2 Samuel 17

1 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “I would[a] choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David.
2 I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the king
3 and bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed.”
4 This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.
5 But Absalom said, “Summon also Hushai the Arkite, so we can hear what he has to say as well.”
6 When Hushai came to him, Absalom said, “Ahithophel has given this advice. Should we do what he says? If not, give us your opinion.”
7 Hushai replied to Absalom, “The advice Ahithophel has given is not good this time.
8 You know your father and his men; they are fighters, and as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Besides, your father is an experienced fighter; he will not spend the night with the troops.
9 Even now, he is hidden in a cave or some other place. If he should attack your troops first,[b] whoever hears about it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.’
10 Then even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a fighter and that those with him are brave.
11 “So I advise you: Let all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba—as numerous as the sand on the seashore—be gathered to you, with you yourself leading them into battle.
12 Then we will attack him wherever he may be found, and we will fall on him as dew settles on the ground. Neither he nor any of his men will be left alive.
13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it down to the valley until not so much as a pebble is left.”
14 Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the LORD had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.
15 Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, “Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel to do such and such, but I have advised them to do so and so.
16 Now send a message at once and tell David, ‘Do not spend the night at the fords in the wilderness; cross over without fail, or the king and all the people with him will be swallowed up.’ ”
17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel. A female servant was to go and inform them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they could not risk being seen entering the city.
18 But a young man saw them and told Absalom. So the two of them left at once and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it.
19 His wife took a covering and spread it out over the opening of the well and scattered grain over it. No one knew anything about it.
20 When Absalom’s men came to the woman at the house, they asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” The woman answered them, “They crossed over the brook.”[c] The men searched but found no one, so they returned to Jerusalem.
21 After they had gone, the two climbed out of the well and went to inform King David. They said to him, “Set out and cross the river at once; Ahithophel has advised such and such against you.”
22 So David and all the people with him set out and crossed the Jordan. By daybreak, no one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.
23 When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.

Absalom’s Death

24 David went to Mahanaim, and Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel.
25 Absalom had appointed Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of Jether,[d] an Ishmaelite[e] who had married Abigail[f] , the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah the mother of Joab.
26 The Israelites and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.
27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim
28 brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils,[g]
29 honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, “The people have become exhausted and hungry and thirsty in the wilderness.”

2 Samuel 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

Ahithophel's counsel overthrown. (1-21) He hangs himself, Absalom pursues David. (22-29)

Verses 1-21 Here was a wonderful effect of Divine Providence blinding Absalom's mind and influencing his heart, that he could not rest in Ahithophel's counsel, and that he should desire Hushai's advice. But there is no contending with that God who can arm a man against himself, and destroy him by his own mistakes and passions. Ahithophel's former counsel was followed, for God intended to correct David; but his latter counsel was not followed, for God meant not to destroy him. He can overrule all counsels. Whatever wisdom or help any man employs or affords, the success is from God alone, who will not let his people perish.

Verses 22-29 Ahithophel hanged himself for vexation that his counsel was not followed. That will break a proud man's heart which will not break a humble man's sleep. He thought himself in danger, concluding, that, because his counsel was not followed, Absalom's cause would fail; and to prevent a possible public execution, he does justice upon himself. Thus the breath is stopped, and the head laid low, from which nothing could be expected but mischief. Absalom chased his father. But observe how God sometimes makes up to his people that comfort from strangers, which they are disappointed of in their own families. Our King needs not our help; but he assures us, that what we do for the least of his brethren, who are sick, poor, and destitute, shall be accepted and recompensed as if done to himself

Cross References 36

  • 1. 2 Samuel 16:14
  • 2. 1 Kings 22:31; Zechariah 13:7
  • 3. S 2 Samuel 15:32
  • 4. Hosea 13:8
  • 5. 1 Samuel 16:18
  • 6. Jeremiah 41:9
  • 7. 1 Chronicles 12:8
  • 8. Joshua 2:9,11; Ezekiel 21:15
  • 9. 2 Samuel 23:8; 1 Chronicles 11:11
  • 10. S Judges 20:1
  • 11. S Genesis 12:2; Genesis 22:17; S Joshua 11:4
  • 12. Micah 1:6
  • 13. S 2 Samuel 16:23
  • 14. S 2 Samuel 15:12
  • 15. S 2 Samuel 15:34; Nehemiah 4:15
  • 16. Psalms 9:16
  • 17. 2 Chronicles 10:8
  • 18. 2 Samuel 15:28
  • 19. 2 Samuel 15:35
  • 20. S 2 Samuel 15:27,36
  • 21. Joshua 15:7; Joshua 18:16; 1 Kings 1:9
  • 22. S 2 Samuel 3:16; 2 Samuel 16:5
  • 23. S Joshua 2:6
  • 24. S Exodus 1:19; Joshua 2:3-5; 1 Samuel 19:12-17
  • 25. 2 Samuel 15:12; S 2 Samuel 16:23
  • 26. 2 Kings 20:1; Matthew 27:5
  • 27. S Genesis 32:2; 2 Samuel 2:8
  • 28. 2 Samuel 19:13; 2 Samuel 20:4,9-12; 1 Kings 2:5,32; 1 Chronicles 12:18
  • 29. 1 Chronicles 2:13-17
  • 30. S 1 Samuel 11:1
  • 31. S Deuteronomy 3:11; 2 Samuel 10:1-2; 2 Samuel 12:26,29
  • 32. 2 Samuel 9:4
  • 33. 2 Samuel 19:31-39; 1 Kings 2:7
  • 34. 2 Samuel 19:31; Ezra 2:61
  • 35. 1 Chronicles 12:40
  • 36. 2 Samuel 16:2; S Romans 12:13

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Or "Let me"
  • [b]. Or "When some of the men fall at the first attack"
  • [c]. Or "“They passed by the sheep pen toward the water.”"
  • [d]. Hebrew "Ithra" , a variant of "Jether"
  • [e]. Some Septuagint manuscripts (see also 1 Chron. 2:17); Hebrew and other Septuagint manuscripts "Israelite"
  • [f]. Hebrew "Abigal" , a variant of "Abigail"
  • [g]. Most Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac; Hebrew "lentils, and roasted grain"

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates the advice Ahithophel gave to march out speedily with a number of men in pursuit of David, which at first seemed agreeable, 2Sa 17:1-4; but Hushai's opinion being asked, and he giving counsel to raise a larger army, which required time, and was taken to, hereby the counsel of Ahithophel was defeated, 2Sa 17:5-14; upon which he hanged himself, 2Sa 17:23; these different counsels being communicated by Hushai to the priests, they found means to transmit them to David, with an instruction to him to pass over Jordan immediately; which he did, and pitched in Gilead, and whither he was followed by Absalom, 2Sa 17:15-26; and where he met with a supply of provisions for his army from some eminent persons in and near that place, 2Sa 17:27-29.

2 Samuel 17 Commentaries

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