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2 Samuel 3 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

War Between Israel and Judah

There was war for a long time between Saul’s family and David’s family. David became stronger and stronger, but Saul’s family became weaker and weaker.

David’s Six Sons Born at Hebron

These are David’s sons who were born at Hebron:

The first son was Amnon. Amnon’s mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel.

The second son was Kileab. His mother was Abigail, who had been the wife of Nabal from Carmel.

The third son was Absalom. Absalom’s mother was Maacah daughter of King Talmai of Geshur.

The fourth son was Adonijah. Adonijah’s mother was Haggith.

The fifth son was Shephatiah. Shephatiah’s mother was Abital.

The sixth son was Ithream. Ithream’s mother was David’s wife Eglah.

These sons were all born at Hebron.

Abner Decides to Join David

As the families of Saul and David fought each other, Abner became more and more powerful in Saul’s army. Saul had a slave woman named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. Ish Bosheth said to Abner, “Why did you have sexual relations with my father’s servant woman?”

This made Abner very angry. He said, “I have been loyal to Saul and his family. I did not give you to David. I am not a traitor working for Judah.[a] But now you are saying that I did this bad thing. 9-10 The Lord promised with an oath that he would take the kingdom away from Saul’s family and give it to David. And I swear I will make sure that happens. God will make David king of Judah and Israel. He will rule from Dan to Beersheba.[b] 11 Ish Bosheth was too afraid of Abner to say anything in response.

12 Abner sent messengers to David and said, “Who do you think should rule this country? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you become the ruler of all the people of Israel.”

13 David answered, “Good! I will make an agreement with you. But I ask you only one thing: I will not meet with you until you bring Saul’s daughter Michal to me.”

14 David sent messengers to Saul’s son Ish Bosheth. David said, “Give me my wife Michal. She was promised to me. I killed 100 Philistines to get her.”[c]

15 Then Ish Bosheth told the men to go and take Michal from a man named Paltiel son of Laish. 16 Michal’s husband, Paltiel, followed them, crying all the way to Bahurim. Finally, Abner said to him, “Go back home.” So Paltiel went back home.

17 Abner sent this message to the leaders of Israel. He said, “For a long time you have wanted to make David your king. 18 Now do it! The Lord was talking about David when he said, ‘I will save my people the Israelites from the Philistines and all their other enemies. I will do this through my servant David.’”

19 Abner said these things to David in Hebron, and he said these things to the people of the tribe of Benjamin. The things Abner said sounded good to the tribe of Benjamin and to all the people of Israel.

20 Then Abner came up to David at Hebron. Abner brought 20 men with him. David gave a party for Abner and for all the men who came with him.

21 Abner said to David, “My lord and king, let me go bring all the Israelites to you. Then they will make an agreement with you, and you will rule over all Israel, as you wanted.”

So David let Abner leave in peace.

Abner’s Death

22 Joab and David’s officers came back from battle. They had many valuable things that they had taken from the enemy. David had just let Abner leave in peace. So Abner was not there in Hebron with David. 23 Joab and all his army arrived at Hebron. The army said to Joab, “Abner son of Ner came to King David, and David let Abner leave in peace.”

24 Joab came to the king and said, “What have you done? Abner came to you, but you sent him away without hurting him! Why? 25 You know Abner son of Ner. He came to trick you. He came to learn all about what you are doing.”

26 Joab left David and sent messengers to Abner at the well of Sirah. The messengers brought Abner back, but David did not know this. 27 When Abner arrived at Hebron, Joab met him in the gateway, pulled him aside to talk in private, and then stabbed him in the stomach. So he got his revenge against Abner. Joab killed Abner because Abner had killed Joab’s brother Asahel.

David Cries for Abner

28 Later David heard the news and said, “My kingdom and I are innocent of the death of Abner son of Ner. The Lord knows this. 29 Joab and his family are responsible for this, and they will be cursed. Many troubles will come to his family. His people will be sick with leprosy, crippled, killed in war, and not have enough food to eat!”

30 Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.

31-32 David said to Joab and to all the people with Joab, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth. Cry for Abner.” They buried Abner in Hebron. David went to the funeral. King David and all the people cried at Abner’s grave.

33 King David sang this sad song at Abner’s funeral:

“Did Abner die like some foolish criminal?
34     Abner, your hands were not tied.
    Your feet were not put in chains.
No, Abner, evil men killed you!”

Then all the people cried again for Abner. 35 All day long people came to encourage David to eat food. But David had made a special promise. He said, “May God punish me and give me many troubles if I eat bread or any other food before the sun goes down.” 36 All the people saw what happened, and they were pleased with what King David had done. 37 All the people of Judah and Israel understood that King David had not killed Abner son of Ner.

38 King David said to his officers, “You know that a very important leader died today in Israel. 39 And it was on the very same day that I was anointed to be the king. These sons of Zeruiah have caused me a lot of trouble. May the Lord give them the punishment they deserve.”


  1. 2 Samuel 3:8 I am not … Judah Literally, “Am I a dog’s head of Judah?”
  2. 2 Samuel 3:9 Dan to Beersheba This means the whole nation of Israel, north and south. Dan was a town in the northern part of Israel and Beersheba was in the southern part of Judah.
  3. 2 Samuel 3:14 I killed … to get her Literally, “I paid for her with 100 Philistine foreskins.” See 1 Sam. 18:20-30; 25:44.
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

2 Samuel 3 New International Version (NIV)

The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.

Sons were born to David in Hebron:

His firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel;

his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel;

the third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;

the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith;

the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;

and the sixth, Ithream the son of David’s wife Eglah.

These were born to David in Hebron.

Abner Goes Over to David

During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul. Now Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, “Why did you sleep with my father’s concubine?”

Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said. So he answered, “Am I a dog’s head—on Judah’s side? This very day I am loyal to the house of your father Saul and to his family and friends. I haven’t handed you over to David. Yet now you accuse me of an offense involving this woman! May God deal with Abner, be it ever so severely, if I do not do for David what the Lord promised him on oath 10 and transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish David’s throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.” 11 Ish-Bosheth did not dare to say another word to Abner, because he was afraid of him.

12 Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to say to David, “Whose land is it? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you bring all Israel over to you.”

13 “Good,” said David. “I will make an agreement with you. But I demand one thing of you: Do not come into my presence unless you bring Michal daughter of Saul when you come to see me.” 14 Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, “Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.”

15 So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. 16 Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So he went back.

17 Abner conferred with the elders of Israel and said, “For some time you have wanted to make David your king. 18 Now do it! For the Lord promised David, ‘By my servant David I will rescue my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.’”

19 Abner also spoke to the Benjamites in person. Then he went to Hebron to tell David everything that Israel and the whole tribe of Benjamin wanted to do. 20 When Abner, who had twenty men with him, came to David at Hebron, David prepared a feast for him and his men. 21 Then Abner said to David, “Let me go at once and assemble all Israel for my lord the king, so that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may rule over all that your heart desires.” So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

Joab Murders Abner

22 Just then David’s men and Joab returned from a raid and brought with them a great deal of plunder. But Abner was no longer with David in Hebron, because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23 When Joab and all the soldiers with him arrived, he was told that Abner son of Ner had come to the king and that the king had sent him away and that he had gone in peace.

24 So Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Look, Abner came to you. Why did you let him go? Now he is gone! 25 You know Abner son of Ner; he came to deceive you and observe your movements and find out everything you are doing.”

26 Joab then left David and sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern at Sirah. But David did not know it. 27 Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into an inner chamber, as if to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.

28 Later, when David heard about this, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the Lord concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. 29 May his blood fall on the head of Joab and on his whole family! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy[a] or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food.”

30 (Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.)

31 Then David said to Joab and all the people with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and walk in mourning in front of Abner.” King David himself walked behind the bier. 32 They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king wept aloud at Abner’s tomb. All the people wept also.

33 The king sang this lament for Abner:

“Should Abner have died as the lawless die?
34     Your hands were not bound,
    your feet were not fettered.
You fell as one falls before the wicked.”

And all the people wept over him again.

35 Then they all came and urged David to eat something while it was still day; but David took an oath, saying, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun sets!”

36 All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them. 37 So on that day all the people there and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner.

38 Then the king said to his men, “Do you not realize that a commander and a great man has fallen in Israel this day? 39 And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!”


  1. 2 Samuel 3:29 The Hebrew for leprosy was used for various diseases affecting the skin.
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.

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