17:1 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me pick out twelve thousand men. Then I will go and pursue David this very night. 17:2 When I catch up with 1 him he will be exhausted and worn out. 2 I will rout him, and the entire army that is with him will flee. I will kill only the king 17:3 and will bring the entire army back to you. In exchange for the life of the man you are seeking, you will get back everyone. 3 The entire army will return unharmed.” 4
17:4 This seemed like a good idea to Absalom and to all the leaders 5 of Israel. 17:5 But Absalom said, “Call for 6 Hushai the Arkite, and let’s hear what he has to say.” 7 17:6 So Hushai came to Absalom. Absalom said to him, “Here is what Ahithophel has advised. Should we follow his advice? If not, what would you recommend?”
17:7 Hushai replied to Absalom, “Ahithophel’s advice is not sound this time.” 8 17:8 Hushai went on to say, “You know your father and his men – they are soldiers and are as dangerous as a bear out in the wild that has been robbed of her cubs. 9 Your father is an experienced soldier; he will not stay overnight with the army. 17:9 At this very moment he is hiding out in one of the caves or in some other similar place. If it should turn out that he attacks our troops first, 10 whoever hears about it will say, ‘Absalom’s army has been slaughtered!’ 17:10 If that happens even the bravest soldier – one who is lion-hearted – will virtually melt away. For all Israel knows that your father is a warrior and that those who are with him are brave. 17:11 My advice therefore is this: Let all Israel from Dan to Beer Sheba – in number like the sand by the sea! – be mustered to you, and you lead them personally into battle. 17:12 We will come against him wherever he happens to be found. We will descend on him like the dew falls on the ground. Neither he nor any of the men who are with him will be spared alive – not one of them! 17:13 If he regroups in a city, all Israel will take up ropes to that city and drag it down to the valley, so that not a single pebble will be left there!”
17:14 Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite sounds better than the advice of Ahithophel.” Now the Lord had decided 11 to frustrate the sound advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord could bring disaster on Absalom.
1 tn Heb “and I will come upon him.”
2 tn Heb “exhausted and slack of hands.”
3 tc Heb “like the returning of all, the man whom you are seeking.” The LXX reads differently: “And I will return all the people to you the way a bride returns to her husband, except for the life of the one man whom you are seeking.” The other early versions also struggled with this verse. Modern translations are divided as well: the NAB, NRSV, REB, and NLT follow the LXX, while the NASB and NIV follow the Hebrew text.
4 tn Heb “all of the people will be safe.”
5 tn Heb “elders.”
6 tc In the MT the verb is singular, but in the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate it is plural.
7 tn Heb “what is in his mouth.”
8 tn Heb “Not good is the advice which Ahithophel has advised at this time.”
9 tc The LXX (with the exception of the recensions of Origen and Lucian) repeats the description as follows: “Just as a female bear bereft of cubs in a field.”
10 tn Heb “that he falls on them [i.e., Absalom’s troops] at the first [encounter]; or “that some of them [i.e., Absalom’s troops] fall at the first [encounter].”
11 tn Heb “commanded.”