There happened to be in Gilgal a worthless character named Sheba son of Bikri, of the tribe of Benjamin. He blew the trumpet and called out, "Down with David! We won't follow him! Men of Israel, let's go home!" 1
So the Israelites deserted David and went with Sheba, but the men of Judah remained loyal and followed David from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
When David arrived at his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to take care of the palace, and put them under guard. He provided for their needs, but did not have intercourse with them. They were kept confined for the rest of their lives, living like widows. 2
The king said to Amasa, "Call the men of Judah together and be back here with them by the day after tomorrow."
Amasa went to call them, but he did not get back by the time the king had told him to.
So the king said to Abishai, "Sheba will give us more trouble than Absalom. Take my men and go after him, or else he may occupy some fortified towns and escape from us."
So Joab's men, the royal bodyguards, and all the other soldiers left Jerusalem with Abishai to go after Sheba.
When they reached the large rock at Gibeon, Amasa met them. Joab was dressed for battle, with a sword in its sheath fastened to his belt. As he came forward, the sword fell out.
Joab said to Amasa, "How are you, my friend?" and took hold of his beard with his right hand in order to kiss him.
Amasa was not on guard against the sword that Joab was holding in his other hand, and Joab stabbed him in the belly, and his insides spilled out on the ground. He died immediately, and Joab did not have to strike again. Then Joab and his brother Abishai went on after Sheba.
One of Joab's men stood by Amasa's body and called out, "Everyone who is for Joab and David follow Joab!"
Amasa's body, covered with blood, was lying in the middle of the road. Joab's man saw that everybody was stopping, so he dragged the body from the road out into the field and threw a blanket over it.
After the body had been removed from the road, everyone followed Joab in pursuit of Sheba.
Sheba passed through the territory of all the tribes of Israel and came to the city of Abel Beth Maacah, and all the members of the clan of Bikri assembled and followed him into the city.
Joab's men heard that Sheba was there, and so they went and besieged the city. They built ramps of earth against the outer wall and also began to dig under the wall to make it fall down.
There was a wise woman in the city who shouted from the wall, "Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here; I want to speak with him."
Joab went, and she asked, "Are you Joab?" "Yes, I am," he answered. "Listen to me, sir," she said. "I'm listening," he answered.
She said, "Long ago they used to say, "Go and get your answer in the city of Abel' - and that's just what they did.
Ours is a great city, one of the most peaceful and loyal in Israel. Why are you trying to destroy it? Do you want to ruin what belongs to the Lord?"
"Never!" Joab answered. "I will never ruin or destroy your city!
That is not our plan. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, who is from the hill country of Ephraim, started a rebellion against King David. Hand over this one man, and I will withdraw from the city." "We will throw his head over the wall to you," she said.
Then she went to the people of the city with her plan, and they cut off Sheba's head and threw it over the wall to Joab. He blew the trumpet as a signal for his men to leave the city, and they went back home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.
Joab was in command of the army of Israel; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was in charge of David's bodyguards;
Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was in charge of the records;
Sheva was the court secretary; Zadok and Abiathar were the priests,
and Ira from the town of Jair was also one of David's priests.