One day Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Here's what I suggest. Choose 12,000 men. Start out tonight and go after David.
Attack him while he's tired and weak. Fill him with terror. Then all of the people who are with him will run away. Don't strike down anyone except the king.
Bring all of the other people back. After the man you want to kill is dead, everyone else will return to you. And none of the people will be harmed."
Ahithophel's plan seemed good to Absalom. It also seemed good to all of the elders of Israel.
But Absalom said, "Send for Hushai, the Arkite. Then we can find out what he suggests."
Hushai came to him. Absalom said, "Ahithophel has given us his advice. Should we do what he says? If we shouldn't, tell us what you would do."
Hushai replied to Absalom, "The advice Ahithophel has given you isn't good this time.
You know your father and his men. They are fighters. They are as strong as a wild bear whose cubs have been stolen from her. Besides, your father really knows how to fight. He won't spend the night with his troops.
In fact, he's probably hiding in a cave or some other place right now. "Suppose he attacks your troops first. When people hear about it, they'll say, 'Many of the troops who followed Absalom have been killed.'
Then the hearts of your soldiers will melt away in fear. Even those who are as brave as a lion will be terrified. That's because everyone in Israel knows that your father is a fighter. They know that those who are with him are brave.
"So here's what I suggest. Bring together all of the men of Israel from the town of Dan all the way to Beersheba. They are as many as the grains of sand on the seashore. You yourself should lead them into battle.
"Then we'll attack David no matter where we find him. As dew completely covers the ground, we'll completely overpower his entire army. We won't leave him or any of his men alive.
He might try to get away by going into a city. If he does, all of us will bring ropes to that city. We'll drag the whole city down into the valley. No one will be able to find even a piece of that city."
Absalom and all of the men of Israel agreed. They said, "The advice of Hushai, the Arkite, is better than the advice of Ahithophel." The LORD had decided that Ahithophel's good advice would fail. The LORD wanted to bring horrible trouble on Absalom.
Hushai spoke to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. He said, "Ahithophel has given advice to Absalom and the elders of Israel. He suggested that they should do one thing. But I suggested something else.
"Send a message right away. Tell David, 'Don't spend the night at the place in the desert where people can go across the Jordan River. Make sure you go on across. If you don't, you and all of the people who are with you will be swallowed up.' "
Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel just outside Jerusalem. They knew they would be in danger if anyone saw them entering the city. A female servant was supposed to go and tell them what had happened. Then they were supposed to go and tell King David.
But a young man saw Jonathan and Ahimaaz and told Absalom about it. So the two men left quickly. They went to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard. They climbed down into it.
The man's wife got a covering and spread it out over the opening of the well. Then she scattered grain on the covering. So no one knew that the men were hiding in the well.
Absalom's men came to the house. They asked the woman, "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" She answered, "They went across the brook." When the men looked around, they didn't find anyone. So they returned to Jerusalem.
After the men had gone, Jonathan and Ahimaaz climbed out of the well. They went to tell King David what they had found out. They said to him, "Go across the river right away. Ahithophel has told Absalom how to come after you and strike you down."
So David and all of the people who were with him started out. They went across the Jordan River. By sunrise, everyone had crossed over.
Ahithophel saw that his advice wasn't being followed. So he put a saddle on his donkey. He started out for his house in his hometown. When he got there, he put everything in order. He made out his will. Then he killed himself. So he died, and his body was buried in his father's tomb.
David went to Mahanaim. Absalom went across the Jordan River with all of the men of Israel.
Absalom had made Amasa commander of the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Jether. Jether belonged to the family line of Ishmael. He had gotten married to Abigail. She was the daughter of Nahash and the sister of Zeruiah. Zeruiah was the mother of Joab.
Absalom and the people of Israel camped in the land of Gilead.
David came to Mahanaim. Shobi, the son of Nahash, met him there. Shobi was from Rabbah in the land of Ammon. Makir, the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, met him there too. So did Barzillai from Rogelim in the land of Gilead.
They brought beds, bowls and clay pots. They brought wheat, barley, flour, and grain that had been cooked. They brought beans and lentils.
They brought honey, butter, sheep and cheese that was made from cows' milk. They brought all of that food for David and his people to eat. They said, "These people have become hungry. They've become tired and thirsty in the desert."