2 Samuel 15-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
15 Now it came about after this that Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses and fifty men as runners before him. 2 Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way to the gate; and when any man had a suit to come to the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And he would say, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” 3 Then Absalom would say to him, “See, your [a]claims are good and right, but no man listens to you on the part of the king.” 4 Moreover, Absalom would say, “Oh that one would appoint me judge in the land, then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me and I would give him justice.” 5 And when a man came near to prostrate himself before him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. 6 In this manner Absalom dealt with all Israel who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel.
7 Now it came about at the end of [b]forty years that Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. 8 For your servant vowed a vow while I was living at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the Lord shall indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord.’” 9 The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron. 10 But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’” 11 Then two hundred men went with Absalom from Jerusalem, who were invited and went [c]innocently, and they did not know anything. 12 And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh, while he was offering the sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong, for the people increased continually with Absalom.
David Flees Jerusalem
13 Then a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are [d]with Absalom.” 14 David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise and let us flee, for otherwise none of us will escape from Absalom. Go in haste, or he will overtake us quickly and bring down calamity on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” 15 Then the king’s servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king chooses.” 16 So the king went out and all his household [e]with him. But the king left ten concubines to keep the house. 17 The king went out and all the people [f]with him, and they stopped at the last house. 18 Now all his servants passed on beside him, all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had come [g]with him from Gath, passed on before the king.
19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why will you also go with us? Return and remain with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile; return to your own place. 20 You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander with us, while I go where I will? Return and take back your brothers; mercy and [h]truth be with you.” 21 But Ittai answered the king and said, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.” 22 Therefore David said to Ittai, “Go and pass over.” So Ittai the Gittite passed over with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23 While all the country was weeping with a loud voice, all the people passed over. The king also passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over toward the way of the wilderness.
24 Now behold, Zadok also came, and all the Levites with him carrying the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar came up until all the people had finished passing from the city. 25 The king said to Zadok, “Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the Lord, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation. 26 But if He should say thus, ‘I have no delight in you,’ behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good [i]to Him.” 27 The king said also to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace and your two sons with you, your son Ahimaaz and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28 See, I am going to wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29 Therefore Zadok and Abiathar returned the ark of God to Jerusalem and remained there.
30 And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went, and his head was covered and he walked barefoot. Then all the people who were with him each covered his head and went up weeping as they went. 31 Now someone told David, saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O Lord, I pray, make the counsel of Ahithophel foolishness.”
32 It happened as David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, that behold, Hushai the Archite met him with his [j]coat torn and [k]dust on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you pass over with me, then you will be a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so I will now be your servant,’ then you can thwart the counsel of Ahithophel for me. 35 Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So it shall be that whatever you hear from the king’s house, you shall report to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36 Behold their two sons are with them there, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son; and by them you shall send me everything that you hear.” 37 So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem.
Ziba, a False Servant
16 Now when David had passed a little beyond the summit, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him with a couple of saddled donkeys, and on them were two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred clusters of raisins, a hundred summer fruits, and a jug of wine. 2 The king said to Ziba, “Why do you have these?” And Ziba said, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride, and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine, for whoever is faint in the wilderness to drink.” 3 Then the king said, “And where is your master’s son?” And Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he is staying in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will restore the kingdom of my father to me.’” 4 So the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours.” And Ziba said, “I prostrate myself; let me find favor in your sight, O my lord, the king!”
David Is Cursed
5 When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came. 6 He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left. 7 Thus Shimei said when he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow! 8 The Lord has returned upon you all the bloodshed 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. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!”
9 Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and [l]cut off his head.” 10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the Lord has told him, ‘Curse David,’ then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my son who came out from [m]me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him. 12 Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and [n]return good to me instead of his cursing this day.” 13 So David and his men went on the way; and Shimei went along on the hillside parallel with him and as he went he cursed and cast stones and threw dust at him. 14 The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary and he refreshed himself there.
Absalom Enters Jerusalem
15 Then Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, entered Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. 16 Now it came about when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!” 17 Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your [o]loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?” 18 Then Hushai said to Absalom, “No! For whom the Lord, this people, and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain. 19 Besides, whom should I serve? Should I not serve in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father’s presence, so I will be in your presence.”
20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give your advice. What shall we do?” 21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. The hands of all who are with you will also be strengthened.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23 The advice of Ahithophel, which he [p]gave in those days, was as if one inquired of the word of God; so was all the advice of Ahithophel regarded by both David and Absalom.
17 Furthermore, Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Please let me choose 12,000 men that I may arise and pursue David tonight. 2 I will come upon him while he is weary and [q]exhausted and terrify him, so that all the people who are with him will flee. Then I will strike down the king alone, 3 and I will bring back all the people to you. [r]The return of everyone depends on the man you seek; then all the people will be at peace.” 4 So the [s]plan pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.
5 Then Absalom said, “Now call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what [t]he has to say.” 6 When Hushai had come to Absalom, Absalom said to [u]him, “Ahithophel has spoken [v]thus. Shall we [w]carry out his plan? If not, you speak.” 7 So Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the advice that Ahithophel has [x]given is not good.” 8 Moreover, Hushai said, “You know your father and his men, that they are mighty men and they are [y]fierce, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. And your father is an [z]expert in warfare, and will not spend the night with the people. 9 Behold, he has now hidden himself in one of the [aa]caves or in another place; and it will be [ab]when he falls on them at the first attack, that whoever hears it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’ 10 And even the one who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will completely [ac]lose heart; for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man and those who are with him are valiant men. 11 But I counsel that all Israel be surely gathered to you, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea in abundance, and that [ad]you personally go into battle. 12 So we shall come to him in one of the places where he can be found, and we will [ae]fall on him as the dew falls on the ground; and of him and of all the men who are with him, not even one will be left. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into the [af]valley until not even a small stone is found there.” 14 Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had ordained to thwart the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring calamity on Absalom.
Hushai’s Warning Saves David
15 Then Hushai said to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, “[ag]This is what Ahithophel counseled Absalom and the elders of Israel, and [ah]this is what I have counseled. 16 Now therefore, send quickly and tell David, saying, ‘Do not spend the night at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means cross over, or else the king and all the people who are with him will be [ai]destroyed.’” 17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En-rogel, and a maidservant would go and tell them, and they would go and tell King David, for they could not be seen entering the city. 18 But a lad did see them and told Absalom; so the two of them departed quickly and came to the house of a man in Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard, and they went down [aj]into it. 19 And the woman [ak]took a covering and spread it over the well’s mouth and scattered grain on it, so that nothing was known. 20 Then Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house and said, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” And the woman said to them, “They have crossed the brook of water.” And when they searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.
21 It came about after they had departed that they came up out of the well and went and told King David; and they said to David, “Arise and cross over the water quickly for thus Ahithophel has counseled against you.” 22 Then David and all the people who were with him arose and crossed the Jordan; and by [al]dawn not even one remained who had not crossed the Jordan.
23 Now when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not [am]followed, he [an]saddled his donkey and arose and went to his home, to his city, and [ao]set his house in order, and strangled himself; thus he died and was buried in the grave of his father.
24 Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. 25 Absalom set Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Now Amasa was the son of a man whose name was [ap]Ithra the Israelite, who went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. 26 And Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.
27 Now when David had come to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, 28 brought beds, basins, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans, lentils, parched seeds, 29 honey, curds, sheep, and cheese of the herd, for David and for the people who were with him, to eat; for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”
18 Then David [aq]numbered the people who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 David sent the people out, one third under the [ar]command of Joab, one third under the [as]command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the [at]command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, “I myself will surely go out with you also.” 3 But the people said, “You should not go out; for if we indeed flee, they will not care about us; even if half of us die, they will not care about us. But [au]you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore now it is better that you be ready to help us from the city.” 4 Then the king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood beside the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and thousands. 5 The king charged Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king charged all the commanders concerning Absalom.
6 Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 The people of Israel were [av]defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 men. 8 For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
9 Now Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. For Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. And his head caught fast in the oak, so he was [aw]left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going. 10 When a certain man saw it, he told Joab and said, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Then Joab said to the man who had told him, “Now behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 The man said to Joab, “Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘[ax]Protect for me the young man Absalom!’ 13 Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.” 14 Then Joab said, “I will not [ay]waste time here with you.” So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the [az]midst of the oak. 15 And ten young men who carried Joab’s armor gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him.
16 Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained the people. 17 They took Absalom and cast him into [ba]a deep pit in the forest and erected over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled, each to his tent. 18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a pillar which is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son [bb]to preserve my name.” So he named the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.
David Is Grief-stricken
19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Please let me run and bring the king news that the Lord has [bc]freed him from the hand of his enemies.” 20 But Joab said to him, “You are not the man to carry news this day, but you shall carry news another day; however, you shall carry no news today because the king’s son is dead.” 21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” So the Cushite bowed to Joab and ran. 22 Now Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said once more to Joab, “But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.” And Joab said, “Why would you run, my son, since you will have no reward for going?” 23 “But whatever happens,” he said, “I will run.” So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and passed up the Cushite.
24 Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man running by himself. 25 The watchman called and told the king. And the king said, “If he is by himself there is good news in his mouth.” And he came nearer and nearer. 26 Then the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, “Behold, another man running by himself.” And the king said, “This one also is bringing good news.” 27 The watchman said, “I [bd]think the running of the first one is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, “This is a good man and comes with good news.”
28 Ahimaaz called and said to the king, “[be]All is well.” And he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. And he said, “Blessed is the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who lifted their hands against my lord the king.” 29 The king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was.” 30 Then the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.
31 Behold, the Cushite arrived, and the Cushite said, “Let my lord the king receive good news, for the Lord has [bf]freed you this day from the hand of all those who rose up against you.” 32 Then the king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be as that young man!”
33 [bg]The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
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