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2 Samuel 15:1–19:43

Absalom’s Conspiracy

15 In the course of time,g Absalom provided himself with a charioth and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate.i Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.”j And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land!k Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”

Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the heartsl of the people of Israel.

At the end of foura years, Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the Lord. While your servant was living at Geshurm in Aram, I made this vow:n ‘If the Lord takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the Lord in Hebron.b’ ”

The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he went to Hebron.

10 Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets,o then say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’ ” 11 Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absalom. They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter. 12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophelp the Gilonite, David’s counselor,q to come from Giloh,r his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.s

David Flees

13 A messenger came and told David, “The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom.”

14 Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come! We must flee,t or none of us will escape from Absalom.u We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin on us and put the city to the sword.”

15 The king’s officials answered him, “Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king chooses.”

16 The king set out, with his entire household following him; but he left ten concubinesv to take care of the palace. 17 So the king set out, with all the people following him, and they halted at the edge of the city. 18 All his men marched past him, along with all the Kerethitesw and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king.

19 The king said to Ittaix the Gittite, “Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner,y an exile from your homeland. 20 You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wanderz about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your people with you. May the Lord show you kindness and faithfulness.”c a

21 But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”b

22 David said to Ittai, “Go ahead, march on.” So Ittai the Gittite marched on with all his men and the families that were with him.

23 The whole countryside wept aloudc as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the Kidron Valley,d and all the people moved on toward the wilderness.

24 Zadoke was there, too, and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the arkf of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, and Abiatharg offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving the city.

25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling placeh again. 26 But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.i

27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Do you understand?j Go back to the city with my blessing. Take your son Ahimaaz with you, and also Abiathar’s son Jonathan.k You and Abiathar return with your two sons. 28 I will wait at the fordsl in the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there.

30 But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weepingm as he went; his headn was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up. 31 Now David had been told, “Ahithophelo is among the conspirators with Absalom.” So David prayed, “Lord, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.”

32 When David arrived at the summit, where people used to worship God, Hushaip the Arkiteq was there to meet him, his robe torn and dustr on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you go with me, you will be a burdens to me. 34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘Your Majesty, I will be your servant; I was your father’s servant in the past, but now I will be your servant,’t then you can help me by frustratingu Ahithophel’s advice. 35 Won’t the priests Zadok and Abiathar be there with you? Tell them anything you hear in the king’s palace.v 36 Their two sons, Ahimaazw son of Zadok and Jonathanx son of Abiathar, are there with them. Send them to me with anything you hear.”

37 So Hushai,y David’s confidant, arrived at Jerusalem as Absalomz was entering the city.

David and Ziba

16 When David had gone a short distance beyond the summit, there was Ziba,a the steward of Mephibosheth, waiting to meet him. He had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred cakes of raisins, a hundred cakes of figs and a skin of wine.b

The king asked Ziba, “Why have you brought these?”

Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refreshc those who become exhausted in the wilderness.”

The king then asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?”d

Zibae said to him, “He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks, ‘Today the Israelites will restore to me my grandfather’s kingdom.’ ”

Then the king said to Ziba, “All that belonged to Mephiboshethf is now yours.”

“I humbly bow,” Ziba said. “May I find favor in your eyes, my lord the king.”

Shimei Curses David

As King David approached Bahurim,g a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimeih son of Gera, and he cursedi as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned.j The Lord has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!”k

Then Abishail son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dogm curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.”n

10 But the king said, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah?o If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’ ”p

11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son,q my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to.r 12 It may be that the Lord will look upon my miserys and restore to me his covenant blessingt instead of his curse today.u

13 So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. 14 The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted.v And there he refreshed himself.

The Advice of Ahithophel and Hushai

15 Meanwhile, Absalomw and all the men of Israel came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophelx was with him. 16 Then Hushaiy the Arkite, David’s confidant, went to Absalom and said to him, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”

17 Absalom said to Hushai, “So this is the love you show your friend? If he’s your friend, why didn’t you go with him?”z

18 Hushai said to Absalom, “No, the one chosen by the Lord, by these people, and by all the men of Israel—his I will be, and I will remain with him. 19 Furthermore, whom should I serve? Should I not serve the son? Just as I served your father, so I will serve you.”a

20 Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give us your advice. What should we do?”

21 Ahithophel answered, “Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to take care of the palace. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself obnoxious to your father, and the hands of everyone with you will be more resolute.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.b

23 Now in those days the advicec Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both Davidd and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.

17 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “I woulda choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. I would attack him while he is weary and weak.e I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the kingf 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.” This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.

But Absalom said, “Summon also Hushaig the Arkite, so we can hear what he has to say as well.” When Hushai came to him, Absalom said, “Ahithophel has given this advice. Should we do what he says? If …

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Some Septuagint manuscripts, Syriac and Josephus; Hebrew forty

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Some Septuagint manuscripts; Hebrew does not have in Hebron.

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Septuagint; Hebrew May kindness and faithfulness be with you

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Or Let me

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