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ESV — 2 Samuel 15-19

Absalom's Conspiracy

15 After this Absalom vgot himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside wthe way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, x“Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

And at the end of four1 years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. For your servant zvowed a vow awhile I lived at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to2 the Lord.’” The king said to him, b“Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron. 10 But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’” 11 With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem cwho were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. 12 And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for3 dAhithophel the Gilonite, eDavid's counselor, from his city fGiloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom gkept increasing.

David Flees Jerusalem

13 And a messenger came to David, saying, h“The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.” 14 Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us iflee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” 15 And the king's servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.” 16 So the king went out, and all his household after him. And the king left jten concubines to keep the house. 17 And the king went out, and all the people after him. And they halted at the last house.

18 And kall his servants passed by him, and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from lGath, passed on before the king. 19 Then the king said to mIttai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. 20 You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go nI know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord show4 steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” 21 But Ittai answered the king, o“As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, pwherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” 22 And David said to Ittai, “Go then, pass on.” So Ittai the Gittite passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23 And all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed qthe brook rKidron, and all the people passed on toward sthe wilderness.

24 And tAbiathar came up, and behold, uZadok came also with all the Levites, vbearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God until the people had all passed out of the city. 25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will wbring me back and let me see both it and his xdwelling place. 26 But if he says, ‘I have no ypleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, zlet him do to me what seems good to him.” 27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a aseer? Go back5 to the city in peace, with byour two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28 See, I will wait at cthe fords of sthe wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.

30 But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, dbarefoot and ewith his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, fweeping as they went. 31 And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O Lord, please gturn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”

32 While David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai hthe Archite came to meet him iwith his coat torn and idirt on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be ja burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, k‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father's servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. 35 Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So whatever you hear from the king's house, ltell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36 Behold, mtheir two sons are with them there, Ahimaaz, Zadok's son, and Jonathan, Abiathar's son, mand by them you shall send to me everything you hear.” 37 So Hushai, nDavid's friend, came into the city, ojust as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.

David and Ziba

16 When David had passed a little beyond pthe summit, qZiba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, bearing two hundred loaves of bread, ra hundred bunches of raisins, a hundred of summer fruits, and a skin of wine. And the king said to Ziba, “Why have you brought these?” Ziba answered, s“The donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who tfaint in the wilderness to drink.” And the king said, “And where is your master's son?” uZiba 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 father.’” Then the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” And Ziba said, “I pay homage; let me ever find favor in your sight, my lord the king.”

Shimei Curses David

When King David came to vBahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was wShimei, the son of Gera, and as he came xhe cursed continually. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shimei said as he xcursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The Lord yhas avenged on you all zthe blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.”

Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this adead dog bcurse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” 10 But the king said, c“What have I to do with you, dyou sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 11 And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, emy own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me,6 and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.” 13 So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and fcursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust. 14 And the king, and all the people who were with him, garrived weary at the Jordan.7 And there he refreshed himself.

Absalom Enters Jerusalem

15 hNow Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. 16 And when Hushai the Archite, hDavid's friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, i“Long live the king! Long live the king!” 17 And Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? jWhy did you not go with your friend?” 18 And Hushai said to Absalom, “No, for whom the Lord and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain. 19 And again, kwhom should I serve? Should it not be his son? As I have served your father, so I will serve you.”

20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give your counsel. What shall we do?” 21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to lyour father's concubines, whom he has left to keep the house, and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench to your father, and mthe hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom non the roof. And Absalom went in to his father's concubines oin the sight of all Israel. 23 Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the word of God; so was all the counsel of Ahithophel esteemed, pboth by David and by Absalom.

Hushai Saves David

17 Moreover, Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is qweary and discouraged and throw him into a panic, and all the people who are with him will flee. rI will strike down only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man,8 and all the people will be at peace.” And the advice seemed right in the eyes of Absalom and all the elders of Israel.

Then Absalom said, “Call sHushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he has to say.” And when Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, “Thus has Ahithophel spoken; shall we do as he says? If not, you speak.” Then Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good.” Hushai said, “You know that your father and his men are mighty men, and that they are enraged,9 tlike a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. Besides, your father is expert in war; he will not spend the night with the people. Behold, even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits or in some other place. And as soon as some of the people fall10 at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’ 10 Then even the valiant man, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly umelt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and that those who are with him are valiant men. 11 But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, vfrom Dan to Beersheba, was the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. 12 So we shall come upon him in some place where he is to be found, and we shall light upon him as the dew falls on the ground, and of him and all the men with him not one will be left. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there.” 14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” xFor the Lord had ordained11 to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom.

15 yThen Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel, and thus and so have I counseled. 16 Now therefore send quickly and tell David, ‘Do not stay tonight at zthe fords of the wilderness, but by all means pass over, lest the king and all the people who are with him be aswallowed up.’” 17 Now bJonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at cEn-rogel. A female servant was to go and tell them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they were not to be seen entering the city. 18 But a young man saw them and told Absalom. So both of them went away quickly and came to the house of a man at dBahurim, who had a well in his courtyard. And they went down into it. 19 eAnd the woman took and spread a covering over the well's mouth and scattered grain on it, and nothing was known of it. 20 When Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house, they said, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” And the woman said to them, “They have gone over the brook12 of water.” And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.

21 After they had gone, the men came up out of the well, and went and told King David. They said to David, f“Arise, and go quickly over the water, for thus and so has Ahithophel counseled against you.” 22 Then David arose, and all the people who were with him, and they crossed the Jordan. By daybreak not one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.

23 When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to ghis own city. He hset his house in order and ihanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.

24 Then David came to jMahanaim. And Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25 Now Absalom had set kAmasa over the army instead of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ishmaelite,13 who had married Abigal the daughter of lNahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother. 26 And Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead.

27 When David came to Mahanaim, mShobi the son of Nahash from nRabbah of the Ammonites, and oMachir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and pBarzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, 28 brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans and lentils,14 29 honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat, for they said, “The people are hungry and qweary and thirsty rin the wilderness.”

Absalom Killed

18 Then David mustered the men who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. And David sent out the army, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and one third under the command of sIttai the Gittite. And the king said to the men, “I myself will also go out with you.” tBut the men said, “You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore it is better that you send us help from the city.” The king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood at the side of the gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands. And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” uAnd all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom.

So the army went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was fought in the vforest of Ephraim. And the men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the loss there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. The battle spread over the face of all the country, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword.

And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak,15 wand his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10 And a certain man saw it and told Joab, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king's son, for xin our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’ 13 On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life16 (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.” 14 Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. 15 And ten young men, Joab's armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him.

16 Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained them. 17 And they took Absalom and threw him into a great pit in the forest and raised over him ya very great heap of stones. And all Israel zfled every one to his own home. 18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself athe pillar that is in bthe King's Valley, for he said, c“I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom's monument17 to this day.

David Hears of Absalom's Death

19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, d“Let me run and carry news to the king that ethe Lord has delivered him from the hand of his enemies.” 20 And Joab said to him, “You are not to carry news today. You may carry news another day, but today you shall carry no news, because the king's son is dead.” 21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed before Joab, and ran. 22 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, “Come what may, let me also run after the Cushite.” And Joab said, “Why will you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward for the news?” 23 “Come what may,” he said, “I will run.” So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of fthe plain, and outran the Cushite.

24 Now David gwas sitting between the two gates, and hthe watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he lifted up his eyes and looked, he saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out and told the king. And the king said, “If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.” And he drew nearer and nearer. 26 The watchman saw another man running. And the watchman called to the gate and said, “See, another man running alone!” The king said, “He also brings news.” 27 The watchman said, “I think the running of the first is ilike the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, j“He is a good man and comes with good news.”

28 Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, “All is well.” And he bowed before the king with his face to the earth and said, k“Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king.” 29 And the king said, l“Is it well with the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king's servant, your servant, I saw a great commotion, but I do not know what it was.” 30 And the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.

David's Grief

31 And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “Good news for my lord the king! For mthe Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you.” 32 The king said to the Cushite, l“Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, n“May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man.” 33  And the king was deeply moved and went up gto the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, o“O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Joab Rebukes David

19 It was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. The king pcovered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, q“O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. Now therefore arise, go out and speak rkindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.” Then the king arose and took his sseat in the gate. And the people were all told, “Behold, the king is sitting in the gate.” And all the people came before the king.

David Returns to Jerusalem

Now Israel had tfled every man to his own home. And all the people were arguing throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, u“The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies and vsaved us from the hand of the Philistines, and now whe has fled out of the land from Absalom. 10 But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?”

11 And King David sent this message to xZadok and Abiathar the priests: “Say to the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house, when the word of all Israel has come to the king?18 12 You are my brothers; yyou are my bone and my flesh. Why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’ 13 And say to Amasa, z‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? aGod do so to me and more also, if you are not bcommander of my army from now on in place of Joab.’” 14 And he swayed the heart of all the men of Judah cas one man, so that they sent word to the king, “Return, both you and all your servants.” 15 So the king came back to the Jordan, and Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and to bring the king over the Jordan.

David Pardons His Enemies

16 And dShimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, from Bahurim, hurried to come down with the men of Judah to meet King David. 17 And with him were a thousand men from Benjamin. And eZiba the servant of the house of Saul, with his fifteen sons and his twenty servants, rushed down to the Jordan before the king, 18 and they crossed the ford to bring over the king's household and to do his pleasure. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan, 19 and said to the king, f“Let not my lord hold me guilty or remember how your servant gdid wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. Do not let the king take it to heart. 20 For your servant knows that I have sinned. Therefore, behold, I have come this day, the first hof all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.” 21 Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because ihe cursed the Lord's anointed?” 22 But David said, j“What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should this day be as an adversary to me? kShall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?” 23 lAnd the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king gave him his oath.

24 And mMephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. He had neither taken care of his feet nor trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came back in safety. 25 And when he came to Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, n“Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” 26 He answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me, for your servant said to him, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself,19 that I may ride on it and go with the king.’ For oyour servant is lame. 27 pHe has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is qlike the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. 28 For all my father's house were but men doomed to death before my lord the king, but ryou set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to cry to the king?” 29 And the king said to him, “Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.” 30 And Mephibosheth said to the king, “Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home.”

31 Now sBarzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim, and he went on with the king to the Jordan, to escort him over the Jordan. 32 Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. tHe had provided the king with food while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man. 33 And the king said to Barzillai, “Come over with me, and I will provide for you with me in Jerusalem.” 34 But Barzillai said to the king, u“How many years have I still to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 35 I am this day veighty years old. Can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be wan added burden to my lord the king? 36 Your servant will go a little way over the Jordan with the king. Why should the king repay me with such a reward? 37 Please let your servant return, that I may die in my own city near the grave of my father and my mother. But here is your servant xChimham. Let him go over with my lord the king, and do for him whatever seems good to you.” 38 And the king answered, “Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do for him whatever seems good to you, and all that you desire of me I will do for you.” 39 Then all the people went over the Jordan, and the king went over. And ythe king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own home. 40 The king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him. All the people of Judah, and also half the people of Israel, brought the king on his way.

41 Then all the men of Israel came to the king and said to the king, “Why have our brothers the men of Judah stolen you away and zbrought the king and his household over the Jordan, and all David's men with him?” 42 All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “Because the king is aour close relative. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we eaten at all at the king's expense? Or has he given us any gift?” 43 And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, “We have bten shares in the king, and in David also we have more than you. Why then did you despise us? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?” cBut the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.

Footnotes

[1] 15:7 Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew forty
[2] 15:8 Or will serve
[3] 15:12 Or sent
[4] 15:20 Septuagint; Hebrew lacks may the Lord show
[5] 15:27 Septuagint The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Look, go back
[6] 16:12 Septuagint, Vulgate will look upon my affliction
[7] 16:14 Septuagint; Hebrew lacks at the Jordan
[8] 17:3 Septuagint; Hebrew back to you. Like the return of the whole is the man whom you seek
[9] 17:8 Hebrew bitter of soul
[10] 17:9 Or And as he falls on them
[11] 17:14 Hebrew commanded
[12] 17:20 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
[13] 17:25 Compare 1 Chronicles 2:17; Hebrew Israelite
[14] 17:28 Hebrew adds and parched grain
[15] 18:9 Or terebinth; also verses 10, 14
[16] 18:13 Or at the risk of my life
[17] 18:18 Or Absalom's hand
[18] 19:11 Septuagint; Hebrew to the king, to his house
[19] 19:26 Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate Saddle a donkey for me