18:1 David assembled the army that was with him. He appointed leaders of thousands and leaders of hundreds. 18:2 David then sent out the army – a third under the leadership of Joab, a third under the leadership of Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under the leadership of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the troops, “I too will indeed march out with you.”
18:3 But the soldiers replied, 1 “You should not do this! 2 For if we should have to make a rapid retreat, they won’t be too concerned about us. 3 Even if half of us should die, they won’t be too concerned about us. But you 4 are like ten thousand of us! So it is better if you remain in the city for support.” 18:4 Then the king said to them, “I will do whatever seems best to you.”
So the king stayed beside the city gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands. 18:5 The king gave this order to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake deal gently with the young man Absalom.” Now the entire army was listening when the king gave all the leaders this order concerning Absalom.
18:6 Then the army marched out to the field to fight against Israel. The battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 18:7 The army of Israel was defeated there by David’s men. 5 The slaughter there was great that day – 20,000 soldiers were killed. 18:8 The battle there was spread out over the whole area, and the forest consumed more soldiers than the sword devoured that day.