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The House of David Strengthened

Now (A)the war between the house of Saul and the house of David was long; and David grew steadily stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker continually.

(B)And sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by (C)Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; and his second, Chileab, by Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of (D)Maacah, the daughter of Talmai king of (E)Geshur; and the fourth, (F)Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David at Hebron.

Abner Cuts a Covenant with David

Now it happened, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David that (G)Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. Now Saul had a concubine whose name was (H)Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah; and [a]Ish-bosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?” Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, “(I)Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show lovingkindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David; and yet today you charge me with a guilt concerning the woman. (J)May God do so to Abner, and more also, if (K)as Yahweh has sworn to David, I do not do this for him, 10 (L)to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, (M)from Dan even to Beersheba.” 11 And he could no longer respond a word to Abner, because he was afraid of him.

12 Then Abner sent messengers to David in his place, saying, “Whose is the land? Cut your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to turn all Israel over to you.” 13 And he said, “Good! I will cut a covenant with you, but I ask one thing of you, [b]namely, (N)you shall not see my face unless you (O)first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see my face.” 14 So David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, to whom I was betrothed (P)for one hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” 15 And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband, from [c]Paltiel the son of Laish. 16 But her husband went with her, weeping as he went, and followed her as far as (Q)Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go, return.” So he returned.

17 Now Abner had [d]consultation with (R)the elders of Israel, saying, “In times past you were seeking for David to be king over you. 18 So now, do it! For Yahweh has spoken of David, saying, ‘(S)By the hand of My servant David [e]I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.’” 19 Abner also spoke in the hearing of Benjamin; and in addition Abner went to speak in the hearing of David in Hebron all that was good in the sight of Israel and in the sight of (T)the whole house of Benjamin.

20 Then Abner and twenty men with him came to David at Hebron. And David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 And Abner said to David, “Let me arise and go and (U)gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may cut a covenant with you, and that (V)you may be king over all that your soul desires.” So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

22 And behold, (W)the servants of David and Joab came from a raid and brought much spoil with them; but Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23 Now Joab and all the army that was with him arrived, and they told Joab, saying, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has sent him away, and he has gone in peace.” 24 Then Joab came to the king and said, “What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you; why then have you sent him away and he is already gone? 25 You know Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive you and to know of (X)your going out and your coming in and to know all that you are doing.”

Joab Strikes Abner

26 Then Joab came out from David and sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah; but David did not know it. 27 So when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the middle of the gate to speak with him privately, and there (Y)he struck him in the belly so that he died on account of the blood of Asahel his brother. 28 Afterward David heard it, so he said, “I and my kingdom are innocent before Yahweh forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner. 29 (Z)May it whirl on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house; and may (AA)one who has a discharge, or who is a leper, or who takes hold of a spindle, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks bread not be cut off from the house of Joab.” 30 So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner (AB)because he had put their brother Asahel to death in the battle at Gibeon.

David’s Lament for Abner

31 Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, “(AC)Tear your clothes and gird on sackcloth and lament before Abner.” And King David walked behind the bier. 32 Thus they buried Abner in Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at (AD)the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. 33 (AE)And the king chanted a lament for Abner and said,

“Should Abner die as a wicked fool dies?
34 Your hands were not bound, nor your feet put in fetters;
As one falls before the [f]unrighteous, you have fallen.”

And all the people continued to weep over him. 35 Then all the people came (AF)to [g]persuade David to eat bread while it was still day; but David swore an oath, saying, “(AG)May God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else (AH)before the sun goes down.” 36 Now all the people took note of it, and it was good in their sight, just as everything the king did was good in the sight of all the people. 37 So all the people and all Israel knew that day that it had not been the will of the king to put Abner the son of Ner to death. 38 Then the king said to his servants, “Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39 Thus I am (AI)weak today, though anointed king; and these men (AJ)the sons of Zeruiah are too difficult for me. (AK)May Yahweh repay the evildoer according to his evil.”


  1. 2 Samuel 3:7 As in some ancient mss and versions; M.T. he
  2. 2 Samuel 3:13 Lit saying
  3. 2 Samuel 3:15 In 1 Sam 25:44, Palti
  4. 2 Samuel 3:17 Lit a word
  5. 2 Samuel 3:18 As in many ancient mss and versions; M.T. he
  6. 2 Samuel 3:34 Lit sons of unrighteousness
  7. 2 Samuel 3:35 Lit cause