1David brought together the men who were with him. He appointed commanders of thousands over some of them. He appointed commanders of hundreds over the others.2Then David sent the troops out in three companies. One company was under the command of Joab. Another was under Joab's brother Abishai, the son of Zeruiah. The last was under Ittai, the Gittite. The king told the troops, “You can be sure that I myself will march out with you.”3But the men said, “You must not march out. If we are forced to run away, our enemies won't care about us. Even if half of us die, they won't care. But you are worth 10,000 of us. So it would be better for you to stay here in the city. Then you can send us help if we need it.”4The king said, “I'll do what you think is best.” So the king stood beside the city gate. The whole army marched out in companies of hundreds and companies of thousands.5The king gave an order to Joab, Abishai and Ittai. He commanded them, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom. Do it for me.” All of the troops heard the king give the commanders that order about Absalom.6David's army marched into the field to fight against Israel. The battle took place in the forest of Ephraim.7There David's men won the battle over Israel's army. A huge number of men were wounded or killed that day. The total number was 20,000.8The fighting spread out over the whole countryside. But more men were killed in the forest that day than out in the open.9Absalom happened to come across some of David's men. He was riding his mule. The mule went under the thick branches of a large oak tree. Absalom's head got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in the air. The mule he was riding kept on going.10One of David's men saw what had happened. He told Joab, “I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree.”11Joab said to the man, “What! You saw him? Why didn't you strike him down right there? Then I would have had to give you four ounces of silver and a soldier's belt.”12But the man replied, “I wouldn't lift my hand to harm the king's son. I wouldn't do it even for 25 pounds of silver. We heard the king's command to you and Abishai and Ittai. He said, ‘Be careful not to hurt the young man Absalom. Do it for me.’13Suppose I had put my life in danger by killing him. The king would have found out about it. Nothing is hidden from him. And you wouldn't have stood up for me.”14Joab said, “I'm not going to waste any more time on you.” So he got three javelins. Then he went over and drove them into Absalom's heart. He did it while Absalom was still hanging there alive in the oak tree.15Ten of the men who were carrying Joab's armor surrounded Absalom. They struck him down and killed him.16Then Joab blew his trumpet. He ordered his troops to stop chasing Israel's army.17Joab's men threw Absalom's body into a big pit in the forest. They covered his body with a large pile of rocks. While all of that was going on, all of the Israelites ran back to their homes.18Earlier in his life Absalom had set up a pillar in the King's Valley. He had put it up as a monument to himself. He thought, “I don't have a son to carry on the memory of my name.” So he named the pillar after himself. It is still called Absalom's Monument to this very day.
David Sobs Over Absalom
19Ahimaaz said to Joab, “Let me run and take the news to the king. Let me tell him that the Lord has saved him from the power of his enemies.” Ahimaaz was the son of Zadok.20“I don't want you to take the news to the king today,” Joab told him. “You can do it some other time. But you must not do it today, because the king's son is dead.”21Then Joab said to a man from Cush, “Go. Tell the king what you have seen.” The man bowed down in front of Joab. Then he ran off.22Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, spoke again to Joab. He said, “I don't care what happens to me. Please let me run behind the man from Cush.” But Joab replied, “My son, why do you want to go? You don't have any news that will bring you a reward.”23He said, “I don't care what happens. I want to run.” So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran across the flatlands of the Jordan River. As he ran, he passed the man from Cush.24David was sitting in the area between the inner and outer gates of the city. The man on guard duty went up to the roof over the entrance of the gate by the wall. As he looked out, he saw someone running alone.25He called out to the king and reported it. The king said, “If the runner is alone, he must be bringing good news.” The man came closer and closer.26Then the man on guard duty saw another man running. He called out to the man who was guarding the gate. He said, “Look! There's another man running alone!” The king said, “He must be bringing good news too.”27The man on guard duty said, “I can see that the first one runs like Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok.” “He's a good man,” the king said. “He's bringing good news.”28Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, “Everything's all right!” He bowed down in front of the king with his face toward the ground. He said, “You are my king and master. Give praise to the Lord your God! He has handed over to you the men who lifted their hands to kill you.”29The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” Ahimaaz answered, “I saw total disorder. I saw it just as Joab was about to send the king's servant and me to you. But I don't know what it was all about.”30The king said, “Stand over there and wait.” So he stepped over to one side and stood there.31Then the man from Cush arrived. He said, “You are my king and master. I'm bringing you some good news. The Lord has saved you today from all those who were trying to kill you.”32The king asked the man from Cush, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” The man replied, “King David, may your enemies be like that young man. May all those who rise up to harm you be like him.”33The king was very upset. He went up to the room over the entrance of the gate and sobbed. As he went, he said, “My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! I wish I had died instead of you. Absalom! My son, my son!”
2 Samuel 18
English Standard Version
1Then David mustered the men who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.2And David sent out the army, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the men, “I myself will also go out with you.” (2Sa 15:19)3But the men said, “You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore it is better that you send us help from the city.” (2Sa 21:17)4The king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood at the side of the gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands.5And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom. (2Sa 18:12)6So the army went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. (Jos 17:15; Jos 17:18; 2Sa 18:17)7And the men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the loss there was great on that day, twenty thousand men.8The battle spread over the face of all the country, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword.9And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. (2Sa 14:26)10And a certain man saw it and told Joab, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.”11Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.”12But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king’s son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’ (2Sa 18:5)13On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.”14Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak.15And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him.16Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained them.17And they took Absalom and threw him into a great pit in the forest and raised over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled every one to his own home. (Jos 7:26; Jos 8:29; 1Sa 4:10; 2Sa 19:8; 2Sa 20:1; 2Sa 20:22; 2Ki 8:21)18Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself the pillar that is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom’s monument to this day. (Ge 14:17; Ge 28:18; 2Sa 14:27)
David Hears of Absalom’s Death
19Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Let me run and carry news to the king that the Lord has delivered him from the hand of his enemies.” (2Sa 15:36; 2Sa 18:31)20And Joab said to him, “You are not to carry news today. You may carry news another day, but today you shall carry no news, because the king’s son is dead.”21Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed before Joab, and ran.22Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, “Come what may, let me also run after the Cushite.” And Joab said, “Why will you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward for the news?”23“Come what may,” he said, “I will run.” So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and outran the Cushite. (De 34:3)24Now David was sitting between the two gates, and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he lifted up his eyes and looked, he saw a man running alone. (2Sa 13:34; 2Sa 19:8; 2Ki 9:17)25The watchman called out and told the king. And the king said, “If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.” And he drew nearer and nearer.26The watchman saw another man running. And the watchman called to the gate and said, “See, another man running alone!” The king said, “He also brings news.”27The watchman said, “I think the running of the first is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, “He is a good man and comes with good news.” (1Ki 1:42; 2Ki 9:20)28Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, “All is well.” And he bowed before the king with his face to the earth and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king.” (Ge 14:20)29And the king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, your servant, I saw a great commotion, but I do not know what it was.” (2Sa 20:9)30And the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.
31And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you.” (2Sa 18:19)32The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man.” (1Sa 25:26; 2Sa 18:29)33 And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2Sa 18:24; 2Sa 19:4)