Bible: 2 Sam 13-20

The Rape of Tamar

13:1 Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. In the course of time David’s son Amnon fell madly in love with her. 1  13:2 But Amnon became frustrated because he was so lovesick 2  over his sister Tamar. For she was a virgin, and to Amnon it seemed out of the question to do anything to her.

13:3 Now Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah. Jonadab was a very crafty man. 13:4 He asked Amnon, 3  “Why are you, the king’s son, 4  so depressed every morning? Can’t you tell me?” So Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar the sister of my brother Absalom.” 13:5 Jonadab replied to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be sick. 5  When your father comes in to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come in so she can fix some food for me. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I can watch. Then I will eat from her hand.’

13:6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. When the king came in to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come in so she can make a couple of cakes in my sight. Then I will eat from her hand.”

13:7 So David sent Tamar to the house saying, “Please go to the house of Amnon your brother and prepare some food for him.” 13:8 So Tamar went to the house of Amnon her brother, who was lying down. She took the dough, kneaded it, made some cakes while he watched, 6  and baked them. 7  13:9 But when she took the pan and set it before him, he refused to eat. Instead Amnon said, “Get everyone out of here!” 8  So everyone left. 9 

13:10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the cakes into the bedroom; then I will eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the cakes that she had prepared and brought them to her brother Amnon in the bedroom. 13:11 As she brought them to him to eat, he grabbed her and said to her, “Come on! Get in bed with me, 10  my sister!

13:12 But she said to him, “No, my brother! Don’t humiliate me! This just isn’t done in Israel! Don’t do this foolish thing! 13:13 How could I ever be rid of my humiliation? And you would be considered one of the fools 11  in Israel! Just 12  speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” 13:14 But he refused to listen to her. 13  He overpowered her and humiliated her by raping her. 14  13:15 Then Amnon greatly despised her. 15  His disdain toward her surpassed the love he had previously felt toward her. 16  Amnon said to her, “Get up and leave!

13:16 But she said to him, “No I won’t, for sending me away now would be worse than what you did to me earlier!” 17  But he refused to listen to her. 13:17 He called his personal attendant and said to him, “Take this woman out of my sight 18  and lock the door behind her! 13:18 (Now she was wearing a long robe, 19  for this is what the king’s virgin daughters used to wear.) So Amnon’s 20  attendant removed her and bolted the door 21  behind her. 13:19 Then Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went on her way, wailing as she went.

13:20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Was Amnon your brother with you? Now be quiet, my sister. He is your brother. Don’t take it so seriously!” 22  Tamar, devastated, lived in the house of her brother Absalom.

13:21 Now King David heard about all these things and was very angry. 23  13:22 But Absalom said nothing to Amnon, either bad or good, yet Absalom hated Amnon because he had humiliated his sister Tamar.

Absalom Has Amnon Put to Death

13:23 Two years later Absalom’s sheepshearers were in Baal Hazor, 24  near Ephraim. Absalom invited all the king’s sons. 13:24 Then Absalom went to the king and said, “My shearers have begun their work. 25  Let the king and his servants go with me.”

13:25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son. We shouldn’t all go. We shouldn’t burden you in that way.” Though Absalom 26  pressed 27  him, the king 28  was not willing to go. Instead, David 29  blessed him.

13:26 Then Absalom said, “If you will not go, 30  then let my brother Amnon go with us.” The king replied to him, “Why should he go with you? 13:27 But when Absalom pressed him, he sent Amnon and all the king’s sons along with him.

13:28 Absalom instructed his servants, “Look! When Amnon is drunk 31  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! 32  13:29 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.

13:30 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! 13:31 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.

13:32 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 33  from the day that Amnon 34  humiliated his sister Tamar. 13:33 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.”

13:34 In the meantime Absalom fled. When the servant who was the watchman looked up, he saw many people coming from the west 35  on a road beside the hill. 13:35 Jonadab said to the king, “Look! The king’s sons have come! It’s just as I said!

13:36 Just as he finished speaking, the king’s sons arrived, wailing and weeping. 36  The king and all his servants wept loudly 37  as well. 13:37 But Absalom fled and went to King Talmai son of Ammihud of Geshur. And David 38  grieved over his son every day.

13:38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he remained there for three years. 13:39 The king longed 39  to go to Absalom, for he had since been consoled over the death of Amnon. 40 

David Permits Absalom to Return to Jerusalem

14:1 Now Joab son of Zeruiah realized that the king longed to see 41  Absalom. 14:2 So Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He told her, “Pretend to be in mourning 42  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. 43  14:3 Go to the king and speak to him in the following fashion.” Then Joab told her what to say. 44 

14:4 So the Tekoan woman went 45  to the king. She bowed down with her face to the ground in deference to him and said, “Please help me, 46  O king! 14:5 The king replied to her, “What do you want?” 47  She answered, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. 14:6 Your servant 48  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. 14:7 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 49  of his brother whom he killed. In so doing we will also destroy the heir.’ They want to extinguish my remaining coal, 50  leaving no one on the face of the earth to carry on the name of my husband.”

14:8 Then the king told the woman, “Go to your home. I will give instructions concerning your situation.” 51  14:9 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!

14:10 The king said, “Bring to me whoever speaks to you, and he won’t bother you again! 14:11 She replied, “In that case, 52  let the king invoke the name of 53  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 54  will fall to the ground.”

14:12 Then the woman said, “Please permit your servant to speak to my lord the king about another matter.” He replied, “Tell me.” 14:13 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. 14:14 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. 55  14:15 I have now come to speak with my lord the king about this matter, because the people have made me fearful. 56  But your servant said, ‘I will speak to the king! Perhaps the king will do what his female servant 57  asks. 14:16 Yes! 58  The king may 59  listen and deliver his female servant 60  from the hand of the man who seeks to remove 61  both me and my son from the inheritance God has given us!’ 62  14:17 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!’

14:18 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! 14:19 The king said, “Did Joab put you up to all of this?” 63  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. 14:20 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.” 64 

14:21 Then the king said to Joab, “All right! I 65  will do this thing! Go and bring back the young man Absalom! 14:22 Then Joab bowed down with his face toward the ground and thanked 66  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 67  servant!

14:23 So Joab got up and went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 68  14:24 But the king said, “Let him go over 69  to his own house. He may not see my face.” So Absalom went over 70  to his own house; he did not see the king’s face.

14:25 Now in all Israel everyone acknowledged that there was no man as handsome as Absalom. 71  From the sole of his feet to the top of his head he was perfect in appearance. 72  14:26 When he would shave his head – at the end of every year he used to shave his head, for it grew too long 73  and he would shave it – he used to weigh the hair of his head at three pounds 74  according to the king’s weight. 14:27 Absalom had 75  three sons and one daughter, whose name was Tamar. She was a very attractive woman. 76 

14:28 Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without seeing the king’s face. 14:29 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. 14:30 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.” 77  So Absalom’s servants set Joab’s 78  portion of the field on fire.

14:31 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? 14:32 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: 79  “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!

14:33 So Joab went to the king and informed him. The king 80  summoned Absalom, and he came to the king. Absalom 81  bowed down before the king with his face toward the ground and the king kissed him. 82 

Absalom Leads an Insurrection against David

15:1 Some time later Absalom managed to acquire 83  a chariot and horses, as well as fifty men to serve as his royal guard. 84  15:2 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, 85  am from one of the tribes of Israel.” 15:3 Absalom would then say to him, “Look, your claims are legitimate and appropriate. 86  But there is no representative of the king who will listen to you.” 15:4 Absalom would then say, “If only they would make me 87  a judge in the land! Then everyone who had a judicial complaint 88  could come to me and I would make sure he receives a just settlement.”

15:5 When someone approached to bow before him, Absalom 89  would extend his hand and embrace him and kiss him. 15:6 Absalom acted this way toward everyone in Israel who came to the king for justice. In this way Absalom won the loyalty 90  of the citizens 91  of Israel.

15:7 After four 92  years Absalom said to the king, “Let me go and repay my vow that I made to the Lord while I was in Hebron. 15:8 For I made this vow 93  when I was living in Geshur in Aram: ‘If the Lord really does allow me to return to Jerusalem, 94  I will serve the Lord.’ 15:9 The king replied to him, “Go in peace.” So Absalom 95  got up and went to Hebron.

15:10 Then Absalom sent spies through all the tribes of Israel who said, “When you hear the sound of the horn, you may assume 96  that Absalom rules in Hebron.” 15:11 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. 97  15:12 While he was offering sacrifices, Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s adviser, 98  to come from his city, Giloh. 99  The conspiracy was gaining momentum, and the people were starting to side with Absalom.

David Flees from Jerusalem

15:13 Then a messenger came to David and reported, “The men of Israel are loyal to Absalom! 100  15:14 So David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem, 101 Come on! 102  Let’s escape! 103  Otherwise no one will be delivered from Absalom! Go immediately, or else he will quickly overtake us and bring 104  disaster on us and kill the city’s residents with the sword.” 105  15:15 The king’s servants replied to the king, “We will do whatever our lord the king decides.” 106 

15:16 So the king and all the members of his royal court 107  set out on foot, though the king left behind ten concubines 108  to attend to the palace. 15:17 The king and all the people set out on foot, pausing 109  at a spot 110  some distance away. 15:18 All his servants were leaving with him, 111  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 112  the king.

15:19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come with us? Go back and stay with the new 113  king, for you are a foreigner and an exile from your own country. 114  15:20 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 115  with you. May genuine loyal love 116  protect 117  you!

15:21 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, 118  there I 119  will be as well! 15:22 So David said to Ittai, “Come along then.” 120  So Ittai the Gittite went along, 121  accompanied by all his men and all the dependents 122  who were with him.

15:23 All the land was weeping loudly 123  as all these people were leaving. 124  As the king was crossing over the Kidron Valley, all the people were leaving 125  on the road that leads to the desert. 15:24 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 126  the city.

15:25 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. 15:26 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.” 127 

15:27 The king said to Zadok the priest, “Are you a seer? 128  Go back to the city in peace! Your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan may go with you and Abiathar. 129  15:28 Look, I will be waiting at the fords of the desert until word from you 130  reaches me.” 15:29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and remained there.

15:30 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. 15:31 Now David 131  had been told, “Ahithophel has sided with the conspirators who are with Absalom. So David prayed, 132 Make the advice of Ahithophel foolish, O Lord!

15:32 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. 15:33 David said to him, “If you leave 133  with me you will be a burden to me. 15:34 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.’ 15:35 Zadok and Abiathar the priests will be there with you. 134  Everything you hear in the king’s palace 135  you must tell Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 15:36 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.” 136 

15:37 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, 137  and a container of wine.

16:2 The king asked Ziba, “Why did you bring these things?” 138  Ziba replied, “The donkeys are for the king’s family to ride on, the loaves of bread 139  and the summer fruit are for the attendants to eat, and the wine is for those who get exhausted in the desert.” 140  16:3 The king asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?” 141  Ziba replied to the king, “He remains in Jerusalem, 142  for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give back to me my grandfather’s 143  kingdom.’ 16:4 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

16:5 Then King David reached 144  Bahurim. There a man from Saul’s extended family named Shimei son of Gera came out, yelling curses as he approached. 145  16:6 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. 16:7 As he yelled curses, Shimei said, “Leave! Leave! You man of bloodshed, you wicked man! 146  16:8 The Lord has punished you for 147  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!

16:9 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! 16:10 But the king said, “What do we have in common, 148  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?’ 16:11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son, my very own flesh and blood, 149  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. 16:12 Perhaps the Lord will notice my affliction 150  and this day grant me good in place of his curse.” 151 

16:13 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. 152  16:14 The king and all the people who were with him arrived exhausted at their destination, where David 153  refreshed himself.

The Advice of Ahithophel

16:15 Now when Absalom and all the men 154  of Israel arrived in Jerusalem, 155  Ahithophel was with him. 16:16 When David’s friend Hushai the Arkite came to Absalom, Hushai said to him, 156 Long live the king! Long live the king!

16:17 Absalom said to Hushai, “Do you call this loyalty to your friend? Why didn’t you go with your friend? 16:18 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. 157  16:19 Moreover, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? Just as I served your father, so I will serve you.” 158 

16:20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give us your advice. What should we do? 16:21 Ahithophel replied to Absalom, “Have sex with 159  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.” 160  16:22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, 161  and Absalom had sex with 162  his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

16:23 In those days Ahithophel’s advice was considered as valuable as a prophetic revelation. 163  Both David and Absalom highly regarded the advice of Ahithophel. 164 

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. 17:2 When I catch up with 165  him he will be exhausted and worn out. 166  I will rout him, and the entire army that is with him will flee. I will kill only the king 17:3 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. 167  The entire army will return unharmed.” 168 

17:4 This seemed like a good idea to Absalom and to all the leaders 169  of Israel. 17:5 But Absalom said, “Call for 170  Hushai the Arkite, and let’s hear what he has to say.” 171  17:6 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?

17:7 Hushai replied to Absalom, “Ahithophel’s advice is not sound this time.” 172  17:8 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. 173  Your father is an experienced soldier; he will not stay overnight with the army. 17:9 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, 174  whoever hears about it will say, ‘Absalom’s army has been slaughtered!’ 17:10 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. 17:11 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. 17:12 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! 17:13 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!

17:14 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 175  to frustrate the sound advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord could bring disaster on Absalom.

17:15 Then Hushai reported to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Here is what Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the leaders 176  of Israel to do, and here is what I have advised. 17:16 Now send word quickly to David and warn him, 177  “Don’t spend the night at the fords of the desert 178  tonight. Instead, be sure you cross over, 179  or else the king and everyone who is with him may be overwhelmed.” 180 

17:17 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. 17:18 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. 17:19 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.

17:20 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 181  searched but did not find them, so they returned to Jerusalem. 182 

17:21 After the men had left, Ahimaaz and Jonathan 183  climbed out of the well. Then they left and informed King David. They advised David, “Get up and cross the stream 184  quickly, for Ahithophel has devised a plan to catch you.” 185  17:22 So David and all the people who were with him got up and crossed the Jordan River. 186  By dawn there was not one person left who had not crossed the Jordan.

17:23 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 187  of his father.

17:24 Meanwhile David had gone to Mahanaim, while Absalom and all the men of Israel had crossed the Jordan River. 17:25 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 188  Abigail the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother.) 17:26 The army of Israel 189  and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.

17:27 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 17:28 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, 190  17:29 honey, curds, flocks, and cheese. 191  For they said, “The people are no doubt hungry, tired, and thirsty there in the desert.” 192 

The Death of Absalom

18:1 David assembled the army that was with him. He appointed leaders of thousands and leaders of hundreds. 18:2 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.”

18:3 But the soldiers replied, 193 You should not do this! 194  For if we should have to make a rapid retreat, they won’t be too concerned about us. 195  Even if half of us should die, they won’t be too concerned about us. But you 196  are like ten thousand of us! So it is better if you remain in the city for support.” 18:4 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. 18:5 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.

18:6 Then the army marched out to the field to fight against Israel. The battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 18:7 The army of Israel was defeated there by David’s men. 197  The slaughter there was great that day – 20,000 soldiers were killed. 18:8 The battle there was spread out over the whole area, and the forest consumed more soldiers than the sword devoured that day.

18:9 Then Absalom happened to come across David’s men. Now as Absalom was riding on his 198  mule, it 199  went under the branches of a large oak tree. His head got caught in the oak and he was suspended in midair, 200  while the mule he had been riding kept going.

18:10 When one 201  of the men saw this, he reported it to Joab saying, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree. 18:11 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? 202  I would have given you ten pieces of silver 203  and a commemorative belt! 204 

18:12 The man replied to Joab, “Even if 205  I were receiving 206  a thousand pieces of silver, 207  I would not strike 208  the king’s son! In our very presence 209  the king gave this order to you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.’ 210  18:13 If I had acted at risk of my own life 211 and nothing is hidden from the king! – you would have abandoned me.” 212 

18:14 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. 213  18:15 Then ten soldiers who were Joab’s armor bearers struck Absalom and finished him off.

18:16 Then Joab blew the trumpet 214  and the army turned back from chasing Israel, for Joab had called for the army to halt. 18:17 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. 215 

18:18 Prior to this 216  Absalom had set up a monument 217  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

18:19 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.” 218  18:20 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, 219  for the king’s son is dead.”

18:21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go and tell the king what you have seen.” After bowing to Joab, the Cushite ran off. 18:22 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.” 18:23 But he said, 220  “Whatever happens, I want to go!” So Joab 221  said to him, “Then go!” So Ahimaaz ran by the way of the Jordan plain, and he passed the Cushite.

18:24 Now David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, 222  and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate at the wall. When he looked, he saw a man running by himself. 18:25 So the watchman called out and informed the king. The king said, “If he is by himself, he brings good news.” 223  The runner 224  came ever closer.

18:26 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.” 18:27 The watchman said, “It appears to me that the first runner is Ahimaaz 225  son of Zadok.” The king said, “He is a good man, and he comes with good news.”

18:28 Then Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “Greetings!” 226  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 227  the men who opposed 228  my lord the king!

18:29 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.” 18:30 The king said, “Turn aside and take your place here.” So he turned aside and waited.

18:31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, 229 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! 230  18:32 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 231  be like that young man!

18:33 232  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, 233  Absalom! If only I could have died in your place! Absalom, my son, my son! 234 

19:1 Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning over Absalom.” 19:2 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.” 19:3 That day the people stole away to go to the city the way people who are embarrassed steal away in fleeing from battle. 19:4 The king covered his face and cried out loudly, 235 My son, Absalom! Absalom, my son, my son!

19:5 So Joab visited 236  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. 19:6 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 237  that if 238  Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, 239  it would be all right with you. 19:7 So get up now and go out and give some encouragement to 240  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!

19:8 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 241  all came before him.

David Goes Back to Jerusalem

But the Israelite soldiers 242  had all fled to their own homes. 243  19:9 All the people throughout all the tribes of Israel were arguing among themselves saying, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies. He rescued us from the hand of the Philistines, but now he has fled from the land because of Absalom. 19:10 But Absalom, whom we anointed as our king, 244  has died in battle. So now why do you hesitate to bring the king back? 245 

19:11 Then King David sent a message to Zadok and Abiathar the priests saying, “Tell the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you delay any further in bringing the king back to his palace, 246  when everything Israel is saying has come to the king’s attention. 247  19:12 You are my brothers – my very own flesh and blood! 248  Why should you delay any further in bringing the king back?’ 19:13 Say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my flesh and blood? 249  God will punish me severely, 250  if from this time on you are not the commander of my army in place of Joab!’

19:14 He 251  won over the hearts of all the men of Judah as though they were one man. Then they sent word to the king saying, “Return, you and all your servants as well.” 19:15 So the king returned and came to the Jordan River. 252 

Now the people of Judah 253  had come to Gilgal to meet the king and to help him 254  cross the Jordan. 19:16 Shimei son of Gera the Benjaminite from Bahurim came down quickly with the men of Judah to meet King David. 19:17 There were a thousand men from Benjamin with him, along with Ziba the servant 255  of Saul’s household, and with him his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They hurriedly crossed 256  the Jordan within sight of the king. 19:18 They crossed at the ford in order to help the king’s household cross and to do whatever he thought appropriate.

Now after he had crossed the Jordan, Shimei son of Gera threw himself down before the king. 19:19 He said to the king, “Don’t think badly of me, my lord, and don’t recall the sin of your servant on the day when you, my lord the king, left 257  Jerusalem! 258  Please don’t call it to mind! 19:20 For I, your servant, 259  know that I sinned, and I have come today as the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.”

19:21 Abishai son of Zeruiah replied, “For this should not Shimei be put to death? After all, he cursed the Lord’s anointed! 19:22 But David said, “What do we have in common, 260  you sons of Zeruiah? You are like my enemy today! Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don’t you realize that today I am king over Israel? 19:23 The king said to Shimei, “You won’t die.” The king vowed an oath 261  concerning this.

19:24 Now Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, 262  came down to meet the king. From the day the king had left until the day he safely 263  returned, Mephibosheth 264  had not cared for his feet 265  nor trimmed 266  his mustache nor washed his clothes.

19:25 When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, “Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth? 19:26 He replied, “My lord the king, my servant deceived me! I 267  said, ‘Let me get my donkey saddled so that I can ride on it and go with the king,’ for I 268  am lame. 19:27 But my servant 269  has slandered me 270  to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like an angel of God. Do whatever seems appropriate to you. 19:28 After all, there was no one in the entire house of my grandfather 271  who did not deserve death from my lord the king. But instead you allowed me to eat at your own table! 272  What further claim do I have to ask 273  the king for anything?

19:29 Then the king replied to him, “Why should you continue speaking like this? You and Ziba will inherit the field together.” 19:30 Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let him have 274  the whole thing! My lord the king has returned safely 275  to his house!

19:31 Now when Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim, he crossed the Jordan with the king so he could send him on his way from there. 276  19:32 But Barzillai was very old – eighty years old, in fact – and he had taken care of the king when he stayed in Mahanaim, for he was a very rich 277  man. 19:33 So the king said to Barzillai, “Cross over with me, and I will take care of you while you are with me in Jerusalem.”

19:34 Barzillai replied to the king, “How many days do I have left to my life, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 19:35 I am presently eighty years old. Am I able to discern good and bad? Can I 278  taste what I eat and drink? Am I still able to hear the voices of male and female singers? Why should I 279  continue to be a burden to my lord the king? 19:36 I will cross the Jordan with the king and go a short distance. 280  Why should the king reward me in this way? 19:37 Let me 281  return so that I may die in my own city near the grave of my father and my mother. But look, here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever seems appropriate to you.”

19:38 The king replied, “Kimham will cross over with me, and I will do for him whatever I deem appropriate. And whatever you choose, I will do for you.”

19:39 So all the people crossed the Jordan, as did the king. After the king had kissed him and blessed him, Barzillai returned to his home. 282  19:40 When the king crossed over to Gilgal, Kimham 283  crossed over with him. Now all the soldiers 284  of Judah along with half of the soldiers of Israel had helped the king cross over. 285 

19:41 Then all the men of Israel began coming to the king. They asked the king, “Why did our brothers, the men of Judah, sneak the king away and help the king and his household cross the Jordan – and not only him but all of David’s men as well?

19:42 All the men of Judah replied to the men of Israel, “Because the king is our close relative! Why are you so upset about this? Have we eaten at the king’s expense? 286  Or have we misappropriated anything for our own use? 19:43 The men of Israel replied to the men of Judah, “We have ten shares in the king, and we have a greater claim on David than you do! Why do you want 287  to curse us? Weren’t we the first to suggest bringing back our king?” But the comments of the men of Judah were more severe than those of the men of Israel.

Sheba’s Rebellion

20:1 Now a wicked man 288  named Sheba son of Bicri, a Benjaminite, 289  happened to be there. He blew the trumpet 290  and said,

We have no share in David;

we have no inheritance in this son of Jesse!

Every man go home, 291  O Israel!

20:2 So all the men of Israel deserted 292  David and followed Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stuck by their king all the way from the Jordan River 293  to Jerusalem. 294 

20:3 Then David went to his palace 295  in Jerusalem. The king took the ten concubines he had left to care for the palace and placed them under confinement. 296  Though he provided for their needs, he did not have sexual relations with them. 297  They remained in confinement until the day they died, living out the rest of their lives as widows.

20:4 Then the king said to Amasa, “Call the men of Judah together for me in three days, 298  and you be present here with them too.” 20:5 So Amasa went out to call Judah together. But in doing so he took longer than the time that the king had allotted him.

20:6 Then David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bicri will cause greater disaster for us than Absalom did! Take your lord’s servants and pursue him. Otherwise he will secure 299  fortified cities for himself and get away from us.” 20:7 So Joab’s men, accompanied by the Kerethites, the Pelethites, and all the warriors, left Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bicri.

20:8 When they were near the big rock that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to them. Now Joab was dressed in military attire and had a dagger in its sheath belted to his waist. When he advanced, it fell out. 300 

20:9 Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” With his right hand Joab took hold of Amasa’s beard as if to greet him with a kiss. 20:10 Amasa did not protect himself from the knife in Joab’s other hand, and Joab 301  stabbed him in the abdomen, causing Amasa’s 302  intestines to spill out on the ground. There was no need to stab him again; the first blow was fatal. 303  Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bicri.

20:11 One of Joab’s soldiers who stood over Amasa said, “Whoever is for 304  Joab and whoever is for David, follow Joab! 20:12 Amasa was squirming in his own blood in the middle of the path, and this man had noticed that all the soldiers stopped. Having noticed that everyone who came across Amasa 305  stopped, the man 306  pulled him 307  away from the path and into the field and threw a garment over him. 20:13 Once he had removed Amasa 308  from the path, everyone followed Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bicri.

20:14 Sheba 309  traveled through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of 310  Beth Maacah and all the Berite region. When they had assembled, 311  they too joined him. 20:15 So Joab’s men 312  came and laid siege against him in Abel of Beth Maacah. They prepared a siege ramp outside the city which stood against its outer rampart. As all of Joab’s soldiers were trying to break through 313  the wall so that it would collapse, 20:16 a wise woman called out from the city, “Listen up! Listen up! Tell Joab, ‘Come near so that I may speak to you.’

20:17 When he approached her, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?” He replied, “I am.” She said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” He said, “Go ahead. I’m listening.” 20:18 She said, “In the past they would always say, ‘Let them inquire in Abel,’ and that is how they settled things. 20:19 I represent the peaceful and the faithful in Israel. You are attempting to destroy an important city 314  in Israel. Why should you swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?

20:20 Joab answered, “Get serious! 315  I don’t want to swallow up or destroy anything! 20:21 That’s not the way things are. There is a man from the hill country of Ephraim named Sheba son of Bicri. He has rebelled 316  against King David. Give me just this one man, and I will leave the city.” The woman said to Joab, “This very minute 317  his head will be thrown over the wall to you!

20:22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice and they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it out to Joab. Joab 318  blew the trumpet, and his men 319  dispersed from the city, each going to his own home. 320  Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.

20:23 Now Joab was the general in command of all the army of Israel. Benaiah the son of Jehoida was over the Kerethites and the Perethites. 20:24 Adoniram 321  was supervisor of the work crews. 322  Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the secretary. 20:25 Sheva was the scribe, and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests. 20:26 Ira the Jairite was David’s personal priest. 323 

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