2 Samuel 17

1 Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Let me choose 12,000 men, and I will set out in pursuit of David tonight.
2 I will attack him while he is weak and weary, throw him into a panic, and all the people with him will scatter. I will strike down only the king
3 and bring all the people back to you. When everyone returns [except] the man you're seeking, all[a] the people will be at peace."
4 This proposal seemed good to Absalom and all the elders of Israel.
5 Then Absalom said, "Summon Hushai the Archite also. Let's hear what he has to say as well."
6 So Hushai came to Absalom, and Absalom told him: "Ahithophel offered this proposal. Should we carry out his proposal? If not, what do you say?"
7 Hushai replied to Absalom, "The advice Ahithophel has given this time is not good."
8 Hushai continued, "You know your father and his men. They are warriors and are desperate like a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Your father is an experienced soldier who won't spend the night with the people.
9 He's probably already hiding in one of the caves[b] or some other place. If some of our troops fall[c] first, someone is sure to hear and say, 'There's been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.'
10 Then, even a brave man with the heart of a lion will melt because all Israel knows that your father and the valiant men with him are warriors.
11 Instead, I advise that all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba-as numerous as the sand by the sea-be gathered to you and that you personally go into battle.
12 Then we will attack David wherever we find him, and we will descend on him like dew on the ground. Not even one will be left of all the men with him.
13 If he retreats to some city, all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag its [stones] into the valley until not even a pebble can be found there."
14 Since the Lord had decreed that Ahithophel's good advice be undermined in order to bring about Absalom's ruin,[d] Absalom and all the men of Israel said, "The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than Ahithophel's advice."

David Informed of Absalom's Plans

15 Hushai then told the priests Zadok and Abiathar, "This is what[e] Ahithophel advised Absalom and the elders of Israel, and this is what[f] I advised.
16 Now send someone quickly and tell David, 'Don't spend the night at the wilderness ford [of the Jordan], but be sure to cross over, or the king and all the people with him will be destroyed.' "
17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En-rogel, where a servant girl would come and pass along information to them. They in turn would go and inform King David, because they dared not be seen entering the city.
18 However, a young man did see them and informed Absalom. So the two left quickly and came to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it.
19 Then his wife took the cover, placed it over the mouth of the well, and scattered grain on it so nobody would know anything.
20 Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house and asked, "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" "They passed by toward the water,"[g] the woman replied to them. The men searched but did not find [them], so they returned to Jerusalem.
21 After they had gone, Ahimaaz and Jonathan climbed out of the well and went and informed King David. They told him, "Get up and immediately ford the river, for Ahithophel has given this advice against you."
22 So David and all the people with him got up and crossed the Jordan. By daybreak, there was no one who had not crossed the Jordan.
23 When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He set his affairs in order[h] and hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father's tomb.
24 David had arrived at Mahanaim by the time Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel.
25 Now Absalom had appointed Amasa over the army in Joab's place. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra[i] the Israelite;[j][k]Ithra had married Abigail daughter of Nahash.[l] Abigail was a sister to Zeruiah, Joab's mother.
26 And Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.
27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, Machir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim
28 brought beds, basins,[m] and pottery items. [They also brought] wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils,[n]
29 honey, curds, sheep, and cheese[o] from the herd for David and the people with him to eat. They had reasoned, "The people must be hungry, exhausted, and thirsty in the desert."

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

Footnotes 15

  • [a]. LXX reads to you as a bride returns to her husband. You seek the life of only one man, and all
  • [b]. Or pits, or ravines
  • [c]. Lit And it will be when a falling on them at
  • [d]. Pr 21:30; Isa 29:14; 1 Co 1:19
  • [e]. Lit Like this and like this
  • [f]. Lit and like this and like this
  • [g]. Or brook; Hb obscure
  • [h]. Lit He commanded his house
  • [i]. Or Jether
  • [j]. Some LXX mss read Ishmaelite
  • [k]. 1 Ch 2:17
  • [l]. Some LXX mss read Jesse
  • [m]. LXX reads brought 10 embroidered beds with double coverings, 10 vessels
  • [n]. LXX, Syr; MT adds roasted grain
  • [o]. Hb obscure

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO SECOND SAMUEL 17

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