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