20:1 Now a wicked man1 named Sheba son of Bicri, a Benjaminite,2 happened to be there. He blew the trumpet3 and said,
“We have no share in David;
we have no inheritance in this son of Jesse!
Every man go home,4 O Israel!”
20:2 So all the men of Israel deserted5 David and followed Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stuck by their king all the way from the Jordan River6 to Jerusalem.7
20:3 Then David went to his palace8 in Jerusalem. The king took the ten concubines he had left to care for the palace and placed them under confinement.9 Though he provided for their needs, he did not have sexual relations with them.10 They remained in confinement until the day they died, living out the rest of their lives as widows.
20:4 Then the king said to Amasa, “Call the men of Judah together for me in three days,11 and you be present here with them too.” 20:5 So Amasa went out to call Judah together. But in doing so he took longer than the time that the king had allotted him.
20:6 Then David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bicri will cause greater disaster for us than Absalom did! Take your lord’s servants and pursue him. Otherwise he will secure12 fortified cities for himself and get away from us.” 20:7 So Joab’s men, accompanied by the Kerethites, the Pelethites, and all the warriors, left Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bicri.
20:8 When they were near the big rock that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to them. Now Joab was dressed in military attire and had a dagger in its sheath belted to his waist. When he advanced, it fell out.13
20:9 Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” With his right hand Joab took hold of Amasa’s beard as if to greet him with a kiss. 20:10 Amasa did not protect himself from the knife in Joab’s other hand, and Joab14 stabbed him in the abdomen, causing Amasa’s15 intestines to spill out on the ground. There was no need to stab him again; the first blow was fatal.16 Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bicri.
20:11 One of Joab’s soldiers who stood over Amasa said, “Whoever is for17 Joab and whoever is for David, follow Joab!” 20:12 Amasa was squirming in his own blood in the middle of the path, and this man had noticed that all the soldiers stopped. Having noticed that everyone who came across Amasa18 stopped, the man19 pulled him20 away from the path and into the field and threw a garment over him. 20:13 Once he had removed Amasa21 from the path, everyone followed Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bicri.
20:14 Sheba22 traveled through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of23 Beth Maacah and all the Berite region. When they had assembled,24 they too joined him. 20:15 So Joab’s men25 came and laid siege against him in Abel of Beth Maacah. They prepared a siege ramp outside the city which stood against its outer rampart. As all of Joab’s soldiers were trying to break through26 the wall so that it would collapse, 20:16 a wise woman called out from the city, “Listen up! Listen up! Tell Joab, ‘Come near so that I may speak to you.’ ”
20:17 When he approached her, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?” He replied, “I am.” She said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” He said, “Go ahead. I’m listening.” 20:18 She said, “In the past they would always say, ‘Let them inquire in Abel,’ and that is how they settled things. 20:19 I represent the peaceful and the faithful in Israel. You are attempting to destroy an important city27 in Israel. Why should you swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”
20:20 Joab answered, “Get serious!28 I don’t want to swallow up or destroy anything! 20:21 That’s not the way things are. There is a man from the hill country of Ephraim named Sheba son of Bicri. He has rebelled29 against King David. Give me just this one man, and I will leave the city.” The woman said to Joab, “This very minute30 his head will be thrown over the wall to you!”
20:22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice and they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it out to Joab. Joab31 blew the trumpet, and his men32 dispersed from the city, each going to his own home.33 Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.
20:23 Now Joab was the general in command of all the army of Israel. Benaiah the son of Jehoida was over the Kerethites and the Perethites. 20:24 Adoniram34 was supervisor of the work crews.35 Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the secretary. 20:25 Sheva was the scribe, and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests. 20:26 Ira the Jairite was David’s personal priest.36
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