1King David brought all his men together, divided them into units of a thousand and of a hundred, and placed officers in command of them. 2Then he sent them out in three groups, with Joab and Joab's brother Abishai and Ittai from Gath, each in command of a group. And the king said to his men, “I will go with you myself.”
3“You mustn't go with us,” they answered. “It won't make any difference to the enemy if the rest of us turn and run, or even if half of us are killed; but you are worth 10,000 of us. It will be better if you stay here in the city and send us help.”
4“I will do whatever you think best,” the king answered. Then he stood by the side of the gate as his men marched out in units of a thousand and of a hundred. 5He gave orders to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake don't harm the young man Absalom.” And all the troops heard David give this command to his officers.
6David's army went out into the countryside and fought the Israelites in the forest of Ephraim. 7The Israelites were defeated by David's men; it was a terrible defeat, with 20,000 men killed that day. 8The fighting spread over the countryside, and more men died in the forest than were killed in battle.
9Suddenly Absalom met some of David's men. Absalom was riding a mule, and as it went under a large oak tree, Absalom's head got caught in the branches. The mule ran on and Absalom was left hanging in mid air. 10One of David's men saw him and reported to Joab, “Sir, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree!”
11Joab answered, “If you saw him, why didn't you kill him on the spot? I myself would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.”
12But the man answered, “Even if you gave me a thousand pieces of silver, I wouldn't lift a finger against the king's son. We all heard the king command you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake don't harm the young man Absalom.’ 13But if I had disobeyed the king and killed Absalom, the king would have heard about it — he hears about everything — and you would not have defended me.”
14“I'm not going to waste any more time with you,” Joab said. He took three spears and plunged them into Absalom's chest while he was still alive, hanging in the oak tree. 15Then ten of Joab's soldiers closed in on Absalom and finished killing him.
16Joab ordered the trumpet to be blown to stop the fighting, and his troops came back from pursuing the Israelites. 17They took Absalom's body, threw it into a deep pit in the forest, and covered it with a huge pile of stones. All the Israelites fled to their own homes.
18During his lifetime Absalom had built a monument for himself in King's Valley, because he had no son to keep his name alive. So he named it after himself, and to this day it is known as Absalom's Monument.
David is Told of Absalom's Death
19Then Ahimaaz son of Zadok said to Joab, “Let me run to the king with the good news that the LORD has saved him from his enemies.”
20“No,” Joab said, “today you will not take any good news. Some other day you may do so, but not today, for the king's son is dead.” 21Then he said to his Ethiopian slave, “Go and tell the king what you have seen.” The slave bowed and ran off.
22Ahimaaz insisted, “I don't care what happens; please let me take the news also.”
“Why do you want to do it, my son?” Joab asked. “You will get no reward for it.”
23“Whatever happens,” Ahimaaz said again, “I want to go.”
“Then go,” Joab said. So Ahimaaz ran off down the road through the Jordan Valley, and soon he passed the slave.
24David was sitting in the space between the inner and outer gates of the city. The watchman went up to the top of the wall and stood on the roof of the gateway; he looked out and saw a man running alone. 25He called down and told the king, and the king said, “If he is alone, he is bringing good news.” The runner came nearer and nearer.
26Then the watchman saw another man running alone, and he called down to the gatekeeper, “Look! There's another man running!”
The king answered, “This one also is bringing good news.”
27The watchman said, “I can see that the first man runs like Ahimaaz.”
“He's a good man,” the king said, “and he is bringing good news.”
28Ahimaaz called out a greeting to the king, threw himself down to the ground before him, and said, “Praise the LORD your God, who has given you victory over the men who rebelled against Your Majesty!”
29“Is the young man Absalom safe?” the king asked.
Ahimaaz answered, “Sir, when your officer Joab sent me, I saw a great commotion, but I couldn't tell what it was.”
30“Stand over there,” the king said; and he went over and stood there.
31Then the Ethiopian slave arrived and said to the king, “I have good news for Your Majesty! Today the LORD has given you victory over all who rebelled against you!”
32“Is the young man Absalom safe?” the king asked.
The slave answered, “I wish that what has happened to him would happen to all your enemies, sir, and to all who rebel against you.”
33The king was overcome with grief. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he cried, “O my son! My son Absalom! Absalom, my son! If only I had died in your place, my son! Absalom, my son!”
Joab Reprimands David
1Joab was told that King David was weeping and mourning for Absalom. 2And so the joy of victory was turned into sadness for all David's troops that day, because they heard that the king was mourning for his son. 3They went back into the city quietly, like soldiers who are ashamed because they are running away from battle. 4The king covered his face and cried loudly, “O my son! My son Absalom! Absalom, my son!”
5Joab went to the king's house and said to him, “Today you have humiliated your men — the men who saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and of your wives and concubines. 6You oppose those who love you and support those who hate you! You have made it clear that your officers and men mean nothing to you. I can see that you would be quite happy if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. 7Now go and reassure your men. I swear by the LORD's name that if you don't, not one of them will be with you by tomorrow morning. That would be the worst disaster you have suffered in all your life.” 8Then the king got up, and went and sat near the city gate. His men heard that he was there, and they all gathered round him.
David Starts Back to Jerusalem
Meanwhile all the Israelites had fled to their own homes. 9All over the country they started quarrelling among themselves. “King David saved us from our enemies,” they said to one another. “He rescued us from the Philistines, but now he has fled from Absalom and left the country. 10We anointed Absalom as our king, but he has been killed in battle. So why doesn't somebody try to bring King David back?”
11The news of what the Israelites were saying reached King David. So he sent the priests Zadok and Abiathar to ask the leaders of Judah, “Why should you be the last to help bring the king back to his palace? 12You are my relatives, my own flesh and blood; why should you be the last to bring me back?” 13David also told them to say to Amasa, “You are my relative. From now on I am putting you in charge of the army in place of Joab. May God strike me dead if I don't!” 14David's words won the complete loyalty of all the men of Judah, and they sent him word to return with all his officials.
15On his way back the king was met at the River Jordan by the men of Judah, who had come to Gilgal to escort him across the river. 16At the same time the Benjaminite Shimei son of Gera from Bahurim hurried to the Jordan to meet King David. 17He had with him a thousand men from the tribe of Benjamin. And Ziba, the servant of Saul's family, also came with his fifteen sons and twenty servants, and they arrived at the Jordan before the king. 18They crossed the river to escort the royal party across and to do whatever the king wanted.
David Shows Kindness to Shimei
As the king was getting ready to cross, Shimei threw himself down in front of him 19and said, “Your Majesty, please forget the wrong I did that day you left Jerusalem. Don't hold it against me or think about it any more. 20I know, sir, that I have sinned, and this is why I am the first one from the northern tribes to come and meet Your Majesty today.”
21Abishai son of Zeruiah spoke up: “Shimei should be put to death because he cursed the one whom the LORD chose as king.”
22But David said to Abishai and his brother Joab, “Who asked your opinion? Are you going to give me trouble? I am the one who is king of Israel now, and no Israelite will be put to death today.” 23And he said to Shimei, “I give you my word that you will not be put to death.”
David Shows Kindness to Mephibosheth
24Then Mephibosheth, Saul's grandson, came down to meet the king. He had not washed his feet, trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes from the time the king left Jerusalem until he returned victorious. 25When Mephibosheth arrived from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, “Mephibosheth, you didn't go with me. Why not?”
26He answered, “As you know, Your Majesty, I am crippled. I told my servant to saddle my donkey so that I could ride along with you, but he betrayed me. 27He lied about me to Your Majesty, but you are like God's angel, so do what seems right to you. 28All my father's family deserved to be put to death by Your Majesty, but you gave me the right to eat at your table. I have no right to ask for any more favours from Your Majesty.”
29The king answered, “You don't have to say anything more. I have decided that you and Ziba will share Saul's property.”
30“Let Ziba have it all,” Mephibosheth answered. “It's enough for me that Your Majesty has come home safely.”
David Shows Kindness to Barzillai
31Barzillai, from Gilead, had also come down from Rogelim to escort the king across the Jordan. 32Barzillai was a very old man, eighty years old. He was very rich and had supplied the king with food while he was staying at Mahanaim. 33The king said to him, “Come with me to Jerusalem, and I will take care of you.”
34But Barzillai answered, “I haven't long to live; why should I go with Your Majesty to Jerusalem? 35I am already eighty years old, and nothing gives me pleasure any more. I can't taste what I eat and drink, and I can't hear the voices of singers. I would only be a burden to Your Majesty. 36I don't deserve such a great reward. So I will go just a little way with you beyond the Jordan. 37Then let me go back home and die near my parents' grave. Here is my son Chimham, who will serve you; take him with you, Your Majesty, and do for him as you think best.”
38The king answered, “I will take him with me and do for him whatever you want. And I will do for you anything you ask.” 39Then David and all his men crossed the Jordan. He kissed Barzillai and gave him his blessing, and Barzillai went back home.
Judah and Israel Argue over the King
40When the king had crossed, escorted by all the people of Judah and half the people of Israel, he went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went with him. 41Then all the Israelites went to the king and said to him, “Your Majesty, why did our brothers, the men of Judah, think they had the right to take you away and escort you, your family, and your men across the Jordan?”
42The men of Judah answered, “We did it because the king is one of us. So why should this make you angry? He hasn't paid for our food nor has he given us anything.”
43The Israelites replied, “We have ten times as many claims on King David as you have, even if he is one of you. Why do you look down on us? Don't forget that we were the first to talk about bringing the king back!”
But the men of Judah were more violent in making their claims than the men of Israel.
1There happened to be in Gilgal a worthless character named Sheba son of Bikri, of the tribe of Benjamin. He blew the trumpet and called out, “Down with David! We won't follow him! Men of Israel, let's go home!” 2So the Israelites deserted David and went with Sheba, but the men of Judah remained loyal and followed David from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
3When David arrived at his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to take care of the palace, and put them under guard. He provided for their needs, but did not have intercourse with them. They were kept confined for the rest of their lives, living like widows.