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17 Moreover Ahith′ophel said to Ab′salom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will set out and pursue David tonight. I 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 the king only, and 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,[a] and all the people will be at peace.” And the advice pleased Ab′salom and all the elders of Israel.

The Counsel of Hushai

Then Ab′salom said, “Call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he has to say.” And when Hushai came to Ab′salom, Ab′salom said to him, “Thus has Ahith′ophel spoken; shall we do as he advises? If not, you speak.” Then Hushai said to Ab′salom, “This time the counsel which Ahith′ophel has given is not good.” Hushai said moreover, “You know that your father and his men are mighty men, 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 people. Behold, even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits, or in some other place. And when some of the people fall[b] at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Ab′salom.’ 10 Then even the valiant man, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly melt with fear; for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and that those who are with him are valiant men. 11 But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beer-sheba, as the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. 12 So we shall come upon him in some place where he is to be found, and we shall light upon him as the dew falls on the ground; and of him and all the men with him not one will be left. 13 If 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.” 14 And Ab′salom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahith′ophel.” For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahith′ophel, so that the Lord might bring evil upon Ab′salom.

Hushai Warns David to Escape

15 Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abi′athar the priests, “Thus and so did Ahith′ophel counsel Ab′salom and the elders of Israel; and thus and so have I counseled. 16 Now therefore send quickly and tell David, ‘Do not lodge tonight at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means pass over; lest the king and all the people who are with him be swallowed up.’” 17 Now Jonathan and Ahim′a-az were waiting at En-ro′gel; a maidservant used to go and tell them, and they would go and tell King David; for they must not be seen entering the city. 18 But a lad saw them, and told Ab′salom; so both of them went away quickly, and came to the house of a man at Bahu′rim, who had a well in his courtyard; and they went down into it. 19 And the woman took and spread a covering over the well’s mouth, and scattered grain upon it; and nothing was known of it. 20 When Ab′salom’s servants came to the woman at the house, they said, “Where are Ahim′a-az and Jonathan?” And the woman said to them, “They have gone over the brook[c] of water.” And when they had sought 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, “Arise, and go quickly over the water; for thus and so has Ahith′ophel counseled against you.” 22 Then David arose, and all the people who were with him, and they crossed the Jordan; by daybreak not one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.

23 When Ahith′ophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and went off home to his own city. And he set his house in order, and hanged himself; and he died, and was buried in the tomb of his father.

24 Then David came to Mahana′im. And Ab′salom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25 Now Ab′salom had set Ama′sa over the army instead of Jo′ab. Ama′sa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ish′maelite,[d] who had married Ab′igal the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeru′iah, Jo′ab’s mother. 26 And Israel and Ab′salom encamped in the land of Gilead.

27 When David came to Mahana′im, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Am′mi-el from Lo-debar, and Barzil′lai the Gileadite from Ro′gelim, 28 brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, meal, parched grain, beans and lentils,[e] 29 honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat; for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”


  1. 2 Samuel 17:3 Gk: Heb like the return of the whole (is) the man whom you seek
  2. 2 Samuel 17:9 Or when he falls upon them
  3. 2 Samuel 17:20 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
  4. 2 Samuel 17:25 1 Chron 2.17: Heb Israelite
  5. 2 Samuel 17:28 Heb lentils and parched grain

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