The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time.(A) David grew stronger and stronger,(B) while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.(C)

Sons were born to David in Hebron:

His firstborn was Amnon(D) the son of Ahinoam(E) of Jezreel;

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

the third, Absalom(G) the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;(H)

the fourth, Adonijah(I) 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(J) had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul. Now Saul had had a concubine(K) named Rizpah(L) 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(M)—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(N) 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.”(O) 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.”(P) 14 Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, “Give me my wife Michal,(Q) 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(R) Paltiel(S) son of Laish. 16 Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim.(T) Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So he went back.

17 Abner conferred with the elders(U) 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(V) and from the hand of all their enemies.(W)’”

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(X) wanted to do. 20 When Abner, who had twenty men with him, came to David at Hebron, David prepared a feast(Y) 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(Z) with you, and that you may rule over all that your heart desires.”(AA) 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(AB) 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(AC) in the stomach, and he died.(AD)

28 Later, when David heard about this, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever innocent(AE) before the Lord concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. 29 May his blood(AF) fall on the head of Joab and on his whole family!(AG) May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore(AH) 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(AI) and walk in mourning(AJ) in front of Abner.” King David himself walked behind the bier. 32 They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king wept(AK) aloud at Abner’s tomb. All the people wept also.

33 The king sang this lament(AL) for Abner:

“Should Abner have died as the lawless die?
34     Your hands were not bound,
    your feet were not fettered.(AM)
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,(AN) if I taste bread(AO) 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(AP) 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(AQ) in Israel this day? 39 And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah(AR) are too strong(AS) for me.(AT) May the Lord repay(AU) the evildoer according to his evil deeds!”

Footnotes

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

Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.

And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;

And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;

And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;

And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.

And it came to pass, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul.

And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah: and Ishbosheth said to Abner, Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father's concubine?

Then was Abner very wroth for the words of Ishbosheth, and said, Am I a dog's head, which against Judah do shew kindness this day unto the house of Saul thy father, to his brethren, and to his friends, and have not delivered thee into the hand of David, that thou chargest me to day with a fault concerning this woman?

So do God to Abner, and more also, except, as the Lord hath sworn to David, even so I do to him;

10 To translate the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba.

11 And he could not answer Abner a word again, because he feared him.

12 And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, Whose is the land? saying also, Make thy league with me, and, behold, my hand shall be with thee, to bring about all Israel unto thee.

13 And he said, Well; I will make a league with thee: but one thing I require of thee, that is, Thou shalt not see my face, except thou first bring Michal Saul's daughter, when thou comest to see my face.

14 And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul's son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines.

15 And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish.

16 And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return. And he returned.

17 And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, Ye sought for David in times past to be king over you:

18 Now then do it: for the Lord hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.

19 And Abner also spake in the ears of Benjamin: and Abner went also to speak in the ears of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel, and that seemed good to the whole house of Benjamin.

20 So Abner came to David to Hebron, and twenty men with him. And David made Abner and the men that were with him a feast.

21 And Abner said unto David, I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel unto my lord the king, that they may make a league with thee, and that thou mayest reign over all that thine heart desireth. And David sent Abner away; and he went in peace.

22 And, behold, the servants of David and Joab came from pursuing a troop, and brought in a great spoil with them: but Abner was not with David in Hebron; for he had sent him away, and he was gone in peace.

23 When Joab and all the host that was with him were come, they told Joab, saying, Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he hath sent him away, and he is gone in peace.

24 Then Joab came to the king, and said, What hast thou done? behold, Abner came unto thee; why is it that thou hast sent him away, and he is quite gone?

25 Thou knowest Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive thee, and to know thy going out and thy coming in, and to know all that thou doest.

26 And when Joab was come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, which brought him again from the well of Sirah: but David knew it not.

27 And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.

28 And afterward when David heard it, he said, I and my kingdom are guiltless before the Lord for ever from the blood of Abner the son of Ner:

29 Let it rest on the head of Joab, and on all his father's house; and let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, or that is a leper, or that leaneth on a staff, or that falleth on the sword, or that lacketh bread.

30 So Joab, and Abishai his brother slew Abner, because he had slain their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.

31 And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier.

32 And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.

33 And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?

34 Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters: as a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou. And all the people wept again over him.

35 And when all the people came to cause David to eat meat while it was yet day, David sware, saying, So do God to me, and more also, if I taste bread, or ought else, till the sun be down.

36 And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them: as whatsoever the king did pleased all the people.

37 For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to slay Abner the son of Ner.

38 And the king said unto his servants, Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?

39 And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the Lord shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.

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