2:1 Afterward David inquired of the Lord, “Should I go up to one of the cities of Judah?” The Lord told him, “Go up.” David asked, “Where should I go?” The Lord replied, 1 “To Hebron.” 2:2 So David went up, along with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail, formerly the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. 2:3 David also brought along the men who were with him, each with his family. They settled in the cities 2 of Hebron. 2:4 The men of Judah came and there they anointed David as king over the people 3 of Judah.
David was told, 4 “The people 5 of Jabesh Gilead are the ones who buried Saul.” 2:5 So David sent messengers to the people of Jabesh Gilead and told them, “May you be blessed by the Lord because you have shown this kindness 6 to your lord Saul by burying him. 2:6 Now may the Lord show you true kindness! 7 I also will reward you, 8 because you have done this deed. 2:7 Now be courageous 9 and prove to be valiant warriors, for your lord Saul is dead. The people of Judah have anointed me as king over them.”
2:8 Now Abner son of Ner, the general in command of Saul’s army, had taken Saul’s son Ish-bosheth 10 and had brought him to Mahanaim. 2:9 He appointed him king over Gilead, the Geshurites, 11 Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all Israel. 2:10 Ish-bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he began to rule over Israel. He ruled two years. However, the people 12 of Judah followed David. 2:11 David was king in Hebron over the people of Judah for seven and a half years. 13
2:12 Then Abner son of Ner and the servants of Ish-bosheth son of Saul went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 2:13 Joab son of Zeruiah and the servants of David also went out and confronted them at the pool of Gibeon. One group stationed themselves on one side of the pool, and the other group on the other side of the pool. 2:14 Abner said to Joab, “Let the soldiers get up and fight 14 before us.” Joab said, “So be it!” 15
2:15 So they got up and crossed over by number: twelve belonging to Benjamin and to Ish-bosheth son of Saul, and twelve from the servants of David. 2:16 As they grappled with one another, each one stabbed his opponent with his sword and they fell dead together. 16 So that place is called the Field of Flints; 17 it is in Gibeon.
2:17 Now the battle was very severe that day; Abner and the men of Israel were overcome by David’s soldiers. 18 2:18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there – Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. (Now Asahel was as quick on his feet as one of the gazelles in the field.) 2:19 Asahel chased Abner, without turning to the right or to the left as he followed Abner.
2:20 Then Abner turned and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?” He replied, “Yes it is!” 2:21 Abner said to him, “Turn aside to your right or to your left. Capture one of the soldiers 19 and take his equipment for yourself!” But Asahel was not willing to turn aside from following him. 2:22 So Abner spoke again to Asahel, “Turn aside from following me! I do not want to strike you to the ground. 20 How then could I show 21 my face in the presence of Joab your brother?” 2:23 But Asahel 22 refused to turn aside. So Abner struck him in the abdomen with the back end of his 23 spear. The spear came out his back; Asahel 24 collapsed on the spot and died there right before Abner. 25 Everyone who now comes to the place where Asahel fell dead pauses in respect. 26
2:24 So Joab and Abishai chased Abner. At sunset they came to the hill of Ammah near Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon. 2:25 The Benjaminites formed their ranks 27 behind Abner and were like a single army, standing at the top of a certain hill.
2:26 Then Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will turn bitter in the end? When will you tell the people to turn aside from pursuing their brothers?” 2:27 Joab replied, “As surely as God lives, if you had not said this, it would have been morning before the people would have abandoned pursuit 28 of their brothers!” 2:28 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn and all the people stopped in their tracks. 29 They stopped chasing Israel and ceased fighting. 30 2:29 Abner and his men went through the Arabah all that night. They crossed the Jordan River 31 and went through the whole region of Bitron 32 and came to Mahanaim.
2:30 Now Joab returned from chasing Abner and assembled all the people. Nineteen of David’s soldiers were missing, in addition to Asahel. 2:31 But David’s soldiers had slaughtered the Benjaminites and Abner’s men – in all, 360 men had died! 2:32 They took Asahel’s body and buried him in his father’s tomb at Bethlehem. 33 Joab and his men then traveled all that night and reached Hebron by dawn. 3:1 However, the war was prolonged between the house of Saul and the house of David. David was becoming steadily stronger, while the house of Saul was becoming increasingly weaker.
3:2 Now sons were born to David in Hebron. His firstborn was Amnon, born to Ahinoam the Jezreelite. 3:3 His second son 34 was Kileab, born to Abigail the widow 35 of Nabal the Carmelite. His third son was Absalom, the son of Maacah daughter of King Talmai of Geshur. 3:4 His fourth son was Adonijah, the son of Haggith. His fifth son was Shephatiah, the son of Abitail. 3:5 His sixth son was Ithream, born to David’s wife Eglah. These sons 36 were all born to David in Hebron.
3:6 As the war continued between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was becoming more influential 37 in the house of Saul. 3:7 Now Saul had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. Ish-bosheth 38 said to Abner, “Why did you have sexual relations with 39 my father’s concubine?” 40
3:8 These words of Ish-bosheth really angered Abner and he said, “Am I the head of a dog that belongs to Judah? This very day I am demonstrating 41 loyalty to the house of Saul your father and to his relatives 42 and his friends! I have not betrayed you into the hand of David. Yet you have accused me of sinning with this woman today! 43 3:9 God will severely judge Abner 44 if I do not do for David exactly what the Lord has promised him, 45 3:10 namely, to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah all the way from Dan to Beer Sheba!” 3:11 Ish-bosheth 46 was unable to answer Abner with even a single word because he was afraid of him.
3:12 Then Abner sent messengers 47 to David saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make an agreement 48 with me, and I will do whatever I can 49 to cause all Israel to turn to you.” 3:13 So David said, “Good! I will make an agreement with you. I ask only one thing from you. You will not see my face unless you bring Saul’s daughter Michal when you come to visit me.” 50
3:14 David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth son of Saul with this demand: 51 “Give me my wife Michal whom I acquired 52 for a hundred Philistine foreskins.” 3:15 So Ish-bosheth took her 53 from her husband Paltiel 54 son of Laish. 3:16 Her husband went along behind her, weeping all the way to Bahurim. Finally Abner said to him, “Go back!” 55 So he returned home.
3:17 Abner advised 56 the elders of Israel, “Previously you were wanting David to be your king. 57 3:18 Act now! For the Lord has said to David, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save 58 my people Israel from 59 the Philistines and from all their enemies.’”
3:19 Then Abner spoke privately 60 with the Benjaminites. Abner also went to Hebron to inform David privately 61 of all that Israel and the entire house of Benjamin had agreed to. 62 3:20 When Abner, accompanied by twenty men, came to David in Hebron, David prepared a banquet for Abner and the men who were with him. 3:21 Abner said to David, “Let me leave so that I may go and gather all Israel to my lord the king so that they may make an agreement 63 with you. Then you will rule over all that you desire.” So David sent Abner away, and he left in peace.
3:22 Now David’s soldiers 64 and Joab were coming back from a raid, bringing a great deal of plunder with them. Abner was no longer with David in Hebron, for David 65 had sent him away and he had left in peace. 3:23 When Joab and all the army that was with him arrived, Joab was told: “Abner the son of Ner came to the king; he sent him away, and he left in peace!”
3:24 So Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Abner 66 has come to you! Why would you send him away? Now he’s gone on his way! 67 3:25 You know Abner the son of Ner! Surely he came here to spy on you and to determine when you leave and when you return 68 and to discover everything that you are doing!”
3:26 Then Joab left David and sent messengers after Abner. They brought him back from the well of Sirah. (But David was not aware of it.) 3:27 When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gate as if to speak privately with him. Joab then stabbed him 69 in the abdomen and killed him, avenging the shed blood of his brother Asahel. 70
3:28 When David later heard about this, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the Lord of the shed blood of Abner son of Ner! 3:29 May his blood whirl over 71 the head of Joab and the entire house of his father! 72 May the males of Joab’s house 73 never cease to have 74 someone with a running sore or a skin disease or one who works at the spindle 75 or one who falls by the sword or one who lacks food!”
3:30 So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel in Gibeon during the battle.
3:31 David instructed Joab and all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes! Put on sackcloth! Lament before Abner!” Now King David followed 76 behind the funeral bier. 3:32 So they buried Abner in Hebron. The king cried loudly 77 over Abner’s grave and all the people wept too. 3:33 The king chanted the following lament for Abner:
“Should Abner have died like a fool?
and your feet were not put into irons.
You fell the way one falls before criminals.”
All the people 79 wept over him again. 3:35 Then all the people came and encouraged David to eat food while it was still day. But David took an oath saying, “God will punish me severely 80 if I taste bread or anything whatsoever before the sun sets!”
3:36 All the people noticed this and it pleased them. 81 In fact, everything the king did pleased all the people. 3:37 All the people and all Israel realized on that day that the killing of Abner son of Ner was not done at the king’s instigation. 82
3:38 Then the king said to his servants, “Do you not realize that a great leader 83 has fallen this day in Israel? 3:39 Today I am weak, even though I am anointed as king. These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too much for me to bear! 84 May the Lord punish appropriately the one who has done this evil thing!” 85
4:1 When Ish-bosheth 86 the son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he was very disheartened, 87 and all Israel was afraid. 4:2 Now Saul’s son 88 had two men who were in charge of raiding units; one was named Baanah and the other Recab. They were sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, who was a Benjaminite. (Beeroth is regarded as belonging to Benjamin, 4:3 for the Beerothites fled to Gittaim and have remained there as resident foreigners until the present time.) 89
4:4 Now Saul’s son Jonathan had a son who was crippled in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan arrived from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but in her haste to get away, he fell and was injured. 90 Mephibosheth was his name.
4:5 Now the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite – Recab and Baanah – went at the hottest part of the day to the home of Ish-bosheth, as he was enjoying his midday rest. 4:6 They 91 entered the house under the pretense of getting wheat and mortally wounded him 92 in the stomach. Then Recab and his brother Baanah escaped.
4:7 They had entered 93 the house while Ish-bosheth 94 was resting on his bed in his bedroom. They mortally wounded him 95 and then cut off his head. 96 Taking his head, 97 they traveled on the way of the Arabah all that night. 4:8 They brought the head of Ish-bosheth to David in Hebron, saying to the king, “Look! The head of Ish-bosheth son of Saul, your enemy who sought your life! The Lord has granted vengeance to my lord the king this day against 98 Saul and his descendants!”
4:9 David replied to Recab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered my life from all adversity, 4:10 when someone told me that Saul was dead – even though he thought he was bringing good news 99 – I seized him and killed him in Ziklag. That was the good news I gave to him! 4:11 Surely when wicked men have killed an innocent man as he slept 100 in his own house, should I not now require his blood from your hands and remove 101 you from the earth?”
4:12 So David issued orders to the soldiers and they put them to death. Then they cut off their hands and feet and hung them 102 near the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth 103 and buried it in the tomb of Abner 104 in Hebron. 105
1 tn Heb “he said.” The referent (the
2 tc The expression “the cities of Hebron” is odd; we would expect the noun to be in the singular, if used at all. Although the Syriac Peshitta has the expected reading “in Hebron,” the MT is clearly the more difficult reading and should probably be retained here.
3 tn Heb “house.”
4 tn Heb “and they told David.” The subject appears to be indefinite, allowing one to translate the verb as passive with David as subject.
5 tn Heb “men.”
6 tn Or “loyalty.”
7 tn Or “loyalty and devotion.”
8 tn Heb “will do with you this good.”
9 tn Heb “let your hands be strong.”
10 sn The name Ish-bosheth means in Hebrew “man of shame.” It presupposes an earlier form such as Ish-baal (“man of the Lord”), with the word “baal” being used of Israel’s God. But because the Canaanite storm god was named “Baal,” that part of the name was later replaced with the word “shame.”
11 tc The MT here reads “the Ashurite,” but this is problematic if it is taken to mean “the Assyrian.” Ish-bosheth’s kingdom obviously was not of such proportions as to extend to Assyria. The Syriac Peshitta renders the word as “the Geshurite,” while the Targum has “of the house of Ashur.” We should probably emend the Hebrew text to read “the Geshurite.” The Geshurites lived in the northeastern part of the land of Palestine.
12 tn Heb “house.”
13 tn Heb “And the number of the days in which David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.”
14 tn Heb “play.” What is in view here is a gladiatorial contest in which representative groups of soldiers engage in mortal combat before the watching armies. Cf. NAB “perform for us”; NASB “hold (have NRSV) a contest before us”; NLT “put on an exhibition of hand-to-hand combat.”
15 tn Heb “let them arise.”
16 tn Heb “and they grabbed each one the head of his neighbor with his sword in the side of his neighbor and they fell together.”
17 tn The meaning of the name “Helkath Hazzurim” (so NIV; KJV, NASB, NRSV similar) is not clear. BHK relates the name to the Hebrew term for “side,” and this is reflected in NAB “the Field of the Sides”; the Greek OT revocalizes the Hebrew to mean something like “Field of Adversaries.” Cf. also TEV, NLT “Field of Swords”; CEV “Field of Daggers.”
18 tn Heb “servants.” So also elsewhere.
19 tn Heb “young men.” So also elsewhere.
20 tn Heb “Why should I strike you to the ground?”
21 tn Heb “lift.”
22 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Asahel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
23 tn Heb “the.” The article functions here as a possessive pronoun.
24 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Asahel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
25 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Abner) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
26 tn Heb “and they stand.”
27 tn Heb “were gathered together.”
28 tn The Hebrew verb נַעֲלָה (na’alah) used here is the Niphal perfect 3rd person masculine singular of עָלָה (’alah, “to go up”). In the Niphal this verb “is used idiomatically, of getting away from so as to abandon…especially of an army raising a siege…” (see S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 244).
29 tn Heb “stood.”
30 tn Heb “they no longer chased after Israel and they no longer fought.”
31 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
32 tn Heb “and they went, all the Bitron.” The meaning of the Hebrew word “Bitron,” which is used only here in the OT, is disputed. The translation above follows BDB 144 s.v. בִּתְרוֹן in taking the word to be a proper name of an area east of the Jordan. A different understanding was advocated by W. R. Arnold, who took the word to refer to the forenoon or morning; a number of modern scholars and translations have adopted this view (cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV, CEV, NLT). See W. R. Arnold, “The Meaning of בתרון,” AJSL 28 (1911-1912): 274-83. In this case one could translate “and they traveled all morning long.”
35 tn Heb “wife.”
36 tn The Hebrew text does not have “sons.”
37 tn Heb “was strengthening himself.” The statement may have a negative sense here, perhaps suggesting that Abner was overstepping the bounds of political propriety in a self-serving way.
38 tc The Hebrew of the MT reads simply “and he said,” with no expressed subject for the verb. It is not likely that the text originally had no expressed subject for this verb, since the antecedent is not immediately clear from the context. We should probably restore to the Hebrew text the name “Ish-bosheth.” See a few medieval Hebrew
39 tn Heb “come to”; KJV, NRSV “gone in to”; NAB “been intimate with”; NIV “sleep with.”
40 sn This accusation against Abner is a very serious one, since an act of sexual infringement on the king’s harem would probably have been understood as a blatant declaration of aspirations to kingship. As such it was not merely a matter of ethical impropriety but an act of grave political significance as well.
41 tn Heb “I do.”
42 tn Heb “brothers.”
43 tn Heb “and you have laid upon me the guilt of the woman today.”
44 tn Heb “So will God do to Abner and so he will add to him.”
45 tc Heb “has sworn to David.” The LXX, with the exception of the recension of Origen, adds “in this day.”
46 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Ish-bosheth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
47 tn The Hebrew text adds here, “on his behalf.”
49 tn Heb “and behold, my hand is with you.”
50 tn The words “when you come to see my face,” though found in the Hebrew text, are somewhat redundant given the similar expression in the earlier part of the verse. The words are absent from the Syriac Peshitta.
51 tn Heb “to Ish-bosheth son of Saul saying.” To avoid excessive sibilance (especially when read aloud) the translation renders “saying” as “with this demand.”
52 tn Heb “whom I betrothed to myself.”
53 tn Heb “sent and took her.”
55 tn Heb “Go, return.”
56 tn Heb “the word of Abner was with.”
57 tn Heb “you were seeking David to be king over you.”
58 tc The present translation follows the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate in reading “I will save,” rather than the MT “he saved.” The context calls for the 1st person common singular imperfect of the verb rather than the 3rd person masculine singular perfect.
59 tn Heb “from the hand of.”
60 tn Heb “into the ears of.”
61 tn Heb “also Abner went to speak into the ears of David in Hebron.”
62 tn Heb “all which was good in the eyes of Israel and in the eyes of all the house of Benjamin.”
63 tn After the cohortatives, the prefixed verbal form with the prefixed conjunction indicates purpose or result.
64 tn Heb “And look, the servants of David.”
65 tn Heb “he”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
66 tn Heb “Look, Abner.”
67 tc The LXX adds “in peace.”
68 tn Heb “your going out and your coming in.” The expression is a merism. It specifically mentions the polar extremities of the actions but includes all activity in between the extremities as well, thus encompassing the entirety of one’s activities.
69 tn Heb “and he struck him down there [in] the stomach.”
70 tn Heb “and he [i.e., Abner] died on account of the blood of Asahel his [i.e., Joab’s] brother.”
71 tn Heb “and may they whirl over.” In the Hebrew text the subject of the plural verb is unexpressed. The most likely subject is Abner’s “shed blood” (v. 28), which is a masculine plural form in Hebrew. The verb חוּל (khul, “whirl”) is used with the preposition עַל (’al) only here and in Jer 23:19; 30:23.
72 tc 4QSama has “of Joab” rather than “of his father” read by the MT.
73 tn Heb “the house of Joab.” However, it is necessary to specify that David’s curse is aimed at Joab’s male descendants; otherwise it would not be clear that “one who works at the spindle” refers to a man doing woman’s work rather than a woman.
74 tn Heb “and may there not be cut off from the house of Joab.”
75 tn The expression used here is difficult. The translation “one who works at the spindle” follows a suggestion of S. R. Driver that the expression pejoratively describes an effeminate man who, rather than being a mighty warrior, is occupied with tasks that are normally fulfilled by women (S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 250-51; cf. NAB “one unmanly”; TEV “fit only to do a woman’s work”; CEV “cowards”). But P. K. McCarter, following an alleged Phoenician usage of the noun to refer to “crutches,” adopts a different view. He translates the phrase “clings to a crutch,” seeing here a further description of physical lameness (II Samuel [AB], 118). Such an idea fits the present context well and is followed by NIV, NCV, and NLT, although the evidence for this meaning is questionable. According to DNWSI 2:915-16, the noun consistently refers to a spindle in Phoenician, as it does in Ugaritic (see UT 468).
76 tn Heb “was walking.”
77 tn Heb “lifted up his voice and wept.” The expression is a verbal hendiadys.
78 tc The translation follows many medieval Hebrew manuscripts and several ancient versions in reading “your hands,” rather than “your hand.”
79 tc 4QSama lacks the words “all the people.”
80 tn Heb “Thus God will do to me and thus he will add.”
81 tn Heb “it was good in their eyes.”
82 tn Heb “from the king.”
83 tn Heb “a leader and a great one.” The expression is a hendiadys.
84 tn Heb “are hard from me.”
85 tn Heb “May the
86 tn The MT does not specify the subject of the verb here, but the reference is to Ish-bosheth, so the name has been supplied in the translation for clarity. 4QSama and the LXX mistakenly read “Mephibosheth.”
87 tn Heb “his hands went slack.”
88 tc The present translation, “Saul’s son had two men,” is based on the reading “to the son of Saul,” rather than the MT’s “the son of Saul.” The context requires the preposition to indicate the family relationship.
89 tn Heb “until this day.”
90 tn Heb “and was lame.”
91 tc For the MT’s וְהֵנָּה (vÿhennah, “and they,” feminine) read וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh, “and behold”). See the LXX, Syriac Peshitta, and Targum.
92 tn Heb “and they struck him down.”
94 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Ish-bosheth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
95 tn Heb “they struck him down and killed him.” The expression is a verbal hendiadys.
96 tn Heb “and they removed his head.” The Syriac Peshitta and Vulgate lack these words.
97 tc The Lucianic Greek recension lacks the words “his head.”
98 tn Heb “from.”
99 tn Heb “and he was like a bearer of good news in his eyes.”
100 tn Heb “on his bed.”
101 tn See HALOT 146 s.v. II בער. Some derive the verb from a homonym meaning “to burn; to consume.”
102 tn The antecedent of the pronoun “them” (which is not present in the Hebrew text, but implied) is not entirely clear. Presumably it is the corpses that were hung and not merely the detached hands and feet; cf. NIV “hung the (their NRSV, NLT) bodies”; the alternative is represented by TEV “cut off their hands and feet, which they hung up.”
103 tc 4QSama mistakenly reads “Mephibosheth” here.
104 tc The LXX adds “the son of Ner” by conformity with common phraseology elsewhere.
105 tc Some