Ziba Helps David

16 When David had gone a little beyond the summit,[a] Ziba, Mephibosheth’s servant,(A) was right there to meet him. He had a pair of saddled donkeys loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred clusters of raisins, one hundred bunches of summer fruit, and a clay jar of wine. The king said to Ziba, “Why do you have 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 become exhausted in the wilderness.”

“Where is your master’s grandson?” the king asked.

“Why, he’s staying in Jerusalem,” Ziba replied to the king, “for he said, ‘Today, the house of Israel will restore my grandfather’s kingdom to me.’”(B)

The king said to Ziba, “All that belongs to Mephibosheth is now yours!” (C)

“I bow before you,” Ziba said. “May I find favor with you, my lord the king!”

Shimei Curses David

When King David got to Bahurim, a man belonging to the family of the house of Saul was just coming out.(D) His name was Shimei son of Gera,(E) and he was yelling curses as he approached. He threw stones at David and at all the royal[b] servants, the people and the warriors on David’s right and left. Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, you wicked man!(F) The Lord has paid you back for all the blood of the house of Saul in whose place you became king, and the Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. Look, you are in trouble because you’re a man of bloodshed!”

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog(G) curse my lord the king?(H) Let me go over and remove his head!”

10 The king replied, “Sons of Zeruiah, do we agree on anything?(I) He curses(J) me this way because the Lord[c] told him, ‘Curse David!’ (K) Therefore, who can say, ‘Why did you do that?’” 11 Then David said to Abishai and all his servants, “Look, my own son, my own flesh and blood,[d] intends to take my life(L)—how much more now this Benjaminite! Leave him alone and let him curse me; the Lord has told him to. 12 Perhaps the Lord will see my affliction[e] and restore goodness to me instead of Shimei’s curses today.” 13 So David and his men proceeded along the road as Shimei was going along the ridge of the hill opposite him. As Shimei went, he cursed David, threw stones at him, and kicked up dust. 14 Finally, the king and all the people with him arrived[f] exhausted, so they rested there.

Absalom’s Advisers

15 Now Absalom and all the Israelites came to Jerusalem. Ahithophel was also with him. 16 When David’s friend Hushai the Archite came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!” (M)

17 “Is this your loyalty to your friend?” Absalom asked Hushai. “Why didn’t you go with your friend?”

18 “Not at all,” Hushai answered Absalom. “I am on the side of the one that the Lord, this people, and all the men of Israel have chosen. I will stay with him. 19 Furthermore, whom will I serve if not his son? As I served in your father’s presence, I will also serve in yours.”(N)

20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give me your advice. What should we do?”

21 Ahithophel replied to Absalom, “Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to take care of the palace.(O) When all Israel hears that you have become repulsive to your father, everyone with you will be encouraged.”[g] 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.(P)

23 Now the advice Ahithophel gave in those days was like someone asking about a word from God(Q)—such was the regard that both David and Absalom had for Ahithophel’s advice.

17 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will set out in pursuit of David tonight. I will attack him while he is weary and discouraged,[h] throw him into a panic, and all the people with him will scatter. I will strike down only the king(R) and bring all the people back to you. When everyone returns except the man you’re looking for, all[i] the people will be at peace.” This proposal seemed right to Absalom and all the elders of Israel.

Then Absalom said, “Summon Hushai the Archite also. Let’s hear what he has to say as well.”

So Hushai came to Absalom, and Absalom told him, “Ahithophel offered this proposal. Should we carry out his proposal? If not, what do you say?”

Hushai replied to Absalom, “The advice Ahithophel has given this time is not good.” Hushai continued, “You know your father and his men. They are warriors and are desperate like a wild bear robbed of her cubs.(S) Your father is an experienced soldier who won’t spend the night with the people. He’s probably already hiding in one of the caves[j] or some other place. If some of our troops fall[k] first, someone is sure to hear and say, ‘There’s been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’ 10 Then, even a brave man with the heart of a lion(T) will lose heart[l] because all Israel knows that your father and the valiant men with him are warriors. 11 Instead, I advise that all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba—as numerous as the sand by the sea(U)—be gathered to you and that you personally go into battle. 12 Then we will attack David wherever we find him, and we will descend on him like dew on the ground. Not even one will be left—neither he nor any of the men with him. 13 If he retreats to some city, all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag its stones[m] into the valley until not even a pebble can be found there.” 14 Since the Lord had decreed(V) that Ahithophel’s good advice be undermined(W) in order to bring about Absalom’s ruin, Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than Ahithophel’s advice.”

David Informed of Absalom’s Plans

15 Hushai then told the priests Zadok and Abiathar, “This is what[n] Ahithophel advised Absalom and the elders of Israel, and this is what[o] I advised. 16 Now send someone quickly and tell David, ‘Don’t spend the night at the wilderness ford,[p] but be sure to cross over the Jordan,[q](X) or the king and all the people with him will be devoured.’”

17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En-rogel, where a servant girl would come and pass along information to them. They in turn would go and inform King David, because they dared not be seen entering the city. 18 However, a young man did see them and informed Absalom. So the two left quickly and came to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19 Then his wife took the cover, placed it over the mouth of the well, and scattered grain on it so nobody would know anything.

20 Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house and asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”

“They passed by toward the water,”[r] the woman replied to them. The men searched but did not find them, so they returned to Jerusalem.

21 After they had gone, Ahimaaz and Jonathan climbed out of the well and went and informed King David. They told him, “Get up and immediately ford the river, for Ahithophel has given this advice against you.” 22 So David and all the people with him got up and crossed the Jordan. By daybreak, there was no one who had not crossed the Jordan.

23 When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He set his house in order and hanged himself.(Y) So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.

24 David had arrived at Mahanaim by the time Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25 Now Absalom had appointed Amasa(Z) over the army in Joab’s place. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra[s] the Israelite;[t](AA) Ithra had married Abigail daughter of Nahash.[u] Abigail was a sister to Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. 26 And Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead. 27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash(AB) from Rabbah(AC) of the Ammonites, Machir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar,(AD) and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim(AE) 28 brought beds, basins,[v] and pottery items. They also brought wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils,[w] 29 honey, curds, sheep, goats, and cheese[x] from the herd for David and the people with him to eat. They had reasoned, “The people must be hungry, exhausted, and thirsty in the wilderness.”

Absalom’s Defeat

18 David reviewed his troops and appointed commanders of thousands and of hundreds over them. He then sent out the troops, a third under Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai of Gath. The king said to the troops, “I must also march out with you.”

“You must not go!” (AF) the people pleaded. “If we have to flee, they will not pay any attention to us. Even if half of us die, they will not pay any attention to us because you are worth[y] ten thousand of us. Therefore, it is better if you support us from the city.”

“I will do whatever you think is best,” the king replied to them. So he stood beside the city gate while all the troops marched out by hundreds and thousands. The king commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, “Treat the young man Absalom gently for my sake.” All the people heard the king’s orders to all the commanders about Absalom.

Then David’s forces marched into the field to engage Israel in battle, which took place in the forest of Ephraim. Israel’s army was defeated by David’s soldiers, and the slaughter there was vast that day—twenty thousand dead. The battle spread over the entire area, and that day the forest claimed more people than the sword.

Absalom’s Death

Absalom was riding on his mule when he happened to meet David’s soldiers. When the mule went under the tangled branches of a large oak tree, Absalom’s head was caught fast in the tree. The mule under him kept going, so he was suspended in midair.[z] 10 One of the men saw him and informed Joab. He said, “I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree!”

11 “You just saw him!” Joab exclaimed.[aa] “Why didn’t you strike him to the ground right there? I would have given you ten silver pieces[ab] and a belt!”

12 The man replied to Joab, “Even if I had the weight of a thousand pieces of silver[ac] in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son. For we heard the king command you, Abishai, and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for me.’[ad](AG) 13 If I had jeopardized my own[ae] life—and nothing is hidden from the king—you would have abandoned me.”

14 Joab said, “I’m not going to waste time with you!” He then took three spears[af] in his hand and thrust them into Absalom’s chest. While Absalom was still alive in the oak tree, 15 ten young men who were Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him, and killed him. 16 Joab blew the ram’s horn, and the troops broke off their pursuit of Israel because Joab restrained them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a large pit in the forest, and raised up a huge mound of stones over him.(AH) And all Israel fled, each to his tent.(AI)

18 When he was alive, Absalom had taken a pillar and raised it up(AJ) for himself in the King’s Valley,(AK) since he thought, “I have no son(AL) to preserve the memory of my name.” So he named the pillar after himself. It is still called Absalom’s Monument today.

19 Ahimaaz son of Zadok(AM) said, “Please let me run and tell the king the good news that the Lord has vindicated him by freeing him from his enemies.”

20 Joab replied to him, “You are not the man to take good news today. You may do it another day, but today you aren’t taking good news, because the king’s son is dead.” 21 Joab then said to a Cushite, “Go tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed to Joab and took off running.

22 However, Ahimaaz son of Zadok persisted and said to Joab, “No matter what, please let me also run behind the Cushite!”

Joab replied, “My son, why do you want to run since you won’t get a reward?” [ag]

23 “No matter what, I want to run!”

“Then run!” Joab said to him. So Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and outran the Cushite.

24 David was sitting between the city gates(AN) when the watchman went up to the roof of the city gate and over to the wall.(AO) The watchman looked out and saw a man running alone. 25 He called out and told the king.

The king said, “If he’s alone, he bears good news.”

As the first runner came closer, 26 the watchman saw another man running. He called out to the gatekeeper, “Look! Another man is running alone!”

“This one is also bringing good news,” said the king.

27 The watchman said, “The way the first man runs looks to me like the way Ahimaaz son of Zadok runs.”(AP)

“This is a good man; he comes with good news,”(AQ) the king commented.

28 Ahimaaz called out to the king, “All is well,” and paid homage to the king with his face to the ground. He continued, “Blessed be the Lord your God! He delivered up the men who rebelled against my lord the king.”

29 The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom all right?”

Ahimaaz replied, “When Joab sent the king’s servant and your servant, I saw a big disturbance, but I don’t know what it was.”

30 The king said, “Move aside and stand here.” So he stood to one side.

31 Just then the Cushite came and said, “May my lord the king hear the good news: The Lord has vindicated you today by freeing you from all who rise against you!”

32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom all right?”

The Cushite replied, “I wish that the enemies of my lord the king, along with all who rise up against you with evil intent, would become like that young man.”(AR)

33 The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber above the city gate and wept. As he walked, he cried, “My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!” (AS)

Footnotes

  1. 16:1 = Mount of Olives
  2. 16:6 Lit all King David’s
  3. 16:10 Alt Hb tradition reads If he curses, and if the Lord
  4. 16:11 Lit son who came from my belly
  5. 16:12 Some Hb mss, LXX, Syr, Vg; one Hb tradition reads iniquity; alt Hb tradition reads eyes; another Hb tradition reads will look with his eye
  6. 16:14 LXX adds at the Jordan
  7. 16:21 Lit father, the hands of everyone with you will be strong
  8. 17:2 Lit and weak of hands
  9. 17:3 LXX reads to you as a bride returns to her husband. You seek the life of only one man, and all
  10. 17:9 Or pits, or ravines
  11. 17:9 Lit And it will be when a falling on them at
  12. 17:10 Lit melt
  13. 17:13 Lit drag it
  14. 17:15 Lit “Like this and like this
  15. 17:15 Lit and like this and like this
  16. 17:16 Some Hb mss; MT reads plains
  17. 17:16 the Jordan supplied for clarity
  18. 17:20 Or brook; Hb obscure
  19. 17:25 Or Jether
  20. 17:25 Some LXX mss read Ishmaelite
  21. 17:25 Some LXX mss read Jesse
  22. 17:28 LXX reads brought 10 embroidered beds with double coverings, 10 vessels
  23. 17:28 LXX, Syr; MT adds roasted grain
  24. 17:29 Hb obscure
  25. 18:3 Some Hb mss, LXX, Vg; other Hb mss read because there would now be about
  26. 18:9 Lit was between heaven and earth
  27. 18:11 Lit Joab said to the man who told him
  28. 18:11 About four ounces of silver
  29. 18:12 About 25 pounds of silver
  30. 18:12 Some Hb mss, LXX, Tg, Vg; other Hb mss read ‘Protect, whoever, the young man Absalom’; Hb obscure
  31. 18:13 Alt Hb tradition reads jeopardized his
  32. 18:14 Lit rods
  33. 18:22 Or you have no good news?

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