At the end of foura years, Absalom said to the king, "Let me go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the LORD.
While your servant was living at Geshur1 in Aram, I made this vow:2 'If the LORD takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the LORD in Hebron.b ' "
The king said to him, "Go in peace." So he went to Hebron.
Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, "As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets,3 then say, 'Absalom is king in Hebron.' "
Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absalom. They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter.
While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel4 the Gilonite, David's counselor,5 to come from Giloh,6 his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom's following kept on increasing.7
A messenger came and told David, "The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom."
Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, "Come! We must flee,8 or none of us will escape from Absalom.9 We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin upon us and put the city to the sword."
The king's officials answered him, "Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king chooses."
The king set out, with his entire household following him; but he left ten concubines10 to take care of the palace.
So the king set out, with all the people following him, and they halted at a place some distance away.
All his men marched past him, along with all the Kerethites11 and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king.
The king said to Ittai12 the Gittite, "Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner,13 an exile from your homeland.
You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander14 about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your countrymen. May kindness and faithfulness15 be with you."
But Ittai replied to the king, "As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be."1622
David said to Ittai, "Go ahead, march on." So Ittai the Gittite marched on with all his men and the families that were with him.
The whole countryside wept aloud17 as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the Kidron Valley,1819 and all the people moved on toward the desert.
Zadok20 was there, too, and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark21 of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, and Abiathar22 offered sacrificesc until all the people had finished leaving the city.
Then the king said to Zadok, "Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the LORD's eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place23 again.
But if he says, 'I am not pleased with you,' then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.24"
The king also said to Zadok the priest, "Aren't you a seer?25 Go back to the city in peace, with your son Ahimaaz and Jonathan26 son of Abiathar. You and Abiathar take your two sons with you.
I will wait at the fords27 in the desert until word comes from you to inform me."
So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there.
But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping28 as he went; his head29 was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up.
Now David had been told, "Ahithophel30 is among the conspirators with Absalom." So David prayed, "O LORD, turn Ahithophel's counsel into foolishness."