After this, David asked the LORD, "Should I go to one of the cities of Judah?" "Go," the LORD answered him. "Where should I go?" David asked. "To Hebron," the LORD replied.
David went there with his two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail (who had been Nabal's wife) from Carmel.
David took his men and their families with him, and they settled in the towns around Hebron.
Then the people of Judah came to Hebron and anointed David to be king over the tribe of Judah. They told David, "The people of Jabesh Gilead were the ones who buried Saul."
So David sent messengers to the people of Jabesh Gilead. He said to them, "May the LORD bless you because you showed kindness to your master Saul by burying him.
May the LORD always show you kindness. I, too, will be good to you because you did this.
Now, be strong and courageous. Because your master Saul is dead, the tribe of Judah has anointed me to be their king."
Ner's son Abner, commander of Saul's army, took Saul's son Ishbosheth and brought him to Mahanaim.
Abner made him king of Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, and Benjamin, that is, all Israel.
Saul's son Ishbosheth was 40 years old when he became king of Israel. He ruled for two years, but the tribe of Judah followed David.
In Hebron David was king over the tribe of Judah for seven years and six months.
Ner's son Abner and the officers of Saul's son Ishbosheth went from Mahanaim to Gibeon.
Zeruiah's son Joab and David's officers also left [Hebron]. Both groups met at the pool of Gibeon. They sat down there, one group on one side of the pool and the other group on the other side of the pool.
Abner said to Joab, "Let's have the young men hold a contest." Joab agreed.
The men got up and were counted as they passed by. Twelve were from the tribe of Benjamin (representing Saul's son Ishbosheth), and twelve were from David's officers.
Each one grabbed his opponent by the head, stuck his sword into his opponent's side, and they fell down together. Therefore, that place in Gibeon is called the Field of Enemies.
Fierce fighting broke out that day, and David's men defeated Abner and the men of Israel.
Zeruiah's three sons were there: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was as fast on his feet as a wild gazelle.
He chased Abner and refused to leave him alone.
When Abner looked back, he asked, "Are you Asahel?" "Yes," Asahel answered.
Abner told him, "Leave me alone! Catch one of the young men, and take his weapon." But Asahel refused to turn away from him.
So Abner spoke again to Asahel. "Stop following me," he said. "Why should I kill you? How could I look your brother Joab in the face again?"
But Asahel refused to turn away. So Abner struck him with the butt of the spear. The spear went into his belly and came out his back. He fell down there and died on the spot. And everyone who came to the place where Asahel fell and died stopped there.
But Joab and Abishai chased Abner. When the sun went down, they came to the hill of Ammah, opposite Giah on the road from Gibeon to the desert.
The men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner, banding together and taking their position on top of a hill.
Then Abner called to Joab, "Should this slaughter go on forever? Don't you know this will end in bitterness? How long will it be before you will call off your troops from chasing their relatives?"
Joab answered, "I solemnly swear, as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would not have stopped chasing their relatives until morning."
So Joab blew a ram's horn, and all the troops stopped. They didn't chase or fight Israel anymore.
Abner and his men marched through the plains all that night. They crossed the Jordan River and passed through the entire Bithron until they came to Mahanaim.
Joab returned from chasing Abner. When he had gathered all the troops, [only] 19 of David's officers and Asahel were missing.
However, David's officers had killed 360 of the men of Benjamin under Abner's command.
They took Asahel and buried him in his father's tomb in Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night and arrived at Hebron by daybreak.