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Ziba Meets David

16 David went a short way over the top of the Mount of Olives and met Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth. Ziba had two donkeys with saddles on them. The donkeys also carried 200 loaves of bread, 100 bunches of raisins, 100 summer fruits, and a wineskin full of wine. King David said to Ziba, “What are these things for?”

Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s family to ride on. The bread and the summer fruit are for the servants to eat. And the wine is refreshment for whoever begins to feel weak in the desert.”

Then the king asked, “And where is Mephibosheth[a]?”

Ziba answered the king, “Mephibosheth is staying in Jerusalem. He said, ‘Today the Israelites will give my father’s kingdom back to me.’”

Then the king said to Ziba, “All right, I now give you everything that belonged to Mephibosheth.”

Ziba said, “I bow to you. I pray I will always be able to please you.”

Shimei Curses David

As David came to Bahurim, a man from Saul’s family, Shimei son of Gera, came out cursing David again and again.

Shimei began throwing stones at David and his officers. Both the people and the soldiers gathered around David to protect him—they were all around him. Shimei cursed David. He said, “Get out, get out, you no-good murderer[b]! The Lord is punishing you because you killed people in Saul’s family. You stole Saul’s place as king. But now the same bad things are happening to you. The Lord has given the kingdom to your son Absalom, because you are a murderer.”

Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dying dog curse you, my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off Shimei’s head.”

10 But the king answered, “What can I do, sons of Zeruiah? Yes, Shimei is cursing me, but the Lord told him to curse me. And who can ask him why he did that?” 11 David also said to Abishai and all his servants, “Look, my very own son is trying to kill me, so why shouldn’t this man from the tribe of Benjamin want to do the same? Leave him alone. Let him continue to curse me. The Lord told him to do this. 12 Maybe the Lord will see the wrong things that are happening to me and give me something good for every bad thing that Shimei says today.”

13 So David and his men went on their way down the road. Shimei kept following David. He walked on the other side of the road by the side of the hill. He kept cursing David on his way. Shimei also threw stones and dirt at David.

14 King David and all his people came to the Jordan River. They were tired, so they rested and refreshed themselves there.

15 Meanwhile, Absalom, Ahithophel, and all the Israelites came to Jerusalem. 16 David’s friend, Hushai the Arkite, came to Absalom and told him, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”

17 Absalom answered, “Why are you not loyal to your friend David? Why did you not leave Jerusalem with your friend?”

18 Hushai said, “I belong to the one that the Lord chooses. These people and the people of Israel chose you. I will stay with you. 19 In the past, I served your father. So now I will serve you, David’s son.”

Absalom Asks Ahithophel for Advice

20 Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Please tell us what we should do.”

21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Your father left some of his slave women here to take care of the house. Go and have sexual relations with them. Then all the Israelites will hear how you humiliated your father, and they will be encouraged to give you more support.”

22 Then they put up a tent for Absalom up on the roof of the house. Absalom had sexual relations with his father’s wives[c] so that all the Israelites could see what happened. 23 So in those days Ahithophel’s advice was very important. Both David and Absalom accepted his advice as though it were the word of God.

Ahithophel’s Advice About David

17 Ahithophel also said to Absalom, “Now, let me choose 12,000 men to chase David tonight. I will catch him while he is tired and weak. I will frighten him, and all his people will run away. But I will kill only King David. Then I will bring all the people back to you. If David is dead, all the people will come back in peace.”

This plan seemed good to Absalom and all the leaders of Israel. But Absalom said, “Now call Hushai the Arkite. I also want to hear what he says.”

Hushai Ruins Ahithophel’s Advice

Hushai came to Absalom. Absalom said to Hushai, “This is the plan Ahithophel gave. Should we follow it? If not, tell us.”

Hushai said to Absalom, “Ahithophel’s advice is not good this time.” Hushai added, “You know that your father and his men are strong men. They are as dangerous as a wild bear when something has taken its cubs. Your father is a skilled fighter. He will not stay all night with the people. He is probably already hiding in a cave or some other place. If your father attacks your men first, people will hear the news and think, ‘Absalom’s followers are losing!’ 10 Then even your bravest men will be frightened, because all the Israelites know that your father is a powerful soldier and that his men are very brave.

11 “This is what I suggest: You must gather all the Israelites together from Dan to Beersheba.[d] Then there will be many people, like the sand by the sea. Then you yourself must go into the battle. 12 We will catch David wherever he is hiding and attack him with so many soldiers that they will be like the dew that covers the ground. We will kill David and all of his men—no one will be left alive. 13 But if David escapes into a city, all the Israelites can bring ropes to that city and pull its walls down into the valley. Not even a small stone will be left in that city.”

14 Absalom and all the Israelites said, “Hushai’s advice is better than Ahithophel’s.” Actually, Ahithophel’s advice was good, but they said this because the Lord had decided to make Ahithophel’s advice useless. He did this to punish Absalom.

Hushai Sends a Warning to David

15 Hushai told the priests, Zadok and Abiathar, what was said. He told them what Ahithophel suggested to Absalom and the leaders of Israel. Hushai also told them what he himself had suggested. He said, 16 “Send a message to David now! Tell him not to spend the night at the places where people cross into the desert. Tell him to go across the Jordan River at once. If he crosses the river, the king and all his people will not be caught.”

17 The priests’ sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, did not want to be seen going into the town, so they waited at En Rogel. A servant girl went out to them and gave them the message. Then Jonathan and Ahimaaz carried the message to King David.

18 But a boy saw Jonathan and Ahimaaz and ran to tell Absalom. Jonathan and Ahimaaz ran away quickly. They arrived at a man’s house in Bahurim. The man had a well in his courtyard.[e] Jonathan and Ahimaaz went down into this well. 19 The man’s wife spread a sheet over the mouth of the well and covered it with grain. The well looked like a pile of grain, so no one would know to look there. 20 Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house. They asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”

The woman said to Absalom’s servants, “They have already crossed over the brook.”

Absalom’s servants then went to look for Jonathan and Ahimaaz, but they could not find them. So Absalom’s servants went back to Jerusalem.

21 After Absalom’s servants left, Jonathan and Ahimaaz climbed out of the well and went to King David. They said to David, “Hurry, go across the river. Ahithophel is planning to do something to you.”

22 So David and his people crossed over the Jordan River. By sunrise, all of David’s people had crossed the Jordan River. No one was left behind.

Ahithophel Kills Himself

23 When Ahithophel saw that the Israelites did not do what he suggested, he saddled his donkey and went back to his hometown. He made plans for his family and then hanged himself. They buried him in his father’s tomb.

Absalom Crosses the Jordan River

24 David arrived at Mahanaim just as Absalom and the Israelites who were with him crossed over the Jordan River. 25-26 Absalom and the Israelites made their camp in the land of Gilead. Absalom had made Amasa the new captain of the army. He took Joab’s place.[f] Amasa was the son of Ithra the Ishmaelite.[g] His mother was Abigail, the daughter of Nahash, the sister of Joab’s mother, Zeruiah.[h]

Shobi, Makir, and Barzillai

27 When David arrived at Mahanaim, Shobi, Makir, and Barzillai were there. Shobi son of Nahash was from the Ammonite town of Rabbah. Makir son of Ammiel was from Lo Debar. Barzillai was from Rogelim in Gilead. 28-29 These three men said, “The people are tired, hungry, and thirsty from the desert.” So they brought many things to David and those with him. They brought beds, bowls, and other kinds of dishes. They also brought wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, dried seeds, honey, butter, sheep, and cheese made from cow’s milk.

David Gets Ready for Battle

18 David counted his men and chose captains over 1000 and captains over 100 to lead them. He separated the people into three groups and sent them out. Joab led a third of the men. Joab’s brother, Abishai son of Zeruiah, led another third. And Ittai from Gath led the last third.

King David said to the people, “I will also go with you.”

But they said, “No! You must not go with us. If we run away in the battle, Absalom’s men will not care. No, even if only half of us are killed, Absalom’s men will not care. But you are worth 10,000 of us! It is better for you to stay in the city. Then, if we need help, you can come to help us.”

The king said to them, “I will do what you think is best.”

Then the king stood by the gate as the army went out in groups of 100 and 1000.

The king gave a command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai. He said, “Do this for me: Be gentle with young Absalom!” Everyone heard the king’s orders about Absalom to the captains.

David’s Army Defeats Absalom’s Army

David’s army went out into the field against Absalom’s Israelites. They fought in the forest of Ephraim. David’s army defeated the Israelites. It was a great defeat because 20,000 men were killed that day. The battle spread throughout the country, but more men died in the forest than by the sword.

It so happened that David’s officers found Absalom. Absalom jumped on his mule and tried to escape, but the mule went under the branches of a large oak tree. The branches were thick, and Absalom’s head got caught in the tree. His mule ran out from under him, so Absalom was left hanging above the ground.[i]

10 Someone saw this happen and told Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree.”

11 Joab said to the man, “Why didn’t you kill him and let him fall to the ground? I would have given you a belt and ten pieces of silver!”

12 The man said to Joab, “I would not try to hurt the king’s son even if you gave me 1000 pieces of silver. We heard the king’s command to you, Abishai, and Ittai. The king said, ‘Be careful not to hurt young Absalom.’ 13 If I had killed Absalom, the king himself would find out, and you would punish me.[j]

14 Joab said, “I will not waste my time here with you!”

Absalom was still alive and hanging in the oak tree. Joab took three sticks in his hand and hit him in the heart. 15 Ten of Joab’s young helpers gathered around Absalom and killed him.

16 Joab blew the trumpet and called the people to stop chasing Israelites. 17 Then Joab’s men took Absalom’s body and threw it into a large hole in the forest and covered it with stones.

All the Israelites ran away and went home.

18 While Absalom was alive he put up a memorial stone in King’s Valley. He said, “I have no son to keep my name alive.” So he named that monument after himself. It is called “Absalom’s Monument” even today.

Joab Sends the News to David

19 Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said to Joab, “May I run and take the news to King David? I’ll tell him the Lord has destroyed the enemy for him.”

20 Joab answered Ahimaaz, “No, you will not carry the message today. You can do it some other time, but not today because it is the king’s son who is dead.”

21 Then Joab said to a man from Ethiopia, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.”

So the Ethiopian bowed to Joab and ran to tell David.

22 But Ahimaaz son of Zadok begged Joab again, “No matter what happens, please let me also run after the Ethiopian!”

Joab said, “Son, why do you want to carry the news? You will not get any reward for the news you bring.”

23 Ahimaaz answered, “No matter what happens, I will run to David.”

Joab said to Ahimaaz, “All right, run to David!”

Then Ahimaaz ran through Jordan Valley and passed the Ethiopian.

David Hears the News

24 David was sitting between the two gates of the city. The watchman went up to the roof over the gate walls and saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman shouted to tell King David.

King David said, “If the man is alone, he is bringing news.”

The man came closer and closer to the city. 26 But then the watchman saw another man running. He called to the gatekeeper, “Look! Another man is running alone.”

The king said, “He is also bringing news.”

27 The watchman said, “I think the first man runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok.”

The king said, “Ahimaaz is a good man, he must be bringing good news.”

28 Ahimaaz called to the king, “All is well!” Ahimaaz bowed with his face to the ground in front of the king and said, “Praise the Lord your God! The Lord has defeated the men who were against you, my lord and king.”

29 The king asked, “Is young Absalom all right?”

Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent me, I saw some great excitement, but I don’t know what it was.”

30 Then the king said, “Step over here and wait.” Ahimaaz went there and stood waiting.

31 The Ethiopian arrived and said, “News for my lord and king. Today the Lord has punished all those who were against you!”

32 The king asked the Ethiopian, “Is young Absalom all right?”

The Ethiopian answered, “May your enemies, or whoever tries to hurt you, suffer the same as this young man did.”

33 So the king knew Absalom was dead and he became very upset. He went upstairs to the room over the gate, crying, “O my son Absalom! My son Absalom, I wish I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son!”


  1. 2 Samuel 16:3 Mephibosheth Literally, “your master’s grandson.”
  2. 2 Samuel 16:7 murderer Literally, “man of blood.”
  3. 2 Samuel 16:22 wives Or “concubines.” See “slave woman” in the Word List.
  4. 2 Samuel 17:11 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.
  5. 2 Samuel 17:18 courtyard An open area outside the house. Many houses were built around courtyards so that people could work, cook, or eat outside.
  6. 2 Samuel 17:25 He took Joab’s place Joab still supported David. Joab was one of the three captains in David’s army when David was running away from Absalom. See 2 Sam. 18:2.
  7. 2 Samuel 17:25 Ishmaelite This is from the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has “Israelite,” but see 1 Chron. 2:17.
  8. 2 Samuel 17:25 His mother … Zeruiah Literally, “Ithra had sexual relations with Abigail, the daughter of Nahash sister of Zeruiah.”
  9. 2 Samuel 18:9 above the ground Literally, “between heaven and earth.”
  10. 2 Samuel 18:13 you would punish me Or “you would have opposed me.”

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