2 Samuel 10-14 Common English Bible (CEB)
War with the Ammonites and Arameans
10 Some time later, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. 2 David said, “I’ll be loyal to Nahash’s son Hanun, just as his father was loyal to me.” So David sent his servants with condolences concerning Hanun’s father.
But when David’s servants arrived in Ammonite territory, 3 the Ammonite officials asked their master Hanun, “Do you really believe David is honoring your father because he has sent you condolences? Of course not! David has sent his servants to you to search the city, spy it out, and overthrow it.” 4 So Hanun seized David’s servants and shaved off their beards,[a] cut off half their garments, from their buttocks down, and sent them off.
5 When this was reported to David, he sent men to meet them because they were completely ashamed. The king said, “Stay in Jericho until your beards have grown. Then you can come back.”
6 When the Ammonites realized that they had offended David, they sent for and hired the Arameans of Beth-rehob and the Arameans of Zobah, totaling twenty thousand foot soldiers; the king of Maacah with one thousand soldiers; and twelve thousand soldiers from Tob. 7 When David heard this, he sent Joab with the entire army of warriors. 8 The Ammonites marched out and formed a battle line at the entrance to the city. The Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the soldiers from Tob and Maacah remained in the countryside.
9 When Joab saw that the battle would be fought on two fronts, he chose some of Israel’s finest warriors and deployed them to meet the Arameans. 10 The rest of the army Joab placed under the command of his brother Abishai. When they took up their positions to meet the Ammonites, Joab said, 11 “If the Arameans prove too strong for me, you must help me, and if the Ammonites prove too strong for you, I’ll help you. 12 Be brave! We must be courageous for the sake of our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his eyes.”
13 When Joab and the troops who were with him advanced into battle against the Arameans, they fled from him. 14 When the Ammonites saw that the Arameans had fled, they also fled from Abishai and retreated to the city. Then Joab returned from fighting the Ammonites and went to Jerusalem.
15 The Arameans saw that they had been defeated by Israel, so they regrouped. 16 Hadadezer sent for Arameans from beyond the Euphrates River. They came to Helam with Shobach leading them as commander of Hadadezer’s army. 17 When this was reported to David he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan, and went to Helam. The Arameans formed battle lines against David and fought with him. 18 But the Arameans fled before Israel, and David destroyed seven hundred of their chariots and forty thousand horsemen. David wounded their army commander Shobach, and he died there. 19 When all the kings who served Hadadezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and became their subjects. Never again would the Arameans come to the aid of the Ammonites.
David and Bathsheba
11 In the spring,[b] when kings[c] go off to war, David sent Joab, along with his servants and all the Israelites, and they destroyed the Ammonites, attacking the city of Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
2 One evening, David got up from his couch and was pacing back and forth on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. 3 David sent someone and inquired about the woman. The report came back: “Isn’t this Eliam’s daughter Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers to get her. When she came to him, he had sex with her. (Now she had been purifying herself after her monthly period.) Then she returned home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David.
“I’m pregnant,” she said.
6 Then David sent a message to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked about the welfare of Joab and the army and how the battle was going. 8 Then David told Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.”
Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 However, Uriah slept at the palace entrance with all his master’s servants. He didn’t go down to his own house. 10 David was told, “Uriah didn’t go down to his own house,” so David asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just returned from a journey? Why didn’t you go home?”
11 “The chest and Israel and Judah are all living in tents,” Uriah told David. “And my master Joab and my master’s troops are camping in the open field. How[d] could I go home and eat, drink, and have sex with my wife? I swear on your very life,[e] I will not do that!”
12 Then David told Uriah, “Stay here one more day. Tomorrow I’ll send you back.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day. The next day 13 David called for him, and he ate and drank, and David got him drunk. In the evening Uriah went out to sleep in the same place, alongside his master’s servants, but he did not go down to his own home.
14 The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 He wrote in the letter, “Place Uriah at the front of the fiercest battle, and then pull back from him so that he will be struck down and die.”
16 So as Joab was attacking the city, he put Uriah in the place where he knew there were strong warriors. 17 When the city’s soldiers came out and attacked Joab, some of the people from David’s army fell. Uriah the Hittite was also killed. 18 Joab sent a complete report of the battle to David.
19 “When you have finished reporting all the news of the battle to the king,” Joab instructed the messenger, 20 “if the king gets angry and asks you, ‘Why did you go so close to the city to fight? didn’t you know they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who killed Jerubbaal’s son Abimelech?[f] didn’t a woman throw an upper millstone on top of him from the wall so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go so close to the wall?’ then say: ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead too.’”
22 So the messenger set off, and when he arrived he reported to David everything Joab sent him to say.
23 “The men overpowered us,” the messenger told David. “They came out against us in the open field, but we fought against them[g] up to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Archers shot down on your servants from the wall. Some of the king’s servants died. And your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead too.”
25 David said to the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t be upset about this because the sword is that way: taking the life of this person or that person. Continue attacking the city and destroy it!’ Encourage Joab!”
26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband Uriah was dead, she mourned for her husband. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her back to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son.
But what David had done was evil in the Lord’s eyes.
Nathan pronounces God’s judgment
12 So the Lord sent Nathan to David. When Nathan arrived he said, “There were two men in the same city, one rich, one poor. 2 The rich man had a lot of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing—just one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised that lamb, and it grew up with him and his children. It would eat from his food and drink from his cup—even sleep in his arms! It was like a daughter to him.
4 “Now a traveler came to visit the rich man, but he wasn’t willing to take anything from his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had arrived. Instead, he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the visitor.”
5 David got very angry at the man, and he said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the one who did this is demonic![h] 6 He must restore the ewe lamb seven times over[i] because he did this and because he had no compassion.”
7 “You are that man!” Nathan told David. “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: I anointed you king over Israel and delivered you from Saul’s power. 8 I gave your master’s house[j] to you, and gave his wives into your embrace. I gave you the house[k] of Israel and Judah. If that was too little, I would have given even more. 9 Why have you despised the Lord’s word by doing what is evil in his eyes? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and taken his wife as your own. You used the Ammonites to kill him. 10 Because of that, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own, the sword will never leave your own house.
11 “This is what the Lord says: I am making trouble come against you from inside your own family. Before your very eyes I will take your wives away and give them to your friend, and he will have sex with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did what you did secretly, but I will do what I am doing before all Israel in the light of day.”
13 “I’ve sinned against the Lord!” David said to Nathan.
“The Lord has removed your sin,” Nathan replied to David. “You won’t die. 14 However, because you have utterly disrespected the Lord[l] by doing this, the son born to you will definitely die.” 15 Then Nathan went home.
Bathsheba’s child dies
The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne for David, and he became very sick. 16 David begged God for the boy. He fasted and spent the night sleeping on the ground. 17 The senior servants of his house approached[m] him to lift him up off the ground, but he refused, and he wouldn’t eat with them either.
18 On the seventh day, the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the child had died. “David wouldn’t listen to us when we talked to him while the child was still alive,” they said. “How can we tell him the child has died? He’ll do something terrible!”
19 But when David saw his servants whispering, he realized the child had died.
“Is the child dead?” David asked his servants.
“Yes,” they said, “he is dead.”
20 Then David rose from the ground, bathed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He entered the Lord’s house and bowed down. Then he entered his own house. He requested food, which was brought to him, and he ate.
21 “Why are you acting this way?” his servants asked. “When the child was alive, you fasted and cried and kept watch,[n] but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat food!”
22 David replied, “While the child was alive I fasted and wept because I thought, Who knows? The Lord may have mercy on me and let the child live. 23 But he is dead now. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? No. I am going where he is, but he won’t come back to me.”
24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba. He went to her and had sex with her. She gave birth to a son and named him Solomon.[o] The Lord loved him 25 and sent word by the prophet Nathan to name him Jedidiah[p] because of the Lord’s grace.[q]
Defeat of the Ammonites
26 Meanwhile, Joab fought the Ammonites at Rabbah and captured the royal city. 27 Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, “I have fought against Rabbah and captured the city’s water supply.[r] 28 So gather the rest of the troops, attack the city, and capture it. Otherwise, I will capture the city myself, and it will be named after me.”
29 So David gathered all the troops, marched to Rabbah, fought against it, and captured it. 30 David took Milcom’s[s] crown off his head. It weighed one kikkar of gold and was set with a valuable stone. It was placed on David’s head. The amount of loot David took from the city was huge. 31 He brought out the people who were in the city and put them to work making bricks. David demolished the city with saws, iron picks, and axes;[t] he did this to all the Ammonite cities. Then David and all the troops returned to Jerusalem.
Amnon rapes Tamar
13 Some time later, David’s son Amnon fell in love with Tamar the beautiful sister of Absalom, who was also David’s son. 2 Amnon was so upset over his half sister that he made himself sick. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible in Amnon’s view to do anything to her. 3 But Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, Shimeah’s son, David’s brother, who was a very clever man.
4 “Prince,” Jonadab said to him, “why are you so down, morning after morning? Tell me about it.”
So Amnon told him, “I’m in love with Tamar, the sister of my brother Absalom.”
5 “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be sick,” Jonadab said to him. “When your father comes to see you, tell him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me some food to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I can watch and eat from her own hand.’”
6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. The king came to see him, and Amnon told the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of heart-shaped cakes in front of me so I can eat from her hand.”
7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Please go to your brother Amnon’s house and prepare some food for him.”
8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house where he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made heart-shaped cakes in front of him, and then cooked them. 9 She took the pan and served Amnon, but he refused to eat.
“Everyone leave me,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom so I can eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the heart-shaped cakes she had made and brought them to her brother Amnon in the bedroom. 11 When she served him the food, he grabbed her and said, “Come have sex with me, my sister.”
12 But she said to him, “No, my brother! Don’t rape me. Such a thing shouldn’t be done in Israel. Don’t do this horrible thing. 13 Think about me—where could I hide my shame? And you—you would become like some fool in Israel! Please, just talk to the king! He won’t keep me from marrying you.”
14 But Amnon refused to listen to her. He was stronger than she was, and so he raped her.
15 But then Amnon felt intense hatred for her. In fact, his hatred for her was greater than the love he had felt for her. So Amnon told her, “Get out of here!”
16 “No, my brother!”[u] she said. “Sending me away would be worse than the wrong you’ve already done.”
But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her. 17 He summoned his young servant and said, “Get this woman out of my presence and lock the door after her.” (18 She was wearing a long-sleeved robe because that was what the virgin princesses wore as garments.)[v] So Amnon’s servant put her out and locked the door after her.
19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long-sleeved robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and walked away, crying as she went.
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has your brother Amnon been with you? Keep quiet about it for now, sister; he’s your brother. Don’t let it bother you.” So Tamar, a broken woman, lived in her brother Absalom’s house.
21 When King David heard about all this he got very angry, but he refused to punish his son Amnon because he loved him as his oldest child.[w] 22 Absalom never spoke to Amnon, good word or bad, because he hated him for raping his sister Tamar.
Absalom kills Amnon
23 Two years later, Absalom was shearing sheep at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, and he invited all the king’s sons. 24 Absalom approached the king and said, “Your servant is shearing sheep. Would the king and his advisors please join me?”
25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son. We shouldn’t all go, or we would be a burden on you.” Although Absalom urged him, the king wasn’t willing to go, although he gave Absalom a blessing.
26 Then Absalom said, “If you won’t come, then let my brother Amnon go with us.”
“Why should he go with you?” they asked him. 27 But Absalom urged him until he sent Amnon and all the other princes. Then Absalom made a banquet fit for a king.[x]
28 Absalom commanded his servants, “Be on the lookout! When Amnon is happy with wine and I tell you to strike Amnon down, then kill him! Don’t be afraid, because I myself am giving you the order. Be brave and strong men.” 29 So Absalom’s servants did to Amnon just what he had commanded. Then all the princes got up, jumped onto their mules, and fled.
30 While they were on the way, the report came to David: “Absalom has killed all of the princes! Not one remains.” 31 The king got up, tore his garments, and lay on the ground. All his servants stood near him, their garments torn as well. 32 But Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, said, “My master shouldn’t think that all the young princes have been killed—only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s plan ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 So don’t let this bother you, my master; don’t think that all the princes are dead, because only Amnon is dead, 34 and Absalom has fled.” Just then the young man on watch looked up and saw many people coming on the road behind him alongside the mountain. 35 Jonadab told the king, “Look, the princes are coming, just as I, your servant, said they would.”
36 When Jonadab finished speaking, the princes arrived. They broke into loud crying, and the king and his servants cried hard as well.
37 Meanwhile, Absalom had fled and gone to Geshur’s King Talmai, Ammihud’s son. David mourned for his son a long time. 38 But Absalom, after fleeing to Geshur, stayed there for three years. 39 Then the king’s desire to go out after Absalom faded away because he had gotten over Amnon’s death.[y]
Absalom is restored
14 Now Joab, Zeruiah’s son, could see that the king’s mind was on Absalom. 2 So Joab sent someone to Tekoa and brought a wise woman from there. He said to her, “Pretend to be in mourning. Dress in mourning clothes. Don’t anoint yourself with oil. Act like a woman who has spent a long time mourning over someone who has died. 3 Go to the king and speak to him as follows.” Then Joab told her what to say.
4 When the woman from Tekoa came to the king, she fell facedown, bowing low out of respect. “King, help me!” she said.
5 “What is wrong?” the king asked her.
“It’s terrible!” she said. “I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6 Your servant had two sons, but the two of them fought in the field. No one could separate them, and one struck the other and killed him. 7 Now the entire clan has turned against your servant. They say, ‘Hand over the one who killed his brother so we can execute him for murdering his brother, even though we would destroy the heir as well.’ So they would snuff out the one ember I have left, leaving my husband without name or descendant on the earth.”
8 The king said to the woman, “Return home, and I will issue an order in your behalf.”
9 The woman of Tekoa said to the king, “My master and king, let the guilt be on me and on my father’s household. The king and his throne are innocent.”
10 “If anyone speaks against you, bring him to me, and he will never trouble you again,” the king replied.
11 She said, “Please let the king remember the Lord your God so that the one seeking revenge doesn’t add to the destruction and doesn’t kill my son.”
“As surely as the Lord lives,” David said, “not one of your son’s hairs will fall to the ground.”
12 Then the woman said, “May your female servant say something to my master the king?”
“Speak!” he said.
13 The woman said, “Why have you planned the very same thing against God’s people? In giving this order, the king has become guilty because the king hasn’t restored his own banished son. 14 We all have to die—we’re like water spilled out on the ground that can’t be gathered up again. But God doesn’t take life away; instead, he makes plans so those banished from him don’t stay that way.[z]
15 [aa]“I have come to my master the king to talk about this because people have made me afraid. Your servant thought, I must speak with the king. Maybe the king will act on the request of his servant, 16 because the king will agree to deliver his servant from the power of anyone who would destroy both me and my son from the inheritance God gave. 17 Your servant thought, The word of my master the king will definitely comfort me, because my master the king is like one of God’s messengers, understanding good and evil. May the Lord your God be with you!”
18 [ab] The king answered the woman, “I must ask you something—don’t hide anything from me!”
The woman said, “Please, my master and king, speak.”
19 So the king said, “Has Joab put you up to this?”
The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my master and king, no one can deviate a bit from whatever my master and king says. Yes, it was your servant Joab who directed me, and it was Joab who told your female servant to say all these things. 20 Your servant Joab did this to change the way things look.[ac] But my master’s wisdom is like the wisdom of one of God’s own messengers—he knows everything that takes place in the land.”
21 So the king said to Joab, “All right then. I will do it. Go and bring back my boy Absalom.”
22 Joab fell facedown, bowing low out of respect, and he blessed the king.
“Today your servant knows that you think well of me, my master and king,” Joab said, “because the king has followed up on his servant’s recommendation.”
23 So Joab got up, went to Geshur, and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem.
24 The king said, “He must go straight to his own house. He must not see my face.” So Absalom went straight to his own house and did not see the king.
25 No man throughout Israel was as praised for his good looks as Absalom. From the soles of his feet to the crown of his head there was nothing wrong with him. 26 When he shaved his head—he had to shave his head at the end of each year because his hair was so heavy that he had to shave it—the weight of the hair from his head was two hundred shekels by the royal weight. 27 Absalom had three sons and one daughter. The daughter’s name was Tamar. She was a beautiful woman.
28 Absalom lived in Jerusalem two years without ever seeing the king’s face. 29 Absalom called for Joab in order to send Joab to the king, but Joab refused to come. Absalom called for Joab a second time, but he still wouldn’t come. 30 So Absalom said to his servants, “Look, Joab’s property is next to mine. He has barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the property on fire. Then Joab’s servants went to Joab with their clothes torn. “Absalom’s servants set the property on fire,” they said.[ad]
31 So Joab went straight to Absalom’s house and said to him, “Why have your servants set my property on fire?”
32 Absalom answered Joab, “Look, I sent you a message: Come here so I can send you to the king to ask, ‘Why have I returned from Geshur? I would be better off if I were still there!’ Please let me see the king’s face. If I’m guilty, then the king can kill me.”
33 Joab went to the king and reported this to him. Then the king called for Absalom, and Absalom came to the king. He bowed low out of respect, nose to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Absalom.