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14 Yo’av the son of Tz’ruyah perceived that the king missed Avshalom; so Yo’av sent to T’koa, brought from there a clever woman and said to her, “Please, pretend you’re a mourner. Put on mourning clothes, and don’t anoint yourself with oil, but appear to be a woman who has mourned for the dead a long time. Go in to the king and speak to him in this fashion — ” and then Yo’av told her just what to say. When the woman of T’koa spoke to the king, she fell down with her face to the ground, prostrating herself, and said, “King, help!” The king said to her, “What’s the trouble?” She answered, “I’m a widow. After my husband died, my two sons were out in the field; and they got into a fight with each other. There was no one to separate them, and one hit the other and killed him. Now the whole family has come against me, your servant; they’re saying, ‘Hand over the one who hit his brother, so that we can put him to death for killing his brother.’ They want to destroy the heir as well and thus quench my one remaining coal; then my husband will have neither name nor survivor anywhere on earth.”

The king said to the woman, “Go back home; I myself will decide what to do about you.” The woman of T’koa said to the king, “My lord, king, let the guilt be on me and my father’s family; the king and his throne be guiltless.” 10 The king answered, “If anyone says anything to you, bring him to me; and he won’t bother you any more.” 11 “Please,” she said, “let the king swear by Adonai your God that the blood avengers won’t do any more destroying, so they won’t destroy my son.” He said, “As Adonai lives, not one of your son’s hairs will fall to the ground.”

12 Then the woman said, “Please allow your servant to say something else to my lord the king.” “Go on,” he replied. 13 The woman said, “Why is it, then, that you have produced a situation exactly like this against God’s people? By saying what you have said, the king has virtually incriminated himself — in that the king does not bring home again the son he banished. 14 For we will all die someday; we’ll be like water spilled on the ground that can’t be gathered up again; and God makes no exception for anyone. The king should think of some way to keep the son he banished from being forever an outcast. 15 Now the reason I came to speak about this matter to my lord the king is that the people were intimidating me; so your servant said, ‘I will speak now to the king; maybe the king will do what his servant is asking. 16 For the king will listen and rescue his servant from the hands of those who would destroy me and my son together from our share of God’s inheritance.’ 17 Then your servant said, ‘Please let my lord the king say something that will give me relief; for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good from bad — and may Adonai your God be with you.’”

18 The king then answered the woman: “I’m going to ask you a question, and please don’t hide anything from me.” The woman said, “Let my lord the king now speak.” 19 The king asked, “Did Yo’av put you up to this?” The woman answered, “As you live, my lord the king, when my lord the king speaks, no one can avoid the issue by turning either right or left. Yes, it was your servant Yo’av who had me do this, and he put in my mouth every word you have heard your servant say. 20 Your servant Yo’av did this in order to bring about some change in the situation. But my lord is wise, he has the wisdom of an angel of God when it comes to understanding anything going on in the land.”

21 The king said to Yo’av, “All right, I am granting this request. Go, and bring back young Avshalom.” 22 Yo’av fell to the ground on his face, prostrating himself, and blessed the king; Yo’av said, “Today your servant knows that I have won your favor, my lord, king, because the king has done what your servant requested.” 23 Then Yo’av got up, went to G’shur and brought Avshalom to Yerushalayim. 24 However, the king said, “Let him return to his own house, but he is not to appear in my presence.” So Avshalom returned to his own house and did not appear before the king.

25 Now in all Isra’el there was no one more praised for his beauty than Avshalom — there was no defect on him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 26 He would cut his hair only once a year, at the end of the year; and the only reason he cut it then was because it weighed him down. He weighed the hair from his head at 200 shekels (using the royal weight) [about five pounds]. 27 To Avshalom were born three sons and one daughter, whose name was Tamar; she was a beautiful woman.

28 Avshalom lived two years in Yerushalayim without appearing before the king. 29 Then Avshalom summoned Yo’av, planning to send him to the king; but he refused to come to him. He summoned him a second time, but he still wouldn’t come. 30 So he said to his servants, “See, Yo’av’s field is close to mine, and he has barley there; go, and set it on fire.” Avshalom’s servants set the field on fire. 31 Then Yo’av got up, went to Avshalom at his house and asked him, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?” 32 Avshalom answered Yo’av, “Look, I sent a message to you to come here, so that I could send you to the king to ask, ‘Why did I come from G’shur? It would have been better for me if I had stayed there. So now, let me appear before the king; and if I’m guilty of anything, he can kill me.’”

33 Yo’av went to the king and told him; and when he had called for Avshalom, he went to the king and prostrated himself with his face to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Avshalom.

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