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18 And David marshalled the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them.

And David sent forth the people, a third part under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.

But the people said, Thou shalt not go forth, for if we should in any case flee, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us; for *thou* art worth ten thousand of us; and now it is better that thou succour us out of the city.

And the king said to them, I will do what is good in your sight. And the king stood by the gate-side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands.

And the king commanded 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 all the captains charge concerning Absalom.

And the people went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was in the forest of Ephraim.

And the people of Israel were routed before the servants of David, and there was a great slaughter there that day: twenty thousand men.

And the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country; and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

And Absalom found himself in the presence of David's servants. And Absalom was riding upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of the great terebinth, and his head caught in the terebinth, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.

10 And a man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in a terebinth.

11 And Joab said to the man that told him, And behold, thou sawest [him], and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten silver pieces and a girdle.

12 And the man said to Joab, Though I should receive a thousand silver pieces in my hand, yet would I not put forth my hand against the king's son; for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Take care, whoever it be [of you], of the young man Absalom.

13 Or I should have acted falsely against mine own life, for there is no matter concealed from the king, and thou wouldest have set thyself against [me].

14 Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three spears in his hand, and thrust them into Absalom's body, while he was yet alive in the midst of the terebinth.

15 And ten young men that bore Joab's armour surrounded and smote Absalom, and killed him.

16 And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel; for Joab kept back the people.

17 And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and raised a very great heap of stones upon him. And all Israel fled every one to his tent.

18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a monument, which is in the king's dale; for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance; and he called the monument after his own name; and it is called unto this day, Absalom's memorial.

19 And Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, Let me run, I pray, and carry the king the news that Jehovah has avenged him of his enemies.

20 And Joab said to him, Thou shalt not be a bearer of news to-day, but thou shalt carry the news another day; but to-day thou shalt carry no news, because the king's son is dead.

21 Then said Joab to the Cushite, Go, tell the king what thou hast seen. And the Cushite bowed himself to Joab, and ran.

22 And Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said yet again to Joab, Come what may, let me, I pray thee, also run after the Cushite. And Joab said, Why wilt thou run, my son, seeing that there is no news suited [to thee]?

23 —But, come what may, let me run. And he said to him, Run. And Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and outstripped the Cushite.

24 And David sat between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate, on to the wall, and lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man running alone.

25 And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the king said, If he be alone, there is news in his mouth. And he came on and drew near.

26 And the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the porter and said, Behold a man running alone. And the king said, He also is a bearer of news.

27 And the watchman said, I see the running of the foremost like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man; and comes with good news.

28 And Ahimaaz called and said to the king, Peace! And he fell down to the earth on his face before the king, and said, Blessed be Jehovah thy God, who has delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.

29 And the king said, Is it well with the young man Absalom? And Ahimaaz said, I saw a great tumult when Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant; but I knew not what it was.

30 And the king said, Turn aside [and] stand here. And he turned aside and stood still.

31 And behold, the Cushite came; and the Cushite said, Let my lord the king receive good tidings, for Jehovah has avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.

32 And the king said to the Cushite, Is it well with the young man Absalom? And the Cushite said, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee for evil, be as that young man.

33 And the king was much moved, and went up to the upper chamber of the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said thus: O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died in thy stead, O Absalom, my son, my son!

18 David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. David sent out his troops,(A) a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai(B) son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai(C) the Gittite. The king told the troops, “I myself will surely march out with you.”

But the men said, “You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten(D) thousand of us.[a] It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.”(E)

The king answered, “I will do whatever seems best to you.”

So the king stood beside the gate while all his men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands. The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.

David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest(F) of Ephraim. There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword.

Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair(G) got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.

10 When one of the men saw what had happened, he told Joab, “I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree.”

11 Joab said to the man who had told him this, “What! You saw him? Why didn’t you strike(H) him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels[b] of silver and a warrior’s belt.(I)

12 But the man replied, “Even if a thousand shekels[c] were weighed out into my hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.[d] 13 And if I had put my life in jeopardy[e]—and nothing is hidden from the king(J)—you would have kept your distance from me.”

14 Joab(K) said, “I’m not going to wait like this for you.” So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. 15 And ten of Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.(L)

16 Then Joab(M) sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up(N) a large heap of rocks(O) over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.

18 During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley(P) as a monument(Q) to himself, for he thought, “I have no son(R) to carry on the memory of my name.” He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.

David Mourns

19 Now Ahimaaz(S) son of Zadok said, “Let me run and take the news to the king that the Lord has vindicated him by delivering him from the hand of his enemies.(T)

20 “You are not the one to take the news today,” Joab told him. “You may take the news another time, but you must not do so today, because the king’s son is dead.”

21 Then Joab said to a Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed down before Joab and ran off.

22 Ahimaaz son of Zadok again said to Joab, “Come what may, please let me run behind the Cushite.”

But Joab replied, “My son, why do you want to go? You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.”

23 He said, “Come what may, I want to run.”

So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain[f] and outran the Cushite.

24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman(U) went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out to the king and reported it.

The king said, “If he is alone, he must have good news.” And the runner came closer and closer.

26 Then the watchman saw another runner, and he called down to the gatekeeper, “Look, another man running alone!”

The king said, “He must be bringing good news,(V) too.”

27 The watchman said, “It seems to me that the first one runs like(W) Ahimaaz son of Zadok.”

“He’s a good man,” the king said. “He comes with good news.”

28 Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, “All is well!” He bowed down before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise be to the Lord your God! He has delivered up those who lifted their hands against my lord the king.”

29 The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”

Ahimaaz answered, “I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was.”

30 The king said, “Stand aside and wait here.” So he stepped aside and stood there.

31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, “My lord the king, hear the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.”

32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”

The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”(X)

33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died(Y) instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”[g](Z)

Footnotes

  1. 2 Samuel 18:3 Two Hebrew manuscripts, some Septuagint manuscripts and Vulgate; most Hebrew manuscripts care; for now there are ten thousand like us
  2. 2 Samuel 18:11 That is, about 4 ounces or about 115 grams
  3. 2 Samuel 18:12 That is, about 25 pounds or about 12 kilograms
  4. 2 Samuel 18:12 A few Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts may be translated Absalom, whoever you may be.
  5. 2 Samuel 18:13 Or Otherwise, if I had acted treacherously toward him
  6. 2 Samuel 18:23 That is, the plain of the Jordan
  7. 2 Samuel 18:33 In Hebrew texts this verse (18:33) is numbered 19:1.

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