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Ziba, a False Servant

16 When David was a little past the summit [of the Mount of Olives], behold, Ziba, the servant of [a]Mephibosheth, met him with a team of saddled donkeys, and on them were two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred clusters of raisins, a hundred summer fruits, and a [b]jug of wine. The king said to Ziba, “Why do you have these?” Ziba said, “The donkeys are for the king’s household (family) to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine is for anyone to drink who becomes weary in the wilderness.” Then the king said, “And where is your [c]master’s son [Mephibosheth]?” Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my [d]father.’” Then the king said to Ziba, “[e]Behold, everything that belonged to Mephibosheth is [now] yours.” Ziba said, “I bow down [in honor and gratitude]; let me find favor in your sight, O my lord the king.”

David Is Cursed

When King David came to Bahurim, a man named Shimei, the son of Gera, came out from there. He was of the family of Saul’s household and he was cursing continually as he came out. He threw stones at David and at all the [f]servants of King David; yet all the people and all the warriors remained on his right and on his left. This is what Shimei said as he cursed: “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, you worthless and useless man! The Lord has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hands of Absalom your son. And behold, you are caught in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!”

Then Abishai [David’s nephew], the son of Zeruiah, said to the king, “Why should this dead dog (despicable person) curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” 10 But the king said, “[g]What business is this of yours, O sons of Zeruiah? If Shimei is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ then who should say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Look, my son [Absalom] who came from my own body, is seeking my life; how much more [reason] now [does] this Benjamite [have to curse me]? Let him alone and let him curse, for [it could be that] the Lord has told him [to do it]. 12 Perhaps the Lord will look on the wrong done to me [by Shimei, if he is acting on his own]; and [in that case perhaps] the Lord will this day return good to me in place of his cursing.” 13 So David and his men went on the road; and Shimei went along on the hillside close beside David and cursed as he went and threw stones and dust at him. 14 The king and all the people who were with him arrived [at the Jordan River] weary, and he refreshed himself there.

Absalom Enters Jerusalem

15 Then Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, entered Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. 16 Now it happened when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to him, “Long live the king! Long live the king!” 17 Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?” 18 Hushai said to Absalom, “No! For whomever the Lord and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen [as king], I will be his, and I will remain with him. 19 Besides, whom should I serve? Should I not serve in the presence of David’s son? As I have served in your father’s presence, so I shall serve in your presence.”

20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give me your advice. What should we do?” 21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s [h]concubines, whom he has left behind to take care of the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened [by your boldness and audacity].” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof [of the king’s palace], and [i]Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.(A) 23 The advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if a man had consulted the word of God; that is how all Ahithophel’s counsel was regarded by both David and Absalom.

Hushai’s Counsel

17 Then, Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Please let me choose 12,000 men, and I will set out and pursue David tonight. I will [j]strike while he is weary and [k]exhausted, and terrify him; and all the people with him will flee [in terror]. Then I will attack the king alone, and I will bring all the people [who follow David] back to you. [l]The return of everyone depends on the [death of the] man you are seeking; then all the people will be at peace [and accept you as king].” So the plan [m]pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.

Nevertheless, Absalom said, “Now call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he has to say.” When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, “Ahithophel has advised this [plan of action]. Should we do what he says? If not, you speak [and explain why not].” So Hushai said to Absalom, “Ahithophel has not given good advice this time.” And Hushai said, “You know your father and his men, that they are brave men, and they are [n]enraged and fierce, like a bear deprived of her cubs in the field. Your father is a [shrewd] man of war, and will not spend the night with the people [knowing that you seek his life]. Behold, he has hidden himself [even] now in one of the ravines or in another place; and when some of [o]your troops fall at the first attack, whoever hears about it will say, ‘There has been a defeat among the people who follow Absalom.’ 10 And even the one who is brave, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will completely lose heart and melt away; for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and that those who are with him are brave men. 11 But I advise that all [the men of] Israel be summoned to you, from Dan [in the north] to Beersheba [in the south], like the sand that is by the sea in abundance, and that you personally go into battle. 12 So shall we come upon David in one of the places where he can be found, and we will fall on him as the dew falls [unseen and unheard] on the ground; and of him and of all the men who are with him, not even one will be left. 13 If he retreats into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into the ravine until not even a pebble [of it] is found there.” 14 Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had ordained to thwart the good advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord could bring disaster upon Absalom.

Hushai’s Warning Saves David

15 Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “This is the advice that Ahithophel gave to Absalom and the elders of Israel, and this is the advice that I have given. 16 Now then, send word quickly and tell David, ‘Do not spend the night at the [p]fords [on the west side of the Jordan] in the wilderness, but by all means cross over [to the east side of the river], or else the king and all the people with him will be destroyed [if Ahithophel is allowed by Absalom to lead an attack].’” 17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz [the priests’ sons] were staying at [q]En-rogel, and a maidservant [appearing to go for water] would go and tell them [what was happening], and they would go [secretly] and inform King David; for they could not [allow themselves to] be seen coming into the city [of Jerusalem]. 18 But a boy saw them and told Absalom; so the two of them left quickly and came to the house of a man in Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard, and [with his permission] they went down into it. 19 And the woman [of the house] took a covering and spread it over the mouth of the well and scattered grain on it; so nothing was discovered. 20 Then Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house and asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” And the woman said to them, “They have crossed over the brook.” When they searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.

21 After they left, Jonathan and Ahimaaz came up out of the well and went and informed King David, and said to David, “Arise and cross over the [r]Jordan River quickly, for Ahithophel has advised [an attack] against you.” 22 Then David and all the people who were with him departed and crossed over the Jordan. By daybreak, not even one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.

23 Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out and went to his home, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself. So he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.

24 Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. 25 Absalom put Amasa in command of the army instead of Joab. Now Amasa was the son of a man named [s]Ithra the Israelite, who had married Abigail the daughter of Nahash, [the half sister of David and] the sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. 26 So Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.

27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought beds, basins, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, broad beans, lentils, and [other] roasted grain, 29 honey, cream, sheep, and cheese of the herd, for David and the people who were with him, to eat; for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”

Absalom’s Death

18 David numbered the men who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. Then David sent the [t]army out, a third under the command of Joab, a third under Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and a third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the [u]men, “I myself will certainly go out [to fight] with you.” But the men said, “You should not go out [to battle with us]. For if in fact we retreat, they will not care about us; even if half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. So now it is better that you be ready to help us from the city [of Mahanaim].” Then the king said to them, “I will do whatever seems best to you.” So the king stood beside the gate [of Mahanaim], and all the army went out in groups of hundreds and of thousands. The king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the men heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom.

So the men went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. The men of Israel [who supported Absalom] were defeated there by the [v]men of David, and a great slaughter took place there that day, 20,000 men. For the battle there was spread out over the surface of the entire countryside, and the [hazards of the] forest devoured more men that day than did the sword.

Now Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a massive tree, and his [w]head was caught in [the thick branches of] the tree; and he was left hanging [in midair] between heaven and earth, while the mule that had been under him kept going. 10 A certain man saw it and informed Joab, saying, “I saw Absalom hanging in a tree.” 11 Joab said to the man who informed him, “You saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? [x]I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 The man told Joab, “Even if I were to feel the weight of a thousand pieces of silver in my hands, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for [y]we all heard the king command you, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, ‘Protect the young man Absalom, for my sake.’ 13 Otherwise, if I had acted treacherously against his life (for nothing is hidden from the king) you yourself would have [z]taken sides against me.” 14 Joab said, “I will not waste time with you.” So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was still alive [and caught] in the midst of the tree. 15 And ten young men, Joab’s armor bearers, surrounded and struck Absalom and killed him.

16 Then Joab blew the trumpet [to signal the end of the combat], and the men returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab held them back. 17 They took [down the body of] Absalom and threw him into a deep pit in the forest and set up a huge mound of stones over him. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his own tent. 18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a memorial pillar which is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have [aa]no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He named the memorial pillar after himself, and to this day it is called [ab]Absalom’s Monument.

David Is Grief-stricken

19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, said, “Let me run and bring the king news that the Lord has vindicated him by rescuing him from [the power of] his enemies.” 20 But Joab told him, “You are not the man to carry news [to King David] today, but you shall carry news another day. On this day you shall carry no news, because the king’s son is dead.” 21 Then Joab said to the Cushite (Ethiopian), “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” And the Cushite bowed to Joab and ran. 22 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, “But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.” Joab said, “Why should you run, my son, seeing you will have no messenger’s reward for going [because you have only bad news]?” 23 “But whatever happens, Let me run.” So Joab said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain [of the Jordan River] and outran the Cushite.

24 Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the lookout went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he raised his eyes and looked, he saw a man running alone. 25 The lookout called down and told the king. The king said, “If he is alone, he has good news to tell.” And he came nearer and nearer. 26 Then the lookout saw another man running, and he called to the gatekeeper and said, “Look, another man running alone.” The king said, “He also is bringing good news.” 27 The lookout said, “I think the man in front runs like Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” The king said, “He is a good man and is coming with good news.”

28 And Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “[ac]All is well.” And he bowed before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has handed over the men who lifted up their hands [to fight] against my lord the king.” 29 The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great turmoil, but I do not know what it was about.” 30 The king told him, “Step aside; stand here.” And he stepped aside and stood still.

31 Behold, the Cushite (Ethiopian) arrived, and said, “Let my lord the king receive good news, for the Lord has vindicated you today by rescuing you from the hand (power) of all those who stood against you.” 32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom [my son] safe?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all those who rise against you to do evil, be [dead] like that young man is.”

33 [ad]The king was deeply moved and went to the upper room over the gate and wept [in sorrow]. And this is what he said as he walked: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! [ae]How I wish that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”


  1. 2 Samuel 16:1 The lame son of Jonathan who was the son of King Saul.
  2. 2 Samuel 16:1 This was a bag made from almost the entire skin of an animal. New wine was always put in a new bag so that the bag would stretch as the wine continued to ferment, and then the bag would harden.
  3. 2 Samuel 16:3 I.e. Saul’s grandson.
  4. 2 Samuel 16:3 The reference is to his dead grandfather, King Saul.
  5. 2 Samuel 16:4 Because the rebellion was in progress it was easy for Ziba to trick David with the gifts and his lie.
  6. 2 Samuel 16:6 See note 15:14.
  7. 2 Samuel 16:10 Lit What to me and to you.
  8. 2 Samuel 16:21 See note Gen 22:24.
  9. 2 Samuel 16:22 This outrageous act was an assumption of absolute power, and signified an irreversible break in Absalom’s relationship with his father. Nathan the prophet had prophesied that David would be publicly humiliated in this way.
  10. 2 Samuel 17:2 Lit come upon him.
  11. 2 Samuel 17:2 Lit slack of hands.
  12. 2 Samuel 17:3 Lit Like the return of the whole is the man whom you are seeking.
  13. 2 Samuel 17:4 Lit was pleasing in the eyes of.
  14. 2 Samuel 17:8 Lit bitter of soul.
  15. 2 Samuel 17:9 Lit them.
  16. 2 Samuel 17:16 I.e. narrow or shallow places where a river may be crossed by wading.
  17. 2 Samuel 17:17 I.e. a spring in the Kidron Valley just outside Jerusalem.
  18. 2 Samuel 17:21 Lit water.
  19. 2 Samuel 17:25 This man was also known as Jether the Ishmaelite (1 Chr 2:17).
  20. 2 Samuel 18:2 Lit people and so throughout the chapter.
  21. 2 Samuel 18:2 Lit people and so throughout the chapter.
  22. 2 Samuel 18:7 Lit servants.
  23. 2 Samuel 18:9 Absalom’s remarkable head of hair is described in 14:26.
  24. 2 Samuel 18:11 In defiance of David’s order, Joab must have offered a reward for the man who killed Absalom.
  25. 2 Samuel 18:12 Lit in our hearing.
  26. 2 Samuel 18:13 Lit stood aloof.
  27. 2 Samuel 18:18 One rabbi said that Absalom considered his three unnamed sons (14:27) unfit to rule. More likely, his sons predeceased him.
  28. 2 Samuel 18:18 Lit the hand of Absalom. The monument of the same name that exists today in the Kidron Valley is not the one set up by Absalom.
  29. 2 Samuel 18:28 Lit Peace (Heb Shalom).
  30. 2 Samuel 18:33 In the Hebrew text, ch 19 begins with this verse.
  31. 2 Samuel 18:33 Lit Would that.

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