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The Rebellion of Sheba

20 Now there happened to be there a worthless fellow, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite; and he blew the trumpet, and said,

“We have no portion in David,
    and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
    every man to his tents, O Israel!”

So all the men of Israel withdrew from David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri; but the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten concubines whom he had left to care for the house, and put them in a house under guard, and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood.

Then the king said to Ama′sa, “Call the men of Judah together to me within three days, and be here yourself.” So Ama′sa went to summon Judah; but he delayed beyond the set time which had been appointed him. And David said to Abi′shai, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Ab′salom; take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he get himself fortified cities, and cause us trouble.”[a] And there went out after Abi′shai, Jo′ab[b] and the Cher′ethites and the Pel′ethites, and all the mighty men; they went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Ama′sa came to meet them. Now Jo′ab was wearing a soldier’s garment, and over it was a girdle with a sword in its sheath fastened upon his loins, and as he went forward it fell out. And Jo′ab said to Ama′sa, “Is it well with you, my brother?” And Jo′ab took Ama′sa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 But Ama′sa did not observe the sword which was in Jo′ab’s hand; so Jo′ab struck him with it in the body, and shed his bowels to the ground, without striking a second blow; and he died.[c]

Then Jo′ab and Abi′shai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. 11 And one of Jo′ab’s men took his stand by Ama′sa, and said, “Whoever favors Jo′ab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Jo′ab.” 12 And Ama′sa lay wallowing in his blood in the highway. And any one who came by, seeing him, stopped;[d] and when the man saw that all the people stopped, he carried Ama′sa out of the highway into the field, and threw a garment over him. 13 When he was taken out of the highway, all the people went on after Jo′ab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.

14 And Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-ma′acah;[e] and all the Bichrites[f] assembled, and followed him in. 15 And all the men who were with Jo′ab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-ma′acah; they cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart; and they were battering the wall, to throw it down. 16 Then a wise woman called from the city, “Hear! Hear! Tell Jo′ab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.’” 17 And he came near her; and the woman said, “Are you Jo′ab?” 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 said, “They were wont to say in old time, ‘Let them but ask counsel at Abel’; and so they settled a matter. 19 I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel; you seek to destroy a city which is a mother in Israel; why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?” 20 Jo′ab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not true. But a man of the hill country of E′phraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David; give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city.” And the woman said to Jo′ab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Jo′ab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Jo′ab returned to Jerusalem to the king.

23 Now Jo′ab was in command of all the army of Israel; and Benai′ah the son of Jehoi′ada was in command of the Cher′ethites and the Pel′ethites; 24 and Ador′am was in charge of the forced labor; and Jehosh′aphat the son of Ahi′lud was the recorder; 25 and Sheva was secretary; and Zadok and Abi′athar were priests; 26 and Ira the Ja′irite was also David’s priest.


  1. 2 Samuel 20:6 Tg: Heb snatch away our eyes
  2. 2 Samuel 20:7 Cn Compare Gk: Heb after him Joab’s men
  3. 20.10 Thus did Joab remove his last rival and remain in power till David’s death, in spite of the king’s dislike of him.
  4. 2 Samuel 20:12 This clause is transposed from the end of the verse
  5. 2 Samuel 20:14 With 20.15: Heb and Beth-maacah
  6. 2 Samuel 20:14 Heb Berites

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