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Absalom Usurps the Throne

15 After this Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses and fifty men to run ahead of him.(A) Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the road into the gate, and when anyone brought a suit before the king for judgment, Absalom would call out and say, “From what city are you?” When the person said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,”(B) Absalom would say, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no one deputed by the king to hear you.” Absalom would also say, “If only I were judge in the land! Then all who had a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give them justice.”(C) Whenever people came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of them and kiss them. Thus Absalom did to every Israelite who came to the king for judgment, so Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.(D)

At the end of four[a] years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go to Hebron and pay the vow that I have made to the Lord.(E) For your servant made a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram: If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord in Hebron.”[b](F) The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he got up and went to Hebron. 10 But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then shout: Absalom has become king at Hebron!” 11 Two hundred men from Jerusalem went with Absalom; they were invited guests, and they went in innocence, knowing nothing of the matter.(G) 12 While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for[c] Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. The conspiracy grew in strength, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.(H)

David Flees from Jerusalem

13 A messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the Israelites have gone after Absalom.”(I) 14 Then David said to all his officials who were with him at Jerusalem, “Get up! Let us flee, or there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Hurry, or he will soon overtake us, and bring disaster down upon us, and attack the city with the edge of the sword.”(J) 15 The king’s officials said to the king, “Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king decides.” 16 So the king left, followed by all his household, except ten concubines whom he left behind to look after the house.(K) 17 The king left, followed by all the people, and they stopped at the last house. 18 All his officials passed by him, and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath passed on before the king.(L)

19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why are you also coming with us? Go back, and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home.(M) 20 You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us while I go wherever I can? Go back, and take your kinsfolk with you, and may the Lord show[d] steadfast love and faithfulness to you.”(N) 21 But Ittai answered the king, “As the Lord lives and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.”(O) 22 David said to Ittai, “Go then, march on.” So Ittai the Gittite marched on, with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23 The whole country wept aloud as all the people passed by; the king crossed the Wadi Kidron, and all the people moved on toward the wilderness.

24 Abiathar came up, and Zadok also, with all the Levites, carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God until the people had all passed out of the city.(P) 25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and the place where it stays.(Q) 26 But if he says, ‘I take no pleasure in you,’ here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.”(R) 27 The king also said to the priest Zadok, “Look,[e] go back to the city in peace, you and Abiathar,[f] with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son and Jonathan son of Abiathar.(S) 28 See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.”(T) 29 So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.

30 But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot, and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went.(U) 31 David was told that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, “O Lord, I pray you, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”(V)

Hushai Becomes David’s Spy

32 When David came to the summit, where God was worshiped, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and earth on his head.(W) 33 David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me.(X) 34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel.(Y) 35 The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you there. So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to the priests Zadok and Abiathar.(Z) 36 Their two sons are with them there, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan, and by them you shall report to me everything you hear.”(AA) 37 So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.(AB)

David’s Adversaries

16 When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him with a couple of donkeys saddled, carrying two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred bunches of raisins, one hundred of summer fruits, and one skin of wine.(AC) The king said to Ziba, “Why have you brought these?” Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride, the bread and summer fruit are for the young men to eat, and the wine is for those to drink who faint in the wilderness.”(AD) The king said, “And where is your master’s son?” Ziba said to the king, “He remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back my grandfather’s kingdom.’ ”(AE) Then the king said to Ziba, “All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” Ziba said, “I do obeisance; let me find favor in your sight, my lord the king.”

Shimei Curses David

When King David came to Bahurim, a man of the family of the house of Saul came out whose name was Shimei son of Gera; he came out cursing.(AF) He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; now all the people and all the warriors were on his right and on his left. Shimei shouted while he cursed, “Out! Out! Murderer! Scoundrel!(AG) The Lord has avenged on all of you the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, disaster has overtaken you, for you are a man of blood.”(AH)

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.”(AI) 10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ ”(AJ) 11 David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has bidden him.(AK) 12 It may be that the Lord will look on my distress,[g] and the Lord will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.”(AL) 13 So David and his men went on the road while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, throwing stones and flinging dust at him. 14 The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary at the Jordan,[h] and there he refreshed himself.

The Counsel of Ahithophel

15 Now Absalom and all the Israelites[i] came to Jerusalem; Ahithophel was with him.(AM) 16 When Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”(AN) 17 Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?”(AO) 18 Hushai said to Absalom, “No, but the one whom the Lord and this people and all the Israelites have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain. 19 Moreover, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? Just as I have served your father, so I will serve you.”(AP)

20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give us your counsel; what shall we do?” 21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, the ones he has left to look after the house, and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.”(AQ) 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom upon the roof, and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.(AR) 23 Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the oracle[j] of God, so all the counsel of Ahithophel was esteemed both by David and by Absalom.(AS)


  1. 15.7 Gk Syr: Heb forty
  2. 15.8 Gk mss: Heb lacks in Hebron
  3. 15.12 Or he sent
  4. 15.20 Cn Compare Gk: Heb lacks may the Lord show
  5. 15.27 Gk: Heb Are you a seer or Do you see?
  6. 15.27 Cn: Heb lacks and Abiathar
  7. 16.12 Gk Vg: Heb iniquity
  8. 16.14 Gk ms: Heb lacks at the Jordan
  9. 16.15 Gk: Heb all the people, the men of Israel
  10. 16.23 Heb word