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2 Samuel


David's rule at Hebron

  1.

SAMUEL 2. DAVID learns of Saul's death.

1WHEN DAVID RETURNED from his victory over the Amalekites, he spent two days in Ziklag. 2And on the third day after Saul's death a man came from the army with his clothes rent and dust on his head. When he came into David's presence he fell to the ground in obeisance, 3and David asked him where he had come from. He answered, 'I have escaped from the army of Israel.' 4And David said to him, 'What news? Tell me.' 'The army has been driven from the field,' he answered, 'and many have fallen in battle. Saul and Jonathan his son are dead.' 5David said to the young man who brought the news, 'How do you know that Saul and Jonathan are dead?' 6The man answered, 'It so happened that I was on Mount Gilboa and saw Saul leaning on his spear with the chariots and horsemen closing in upon him. 7He turned round and, seeing me, called to me. I said, "What is it, sir?" 8He asked who I was, and I said, "An Amalekite." 9Then he said to me, "Come and stand over me and dispatch me. I still live, but the throes of death have seized me." 10So I stood over him and gave him the death-blow; for I knew that, broken as he was, he could not live. Then I took the crown from his head and the armlet from his arm, and I have brought them here to you, sir.' 11At that David caught at his clothes and rent them, and so did all the men with him. 12They beat their breasts and wept, because Saul and Jonathan his son and the people of the LORD, the house of Israel, had fallen in battle; and they fasted till evening. 13David said to the young man who brought the news, 'Where do you come from?', and he answered, 'I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite.' 14'How is it', said David, 'that you were not afraid to raise your hand to slay the LORD's anointed?' 15And he summoned one of his own young men and ordered him to fall upon the man. So the young man struck him down and killed him; 16and David said, 'Your blood be on your own head; for out of your own mouth you condemned yourself when you said, "I killed the LORD's anointed." '

David's lament for Saul & Jonathan.

17David made this lament over Saul and Jonathan his son; 18and he ordered that this dirge over them should be taught to the people of Judah. It was written down and may be found in the Book of Jashar [Or the Book of the Upright]:


  2.

David annointed king over Judah. 1011/10bce (Israel)

1After this David inquired of the LORD, 'Shall I go up into one of the cities of Judah?' The LORD answered, 'Go.' David asked, 'To which city?', and the answer came, 'To Hebron.' 2So David went to Hebron with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail widow of Nabal of Carmel. 3David also brought the men who had joined him, with their families, and they settled in the city [prob. rdg, Heb cities] of Hebron. 4The men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

Word came to David that the men of Jabesh-gilead had buried Saul, 5and he sent them this message: 'The LORD bless you because you kept faith with Saul your lord and buried him. 6For this may the LORD keep faith and truth with you, and I for my part will show you favour too, because you have done this. 7Be strong, be valiant, now that Saul your lord is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me to be king over them.'

ISHBOSHETH king of Israel.

8Meanwhile Saul's commander-in-chief, Abner son of Ner, had taken Saul's son Ishbosheth, brought him across the Jordan to Mahanaim, 9and made him king over Gilead, the Asherites, Jezreel, Ephraim, and Benjamin, and all Israel. 10Ishbosheth was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The tribe of Judah, however, followed David. 11David's rule over Judah in Hebron lasted seven years and a half.

War between Israel & Judah.

12Abner son of Ner, with the troops of Saul's son Ishbosheth, marched out from Mahanaim to Gibeon, 13and Joab son of Zeruiah marched out with David's troops from Hebron. They met at the pool of Gibeon and took up their positions one on one side of the pool and the other on the other side. 14Abner said to Joab, 'Let the young men come forward and join in single combat before us.' Joab answered, 'Yes, let them.' 15So they came up, one by one, and took their places, twelve for Benjamin and for Ishbosheth and twelve from David's men. 16Each man seized his opponent by the head and thrust his sword into his side; and thus they fell together. That is why that place, which lies in Gibeon, was called the Field of Blades.

17There ensued a fierce battle that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David's troops. 18All three sons of Zeruiah were there, Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Asahel, who was swift as a gazelle on the plains, 19ran straight after Abner, swerving neither to right nor left in his pursuit. 20Abner turned and asked, 'Is it you, Asahel?' Asahel answered, 'It is.' 21Abner said, 'Turn aside to right or left, tackle one of the young men and win his belt for yourself.' But Asahel would not abandon the pursuit. 22Abner again urged him to give it up. 'Why should I kill you?' he said. 'How could I look Joab your brother in the face?' 23When he still refused to turn aside, Abner struck him in the belly with a back-thrust of his spear [a back-thrust of his spear: prob. rdg, Heb obscure] so that the spear came out behind him, and he fell dead in his tracks. All who came to the place where Asahel lay dead stopped there. 24But Joab and Abishai kept up the pursuit of Abner, until, at sunset, they reached the hill of Ammah, opposite Giah on the road leading to the pastures of Gibeon.

25The Benjamites rallied to Abner and, forming themselves into a single company, took up their stand on the top of the hill of Ammah [the hill of Ammah: prob. rdg, cp v24; Heb a single hill]. 26Abner called to Joab, 'Must the slaughter go on for ever? Can you not see that it will be all the more bitter in the end? Will you never recall the people from the pursuit of their kinsmen?' 27Joab answered, 'As God lives, if you had not spoken, the people would not have given up the pursuit till morning.' 28Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and all the people abandoned the pursuit of the men of Israel and the fighting ceased. 29Abner and his men moved along the Arabah all that night, crossed the Jordan and went on all the morning till they reached Mahanaim. 30When Joab returned from the pursuit of Abner, he assembled his troops and found that, besides Asahel, nineteen of David's men were missing. 31David's forces had routed the Benjamites and the followers of Abner, killing three hundred and sixty of them. 32They took up Asahel and buried him in his father's tomb at Bethlehem. Joab and his men marched all night, and as day broke they reached Hebron.


  3.

Abner & Ishbosheth quarrel.

1THE WAR BETWEEN THE HOUSES of Saul and David was long drawn out, David growing steadily stronger while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.

2 [vv2-5: cp 1Chr. 3.1-4] Sons were born to David at Hebron. His eldest was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam of Jezreel; 3his second Chileab, whose mother was Abigail widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third Absalom, whose mother was Maacah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4the fourth Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith; the fifth Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital; 5and the sixth Ithream, whose mother was David's wife Eglah. These were all born to David at Hebron.

Abner joins David. 6As the war between the houses of Saul and David went on, Abner made his position gradually stronger in the house of Saul. 7Now Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. Ishbosheth asked Abner, 'Why have you slept with my father's concubine?' 8Abner was very angry at this and exclaimed, 'Am I a baboon in the pay of Judah? Up to now I have been loyal to the house of your father Saul, to his brothers and friends, and I have not betrayed you into David's hands; yet you choose this moment to charge me with disloyalty over this woman. 9But now, so help me God, I will do all I can to bring about what the LORD swore to do for David: 10I will set to work to bring down the house of Saul and to put David on the throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.' 11Ishbosheth could not say another word; he was too much afraid of Abner. 12Then Abner, seeking to make friends where he could, instead of going to David himself sent envoys with this message: 'Let us come to terms, and I will do all I can to bring the whole of Israel over to you.' 13David sent answer: 'Good, I will come to terms with you, but on this one condition, that you do not come into my presence without bringing Saul's daughter Michal to me.' 14David also sent messengers to Saul's son Ishbosheth with the demand: 'Hand over to me my wife Michal to whom I was betrothed at the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.' 15Thereupon Ishbosheth sent and took her away from her husband, Paltiel son of Laish. 16Paltiel followed her as far as Bahurim, weeping all the way, until Abner ordered him to go back home, and he went.

17Abner now approached the elders of Israel and said, 'For some time past you have wanted David for your king; 18now is the time to act, for this is the word of the LORD about David: "By the hand of my servant David I will deliver my people Israel from the Philistines and from all their enemies." ' 19Abner spoke also to the Benjamites and then went on to report to David at Hebron all that the Israelites and the Benjamites had agreed. 20When Abner was admitted to David's presence, there were twenty men with him and David gave a feast for them all. 21Then Abner said to David, 'I shall now go and bring the whole of Israel over to your majesty, and they shall make a covenant with you. Then you will be king over a realm after your own heart.' David dismissed Abner, granting him safe conduct.

The murder of Abner.

22David's men and Joab returned from a raid bringing a great deal of plunder with them, and by this time Abner, after his dismissal, was no longer with David in Hebron. 23So when Joab and his raiding party arrived, they were greeted with the news that Abner son of Ner had been with the king and had departed under safe conduct. 24Joab went in to the king and said, 'What have you done? Here you have had Abner with you. How could you let him go? He has got clean away! 25You know Abner son of Ner: he came meaning to deceive you, to learn all about your movements and to find out what you are doing.' 26When he left David's presence, Joab sent messengers after Abner and they brought him back from the Pool of Sirah; but David knew nothing of all this. 27On Abner's return to Hebron, Joab drew him aside in the gateway, as though to speak privately with him, and there, in revenge for his brother Asahel, he stabbed him in the belly, and he died. 28When David heard the news he said, 'I and my realm are for ever innocent in the sight of the LORD of the blood of Abner son of Ner. 29May it recoil upon the head of Joab and upon all his family! May the house of Joab never be free from running sore or foul disease, nor lack a son fit only to ply the distaff or doomed to die by the sword or beg his bread!' 30So Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in battle at Gibeon. 31Then David ordered Joab and all the people with him to rend their clothes, put on sackcloth and beat their breasts for Abner, and the king himself walked behind the bier. 32They buried Abner in Hebron and the king wept aloud at the tomb, while all the people wept with him. 33The king made this lament for Abner:

35They came to persuade David to eat something; but it was still day and he swore, 'So help me God! I will not touch food of any kind before sunset.' 36The people took note of this and approved; indeed, everything the king did pleased them. 37Everyone throughout Israel knew on that day that the king had had no hand in the murder of Abner son of Ner. 38The king said to his servants, 'Do you not know that a warrior, a great man, has fallen this day in Israel? 39King though I am, I feel weak and powerless in face of these ruthless sons of Zeruiah; they are too much for me; the LORD will requite the wrongdoer as he deserves.'


  4.

The murder of Ishbosheth.

1When Saul's son Ishbosheth heard that Abner had been killed in Hebron, his courage failed him and all Israel was dismayed. 2Now Ishbosheth had [had: prob. rdg, Heb omitted] two officers, who were captains of raiding parties, and whose names were Baanah and Rechab; they were Benjamites, sons of Rimmon of Beeroth, Beeroth being reckoned part of Benjamin; 3but the. Beerothites had fled to Gittaim, where they have lived ever since.

4(Saul's son Jonathan had a son lame in both feet. He was five years old when word of the death of Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse had picked him up and fled, but in her hurry to get away he fell and was crippled. His name was Mephibosheth.)

5Rechab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon of Beeroth, came to the house of Ishbosheth in the heat of the day and went in, while he was taking his midday rest. 6Now the door-keeper had been sifting wheat, but she had grown drowsy and fallen asleep, so Rechab and his brother Baanah crept in, 7found their way to the room where he was asleep on the bed, and struck him dead. They cut off his head and took it with them, and, making their way along the Arabah all night, 8came to Hebron. They brought Ishbosheth's head to David at Hebron and said to the king, 'Here is the head of Ishbosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life. The LORD has avenged your majesty today on Saul and on his family.' 9David answered Rechab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon of Beeroth, with an oath: 'As the LORD lives, who has rescued me from all my troubles! 10I seized the man who brought me word that Saul was dead and thought it good news; I killed him in Ziklag, and that was how I rewarded him for his news. 11How much more when ruffians have killed an innocent man on his bed in his own house? Am I not to take vengeance on you now for the blood you have shed, and rid the earth of you?' 12David gave the word, and the young men killed them; they cut off their hands and feet and hung them up beside the pool in Hebron, but the head of Ishbosheth they took and buried in Abner's tomb at Hebron.


David king in Jerusalem

  5.

DAVID KING of a united kingdom of Israel & Judah. (1016 BCE) - 1Chr.11.1-9, 1Chr.14.1-7

1 [vv1-3, 6-10: cp 1Chr. 11.1-9] NOW ALL THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL came to David at Hebron and said to him, 'We are your own flesh and blood. 2In the past, while Saul was still king over us, you led the forces of Israel to war and you brought them home again. And the LORD said to you, "You shall be shepherd of my people Israel; you shall be their prince." ' 3All the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; there David made a covenant with them before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4David came to the throne at the age of thirty and reigned for forty years. 5In Hebron he had ruled over Judah for seven years and a half, and for thirty-three years he reigned in Jerusalem over Israel and Judah together.

The capture of Jerusalem.

6The king and his men went to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, whose land it was. The Jebusites said to David, 'Never shall you come in here; not till you have disposed of the blind and the lame', meaning that David should never come in. 7None the less David did capture the stronghold of Zion, and it is now known as the City of David. 8David said on that day, 'Everyone who would kill a Jebusite, let him use his grappling-iron to reach the lame and the blind, David's bitter enemies.' That is why they say, 'No blind or lame man shall come into the LORD's house.'

9David took up his residence in the stronghold and called it the City of David. He built the city [the city: prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 11.8; Heb omitted] round it, starting at the Millo and working inwards. 10So David steadily grew stronger, for the LORD the God of Hosts was with him.

11 [vv11-25:.cp 1Chr. 14.1-16] Hiram king of Tyre sent an embassy to David; he sent cedar logs, and with them carpenters and stonemasons, who built David a house. 12David knew by now that the LORD had confirmed him as king over Israel and had made his royal power stand higher for the sake of his people Israel.

13After he had moved from Hebron he took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem; and more sons and daughters were born to him. 14 [vv14-16: cp 1Chr. 3.5-8; 14.4-7] These are the names of the children born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.

Victory over the Philistines. - 1Chr.14.8-17

17When the Philistines learnt that David had been anointed king over Israel, they came up in force to seek him out. David, hearing of this, took refuge in the stronghold. 18The Philistines had come and overrun the Vale of Rephaim. 19So David inquired of the LORD, 'If I attack the Philistines, wilt thou deliver them into my hands?' And the LORD answered, 'Go, I will deliver the Philistines into your hands.' 20So he went up and attacked them at Baal-perazim and defeated them there. 'The LORD has broken through my enemies' lines,' David said, 'as a river breaks its banks.' That is why the place was named Baal-perazim [That is Baal of Break-through]. 21The Philistines left their idols behind them there, and David and his men carried them off.

22The Philistines made another attack and overran the Vale of Rephaim. 23David inquired of the LORD, who said, 'Do not attack now but wheel round and take them in the rear opposite the aspens. 24As soon as you hear a rustling sound in the tree-tops, then act at once; for the LORD will have gone out before you to defeat the Philistine army.' 25David did as the LORD had commanded, and drove the Philistines in flight all the way from Geba to Gezer.


  6.

The Ark is brought to Jerusalem. - 1Chr.13.1-14, 1Chr.15.25-16.6, 1Chr.16.43

1After that David again summoned the picked men of Israel, thirty thousand in all, 2 [vv2-11: cp 1Chr. 13.6-14] and went with the whole army to Baalath-judah [to Baalath-judah: prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 13.6, Heb from the lords of Judah] to fetch the Ark of God which bears the name of the LORD of Hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim. 3They mounted the Ark of God on a new cart and conveyed it from the house of Abinadab on the hill, with Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, guiding the cart. 4They took it with the Ark of God upon it from Abinadab's house on the hill, with Ahio walking in front. 5David and all Israel danced for joy before the LORD without restraint to the sound of singing [without ... singing: prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 13.8; Heb to the beating of batons], of harps and lutes, of tambourines and castanets and cymbals. 6But when they came to a certain threshing-floor, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out to the Ark of God and took hold of it. 7The LORD was angry with Uzzah and struck him down there for his rash act. So he died there beside the Ark of God. 8David was vexed because the LORD's anger had broken out upon Uzzah, and he called the place Perez-uzzah [That is Outbreak on Uzzah], the name it still bears. 9David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, 'How can I harbour the Ark of the LORD after this?' 10He felt he could not take the Ark of the LORD with him to the City of David, but turned aside and carried it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11Thus the Ark of the LORD remained at Obed-edom's house for three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his family.

12 [vv12-19: cp 1Chr. 15.25-16.3] When they told David that the LORD had blessed Obed-edom's family and all that was his because of the Ark of God, he went and brought up the Ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the City of David with much rejoicing. 13When the bearers of the Ark of the LORD had gone six steps he sacrificed an ox and a buffalo. 14David, wearing a linen ephod, danced without restraint before the LORD. 15He and all the Israelites brought up the Ark of the LORD with shouting and blowing of trumpets. 16But as the Ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Saul's daughter Michal looked down through a window and saw King David leaping and capering before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart. 17When they had brought in the Ark of the LORD, they put it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David offered whole-offerings and shared-offerings before the LORD. 18After David had completed these sacrifices, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of Hosts 19and gave food to all the people, a flat loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins, to every man and woman in the whole gathering of the Israelites. Then all the people went home. 20When David returned to greet his household, Michal, Saul's daughter, came out to meet him and said, 'What a glorious day for the king of Israel, when he exposed his person in the sight of his servants' slave-girls like any empty-headed fool!' 21David answered Michal, 'But it was done in the presence of the LORD, who chose me instead of your father and his family and appointed me prince over Israel, the people of the LORD. Before the LORD I will dance for joy, yes, 22and I will earn yet more disgrace and lower myself still more in your eyes. But those girls of whom you speak, they will honour me for it.' 23Michal, Saul's daughter, had no child to her dying day.


  7.

Nathan the prophet. - 1Chr.17.1-15

1 [vv1-29: cp 1Chr. 17.1-27] As soon as the king was established in his house and the LORD had given him security from his enemies on all sides, 2he said to Nathan the prophet, 'Here I live in a house of cedar, while the Ark of God is housed in curtains.' 3Nathan answered the king, 'Very well, do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you.' 4But that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: 5'Go and say to David my servant, "This is the word of the LORD: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? 6Down to this day I have never dwelt in a house since I brought lsrael up from Egypt; I made my journey in a tent and a tabernacle. 7Wherever I journeyed with Israel, did I ever ask any of the judges [prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 17.6; Heb tribes] whom I appointed shepherds of my people Israel why they had not built me a house of cedar?" 8Then say this to my servant David: "This is the word of the LORD of Hosts: I took you from the pastures, and from following the sheep, to be prince over my people Israel. 9I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have destroyed all the enemies in your path. I will make you a great name among the great ones of the earth. 10I will assign a place for my people Israel; there I will plant them, and they shall dwell in their own land. They shall be disturbed no more, never again shall wicked men oppress them as they did in the past, 11ever since the time when I appointed judges over Israel my people; and I will give you peace from all your enemies. The LORD has told you that he would build up your royal house. 12When your life ends. and you rest with your forefathers, I will set up one of your family, one of your own children, to succeed you and I will establish his kingdom. 13It is he shall build a house in honour of my name, and I will establish his royal throne for ever. 14I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him as any father might, and not spare the rod. 15My love will never be withdrawn from him as I withdrew it from Saul, whom I removed from your path. 16Your family shall be established and your kingdom shall stand for all time in my sight, and your throne shall be established for ever." '

17Nathan recounted to David all that had been said to him and all that had been revealed.

David's prayer of thanksgiving. - 1.Chr.17.16-27

18Then King David went into the presence of the LORD and took his place there and said, '.What am I, Lord GOD, and what is my family, that thou hast brought me thus far? 19It was a small thing in thy sight to have planned for thy servant's house in days long past. But such, O Lord GOD, is the lot of a man embarked on a high career [embarked on a high career: prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 17.17; Heb omitted]. 20And now what more can I say? for well thou knowest thy servant David, O Lord GOD. 21Thou hast made good thy word; it was thy purpose to spread thy servant's fame, and so thou hast raised me to this greatness. 22Great indeed art thou, O Lord GOD; we have never heard of one like thee; there is no god but thee. 23And thy people Israel, to whom can they be compared? Is there any other nation on earth whom thou, O God, hast set out to redeem from slavery. to be thy people? Any other for whom thou hast done great and terrible things to win fame for thyself? Any other whom thou hast redeemed for thyself from Egypt by driving out other nations and their gods to make way for them? 24Thou hast established thy people Israel as thy own for ever, and thou, O LORD, hast become their God. 25But now, LORD God, perform what thou hast promised for thy servant and his house, and for all time; make good what thou hast said. 26May thy fame be great for evermore and let men say, "The LORD of Hosts is God over Israel.'' So shall the house of thy servant David be established before thee. 27O LORD of Hosts, God of Israel, thou hast shown me thy purpose, in saying to thy servant, "I will build up your house"; and therefore I have made bold to offer this prayer to thee. 28Thou, O Lord GOD, art God; thou hast made these noble promises to thy servant, and thy promises come true; 29be pleased now to bless thy servant's house that it may continue always before thee; thou, O Lord GOD, hast promised, and thy blessing shall rest upon thy servant's house for evermore.'


  8.

David's military victories. - 1Chr.18.1-17

1 [vv1-14: cp 1Chr. 18.1-13]After this David defeated the Philistines and conquered them, and took from them Metheg-ha-ammah. 2He defeated the Moabites, and he made them lie along the ground and measured them off with a length of cord; for every two lengths that were to be put to death one full length was spared. The Moabites became subject to him and paid him tribute. 3David also defeated Hadadezer the Rehobite, king of Zobah, who was on his way to re-erect his monument of victory by [re-erect ... victory by: or recover control of the crossings of] the river Euphrates. 4From him David captured seventeen hundred horse and twenty thousand foot; he hamstrung all the chariot-horses, except a hundred which he retained. 5When the Aramaeans of Damascus came to the help of Hadadezer king of Zobah, 6David destroyed twenty-two thousand of them, and established garrisons among these Aramaeans; they became subject to him and paid him tribute. Thus the LORD gave David victory wherever he went. 7David took the gold quivers borne by Hadadezer's servants and brought them to Jerusalem; 8and he also took a great quantity of bronze [Or copper] from Hadadezer's cities, Betah and Berothai.

9When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, 10he sent his son Joram to King David to greet him and to congratulate him on defeating Hadadezer in battle (for Hadadezer had been at war with Toi); and he brought with him vessels of silver, gold, and copper, 11which King David dedicated to the LORD. He dedicated also the silver and gold taken from all the nations he had subdued, 12from Edom and Moab, from the Ammonites, the Philistines, and Amalek, as well as part of the spoil taken from Hadadezer the Rehobite, king of Zobah.

13David made a great name for himself by the slaughter of eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt, and on returning 14he stationed garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites were subject to him. Thus the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went.

15 [vv15-18: cp 20.23-26; 1Kgs. 4.2-6; 1Chr. 18.14-17] David ruled over the whole of Israel and maintained law and justice among all his people. 16Joab son of Zeruiah was in command of the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was secretary of state; 17Zadok and Abiathar son of Ahimelech, son of Ahitub [and Abiathar ... Ahitub: prob. rdg, cp 1Sam. 22.11,20; 2Sam. 20.25; Heb son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar], were priests; Seraiah was adjutant-general; 18Benaiah son of Jehoiada commanded the Kerethite and Pelethite guards. David's sons were priests.


  9.

David & Mephibosheth.

1David asked, 'Is any member of Saul's family left, to whom I can show true kindness for Jonathan's sake?' 2There was a servant of Saul's family named Ziba; and he was summoned to David. The king asked, 'Are you Ziba?', and he answered, 'Your servant, sir.' 3So the king said, 'Is no member of Saul's family still alive to whom I may show the kindness that God requires?' 'Yes,' said Ziba, 'there is a son of Jonathan still alive; he is a cripple, lame in both feet.' 4'Where is he?' said the king, and Ziba answered, 'He is staying with Machir son of Ammiel in Lo-debar.'

5So the king sent and fetched him from Lo-debar, from the house of Machir son of Ammiel, 6and when Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan and Saul's grandson, entered David's presence, he prostrated himself and did obeisance. David said to him, 'Mephibosheth', and he answered, 'Your servant, sir.' 7Then David said, 'Do not be afraid; I mean to show you kindness for your father Jonathan's sake, and I will give you back the whole estate of your grandfather Saul; you shall have a place for yourself at my table.' 8So Mephibosheth prostrated himself again and said, 'Who am I that you should spare a thought for a dead dog like me?' 9Then David summoned Saul's servant Ziba to his presence and said to him, 'I assign to your master's grandson all the property that belonged to Saul and his family. 10You and your sons and your slaves must cultivate the land and bring in the harvest to provide for your master's household, but Mephibosheth your master's grandson shall have a place at my table.' This man Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty slaves. 11Then Ziba answered the king, 'I will do all that your majesty commands.' So Mephibosheth took his place in the royal household like one of the king's sons. 12He had a young son, named Mica; and the members of Ziba's household were all Mephibosheth's servants, 13while Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem and had his regular place at the king's table, crippled as he was in both feet.


  10.

David defeats the Ammonites & the Syrians. - 1Chr.19.1-19

1 [vv1-19: cp 1Chr. 19.1-19] Some time afterwards the king of the Ammonites died and was succeeded by his son Hanun. 2David said, 'I must keep up the same loyal friendship with Hanun son of Nahash as his father showed me', and he sent a mission to condole with him on the death of his father. But when David's envoys entered the country of the Ammonites, 3the Ammonite princes said to Hanun their lord, 'Do you suppose David means to do honour to your father when he sends you his condolences? These men of his are spies whom he has sent to find out how to overthrow the city.' 4So Hanun took David's servants, and he shaved off half their beards, cut off half their garments up to the buttocks, and dismissed them. 5When David heard how they had been treated, he sent to meet them, for they were deeply humiliated, and ordered them to wait in Jericho and not to return until their beards had grown again. 6The Ammonites knew that they had fallen into bad odour with David, so they hired the Aramaeans of Beth-rehob and of Zobah to come to their help with twenty thousand infantry; they also hired the king of Maacah with a thousand men, and twelve thousand men from Tob. 7When David heard of it, he sent out Joab and all the fighting men. 8The Ammonites came and took up their position at the entrance to the city, while the Aramaeans of Zobah and of Rehob and the men of Tob and Maacah took up theirs in the open country. 9When Joab saw that he was threatened both front and rear, he detailed some picked Israelite troops and drew them up facing the Aramaeans. 10The rest of his forces he put under his brother Abishai, who took up a position facing the Ammonites. 11'If the Aramaeans prove too strong for me,' he said, 'you must come to my relief; and if the Ammonites prove too strong for you, I will come to yours. 12Courage! Let us fight bravely for our people and for the cities [Or altars] of our God. And the LORD's will be done.' 13But when Joab and his men came to close quarters with the Aramaeans, they put them to flight; 14and when the Ammonites saw them in flight, they too fled before Abishai and entered the city. Then Joab returned from the battle against the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem. 15The Aramaeans saw that they had been worsted by Israel; but they rallied their forces, 16and Hadadezer sent to summon other Aramaeans from the Great Bend of the Euphrates, and they advanced to Helam under Shobach, commander of Hadadezer's army. 17Their movement was reported to David, who immediately mustered all the forces of Israel, crossed the Jordan and advanced to meet them at Helam. There the Aramaeans took up positions facing David and engaged him, 18but were put to flight by Israel. David slew seven hundred Aramaeans in chariots and forty thousand horsemen, mortally wounding Shobach, who died on the field. 19When all the vassal kings of Hadadezer saw that they had been worsted by Israel, they sued for peace and submitted to the Israelites. The Aramaeans never dared help the Ammonites again.


  11.

David & Bathsheba.

1AT THE TURN OF THE YEAR, when kings take the field, David sent Joab out with his other officers and all the Israelite forces, and they ravaged Ammon and laid siege to Rabbah, while David remained in Jerusalem. 2One evening David got up from his couch and, as he walked about on the roof of the palace, he saw from there a woman bathing, and she was very beautiful. 3He sent to inquire who she was, and the answer came, 'It must be Bathsheba daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite.' 4So he sent messengers to fetch her, and when she came to him, he had intercourse with her, though she was still being purified after her period, and then she went home. 5She conceived, and sent word to David that she was pregnant. 6David ordered Joab to send Uriah the Hittite to him. So Joab sent him to David, 7and when he arrived, David asked him for news of Joab and the troops and how the campaign was going; 8and then said to him, 'Go down to your house and wash your feet after your journey.' As he left the palace, a present from the king followed him. 9But Uriah did not return to his house; he lay down by the palace gate with the king's slaves. 10David heard that Uriah had not gone home, and said to him, 'You have had a long journey, why did you not go home?' 11Uriah answered David, 'Israel and Judah are under canvas [under canvas: or at Succoth], and so is the Ark, and my lord Joab and your majesty's officers are camping in the open; how can I go home to eat and drink and to sleep with my wife? By your life, I cannot do this!' 12David then said to Uriah, 'Stay here another day, and tomorrow I will let you go.' So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day. 13The next day David invited him to eat and drink with him and made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to lie down in his blanket [in his blanket: or on his pallet] among the king's slaves and did not go home.

14The following morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent Uriah with it. 15He wrote in the letter, 'Put Uriah opposite the enemy where the fighting is fiercest and then fall back, and leave him to meet his death.' 16Joab had been watching the city, and he stationed Uriah at a point where he knew they would put up a stout fight. 17The men of the city sallied out and engaged Joab, and some of David's guards fell; Uriah the Hittite was also killed. 18Joab sent David a dispatch with all the news of the battle 19and gave the messenger these instructions: 'When you have finished your report to the king, 20if he is angry and asks, "Why did you go so near the city during the fight? You must have known there would be shooting from the wall. 21Remember who killed Abimelech son of Jerubbesheth. It was a woman who threw down an upper millstone on to him from the wall of Thebez and killed him! Why did you go so near the wall?"—if he asks this, then tell him, "Your servant Uriah the Hittite also is dead." '

22So the messenger set out and, when he came to David, he made his report as Joab had instructed. David was angry with Joab and said to the messenger, 'Why did you go so near the city during the fight? You must have known you would be struck down from the wall. Remember who killed Abimelech son of Jerubbesheth. Was it not a woman who threw down an upper millstone on to him from the wall of Thebez and killed him? Why did you go near the wall?' 23He answered, 'The enemy massed against us and sallied out into the open; we pressed them back as far as the gateway. 24There the archers shot down at us from the wall and some of your majesty's men fell; and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.' 25David said to the man, 'Give Joab this message: "Do not let this distress you—there is no knowing where the sword will strike; press home your attack on the city, and you will take it and raze it to the ground"; and tell him to take heart.'

26When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him; and when the period of mourning was over, 27David sent for her and brought her into his house. She became his wife and bore him a son. But what David had done was wrong in the eyes of the LORD.


  12.

Nathan's message & David's repentance.

1The LORD sent Nathan the prophet to David, and when he entered his presence, he said to him, 'There were once two men in the same city, one rich and the other poor. 2The rich man had large flocks and herds, 3but the poor man had nothing of his own except one little ewe lamb. He reared it himself, and it grew up in his home with his own sons. It ate from his dish, drank from his cup and nestled in his arms; it was like a daughter to him. 4One day a traveller came to the rich man's house, and he, too mean to take something from his own flocks and herds to serve to his guest, took the poor man's lamb and served up that.' 5David was very angry, and burst out, 'As the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6He shall pay for the lamb four times over, because he has done this and shown no pity.' 7Then Nathan said to David, 'You are the man. This is the word of the LORD the God of Israel to you: "I anointed you king over Israel, I rescued you from the power of Saul, 8I gave you your master's daughter [prob. rdg, Heb house] and his wives to be your own, I gave you the daughters of Israel and Judah; and, had this not been enough, I would have added other favours as great. 9Why then have you flouted the word of the LORD by doing what is wrong in my eyes? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword; the man himself you murdered by the sword of the Ammonites, and you have stolen his wife. 10Now, therefore, since you have despised me and taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife, your family shall never again have rest from the sword." 11This is the word of the LORD: "I will bring trouble upon you from within your own family; I will take your wives and give them to another man before your eyes, and he will lie with them in broad daylight. 12What you did was done in secret; but I will do this in the light of day for all Israel to see." ' 13David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the LORD.' Nathan answered him, 'The LORD has laid on another the consequences of your sin: you shall not die, 14but, because in this you have shown your contempt for the LORD [the LORD: prob. rdg, Heb the enemies of the LORD], the boy that will be born to you shall die.'

The death of David's son.

15When Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the boy whom Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he was very ill. 16David prayed to God for the child; he fasted and went in and spent the night fasting, lying on the ground. 17The older men of his household tried to get him to rise from the ground, but he refused and would eat no food with them. 18On the seventh day the boy died, and David's servants were afraid to tell him. 'While the boy was alive,' they said, 'we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us; how can we now tell him that the boy is dead? He may do something desperate.' 19But David saw his servants whispering among themselves and guessed that the boy was dead. He asked, 'Is the boy dead?', and they answered, 'He is dead.' 20Then David rose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and put on fresh clothes; he entered the house of the LORD and prostrated himself there. Then he went home, asked for food to be brought, and when it was ready, he ate it. 21His servants asked him, 'What is this? While the boy lived you fasted and wept for him, but now that he is dead you rise up and eat.' 22He answered, 'While the boy was still alive I fasted and wept, thinking, "It may be that the LORD will be gracious to me, and the boy may live." 23But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him; he will not come back to me.'

Birth of Solomon.

24David consoled Bathsheba his wife; he went to her and had intercourse with her, and she gave birth to a son and called him Solomon. And because the LORD loved him, 25he sent word through Nathan the prophet that for the LORD's sake he should be given the name Jedidiah [That is Beloved of the LORD].

David captures Rabbah.

26 [vv26-31: cp 1Chr. 20.1-3] Joab attacked the Ammonite city of Rabbah and took the King's Pool. 27He sent messengers to David with this report: 'I have attacked Rabbah and have taken the pool. 28You had better muster the rest of the army yourself, besiege the city and take it; otherwise I shall take the city and the name to be proclaimed over it will be mine.' 29David accordingly mustered his whole forces, marched to Rabbah, attacked it and took it. 30He took the crown from the head of Milcom, which weighed a talent of gold and was set with a precious stone, and this he placed on his own head. He also removed a great quantity of booty from the city; 31he took its inhabitants and set them to work with saws and other iron tools, sharp and toothed, and made them work in the brick-kilns. David did this to all the Cities of the Ammonites; then he and all his people returned to Jerusalem.


Absolom's rebellion and other conflicts

  13.

Amnon & Tamar.

1NOW DAVID'S SON ABSALOM had a beautiful sister named Tamar, and Amnon, another of David's sons, fell in love with her. 2Amnon was so distressed that he fell sick with love for his half-sister; for he thought it an impossible thing to approach her since she was a virgin. 3But he had a friend named Jonadab, son of David's brother Shimeah, who was a very shrewd man. 4He said to Amnon, 'Why are you so low-spirited morning after morning, my lord? Will you not tell me?' So Amnon told him that he was in love with Tamar, his brother Absalom's sister. 5Jonadab said to him, 'Take to your bed and pretend to be ill. When your father comes to visit you, say to him, "Please let my sister Tamar come and give me my food. Let her prepare it in front of me, so that I may watch her and then take it from her own hands." ' 6So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to visit him, he said, 'Sir, let my sister Tamar come and make a few cakes in front of me, and serve them to me with her own hands.' 7So David sent a message to Tamar in the palace: 'Go to your brother Amnon's quarters and prepare a meal for him.' 8Tamar came to her brother and found him lying down; she took some dough and kneaded it, made the cakes in front of him and baked them. 9Then she took the pan and turned them out before him. But Amnon refused to eat and ordered everyone out of the room. When they had all left, 10he said to Tamar, 'Bring the food over to the recess so that I may eat from your own hands.' Tamar took the cakes she had made and brought them to Amnon in the recess. 11But when she offered them to him, he caught hold of her and said, 'Come to bed with me, sister.' 12But she answered, 'No, brother, do not dishonour me, we do not do such things in Israel; do not behave like a beast. 13Where could I go and hide my disgrace?—and you would sink as low as any beast in Israel. Why not speak to the king for me? He will not refuse you leave to marry me.' 14He would not listen, but overpowered her, dishonoured her and raped her.

15Then Amnon was filled with utter hatred for her; his hatred was stronger than the love he had felt, and he said to her, 'Get up and go.' 16She answered, 'No. It is wicked to send me away. This is harder to bear than all you have done to me.' He would not listen to her, 17but summoned the boy who attended him and said, 'Get rid of this woman, put her out and bolt the door after her.' 18She had on a long, sleeved robe, the usual dress of unmarried princesses; and the boy turned her out and bolted the door. 19Tamar threw ashes over her head, rent the long, sleeved robe that she was wearing, put her hands on her head and went away, sobbing as she went. 20Her brother Absalom asked her, 'Has your brother Amnon been with you? Keep this to yourself, he is your brother; do not take it to heart.' So Tamar remained in her brother Absalom's house, desolate. 21When King David heard the whole story he was very angry; but he would not hurt Amnon because he was his eldest son and he loved him. 22Absalom did not speak a single word to Amnon, friendly or unfriendly; he hated him for having dishonoured his sister Tamar.

Absalom's revenge.

23Two years later Absalom invited all the king's sons to his sheep-shearing at Baal-hazor, near Ephron [prob. rdg, Heb Ephraim]. 24He approached the king and said, 'Sir, I am shearing; will your majesty and your servants come?' 25The king answered, 'No, my son, we must not all come and be a burden to you.' Absalom pressed him, but David was still unwilling to go and dismissed him with his blessing. 26But Absalom said, 'If you cannot, may my brother Amnon come with us?' 'Why should he go with you?' the king asked; 27but Absalom pressed him again, so he let Amnon and all the other princes go with him.

Then Absalom prepared a feast fit for a king. 28He gave his servants these orders: 'Bide your time, and when Amnon is merry with wine I shall say to you, "Strike." Then kill Amnon. You have nothing to fear, these are my orders; be bold and resolute.' 29Absalom's servants did as he had told them, whereupon all the king's sons mounted their mules in haste and set off for home.

30While they were on their way, a rumour reached David that Absalom had murdered all the royal princes and that not one was left alive. 31The king stood up and rent his clothes and then threw himself on the ground; all his servants were standing round him with their clothes rent. 32Then Jonadab, son of David's brother Shimeah, said, 'Your majesty must not think that they have killed all the young princes; only Amnon is dead; Absalom has looked black ever since Amnon ravished his sister Tamar. 33Your majesty must not pay attention to a mere rumour that all the princes are dead; only Amnon is dead.'

34Absalom made good his escape. Meanwhile the sentry looked up and saw a crowd of people coming down the hill from the direction of Horonaim [prob. rdg, Heb from a road behind him]. He came and reported to the king, 'I see men coming down the hill from Horonaim.' 35Then Jonadab said to the king, 'Here come the royal princes, just as I said they would.' 36As he finished speaking, the princes came in and broke into loud lamentations; the king and all his servants also wept bitterly.

37But Absalom went to take refuge with Talmai son of Ammihur king of Geshur; and for a long while the king mourned for Amnon. 38Absalom, having escaped to Geshur, stayed there for three years; 39and David's heart went out to him with longing, for he became reconciled to the death of Amnon.


  14.

Return of Absalom.

1Joab son of Zeruiah saw that the king's heart was set on Absalom, 2so he sent to Tekoah and fetched a wise woman. He said to her, 'Pretend to be a mourner; put on mourning, go without anointing yourself, and behave like a bereaved woman who has been long in mourning. 3Then go to the king and repeat what I tell you.' He then told her exactly what she was to say.

4When the woman from Tekoah came into the king's presence, she threw herself, face downwards, on the ground and did obeisance, and cried, 'Help, your majesty!' 5The king asked, 'What is it?' She answered, 'O sir, I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6I had two sons; they came to blows out in the country where there was no one to part them, and one of them struck the other and killed him. 7Now, sir, the kinsmen have risen against me and they all cry, "Hand over the man who has killed his brother, so that we can put him to death for taking his brother's life, and so cut off the succession." If they do this, they will stamp out my last live ember and leave my husband no name and no descendant upon earth.' 8'Go home,' said the king to the woman, 'and I will settle your case.' 9But the woman continued, 'The guilt be on me, your majesty, and on my father's house; let the king and his throne be blameless.' 10The king said, 'If anyone says anything more to you, bring him to me and he shall never molest you again.' 11Then the woman went on, 'Let your majesty call upon the LORD your God, to prevent his kinsmen bound to vengeance from doing their worst and destroying my son.' The king swore, 'As the LORD lives, not a hair of your son's head shall fall to the ground.'

12The woman then said, 'May I add one word more, your majesty?' 'Say on', said the king. 13So she continued, 'How then could it enter your head to do this same wrong to God's people? Out of your own mouth, your majesty, you condemn yourself: you have refused to bring back the man you have banished. 14We shall all die; we shall be like water that is spilt on the ground and lost; but God will spare the man who does not set himself to keep the outlaw in banishment. 15I came to say this to your majesty because the people have threatened me. I thought, "If I can only speak to the king, perhaps he will attend to my case; 16for he will listen, and he will save me from the man who is seeking to cut off me and my son together from Israel, God's own possession." 17I thought too that the words of my lord the king would be a comfort to me; for your majesty is like the angel of God and can decide between right and wrong. The LORD your God be with you!' 18Then the king said to the woman, 'Tell me no lies: I shall now ask you a question.' 'Speak on, your majesty', she said. 19So he asked, 'Is the hand of Joab behind you in all this?' 'Your life upon it, sir!' she answered; 'when your majesty asks a question, there is no way round it, right or left. Yes, your servant Joab did prompt me; it was he who put the whole story into my mouth. 20He did it to give a new turn to this affair. Your majesty is as wise as the angel of God and knows all that goes on in the land.'

21The king said to Joab, 'You have my consent; go and fetch back the young man Absalom.' 22Then Joab humbly prostrated himself, took leave of the king with a blessing and said, 'Now I know that I have found favour with your majesty, because you have granted my humble petition.' 23Joab went at once to Geshur and brought Absalom to Jerusalem, 24but the king said, 'Let him go to his own quarters; he shall not come into my presence.' So Absalom went to his own quarters and did not enter the king's presence.

Absalom is reconciled to David.

25No one in all Israel was so greatly admired for his beauty as Absalom; he was without flaw from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot. 26His hair, when he cut his hair (as he had to do every year, for he found it heavy), weighed two hundred shekels by the royal standard. 27Three sons were born to Absalom, and a daughter named Tamar, who was a very beautiful woman.

28Absalom remained in Jerusalem for two whole years without entering the king's presence. 29He summoned Joab to send a message by him to the king, but Joab refused to come; he sent for him a second time, but he still refused. 30Then Absalom said to his servants, 'You know that Joab has a field next to mine with barley growing in it; go and set fire to it.' So Absalom's servants set fire to the field. 31Joab promptly came to Absalom in his own quarters and said to him, 'Why have your servants set fire to my field?' 32Absalom answered Joab, 'I had sent for you to come here, so that I could ask you to give the king this message from me: "Why did I leave Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there. Let me now come into your majesty's presence and, if I have done any wrong, put me to death." ' 33When Joab went to the king and told him, he summoned Absalom, who came and prostrated himself humbly before the king; and he greeted Absalom with a kiss.


  15.

Absalom plans rebellion.

1AFTER THIS, ABSALOM PROVIDED himself with a chariot and horses and an escort of fifty men. 2He made it a practice to rise early and stand beside the road which runs through the city gate. He would hail every man who had a case to bring before the king for judgement and would ask him what city he came from. When he answered, 'I come, sir, from such and such a tribe of Israel', 3Absalom would say to him, 'I can see that you have a very good case, but you will get no hearing from the king.' 4And he would add, 'If only I were appointed judge in the land, it would be my business to see that everyone who brought a suit or a claim got justice from me.' 5Whenever a man approached to prostrate himself, Absalom would stretch out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. 6By behaving like this to every Israelite who sought the king's justice, Absalom stole the affections of the Israelites.

7At the end of four years, Absalom said to the king, 'May I have leave now to go to Hebron to fulfil a vow there that I made to the LORD? 8For when I lived in Geshur, in Aram, I made this vow: "If the LORD brings me back to Jerusalem, I will become a worshipper of the LORD in Hebron." ' 9The king answered, 'Certainly you may go'; so he set off for Hebron at once. 10Absalom sent runners through all the tribes of Israel with this message: 'As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, "Absalom is king in Hebron." ' 11Two hundred men accompanied Absalom from Jerusalem; they were invited and went in all innocence, knowing nothing of the affair. 12Absalom also sent to summon Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counsellor, from Giloh his city, where he was offering the customary sacrifices. The conspiracy gathered strength, and Absalom's supporters increased in number.

David flees from Jerusalem.

13When news reached David that the men of Israel had transferred their allegiance to Absalom, 14he said to those who were with him in Jerusalem, 'We must get away at once; or there will be no escape from Absalom for any of us. Make haste, or else he will soon be upon us and bring disaster on us, showing no mercy to anyone in the city.' 15The king's servants said to him, 'As your majesty thinks best; we are ready.'

16When the king departed, all his household followed him except ten concubines, whom he left in charge of the palace. 17At the Far House the king and all the people who were with him halted. 18His own servants then stood [prob. rdg, Heb passed] beside him, while the Kerethite and Pelethite guards and Ittai [and Ittai: prob. rdg, Heb omitted] with the six hundred Gittites under him marched past the king. 19The king said to Ittai the Gittite, 'Are you here too? Why are you coming with us? Go back and stay with the new king, for you are a foreigner and, what is more, an exile from your own country. 20You came only yesterday, and today must you be compelled to share my wanderings? I do not know where I am going. Go back home and take your countrymen with you; and may the LORD ever be your steadfast friend.' 21Ittai swore to the king, 'As the LORD lives, your life upon it, wherever you may be, in life or in death, I, your servant, will be there.' 22David said to Ittai, 'It is well, march on!' So Ittai the Gittite marched on with his whole company and all the dependants who were with him. 23The whole country-side re-echoed with their weeping. And the king remained standing [prob. rdg, Heb passing] while all the people crossed the gorge of the Kidron before him, by way of the olive-tree in the wilderness [by way ... wilderness: prob. rdg, Heb obscure].

24Zadok also was there with all the Levites; they were carrying the Ark of the Covenant of God, which they set down beside Abiathar [beside Abiathar: prob. rdg, Heb and Abiathar went up] until all the people had passed out of the city. 25But the king said to Zadok, 'Take the Ark of God back to the city. If I find favour with the LORD, he will bring me back and will let me see the Ark and its dwelling-place again. 26But if he says he does not want me, then here I am; let him do what he pleases with me.' 27The king went on to say to Zadok the priest, 'Can you make good use of your eyes? You may safely 'go back to the city, you and Abiathar [you and Abiathar: prob. rdg, cp v29; Heb omitted], and take with you the two young men, Ahimaaz your son and Abiathar's son Jonathan. 28Do not forget: I will linger at the Fords of the Wilderness until you can send word to me.' 29Then Zadok and Abiathar took the Ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there.

30David wept as he went up the slope of the Mount of Olives; he was bare-headed and went bare-foot. The people with him all had their heads uncovered and wept as they went. 31David had been told that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom, and he prayed, 'Frustrate, O LORD, the counsel of Ahithophel.'

32As David was approaching the top of the ridge where it was the custom to prostrate oneself to God, Hushai the Archite was there to meet him with his tunic rent and earth on his head. 33David said to him, 'If you come with me you will only be a hindrance; 34but you can help me to frustrate Ahithophel's plans if you go back to the city and say to Absalom, "I will be your majesty's servant; up to now I have been your father's servant, and now I will be yours." 35You will have with you, as you know: the Priests Zadok and Abiathar; tell them everything that you hear in the kings household. 36They have with them Zadok's son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan and through them you may pass on to me everything You hear.' 37So Hushai, David's friend, came to the city as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.


  16.

David & Ziba.

1When David had moved on a little from the top of the ridge he was met by Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth, who had with him a pair of asses saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves, a hundred clusters of raisins, a hundred bunches of summer fruit, and a flagon of wine 2The king said to him, 'What are you doing with these?' Ziba answered, 'The asses are for the king's family to ride on, the bread and the summer fruit are for the servants to eat, and the wine for anyone who becomes exhausted in the wilderness.' 3The king asked, 'Where is your master's grandson?' 'He is staying in Jerusalem,' said Ziba, 'for he thought that the Israelites might now restore to him his grandfather's throne.' 4The king said to Ziba; 'You shall have everything that belongs to Mephibosheth.' Ziba said: 'I am your humble servant, sir; may I continue to stand well with you.'

David & Shimei.

5As King David approached Bahurim, a man of Saul's family, whose name was Shimei son of Gera, came out, cursing as he came. 6He showered stones right and left on David and on all the king's servants and on everyone, soldiers and people alike. 7This is what Shimei said as he cursed him: 'Get out, get out, you scoundrel! you man of blood! 8The LORD has taken vengeance on you for the blood of the house of Saul whose throne you stole, and he has given the kingdom to your son Absalom. You murderer, see how your crimes have overtaken you!'

9Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, 'Why let this dead dog curse your majesty? I will go across and knock off his head.' 10But the king said, 'What has this to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he curses and if the LORD has told him to curse David, who can question it?' 11David said to Abishai and to all his servants, 'If my son, my own son, is out to kill me, who can wonder at this Benjamite? Let him be, let him curse; for the LORD has told him to do it. 12But perhaps the LORD will mark my sufferings and bestow a blessing on me in place of the curse laid on me this day.' 13David and his men continued on their way, and Shimei moved along the ridge of the hill parallel to David's path, cursing as he went and hurling stones across the valley at him and kicking up the dust. 14When the king and all the people with him reached the Jordan, they were worn out and they refreshed themselves there.

Absalom in Jerusalem.

15By now Absalom and all his Israelites had reached Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. 16When Hushai the Archite. David's friend, met Absalom he said to him, 'Long live the king! Long live the king!' 17But Absalom retorted, 'Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with him?' 18Hushai answered Absalom, 'Because I mean to attach myself to the man chosen by the LORD, by this people, and by all the men of Israel, and with him I will remain. 19After all, whom ought I to serve? Should I not serve the son? I will serve you as I have served your father.' 20Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, 'Give us your advice: how shall we act?' 21Ahithophel answered, 'Have intercourse with your father's concubines whom he left in charge of the palace. Then all Israel will come to hear that you have given great cause of offence to your father, and this will confirm the resolution of your followers.' 22So they set up a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he lay with his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23In those days a man would seek counsel of Ahithophel as readily as he might make an inquiry of the word of God; that was how Ahithophel's counsel was esteemed by David and Absalom.


  17.

Hushai misleads Absalom.

1Ahithophel said to Absalom, 'Let me pick twelve thousand men, and I will pursue David tonight. 2I shall overtake him when he is tired and dispirited; I will cut him off from his people and they will all scatter; and I shall kill no one but the king. 3I will bring all the people over to you as a bride is brought to her husband. It is only one man's life that you are seeking; the rest of the people will be unharmed.' 4Absalom and all the elders of Israel approved of Ahithophel's advice; 5but Absalom said, 'Summon Hushai the Archite and let us hear what he too has to say.' 6Hushai came, and Absalom told him all that Ahithophel had said and asked him, 'Shall we do what he says? If not, say what you think.'

7Hushai said to Absalom, 'For once the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good. 8You know', he went on, 'that your father and the men with him are hardened warriors and savage as a bear in the wilds robbed of her cubs. Your father is an old campaigner and will not spend the night with the main body; 9even now he will be lying hidden in a pit or in some such place. Then if any of your men are killed at the outset, anyone who hears the news will say, "Disaster has overtaken the followers of Absalom." 10The courage of the most resolute and lion-hearted will melt away, for all Israel knows that your father is a man of war and has determined men with him. 11My advice is this. Wait until the whole of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, is gathered about you, countless as grains of sand on the sea-shore, and then you shall march with them in person. 12Then we shall come upon him somewhere, wherever he may be, and descend on him like dew falling on the ground, and not a man of his family or of his followers will be left alive. 13If he retreats into a city, all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into a ravine until not a stone can be found on the site.' 14Absalom and all the men of Israel said, 'Hushai the Archite gives us better advice than Ahithophel.' It was the LORD's purpose to frustrate Ahithophel's good advice and so bring disaster upon Absalom.

David's escape.

15Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar the priests all the advice that Ahithophel had given to Absalom and the elders of Israel, and also his own. 16'Now send quickly to David,' he said, 'and warn him not to spend the night at the Fords of the Wilderness but to cross the river at once, before a blow can be struck at the king and his followers.' 17Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at En-rogel, and a servant girl would go and tell them what happened and they would pass it on to King David; for they could not risk being seen entering the city. 18But this time a lad saw them and told Absalom; so the two of them hurried to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a pit in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19The man's wife took a covering, spread it over the mouth of the pit and strewed grain over it, and no one was any the wiser. 20Absalom's servants came to the house and asked the woman, 'Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?' She answered, 'They went beyond the pool.' The men searched but could not find them; so they went back to Jerusalem. 21When they had gone the two climbed out of the pit and went off to report to King David and said, 'Over the water at once, make haste!', and they told him Ahithophel's plan against him. 22So David and all his company began at once to cross the Jordan; by daybreak there was not one who had not reached the other bank.

23When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been taken he saddled his ass, went straight home to his own city, gave his last instructions to his household, and hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father's grave.

24By the time that Absalom had crossed the Jordan with the Israelites, David was already at Mahanaim. 25Absalom had appointed Amasa as commander-in-chief instead of Joab; he was the son of a man named Ithra, an lshmaelite, by Abigal daughter of Nahash and sister to Joab's mother Zeruiah. 26The Israelites and Absalom camped in the district of Gilead. 27When David came to Mahanaim, he was met by Shobi son of Nahash from the Ammonite town Rabbah, Machir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, 28bringing mattresses and blankets, bowls and jugs [bringing ... jugs: prob. rdg, Heb a couch, bowls and a potter's vessel]. They brought also wheat and barley, meal and parched grain, beans and lentils, 29honey and curds, sheep and fat cattle, and offered them to David and his people to eat, knowing that the people must be hungry and thirsty and weary in the wilderness.


  18.

Defeat & death of Absalom.

1David mustered the people who were with him, and appointed officers over units of a thousand and a hundred. 2Then he divided the army in three, one division under the command of Joab, one under Joab's brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and the third under Ittai the Gittite. The king announced to the army that he was coming out himself with them to battle. 3But they said, 'No, you must not come out; if we turn and run, no one will take any notice, nor will they, even if half of us are killed; but you are worth ten thousand of us, and it would be better now for you to remain in the city in support.' 4'I will do what you think best', answered the king; and he then stood beside the gate, and the army marched past in their units of a thousand and a hundred. 5The king gave orders to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: 'Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake.' The whole army heard the king giving all his officers this order to spare Absalom.

6The army took the field against the Israelites and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephron [prob. rdg, Heb Ephraim]. 7There the Israelites were routed before the onslaught of David's men; so great was the rout that twenty thousand men fell that day. 8The fighting spread over the whole country-side, and the forest took toll of more people that day than the sword.

9Now some of David's men caught sight of Absalom. He was riding a mule and, as it passed beneath a great oak [Or terebinth], his head was caught in its boughs; he found himself in mid air and the mule went on from under him. 10One of the men who saw it went and told Joab, 'I saw Absalom hanging from an oak.' 11While the man was telling him, Joab broke in, 'You saw him? Why did you not strike him to the ground then and there? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.' 12The man answered, 'If you were to put in my hands a thousand pieces of silver, I would not lift a finger against the king's son; for we all heard the king giving orders to you and Abishai and Ittai that whoever finds himself near the young man Absalom must take great care of him. 13If I had dealt him a treacherous blow, the king would soon have known, and you would have kept well out of it.' 14'That is a lie!' said Joab. 'I will make a start and show you [I will ... show you: or I can waste no more time on you like this].' So he picked up three stout sticks and drove them against Absalom's chest while he was held fast in the tree and still alive. 15Then ten young men who were Joab's armour-bearers closed in on Absalom, struck at him and killed him. 16Joab sounded the trumpet, and the army came back from the pursuit of Israel because he had called it off. 17They took Absalom's body and flung it into a great pit in the forest, and raised over it a huge pile of stones. The Israelites all fled to their homes.

18The pillar in the King's Vale had been set up by Absalom in his lifetime, for he said, 'I have no son to carry on my name.' He had named the pillar after himself; and to this day it is called Absalom's Monument.

David learns of the death of Absalom.

19Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, 'Let me run and take the news to the king that the LORD has avenged him and delivered him from his enemies.' 20But Joab replied, 'This is no day for you to be the bearer of news. Another day you may have news to carry, but not today, because the king's son is dead.' 21Joab told a Cushite to go and report to the king what he had seen. The Cushite bowed low before Joab and set off running. 22Ahimaaz pleaded again with Joab, 'Come what may,' he said, 'let me run after the Cushite.' 'Why should you, my son?' asked Joab. 'You will get no reward for your news.' 23'Come what may,' he said, 'I will run.' 'Go, then', said Joab. So Ahimaaz ran by the road through the Plain of the Jordan and outstripped the Cushite.

24David was sitting between the two gates when the watchman went up to the roof of the gatehouse by the wall and, looking out, saw a man running alone. 25The watchman called to the king and told him. 'If he is alone,' said the king, 'then he has news.' The man came nearer and nearer. 26Then the watchman saw another man running. He called down to the gate-keeper and said, 'Look, there is another man running alone.' The king said, 'He too brings news.' 27The watchman said, 'I see by the way he runs that the first runner is Ahimaaz son of Zadok.' The king said, 'He is a good fellow and shall earn the reward for good news.' 28Ahimaaz called out to the king, 'All is well!' He bowed low before him and said, 'Blessed be the LORD your God who has given into your hands the men who rebelled against your majesty.' 29The king asked, 'Is all well with the young man Absalom ?' Ahimaaz answered, 'Sir, your servant Joab sent me [Sir ... sent me: prob. rdg, Heb At the sending of Joab the king's servant and your servant], I saw a great commotion, but I did not know what had happened.' 30The king told him to stand on one side; so he turned aside and stood there. 31Then the Cushite came in and said, 'Good news, your majesty! The LORD has avenged you this day on all those who rebelled against you.' 32The king said to the Cushite, 'Is all well with the young man Absalom?' The Cushite answered, 'May all the king's enemies and all rebels who would do you harm be as that young man is.' 33The king was deeply moved and went up to the roof-chamber over the gate and wept, crying out as he went, 'O, my son! Absalom my son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son.'


  19.

Joab reprimands David.

1Joab was told that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom; 2and that day victory was turned to mourning for the whole army, because they heard how the king grieved for his son; 3they stole into the city like men ashamed to show their faces after a defeat in battle. 4The king hid his face and cried aloud, 'My son Absalom; O Absalom, my son, my son.' 5But Joab came into the king's quarters and said to him, 'You have put to shame this day all your servants, who have saved you and your sons and daughters, your wives and your concubines. 6You love those that hate you and hate those that love you; you have made us feel, officers and men alike, that we are nothing to you, for it is plain that if Absalom were still alive and all of us dead, you would be content. 7Now go at once and give your servants some encouragement; if you refuse, I swear by the LORD that not a man will stay with you tonight, and that would be a worse disaster than any you have suffered since your earliest days.'

David's return to Jerusalem.

8Then the king rose and took his seat in the gate; and when the army was told that the king was sitting in the gate, they all appeared before him.


MEANWHILE THE ISRAELITES had all scattered to their homes.


Various events of David's reign

9Throughout all the tribes of Israel people were discussing it among themselves and saying, 'The king has saved us from our enemies and freed us from the power of the Philistines, and now he has fled the country because of Absalom. 10But Absalom, whom we anointed king, has fallen in battle; so now why have we no plans for bringing the king back?'

What all Israel was saying came to the king's ears [What ... ears: prob. rdg, Heb has these words after back to his palace and adds to his palace]. 11So he sent word to Zadok and Abiathar the priests: 'Ask the elders of Judah why they should be the last to bring the king back to his palace. Tell them, 12"You are my brothers, my flesh and my blood; why are you last to bring me back?" 13And tell Amasa, "You are my own flesh and blood. You shall be my commander-in-chief, so help me God, for the rest of your life in place of Joab." ' 14David's message won all hearts in Judah, and they sent to the king, urging him to return with all his men.

15So the king came back to the Jordan; and the men of Judah came to Gilgal to meet him and escort him across the river. 16Shimei son of Gera the Benjamite from Bahurim hastened down among the men of Judah to meet King David 17with a thousand men from Benjamin; Ziba was there too, the servant of Saul's family, with his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed into the Jordan under the king's eyes

The repentance & forgiveness of Shimei.

18and crossed to and fro conveying his household in order to win his favour. Shimei son of Gera, when he had crossed the river, fell down before the king 19and said to him, 'I beg your majesty not to remember how disgracefully your servant behaved when your majesty left Jerusalem; do not hold it against me or take it to heart. 20For I humbly acknowledge that I did wrong, and today I am the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet your majesty.' 21But Abishai son of Zeruiah objected, 'Ought not Shimei to be put to death because he cursed the LORD's anointed prince?' 22David answered, 'What right have you, you sons of Zeruiah, to oppose me today? Why should any man be put to death this day in Israel? I know now that I am king of Israel.' 23Then the king said to Shimei, 'You shall not die', and confirmed it with an oath.

David shows kindness to Mephibosheth.

24Saul's grandson Mephibosheth also went down to meet the king. He had not dressed his feet, combed his beard or washed his clothes, from the day the king went out until he returned victorious. 25When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, David said to him, 'Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?' 26He answered, 'Sir, my servant deceived me; I did intend to harness my ass and ride with the king (for I am lame), 27but his stories set your majesty against me. Your majesty is like the angel of God; you must do what you think right. 28My father's whole family, one and all, deserved to die at your majesty's hands, but you gave me, your servant, my place at your table. What further favour can I expect of the king?' 29The king answered, 'You have said enough. My decision is that you and Ziba are to share the estate.' 30Mephibosheth said, 'Let him have it all, now that your majesty has come home victorious.'

David shows kindness to Barzillai.

31Barzillai the Gileadite too had come down from Rogelim, and he went as far as the Jordan with the king to send him on his way. 32Now Barzillai was very old, eighty years of age; it was he who had provided for the king while he was at Mahanairn, for he was a man of high standing. 33The king said to Barzillai, 'Cross over with me and I will provide for your old age in my household in Jerusalem.' 34Barzillai answered, 'Your servant is far too old to go up with your majesty to Jerusalem. 35I am already eighty; and I cannot tell good from bad. I cannot taste what I eat or drink; I cannot hear the voices of men and women singing. Why should I be a burden any longer on your majesty? 36Your servant will attend the king for a short way across the Jordan; and why should the king reward me so handsomely? 37Let me go back and end my days in my own city near the grave of my father and mother. Here is my son Kimham; let him cross over with your majesty, and do for him what you think best.' 38The king answered, 'Kimham shall cross with me and I will do for him whatever you think best; and I will do for you whatever you ask.'

39All the people crossed the Jordan while the king waited. The king then kissed Barzillai and gave him his blessing. Barzillai went back to his own home; 40the king crossed over to Gilgal, Kimham with him. All the people of Judah escorted the king over the river, and so did half the people of Israel.

Judah & Israel argue over the king.

41The men of Israel came to the king in a body and said, 'Why should our brothers of Judah have got possession of the king's person by joining King David's own men and then escorting him and his household across the Jordan?' 42The men of Judah replied, 'Because his majesty is our near kinsman. Why should you resent it? Have we eaten at the king's expense? Have we received any gifts?' 43The men of Israel answered, 'We have ten times your interest in the king and, what is more, we are senior to you; why do you disparage us? Were we not the first to speak of bringing the king back?' The men of Judah used language even fiercer than the men of Israel.


  20.

Sheba's rebellion.

1There happened to be a man there, a scoundrel named Sheba son of Bichri, a man of Benjamin. He blew the trumpet and cried out:


2The men of Israel all left David, to follow Sheba son of Bichri, but the men of Judah stood by their king and followed him from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

3When David came home to Jerusalem he took the ten concubines whom he had left in charge of the palace and put them under guard; he maintained them but did not have intercourse with them. They were kept in confinement to the day of their death, widowed in the prime of life.

4The king said to Amasa, 'Call up the men of Judah and appear before me again in three days' time.' 5So Amasa went to call up the men of Judah, but it took longer than the time fixed by the king. 6David said to Abishai, 'Sheba son of Bichri will give us more trouble than Absalom; take the royal bodyguard and follow him closely. If he has occupied some fortifled cities, he may escape us.' 7Abishai was followed by Joab [Abishai ... Joab: prob. rdg, Heb Some men of Joab followed him] with the Kerethite and Pelethite guards and all the fighting men; they left Jerusalem in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri. 8When they reached the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa came towards them. Joab was wearing his tunic and over it a belt supporting a sword in its scabbard. He came forward, concealing his treachery, 9and said to Amasa, 'I hope you are well, my brother', and with his right hand he grasped Amasa's beard to kiss him. 10Amasa was not on his guard against the sword in Joab's hand. Joab struck him with it in the belly and his entrails poured out to the ground; he did not strike a second blow, for Amasa was dead. Joab and his brother Abishai went on in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri. 11One of Joab's young men stood over Amasa and called out, 'Follow Joab, all who are for Joab and for David!' 12Amasa's body lay soaked in blood in the middle of the road, and when the man saw how all the people stopped, he rolled him off the road into the field and threw a cloak over him; for everyone who came by saw the body and stopped. 13When he had been dragged from the road, they all went on after Joab in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri.

14Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel until he came to Abel-beth-maacah [prob. rdg, cp v15; Heb Abel and Beth-maacah], and all the clan of Bichri [prob. rdg, Heb Beri] rallied to him and followed him into the city. 15Joab's forces came up and besieged him in Abel-beth-maacah, raised a siege-ramp against it and began undermining the wall to bring it down. 16Then a wise woman stood on the rampart [stood ... rampart: transposed from v15] and called from the city, 'Listen, listen! Tell Joab to step forward and let me speak with him.' 17So he came forward and the woman said, 'Are you Joab ?' He answered, 'I am.' 'Listen to what I have to say, sir', she went on, to which he replied, 'I am listening.' 18'In the old days', she said, 'there was a saying, "Go to Abel for the answer", and that settled the matter. 19My city is known to be one of the most peaceable and loyal [My city ... loyal: prob. rdg, Heb I am the required ones of the loyal ones] in Israel; she is like a watchful mother in Israel, and you are seeking to kill her. Would you destroy the LORD's own possession?' 20Joab answered, 'God forbid, far be it from me to ruin or destroy! That is not our aim; 21but a man from the hill-country of Ephraim named Sheba son of Bichri has raised a revolt against King David; surrender this one man, and I will retire from the city.' The woman said to Joab, 'His head shall be thrown to you over the wall.' 22Then the woman withdrew, and her wisdom won over the assembled people; they cut off Sheba's head and threw it to Joab. Then he sounded the trumpet and the whole army left the city and dispersed to their homes, while Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

David's officials.

23 [vv23-26: cp 8.16-18; 1Kgs. 4.2-6; 1Chr. 18.15-17] Joab was in command of the army [prob. rdg, cp 8.I6; Heb adds Israel], and Benaiah son of Jehoiada commanded the Kerethite and Pelethite guards. 24Adoram was in charge of the forced levy, and Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was secretary of state. 25Sheva was adjutant-general, and Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 26Ira the Jairite was David's priest.


  21.

Death of Saul's descendants.

1IN DAVID'S REIGN there was a famine that lasted year after year for three years. So David consulted the LORD, and he answered, 'Blood-guilt rests on Saul and on his family because he put the Gibeonites to death.' 2(The Gibeonites were not of Israelite descent; they were a remnant of Amorite stock whom the Israelites had sworn that they would spare. Saul, however, had sought to exterminate them in his zeal for Israel and Judah.) King David summoned the Gibeonites, therefore, 3and said to them, 'What can be done for you? How can I make expiation, so that you may have cause to bless the LORD's own people?' 4The Gibeonites answered, 'Our feud with Saul and his family cannot be settled in silver and gold, and there is no one man in Israel whose death would content us.' 'Then what do you want me to do for you?' asked David. 5They answered, 'Let us make an end of the man who caused our undoing and ruined us, so that he shall never again have his place within the borders of Israel. 6Hand over to us seven of that man's sons, and we will hurl them down to their death before [Or for] the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, the LORD's chosen king.' The king agreed to hand them over, 7but he spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, son of Saul, because of the oath that had been taken in the LORD's name by David and Saul's son Jonathan. 8The king then took the two sons whom Rizpah daughter of Aiah had borne to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth, and the five sons whom Merab, Saul's daughter, had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai of Meholah. 9He handed them over to the Gibeonites, and they flung them down from the mountain before the LORD; the seven of them fell together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest at the beginning of the barley harvest. 10Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out as a bed for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the rains came and fell from heaven upon the bodies. She allowed no bird to set upon them by day nor any wild beast by night. 11When David was told what Rizpah daughter of Aiah the concubine of Saul had done, 12he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the public square at Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hung them on the day they defeated Saul at Gilboa. 13He removed the bones of Saul and Jonathan from there and gathered up the bones of the men who had been hurled to death. 14They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the territory of Benjamin at Zela, in the grave of his father Kish. Everything was done as the king ordered, and thereafter the LORD was willing to accept prayers offered for the country.

Victories over the Philistines.

15Once again war broke out between the Philistines and Israel. David and his men went down to the battle, but as he fought with the Philistines he fell exhausted. 16Then Benob, one of the race of the Rephaim, whose bronze spear weighed three hundred shekels [shekels: prob. rdg, Heb weight] and who wore a belt of honour, took David prisoner and was about to kill him. 17But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David's help, struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David's officers took an oath that he should never again go out with them to war, for fear that the lamp of Israel might be extinguished.

18 [vv18-22: cp 1Chr. 20.4-7] Some time later war with the Philistines broke out again in Gob: it was then that Sibbechai of Hushah killed Saph, a descendant of the Rephaim. 19In another war with the Philistines in Gob, Elhanan son of Jair [Jair: prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 20.5; Heb Jaare-oregim] of Bethlehem killed Goliath of Gath, whose spear had a shaft like a weaver's beam. 20In yet another war in Gath there appeared a giant with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all. He too was descended from the Rephaim; 21and, when he defied Israel, Jonathan son of David's brother Shimeai killed him. 22These four giants were the descendants of the Rephaim in Gath, and they all fell at the hands of David and his men.


  22.

David's victory song. - Ps.18

1THESE ARE THE WORDS OF THE SONG David sang to the LORD on the day when the LORD delivered him from the power of all his enemies and from the power of Saul:


  23.

David's last words.

1These are the last words of David:

David's famous soldiers.

8 [vv8-39: cp 1Chr. 11.10-41] THESE ARE THE NAMES OF DAVID'S HEROES. First came Ishbosheth the Hachmonite [prob. rdg, Heb Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite], chief of the three; it was he who brandished his spear [who ... spear: prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 11.11; Heb unintelligible] over eight hundred dead, all slain at one tine. 9Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodo the Ahohite [the Ahohite: prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 11.12; Heb son of Ahohi], one of the heroic three. He was with David at Pas-dammim where the Philistines [He was ... Philistines: prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 11.13; Heb With David when they taunted them among the Philistines] had gathered for battle. When the Israelites fell back, 10he stood his ground and rained blows on the Philistines until, from sheer weariness, his hand stuck fast to his sword; and so the LORD brought about a great victory that day. Afterwards the people rallied behind him, but it was only to strip the dead. 11Next to him was Shammah son of Agee a Hararite. The Philistines had gathered at Lehi, where there was a field with a fine crop of lentils; and, when the Philistines put the people to flight, 12he stood his ground in the field, saved it [saved it: or cleared it of the Philistines] and defeated them. So the LORD again brought about a great victory.

13Three of the thirty went down towards the beginning of harvest to join David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Vale of Rephaim. 14At that time David was in the stronghold and a Philistine garrison held Bethlehem. 15One day a longing came over David, and he exclaimed, 'If only I could have a drink of water from the well [Or cistern] by the gate of Bethlehem!' 16At this the heroic three made their way through the Philistine lines and drew water from the well by the gate of Bethlehem and brought it to David. But David refused to drink it; he poured it out to the LORD 17and said, 'God forbid that I should do such a thing! Can I drink [I drink: prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 11.19; Heb omitted] the blood of these men who risked their lives for it?' So he would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the heroic three.

18Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the thirty. He once brandished his spear over three hundred dead, and he was famous among the thirty. 19Some think he even surpassed the rest of the thirty [prob. rdg, Heb three] in reputation, and he became their captain, but he did not rival the three. 20Benaiah son of Jehoiada, from Kabzeel, was a hero of many exploits. It was he who smote the two champions of Moab, and who went down into a pit and killed a lion on a snowy day. 21It was he who also killed the Egyptian, a man of striking appearance armed with a spear: he went to meet him with a club, snatched the spear out of the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own weapon. 22Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada, famous among the heroic thirty [prob. rdg, Heb three]. 23He was more famous than the rest of the thirty, but he did not rival the three. David appointed him to his household.

24Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty, and Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem; 25Shammah from Harod, and Elika from Harod; 26Helez from Beth-pelet [prob. rdg, cp Josh. 15.27; Heb from Pelet], and Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa; 27Abiezer from Anathoth, and Mebunnai from Hushah; 28Zalmon the Ahohite, and Maharai from Netophah; 29Heled son of Baanah from Netophah, and Ittai son of Ribai from Gibeah of Benjamin; 30Benaiah from Pirathon, and Hiddai from the ravines of Gaash; 31Abi-albon from Beth-arabah [prob. rdg, cp Josh. 18.22; Heb from Arabah], and Azmoth from Bahurim [prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 11.33; Heb from Barhum]; 32Eliahba from Shaalbon, and Hashem the Gizonite; Jonathan 33son of [Hashem ... son of: prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 11.34; Heb the sons of Jashen, Jonathan] Shammah the Hararite, and Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite [prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 11. 35; Heb Ararite]; 34Eliphelet son of Ahasbai son of the Maacathite, and Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite; 35Hezrai from Carmel, and Paarai the Arbite; 36Igal son of Nathan from Zobah, and Bani the Gadite; 37Zelek the Ammonite, and Naharai from Beeroth, armour-bearer to Joab son of Zeruiah; 38Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, and 39Uriah the Hittite: there were thirty-seven in all.


  24.

David's census. - 1Chr.21.1-27

1 [vv1-25: cp 1Chr. 21.1-27] ONCE AGAIN THE ISRAELITES felt the LORD's anger, when he incited David against them and gave him orders that Israel and Judah should be counted. 2So he instructed Joab and the officers of the army [Joab ... army: prob. rdg, cp 1Chr. 21.2; Heb Joab the officer of the army] with him to go round all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and make a record of the people and report the number to him. 3Joab answered, 'Even if the LORD your God should increase the people a hundredfold and your majesty should live to see it, what pleasure would that give your majesty?' 4But Joab and the officers were overruled by the king and they left his presence in order to count the people. 5They crossed the Jordan and began at Aroer and the level land of the gorge, proceeding towards Gad [began at ... Gad: prob. rdg, Heb encamped in Aroer on the right of the level land of the gorge Gad] and Jazer. 6They came to Gilead and to the land of the Hittites, to Kadesh, and then to Dan and Iyyon [prob. rdg, cp 1Kgs. 15.20; Heb Yaan] and so round towards Sidon. 7They went as far as the walled city of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites, and then went on to the Negeb of Judah at Beersheba. 8They covered the whole country and arrived back at Jerusalem after nine months and twenty days. 9Joab reported to the king the total number of people: the number of able-bodied men, capable of bearing arms, was eight hundred thousand in Israel and five hundred thousand in Judah.

10After he had counted the people David's conscience smote him, and he said to the LORD, 'I have done a very wicked thing: I pray thee, LORD, remove thy servant's guilt, for I have been very foolish.' 11He rose next morning, and meanwhile the command of the LORD had come to the prophet Gad, David's seer, 12to go and speak to David: 'This is the word of the LORD: I have three things in store for you; choose one and I will bring it upon you.' 13So Gad came to David and repeated this to him and said, 'Is it to be three years of famine in your land, or three months of flight with the enemy at your heels, or three days of pestilence in your land? Consider carefully what answer I am to take back to him who sent me.' 14Thereupon David said to Gad, 'I am in a desperate plight; let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; and let me not fall into the hands of men.' 15So the LORD sent a pestilence throughout Israel from morning till the hour of dinner, and from Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand of the people died. 16Then the angel stretched out his arm towards Jerusalem to destroy it; but the LORD repented of the evil and said to the angel who was destroying the people, 'Enough! Stay your hand.' At that moment the angel of the LORD was standing by the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

17When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, 'It is I who have done wrong, the sin is mine; but these poor sheep, what have they done? Let thy hand fall upon me and upon my family.' 18That same day Gad came to David and said to him, 'Go and set up an altar to the LORD on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.' 19David did what Gad told him to do, and went up as the LORD had commanded. 20When Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants coming over towards him, he went out, prostrated himself low before the king 21and said, 'Why has your majesty come to visit his servant?' David answered, 'To buy the threshing-floor from you to build an altar to the LORD, so that the plague which has attacked the people may be stopped.' 22Araunah answered David, 'I beg your majesty to take it and sacrifice what you think fit. I have here the oxen for a whole-offering, and their harness and the threshing-sledges for the fuel.' 23Araunah [prob. rdg, Heb adds the king] gave it all to the king for his own use and said to him, 'May the LORD your God accept you.' 24But the king said to Araunah, 'No, I will buy it from you; I will not offer to the LORD my God whole-offerings that have cost me nothing.' So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25He built an altar to the LORD there and offered whole-offerings and shared-offerings. Then the LORD yielded to his prayer for the land; and the plague in Israel stopped.


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