15:1 Some time later Absalom managed to acquire 1 a chariot and horses, as well as fifty men to serve as his royal guard. 2 15:2 Now Absalom used to get up early and stand beside the road that led to the city gate. Whenever anyone came by who had a complaint to bring to the king for arbitration, Absalom would call out to him, “What city are you from?” The person would answer, “I, your servant, 3 am from one of the tribes of Israel.” 15:3 Absalom would then say to him, “Look, your claims are legitimate and appropriate. 4 But there is no representative of the king who will listen to you.” 15:4 Absalom would then say, “If only they would make me 5 a judge in the land! Then everyone who had a judicial complaint 6 could come to me and I would make sure he receives a just settlement.”
15:5 When someone approached to bow before him, Absalom 7 would extend his hand and embrace him and kiss him. 15:6 Absalom acted this way toward everyone in Israel who came to the king for justice. In this way Absalom won the loyalty 8 of the citizens 9 of Israel.
15:7 After four 10 years Absalom said to the king, “Let me go and repay my vow that I made to the Lord while I was in Hebron. 15:8 For I made this vow 11 when I was living in Geshur in Aram: ‘If the Lord really does allow me to return to Jerusalem, 12 I will serve the Lord.’” 15:9 The king replied to him, “Go in peace.” So Absalom 13 got up and went to Hebron.
15:10 Then Absalom sent spies through all the tribes of Israel who said, “When you hear the sound of the horn, you may assume 14 that Absalom rules in Hebron.” 15:11 Now two hundred men had gone with Absalom from Jerusalem. Since they were invited, they went naively and were unaware of what Absalom was planning. 15 15:12 While he was offering sacrifices, Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s adviser, 16 to come from his city, Giloh. 17 The conspiracy was gaining momentum, and the people were starting to side with Absalom.
15:13 Then a messenger came to David and reported, “The men of Israel are loyal to Absalom!” 18 15:14 So David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem, 19 “Come on! 20 Let’s escape! 21 Otherwise no one will be delivered from Absalom! Go immediately, or else he will quickly overtake us and bring 22 disaster on us and kill the city’s residents with the sword.” 23 15:15 The king’s servants replied to the king, “We will do whatever our lord the king decides.” 24
15:16 So the king and all the members of his royal court 25 set out on foot, though the king left behind ten concubines 26 to attend to the palace. 15:17 The king and all the people set out on foot, pausing 27 at a spot 28 some distance away. 15:18 All his servants were leaving with him, 29 along with all the Kerethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites – some six hundred men who had come on foot from Gath. They were leaving with 30 the king.
15:19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come with us? Go back and stay with the new 31 king, for you are a foreigner and an exile from your own country. 32 15:20 It seems like you arrived just yesterday. Today should I make you wander around by going with us? I go where I must go. But as for you, go back and take your men 33 with you. May genuine loyal love 34 protect 35 you!”
15:21 But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king is, whether dead or alive, 36 there I 37 will be as well!” 15:22 So David said to Ittai, “Come along then.” 38 So Ittai the Gittite went along, 39 accompanied by all his men and all the dependents 40 who were with him.
15:23 All the land was weeping loudly 41 as all these people were leaving. 42 As the king was crossing over the Kidron Valley, all the people were leaving 43 on the road that leads to the desert. 15:24 Zadok and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. When they positioned the ark of God, Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving 44 the city.
15:25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back to the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s sight he will bring me back and enable me to see both it and his dwelling place again. 15:26 However, if he should say, ‘I do not take pleasure in you,’ then he will deal with me in a way that he considers appropriate.” 45
15:27 The king said to Zadok the priest, “Are you a seer? 46 Go back to the city in peace! Your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan may go with you and Abiathar. 47 15:28 Look, I will be waiting at the fords of the desert until word from you 48 reaches me.” 15:29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and remained there.
15:30 As David was going up the Mount of Olives, he was weeping as he went; his head was covered and his feet were bare. All the people who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went up. 15:31 Now David 49 had been told, “Ahithophel has sided with the conspirators who are with Absalom. So David prayed, 50 “Make the advice of Ahithophel foolish, O Lord!”
15:32 When David reached the summit, where he used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite met him with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. 15:33 David said to him, “If you leave 51 with me you will be a burden to me. 15:34 But you will be able to counter the advice of Ahithophel if you go back to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king! Previously I was your father’s servant, and now I will be your servant.’ 15:35 Zadok and Abiathar the priests will be there with you. 52 Everything you hear in the king’s palace 53 you must tell Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 15:36 Furthermore, their two sons are there with them, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. You must send them to me with any information you hear.” 54
15:37 So David’s friend Hushai arrived in the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.
16:1 When David had gone a short way beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth was there to meet him. He had a couple of donkeys that were saddled, and on them were two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred raisin cakes, a hundred baskets of summer fruit, 55 and a container of wine.
16:2 The king asked Ziba, “Why did you bring these things?” 56 Ziba replied, “The donkeys are for the king’s family to ride on, the loaves of bread 57 and the summer fruit are for the attendants to eat, and the wine is for those who get exhausted in the desert.” 58 16:3 The king asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?” 59 Ziba replied to the king, “He remains in Jerusalem, 60 for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give back to me my grandfather’s 61 kingdom.’” 16:4 The king said to Ziba, “Everything that was Mephibosheth’s now belongs to you.” Ziba replied, “I bow before you. May I find favor in your sight, my lord the king.”
16:5 Then King David reached 62 Bahurim. There a man from Saul’s extended family named Shimei son of Gera came out, yelling curses as he approached. 63 16:6 He threw stones at David and all of King David’s servants, as well as all the people and the soldiers who were on his right and on his left. 16:7 As he yelled curses, Shimei said, “Leave! Leave! You man of bloodshed, you wicked man! 64 16:8 The Lord has punished you for 65 all the spilled blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you rule. Now the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. Disaster has overtaken you, for you are a man of bloodshed!”
16:9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head!” 16:10 But the king said, “What do we have in common, 66 you sons of Zeruiah? If he curses because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David!’, who can say to him, ‘Why have you done this?’” 16:11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son, my very own flesh and blood, 67 is trying to take my life. So also now this Benjaminite! Leave him alone so that he can curse, for the Lord has spoken to him. 16:12 Perhaps the Lord will notice my affliction 68 and this day grant me good in place of his curse.” 69
16:13 So David and his men went on their way. But Shimei kept going along the side of the hill opposite him, yelling curses as he threw stones and dirt at them. 70 16:14 The king and all the people who were with him arrived exhausted at their destination, where David 71 refreshed himself.
16:15 Now when Absalom and all the men 72 of Israel arrived in Jerusalem, 73 Ahithophel was with him. 16:16 When David’s friend Hushai the Arkite came to Absalom, Hushai said to him, 74 “Long live the king! Long live the king!”
16:17 Absalom said to Hushai, “Do you call this loyalty to your friend? Why didn’t you go with your friend?” 16:18 Hushai replied to Absalom, “No, I will be loyal to the one whom the Lord, these people, and all the men of Israel have chosen. 75 16:19 Moreover, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? Just as I served your father, so I will serve you.” 76
16:20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give us your advice. What should we do?” 16:21 Ahithophel replied to Absalom, “Have sex with 77 your father’s concubines whom he left to care for the palace. All Israel will hear that you have made yourself repulsive to your father. Then your followers will be motivated to support you.” 78 16:22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, 79 and Absalom had sex with 80 his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
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 83 him he will be exhausted and worn out. 84 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. 85 The entire army will return unharmed.” 86
17:4 This seemed like a good idea to Absalom and to all the leaders 87 of Israel. 17:5 But Absalom said, “Call for 88 Hushai the Arkite, and let’s hear what he has to say.” 89 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.” 90 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. 91 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, 92 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 93 to frustrate the sound advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord could bring disaster on Absalom.
17:15 Then Hushai reported to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Here is what Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the leaders 94 of Israel to do, and here is what I have advised. 17:16 Now send word quickly to David and warn him, 95 “Don’t spend the night at the fords of the desert 96 tonight. Instead, be sure you cross over, 97 or else the king and everyone who is with him may be overwhelmed.” 98
17:17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying in En Rogel. A female servant would go and inform them, and they would then go and inform King David. It was not advisable for them to be seen going into the city. 17:18 But a young man saw them on one occasion and informed Absalom. So the two of them quickly departed and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. There was a well in his courtyard, and they got down in it. 17:19 His wife then took the covering and spread it over the top of the well and scattered some grain over it. No one was aware of what she had done.
17:20 When the servants of Absalom approached the woman at her home, they asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” The woman replied to them, “They crossed over the stream.” Absalom’s men 99 searched but did not find them, so they returned to Jerusalem. 100
17:21 After the men had left, Ahimaaz and Jonathan 101 climbed out of the well. Then they left and informed King David. They advised David, “Get up and cross the stream 102 quickly, for Ahithophel has devised a plan to catch you.” 103 17:22 So David and all the people who were with him got up and crossed the Jordan River. 104 By dawn there was not one person left who had not crossed the Jordan.
17:23 When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and returned to his house in his hometown. After setting his household in order, he hanged himself. So he died and was buried in the grave 105 of his father.
17:24 Meanwhile David had gone to Mahanaim, while Absalom and all the men of Israel had crossed the Jordan River. 17:25 Absalom had made Amasa general in command of the army in place of Joab. (Now Amasa was the son of an Israelite man named Jether, who had married 106 Abigail the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother.) 17:26 The army of Israel 107 and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.
17:27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, Makir the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 17:28 brought bedding, basins, and pottery utensils. They also brought food for David and all who were with him, including wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, 108 17:29 honey, curds, flocks, and cheese. 109 For they said, “The people are no doubt hungry, tired, and thirsty there in the desert.” 110
1 tn Heb “acquired for himself.”
2 tn Heb “to run ahead of him.”
4 tn Heb “good and straight.”
5 tn Heb “Who will make me?”
6 tn Heb “a complaint and a judgment.” The expression is a hendiadys.
7 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Absalom) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
8 tn Heb “stole the heart.”
9 tn Heb “the men.”
10 tc The MT has here “forty,” but this is presumably a scribal error for “four.” The context will not tolerate a period of forty years prior to the rebellion of Absalom. The Lucianic Greek recension (τέσσαρα ἔτη, tessara ete), the Syriac Peshitta (’arba’ sanin), and Vulgate (post quattuor autem annos) in fact have the expected reading “four years.” Most English translations follow the versions in reading “four” here, although some (e.g. KJV, ASV, NASB, NKJV), following the MT, read “forty.”
11 tn Heb “for your servant vowed a vow.” The formal court style of referring to one’s self in third person (“your servant”) has been translated here as first person for clarity.
13 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Absalom) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
14 tn Heb “say.”
15 tn Heb “being invited and going naively and they did not know anything.”
16 tn Traditionally, “counselor,” but this term is more often associated with psychological counseling today, so “adviser” was used in the translation instead.
17 tn Heb “Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, the adviser of David, from his city, from Giloh, while he was sacrificing.” It is not entirely clear who (Absalom or Ahithophel) was offering the sacrifices.
18 tn Heb “the heart of the men of Israel is with Absalom.”
20 tn Heb “Arise!”
21 tn Heb “let’s flee.”
22 tn Heb “thrust.”
23 tn Heb “and strike the city with the edge of the sword.”
24 tn Heb “according to all that my lord the king will choose, behold your servants!”
25 tn Heb “and all his house.”
26 tn Heb “women, concubines.”
27 tn Heb “and they stood.”
28 tn Heb “house.”
29 tn Heb “crossing over near his hand.”
30 tn Heb “crossing over near the face of.”
31 tn The word “new” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation to make it clear that David refers to Absalom, not himself.
32 tn Heb “place.”
34 tn Heb “loyal love and truth.” The expression is a hendiadys.
35 tn Heb “be with.”
36 tn Heb “whether for death or for life.”
37 tn Heb “your servant.”
38 tn Heb “Come and cross over.”
39 tn Heb “crossed over.”
40 tn Heb “all the little ones.”
41 tn Heb “with a great voice.”
42 tn Heb “crossing over.”
43 tn Heb “crossing near the face of.”
44 tn Heb “crossing from.”
45 tn Heb “as [is] good in his eyes.”
46 tn The Greek tradition understands the Hebrew word as an imperative (“see”). Most Greek
47 tn Heb “And Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar, two of your sons, with you.” The pronominal suffix on the last word is plural, referring to Zadok and Abiathar.
48 tn The pronoun is plural, referring to Zadok and Abiathar.
49 tc The translation follows 4QSama, part of the Greek tradition, the Syriac Peshitta, Targum, and Vulgate uldavid in reading “and to David,” rather than MT וְדָוִד (vÿdavid, “and David”). As Driver points out, the Hebrew verb הִגִּיד (higgid, “he related”) never uses the accusative for the person to whom something is told (S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 316).
50 tn Heb “said.”
51 tn Heb “cross over.”
52 tn Heb “Will not Zadok and Abiathar the priests be there with you?” The rhetorical question draws attention to the fact that Hushai will not be alone.
53 tn Heb “from the house of the king.”
54 tn Heb “and you must send by their hand to me every word which you hear.” Both of the second person verb forms are plural with Zadok, Abiathar, and Hushai being the understood subjects.
55 tn Heb “a hundred summer fruit.”
56 tn Heb “What are these to you?”
57 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew
58 tn The Hebrew text adds “to drink.”
59 tn Heb “son.”
61 tn Heb “my father’s.”
62 tn Heb “came to.” The form of the verb in the MT is odd. Some prefer to read וַיַּבֹא (vayyavo’), preterite with vav consecutive) rather than וּבָא (uva’), apparently perfect with vav), but this is probably an instance where the narrative offline vÿqatal construction introduces a new scene.
63 tn Heb “And look, from there a man was coming out from the clan of the house of Saul and his name was Shimei son of Gera, continually going out and cursing.”
64 tn Heb “man of worthlessness.”
65 tn Heb “has brought back upon you.”
66 tn Heb “What to me and to you?”
67 tn Heb “who came out from my entrails.” David’s point is that is his own son, his child whom he himself had fathered, was now wanting to kill him.
68 tc The Hebrew text is difficult here. It is probably preferable to read with the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate בְּעוֹנִי (bÿ’onyi, “on my affliction”) rather than the Kethib of the MT בָּעַוֹנִי (ba’avoni, “on my wrongdoing”). While this Kethib reading is understandable as an objective genitive (i.e., “the wrong perpetrated upon me”), it does not conform to normal Hebrew idiom for this idea. The Qere of the MT בְּעֵינֵי (bÿ’eni, “on my eyes”), usually taken as synecdoche to mean “my tears,” does not commend itself as a likely meaning. The Hebrew word is one of the so-called tiqqune sopherim, or “emendations of the scribes.”
69 tn Heb “and the
70 tn Heb “and he cursed and threw stones, opposite him, pelting [them] with dirt.” The offline vÿqatal construction in the last clause indicates an action that was complementary to the action described in the preceding clause. He simultaneously threw stones and dirt.
71 tn Heb “he”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
72 tn Heb “and all the people, the men of Israel.”
74 tn Heb “to Absalom.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun “him” in the translation for stylistic reasons.
75 tn Heb “No for with the one whom the
76 tn Heb “Just as I served before your father, so I will be before you.”
77 tn Heb “go to”; NAB “have (+ sexual NCV) relations with”; TEV “have intercourse with”; NLT “Go and sleep with.”
78 tn Heb “and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.”
79 sn That is, on top of the flat roof of the palace, so it would be visible to the public.
80 tn Heb “went to”; NAB “he visited his father’s concubines”; NIV “lay with his father’s concubines”; TEV “went in and had intercourse with.”
81 tn Heb “And the advice of Ahithophel which he advised in those days was as when one inquires of the word of God.”
82 tn Heb “So was all the advice of Ahithophel, also to David, also to Absalom.”
83 tn Heb “and I will come upon him.”
84 tn Heb “exhausted and slack of hands.”
85 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.
86 tn Heb “all of the people will be safe.”
87 tn Heb “elders.”
88 tc In the MT the verb is singular, but in the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate it is plural.
89 tn Heb “what is in his mouth.”
90 tn Heb “Not good is the advice which Ahithophel has advised at this time.”
91 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.”
92 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].”
93 tn Heb “commanded.”
94 tn Heb “elders.”
95 tn Heb “send quickly and tell David saying.”
96 tn Or “wilderness” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV, TEV).
97 tn That is, “cross over the Jordan River.”
98 tn Heb “swallowed up.”
99 tn Heb “they”; the referents (Absalom’s men) have been specified in the translation for clarity.
101 tn Heb “they”; the referents (Ahimaaz and Jonathan) have been specified in the translation for clarity.
102 tn Heb “the water.”
103 tn Heb “for thus Ahithophel has devised against you.” The expression “thus” is narrative shorthand, referring to the plan outlined by Ahithophel (see vv. 1-3). The men would surely have outlined the plan in as much detail as they had been given by the messenger.
105 tc The Greek recensions of Origen and Lucian have here “house” for “grave.”
106 tn Heb “come to.”
107 tn Heb “and Israel.”
108 tc The MT adds “roasted grain” וְקָלִי (vÿqali) at the end of v. 28, apparently accidentally repeating the word from its earlier occurrence in this verse. With the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and an Old Latin
109 tn Heb “cheese of the herd,” probably referring to cheese from cow’s milk (rather than goat’s milk).
110 tn Or “wilderness” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV, TEV, NLT).