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15 Some time later, Avshalom prepared himself a chariot and horses, with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the road leading to the city gate; and if someone had a case that was to come before the king for judgment, Avshalom would call to him and ask, “What city are you from?” and he would answer, “Your servant is from the such-and-such tribe in Isra’el.” Avshalom would say to him, “Look, your cause is good and just; but the king hasn’t deputized anyone to hear your case.” Then Avshalom would continue, “Now if I were made judge in the land, anyone with a suit or other cause could come to me, and I would see that he gets justice!” Moreover, whenever any man came close to prostrate himself before him, he would put out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. This is how Avshalom behaved toward anyone in Isra’el who came to the king for judgment, and in this way Avshalom stole the hearts of the people of Isra’el.

At the end of forty years, Avshalom said to the king, “Please let me go to Hevron and fulfill the vow I made to Adonai. Your servant made a vow while I was staying at G’shur in Aram to the effect that if Adonai would bring me back to Yerushalayim, then I would serve Adonai.” The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he set out and went to Hevron.

10 But Avshalom sent spies through all the tribes of Isra’el to say, “The moment you hear the sound of the shofar, then start proclaiming, ‘Avshalom is king in Hevron.’” 11 With Avshalom went 200 men from Yerushalayim who had been invited; they went innocently, knowing nothing about the scheme. 12 Avshalom sent for Achitofel the Giloni, David’s counselor, to come from his town Giloh and be with him while offering the sacrifices. The conspiracy grew strong, because the number of people favoring Avshalom kept increasing.

13 A messenger came to David saying, “The men of Isra’el have aligned themselves with Avshalom.” 14 David said to all his servants with him in Yerushalayim, “Get up! We must flee! Otherwise none of us will escape from Avshalom. Hurry, and leave; or he will soon overtake us, attack us and put the city to the sword.” 15 The king’s servants said to the king, “Here, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.” 16 So the king set out, and all his household after him. The king left ten women who were concubines to care for the palace. 17 The king set out with all the people after him, but they waited at the last house 18 for all his servants to pass by him in review; all the K’reti and P’leti and all the Gittim (600 men who had accompanied him from Gat) passed in review before the king.

19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gitti, “You too? Why are you going with us? Go back, and stay with your king, since you are both a foreigner and in exile from your own place. 20 You arrived only yesterday; should I ask you to wander around with us? There’s no telling where I may go. Return, and take your kinsmen back with you. Grace and truth be with you.” 21 But Ittai answered the king, “As Adonai lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, your servant will be there too.” 22 “Go, move along,” said David to Ittai; and Ittai the Gitti moved on, accompanied by all his men and the little ones with him.

23 The whole country wept and wailed as all the people left. When the king crossed Vadi Kidron, all the people crossed, too, heading toward the desert road. 24 Tzadok also came, accompanied by all the L’vi’im bearing the ark for the covenant of God. They set the ark of God down, but Evyatar went up until all the people had finished leaving the city. 25 The king said to Tzadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in Adonai’s sight, he will bring me back and show me both it and the place where it is kept. 26 But if he says, ‘I am displeased with you,’ then — here I am; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.” 27 The king then said to Tzadok the cohen, “Do you see? Return to the city in peace, your two sons with you — Achima‘atz your own son and Y’honatan the son of Evyatar. 28 I will wait on the desert plains until a message with new information comes from you.” 29 So Tzadok and Evyatar carried the ark of God back to Yerushalayim and stayed there.

30 David continued up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went up, head covered and barefoot; and all the people with him had their heads covered and wept as they went up. 31 One of them told David, “Achitofel is among the conspirators with Avshalom.” David said, “Adonai, please! Turn Achitofel’s advice into foolishness!”

32 When David reached the top of the ascent, where it was customary to worship God, Hushai the Arki came to meet him with his tunic torn and earth on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will become a burden to me. 34 But if you go back to the city and tell Avshalom, ‘King, I will be your servant; just as I was your father’s servant in the past, so I will now be your servant’ — then you will be able to frustrate Achitofel’s advice for me. 35 You have Tzadok and Evyatar the cohanim there with you. So whatever you hear from the king’s house, you tell to Tzadok and Evyatar the cohanim. 36 Their two sons, Achima‘atz the son of Tzadok and Y’honatan the son of Evyatar, are there with them; through them send me everything you hear.” 37 So Hushai David’s friend came into the city when Avshalom was about to enter Yerushalayim.

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