After this, Absalom got a chariot and horses for himself and fifty men to run before him.
Absalom would get up early and stand near the city gate. Anyone who had a problem for the king to settle would come here. When someone came, Absalom would call out and say, "What city are you from?" The person would answer, "I'm from one of the tribes of Israel."
Then Absalom would say, "Look, your claims are right, but the king has no one to listen to you."
Absalom would also say, "I wish someone would make me judge in this land! Then people with problems could come to me, and I could help them get justice."
People would come near Absalom to bow to him. When they did, Absalom would reach out his hand and take hold of them and kiss them.
Absalom did that to all the Israelites who came to King David for decisions. In this way, Absalom stole the hearts of all Israel.
After four years Absalom said to King David, "Please let me go to Hebron. I want to carry out my promise that I made to the Lord
while I was living in Geshur in Aram. I said, 'If the Lord takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship him in Hebron.'"
The king said, "Go in peace." So Absalom went to Hebron.
But he sent secret messengers through all the tribes of Israel. They told the people, "When you hear the trumpets, say this: 'Absalom is the king at Hebron!'"
Absalom had invited two hundred men to go with him. So they went from Jerusalem with him, but they didn't know what he was planning.
While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of the people who advised David, to come from his hometown of Giloh. So Absalom's plans were working very well. More and more people began to support him.
A messenger came to David, saying, "The Israelites are giving their loyalty to Absalom."
Then David said to all his officers who were with him in Jerusalem, "We must leave quickly! If we don't, we won't be able to get away from Absalom. We must hurry before he catches us and destroys us and kills the people of Jerusalem."
The king's officers said to him, "We will do anything you say."
The king set out with everyone in his house, but he left ten slave women to take care of the palace.
The king left with all his people following him, and they stopped at a house far away.
All the king's servants passed by him -- the Kerethites and Pelethites, all those from Gath, and the six hundred men who had followed him.
The king said to Ittai, a man from Gath, "Why are you also going with us? Turn back and stay with King Absalom because you are a foreigner. This is not your homeland.
You joined me only a short time ago. Should I make you wander with us when I don't even know where I'm going? Turn back and take your brothers with you. May kindness and loyalty be shown to you."
But Ittai said to the king, "As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will stay with you, whether it means life or death."
David said to Ittai, "Go, march on." So Ittai from Gath and all his people with their children marched on.
All the people cried loudly as everyone passed by. King David crossed the Kidron Valley, and then all the people went on to the desert.
Zadok and all the Levites with him carried the Ark of the Agreement with God. They set it down, and Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had left the city.
The king said to Zadok, "Take the Ark of God back into the city. If the Lord is pleased with me, he will bring me back and will let me see both it and Jerusalem again.
But if the Lord says he is not pleased with me, I am ready. He can do what he wants with me."
The king also said to Zadok the priest, "Aren't you a seer? Go back to the city in peace and take your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan with you.
I will wait near the crossings into the desert until I hear from you."
So Zadok and Abiathar took the Ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there.
David went up the Mount of Olives, crying as he went. He covered his head and went barefoot. All the people with David covered their heads also and cried as they went.
Someone told David, "Ahithophel is one of the people with Absalom who made secret plans against you." So David prayed, "Lord, please make Ahithophel's advice foolish."
When David reached the top of the mountain where people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite came to meet him. Hushai's coat was torn, and there was dirt on his head to show how sad he was.
David said to Hushai, "If you go with me, you will be just one more person for me to take care of.
But if you return to the city, you can make Ahithophel's advice useless. Tell Absalom, 'I am your servant, my king. In the past I served your father, but now I will serve you.'
The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you. Tell them everything you hear in the royal palace.
Zadok's son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan are with them. Send them to tell me everything you hear."
So David's friend Hushai entered Jerusalem just as Absalom arrived.