a great deal of confusion when Joab was sending the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was all about.” 30 The king said, “Turn aside and take your place here.” So he turned aside and waited.

31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, “May my lord the king now receive the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today and delivered you from the hand of all who have rebelled against you!” 32 The king asked the Cushite, “How is the young man Absalom?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who have plotted against you be like that young man!”

33 The king then became very upset. He went up to the upper room over the gate and wept. As he went he said, “My son, Absalom! My son, my son, Absalom! If only I could have died in your place! Absalom, my son, my son!”

19:1 Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning over Absalom.” 2 So the victory of that day was turned to mourning as far as all the people were concerned. For the people heard on that day, “The king is grieved over his son.” 3 That day the people stole away to go to the city the way people who are embarrassed steal away in fleeing from battle. 4 The king covered his face and cried out loudly, “My son, Absalom! Absalom, my son, my son!”

5 So Joab visited the king at his home. He said, “Today you have embarrassed all your servants who have saved your life this day, as well as the lives of your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your concubines. 6 You seem to love your enemies and hate your friends! For you have as much as declared today that leaders and servants don’t matter to you. I realize now that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, it would be all right with you. 7 So get up now and go out and give some encouragement to your servants. For I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out there, not a single man will stay here with you tonight! This disaster will be worse for you than any disaster that has overtaken you from your youth right to the present time!”

8 So the king got up and sat at the city gate. When all the people were informed that the king was sitting at the city gate, they all came before him.

David Goes Back to Jerusalem

But the Israelite soldiers had all fled to their own homes.

The Creation
Adam and Eve
Cain and Abel
The Great Flood
The Tower of Babel
God Calls Abraham
Sodom and Gomorrah
Abraham's Obedience
Isaac Marries Rebekah
Esau's Birthright
Isaac Blesses Jacob
Jacob and Laban
Jacob Wrestles
Revenge against Shechem
Joseph in Prison
Joseph as a Ruler
Family Reunion
Moses' Birth
The Burning Bush
The Ten Plagues
The Exodus
The Red Sea
The Gold Calf
Exploring the Land
Rebellion in the Ranks
Balak and Balaam
Rahab and the Spies
Jericho Falls
Gibeon's Con Artists
Deborah and Barak
Gideon as Judge
Abimelech's Ambition
Samson as Judge
Ruth, Naomi and Boaz
Samuel is Born
Samuel the Prophet
Saul Becomes King
Jonathan's Bravery
Saul's Disobedience
David Kills Goliath
David and Jonathan
Nabal and Abigail
Saul's Death
David's Success
David and Bathsheba
Amnon and Tamar
Absalom
Solomon's Wisdom
Jeroboam and Rehoboam
Elijah's Challenge
God Speaks to Elijah
Micaiah the Prophet
Chariot of Fire
Elisha Heals Naaman
Famine and Unbelief
Joash and Jehoiada
Hezekiah Trusts God
Josiah's Reign
Fall of Jerusalem
David's Power
David's Census
Jehoshaphat and Ahab
Ezra Rebuilds the Altar
Nehemiah Builds the Wall
Enemy Opposition
Nehemiah's Justice
Esther Saves the Jews
Job is Tested
Ezekiel's Vision
The Fiery Furnace
The Lions' Den
Jonah
Jesus is Born
Wise Men and King Herod
Jesus is Tempted
Jesus Feeds 5,000
The Bread of Life
Jesus Walks on Water
The Good Samaritan
The Lost Son
Jesus Raises Lazarus
Jesus and Zacchaeus
The Triumphal Entry
The Last Supper
Jesus' Trial
Jesus' Crucifixion
Jesus' Resurrection
Jesus' Ascension
The Holy Spirit Comes
The Apostles' Courage
Ananias and Sapphira
Philip and the Eunuch
Saul Encounters Jesus
Peter and Cornelius
Paul in Corinth
Paul in Ephesus
Paul Goes to Rome