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2 Samuel 18 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 18

Preparation for Battle. After mustering the troops he had with him, David placed officers in command of units of a thousand and units of a hundred. David then divided the troops three ways, a third under Joab, a third under Abishai, son of Zeruiah and brother of Joab, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the troops, “I intend to go out with you myself.” But they replied: “You must not come out with us. For if we flee, no one will care; even if half of us die, no one will care. But you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore it is better that we have you to help us from the city.” The king said to them, “I will do what you think best.” So the king stood by the gate as all the soldiers marched out in units of a hundred and a thousand. But the king gave this command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “Be gentle with young Absalom for my sake.” All the soldiers heard as the king gave commands to the various leaders with regard to Absalom.

Defeat of Absalom’s Forces. David’s army then took the field against Israel, and a battle was fought in the forest near Mahanaim. The forces of Israel were defeated by David’s servants, and the casualties there that day were heavy—twenty thousand men. The battle spread out over that entire region, and the forest consumed more combatants that day than did the sword.

Death of Absalom. Absalom unexpectedly came up against David’s servants. He was mounted on a mule, and, as the mule passed under the branches of a large oak tree, his hair caught fast in the tree. He hung between heaven and earth while the mule under him kept going. 10 Someone saw this and reported to Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging from an oak tree.” 11 Joab said to the man who told him this: “If you saw him, why did you not strike him to the ground on the spot? Then it would have been my duty to give you fifty pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 But the man replied to Joab: “Even if I already held a thousand pieces of silver in my two hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son, for in our hearing the king gave you and Abishai and Ittai a command: ‘Protect the youth Absalom for my sake.’ 13 Had I been disloyal and killed him, it would all have come out before the king, and you would stand aloof.” 14 Joab replied, “I will not waste time with you in this way.” And taking three pikes in hand, he thrust for the heart of Absalom. He was still alive in the tree. 15 When ten of Joab’s young armor-bearers closed in on Absalom, and killed him with further blows, 16 Joab then sounded the horn, and the soldiers turned back from the pursuit of the Israelites, because Joab called them to halt. 17 They took Absalom and cast him into a deep pit in the forest, and built up a very large mound of stones over him. And all the Israelites fled to their own tents.

18 During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and set it up for himself in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to perpetuate my name.” The pillar which he named for himself is called Absalom’s Monument to the present day.

David Told of Absalom’s Death. 19 Then Ahimaaz, son of Zadok, said, “Let me run to take the good news to the king that the Lord has set him free from the power of his enemies.” 20 But Joab said to him: “You are not the man to bring the news today. On some other day you may take the good news, but today you would not be bringing good news, for in fact the king’s son is dead.” 21 Then Joab said to a Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed to Joab and ran off. 22 But Ahimaaz, son of Zadok, said to Joab again, “Come what may, permit me also to run after the Cushite.” Joab replied: “Why do you want to run, my son? You will receive no reward.” 23 But he insisted, “Come what may, I want to run.” Joab said to him, “Run.” Ahimaaz took the way of the Jordan plain and outran the Cushite.

24 Now David was sitting between the two gates, and a lookout mounted to the roof of the gate above the city wall, where he looked out and saw a man running all alone. 25 The lookout shouted to inform the king, who said, “If he is alone, he has good news to report.” As he kept coming nearer, 26 the lookout spied another runner. From his place atop the gate he cried out, “There is another man running by himself.” And the king responded, “He, too, is bringing good news.” 27 Then the lookout said, “I notice that the first one runs like Ahimaaz, son of Zadok.” The king replied, “He is a good man; he comes with good news.” 28 Then Ahimaaz called out and greeted the king. With face to the ground he paid homage to the king and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who rebelled against my lord the king.” 29 But the king asked, “Is young Absalom safe?” And Ahimaaz replied, “I saw a great disturbance when the king’s servant Joab sent your servant on, but I do not know what it was.” 30 The king said, “Step aside and remain in attendance here.” So he stepped aside and remained there. 31 When the Cushite came in, he said, “Let my lord the king receive the good news that this day the Lord has freed you from the power of all who rose up against you.” 32 But the king asked the Cushite, “Is young Absalom all right?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rebel against you with evil intent be as that young man!”

New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

2 Samuel 18 New International Version (NIV)

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 third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai 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 thousand of us.[a] It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.”

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 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 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 him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels[b] of silver and a warrior’s belt.

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—you would have kept your distance from me.”

14 Joab 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.

16 Then Joab 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 a large heap of rocks 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 as a monument to himself, for he thought, “I have no son 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 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.

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 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, too.”

27 The watchman said, “It seems to me that the first one runs like 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.”

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 instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”[g]

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.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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