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2 Samuel 15:1-20:22 – Rebellion against David

Summary

Absalom, impatient to become king himself, gathers support and foments rebellion against his father, David, forcing him to flee Jerusalem. David is emotionally torn between preserving his throne and preserving the life of his rebellious son. Upon David's return to Jerusalem, Sheba revolts.

Analysis

Chapters 15-20 are best understood as the result of David's sin in the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah. Though his reasons for doing so are obscure, David's flight from the city and his later return provide necessary structural clues for this long segment that consists largely of meetings, encounters, and discussions between an array of characters:

A Absalom rebels against David (15:1-12)
B David flees (15:13-31)
C David meets with loyal Hushai (15:32-37)
D David meets with Mephibosheth's servant (16:1-4)
E David meets with Shimei (16:5-14)
F Hushai versus Ahithophel (16:15-17:14)
X Hushai's plan (17:15-29)
F′ David versus Absalom (18:1-19:15)
E′ David meets with Shimei (19:16-23)
D′ David meets with Mephibosheth (19:24-30)
C′ David meets with loyal Barzillai (19:31-38)
B′ David returns (19:39-43)
A′ Sheba rebels against David (20:1-22)

All this, of course, is seen as the inevitable working out of the consequences of David's sin against Bathsheba and Uriah. Earlier consequences had included the rape of his daughter by his son, that son's murder by his half-brother who became totally alienated from his father as a result. The meager reconciliation between father and son did not last as Absalom's utter revolt drives much of these chapters and divides the nation as much as it divides David in his conflicted roles as father and king.

2 Samuel 15:1-20:22

Absalom Usurps the Throne

15After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run ahead of him. 2Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the road into the gate; and when anyone brought a suit before the king for judgement, Absalom would call out and say, ‘From what city are you?’ When the person said, ‘Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel’, 3Absalom would say, ‘See, your claims are good and right; but there is no one deputed by the king to hear you.’ 4Absalom said moreover, ‘If only I were judge in the land! Then all who had a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give them justice.’ 5Whenever people came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of them, and kiss them. 6Thus Absalom did to every Israelite who came to the king for judgement; so Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.

7 At the end of four* years Absalom said to the king, ‘Please let me go to Hebron and pay the vow that I have made to the Lord. 8For your servant made a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram: If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will worship the Lord in Hebron.’* 9The king said to him, ‘Go in peace.’ So he got up, and went to Hebron. 10But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then shout: Absalom has become king at Hebron!’ 11Two hundred men from Jerusalem went with Absalom; they were invited guests, and they went in their innocence, knowing nothing of the matter. 12While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for* Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counsellor, from his city Giloh. The conspiracy grew in strength, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.

David Flees from Jerusalem

13 A messenger came to David, saying, ‘The hearts of the Israelites have gone after Absalom.’ 14Then David said to all his officials who were with him at Jerusalem, ‘Get up! Let us flee, or there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Hurry, or he will soon overtake us, and bring disaster down upon us, and attack the city with the edge of the sword.’ 15The king’s officials said to the king, ‘Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king decides.’ 16So the king left, followed by all his household, except ten concubines whom he left behind to look after the house. 17The king left, followed by all the people; and they stopped at the last house. 18All his officials 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 are you also coming with us? Go back, and stay with the king; for you are a foreigner, and also an exile from your home. 20You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, while I go wherever I can? Go back, and take your kinsfolk with you; and may the Lord show* steadfast love and faithfulness to you.’ 21But Ittai answered the king, ‘As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.’ 22David said to Ittai, ‘Go then, march on.’ So Ittai the Gittite marched on, with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23The whole country wept aloud as all the people passed by; the king crossed the Wadi Kidron, and all the people moved on towards the wilderness.

24 Abiathar came up, and Zadok also, with all the Levites, carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, until the people had all passed out of the city. 25Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and the place where it remains. 26But if he says, “I take no pleasure in you”, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.’ 27The king also said to the priest Zadok, ‘Look,* go back to the city in peace, you and Abiathar,* with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan son of Abiathar. 28See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.’ 29So 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, with his head covered and walking barefoot; and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went. 31David was told that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, ‘O Lord, I pray you, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.’

Hushai Becomes David’s Spy

32 When David came to the summit, where God was worshipped, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and earth on his head. 33David said to him, ‘If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. 34But 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. 35The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you there. So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. 36Their two sons are with them there, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan; and by them you shall report to me everything you hear.’ 37So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.

David’s Adversaries

16When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth* met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, carrying two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred bunches of raisins, one hundred of summer fruits, and one skin of wine. 2The king said to Ziba, ‘Why have you brought these?’ Ziba answered, ‘The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine is for those to drink who faint in the wilderness.’ 3The king said, ‘And where is your master’s son?’ Ziba said to the king, ‘He remains in Jerusalem; for he said, “Today the house of Israel will give me back my grandfather’s kingdom.” 4Then the king said to Ziba, ‘All that belonged to Mephibosheth* is now yours.’ Ziba said, ‘I do obeisance; let me find favour in your sight, my lord the king.’

Shimei Curses David

5 When King David came to Bahurim, a man of the family of the house of Saul came out whose name was Shimei son of Gera; he came out cursing. 6He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; now all the people and all the warriors were on his right and on his left. 7Shimei shouted while he cursed, ‘Out! Out! Murderer! Scoundrel! 8The Lord has avenged on all of you 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, disaster has overtaken you; for you are a man of blood.’

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 take off his head.’ 10But 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?” 11David said to Abishai and to all his servants, ‘My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him. 12It may be that the Lord will look on my distress,* and the Lord will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.’ 13So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, throwing stones and flinging dust at him. 14The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary at the Jordan;* and there he refreshed himself.

The Counsel of Ahithophel

15 Now Absalom and all the Israelites* came to Jerusalem; Ahithophel was with him. 16When Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, ‘Long live the king! Long live the king!’ 17Absalom said to Hushai, ‘Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?’ 18Hushai said to Absalom, ‘No; but the one whom the Lord and this people and all the Israelites have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain. 19Moreover, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? Just as I have served your father, so I will serve you.’

20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, ‘Give us your counsel; what shall we do?’ 21Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Go in to your father’s concubines, the ones he has left to look after the house; and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.’ 22So they pitched a tent for Absalom upon the roof; and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the oracle* of God; so all the counsel of Ahithophel was esteemed, both by David and by Absalom.

17Moreover, Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will set out and pursue David tonight. 2I 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, 3and 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.’ 4The advice pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.

The Counsel of Hushai

5 Then Absalom said, ‘Call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear too what he has to say.’ 6When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, ‘This is what Ahithophel has said; shall we do as he advises? If not, you tell us.’ 7Then Hushai said to Absalom, ‘This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good.’ 8Hushai continued, ‘You know that your father and his men are warriors, 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 troops. 9Even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits, or in some other place. And when some of our troops* fall at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, “There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.” 10Then even the valiant warrior, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly melt with fear; for all Israel knows that your father is a warrior, and that those who are with him are valiant warriors. 11But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beer-sheba, like the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. 12So we shall come upon him in whatever place he may be found, and we shall light on him as the dew falls on the ground; and he will not survive, nor will any of those with him. 13If 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.’ 14Absalom 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 ruin on Absalom.

Hushai Warns David to Escape

15 Then Hushai said to the priests Zadok and Abiathar, ‘Thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and so I have counselled. 16Therefore send quickly and tell David, “Do not lodge tonight at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means cross over; otherwise the king and all the people who are with him will be swallowed up.” 17Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at En-rogel; a servant-girl used to go and tell them, and they would go and tell King David; for they could not risk being seen entering the city. 18But a boy 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. 19The man’s wife took a covering, stretched it over the well’s mouth, and spread out grain on it; and nothing was known of it. 20When Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house, they said, ‘Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?’ The woman said to them, ‘They have crossed over the brook* of water.’ And when they had searched 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, ‘Go and cross the water quickly; for thus and so has Ahithophel counselled against you.’ 22So David and all the people who were with him set out and 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; he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.

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

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

The Defeat and Death of Absalom

18Then David mustered the men who were with him, and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2And David divided the army into three groups:* one-third under the command of Joab, one-third under the command of Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one-third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the men, ‘I myself will also go out with you.’ 3But 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.’ 4The 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. 5The king gave orders to Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.’ And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders concerning Absalom.

6 So the army went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. 7The men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the slaughter there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. 8The battle spread over the face of all the country; and the forest claimed more victims that day than the sword.

9 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. His head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging* between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10A man saw it, and told Joab, ‘I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.’ 11Joab 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.’ 12But the man said to Joab, ‘Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying: For my sake protect the young man Absalom! 13On 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.’ 14Joab said, ‘I will not waste time like this with you.’ He took three spears in his hand, and thrust them into the heart of Absalom, while he was still alive in the oak. 15And ten young men, Joab’s armour-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him, and killed him.

16 Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained the troops. 17They took Absalom, threw him into a great pit in the forest, and raised over him a very great heap of stones. Meanwhile all the Israelites fled to their homes. 18Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a 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 by his own name. It is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.

David Hears of Absalom’s Death

19 Then Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, ‘Let me run, and carry tidings to the king that the Lord has delivered him from the power of his enemies.’ 20Joab said to him, ‘You are not to carry tidings today; you may carry tidings another day, but today you shall not do so, because the king’s son is dead.’ 21Then Joab said to a Cushite, ‘Go, tell the king what you have seen.’ The Cushite bowed before Joab, and ran. 22Then Ahimaaz 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 have no reward* for the tidings?’ 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. The sentinel went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he looked up, he saw a man running alone. 25The sentinel shouted and told the king. The king said, ‘If he is alone, there are tidings in his mouth.’ He kept coming, and drew near. 26Then the sentinel saw another man running; and the sentinel called to the gatekeeper and said, ‘See, another man running alone!’ The king said, ‘He also is bringing tidings.’ 27The sentinel said, ‘I think the running of the first one is like the running of Ahimaaz son of Zadok.’ The king said, ‘He is a good man, and comes with good tidings.’

28 Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, ‘All is well!’ He prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground, and said, ‘Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king.’ 29The king said, ‘Is it well with the young man Absalom?’ Ahimaaz answered, ‘When Joab sent your servant,* I saw a great tumult, but I do not know what it was.’ 30The king said, ‘Turn aside, and stand here.’ So he turned aside, and stood still.

31 Then the Cushite came; and the Cushite said, ‘Good tidings for my lord the king! For the Lord has vindicated you this day, delivering you from the power of all who rose up against you.’ 32The king said to the Cushite, ‘Is it well with the young man Absalom?’ The Cushite answered, ‘May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up to do you harm, be like that young man.’

David Mourns for Absalom

33 *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 that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!’

19It was told Joab, ‘The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.’ 2So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the troops; for the troops heard that day, ‘The king is grieving for his son.’ 3The troops stole into the city that day as soldiers steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. 4The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, ‘O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!’ 5Then Joab came into the house to the king, and said, ‘Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your officers who have saved your life today, and the lives of your sons and your daughters, and the lives of your wives and your concubines, 6for love of those who hate you and for hatred of those who love you. You have made it clear today that commanders and officers are nothing to you; for I perceive that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. 7So go out at once 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 any disaster that has come upon you from your youth until now.’ 8Then the king got up and took his seat in the gate. The troops were all told, ‘See, the king is sitting in the gate’; and all the troops came before the king.

David Recalled to Jerusalem

Meanwhile, all the Israelites had fled to their homes. 9All the people were disputing throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, ‘The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies, and saved us from the hand of the Philistines; and now he has fled out of the land because of Absalom. 10But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?’

11 King David sent this message to the priests Zadok and Abiathar, ‘Say to the elders of Judah, “Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house? The talk of all Israel has come to the king.* 12You are my kin, you are my bone and my flesh; why then should you be the last to bring back the king?” 13And say to Amasa, “Are you not my bone and my flesh? So may God do to me, and more, if you are not the commander of my army from now on, in place of Joab.” 14Amasa* swayed the hearts of all the people of Judah as one, and they sent word to the king, ‘Return, both you and all your servants.’ 15So the king came back to the Jordan; and Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and to bring him over the Jordan.

16 Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite, from Bahurim, hurried to come down with the people of Judah to meet King David; 17with him were a thousand people from Benjamin. And Ziba, the servant of the house of Saul, with his fifteen sons and his twenty servants, rushed down to the Jordan ahead of the king, 18while the crossing was taking place,* to bring over the king’s household, and to do his pleasure.

David’s Mercy to Shimei

Shimei son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan, 19and said to the king, ‘May my lord not hold me guilty or remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem; may the king not bear it in mind. 20For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore, see, I have come this day, the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.’ 21Abishai son of Zeruiah answered, ‘Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed?’ 22But David said, ‘What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should today become an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?’ 23The king said to Shimei, ‘You shall not die.’ And the king gave him his oath.

David and Mephibosheth Meet

24 Mephibosheth* grandson of Saul came down to meet the king; he had not taken care of his feet, or trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes, from the day the king left until the day he came back in safety. 25When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, ‘Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?’* 26He answered, ‘My lord, O king, my servant deceived me; for your servant said to him, “Saddle a donkey for me,* so that I may ride on it and go with the king.” For your servant is lame. 27He has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. 28For all my father’s house were doomed to death before my lord the king; but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to appeal to the king?’ 29The king said to him, ‘Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.’ 30Mephibosheth* said to the king, ‘Let him take it all, since my lord the king has arrived home safely.’

David’s Kindness to Barzillai

31 Now Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim; he went on with the king to the Jordan, to escort him over the Jordan. 32Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. He had provided the king with food while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man. 33The king said to Barzillai, ‘Come over with me, and I will provide for you in Jerusalem at my side.’ 34But Barzillai said to the king, ‘How many years have I still to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 35Today I am eighty years old; can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? 36Your servant will go a little way over the Jordan with the king. Why should the king recompense me with such a reward? 37Please let your servant return, so that I may die in my own town, near the graves of my father and my mother. But here is your servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do for him whatever seems good to you.’ 38The king answered, ‘Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do for him whatever seems good to you; and all that you desire of me I will do for you.’ 39Then all the people crossed over the Jordan, and the king crossed over; the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own home. 40The king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him; all the people of Judah, and also half the people of Israel, brought the king on his way.

41 Then all the people of Israel came to the king, and said to him, ‘Why have our kindred the people of Judah stolen you away, and brought the king and his household over the Jordan, and all David’s men with him?’ 42All the people of Judah answered the people of Israel, ‘Because the king is near of kin to us. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we eaten at all at the king’s expense? Or has he given us any gift?’ 43But the people of Israel answered the people of Judah, ‘We have ten shares in the king, and in David also we have more than you. Why then did you despise us? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?’ But the words of the people of Judah were fiercer than the words of the people of Israel.

The Rebellion of Sheba

20Now a scoundrel named Sheba son of Bichri, a Benjaminite, happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and cried out,
‘We have no portion in David,
no share in the son of Jesse!
Everyone to your tents, O Israel!’
2So all the people of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba son of Bichri; but the people of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

3 David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten concubines whom he had left to look after the house, and put them in a house under guard, and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood.

4 Then the king said to Amasa, ‘Call the men of Judah together to me within three days, and be here yourself.’ 5So Amasa went to summon Judah; but he delayed beyond the set time that had been appointed him. 6David said to Abishai, ‘Now Sheba son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom; take your lord’s servants and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities for himself, and escape from us.’ 7Joab’s men went out after him, along with the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and all the warriors; they went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bichri. 8When they were at the large stone that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing a soldier’s garment and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened at his waist; as he went forward it fell out. 9Joab said to Amasa, ‘Is it well with you, my brother?’ And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10But Amasa did not notice the sword in Joab’s hand; Joab struck him in the belly so that his entrails poured out on the ground, and he died. He did not strike a second blow.

Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bichri. 11And one of Joab’s men took his stand by Amasa, and said, ‘Whoever favours Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.’ 12Amasa lay wallowing in his blood on the highway, and the man saw that all the people were stopping. Since he saw that all who came by him were stopping, he carried Amasa from the highway into a field, and threw a garment over him. 13Once he was removed from the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bichri.

14 Sheba* passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah;* and all the Bichrites* assembled, and followed him inside. 15Joab’s forces* came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah; they threw up a siege-ramp against the city, and it stood against the rampart. Joab’s forces were battering the wall to break it down. 16Then a wise woman called from the city, ‘Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, “Come here, I want to speak to you.” 17He came near her; and the woman said, ‘Are you Joab?’ He answered, ‘I am.’ Then she said to him, ‘Listen to the words of your servant.’ He answered, ‘I am listening.’ 18Then she said, ‘They used to say in the old days, “Let them inquire at Abel”; and so they would settle a matter. 19I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel; you seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel; why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?’ 20Joab answered, ‘Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! 21That is not the case! But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David; give him up alone, and I will withdraw from the city.’ The woman said to Joab, ‘His head shall be thrown over the wall to you.’ 22Then the woman went to all the people with her wise plan. And they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, and all went to their homes, while Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.

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v 2.2.7
10 February 2011

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