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Sheba Goes Up Against David

20 Now (A)a vile fellow happened to be there whose name was Sheba, the son of (B)Bichri, a Benjamite; and he blew the trumpet and said,

(C)We have no portion in David,
Nor do we have inheritance in (D)the son of Jesse;
(E)Every man to his tents, O Israel!”

So all the men of Israel went up from following David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri; but the men of Judah clung to their king, from the Jordan even to Jerusalem.

Then David came to his house at Jerusalem, and (F)the king took the ten women, the concubines whom he had left to keep the house, and placed them under guard and provided them with sustenance, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as widows.

Then the king said to (G)Amasa, “Call out the men of Judah for me within three days, and you yourself stand here.” So Amasa went to call out the men of Judah, but he (H)delayed longer than the set time which he had appointed him. And David said to (I)Abishai, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom; (J)take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he find for himself fortified cities and deliver himself from our sight.” So Joab’s men pursued him, (K)along with the Cherethites and the Pelethites and all the mighty men; and they went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. They were at the large stone which is in (L)Gibeon, and Amasa came [a]to meet them. Now Joab was [b]dressed in his military attire, and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened at his [c]waist; and as he came out, it fell out. Then Joab said to Amasa, “Is it well with you, my brother?” And (M)Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him.

Joab Strikes Amasa

10 But Amasa was not on guard against the sword which was in Joab’s hand so (N)he struck him in the belly with it and poured out his inward parts on the ground, and did not strike him again, and he died. Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. 11 Now there stood by him one of Joab’s young men, and said, “Whoever delights in Joab and whoever is for David, (O)let him follow Joab.” 12 But Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the highway. And the man saw that all the people stood still. So he [d]removed Amasa from the highway into the field and threw a garment over him when he saw that everyone who came by him stood still.

The Beheading of Sheba

13 As soon as he was removed from the highway, all the men passed on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.

14 Now he went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel, even Beth-maacah, and all the Berites; and they were assembled and also came after him. 15 So they came and besieged him in (P)Abel Beth-maacah, and (Q)they [e]cast up a siege ramp against the city, and it stood by the rampart; and all the people who were with Joab were wreaking destruction in order to cause the wall to fall. 16 Then (R)a wise woman called from the city, “Hear, hear! Please tell Joab, ‘Draw near that I may speak with you.’” 17 So he drew near to her, and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” And he answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your maidservant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” 18 Then she spoke, saying, “Formerly they used to speak in this way, saying, ‘They will surely ask advice at Abel,’ and thus they ended the dispute. 19 I am of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. (S)You are seeking to put to death a city, even a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up (T)the inheritance of Yahweh?” 20 And Joab answered and said, “Far be it, far be it from me that I should swallow up or destroy! 21 Such is not the case. But a man from (U)the hill country of Ephraim, (V)Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has lifted up his hand against King David. Give him over alone, and I will go from the city.” And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.” 22 Then the woman came to all the people in her (W)wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it to Joab. So (X)he blew the trumpet, and they were scattered from the city, each to his tent. Joab also returned to the king at Jerusalem.

23 (Y)Now Joab was over the whole army of Israel, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; 24 and Adoram was over the forced labor, and (Z)Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; 25 and Sheva was scribe, and Zadok and (AA)Abiathar were priests; 26 and Ira the Jairite was also a priest to David.


  1. 2 Samuel 20:8 Lit before
  2. 2 Samuel 20:8 Lit girded with military garment as clothing
  3. 2 Samuel 20:8 Lit loins
  4. 2 Samuel 20:12 Lit caused to turn
  5. 2 Samuel 20:15 Lit poured out