18 David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 David sent out his troops,o a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishaip son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittaiq the Gittite. The king told the troops, “I myself will surely march out with you.”
3 But the men said, “You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth tenr thousand of us.a It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.”s
So the king stood beside the gate while all his men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands. 5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.
6 David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forestt of Ephraim. 7 There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. 8 The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword.
9 Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hairu got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.
11 Joab said to the man who had told him this, “What! You saw him? Why didn’t you strikev him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekelsb of silver and a warrior’s belt.w”
12 But the man replied, “Even if a thousand shekelsc were weighed out into my hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.d’ 13 And if I had put my life in jeopardye—and nothing is hidden from the kingx—you would have kept your distance from me.”
14 Joaby said, “I’m not going to wait like this for you.” So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. 15 And ten of Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.z
16 Then Joaba sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled upb a large heap of rocksc over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.
18 During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valleyd as a monumente to himself, for he thought, “I have no sonf to carry on the memory of my name.” He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.
But Joab replied, “My son, why do you want to go? You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.”
So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plainf and outran the Cushite.
24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchmani went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out to the king and reported it.
The king said, “If he is alone, he must have good news.” And the runner came closer and closer.
The king said, “He must be bringing good news,j too.”
27 The watchman said, “It seems to me that the first one runs likek Ahimaaz son of Zadok.”
“He’s a good man,” the king said. “He comes with good news.”
28 Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, “All is well!” He bowed down before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise be to the Lord your God! He has delivered up those who lifted their hands against my lord the king.”
Ahimaaz answered, “I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was.”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”l
33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had diedm instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”g n
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