Now Ahithophel urged Absalom, "Let me choose twelve thousand men to start out after David tonight.
I will catch up to him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away. Then I will kill only the king,
and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride returns to her husband. After all, it is only this man's life that you seek. Then all the people will remain unharmed and peaceful."
References for 2 Samuel 17:3
This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the other leaders of Israel.
But then Absalom said, "Bring in Hushai the Arkite. Let's see what he thinks about this."
When Hushai arrived, Absalom told him what Ahithophel had said. Then he asked, "What is your opinion? Should we follow Ahithophel's advice? If not, speak up."
"Well," Hushai replied, "this time I think Ahithophel has made a mistake.
You know your father and his men; they are mighty warriors. Right now they are probably as enraged as a mother bear who has been robbed of her cubs. And remember that your father is an experienced soldier. He won't be spending the night among the troops.
He has probably already hidden in some pit or cave. And when he comes out and attacks and a few of your men fall, there will be panic among your troops, and everyone will start shouting that your men are being slaughtered.
Then even the bravest of them, though they have the heart of a lion, will be paralyzed with fear. For all Israel knows what a mighty man your father is and how courageous his warriors are."
"I suggest that you mobilize the entire army of Israel, bringing them from as far away as Dan and Beersheba. That way you will have an army as numerous as the sand on the seashore. And I think that you should personally lead the troops.
When we find David, we can descend on him like the dew that falls to the ground, so that not one of his men is left alive.
And if David has escaped into some city, you will have the entire army of Israel there at your command. Then we can take ropes and drag the walls of the city into the nearest valley until every stone is torn down."
Then Absalom and all the leaders of Israel said, "Hushai's advice is better than Ahithophel's." For the LORD had arranged to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, which really was the better plan, so that he could bring disaster upon Absalom!
Then Hushai reported to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, what Ahithophel had said and what he himself had suggested instead.
"Quick!" he told them. "Find David and urge him not to stay at the shallows of the Jordan River tonight. He must go across at once into the wilderness beyond. Otherwise he will die and his entire army with him."
References for 2 Samuel 17:16
Jonathan and Ahimaaz had been staying at En-rogel so as not to be seen entering and leaving the city. Arrangements had been made for a servant girl to bring them the message they were to take to King David.
But a boy saw them leaving En-rogel to go to David, and he told Absalom about it. Meanwhile, they escaped to Bahurim, where a man hid them inside a well in his courtyard.
The man's wife put a cloth over the top of the well with grain on it to dry in the sun; so no one suspected they were there.
When Absalom's men arrived, they asked her, "Have you seen Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" She replied, "They were here, but they crossed the brook." Absalom's men looked for them without success and returned to Jerusalem.
Then the two men crawled out of the well and hurried on to King David. "Quick!" they told him, "cross the Jordan tonight!" And they told him how Ahithophel had advised that he be captured and killed.
So David and all the people with him went across the Jordan River during the night, and they were all on the other bank before dawn.
Meanwhile, Ahithophel was publicly disgraced when Absalom refused his advice. So he saddled his donkey, went to his hometown, set his affairs in order, and hanged himself. He died there and was buried beside his father.
David soon arrived at Mahanaim. By now, Absalom had mobilized the entire army of Israel and was leading his troops across the Jordan River.
Absalom had appointed Amasa as commander of his army, replacing Joab, who had been commander under David. (Amasa was Joab's cousin. His father was Jether, an Ishmaelite. His mother, Abigail daughter of Nahash, was the sister of Joab's mother, Zeruiah.)
References for 2 Samuel 17:25
Absalom and the Israelite army set up camp in the land of Gilead.
When David arrived at Mahanaim, he was warmly greeted by Shobi son of Nahash of Rabbah, an Ammonite, and by Makir son of Ammiel of Lo-debar, and by Barzillai of Gilead from Rogelim.
They brought sleeping mats, cooking pots, serving bowls, wheat and barley flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils,
honey, butter, sheep, and cheese for David and those who were with him. For they said, "You must all be very tired and hungry and thirsty after your long march through the wilderness."