Following the death of Saul, David returned after defeating the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days. On the third day a man arrived from Saul's camp with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. When he came to David, he prostrated himself in homage. "Where have you come from?" David asked him. He answered; "I have escaped from the Israelite camp." "Tell me what happened." David said. "The man replied that the men fled from battle and many died. Saul and Jonathan both died."
David asked; "How do you know that Saul and Jonathan are dead?" "From Mount Gilboa, I saw Saul was leaning on his spear with chariots in pursuit. He saw me and called. I said; 'What can I do?' He asked; 'Who are you?' 'An Amalekite;' I answered. Then he said; 'Stand over me and finish me! I'm dying, but still alive.' So I stood over him and killed him. I knew he could not survive his wounds. I took the crown from his head and the armlet from his arm to bring to you, my lord." Then David and his men tore their clothes. They mourned and fasted until evening for Saul and Jonathan, and for the army of Yahva and for Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
David said to the young man who brought the report, "Where are you from?" "I am the son of a foreigner, an Amalekite," he answered. David asked him; "Were you not afraid to kill Yahva's anointed?" Then David called one of his men and said; "Kill him!" So he was killed. David had said to him, "Your blood is on your head. Your mouth testified against you when you said; 'I killed Yahva's anointed.'"
David sang this lament for Saul and Jonathan. He ordered that the Judahites be taught this lament. (It is written in the Book of Jashar):
A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel.
How the mighty have fallen!
Do not proclaim it in Gath,
Not in the streets of Ashkelon,
Less the daughters of the Philistines be glad,
Less the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.
Mountains of Gilboa,
May you have neither dew nor rain,
May your terraced fields be dry.
The shield of the mighty was defiled,
The shield of Saul-no longer anointed.
From the blood of the slain,
From the flesh of the mighty,
The bow of Jonathan did not flee,
The sword of Saul did not return unstained.
Saul and Jonathan, loved and admired,
In death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions.
Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul,
Who clothed you in scarlet finery,
Adorning your garments with gold ornaments.
How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
You were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
More wonderful than that of women.
How can the mighty be fallen!
The weapons of war be destroyed!"
Eventually, David asked Yahva; "Shall I go to one of the towns of Judah?" Yahva said; "Go." David asked; "Where shall I go?" "To Hebron," Yahva answered. David went there with his wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family. They settled in the towns Hebron. The men of Judah came to Hebron, and anointed David king over Judah.
When David was told that men from Jabesh Gilead had buried Saul, he sent messengers to say to them; "May Yahva bless you for showing this kindness by burying Saul. May Yahva show you kindness. I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. Be strong and brave although Saul is dead. The people of Judah have anointed me to be their king."
Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul's army, had brought Ish-Bosheth, son of Saul, to Mahanaim. He anointed him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel; and also Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-Bosheth was forty years old when he became king over Israel. He reigned two years. The tribe of Judah, however, remained loyal to David. David was king in Hebron over Judah for seven years and six months.
Abner with the men of Ish-Bosheth left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. Joab son of Zeruiah and David's men met them at the pool of Gibeon. They sat on opposite sides of the pool. Abner said to Joab, "Let's have some of the young men fight hand to hand in front of us." Joab accepted. So they stood up and were counted off-twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth, and twelve for David. Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent's side, and they fell together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim.
The battle that day was very fierce, but Abner and the Israelites were defeated by David's men. The three sons of Zeruiah were there?Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Asahel was as fleet as a wild gazelle. He chased Abner without deviating. Abner looked back and asked; "Is that you, Asahel?" "It is," he replied. Then Abner said to him, "Turn aside to fight one of the young men and strip him of his weapons." But Asahel would not stop chasing him. Again Abner warned Asahel; "Stop chasing me! Why should I kill you? How could I greet your brother Joab?" But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel's belly, and it went through his body. He fell there and died immediately. Every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had died.
Joab and Abishai pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah toward the wasteland of Gibeon. Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill. Abner called to Joab; "Must the sword devour forever? Don't you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?" Joab answered; "By Yahva, if you had not spoken these men would have pursuit until morning."
So Joab blew the trumpet and the troops halted, no longer pursuing Israel, nor fighting anymore. All night Abner and his men marched through the Arabah. Then crossed the Jordan and continued through the morning until they came to Mahanaim. Joab stopped pursuing Abner and assembled the army. Besides Asahel, 19 of David's men were missing. David's men had killed 360 Benjamites. They buried Asahel in his father's tomb at Bethlehem. Joab and his men marched all night and arrived at Hebron by daybreak.
The war between the house of Saul and the house of David endured a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.
Sons were born to David in Hebron:
His firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel;
His second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel;
The third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
The fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith;
The fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
And the sixth, Ithream the son of David's wife Eglah.
These were born to David in Hebron.
During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had been strengthening his own position. Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. Ish-Bosheth asked Abner; "Why did you sleep with my father's concubine?" Abner was very angry with Ish-Bosheth. So he answered; "Am I a dog's head from Judah? To this day I have been loyal to the house of Saul, and to his family and friends. I have not given you to David. Yet you accuse me of an offense involving this woman! May Yahva punish Abner severely if I do not give to David what Yahva promised him?that is, transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish David's throne over Israel and Judah." Ish-Bosheth did not dare to say another word, because he feared Abner.
Abner sent messengers to David in Telam; "Whose land is it? Make a pact with me and I will help bring Israel to you." "David.replied; "I will make a pact with you. But I demand one thing: Do not come to me without Michal daughter of Saul." Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth, demanding; "Give me Michal, whom I betrothed for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins." Ish-Bosheth ordered her taken from Paltiel son of Laish. Her husband, however, followed her weeping to Bahurim, where Abner threatened; "Go home!" until he went back.
Abner conferred with the elders of Israel saying; "You have wanted David to be your king. Now let's do it! For Yahva promised David; 'Through David I will rescue Israel from the Philistines and from all their enemies.'" Abner also spoke to the Benjamites. Then he went to Hebron to tell David what Israel and Benjamin wanted.
When Abner, with 20 men, came to Hebron, David prepared a feast for him and his men. Abner said to David; "Let me assemble all tribes of Israel for my lord the king, so that they may make a pact for you to rule over all as your heart desires." David sent Abner away in peace.
Just then David's men and Joab returned from a raid with great plunder. Abner was no longer with David in Hebron, because David had sent him to Israel in peace. When Joab and the soldiers arrived, he was told that Abner had come to the king and went away in peace. Joab asked the king; "What have you done? Abner came to you. Now you have let him go! You know that he came to deceive you and spy your actions. "Joab left David and sent messengers after Abner, and brought him from the well at Sirah. When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him into an inner chamber, as if to speak with him privately. There, to avenge his brother, Joab stabbed him in the belly and killed him.
When David heard about this, he said; "I and my kingdom are innocent before Yahva for the death of Abner son of Ner. May his vengeance fall on Joab and his family! May Joab's family always have someone afflicted with a running sore, leprosy, leans on a crutch, who falls by the sword, or who lacks food."
David said to Joab and his people; "Tear your clothes and wear sackcloth and walk in mourning before Abner." King David himself walked behind the bier. They buried Abner in Hebron. The king wept aloud at Abner's tomb. All the people also wept.
The king sang this lament for Abner:
Should Abner have died as the lawless die?
Your hands were not bound,
Your feet were not fettered.
You fell as one falls before the wicked.
All the people wept over him again.
The people urged David to eat while it was still day; but David swore; "May Yahva punish me severely, if I taste bread or anything before the sun sets!"
All the people observed and were pleased with everything the king did. That day all the people and all Israel knew that the king had not condoned in the murder of Abner son of Ner. The king said; "You know that a commander and great man has fallen in Israel today? Although I am the anointed king, I am weak and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May Yahva repay the evildoer according to his acts!"
When Ish-Bosheth son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage and all Israel became alarmed. Saul's son had two men who were leaders of raiding bands: Baanah and Rekab, sons of Rimmon, the Beerothite of Benjamin (Beeroth is considered part of Benjamin, because the people of Beeroth fled to Gittaim and have resided there as foreigners.)
(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.)
Rekab and Baanah went to Ish-Bosheth and arrived midday while he was taking his noonday rest. They went into the house as if to get some wheat and stabbed him in the belly. They had gone into the house while he was lying on the bed in his bedroom. After they killed him, they cut off his head. Then Rekab and Baanah escaped. Taking it with them, they traveled all night through the Arabah. They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to David at Hebron, saying to the king; "Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth, your enemy who tried to kill you. This day Yahva has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring."
David answered Rekab and Baanah; "By Yahva, who has delivered me from trouble, when someone told me that Saul is dead, thinking he was bringing good news, I killed him in Ziklag. That was his reward! How much more for wicked men have killed an innocent man on his own bed? Should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!" David gave an order to his men and they killed them. They cut off their hands and feet and hung the bodies by the pool in Hebron. But they buried the head of Ish-Bosheth in Abner's tomb at Hebron.
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron saying; "We are your relatives. When Saul was our king, you led Israel on their military campaigns. Yahva said to you; 'You will lead my people and become their ruler.'" When the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, he made a holy pact with them. They anointed David king over Israel. David was 30 years old when he became king. He reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months. In Jerusalem he reigned over Israel and Judah 33 years.
The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David; "You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can repel you." They thought that David could not get in. Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion-the City of David. On that day David said; "Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach David's enemies." That is why they say; "The 'blind and lame' will not enter the palace."
David then resided in the fortress and called it the City of David. He strengthened the area around it from the terraces inward. He increased his power since Yahva supported him. Hiram, king of Tyre, sent envoys to David with cedar logs, carpenters, and stonemasons. They built a palace for David. Then David knew that Yahva had established him as king over Israel exalting his kingdom for the sake of his people.
After he left Hebron, David took concubines and wives in Jerusalem. More children were born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.
When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they mustered in full force to search for him. David learned it and went to the stronghold. The Philistines spread over the Valley of Rephaim; so David asked Yahva; "Shall I attack the Philistines? Will you give them to me?" Yahva answered; "Go, I will give the Philistines to you." David went to Baal Perazim and defeated them. He said; "As waters flows, Yahva has flooded my enemies." So that place was called Baal Perazim. The Philistines abandoned their idols there. David and his men looted them.
Again the Philistines spread over the Valley of Rephaim. David asked Yahva, who answered; "Do not attack straight but circle behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the trees, move quickly because Yahva is going before you to strike the Philistine army." David did as Yahva ordered killing Philistines from Gibeon to Gezer.
David again brought together all the able young men of Israel-30,000. He and his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring the ark of Yahva from there. It bears the name "Lord of Hosts" enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. They set the ark on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, guided the cart. Ahio walked in front. David and Israel celebrated with all their being; with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.
When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah took hold of the ark when an ox stumbled. Yahva's anger flared against Uzzah for his irreverent act. Yahva killed him beside the ark. Then David was angry because Yahva's wrath against Uzzah. That place is still called Perez Uzzah. David was afraid of Yahva that day, saying; "How can the ark of Yahva ever come to me?" He was unwilling to take the ark of Yahva to the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark remained in the house of Obed-Edom for three months, while Yahva blessed him and his household.
David learned that Yahva had blessed the household of Obed-Edom because of the ark Yahva. He brought the ark from Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark had taken only six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fat calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David danced before Yahva with all his being while all Israel brought the ark with shouting and trumpets.
As the ark entered the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before Yahva, she despised him.
They brought the ark of Yahva and placed it inside the tent that David had pitched for it. David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. After he had finished sacrificing the offerings, he blessed the people in the name of Yahva. Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the crowd of Israelites, both men and women. Then the people went to their homes.
When David returned home to bless his household, Michal met him, saying; "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, cavorting half-naked in full view of the slave girls as any vulgar man would!" David said to Michal; "It was before Yahva, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he anointed me ruler over his people. I will celebrate before Yahva. I will become even more undignified than this. I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor." Michal had no children to her death.
After the king settled in his palace and Yahva gave him rest from his enemies, he said to Nathan the prophet; "Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of Yahva remains in a tent." Nathan replied; "Whatever you have in mind, do it, for Yahva is with you."
But that night the word of Yahva came to Nathan, saying; "Tell my servant David that Yahva says; 'Are you the one to build me a house? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites from Egypt. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with the Israelites, did I ever ask any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel; "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?"'
Tell my servant David that Yahva says; 'I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. I will provide a place for my people and plant them so that they can have a peaceful home and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
Yahva declares to you that he will establish a house for you: When your days are over, I will raise your offspring to succeed you. I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me. I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me.'" Nathan reported to David all the words of this revelation.
Then David entered and sat before Yahva, saying; "Who am I, O Yahva, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? As if this were not enough, O Yahva, you have spoken of the future of your servant's descendants-and this decree is for a mere human! What more can David say to you? For you know your servant. According to your will, you have done this and made it known to your servant.
How great you are, O Yahva! There is none like you. There is no God but you, as we have heard. Who is like Israel-the only nation that God redeemed for himself, and to perform awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You have established us as your own people forever and have become our God. Keep the promise you have made to your servant and his house so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say; 'Yahva is God of Israel!' And the house of David will be established. Yahva, you have revealed this, saying; 'I will build a house for you.' So your servant has found courage to pray to you! Your covenant is trustworthy and you have promised benefit to your servant. Please bless the house of your servant. May it continue forever in your being. You have spoken and blessed the house of your servant forever."
In time, David defeated the Philistines and captured Metheg Ammah from them. David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down and measured them with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were killed, and the third length was allowed to live. The Moabites became subject to David, paying him tribute. Also, he defeated Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he came to restore his monument at the Euphrates River. David captured 1,000 chariots, 7.000 charioteers, and 20.000 foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but 100 of the chariot horses.
When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer, David killed 22,000. He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom and they brought tribute. Yahva gave David victory wherever he went. David took the gold shields of Hadadezer's officers and brought them to Jerusalem. From Tebah and Berothai, towns of Hadadezer, David looted a great quantity of bronze. When Tou, king of Hamath, heard that David had defeated Hadadezer's army he sent his son Joram to greet David and congratulate him on his victory Hadadezer's army, who had been at war with Tou. Joram brought him articles of silver, gold, and bronze.
King David dedicated these articles to Yahva, as he did with the silver and gold from the nations he subdued: Edom and Moab, the Ammonites, the Philistines, and Amalek. He also dedicated the plunder taken from Hadadezer. David became famous after he returned from killing 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons throughout Edom and the Edomites became subject to him. Yahva Gave David victory wherever he went.
David reigned over Israel with justice for his people. Joab son of Zeruiah commanded the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was chancellor; Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelek son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David's sons were priests.
David asked; "Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?" There was a servant of Saul's household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king asked him; "Are you Ziba?" "At your service," he replied. The king asked; "Is there anyone still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show Yahva's kindness?" Ziba answered; "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet." "Where is he?" the king asked. Ziba answered; "He is in the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar."
King David had him brought from Lo Debar. When Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed to honor him. David said, "Mephibosheth!" "At your service," he replied. "Don't be afraid," David said to him, "for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul. You may always eat at my table." Mephibosheth bowed down saying; "What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?"
The king summoned Ziba, Saul's steward, and said; "I have given your master's grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master's grandson may be provided for. Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, may always eat at my table." (Ziba had 15 sons and 20 servants.) Then Ziba said to the king, "Your servant will do whatever my lord commands." So Mephibosheth ate at David's table like one of the king's sons. Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika. All the members of Ziba's household were servants of Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem since he always ate at the king's table.
In time, the king of the Ammonites died and his son, Hanun, succeeded him as king. David thought; "I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me." So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father. When David's men came to the land of the Ammonites, their commanders said to Hanun; "Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you in sympathy? Hasn't David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy its strength?" Hanun seized David's envoys, shaved off half of each man's beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away. When David heard this, he sent messengers to meet the men since they were greatly humiliated. The king said; "Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then return."
When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, they hired 20,000 Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maakah with 1,000 men, and 12,000 men from Tob. On hearing this, David sent Joab with his entire army. The Ammonites mustered in battle formation at the entrance of their city, while the Arameans of Zobah and Rehob, and the men of Tob and Maakah were in the open country.
Joab saw that there were battle lines in front and behind him. So he selected the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai, his brother, and deployed them against the Ammonites. Joab said; "If the Arameans are too strong, then you are to come to my rescue; if the Ammonites are too strong, I will come to rescue you. Be strong, and let's fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. Yahva will do what is good for us." Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they fled before Abishai and went inside the city. Joab returned from fighting the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem. After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they regrouped. Hadadezer had Arameans brought from beyond the Euphrates River; they went to Helam, with Shobak, commander of Hadadezer's army, leading them.
When David heard this, he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan and went to Helam. The Arameans formed their battle lines to meet David and fought against him. But they fled before Israel, and David killed 700 of their charioteers and 40,000 of their foot soldiers. He also killed Shobak, commander of their army. When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them. So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites.
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. David sent someone to find out about her. The man said; "She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite." David sent messengers and she came to him. He had sex with her. (She had just purified herself from her monthly period.) Then she returned home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying; "I am pregnant."
David sent word to Joab; "Send me Uriah the Hittite." When Uriah came to him, David asked him about Joab, the soldiers, and how the war was going. Uriah answered that all was well. Then David said to Uriah; "Go home and wash your feet." As Uriah left the palace, a gift from the king was sent to him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with his master's servants and did not go home. When David learned that Uriah did not go home, he asked Uriah; "Haven't you just returned from a military campaign? Why didn't you go home?" Uriah said to David; "The ark, Israel and Judah are staying in tents. My commander Joab and my lord's men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat, drink, and make love to my wife? By Yahva, I will not do that!" David said; "Stay here one more day. Tomorrow I will send you back." Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. At David's invitation, he ate and drank with him. David made him drunk. But Uriah slept on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home.
In the morning David sent a letter to Joab by Uriah; "Put Uriah where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be killed." While Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah where he knew the strongest defenders were. When the men of the city attacked Joab, some of the men in David's army fell and Uriah died. Joab sent David a full account of the battle. He instructed the messenger: "When you have finished giving the king this account, the king's anger may flare. He may ask; 'Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn't you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? Who killed Abimelek, son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn't a woman drop a millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez?' If he asks you this, then say to him; ', your servant Uriah is dead.'" When messenger arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say; "The men overpowered us and attacked us in the open, but we drove them back to the city gate. Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king's men died. Your servant Uriah, the Hittite, is dead." David said; "Tell Joab; 'Don't be upset by this; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.' Say this to encourage Joab."
When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning, David brought her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son. But David had displeased Yahva, who sent Nathan to David, saying; "There were two men in a town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. A traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man did not take one of his own livestock to prepare a meal for the traveler. Instead, he took the ewe lamb of the poor man and prepared it."
David flared in anger against Nathan, "As Yahva lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over because he did such a thing without pity." Nathan said to David; "You are the man! This is what Yahva, God of Israel, says; 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from Saul. I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of Yahva by doing evil? You killed Uriah, the Hittite, and took his wife. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah.'
"This is what Yahva says; 'From this household I will bring calamity on you. Before your eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, He will have sex with your wives in daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this in daylight before Israel.'"
David said to Nathan; "I have sinned against Yahva." Nathan replied, "Yahva has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. By doing this you have shown contempt for Yahva; the son born to you will die."
After Nathan went home, Yahva struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with Yahva for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sack cloth on the ground. The elders of his household urged him to get up, but he refused and would not eat any food. On the seventh day the child died. David's attendants were afraid to tell him, thinking; "While the child was still living, he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate." David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves and realized the child was dead. "Is the child dead?" he asked. "Yes," they replied; "he is dead."
David rose from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed clothes; he went into the house of Yahva and prayed. Then he went to his house where they served him food. His attendants asked him; "Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!" He answered; "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought; 'Yahva may be gracious and let the child live.' But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."
David comforted Bathsheba and had sex her. She gave birth to another son, whom they named him Solomon. Yahva loved him and sent word through Nathan to name him Jedidiah.
Meanwhile Joab fought Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. Joab sent messengers to David, saying; "I fought Rabbah and took its water supply. Muster the rest of the troops and capture the city. Otherwise I will take the city and it will be named after me." David mustered the army and captured Rabbah. David took the crown from their king's head and had it placed on his head. It weighed a talent of gold and it was set with precious stones. David took a great quantity of plunder from the city and brought out the captured people, consigning them to labor with saws, iron picks, and axes. He had them make brick. David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then he and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.
In time Amnon, son of David, fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom, son of David. Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he became ill. She was a virgin and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her. Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab, son of Shimeah, David's brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He said to Amnon; "Tell me why you, the king's son, look so haggard in the morning. Amnon said; "I'm in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister." "Go to bed and pretend to be ill," Jonadab said. "When your father comes to see you, say to him; 'I would like my sister Tamar to give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.'" So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him; "I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand." David sent word to Tamar at the palace; "Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him." Tamar went to Amnon who was lying. She kneaded some dough and baked the bread while he watched. Then she served him the bread, but he refused to eat.
"Send everyone out of here," Amnon said, and everyone left. Amnon said to Tamar, "Bring the food here my bedroom so I may eat from your hand." Tamar took the bread to Amnon in his bedroom. But he grabbed her, and saying, "Come to bed with me, my sister." "No, my brother!" she said. "Don't force me to do something prohibited Israel! Don't do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? What about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not prohibit me from being married to you." He refused to listen to her, and being stronger, he raped her.
Then Amnon hated her intensely, even more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her; "Get up and get out!" "No!" she said. "Sending me away would be a greater wrong than you have already done." He refused to listen. He called his personal servant, saying; "Get this woman out of here and bolt the door." So his servant put her out and bolted the door.
She was wearing an ornate robe, for this was the type of garment that virgin daughters of the king wore. Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went. Her brother Absalom said to her; "Has Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don't take this thing to heart." Tamar lived in her brother Absalom's house, a desolate woman. When David heard this, he was furious. Absalom had never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad, although he hated Amnon for disgracing his sister.
Two years later, when Absalom's sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king's sons to come there. Absalom went to the king and said, "Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?" "No, my son," he replied. "All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you." Although Absalom urged him, he still refused but gave him his blessing. Then Absalom said; "If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us." The king asked him; "Why should he go with you?" But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king's sons. Absalom ordered his men, "Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine, I will say to you; 'Kill Amnon,' then do it. Don't be afraid. Have I not ordered you? Be strong and brave." So Absalom's men killed Amnon.
All the king's sons mounted their mules and fled. While they were on their way, the report came to David; "Absalom has killed all the king's sons; not one of them is left." The king tore his clothes and lay down on the ground, while his attendants stood by with their clothes torn.
But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David's brother, said; "My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom's intention ever since the day Amnon raped Tamar. My lord should not be believe the report that all his sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead."
Meanwhile, Absalom had fled.
Now the man standing watch looked up and saw many people on the road west of him, coming down the side of the hill. The watchman told the king, "I see men in the direction of Horonaim, on the side of the hill." Jonadab said to the king; "The king's sons have come; it happened as your servant said." As he finished speaking, the king's sons came in, wailing loudly. The king and all his attendants wept bitterly.
Absalom fled and went to Talmai, son of Ammihud the king of Geshur. David mourned many days for his son. After Absalom fled to Geshur, he stayed there three years. David longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon's death. Joab, son of Zeruiah, knew that the king longed for Absalom. So Joab sent someone to Tekoa to bring a wise woman from there. He said to her; "Pretend you are mourning. Dress in mourning clothes without cosmetics. Act like a woman who has grieved many days for the dead. Then speak these words I give you to the king."
When the woman from Tekoa went to the king, she fell with her face to the ground to honor him, she said, "Help me, Your Majesty!" The king asked her; "What is troubling you?" She said; "I am a widow; my husband is dead. I had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in the field. No one was there to separate them. One struck the other; killing him. Now the whole clan has risen against your servant, saying; 'Hand over the one who killed his brother so that we may execute him. He killed his brother.' They would destroy the only hope I have left, leaving my husband neither name nor descendant."
The king said to the woman; "Go home. I will issue an order in your behalf." But the woman said; "May my lord pardon me and my family, and may the king and his throne be without guilt." The king replied; "If anyone says anything to you, bring them to me; they will not bother you again." She said; "Then let the king invoke Yahva to prevent the avenger from adding to the destruction, so that my son will not be killed." "By Yahva," he said; "not one hair of your son's head will fall to the ground."
Then the woman said; "Let your servant speak another word." "Speak;" he replied. The woman said; "Why have you act like this against the people of Yahva? When the king says this, does he not convict himself? Has the king brought back his banished son? We must die. Like spilled water, we cannot be restored. But Yahva devises ways that a banished person can be restored. "I have come to say this because I am afraid of the people. Your servant thought; 'I will speak to the king; perhaps he will grant his servant's request. Perhaps the king will deliver his servant from the man who is trying to sever me and my son from Yahva's inheritance.' Your servant says; 'May the word of my lord secure my inheritance, for the king is like an angel in discerning good and evil.'"
The king said; "Answer truly what I ask you." "Let my lord speak" she said. The king asked; "Did Joab encourage you in this?" The woman answered; "Truly my lord, no one can deviate from anything the king says. Yes, your servant Joab instructed me in this and told me words to say. Joab did this to indirectly change the situation. My lord has wisdom like that of an angel-he knows all that happens in the land."
The king said to Joab; "Very well, I will do it. Go, bring back my son Absalom." Joab prostrated himself in homage and blessed the king, saying; "Today your servant knows that he has found favor in your eyes, my lord, because the king has granted his servant's request."
Then Joab brought Absalom from Geshur to Jerusalem. The king said; "He must go to his house and not appear before me." So Absalom went to his own house and not meet the king.
In Israel not a man was so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. There was no blemish on his body. Whenever he cut his hair -he cut it once a year when it became too heavy-it weighed 200 shekels by the royal standard. Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter's name was Tamar; she became a beautiful woman.
Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king. Then Absalom sent a message to Joab, intending to send him with a message to the king, but Joab refused to come. He sent again but Joab still refused. Then he instructed his servants; "Joab's barley field is next to mine. Set it on fire." Absalom's servants burnt the field. Then Joab went to Absalom, saying; "Why have your servants burnt my field?"
Absalom replied; "I asked you to come here so I could send you to the king, asking; "Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better to stay there!' I want to see the king. If I am guilty of anything, let him kill me." Joab gave the king this message. The king summoned Absalom, who prostrated himself before the king. The king kissed Absalom, thus pardoning him.
In time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot, horses, and an escort of 50 men. He would arise early and stand by the road to the city gate. When anyone came with a complaint to be decided by the king, Absalom would ask him; "What town are you from?" He would answer; "Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel." Then Absalom would say; "Your claims are valid, but there is no representative of the king to hear you." Then Absalom would add; "If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and receive justice."
When anyone approached him to bow to him, Absalom would clasp his hand and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king for justice. He captured the esteem of the people.
After four years, Absalom said to the king; "Let me go to Hebron to fulfill a vow I made to Yahva. While your servant was living at Geshur in Aram, I made this vow; 'If Yahva takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship Yahva in Hebron.'" The king said to him; "Go in peace." So he went to Hebron.
Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout Israel; "When you hear the trumpets, say; 'Absalom is king in Hebron.'" Absalom invited 200 innocent men to accompany him. They knew nothing about his plan. While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, the Gilonite, David's counselor, to come from Giloh. The conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom's followers kept increasing.
A messenger came and told David; "The people of Israel support Absalom." David said to his officials who were with him in Jerusalem; "We must flee to escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately before he overtakes us and devastate the city." The king's officials answered; "Your servants are will do whatever the king chooses."
The king left with his entire household except ten concubines to take care of the palace. They halted at the edge of the city. All his men marched past him, along with the Kerethites, Pelethites, and the 600 Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath, marched past the king.
The king said to Ittai the Gittite; "Why should you come with us? Stay with Absalom. You are a foreigner, exiled from your homeland. You came only yesterday. Today should I make you wander, even when I do not know where I am going? Go back and take of your people. May Yahva be kind you." Ittai replied to the king; "by Yahva, as my lord lives, wherever he may go, even if it is to life or death, your servant will follow." David said to Ittai; "Go ahead." So Ittai marched with his men and their families. The whole countryside wept aloud as the people passed by. The king crossed the Kidron Valley and moved toward the wilderness.
Zadok was there and the Levites with him carried the ark of the covenant of Yahva. They set down the ark and Abiathar offered sacrifices until the people finished leaving the city. The king said to Zadok; "Take the ark back to the city. If Yahva favors me, he will return me to his dwelling place. If he is not pleased then let him do whatever he desires." The king said; "Do you understand? Go back to the city with my blessing. Take your son Ahimaaz with you and Abiathar's son, Jonathan. You and Abiathar, return with your sons. I will wait at the fords in the wilderness until word comes from you." Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of Yahva back to Jerusalem and stayed there.
David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads and wept as they went. David had been told that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom." David prayed; "Lord, turn Ahithophel's counsel into foolishness." When David arrived at the summit, where people previously worshiped, Hushai, the Arkite, was there to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head. David said; "If you go with me, you will be a burden. But if you return to the city saying to Absalom; 'Your Majesty; I will be your servant. I was your father's servant, but now I will be your servant.' Then you can help me by frustrating Ahithophel's advice. The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be there. Tell them anything you hear in the king's palace. Their two sons, Ahimaaz son of Zadok, and Jonathan son of Abiathar, are there with them. Send them to me if you hear anything." Hushai, David's confidant, arrived at Jerusalem as Absalom was entering the city.
When David had gone a short distance beyond the summit, he met Ziba, steward of Mephibosheth, waiting to meet him, with a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with 200 loaves of bread, 100 cakes of raisins, 100 cakes of figs, and skins of wine. The king asked Ziba; "Why have you brought these?" Ziba answered; "The donkeys are for the king's household to ride, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the wilderness." The king then asked; "Where is your master's grandson?" Ziba said to him, "He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks that today the Israelites will restore him to his grandfather's kingdom." The king said to Ziba; "All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours." "I humbly bow," Ziba said. "May I be favored by you, my lord."
As David approached Bahurim, Shimei, son of Gera, from the clan of Saul came to meet him cursing as he came. He pelted David and his officials with stones, although the troops and the king's guard were beside David. As he cursed, Shimei said; "Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! Yahva has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. Yahva has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!"
Abishai, son of Zeruiah, said; "Why should this dead dog curse the king? Let me cut off his head." The king said; "What does this have to do with you, you son of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because Yahva told him to curse me, who can ask why he does this?" David said to Abishai and his officials, "My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How important is this Benjamite? Leave him alone; let him curse, for Yahva has told him to. It may be that Yahva will see my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of this curse today."
David and his men continued along the road while Shimei went along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went, throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. He refreshed himself there.
Meanwhile, Absalom and the Israelites came to Jerusalem. Ahithophel was with him. Hushai the Arkite, David's confidant, went to Absalom and said to him; "Long live the king! Long live the king!" Absalom said to Hushai; "So this is the love you show your friend? If he is your friend, why did you not go with him?" Hushai said; "No, I will serve the one chosen by Yahva, by these people, and by the men of Israel. I will remain faithful him. Furthermore, whom should I serve? Should I not serve the son? Just as I served your father, so I will serve you." Absalom asked Ahithophel; "Give us your advice. What should we do?" Ahithophel answered; "Sleep with your father's concubines whom he left to care for the palace. Then Israel will hear that you have scorned your father. Everyone with you will be more resolute." They pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father's concubines in the sight of Israel. The advice Ahithophel gave was like a prophet of Yahva. That was how both David and Absalom regarded Ahithophel's advice.
Ahithophel said to Absalom; "I would choose 12,000 men to pursue David to tonight. I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror. Then all the people with him will flee. I would kill only the king and bring the people back to you. This will mean the return of all the people unharmed." This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.
Absalom said; "Summon also Hushai so we can hear what he has to say." When Hushai came to him, Absalom said; "Ahithophel has given this advice. Should we do as he says? If not, give us your opinion." Hushai replied to Absalom; "The advice Ahithophel is not good. You know your father and his men; they are fighters, and as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Your father is an experienced fighter; he will not spend the night with the troops. He is hidden in a cave or some other place. If he should attack your troops first, whoever hears it will say; 'There has been a slaughter among the Absalom troops.' Then even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt with fear, for Israel knows that your father is a fighter and those with him are brave. I advise you; 'Let Israel, from Dan to Beersheba-as numerous as the sand on the seashore-be mustered, with you leading them into battle. Then attack him wherever he may be found. Fall on him as dew settles on the ground. Leave no alive. If he hides into a city, Israel will bring ropes to drag that city down until not even a pebble is left.'"
Absalom with the men of Israel said; "The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel." For Yahva had determined to frustrate the advice of Ahithophel to destroy Absalom.
Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests; "Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel what to do, but I have advised them otherwise. Send a message at once to David; 'Do not spend the night at the fords in the wilderness. Cross over without fail or the king and his people will be overwhelmed.'"
Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel. A female servant was to inform them, then they were to go to David, for they could not risk being seen entering the city. A young man saw them and told Absalom. So they left at once and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed into it. His wife took a covering and spread it out over the opening of the well and scattered straw over it. No one else knew about it. When Absalom's men came to the woman at the house, asking; "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" The woman answered them, "They crossed over the brook." The men searched but found no one, so they returned to Jerusalem.
After they had gone, the two climbed out of the well and went to David, saying; "Cross the river immediately! Ahithophel has advised immediate attack against you." David and his people crossed the Jordan. By daybreak not one failed to cross the Jordan.
When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and left for his hometown. He put his house in order and hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father's tomb.
David went to Mahanaim while Absalom crossed the Jordan with his men. Absalom had appointed Amasa commander of the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of Jether, an Ishmaelite who had married Abigail, the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, the mother of Joab. The Israelites and Absalom camped in Gilead. When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds, sheep and cheese from cows' milk for David and his people to eat. They said; "The people have become exhausted, hungry and thirsty in the wilderness."
David mustered the men with him and appointed commanders over them. David placed a third his troops, under Joab, a third under Joab's brother Abishai, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops; "I will march with you." The men said; "You must not march in battle. If we are forced to flee, even if half of us die they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. It would be better for you to support us from the city." The king answered; "I will do whatever seems best to you."
The king stood beside the gate while his men marched out in units of hundreds and thousands. The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai; "Be gentle with Absalom for my sake." The troops heard the king giving this order concerning Absalom to every commander.
David's army marched from the city to fight Israel to battle in the forest of Ephraim. Absalom's troops were routed by David's men with great casualties-20,000 men. The battle spread over the countryside, and the forest swallowed more men than the sword.
Absalom met David's men by chance while riding his mule. As the mule passed under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom's hair was caught in the branches. He was left hanging in midair while the mule kept going. When one of the men saw what had happened, he told Joab." Joab said to the man, "What! You saw him? Why did you not kill him there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels of silver and a warrior's belt."
The man replied; "Even if 1,000 shekels were placed in my hands, I would not harm the king's son. In our hearing the king commanded you, Abishai and Ittai; 'Protect Absalom for my sake.' If I had put my life in jeopardy-and nothing is hidden from the king-you would have kept away from me." Joab said, "I will not wait." He plunged three javelins into Absalom's heart while Absalom was still alive, hanging from the oak tree. Ten of Joab's armor-bearers surrounded Absalom and stabbed him. Joab sounded the trumpet and his troops stopped pursuing Israel. They threw Absalom into a big pit in the forest and piled a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.
During his lifetime Absalom had erected a pillar in the King's Valley as a monument to himself, for he thought; "I have no son to carry the memory of my name." He named the pillar after himself; it is called Absalom's Monument until today.
Ahimaaz said; "Let me take the news to the king that Yahva has vindicated him by saving him from his enemies." "You must not take the news today;" Joab told him. "You may take the news another time but not today, since the king's son is dead." Joab said to a Cushite, "Go! Tell the king what you have seen." The Cushite bowed before Joab and left. Ahimaaz again said to Joab; "Come what may, please let me run behind the Cushite." But Joab replied; "My son, why do you want to go? You don't have any news that will bring you a reward." He said, "Come what may, I want to run." So Joab said; "Run!" Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and outran the Cushite.
While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman went to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked, he saw a man running alone. The watchman called to the king and reported it. The king said; "If he is alone, he must have good news." The runner came closer and closer. The watchman saw another runner and called to the gatekeeper; "Another man is running alone!" The king said; "He must be bringing good news, too." The watchman said; "The first one runs like Ahimaaz, son of Zadok." "He's a good man," the king said; "He comes with good news." Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, "All is well!" He bowed before the king with his face to the ground, saying; "Praise be to Yahva! He has delivered those who opposed my lord." The king asked; "Is Absalom safe?" Ahimaaz answered; "I saw great confusion as Joab sent the king's servant and me but I do not know what it was." The king said; "Wait here." So he stepped aside and waited.
When the Cushite arrived, saying; "My lord, the king, hear the good news! Yahva has vindicated you today by delivering you from those against you." The king asked the Cushite; "Is Absalom safe?" The Cushite replied; "May the enemies of my lord and all who rise to harm you be like that young man." The king was shaken. He went to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you-O Absalom, my son, my son!"
Joab was told; "The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom." For the whole army, the victory that day was turned into mourning, because the troops heard; "The king is grieving for his son." The men stole into the city as men are ashamed when they flee from battle. The king covered his face and cried aloud; "O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!"
Joab went into the king's house, saying; "Today you have humiliated all your men. They saved your life; your children, your wives, and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by Yahva that if you don't go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now."
The king took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told; "The king is sitting in the gateway," They came before him. Meanwhile, the Israelites had fled to their homes.
Throughout the tribes of Israel, the people were arguing among themselves, saying; "The king delivered us from our enemies; he is the one who rescued us from the Philistines. Now he has fled the country to escape Absalom; and Absalom was killed. Why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?"
David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests; "Ask the elders of Judah; 'Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his palace, since what is being said throughout Israel has reached the king at his quarters? You are my relatives, my own flesh blood. Why should you be the last to bring back the king? Say to Amasa; 'You not my own flesh and blood? May Yahva deal with me severely, if you are not the commander of my army in place of Joab.'"
Cover the hearts of the men, of Judah so that they were all of one mind. They sent word to the king; "Return, you and all your men." Then the king returned and went to the Jordan.
Now the men of Judah had come to Gilgal to meet the king and bring him across the Jordan. Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, hurried down with the men of Judah to meet David. With him were 1,000 Benjamites, along with Ziba, the steward of Saul's household, and his 15 sons and 20 servants. They rushed to the Jordan, where the king was. They crossed at the ford to take the king's household over and to do whatever he wished.
When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king, saying to him; "May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord left Jerusalem. May the king forget my sin. Your servant know that he has sinned, but today I have come here as the first from the tribes of Joseph to meet my lord the king."
Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said; "Shouldn't Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed Yahva's anointed." David replied; "What does this have to do with you, sons of Zeruiah? What right do you have to interfere? Should anyone be killed in Israel today? Don't I know that today I am king over Israel?" So the king swore to Shimei; "You shall not die."
Mephibosheth, Saul's grandson, also went to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet, trimmed his mustache, or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the he returned safely. When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, "Why didn't you go with me, Mephibosheth?"
He said; "My king, since your servant is lame, I said; 'I will have my donkey saddled to ride with the king.' But Ziba my servant betrayed me. He slandered your servant to my lord the king. My lord the king is like an angel; so do whatever you wish. All my grandfather's descendants deserved nothing but death from the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table. So what right do I have to make more appeals to the king?" The k ng said to him; "Why say more? I order you and Ziba to divide the land." Mephibosheth said to the king; "Let him take everything, now that the king has returned home safely."
Barzillai, the Gileadite, also came from Rogelim to escort the king to the Jordan. Barzillai was very old, eighty years. Being a very wealthy man he had supported the king during his stay in Mahanaim. The king said to Barzillai; "Cross with me and stay in Jerusalem; I will provide for you." Barzillai answered; "How long will I live, that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king? I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is enjoyable and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to the king? Your servant will cross the Jordan with the king for a short distance. Why should the king reward me in this way? Let your servant return to die in his town near the tomb of my parents. Here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross with my lord. Do for him whatever you wish." The king said, "Kimham will cross with me. I will do for him whatever you wish. Anything you desire from me, I will do for you." All the people crossed the Jordan; then the king crossed. The king kissed Barzillai and bid him farewell. Barzillai returned to his home.
When the king crossed to Gilgal, Kimham crossed with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel escorted the king. Soon all the men of Israel were coming to the king, asking; "Why did our brothers, men of Judah, steal the king to take him and his household across Jordan, together with all his men?" The men of Judah answered; "We did this because the king is closely related to us. Why are you angry about it? Have we eaten any of the king's provisions? Have we taken anything for ourselves?" Israel replied Judah; "We have ten shares in the kingdom; so we have a greater claim on David than you. Why do you treat us with contempt? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?" Judah pressed its claims even more forcefully than Israel.
A troublemaker named Sheba, son of Bikri a Benjamite, sounded the trumpet and shouted,
We have no share in David,
No part in Jesse's son!
Every man to his tent, Israel!"
The men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba. But the men of Judah stayed by their king from Jordan to Jerusalem.
When David returned to his palace in Jerusalem, he put the ten concubines he had in a house under guard. He provided for them but had no sexual relations with them. They were kept in confinement till the day of their death, living as widows.
The king said to Amasa; "Summon Judah to come to me within three days, and be here yourself." When Amasa went to summon Judah, he took longer the king had set for him.
David said to Abishai, "Sheba will do us more harm than Absalom. Pursue him with your master's men, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us." Joab's men, the Kerethites, Pelethites, and the mighty warriors under the command of Abishai marched from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba.
While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing a belt strapped over his military tunic, with a dagger in its sheath. Joab said to Amasa; "How are you, my brother?" Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand as if to kiss him. Amasa was not on guard against Joab who slipped the dagger out and plunged it into his belly. His intestines spilled out on the ground and Amasa died without a second stab. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bikri. One of Joab's men stood beside Amasa, saying; "Whoever favors Joab and David, follow Joab!" Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road. When the man saw that the troops came to a halt at Amasa, he dragged him into a pasture and threw a garment over him. After Amasa had been removed from the road, everyone went with Joab.
Sheba passed through the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maakah. The Bikrites, followed him info the city. The troops with Joab besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp against the city wall. While they were battering the wall, a wise woman called from the city; "Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him." He went toward her, and she asked; "Are you Joab?" "I am," he answered. She said; "Listen to what your servant has to say." "I'm listening," he said. She continued; "Long ago they used to say; 'Let them ask in Abel if loyalty is finished or ended in Israel.' We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow Yahva's inheritance?" Joab replied; "Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! That is not the case. Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has raised his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man and I'll withdraw from the city." The woman said to Joab, "His head will be thrown to you from the wall." Then the woman went to the people with her advice. They cut off Sheba's head and threw it to Joab. He sounded the trumpet and his men dispersed to his home. Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.
Joab was commander Israel's entire army. Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; Adoniram was in charge of forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; Sheva was secretary; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; and Ira the Jairite was David's priest.
During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought Yahva, who said; "It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; because he killed the Gibeonites."
The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) David asked the Gibeonites; "What may I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless Yahva's inheritance?" The Gibeonites answered him; "We had no right to ask silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to kill anyone in Israel." "What do you want me to do for you?" David asked.
They answered the king; "As for Saul who plotted to destroyed us so that we have been decimated and have no place in Israel, let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed, and their bodies exposed before Yahva." The king said; "I will give them to you."
The king spared Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the oath before Yahva between David and Jonathan. The king gave Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah's daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul; together with the five sons of Saul's daughter Merab, whom she had borne to Adriel, son of Barzillai the Meholathite. He gave them to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before Yahva. All seven of them fell together; they were killed during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.
Rizpah daughter of Aiah spread sackcloth for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest season until the rainy season, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night. When David was told what Rizpah, had done, he took the bones of Saul and Jonathan from the people of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they killed Saul on Gilboa.) David brought the bones of Saul and Jonathan from there, as well as the bones of those killed and exposed. They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan in the tomb of Saul's father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king ordered. After that, Yahva answered prayer in behalf of the land.
Again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went with his men to fight the Philistines, and he became exhausted. Ishbi-Benob, descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed 300 shekels was armed with a new sword, said he would kill David. But Abishai, son of Zeruiah, rescued David; he killed the Philistine. Then David's men swore to him, saying; "Never again will you go with us to battle. The lamp of Israel must not be extinguished." There was another battle with the Philistines at Gob. Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendants of Rapha. In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod. In another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot-24 in all. He also descended from Rapha. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimeah, David's brother, killed him. These four were descendants of Rapha in Gath were killed by David and his men.
David sang this song when Yahva delivered him from his enemies and from Saul.
Yahva is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer;
Yahva is my rock in whom I take refuge,
My shield and my horn of salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior;
From violent people you save me.
I called to Yahva, who is worthy of praise,
I have been saved from my enemies.
The waves of death swirled about me;
The torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
The snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to Yahva;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
My cry came to his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
The foundations of the heavens shook;
They trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
Consuming fire came from his mouth,
Burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
Dark clouds were under his feet.
He mounted the cherubim and flew;
He soared on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness a canopy around him,
The dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence
Bolts of lightning blazed forth.
Yahva thundered from heaven;
The voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
With great bolts of lightning he routed them.
The valleys of the sea were exposed
The foundations of the earth laid bare
At the rebuke of Yahva,
At the blast of breath from his nostrils,
He reached from on high and clasped me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
From foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in my disaster.
But Yahva was my support.
He brought me to a spacious place;
He rescued me because he delighted in me.
Yahva has dealt with me according to my honor;
According to the cleanness of my hands.
I have kept the ways of Yahva;
I am not guilty of turning from my God.
All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
I have been blameless before him
I have kept myself from sin.
Yahva has rewarded me for my righteousness,
According to my cleanness in his sight.
To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
To the blameless you show yourself blameless,
To the pure you show yourself pure,
But to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
You save the humble,
But on the haughty your eyes bring them low.
You, LORD, are my lamp;
Yahva turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
With Yahva I can scale a wall.
As for Yahva, his way is perfect:
Yahva's word is flawless;
He shields all who take his refuge.
For who is God besides Yahva?
Who is the Rock except our God?
It is Yahva who arms me with strength
And keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
My arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You protected me with a faultless shield;
Your help has made me great.
You provide a broad path for my feet,
So that my ankles do not give way.
I pursued my enemies and crushed them;
I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
I crushed them completely, and they could not rise;
They fell beneath my feet.
You armed me with strength for battle;
You humbled my adversaries before me.
You made my enemies turn in flight,
I destroyed my foes while they cried for help
But there was no one to save them,
To Yahva, but he did not answer.
I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth;
I pounded and trampled them like mud in the streets.
You delivered me from the attacks of the peoples;
You have preserved me as the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
Foreigners cower before me;
As soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
They lose heart; trembling from their strongholds.
Yahva lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!
He is the God who avenges me,
Who puts the nations under me,
Who sets me free from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
From a violent man you rescued me.
Therefore I will praise you among the nations;
I will sing the praises of your name.
He gives his king great victories;
He shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
To David and his descendants forever.
These are the last words of David:
The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse,
The utterance of the man exalted by Yahva,
The man anointed by the God of Jacob,
The hero of Israel's songs:
The Spirit of Yahva Spoke through me;
His word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke,
The Rock of Israel said to me:
'When one rules over people in righteousness,
When he rules in the fear of Yahva,
He is like the light of morning at sunrise,
On a cloudless morning,
Like the brightness after rain
That brings grass from the earth.'
If my house were not right with Yahva,
He would not have made an everlasting covenant,
Arranged and secured in every part;
Surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation
And grant me my every desire.
Evil men are to be cast aside like thorns,
Which are not gathered by hand.
Whoever touches thorns
Uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear;
They are burned where they lie.
These are David's mighty warriors:
Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against 800 men, whom he killed in one encounter.
Next was Eleazar, son of Dodai the Ahohite. He was with David when they taunted the Philistines at Pas Dammim. The Israelites retreated, but Eleazar stood his ground killing the Philistines until his hand tired and stuck to the sword. Yahva brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar but only to strip the dead.
Next was Shammah, son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines attacked where there was a field of lentils, Israel's troops fled from them. But Shammah stood in the middle of the field. He defended it killing the Philistines. Yahva gave him a great victory.
During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. David longed for water and said; "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!" So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before Yahva. "Far be it from me, LORD, to do this!" he said. "Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?" And David would not drink it.
Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors.
Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three. He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three. Was he not held in greater honor than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them.
Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab's two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he killed a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah attacked him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear. Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
Among the Thirty were:
Asahel the brother of Joab,
Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem,
Shammah the Harodite,
Elika the Harodite,
Helez the Paltite,
Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa,
Abiezer from Anathoth,
Sibbekai the Hushathite,
Zalmon the Ahohite,
Maharai the Netophathite,
Heledson of Baanah the Netophathite,
Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin,
Benaiah the Pirathonite,
Hiddai from the ravines of Gaash,
Abi-Albon the Arbathite,
Azmaveth the Barhumite,
Eliahba the Shaalbonite,
The sons of Jashen,
Jonathan son of Shammah the Hararite,
Ahiam son of Shararthe Hararite,
Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maakathite,
Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,
Hezro the Carmelite,
Paarai the Arbite,
Igal son of Nathan from Zobah,
The son of Hagri,
Zelek the Ammonite,
Naharai the Beerothite, the armor-bearer of Joab,
Ira the Ithrite,
Gareb the Ithrite
Uriah the Hittite.
There were 37 in all.
The king overruled Joab and the army commanders; they left his presence to enroll the fighting men of Israel.
After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, in the gorge south of the town, then went through Gad to Jazer. They continued to Gilead and the region of Tahtim-Hodshi, then to Dan, and then to Sidon. Then they went to the fortress of Tyre; and to all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah.
After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were 800,000 able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah 500,000.
David was remorseful that he had counted the fighting men, said to Yahva; "I have sinned in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, forgive your servant. I have done a very foolish thing." Before David arose the next morning, the word of Yahva had come to the prophet Gad, his seer; "Tell David that Yahva says; 'I am giving you three options. Choose one for me to punish you.'" Gad went to David, saying; "Shall there be three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies who pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Think carefully and choose the option that I should relay the one who sent me." David said to Gad, "I am in deep distress. Let's implore Yahva, for his mercy is great; but do not let me be captured by enemies."
Yahva inflicted a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the period designated, and 70,000 of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the afflicting angel stretched his hand to destroy Jerusalem, Yahva relented, saying to the angel; "Enough! Cease the plague." The angel was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. When David saw the angel who was killing the people, he said to Yahva; "I have sinned. The shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Inflict me and my family."
That day Gad went to David, saying; "Build an altar to Yahva on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." David went, as Yahva had ordered through Gad. When Araunah saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he prostrated himself. Araunah asked; "Why has my lord come to his servant?" "To buy your threshing floor," David answered; "so I can build an altar to Yahva so that the plague may be lifted." Araunah said to David; "Let my lord take whatever he wishes and offer it. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sleds and ox yokes for the wood. My lord, Araunah gives all this to the king." Araunah also said; "May Yahva accept you." David replied to Araunah; "No, I insist on paying for it. I will not sacrifice burnt offerings to Yahva that cost me nothing." David bought the threshing floor and the oxen, paying 50 shekels of silver for them. David built an altar to Yahva and sacrificed burnt and fellowship offerings. Then Yahva answered his prayer by lifting the plague.
© Copyright 2015-2017 D E Pauley