Bible Book List

2 Samuel 2 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

David Is Anointed King of Judah

Later David asked the Lord for advice. David said, “Should I take control[a] of any of the cities of Judah?”

The Lord said to David, “Yes.”

David asked, “Where should I go?”

The Lord answered, “To Hebron.”

So David and his two wives moved to Hebron. (His wives were Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, who had been the wife of Nabal from Carmel.) David also brought his men and their families. All of them made their homes in Hebron and the towns nearby.

The men of Judah came to Hebron and anointed David to be the king of Judah. Then they told David, “The men of Jabesh Gilead buried Saul.”

David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead. These messengers told the men in Jabesh: “The Lord bless you, because you have shown kindness to your lord Saul by burying him.[b] The Lord will be kind and true to you, and so will I. Now be strong and brave. Your lord, Saul, is dead, but the tribe of Judah has anointed me to be their king.”

Ish Bosheth Becomes King

Abner son of Ner was the captain of Saul’s army. Abner took Ish Bosheth[c] son of Saul to Mahanaim and made him king of Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all Israel.[d]

10 Ish Bosheth son of Saul was 40 years old when he began to rule over Israel. He ruled Israel two years, but the tribe of Judah followed David. 11 David ruled over the tribe of Judah from Hebron for seven years and six months.

The Deadly Contest

12 Abner son of Ner and the officers of Ish Bosheth son of Saul left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. 13 Joab, Zeruiah’s son, and the officers of David also went to Gibeon. They met Abner and Ish Bosheth’s officers at the pool of Gibeon. Abner’s group sat on one side of the pool. Joab’s group sat on the other side.

14 Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have the young soldiers get up and have a contest here.”

Joab said, “Yes, let’s have a contest.”

15 So the young soldiers got up. The two groups counted their men for the contest. They chose twelve men from the tribe of Benjamin to fight for Ish Bosheth son of Saul, and they chose twelve men from David’s officers. 16 Each of the men grabbed his opponent’s head and stabbed him in the side with his sword, and then they fell down together. That is why this place in Gibeon is called “The Field of the Sharp Knives.”[e] 17 That contest turned into a terrible battle and David’s officers defeated Abner and the Israelites that day.

Abner Kills Asahel

18 Zeruiah had three sons, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was a fast runner, as fast as a wild deer. 19 Asahel ran straight toward Abner and began chasing him. 20 Abner looked back and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?”

Asahel said, “Yes, it’s me.”

21 Abner didn’t want to hurt Asahel, so he said to Asahel, “Stop chasing me—go after one of the young soldiers. You could easily take his armor for yourself.” But Asahel refused to stop chasing Abner.

22 Abner again said to Asahel, “Stop chasing me, or I will have to kill you. Then I will not be able to look your brother Joab in the face again.”

23 But Asahel refused to stop chasing Abner. So Abner used the back end of his spear and pushed it into Asahel’s stomach. The spear went deep into Asahel’s stomach and came out of his back. Asahel died right there.

Joab and Abishai Chase Abner

Asahel’s body lay on the ground. Everyone who came that way stopped to look at Asahel, 24 but Joab and Abishai[f] continued chasing Abner. The sun was just going down when they came to Ammah Hill. (Ammah Hill is in front of Giah on the way to the desert of Gibeon.) 25 The men from the tribe of Benjamin gathered around Abner at the top of the hill.

26 Abner shouted to Joab and said, “Must we fight and kill each other forever? Surely you know that this will only end in sadness. Tell the people to stop chasing their own brothers.”

27 Then Joab said, “As surely as God is alive, if you had not said something, people would still be chasing their brothers in the morning.” 28 So Joab blew a trumpet, and his people stopped chasing the Israelites. They did not try to fight the Israelites anymore.

29 Abner and his men marched all night through the Jordan Valley. They crossed the Jordan River and then marched all day until they came to Mahanaim.

30 Joab stopped chasing Abner and turned back. Joab had gathered his men and learned that 19 of David’s officers were missing, including Asahel. 31 But David’s officers had killed 360 of Abner’s men from the tribe of Benjamin. 32 David’s officers took Asahel and buried him in the tomb of his father at Bethlehem.

Joab and his men marched all night. The sun came up just as they reached Hebron.


  1. 2 Samuel 2:1 take control Literally, “go up against.”
  2. 2 Samuel 2:5 burying him The bodies of both Saul and Jonathan were burned and their bones were buried. See 1 Sam. 31:12.
  3. 2 Samuel 2:8 Ish Bosheth In the ancient Greek version and 1 Chron. 8:33; 9:39, his name is Ish Baal or Eshbaal. Later Hebrew scribes substituted Bosheth (“shame”) for Baal (“Lord”), because Baal was also the name for a Canaanite god.
  4. 2 Samuel 2:9 Israel Sometimes this means the whole country, Judah and Israel. Here, it means only the tribes that were not united with Judah.
  5. 2 Samuel 2:16 The Field of the Sharp Knives Or “Helkath Hazzurim.”
  6. 2 Samuel 2:24 Joab and Abishai Brothers of Asahel, the man who Abner killed. See verse 18.
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

2 Samuel 2 New International Version (NIV)

David Anointed King Over Judah

In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked.

The Lord said, “Go up.”

David asked, “Where shall I go?”

“To Hebron,” the Lord answered.

So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe of Judah.

When David was told that it was the men from Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, he sent messengers to them to say to them, “The Lord bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me king over them.”

War Between the Houses of David and Saul

Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel.

10 Ish-Bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The tribe of Judah, however, remained loyal to David. 11 The length of time David was king in Hebron over Judah was seven years and six months.

12 Abner son of Ner, together with the men of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. 13 Joab son of Zeruiah and David’s men went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. One group sat down on one side of the pool and one group on the other side.

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

“All right, let them do it,” Joab said.

15 So they stood up and were counted off—twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David. 16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent’s side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim.[a]

17 The battle that day was very fierce, and Abner and the Israelites were defeated by David’s men.

18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle. 19 He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. 20 Abner looked behind him and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?”

“It is,” he answered.

21 Then Abner said to him, “Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons.” But Asahel would not stop chasing him.

22 Again Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?”

23 But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died.

24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. 25 Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill.

26 Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?”

27 Joab answered, “As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning.”

28 So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the troops came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore.

29 All that night Abner and his men marched through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, continued through the morning hours[b] and came to Mahanaim.

30 Then Joab stopped pursuing Abner and assembled the whole army. Besides Asahel, nineteen of David’s men were found missing. 31 But David’s men had killed three hundred and sixty Benjamites who were with Abner. 32 They took Asahel and buried him in his father’s tomb at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night and arrived at Hebron by daybreak.


  1. 2 Samuel 2:16 Helkath Hazzurim means field of daggers or field of hostilities.
  2. 2 Samuel 2:29 See Septuagint; the meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Viewing of
Cross references