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 forest1 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 head2 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 strike3 him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekelsa of silver and a warrior's belt.4"
But the man replied, "Even if a thousand shekelsb 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.c '
And if I had put my life in jeopardyd--and nothing is hidden from the king5--you would have kept your distance from me."