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Sheba Leads Israel Away From David

20 At that place there was a man named Sheba son of Bicri. Sheba was a worthless troublemaker from the tribe of Benjamin. He blew a trumpet to gather the people together and said,

“We have no share in David.
    We have no part in the son of Jesse.
Israel, let’s all go home.”

So all the Israelites[a] left David and followed Sheba son of Bicri. But the people from Judah stayed with their king all the way from the Jordan River to Jerusalem.

David went back to his house in Jerusalem. He had left ten of his slave women to take care of the house. He put these women in a special house.[b] Then he put guards around the house. They stayed in this house until they died. David took care of the women and gave them food, but he did not have sexual relations with them. They lived like widows until they died.

The king told Amasa, “Tell the people of Judah to meet with me in three days. You must be here, too.”

So Amasa called the people of Judah together, but he took longer than the king had told him.

David Tells Abishai to Kill Sheba

David said to Abishai, “Sheba son of Bicri is more dangerous to us than Absalom was. So take my officers and chase Sheba. Hurry before he gets into cities with walls. If he gets into the well-protected cities, we will not be able to get him.”

So Joab took the Kerethites and Pelethites[c] and the other soldiers with him and left Jerusalem to chase after Sheba son of Bicri.

Joab Kills Amasa

When Joab and the army came to Big Rock at Gibeon, Amasa came out to meet them. Joab was wearing his uniform with a belt that held a knife. As he walked toward Amasa, the knife on the belt came out. Joab asked Amasa, “How are you doing, brother?” Joab reached out with his right hand and grabbed Amasa by the beard to greet him with a kiss. 10 Amasa didn’t see the knife that was now in Joab’s other hand. Joab stabbed him in the belly, and Amasa’s intestines spilled out on the ground. There was no need for Joab to stab him again; he was already dead.

David’s Men Continue to Look for Sheba

Then Joab and his brother Abishai resumed the chase after Sheba son of Bicri. 11 One of Joab’s young soldiers stood by Amasa’s body and said, “All of you who support Joab and David, let’s follow Joab.”

12 Amasa was there in the middle of road, lying in his own blood. The young soldier noticed that all the people kept stopping to look at the body, so he rolled the body off the road and into the field and covered it with a cloth. 13 Once the body was out of the way, the people simply passed it by and joined up with Joab to go after Sheba son of Bicri.

Sheba Escapes to Abel Beth Maacah

14 Sheba son of Bicri passed through all the tribes of Israel on his way to Abel Beth Maacah. All the Berites[d] joined together and followed Sheba.

15 When Joab and his men came to Abel Beth Maacah, they surrounded the town. They piled dirt up against the city wall and began breaking stones out of the wall to make it fall down.

16 But there was a very wise woman in that city who shouted out to them and said, “Listen to me! Tell Joab to come here. I want to talk with him.”

17 Joab went to talk with the woman. She asked him, “Are you Joab?”

Joab answered, “Yes, I am.”

Then the woman said, “Listen to me.”

Joab said, “I am listening.”

18 Then the woman said, “In the past people would say, ‘Ask for help in Abel and you will get what you need.’ 19 I am one of many peaceful, loyal people in this town. You are trying to destroy an important city of Israel. Why do you want to destroy something that belongs to the Lord?”

20 Joab answered, “I don’t want to destroy anything. I don’t want to ruin your city. 21 But there is a man in your city from the hill country of Ephraim. He is named Sheba son of Bicri. He rebelled against King David. Bring him to me, and I will leave the city alone.”

The woman said to Joab, “All right. His head will be thrown over the wall to you.”

22 Then the woman spoke very wisely to all the people of the city. They cut off the head of Sheba son of Bicri and threw it over the city wall to Joab.

So Joab blew the trumpet and the army left the city. The soldiers went home, and Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

The People on David’s Staff

23 Joab was captain of the whole army of Israel. Benaiah son of Jehoiada led the Kerethites and Pelethites. 24 Adoniram led the men who were forced to do hard work. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the historian. 25 Sheva was the secretary. Zadok and Abiathar were the priests. 26 And Ira from Jair was David’s personal priest.[e]


  1. 2 Samuel 20:2 Israelites Here, this means the tribes not united with Judah.
  2. 2 Samuel 20:3 David … special house David’s son Absalom had ruined David’s concubines by having sexual relations with them. See 2 Sam. 16:21-22.
  3. 2 Samuel 20:7 Kerethites and Pelethites David’s special group of fighting men. Also in verse 23.
  4. 2 Samuel 20:14 Berites The Greek and Latin versions have “Bicrites.”
  5. 2 Samuel 20:26 personal priest Or “chief servant” or “advisor.”

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