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2 Samuel 16:15--17:29

Context
The Advice of Ahithophel

16:15 Now when Absalom and all the men 1  of Israel arrived in Jerusalem, 2  Ahithophel was with him. 16:16 When David’s friend Hushai the Arkite came to Absalom, Hushai said to him, 3  “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. 4  16:19 Moreover, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? Just as I served your father, so I will serve you.” 5 

16:20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give us your advice. What should we do?” 16:21 Ahithophel replied to Absalom, “Have sex with 6  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.” 7  16:22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, 8  and Absalom had sex with 9  his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

16:23 In those days Ahithophel’s advice was considered as valuable as a prophetic revelation. 10  Both David and Absalom highly regarded the advice of Ahithophel. 11 

The Death of Ahithophel

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 12  him he will be exhausted and worn out. 13  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. 14  The entire army will return unharmed.” 15 

17:4 This seemed like a good idea to Absalom and to all the leaders 16  of Israel. 17:5 But Absalom said, “Call for 17  Hushai the Arkite, and let’s hear what he has to say.” 18  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.” 19  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. 20  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, 21  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 22  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 23  of Israel to do, and here is what I have advised. 17:16 Now send word quickly to David and warn him, 24  “Don’t spend the night at the fords of the desert 25  tonight. Instead, be sure you cross over, 26  or else the king and everyone who is with him may be overwhelmed.” 27 

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 28  searched but did not find them, so they returned to Jerusalem. 29 

17:21 After the men had left, Ahimaaz and Jonathan 30  climbed out of the well. Then they left and informed King David. They advised David, “Get up and cross the stream 31  quickly, for Ahithophel has devised a plan to catch you.” 32  17:22 So David and all the people who were with him got up and crossed the Jordan River. 33  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 34  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 35  Abigail the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother.) 17:26 The army of Israel 36  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, 37  17:29 honey, curds, flocks, and cheese. 38  For they said, “The people are no doubt hungry, tired, and thirsty there in the desert.” 39 

1 tn Heb “and all the people, the men of Israel.”

2 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

3 tn Heb “to Absalom.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun “him” in the translation for stylistic reasons.

4 tn Heb “No for with the one whom the Lord has chosen, and this people, and all the men of Israel, I will be and with him I will stay.” The translation follows the Qere and several medieval Hebrew mss in reading לוֹ (lo, “[I will be] to him”) rather than the MT לֹא (lo’, “[I will] not be”), which makes very little sense here.

5 tn Heb “Just as I served before your father, so I will be before you.”

6 tn Heb “go to”; NAB “have (+ sexual NCV) relations with”; TEV “have intercourse with”; NLT “Go and sleep with.”

7 tn Heb “and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.”

8 sn That is, on top of the flat roof of the palace, so it would be visible to the public.

9 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.”

10 tn Heb “And the advice of Ahithophel which he advised in those days was as when one inquires of the word of God.”

11 tn Heb “So was all the advice of Ahithophel, also to David, also to Absalom.”

12 tn Heb “and I will come upon him.”

13 tn Heb “exhausted and slack of hands.”

14 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.

15 tn Heb “all of the people will be safe.”

16 tn Heb “elders.”

17 tc In the MT the verb is singular, but in the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate it is plural.

18 tn Heb “what is in his mouth.”

19 tn Heb “Not good is the advice which Ahithophel has advised at this time.”

20 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.”

21 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].”

22 tn Heb “commanded.”

23 tn Heb “elders.”

24 tn Heb “send quickly and tell David saying.”

25 tn Or “wilderness” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV, TEV).

26 tn That is, “cross over the Jordan River.”

27 tn Heb “swallowed up.”

28 tn Heb “they”; the referents (Absalom’s men) have been specified in the translation for clarity.

29 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

30 tn Heb “they”; the referents (Ahimaaz and Jonathan) have been specified in the translation for clarity.

31 tn Heb “the water.”

32 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.

33 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text here or in v. 24, but has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

34 tc The Greek recensions of Origen and Lucian have here “house” for “grave.”

35 tn Heb “come to.”

36 tn Heb “and Israel.”

37 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 ms the translation deletes this second occurrence of the word.

38 tn Heb “cheese of the herd,” probably referring to cheese from cow’s milk (rather than goat’s milk).

39 tn Or “wilderness” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV, TEV, NLT).



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