Absolom pursues David
2 Samuel 17-19 MSG
1-3Next Ahithophel advised Absalom, "Let me handpick twelve thousand men and go after David tonight. I'll come on him when he's bone tired and take him by complete surprise. The whole army will run off and I'll kill only David. Then I'll bring the army back to you—a bride brought back to her husband! You're only after one man, after all. Then everyone will be together in peace!"
4Absalom thought it was an excellent strategy, and all the elders of Israel agreed.
5But then Absalom said, "Call in Hushai the Arkite—let's hear what he has to say."
6So Hushai came and Absalom put it to him, "This is what Ahithophel advised. Should we do it? What do you say?"
7-10Hushai said, "The counsel that Ahithophel has given in this instance is not good. You know your father and his men, brave and bitterly angry—like a bear robbed of her cubs. And your father is an experienced fighter; you can be sure he won't be caught napping at a time like this. Even while we're talking, he's probably holed up in some cave or other. If he jumps your men from ambush, word will soon get back, 'A slaughter of Absalom's army!' Even if your men are valiant with hearts of lions, they'll fall apart at such news, for everyone in Israel knows the kind of fighting stuff your father's made of, and also the men with him.
11-13"Here's what I'd advise: Muster the whole country, from Dan to Beersheba, an army like the sand of the sea, and you personally lead them. We'll smoke him out wherever he is, fall on him like dew falls on the earth, and, believe me, there won't be a single survivor. If he hides out in a city, then the whole army will bring ropes to that city and pull it down and into a gully—not so much as a pebble left of it!"
14Absalom and all his company agreed that the counsel of Hushai the Arkite was better than the counsel of Ahithophel. (God had determined to discredit the counsel of Ahithophel so as to bring ruin on Absalom.)
15-16Then Hushai told the priests Zadok and Abiathar, "Ahithophel advised Absalom and the elders of Israel thus and thus, and I advised them thus and thus. Now send this message as quickly as possible to David: 'Don't spend the night on this side of the river; cross immediately or the king and everyone with him will be swallowed up alive.'"
17-20Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting around at En Rogel. A servant girl would come and give them messages and then they would go and tell King David, for it wasn't safe to be seen coming into the city. But a soldier spotted them and told Absalom, so the two of them got out of there fast and went to a man's house in Bahurim. He had a well in his yard and they climbed into it. The wife took a rug and covered the well, then spread grain on it so no one would notice anything out of the ordinary. Shortly, Absalom's servants came to the woman's house and asked her, "Have you seen Ahimaaz and Jonathan?"
The woman said, "They were headed toward the river."
They looked but didn't find them, and then went back to Jerusalem.
21When the coast was clear, Ahimaaz and Jonathan climbed out of the well and went on to make their report to King David, "Get up and cross the river quickly; Ahithophel has given counsel against you!"
22David and his whole army were soon up and moving and crossed the Jordan. As morning broke there was not a single person who had not made it across the Jordan.
23When Ahithophel realized that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and left for his hometown. After making out his will and putting his house in order, he hanged himself and died. He was buried in the family tomb.
24-26About the time David arrived at Mahanaim, Absalom crossed the Jordan, and the whole army of Israel with him. Absalom had made Amasa head of the army, replacing Joab. (Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra, an Ishmaelite who had married Abigail, daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, the mother of Joab.) Israel and Absalom set camp in Gilead.
27-29When David arrived at Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Ammonite Rabbah, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim brought beds and blankets, bowls and jugs filled with wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans and lentils, honey, and curds and cheese from the flocks and herds. They presented all this to David and his army to eat, "because," they said, "the army must be starved and exhausted and thirsty out in this wilderness."
1-2David organized his forces. He appointed captains of thousands and captains of hundreds. Then David deployed his troops, a third under Joab, a third under Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third under Ittai the Gittite.
The king then announced, "I'm marching with you."
3They said, "No, you mustn't march with us. If we're forced to retreat, the enemy won't give it a second thought. And if half of us die, they won't do so either. But you are worth ten thousand of us. It will be better for us if you stay in the city and help from there."
4"If you say so," said the king. "I'll do what you think is best." And so he stood beside the city gate as the whole army marched out by hundreds and by thousands.
5Then the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom." The whole army heard what the king commanded the three captains regarding Absalom.
6-8The army took the field to meet Israel. It turned out that the battle was joined in the Forest of Ephraim. The army of Israel was beaten badly there that day by David's men, a terrific slaughter—twenty thousand men! There was fighting helter-skelter all over the place—the forest claimed more lives that day than the sword!
9-10Absalom ran into David's men, but was out in front of them riding his mule, when the mule ran under the branches of a huge oak tree. Absalom's head was caught in the oak and he was left dangling between heaven and earth, the mule running right out from under him. A solitary soldier saw him and reported it to Joab, "I just saw Absalom hanging from an oak tree!"
11Joab said to the man who told him, "If you saw him, why didn't you kill him then and there? I'd have rewarded you with ten pieces of silver and a fancy belt."
12-13The man told Joab, "Even if I'd had a chance at a thousand pieces of silver, I wouldn't have laid a hand on the king's son. We all heard the king command you and Abishai and Ittai, 'For my sake, protect the young man Absalom.' Why, I'd be risking my life, for nothing is hidden from the king. And you would have just stood there!"
14-15Joab said, "I can't waste my time with you." He then grabbed three knives and stabbed Absalom in the heart while he was still alive in the tree; by then Absalom was surrounded by ten of Joab's armor bearers; they hacked away at him and killed him.
16-17Joab then blew the ram's horn trumpet, calling off the army in its pursuit of Israel. They took Absalom, dumped him into a huge pit in the forest, and piled an immense mound of rocks over him.
Meanwhile the whole army of Israel was in flight, each man making his own way home.
18While alive, Absalom had erected for himself a pillar in the Valley of the King, "because," he said, "I have no son to carry on my name." He inscribed the pillar with his own name. To this day it is called "The Absalom Memorial."
19-20Ahimaaz, Zadok's son, said, "Let me run to the king and bring him the good news that God has delivered him from his enemies." But Joab said, "You're not the one to deliver the good news today; some other day, maybe, but it's not 'good news' today." (This was because the king's son was dead.)
21Then Joab ordered a Cushite, "You go. Tell the king what you've seen."
"Yes sir," said the Cushite, and ran off.
22Ahimaaz son of Zadok kept at it, begging Joab, "What does it matter? Let me run, too, following the Cushite."
Joab said, "Why all this 'Run, run'? You'll get no thanks for it, I can tell you."
23"I don't care; let me run."
"Okay," said Joab, "run." So Ahimaaz ran, taking the lower valley road, and passed the Cushite.
24-25David was sitting between the two gates. The sentry had gone up to the top of the gate on the wall and looked around. He saw a solitary runner. The sentry called down and told the king. The king said, "If he's alone, it must be good news!"
25-26As the runner came closer, the sentry saw another runner and called down to the gate, "Another runner all by himself."
And the king said, "This also must be good news."
27Then the sentry said, "I can see the first man now; he runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok."
"He's a good man," said the king. "He's bringing good news for sure."
28Then Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, "Peace!" Then he bowed deeply before the king, his face to the ground. "Blessed be your God; he has handed over the men who rebelled against my master the king."
29The king asked, "But is the young man Absalom all right?"
Ahimaaz said, "I saw a huge ruckus just as Joab was sending me off, but I don't know what it was about."
30The king said, "Step aside and stand over there." So he stepped aside.
31Then the Cushite arrived and said, "Good news, my master and king! God has given victory today over all those who rebelled against you!"
32"But," said the king, "is the young man Absalom all right?"
And the Cushite replied, "Would that all of the enemies of my master the king and all who maliciously rose against you end up like that young man."
33The king was stunned. Heartbroken, he went up to the room over the gate and wept. As he wept he cried out,
O my son Absalom, my dear, dear son Absalom!
Why not me rather than you, my death and not yours,
O Absalom, my dear, dear son!
David's Grief for Absalom
1-4Joab was told that David was weeping and lamenting over Absalom.
The day's victory turned into a day of mourning as word passed through the army, "David is grieving over his son." The army straggled back to the city that day demoralized, dragging their tails. And the king held his face in his hands and lamented loudly,
O my son Absalom,
Absalom my dear, dear son!
5-7But in private Joab rebuked the king: "Now you've done it—knocked the wind out of your loyal servants who have just saved your life, to say nothing of the lives of your sons and daughters, wives and concubines. What is this—loving those who hate you and hating those who love you? Your actions give a clear message: officers and soldiers mean nothing to you. You know that if Absalom were alive right now, we'd all be dead—would that make you happy? Get hold of yourself; get out there and put some heart into your servants! I swear to God that if you don't go to them they'll desert; not a soldier will be left here by nightfall. And that will be the worst thing that has happened yet."
8So the king came out and took his place at the city gate. Soon everyone knew: "Oh, look! The king has come out to receive us." And his whole army came and presented itself to the king. But the Israelites had fled the field of battle and gone home.
9-10Meanwhile, the whole populace was now complaining to its leaders, "Wasn't it the king who saved us time and again from our enemies, and rescued us from the Philistines? And now he has had to flee the country on account of Absalom. And now this Absalom whom we made king is dead in battle. So what are you waiting for? Why don't you bring the king back?"
11-13When David heard what was being said, he sent word to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, "Ask the elders of Judah, 'Why are you so laggard in bringing the king back home? You're my brothers! You're my own flesh and blood! So why are you the last ones to bring the king back home?' And tell Amasa, 'You, too, are my flesh and blood. As God is my witness, I'm making you the permanent commander of the army in place of Joab.'"
14He captured the hearts of everyone in Judah. They were unanimous in sending for the king: "Come back, you and all your servants."
15-18So the king returned. He arrived at the Jordan just as Judah reached Gilgal on their way to welcome the king and escort him across the Jordan. Even Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, hurried down to join the men of Judah so he could welcome the king, a thousand Benjaminites with him. And Ziba, Saul's steward, with his fifteen sons and twenty servants, waded across the Jordan to meet the king and brought his entourage across, doing whatever they could to make the king comfortable.
18-20Shimei son of Gera bowed deeply in homage to the king as soon as he was across the Jordan and said, "Don't think badly of me, my master! Overlook my irresponsible outburst on the day my master the king left Jerusalem—don't hold it against me! I know I sinned, but look at me now—the first of all the tribe of Joseph to come down and welcome back my master the king!"
21Abishai son of Zeruiah interrupted, "Enough of this! Shouldn't we kill him outright? Why, he cursed God's anointed!"
22But David said, "What is it with you sons of Zeruiah? Why do you insist on being so contentious? Nobody is going to be killed today. I am again king over Israel!"
23Then the king turned to Shimei, "You're not going to die." And the king gave him his word.
24-25Next Mephibosheth grandson of Saul arrived from Jerusalem to welcome the king. He hadn't combed his hair or trimmed his beard or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safe and sound. The king said, "And why didn't you come with me, Mephibosheth?"
26-28"My master the king," he said, "my servant betrayed me. I told him to saddle my donkey so I could ride it and go with the king, for, as you know, I am lame. And then he lied to you about me. But my master the king has been like one of God's angels: he knew what was right and did it. Wasn't everyone in my father's house doomed? But you took me in and gave me a place at your table. What more could I ever expect or ask?"
29"That's enough," said the king. "Say no more. Here's my decision: You and Ziba divide the property between you."
30Mephibosheth said, "Oh, let him have it all! All I care about is that my master the king is home safe and sound!"
31-32Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim. He crossed the Jordan with the king to give him a good send-off. Barzillai was a very old man—eighty years old! He had supplied the king's needs all the while he was in Mahanaim since he was very wealthy.
33"Join me in Jerusalem," the king said to Barzillai. "Let me take care of you."
34-37But Barzillai declined the offer, "How long do you think I'd live if I went with the king to Jerusalem? I'm eighty years old and not much good anymore to anyone. Can't taste food; can't hear music. So why add to the burdens of my master the king? I'll just go a little way across the Jordan with the king. But why would the king need to make a great thing of that? Let me go back and die in my hometown and be buried with my father and mother. But my servant Kimham here; let him go with you in my place. But treat him well!"
38The king said, "That's settled; Kimham goes with me. And I will treat him well! If you think of anything else, I'll do that for you, too."
39-40The army crossed the Jordan but the king stayed. The king kissed and blessed Barzillai, who then returned home. Then the king, Kimham with him, crossed over at Gilgal.
40-41The whole army of Judah and half the army of Israel processed with the king. The men of Israel came to the king and said, "Why have our brothers, the men of Judah, taken over as if they owned the king, escorting the king and his family and close associates across the Jordan?"
42The men of Judah retorted, "Because the king is related to us, that's why! But why make a scene? You don't see us getting treated special because of it, do you?"
43The men of Israel shot back, "We have ten shares in the king to your one. Besides we're the firstborn—so why are we having to play second fiddle? It was our idea to bring him back."
But the men of Judah took a harder line than the men of Israel.
Attempted coop of Sheba
David flees to avoid another civil war
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