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 1 before us.” Joab said, “So be it!” 2
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. 3 So that place is called the Field of Flints; 4 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. 5 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 6 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. 7 How then could I show 8 my face in the presence of Joab your brother?” 2:23 But Asahel 9 refused to turn aside. So Abner struck him in the abdomen with the back end of his 10 spear. The spear came out his back; Asahel 11 collapsed on the spot and died there right before Abner. 12 Everyone who now comes to the place where Asahel fell dead pauses in respect. 13
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 14 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 15 of their brothers!” 2:28 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn and all the people stopped in their tracks. 16 They stopped chasing Israel and ceased fighting. 17 2:29 Abner and his men went through the Arabah all that night. They crossed the Jordan River 18 and went through the whole region of Bitron 19 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!
1 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.”
2 tn Heb “let them arise.”
3 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.”
4 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.”
5 tn Heb “servants.” So also elsewhere.
6 tn Heb “young men.” So also elsewhere.
7 tn Heb “Why should I strike you to the ground?”
8 tn Heb “lift.”
9 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Asahel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
10 tn Heb “the.” The article functions here as a possessive pronoun.
11 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Asahel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
12 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Abner) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
13 tn Heb “and they stand.”
14 tn Heb “were gathered together.”
15 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).
16 tn Heb “stood.”
17 tn Heb “they no longer chased after Israel and they no longer fought.”
18 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
19 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.”