2 Samuel 18:1-33

18  And David held a muster of the people he had with him, and appointed over them captains of thousands and of hundreds; 2  and David divided the people into thirds, a third under Joab and a third under Joab’s brother Abishai the son of Serujah, and a third under Ittai the Gathite. And David said to the people “I will go out with you myself”; 3  but the people said “You shall not; for if we run nothing will be thought of it, and if half of us die nothing will be thought of it, but you are equal to ten regiments of us; it is better now that we should have you in the city to help us.” 4  And the king said to them “I will do as you think best.” And the king stood at the side of the gate while all the people went out by hundreds and thousands; 5  and the king gave Joab and Abishai and Ittai the order “Do be easy with my boy Absalom”; and all the people heard it when the king gave all the generals orders in regard to Absalom. 6  And the people went out in the field to meet the Israelites. And the battle was fought in Ephraim Badlands; 7 * and the people of Israel were defeated there by David’s soldiers, and the losses were heavy that day, twenty thousand men. 8  And the fighting was scattered all over the countryside there, and the Badlands ate up more of the people that day than the sword did. 9 ** And Absalom, riding on a mule, came in the way of David’s soldiers; and the mule got under the boughs of a great terebinth-tree, and his head caught in the tree, and he hung in the air, while the mule he was on went along. 10 * And a man saw it and told Joab “‘Here, I saw Absalom hanging in the terebinth-tree.” 11  And Joab said to the man that told him “Here, you saw him’—and how came it you did not strike him to the ground there? and it would have been my business to give you ten shekels of silver and a belt.” 12  But the man said to Joab “And if I were weighing in my hand a thousand shekels of silver I would not lay hands on the prince, because in our hearing the king gave you and Abishai and Ittai the order ‘Look out for my boy Absalom.’ 13  Or had I played false with his life, nothing is hidden from the king, and you would have stood aloof.” 14  And Joab said “Then I will make a beginning for you,” and took three darts in his hand and drove them into Absalom’s heart, he being still alive in the midst of the tree; 15  and ten young men who were squires to Joab surrounded Absalom and hacked him to death. 16 * And Joab blew the ram-horn, and the people came back from pursuing the Israelites; for Joab kept the people in hand. 17  And they took Absalom and threw him into the biggest sinkhole in the Badlands and reared a very large cairn of stones over him; and all Israel fled to their homes. 18  But during his life Absalom had taken and reared for himself the obelisk in the King’s Vale, because he thought “I have no son to commemorate my name,” and named the obelisk after himself; and it is called Absalom’s Hand to this day. 19  And Ahimaʽas the son of Sadok said “Let me run and bring the king the news that Jehovah has given him justice against his enemies.” 20  But Joab said to him “You are no man for news today; you shall carry news another day, but not today, seeing that the king’s son is dead”; 21  and Joab said to a Negro “Go tell the king what you have seen,” and the Negro did reverence to Joab and ran. 22  And again Ahimaʽas the son of Sadok said to Joab “Anyhow, let me too run after the Negro.” And Joab said “What are you running for, son, when you have no welcome message?” 23  “Anyhow, let me run”—and he said to him “Run.” And Ahimaʽas ran by the Pale road and got ahead of the Negro. 24  And David was sitting between the two gates; and the lookout went on the wall to the roof of the gate, and raised his eyes and saw that there was a man running alone. 25  And the lookout called and told the king; and the king said “If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.” And he went on, coming nearer and nearer; 26 * and the lookout saw another man running. And the lookout called to the gate-ward “Here comes another man running alone”; and the king said “He too is bringing news.” 27  And the lookout said “It strikes me the first man’s running is like Ahimaʽas the son of Sadok’s”; and the king said “That is a good man, and will be coming for good news.” 28 * And Ahimaʽas approached and said to the king “All right” and prostrated himself on the ground in reverence, and said “Blessed be your God Jehovah, who has defeated the men that raised their hands against your majesty.” 29  And the king said “The boy Absalom is all right?” and Ahimaʽas said “I saw great uproar when your majesty’s servant Joab sent your servant, but I did not know what.” 30  And the king said “Come around and stand here”; and he went around and stood; and up came the Negro. 31  And the Negro said “Good news for your majesty! Jehovah has given you justice today against all that had stood up against you.” 32  And the king said to the Negro “Is the boy Absalom all right?” and the Negro said “May all your majesty’s enemies, and all who stand up against your majesty with evil intent, be as the boy is.” 33  And the king shook, and went up to the upper story of the gate and wept; and he said as he went “My son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! if only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!”


18:7 The Badlands of Palestine are ground covered with great blocks of stone, caves, sinkholes, and scrubby trees and bushes
18:9 Or of the great
18:9 Or oak
18:10 Or oak
18:16 Or was considerate of the people
18:26 Var.* called to the gate
18:28 Or said to the king “Hail”