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2 Samuel 2:4-32 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Then the men of Y’hudah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Y’hudah. They informed David that the men of Yavesh-Gil‘ad were the ones who had buried Sha’ul. So David sent messengers to the men of Yavesh-Gil‘ad with this message: “May you be blessed by Adonai, because you showed this kindness to your lord, Sha’ul, and buried him. Now may Adonai show kindness and truth to you; and I too will show you favor because you have done this. Be strong, and be brave. Sha’ul your lord is dead, but the house of Y’hudah have anointed me king over them.”

Avner the son of Ner, commander of Sha’ul’s army, had taken Ish-Boshet the son of Sha’ul, brought him over to Machanayim, and made him king over Gil‘ad, the Ashuri, Yizre‘el, Efrayim, Binyamin and all Isra’el. 10 Ish-Boshet the son of Sha’ul was forty years old when he began to rule over Isra’el, and he ruled for two years. But the house of Y’hudah followed David. 11 David was king in Hevron over the house of Y’hudah for seven years and six months.

12 Avner the son of Ner and the servants of Ish-Boshet the son of Sha’ul went out from Machanayim to Giv‘on; 13 while Yo’av the son of Tz’ruyah and David’s servants also went out; and they met together by the pool at Giv‘on. One group sat down on one side of the pool and the other on the other side. 14 Avner said to Yo’av, “If it’s all right with you, let’s have the young men get up and fight it out between themselves, while we watch.” Yo’av said, “Yes, let them.” 15 So they got up and paired off, twelve for Binyamin and Ish-Boshet the son of Sha’ul, and twelve of David’s servants. 16 Each one grabbed his partner by the head and drove his sword into his side, so that they fell down together. For this reason that place was named Helkat-Hatzurim [field of blades]; it is in Giv‘on. 17 The battle that day was very fierce; Avner and the men of Isra’el were beaten by David’s servants.

18 The three sons of Tz’ruyah were there, Yo’av, Avishai and ‘Asah’el. ‘Asah’el was as fleet-footed as a gazelle in an open field. 19 ‘Asah’el chased Avner, going straight for him, veering neither right nor left. 20 Avner looked behind him and asked, “Is that you, ‘Asah’el?” “Yes, it is,” he answered. 21 Avner said to him, “Turn off to your right or your left, catch one of the young men and take his armor.” But ‘Asah’el wouldn’t turn aside and kept following him. 22 Avner said again to ‘Asah’el, “Turn aside and stop following me! Why should I kill you? If I did, how could I look your brother Yo’av in the eye?” 23 But he still refused to turn aside; so Avner stabbed him in the groin with the back end of the spear, so that the shaft protruded behind him. He fell down and died on the spot. Everyone who came to the place where ‘Asah’el lay dead stopped there.

24 Yo’av and Avishai continued in pursuit of Avner; the sun went down when they arrived at Amah Hill, across from Giach along the Giv‘on Desert road. 25 The people of Binyamin gathered themselves together into a phalanx behind Avner and stood on top of a hill. 26 Then Avner called out to Yo’av, “Must the sword go on devouring forever? Don’t you know that in the end it can produce only bitterness? How long will it be, then, before you tell the people to quit pursuing their brothers?” 27 Yo’av said, “As God lives, if you hadn’t said something, there is no doubt that the people would have kept following their brothers all night long.” 28 Then Yo’av sounded the shofar, and with that the people halted. They stopped pursuing Isra’el, and they stopped fighting.

29 Avner and his men went through the ‘Aravah all that night; they crossed the Yarden, went through all of Bitron and arrived at Machanayim. 30 Yo’av returned from following Avner. When he brought the troops together for review, nineteen of David’s servants were missing, along with ‘Asah’el. 31 But David’s servants had killed 360 of Avner’s men of Binyamin. 32 They took ‘Asah’el and buried him in his father’s tomb in Beit-Lechem. Then Yo’av and his men marched all night, so that they reached Hevron at daybreak.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

2 Samuel 2:4-32 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. They told David: “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul.”

David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “The Lord bless you, because you have shown this kindness to Saul your lord when you buried him. Now, may the Lord show kindness and faithfulness to you, and I will also show the same goodness to you because you have done this deed. Therefore, be strong[a] and valiant, for though Saul your lord is dead, the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”

Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Saul’s son Ish-bosheth[b][c] and moved him to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin—over all Israel. 10 Saul’s son Ish-bosheth was forty years old when he became king over Israel; he reigned for two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David. 11 The length of time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

12 Abner son of Ner and soldiers of Ish-bosheth son of Saul marched out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13 So Joab son of Zeruiah and David’s soldiers marched out and met them by the pool of Gibeon. The two groups took up positions on opposite sides of the pool.

14 Then Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have the young men get up and compete in front of us.”

“Let them get up,” Joab replied.

15 So they got up and were counted off—twelve for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth son of Saul, and twelve from David’s soldiers. 16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his sword into his opponent’s side so that they all died together. So this place, which is in Gibeon, is named Field of Blades.[d]

17 The battle that day was extremely fierce, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David’s soldiers. 18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was a fast runner, like one of the wild gazelles. 19 He chased Abner and did not turn to the right or the left in his pursuit of him. 20 Abner glanced back and said, “Is that you, Asahel?”

“Yes it is,” Asahel replied.

21 Abner said to him, “Turn to your right or left, seize one of the young soldiers, and take whatever you can get from him.” But Asahel would not stop chasing him. 22 Once again, Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How could I ever look your brother Joab in the face?”

23 But Asahel refused to turn away, so Abner hit him in the stomach with the butt of his spear. The spear went through his body, and he fell and died right there. As they all came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, they stopped, 24 but Joab and Abishai pursued Abner. By sunset, they had gone as far as the hill of Ammah, which is opposite Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon.

25 The Benjaminites rallied to Abner; they formed a unit and took their stand on top of a hill. 26 Then Abner called out to Joab: “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize this will only end in bitterness? How long before you tell the troops to stop pursuing their brothers?”

27 “As God lives,” Joab replied, “if you had not spoken up, the troops wouldn’t have stopped pursuing their brothers until morning.” 28 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn, and all the troops stopped; they no longer pursued Israel or continued to fight. 29 So Abner and his men marched through the Arabah all that night. They crossed the Jordan, marched all morning,[e] and arrived at Mahanaim.

30 When Joab had turned back from pursuing Abner, he gathered all the troops. In addition to Asahel, nineteen of David’s soldiers were missing, 31 but they had killed 360 of the Benjaminites and Abner’s men. 32 Afterward, they carried Asahel to his father’s tomb in Bethlehem and buried him. Then Joab and his men marched all night and reached Hebron at dawn.


  1. 2:7 Lit Therefore, strengthen your hands
  2. 2:8 Some LXX mss read Ishbaal; 1Ch 8:33; 9:39
  3. 2:8 = Man of Shame
  4. 2:16 Or Helkath-hazzurim
  5. 2:29 Or marched through the Bithron
Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

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