The war between the house of Saul and the house of David was long and drawn out, with David growing stronger and the house of Saul becoming weaker.
Sons were born to David in Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelite;
his second was Chileab, by Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third was Absalom, son of Maacah the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur;
the fourth was Adonijah, son of Haggith; the fifth was Shephatiah, son of Abital;
the sixth was Ithream, by David's wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.a6
During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner kept acquiring more power in the house of Saul.b7
Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah daughter of Aiah, and Ish-bosheth questioned Abner, "Why did you sleep with my father's concubine?"
Abner was very angry about Ish-bosheth's accusation. "Am I a dog's headc who belongs to Judah?" he asked. "All this time I've been loyal to the house of your father Saul, to his brothers, and to his friends and haven't handed you over to David, but now you accuse me of wrongdoing with this woman!
May God punish Abner and do so severely if I don't do for David what the Lord swore to him:
to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish the throne of David over Israel and Judahd from Dan to Beer-sheba."
Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner because he was afraid of him.
Abner sent messengers as his representatives to say to David, "Whose land is it? Make your covenant with me, and you can be certain I am on your side to hand all Israel over to you."
David replied, "Good, I will make a covenant with you. However, there's one thing I require of you: Do not appear before me unless you bring Saul's daughter Michal here when you come to see me."
Then David sent messengers to say to Ish-bosheth son of Saul, "Give me back my wife, Michal. I was engaged to her for the price of 100 Philistine foreskins."e15
So Ish-bosheth sent someone to take her away from her husband, Paltiel son of Laish.f16
Her husband followed her, weeping all the way to Bahurim. Abner said to him, "Go back." So he went back.
Abner conferred with the elders of Israel: "In the past you wanted David to be king over you.
Now take action, because the Lord has spoken concerning David: 'Through My servant David I will save My people Israel from the power of the Philistines and the power of all Israel's enemies.' "g19
Abner also informed the Benjaminites and went to Hebron to inform David about all that was agreed on by Israel and the whole house of Benjamin.
When Abner and 20 men came to David at Hebron, David held a banquet for him and his men.
Abner said to David, "Let me now go and I will gather all Israel to my lord the king. They will make a covenant with you, and you will rule over all you desire." So David dismissed Abner, and he went in peace.
Just then David's soldiers and Joab returned from a raid and brought a large amount of plundered goods with them. Abner was not with David in Hebron because David had dismissed him, and he had gone in peace.
When Joab and all his army arrived, Joab was informed, "Abner son of Ner came to see the king, the king dismissed him, and he went in peace."
Joab went to the king and said, "What have you done? Look here, Abner came to you. Why did you dismiss him? Now he's getting away.
You know that Abner son of Ner came to deceive you and to find out about your activities and everything you're doing."
Then Joab left David and sent messengers after Abner. They brought him back from the wellh of Sirah, but David was unaware of it.
When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab pulled him aside to the middle of the gateway, as if to speak to him privately, and there Joab stabbed him in the stomach. So Abner died in revenge for the death of Asahel,i Joab's brother.j28
David heard [about it] later and said: "I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the Lord concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner.
May it hang over Joab's head and his father's whole house, and may the house of Joab never be without someone who has an infection or leprosy or a man who can only work a spindlek or someone who falls by the sword or starves."
Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because he had put their brother Asahel to death in the battle at Gibeon.l31
David then ordered Joab and all the people who were with him, "Tear your clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourn over Abner." And King David walked behind the funeral procession.m32
When they buried Abner in Hebron, the king wept aloud at Abner's tomb. All the people wept,
and the king sang a lament for Abner:n Should Abner die as a fool dies?
Your hands were not bound, your feet not placed in bronze [shackles]. You fell like one who falls victim to criminals. And all the people wept over him even more.
Then they came to urge David to eat bread while it was still day, but David took an oath: "May God punish me and do so severely if I taste bread or anything else before sunset!"o36
All the people took note of this, and it pleased them. In fact, everything the king did pleased them.
On that day all the troops and all Israel were convinced that the king had no part in the killing of Abner son of Ner.
Then the king said to his soldiers, "You must know that a great leader has fallen in Israel today.
As for me, even though I am the anointed king, I have little power today. These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too fierce for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil!"