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After this, David consulted Adonai; he asked, “Should I go up into any of the cities of Y’hudah?” Adonai said to him, “Go up.” David asked, “Where should I go up?” He said, “To Hevron.” So David went up there with his two wives Achino‘am from Yizre‘el and Avigayil the widow of Naval from Karmel. David brought the men up with him, each with his household; and they lived in the cities of Hevron.

Then the men of Y’hudah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Y’hudah. They informed David that the men of Yavesh-Gil‘ad were the ones who had buried Sha’ul. So David sent messengers to the men of Yavesh-Gil‘ad with this message: “May you be blessed by Adonai, because you showed this kindness to your lord, Sha’ul, and buried him. Now may Adonai show kindness and truth to you; and I too will show you favor because you have done this. Be strong, and be brave. Sha’ul your lord is dead, but the house of Y’hudah have anointed me king over them.”

Avner the son of Ner, commander of Sha’ul’s army, had taken Ish-Boshet the son of Sha’ul, brought him over to Machanayim, and made him king over Gil‘ad, the Ashuri, Yizre‘el, Efrayim, Binyamin and all Isra’el. 10 Ish-Boshet the son of Sha’ul was forty years old when he began to rule over Isra’el, and he ruled for two years. But the house of Y’hudah followed David. 11 David was king in Hevron over the house of Y’hudah for seven years and six months.

12 Avner the son of Ner and the servants of Ish-Boshet the son of Sha’ul went out from Machanayim to Giv‘on; 13 while Yo’av the son of Tz’ruyah and David’s servants also went out; and they met together by the pool at Giv‘on. One group sat down on one side of the pool and the other on the other side. 14 Avner said to Yo’av, “If it’s all right with you, let’s have the young men get up and fight it out between themselves, while we watch.” Yo’av said, “Yes, let them.” 15 So they got up and paired off, twelve for Binyamin and Ish-Boshet the son of Sha’ul, and twelve of David’s servants. 16 Each one grabbed his partner by the head and drove his sword into his side, so that they fell down together. For this reason that place was named Helkat-Hatzurim [field of blades]; it is in Giv‘on. 17 The battle that day was very fierce; Avner and the men of Isra’el were beaten by David’s servants.

18 The three sons of Tz’ruyah were there, Yo’av, Avishai and ‘Asah’el. ‘Asah’el was as fleet-footed as a gazelle in an open field. 19 ‘Asah’el chased Avner, going straight for him, veering neither right nor left. 20 Avner looked behind him and asked, “Is that you, ‘Asah’el?” “Yes, it is,” he answered. 21 Avner said to him, “Turn off to your right or your left, catch one of the young men and take his armor.” But ‘Asah’el wouldn’t turn aside and kept following him. 22 Avner said again to ‘Asah’el, “Turn aside and stop following me! Why should I kill you? If I did, how could I look your brother Yo’av in the eye?” 23 But he still refused to turn aside; so Avner stabbed him in the groin with the back end of the spear, so that the shaft protruded behind him. He fell down and died on the spot. Everyone who came to the place where ‘Asah’el lay dead stopped there.

24 Yo’av and Avishai continued in pursuit of Avner; the sun went down when they arrived at Amah Hill, across from Giach along the Giv‘on Desert road. 25 The people of Binyamin gathered themselves together into a phalanx behind Avner and stood on top of a hill. 26 Then Avner called out to Yo’av, “Must the sword go on devouring forever? Don’t you know that in the end it can produce only bitterness? How long will it be, then, before you tell the people to quit pursuing their brothers?” 27 Yo’av said, “As God lives, if you hadn’t said something, there is no doubt that the people would have kept following their brothers all night long.” 28 Then Yo’av sounded the shofar, and with that the people halted. They stopped pursuing Isra’el, and they stopped fighting.

29 Avner and his men went through the ‘Aravah all that night; they crossed the Yarden, went through all of Bitron and arrived at Machanayim. 30 Yo’av returned from following Avner. When he brought the troops together for review, nineteen of David’s servants were missing, along with ‘Asah’el. 31 But David’s servants had killed 360 of Avner’s men of Binyamin. 32 They took ‘Asah’el and buried him in his father’s tomb in Beit-Lechem. Then Yo’av and his men marched all night, so that they reached Hevron at daybreak.

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