Then Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Let me pick twelve thousand men, and I will go after David tonight.
I will attack him while he is tired and weak, and I will throw him into a panic. All the troops with him will run off. I promise to kill the king alone,
and I will bring all the people back to you like a bride comes back to her husband.a It's only one man's life you are seeking; everyone else can be at peace."
This plan seemed excellent to Absalom and the Israelite elders.
But Absalom said, "Call Hushai from Erek. Let's hear what he has to say as well."
When Hushai from Erek arrived, Absalom said to him, "This is what Ahithophel has advised. Should we follow it or not? What do you say?"
Hushai said to Absalom, "This time, the advice Ahithophel has given isn't right.
You know that your father and his men are warriors," he continued, "and they are as desperate as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Your father is a seasoned fighter. He won't spend the night with his troops.
Even now he has probably hidden himself in one of the caves or some other place. When some of the troopsb fall in the first attack, whoever hears it will say, ‘The soldiers who follow Absalom have been defeated!'
Then even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like a lion's, will melt in fear because all Israel knows that your father is a warrior and that those who are with him are brave.
So I would advise that all the Israelites, from Dan to Beer-sheba—a group as countless as sand on the seashore—be summoned to join you, and that you yourself go into battle.
When we attack him wherever he might be, we will fall on him like dew that falls on the ground. No one will survive—not him and not one of the soldiers who are with him!
If he retreats into a city, all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into a valley until not even a pebble of it will be found."
Then Absalom and everyone in Israel agreed, "The advice of Hushai from Erek is better than Ahithophel's advice." This was because the LORD had decided to counter Ahithophel's good advice so that the LORD could bring disaster on Absalom.
Hushai told the priests Zadok and Abiathar, "Here is what Ahithophel advised Absalom and the Israelite elders, and here is what I advised.
Now send word immediately to David and tell him, ‘Don't spend the night in the desert plains. You must cross over immediately. Otherwise, the king and all the troops who are with him will be swallowed up whole.'"
Jonathan and Ahimaaz were standing by at En-rogel. A female servant would come and report to them, and they would then travel and report to King David because they couldn't risk being seen entering the city.
But a boy saw them and reported it to Absalom. So the two of them left immediately and came to a man's house at Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it.
The man's wife took a covering and spread it over the well's opening, then scattered grain over it so no one would notice.
When Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house they demanded, "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" The woman told them, "They crossed over the stream."c They looked for them but found nothing, so they returned to Jerusalem.
After they had left, Jonathan and Ahimaaz climbed out of the well. They went and reported to King David, "Get up! Cross the water immediately because Ahithophel has made plans against you!"
So David and all the troops who were with him got up and crossed the Jordan River. By daybreak there was no one left who hadn't crossed the Jordan.
Meanwhile, once Ahithophel saw that his advice hadn't been followed, he saddled his donkey and went home to his own town. He gave instructions to his household, then hanged himself and died. He was buried in his father's tomb.
David had reached Mahanaim by the time Absalom and all the Israelites who were with him crossed the Jordan River.
Absalom had put Amasa in charge of the army instead of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra, an Ishmaelited who had married Abigail, who was Nahash's daughter and the sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother.
Israel and Absalom camped in the territory of Gilead.
When David arrived in Mahanaim, Nahash's son Shobi, who was from Rabbah of the Ammonites; Ammiel's son Machir, who was from Lo-debar; and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim
brought couches, basins, and pottery, along with wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils,
honey, curds, sheep, and cheese from the herd so that David and the troops who were with him could eat. They said, "The troops have grown hungry, tired, and thirsty in the wilderness."