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2 Samuel 16; 2 Samuel 17; 2 Samuel 18

1 When David had passed a short way over the top of the Mount of Olives, Ziba, Mephibosheth's servant, met him. Ziba had a row of donkeys loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred cakes of raisins, one hundred cakes of figs, and leather bags full of wine. 2 The king asked Ziba, "What are these things for?" Ziba answered, "The donkeys are for your family to ride. The bread and cakes of figs are for the servants to eat. And the wine is for anyone to drink who might become weak in the desert." 3 The king asked, "Where is Mephibosheth?" Ziba answered him, "Mephibosheth is staying in Jerusalem because he thinks, 'Today the Israelites will give my father's kingdom back to me!'" 4 Then the king said to Ziba, "All right. Everything that belonged to Mephibosheth, I now give to you!" Ziba said, "I bow to you. I hope I will always be able to please you." 5 As King David came to Bahurim, a man came out and cursed him. He was from Saul's family group, and his name was Shimei son of Gera. 6 He threw stones at David and his officers, but the people and soldiers gathered all around David. 7 Shimei cursed David, saying, "Get out, get out, you murderer, you troublemaker. 8 The Lord is punishing you for the people in Saul's family you killed! You took Saul's place as king, but now the Lord has given the kingdom to your son Absalom! Now you are ruined because you are a murderer!" 9 Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse you, the king? Let me go over and cut off his head!" 10 But the king answered, "This does not concern you, sons of Zeruiah! If he is cursing me because the Lord told him to, who can question him?" 11 David also said to Abishai and all his officers, "My own son is trying to kill me! This man is a Benjaminite and has more right to kill me! Leave him alone, and let him curse me because the Lord told him to do this. 12 Maybe the Lord will see my misery and repay me with something good for Shimei's curses today!" 13 So David and his men went on down the road, but Shimei followed on the nearby hillside. He kept cursing David and throwing stones and dirt at him. 14 When the king and all his people arrived at the Jordan, they were very tired, so they rested there. 15 Meanwhile, Absalom, Ahithophel, and all the Israelites arrived at Jerusalem. 16 David's friend Hushai the Arkite came to Absalom and said to him, "Long live the king! Long live the king!" 17 Absalom asked, "Why are you not loyal to your friend David? Why didn't you leave Jerusalem with your friend?" 18 Hushai said, "I belong to the one chosen by the Lord and by these people and everyone in Israel. I will stay with you. 19 In the past I served your father. So whom should I serve now? David's son! I will serve you as I served him." 20 Absalom said to Ahithophel, "Tell us what we should do." 21 Ahithophel said, "Your father left behind some of his slave women to take care of the palace. Have sexual relations with them. Then all Israel will hear that your father is your enemy, and all your people will be encouraged to give you more support." 22 So they put up a tent for Absalom on the roofn of the palace where everyone in Israel could see it. And Absalom had sexual relations with his father's slave women. 23 At that time people thought Ahithophel's advice was as reliable as God's own word. Both David and Absalom thought it was that reliable.
1 Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Let me choose twelve thousand men and chase David tonight. 2 I'll catch him while he is tired and weak, and I'll frighten him so all his people will run away. But I'll kill only King David. 3 Then I'll bring everyone back to you. If the man you are looking for is dead, everyone else will return safely." 4 This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the leaders of Israel. 5 But Absalom said, "Now call Hushai the Arkite, so I can hear what he says." 6 When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, "This is the plan Ahithophel gave. Should we follow it? If not, tell us." 7 Hushai said to Absalom, "Ahithophel's advice is not good this time." 8 Hushai added, "You know your father and his men are strong. They are as angry as a bear that is robbed of its cubs. Your father is a skilled fighter. He won't stay all night with the army. 9 He is probably already hiding in a cave or some other place. If the first attack fails, people will hear the news and think, 'Absalom's followers are losing!' 10 Then even the men who are as brave as lions will be frightened, because all the Israelites know your father is a fighter. They know his men are brave! 11 "This is what I suggest: Gather all the Israelites from Dan to Beersheba. There will be as many people as grains of sand by the sea. Then you yourself must go into the battle. 12 We will go to David wherever he is hiding. We will fall on him as dew falls on the ground. We will kill him and all of his men so that no one will be left alive. 13 If David escapes into a city, all the Israelites will bring ropes to that city and pull it into the valley. Not a stone will be left!" 14 Absalom and all the Israelites said, "The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel." (The Lord had planned to destroy the good advice of Ahithophel so the Lord could bring disaster on Absalom.) 15 Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, what Ahithophel had suggested to Absalom and the older leaders of Israel. He also reported to them what he himself had suggested. Hushai said, 16 "Quickly! Send a message to David. Tell him not to stay tonight at the crossings into the desert but to cross over the Jordan River at once. If he crosses the river, he and all his people won't be destroyed." 17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at En Rogel. They did not want to be seen going into the city, so a servant girl would go out to them and give them messages. Then Jonathan and Ahimaaz would go and tell King David. 18 But a boy saw Jonathan and Ahimaaz and told Absalom. So Jonathan and Ahimaaz left quickly and went to a man's house in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19 The man's wife spread a sheet over the opening of the well and covered it with grain. No one could tell that anyone was hiding there. 20 Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house and asked, "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" She said to them, "They have already crossed the brook." Absalom's servants then went to look for Jonathan and Ahimaaz, but they could not find them. So they went back to Jerusalem. 21 After Absalom's servants left, Jonathan and Ahimaaz climbed out of the well and went to tell King David. They said, "Hurry, cross over the river! Ahithophel has said these things against you!" 22 So David and all his people crossed the Jordan River. By dawn, everyone had crossed the Jordan. 23 When Ahithophel saw that the Israelites did not accept his advice, he saddled his donkey and went to his hometown. He left orders for his family and property, and then he hanged himself. He died and was buried in his father's tomb. 24 David arrived at Mahanaim. And Absalom and all his Israelites crossed over the Jordan River. 25 Absalom had made Amasa captain of the army instead of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Jether the Ishmaelite. Amasa's mother was Abigail daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother. 26 Absalom and the Israelites camped in the land of Gilead. 27 Shobi, Makir, and Barzillai were at Mahanaim when David arrived. Shobi son of Nahash was from the Ammonite town of Rabbah. Makir son of Ammiel was from Lo Debar, and Barzillai was from Rogelim in Gilead. 28 They brought beds, bowls, clay pots, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, small peas, 29 honey, milk curds, sheep, and cheese made from cows' milk for David and his people. They said, "The people are hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert."
1 David counted his men and placed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 He sent the troops out in three groups. Joab commanded one-third of the men. Joab's brother Abishai son of Zeruiah commanded another third. And Ittai from Gath commanded the last third. King David said to them, "I will also go with you." 3 But the men said, "You must not go with us! If we run away in the battle, Absalom's men won't care. Even if half of us are killed, Absalom's men won't care. But you're worth ten thousand of us! You can help us most by staying in the city." 4 The king said to his people, "I will do what you think is best." So the king stood at the side of the gate as the army went out in groups of a hundred and a thousand. 5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, "Be gentle with young Absalom for my sake." Everyone heard the king's orders to the commanders about Absalom. 6 David's army went out into the field against Absalom's Israelites, and they fought in the forest of Ephraim. 7 There David's army defeated the Israelites. Many died that day -- twenty thousand men. 8 The battle spread through all the country, but that day more men died in the forest than in the fighting. 9 Then Absalom happened to meet David's troops. As Absalom was riding his mule, it went under the thick branches of a large oak tree. Absalom's head got caught in the tree, and his mule ran out from under him. So Absalom was left hanging above the ground. 10 When one of the men saw it happen, he told Joab, "I saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree!" 11 Joab said to him, "You saw him? Why didn't you kill him and let him fall to the ground? I would have given you a belt and four ounces of silver!" 12 The man answered, "I wouldn't touch the king's son even if you gave me twenty-five pounds of silver. We heard the king command you, Abishai, and Ittai, 'Be careful not to hurt young Absalom.' 13 If I had killed him, the king would have found out, and you would not have protected me!" 14 Joab said, "I won't waste time here with you!" Absalom was still alive in the oak tree, so Joab took three spears and stabbed him in the heart. 15 Ten young men who carried Joab's armor also gathered around Absalom and struck him and killed him. 16 Then Joab blew the trumpet, so the troops stopped chasing the Israelites. 17 Then Joab's men took Absalom's body and threw it into a large pit in the forest and filled the pit with many stones. All the Israelites ran away to their homes. 18 When Absalom was alive, he had set up a pillar for himself in the King's Valley. He said, "I have no son to keep my name alive." So he named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom's Monument even today. 19 Ahimaaz son of Zadok said to Joab, "Let me run and take the news to King David. I'll tell him the Lord has saved him from his enemies." 20 Joab answered Ahimaaz, "No, you are not the one to take the news today. You may do it another time, but do not take it today, because the king's son is dead." 21 Then Joab said to a man from Cush, "Go, tell the king what you have seen." The Cushite bowed to Joab and ran to tell David. 22 But Ahimaaz son of Zadok begged Joab again, "No matter what happens, please let me go along with the Cushite!" Joab said, "Son, why do you want to carry the news? You won't get any reward." 23 Ahimaaz answered, "No matter what happens, I will run." So Joab said to Ahimaaz, "Run!" Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the Jordan Valley and passed the Cushite. 24 David was sitting between the inner and outer gates of the city. The watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the walls, and as he looked up, he saw a man running alone. 25 He shouted the news to the king. The king said, "If he is alone, he is bringing good news!" The man came nearer and nearer to the city. 26 Then the watchman saw another man running, and he called to the gatekeeper, "Look! Another man is running alone!" The king said, "He is also bringing good news!" 27 The watchman said, "I think the first man runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok." The king said, "Ahimaaz is a good man. He must be bringing good news!" 28 Then Ahimaaz called a greeting to the king. He bowed facedown on the ground before the king and said, "Praise the Lord your God! The Lord has defeated those who were against you, my king." 29 The king asked, "Is young Absalom all right?" Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent me, I saw some great excitement, but I don't know what it was." 30 The king said, "Step over here and wait." So Ahimaaz stepped aside and stood there. 31 Then the Cushite arrived. He said, "Master and king, hear the good news! Today the Lord has punished those who were against you!" 32 The king asked the Cushite, "Is young Absalom all right?" The Cushite answered, "May your enemies and all who come to hurt you be like that young man!" 33 Then the king was very upset, and he went to the room over the city gate and cried. As he went, he cried out, "My son Absalom, my son Absalom! I wish I had died and not you. Absalom, my son, my son!"
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