2 Samuel 18

1 David numbered the people who were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them.
2 David sent forth the people, a third part under the hand of Yo'av, and a third part under the hand of Avishai the son of Tzeru'yah, Yo'av's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.
3 But the people said, You shall not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore now it is better that you are ready to help us out of the city.
4 The king said to them, What seems you best I will do. The king stood by the gate-side, and all the people went out by hundreds and by thousands.
5 The king commanded Yo'av and Avishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Avshalom. All the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Avshalom.
6 So the people went out into the field against Yisra'el: and the battle was in the forest of Efrayim.
7 The people of Yisra'el were struck there before the servants of David, and there was a great slaughter there that day of twenty thousand men.
8 For the battle was there spread over the surface of all the country; and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
9 Avshalom happened to meet the servants of David. Avshalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the sky and eretz; and the mule that was under him went on.
10 A certain man saw it, and told Yo'av, and said, Behold, I saw Avshalom hanging in an oak.
11 Yo'av said to the man who told him, Behold, you saw it, and why didn't you strike him there to the ground? and I would have given you ten [pieces of] silver, and a sash.
12 The man said to Yo'av, Though I should receive a thousand [pieces of] silver in my hand, I still wouldn't put forth my hand against the king's son; for in our hearing the king charged you and Avishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Avshalom.
13 Otherwise if I had dealt falsely against his life (and there is no matter hid from the king), then you yourself would have set yourself against [me].
14 Then said Yo'av, I may not wait thus with you. He took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Avshalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
15 Ten young men who bore Yo'av's armor compassed about and struck Avshalom, and killed him.
16 Yo'av blew the shofar, and the people returned from pursuing after Yisra'el; for Yo'av held back the people.
17 They took Avshalom, and cast him into the great pit in the forest, and raised over him a very great heap of stones: and all Yisra'el fled everyone to his tent.
18 Now Avshalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself the pillar, which is in the king's dale; for he said, I have no son to keep my name in memory: and he called the pillar after his own name; and it is called Avshalom's monument, to this day.
19 Then said Achima`atz the son of Tzadok, Let me now run, and bear the king news, how that the LORD has avenged him of his enemies.
20 Yo'av said to him, You shall not be the bearer of news this day, but you shall bear news another day; but this day you shall bear no news, because the king's son is dead.
21 Then said Yo'av to the Kushite, Go, tell the king what you have seen. The Kushite bowed himself to Yo'av, and ran.
22 Then said Achima`atz the son of Tzadok yet again to Yo'av, But come what may, Please let me also run after the Kushite. Yo'av said, Why will you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward for the news?
23 But come what may, [said he], I will run. He said to him, Run. Then Achima`atz ran by the way of the Plain, and outran the Kushite.
24 Now David was sitting between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate to the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, a man running alone.
25 The watchman cried, and told the king. The king said, If he be alone, there is news in his mouth. He came apace, and drew near.
26 The watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the porter, and said, Behold, [another] man running alone. The king said, He also brings news.
27 The watchman said, I think the running of the foremost is like the running of Achima`atz the son of Tzadok. The king said, He is a good man, and comes with good news.
28 Achima`atz called, and said to the king, All is well. He bowed himself before the king with his face to the eretz, and said, Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men who lifted up their hand against my lord the king.
29 The king said, Is it well with the young man Avshalom? Achima`atz answered, When Yo'av sent the king's servant, even me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I don't know what it was.
30 The king said, Turn aside, and stand here. He turned aside, and stood still.
31 Behold, the Kushite came; and the Kushite said, News for my lord the king; for the LORD has avenged you this day of all those who rose up against you.
32 The king said to the Kushite, Is it well with the young man Avshalom? The Kushite answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you to do you hurt, be as that young man is.
33 The king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, my son Avshalom, my son, my son Avshalom! would I had died for you, Avshalom, my son, my son!

2 Samuel 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

Absalom's army defeated. (1-8) He is slain. (9-18) David's over-sorrow. (19-33)

Verses 1-8 How does David render good for evil! Absalom would have only David smitten; David would have only Absalom spared. This seems to be a resemblance of man's wickedness towards God, and God's mercy to man, of which it is hard to say which is most amazing. Now the Israelites see what it is to take counsel against the Lord and his anointed.

Verses 9-18 Let young people look upon Absalom, hanging on a tree, accursed, forsaken of heaven and earth; there let them read the Lord's abhorrence of rebellion against parents. Nothing can preserve men from misery and contempt, but heavenly wisdom and the grace of God.

Verses 19-33 By directing David to give God thanks for his victory, Ahimaaz prepared him for the news of his son's death. The more our hearts are fixed and enlarged, in thanksgiving to God for our mercies, the better disposed we shall be to bear with patience the afflictions mixed with them. Some think David's wish arose from concern about Absalom's everlasting state; but he rather seems to have spoken without due thought. He is to be blamed for showing so great fondness for a graceless son. Also for quarrelling with Divine justice. And for opposing the justice of the nation, which, as king, he had to administer, and which ought to be preferred before natural affection. The best men are not always in a good frame; we are apt to over-grieve for what we over-loved. But while we learn from this example to watch and pray against sinful indulgence, or neglect of our children, may we not, in David, perceive a shadow of the Saviour's love, who wept over, prayed for, and even suffered death for mankind, though vile rebels and enemies.

Chapter Summary


In this chapter is an account of David's review of his army, preparing it for battle with Absalom, and those with him, 2Sa 18:1-5; and of the defeat and flight of the rebels, 2Sa 18:6-8; and of the death of Absalom, and the manner of it, and of his burial, 2Sa 18:9-18; and of the news of it brought to David by different persons, 2Sa 18:19-32; and of his great grief and sorrow on that account, 2Sa 18:33.

2 Samuel 18 Commentaries

The Hebrew Names Version is in the public domain.