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English Standard Version

2 Samuel 14:1–19:43

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Absalom Returns to Jerusalem

14 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah knew uthat the king’s heart went out to Absalom. And Joab sent to vTekoa and brought from there a wise woman and said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner and put on mourning garments. wDo not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead. Go to the king and speak thus to him.” So Joab xput the words in her mouth.

When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, yshe fell on her face to the ground and paid homage and said, z“Save me, O king.” And the king said to her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, a“Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead. And your servant had two sons, and they quarreled with one another in the field. There was no one to separate them, and one struck the other and killed him. And now the whole clan has risen against your servant, and they say, ‘Give up the man who struck his brother, that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed.’ And so they would bdestroy the heir also. Thus they would quench my coal that is left and leave to my husband neither name nor cremnant on the face of the earth.”

Then the king said to the woman, “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.” And the woman of Tekoa said to the king, d“On me be the guilt, my lord the king, and on my father’s house; let the king and his throne be guiltless.” 10 The king said, “If anyone says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall never touch you again.” 11 Then she said, “Please let the king invoke the Lord your God, that ethe avenger of blood kill no more, and my son be not destroyed.” He said, f“As the Lord lives, gnot one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”

12 Then the woman said, “Please let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.” He said, “Speak.” 13 And the woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against hthe people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring ihis banished one home again. 14 We must all die; we are jlike water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means kso that the banished one will not remain an outcast. 15 Now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid, and your servant thought, ‘I will speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his servant. 16 For the king will hear and deliver his servant from the hand of the man who would destroy me and my son together from lthe heritage of God.’ 17 And your servant thought, ‘The word of my lord the king will set me at rest,’ for my lord the king is mlike the angel of God to discern good and evil. The Lord your God be with you!”

18 Then the king answered the woman, “Do not hide from me anything I ask you.” And the woman said, “Let my lord the king speak.” 19 The king said, “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?” The woman answered and said, n“As surely as you live, my lord the king, one cannot turn to the right hand or to the left from anything that my lord the king has said. It was your servant Joab who commanded me; oit was he who put all these words in the mouth of your servant. 20 In order to change the course of things your servant Joab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of mthe angel of God to know all things that are on the earth.”

21 Then the king said to Joab, “Behold now, I grant this; go, bring back the young man Absalom.” 22 And Joab fell on his face to the ground and paid homage pand blessed the king. And Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, in that the king has granted the request of his servant.” 23 So Joab arose and went to qGeshur and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24 And the king said, “Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence.” So Absalom lived apart in his own house and did not come into the king’s presence.

25 Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. rFrom the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he scut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels1 by the king’s weight. 27 There were born tto Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar. She was a beautiful woman.

28 So Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, without coming into the king’s presence. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king, but Joab would not come to him. And he sent a second time, but Joab would not come. 30 Then he said to his servants, “See, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.2 31 Then Joab arose and went to Absalom at his house and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?” 32 Absalom answered Joab, “Behold, I sent word to you, ‘Come here, that I may send you to the king, to ask, “Why have I come from qGeshur? It would be better for me to be there still.” Now therefore let me go into the presence of the king, uand if there is guilt in me, let him put me to death.’ ” 33 Then Joab went to the king and told him, and he summoned Absalom. So he came to the king and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king, and the king kissed Absalom.

Absalom’s Conspiracy

15 After this Absalom vgot himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside wthe way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, x“Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

And at the end of four1 years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. For your servant zvowed a vow awhile I lived at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to2 the Lord.’ ” The king said to him, b“Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron. 10 But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’ ” 11 With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem cwho were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. 12 And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for3 dAhithophel the Gilonite, eDavid’s counselor, from his city fGiloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom gkept increasing.

David Flees Jerusalem

13 And a messenger came to David, saying, h“The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.” 14 Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us iflee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” 15 And the king’s servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.” 16 So the king went out, and all his household after him. And the king left jten concubines to keep the house. 17 And the king went out, and all the people after him. And they halted at the last house.

18 And kall his servants passed by him, and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from lGath, passed on before the king. 19 Then the king said to mIttai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. 20 You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go nI know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord show4 steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” 21 But Ittai answered the king, o“As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, pwherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” 22 And David said to Ittai, “Go then, pass on.” So Ittai the Gittite passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23 And all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed qthe brook rKidron, and all the people passed on toward sthe wilderness.

24 And tAbiathar came up, and behold, uZadok came also with all the Levites, vbearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God until the people had all passed out of the city. 25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will wbring me back and let me see both it and his xdwelling place. 26 But if he says, ‘I have no ypleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, zlet him do to me what seems good to him.” 27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a aseer? Go back5 to the city in peace, with byour two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28 See, I will wait at cthe fords of sthe wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.

30 But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, dbarefoot and ewith his head covered. And

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A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams

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Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll add So Joab’s servants came to him with their clothes torn, and they said to him, “The servants of Absalom have set your field on fire.”

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Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew forty

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Or will serve

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Or sent

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Septuagint; Hebrew lacks may the Lord show

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Septuagint The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Look, go back

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