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19 It was reported to Joab that the king was weeping and mourning over Absalom. The victory that day was turned into mourning for all of the people, for the people heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” So the people entered the city by stealth that day, as a people who have been disgraced steal away when they flee from battle. The king covered his face and called with a loud voice, “My son Absalom, my son, my son!”

Then Joab came to the king in his house and said, “Today you have shamed the faces of all of your servants who saved your life today, as well as the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, by loving those who hated you and hating those who love you. You have shown today that commanders and servants are nothing to you. I know that if Absalom were alive instead today and all of us were dead, then this would be right in your eyes. Now go out and speak reassuringly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord that if you do not go out, no man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than any calamity that has come against you from your youth until now.”

So the king arose and took his seat in the gate, and the people were all told, “The king is sitting in the gate.” So all the people came before the king, but the children of Israel had fled, each to his tent.

David Returns to Jerusalem

Now all of the people began to quarrel throughout all of the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies, and he saved us from the hand of the Philistines, but now he has fled from the land on account of Absalom. 10 But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now why are you idle to bring back the king?”

11 Then David sent word to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, “Speak to the elders of Israel, saying, ‘Why are you last to bring the king back to his house when the word of all Israel has come to the king, to his house? 12 You are my brother. You are my bone and my flesh. Why are you last to bring back the king?’ 13 Say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? May God do to me, and more so, if you are not commander of the army before me from now on in the place of Joab.’ ”

14 He swayed the heart of every man of Judah as though they were one man, and they sent a message to the king: “Return, you and all of your servants.”

15 So the king returned and came as far as the Jordan, and Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and bring the king across the Jordan. 16 Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjamite who was from Bahurim, hastened to go down with the men of Judah to meet King David. 17 With him were a thousand men from Benjamin. And Ziba, the servant of the house of Saul, with his fifteen sons and twenty servants, rushed down to the Jordan before the king. 18 They crossed the ford to bring the household of the king across and to do what was pleasing in his eyes.

Shimei the son of Gera fell before the king as he was crossing the Jordan, 19 and he said to the king, “Do not regard me as guilty, my lord, or remember how your servant went astray the day when my lord the king went out from Jerusalem. May the king not take it to heart. 20 For your servant knows that I have sinned. Therefore, I have come this day, first from all of the house of Joseph, to go down to meet my lord the king.”

21 Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the anointed of the Lord?”

22 David said, “What do you sons of Zeruiah have against me that you should become an adversary to me today? Should any man in Israel be put to death today? For do I not know that today I am king over Israel?” 23 The king said to Shimei, “You will not die.” The king gave him his oath.

24 Then Mephibosheth the son of Saul went down to meet the king. He had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he came back in peace. 25 When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?”

26 He said, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me. For your servant said, ‘I will saddle the mule for myself in order to ride on it and go with the king,’ because your servant is lame. 27 But he has slandered your servant to my lord the king. Still my lord the king is as the angel of God, so do what seems best to you. 28 For all my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king. Yet you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What right do I have to cry out any more to the king?”

29 The king said to him, “Why do you still speak of your affairs? I say that you and Ziba shall divide the field.”

30 Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let him even take everything, since my lord the king has come safely to his house.”

31 Now Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim in order to see the king across the Jordan. 32 Barzillai was very old, eighty years old. But he sustained the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very rich man. 33 The king said to Barzillai, “Cross over with me and I will sustain you with me in Jerusalem.”

34 Barzillai said to the king, “How many days are left in my life that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 35 I am now eighty years old. Can I discern what is pleasant from what is harmful? Can your servant taste what I eat and what I drink? Can I still hear the voices of men and women who sing? Why, then, should your servant be a burden to my lord the king? 36 Your servant is merely crossing over the Jordan with the king. Why should the king repay me with this reward? 37 Now allow your servant to return, that I may die in my own city with the grave of my father and my mother. But here is your servant Kimham. He will cross over with my lord the king. Do for him what seems best to you.”

38 The king said, “Kimham will cross over with me, and I will do for him what seems best to you. Whatever you require of me, I will do for you.”

39 All of the people crossed over the Jordan. And when the king had crossed over, the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him and he returned to his own place.

40 The king passed on to Gilgal, and Kimham went on with him; all of the people of Judah and half of the people of Israel passed on with the king.

41 Now all of the men of Israel were coming to the king and said to the king, “Why have our brothers, the men of Judah, stolen you away and brought the king and his household across the Jordan, and all of the men of David with him?”

42 All of the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “Because the king is our close relative. Why are you angry over this matter? Have we eaten at all at the king’s expense? Has he given any gift to us?”

43 And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah and said, “We have ten shares in the king. Therefore we also have more claim on David than you. Why then did you treat us with contempt? Were we not the first to advise bringing back our king?”

But the words of the men of Judah were harsher than the words of the men of Israel.