Joab Kills Abner

Now there was a long (A)war between the house of Saul and the house of David. But David grew stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.

Sons of David

Sons were born (B)to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon (C)by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; his second, [a]Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, (D)Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king (E)of Geshur; the fourth, (F)Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.

Abner Joins Forces with David

Now it was so, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner was strengthening his hold on the house of Saul.

And Saul had a concubine, whose name was (G)Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. So Ishbosheth said to Abner, “Why have you (H)gone in to my father’s concubine?”

Then Abner became very angry at the words of Ishbosheth, and said, “Am I (I)a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show loyalty to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hand of David; and you charge me today with a fault concerning this woman? (J)May God do so to Abner, and more also, if I do not do for David (K)as the Lord has sworn to him— 10 to transfer the kingdom from the [b]house of Saul, and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, (L)from Dan to Beersheba.” 11 And he could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.

12 Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to David, saying, “Whose is the land?” saying also, “Make your covenant with me, and indeed my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel to you.”

13 And David said, “Good, I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you: (M)you shall not see my face unless you first bring (N)Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see my face.” 14 So David sent messengers to (O)Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself (P)for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” 15 And Ishbosheth sent and took her from her husband, from [c]Paltiel the son of Laish. 16 Then her husband went along with her to (Q)Bahurim, [d]weeping behind her. So Abner said to him, “Go, return!” And he returned.

17 Now Abner had communicated with the elders of Israel, saying, “In time past you were seeking for David to be king over you. 18 Now then, do it! (R)For the Lord has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David, [e]I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and the hand of all their enemies.’ ” 19 And Abner also spoke in the hearing of (S)Benjamin. Then Abner also went to speak in the hearing of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel and the whole house of Benjamin.

20 So Abner and twenty men with him came to David at Hebron. And David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 Then Abner said to David, “I will arise and go, and (T)gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may (U)reign over all that your heart desires.” So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

Joab Murders Abner

22 At that moment the servants of David and Joab came from a raid and brought much [f]spoil with them. But Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23 When Joab and all the troops that were with him had come, they told Joab, saying, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he sent him away, and he has gone in peace.” 24 Then Joab came to the king and said, “What have you done? Look, Abner came to you; why is it that you sent him away, and he has already gone? 25 Surely you realize that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you, to know (V)your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing.”

26 And when Joab had gone from David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, who brought him back from the well of Sirah. But David did not know it. 27 Now when Abner had returned to Hebron, Joab (W)took him aside in the gate to speak with him privately, and there [g]stabbed him (X)in the stomach, so that he died for the blood of (Y)Asahel his brother.

28 Afterward, when David heard it, he said, “My kingdom and I are [h]guiltless before the Lord forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner. 29 (Z)Let it rest on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house; and let there never fail to be in the [i]house of Joab one (AA)who has a discharge or is a leper, who leans on a staff or falls by the sword, or who lacks bread.” 30 So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had killed their brother (AB)Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.

David’s Mourning for Abner

31 Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, (AC)“Tear your clothes, (AD)gird yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn for Abner.” And King David followed the coffin. 32 So they buried Abner in Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. 33 And the king sang a lament over Abner and said:

“Should Abner die as a (AE)fool dies?
34 Your hands were not bound
Nor your feet put into fetters;
As a man falls before wicked men, so you fell.”

Then all the people wept over him again.

35 And when all the people came (AF)to persuade David to eat food while it was still day, David took an oath, saying, (AG)“God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else (AH)till the sun goes down!” 36 Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, since whatever the king did pleased all the people. 37 For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king’s intent to kill Abner the son of Ner. 38 Then the king said to his servants, “Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39 And I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, (AI)are too harsh for me. (AJ)The Lord shall repay the evildoer according to his wickedness.”

Ishbosheth Is Murdered

When Saul’s [j]son heard that Abner had died in Hebron, (AK)he[k] lost heart, and all Israel was (AL)troubled. Now Saul’s son had two men who were captains of troops. The name of one was Baanah and the name of the other Rechab, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, of the children of Benjamin. (For (AM)Beeroth also was [l]part of Benjamin, because the Beerothites fled to (AN)Gittaim and have been sojourners there until this day.)

(AO)Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came (AP)from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was (AQ)Mephibosheth.[m]

Then the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, set out and came at about the heat of the day to the (AR)house of Ishbosheth, who was lying on his bed at noon. And they came there, all the way into the house, as though to get wheat, and they [n]stabbed him (AS)in the stomach. Then Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped. For when they came into the house, he was lying on his bed in his bedroom; then they struck him and killed him, beheaded him and took his head, and were all night escaping through the plain. And they brought the head of Ishbosheth to David at Hebron, and said to the king, “Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of Saul your enemy, (AT)who sought your life; and the Lord has avenged my lord the king this day of Saul and his descendants.”

But David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said to them, “As the Lord lives, (AU)who has redeemed my life from all adversity, 10 when (AV)someone told me, saying, ‘Look, Saul is dead,’ thinking to have brought good news, I arrested him and had him executed in Ziklag—the one who thought I would give him a reward for his news. 11 How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous person in his own house on his bed? Therefore, shall I not now (AW)require his [o]blood at your hand and [p]remove you from the earth?” 12 So David (AX)commanded his young men, and they executed them, cut off their hands and feet, and hanged them by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth and buried it in the (AY)tomb of Abner in Hebron.


  1. 2 Samuel 3:3 Daniel, 1 Chr. 3:1
  2. 2 Samuel 3:10 family
  3. 2 Samuel 3:15 Palti, 1 Sam. 25:44
  4. 2 Samuel 3:16 Lit. going and weeping
  5. 2 Samuel 3:18 So with many Heb. mss., LXX, Syr., Tg.; MT he
  6. 2 Samuel 3:22 booty
  7. 2 Samuel 3:27 Lit. struck
  8. 2 Samuel 3:28 innocent
  9. 2 Samuel 3:29 family
  10. 2 Samuel 4:1 Ishbosheth
  11. 2 Samuel 4:1 Lit. his hands dropped
  12. 2 Samuel 4:2 considered part of
  13. 2 Samuel 4:4 Merib-Baal, 1 Chr. 8:34; 9:40
  14. 2 Samuel 4:6 Lit. struck
  15. 2 Samuel 4:11 Or bloodshed
  16. 2 Samuel 4:11 Lit. consume you

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