17 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me pick out twelve thousand men. Then I will go and pursue David this very night. 2 When I catch up with 1 him he will be exhausted and worn out. 2 I will rout him, and the entire army that is with him will flee. I will kill only the king 3 and will bring the entire army back to you. In exchange for the life of the man you are seeking, you will get back everyone. 3 The entire army will return unharmed.” 4
4 This seemed like a good idea to Absalom and to all the leaders 5 of Israel. 5 But Absalom said, “Call for 6 Hushai the Arkite, and let’s hear what he has to say.” 7 6 So Hushai came to Absalom. Absalom said to him, “Here is what Ahithophel has advised. Should we follow his advice? If not, what would you recommend?”
7 Hushai replied to Absalom, “Ahithophel’s advice is not sound this time.” 8 8 Hushai went on to say, “You know your father and his men – they are soldiers and are as dangerous as a bear out in the wild that has been robbed of her cubs. 9 Your father is an experienced soldier; he will not stay overnight with the army. 9 At this very moment he is hiding out in one of the caves or in some other similar place. If it should turn out that he attacks our troops first, 10 whoever hears about it will say, ‘Absalom’s army has been slaughtered!’ 10 If that happens even the bravest soldier – one who is lion-hearted – will virtually melt away. For all Israel knows that your father is a warrior and that those who are with him are brave. 11 My advice therefore is this: Let all Israel from Dan to Beer Sheba – in number like the sand by the sea! – be mustered to you, and you lead them personally into battle. 12 We will come against him wherever he happens to be found. We will descend on him like the dew falls on the ground. Neither he nor any of the men who are with him will be spared alive – not one of them! 13 If he regroups in a city, all Israel will take up ropes to that city and drag it down to the valley, so that not a single pebble will be left there!”
14 Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite sounds better than the advice of Ahithophel.” Now the Lord had decided 11 to frustrate the sound advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord could bring disaster on Absalom.
15 Then Hushai reported to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Here is what Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the leaders 12 of Israel to do, and here is what I have advised. 16 Now send word quickly to David and warn him, 13 “Don’t spend the night at the fords of the desert 14 tonight. Instead, be sure you cross over, 15 or else the king and everyone who is with him may be overwhelmed.” 16
17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying in En Rogel. A female servant would go and inform them, and they would then go and inform King David. It was not advisable for them to be seen going into the city. 18 But a young man saw them on one occasion and informed Absalom. So the two of them quickly departed and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. There was a well in his courtyard, and they got down in it. 19 His wife then took the covering and spread it over the top of the well and scattered some grain over it. No one was aware of what she had done.
20 When the servants of Absalom approached the woman at her home, they asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” The woman replied to them, “They crossed over the stream.” Absalom’s men 17 searched but did not find them, so they returned to Jerusalem. 18
21 After the men had left, Ahimaaz and Jonathan 19 climbed out of the well. Then they left and informed King David. They advised David, “Get up and cross the stream 20 quickly, for Ahithophel has devised a plan to catch you.” 21 22 So David and all the people who were with him got up and crossed the Jordan River. 22 By dawn there was not one person left who had not crossed the Jordan.
23 When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and returned to his house in his hometown. After setting his household in order, he hanged himself. So he died and was buried in the grave 23 of his father.
24 Meanwhile David had gone to Mahanaim, while Absalom and all the men of Israel had crossed the Jordan River. 25 Absalom had made Amasa general in command of the army in place of Joab. (Now Amasa was the son of an Israelite man named Jether, who had married 24 Abigail the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother.) 26 The army of Israel 25 and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.
27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, Makir the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought bedding, basins, and pottery utensils. They also brought food for David and all who were with him, including wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, 26 29 honey, curds, flocks, and cheese. 27 For they said, “The people are no doubt hungry, tired, and thirsty there in the desert.” 28
18 David assembled the army that was with him. He appointed leaders of thousands and leaders of hundreds. 2 David then sent out the army – a third under the leadership of Joab, a third under the leadership of Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under the leadership of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the troops, “I too will indeed march out with you.”
3 But the soldiers replied, 1 “You should not do this! 2 For if we should have to make a rapid retreat, they won’t be too concerned about us. 3 Even if half of us should die, they won’t be too concerned about us. But you 4 are like ten thousand of us! So it is better if you remain in the city for support.” 4 Then the king said to them, “I will do whatever seems best to you.”
So the king stayed beside the city gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands. 5 The king gave this order to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake deal gently with the young man Absalom.” Now the entire army was listening when the king gave all the leaders this order concerning Absalom.
6 Then the army marched out to the field to fight against Israel. The battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 The army of Israel was defeated there by David’s men. 5 The slaughter there was great that day – 20,000 soldiers were killed. 8 The battle there was spread out over the whole area, and the forest consumed more soldiers than the sword devoured that day.
9 Then Absalom happened to come across David’s men. Now as Absalom was riding on his 6 mule, it 7 went under the branches of a large oak tree. His head got caught in the oak and he was suspended in midair, 8 while the mule he had been riding kept going.
10 When one 9 of the men saw this, he reported it to Joab saying, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree. 11 Joab replied to the man who was telling him this, “What! You saw this? Why didn’t you strike him down right on the spot? 10 I would have given you ten pieces of silver 11 and a commemorative belt!” 12
12 The man replied to Joab, “Even if 13 I were receiving 14 a thousand pieces of silver, 15 I would not strike 16 the king’s son! In our very presence 17 the king gave this order to you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.’ 18 13 If I had acted at risk of my own life 19 – and nothing is hidden from the king! – you would have abandoned me.” 20
14 Joab replied, “I will not wait around like this for you!” He took three spears in his hand and thrust them into the middle of Absalom while he was still alive in the middle of the oak tree. 21 15 Then ten soldiers who were Joab’s armor bearers struck Absalom and finished him off.
16 Then Joab blew the trumpet 22 and the army turned back from chasing Israel, for Joab had called for the army to halt. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a large pit in the forest, and stacked a huge pile of stones over him. In the meantime all the Israelite soldiers fled to their homes. 23
18 Prior to this 24 Absalom had set up a monument 25 and dedicated it to himself in the King’s Valley, reasoning “I have no son who will carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and to this day it is known as Absalom’s Memorial.
19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Let me run and give the king the good news that the Lord has vindicated him before his enemies.” 26 20 But Joab said to him, “You will not be a bearer of good news today. You will bear good news some other day, but not today, 27 for the king’s son is dead.”
21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go and tell the king what you have seen.” After bowing to Joab, the Cushite ran off. 22 Ahimaaz the son of Zadok again spoke to Joab, “Whatever happens, let me go after the Cushite.” But Joab said, “Why is it that you want to go, my son? You have no good news that will bring you a reward.” 23 But he said, 28 “Whatever happens, I want to go!” So Joab 29 said to him, “Then go!” So Ahimaaz ran by the way of the Jordan plain, and he passed the Cushite.
24 Now David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, 30 and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate at the wall. When he looked, he saw a man running by himself. 25 So the watchman called out and informed the king. The king said, “If he is by himself, he brings good news.” 31 The runner 32 came ever closer.
26 Then the watchman saw another man running. The watchman called out to the gatekeeper, “There is another man running by himself.” The king said, “This one also is bringing good news.” 27 The watchman said, “It appears to me that the first runner is Ahimaaz 33 son of Zadok.” The king said, “He is a good man, and he comes with good news.”
28 Then Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “Greetings!” 34 He bowed down before the king with his face toward the ground and said, “May the Lord your God be praised because he has defeated 35 the men who opposed 36 my lord the king!”
29 The king replied, “How is the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz replied, “I saw a great deal of confusion when Joab was sending the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was all about.” 30 The king said, “Turn aside and take your place here.” So he turned aside and waited.
31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, 37 “May my lord the king now receive the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today and delivered you from the hand of all who have rebelled against you!” 38 32 The king asked the Cushite, “How is the young man Absalom?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who have plotted against you 39 be like that young man!”
33 40 The king then became very upset. He went up to the upper room over the gate and wept. As he went he said, “My son, Absalom! My son, my son, 41 Absalom! If only I could have died in your place! Absalom, my son, my son!” 42