David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.
David sent the troops out1--a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab's brother Abishai2 son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai3 the Gittite. The king told the troops, "I myself will surely march out with you."
But the men said, "You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won't care about us. Even if half of us die, they won't care; but you are worth ten4 thousand of us.a It would be better now for you to give us support from the city."54
The king answered, "I will do whatever seems best to you." So the king stood beside the gate while all the men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands.
The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, "Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake." And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.
The army marched into the field to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest6 of Ephraim.
There the army of Israel was defeated by David's men, and the casualties that day were great--twenty thousand men.
The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest claimed more lives that day than the sword.
Now Absalom happened to meet David's men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom's head7 got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.
When one of the men saw this, he told Joab, "I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree."
Joab said to the man who had told him this, "What! You saw him? Why didn't you strike8 him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekelsb of silver and a warrior's belt.9"
But the man replied, "Even if a thousand shekelsc were weighed out into my hands, I would not lift my hand against the king's son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, 'Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.d '
And if I had put my life in jeopardye--and nothing is hidden from the king10--you would have kept your distance from me."
Joab11 said, "I'm not going to wait like this for you." So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom's heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree.
And ten of Joab's armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.1216
Then Joab13 sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them.
They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up14 a large heap of rocks15 over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.
During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King's Valley16 as a monument17 to himself, for he thought, "I have no son18 to carry on the memory of my name." He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom's Monument to this day.