2 Samuel 18

1David counted his people. He chose captains over 1,000 and captains over 100 to lead these people. 2˻David separated the people into three groups.˼ And then David sent the people out. Joab led one third of the people. Joab’s brother, Abishai son of Zeruiah led another third of the people. And Ittai from Gath led the last third of the people. King David said to the people, “I will also go with you.” 3But the people said, “No! You must not go with us. Why? Because if we run away in the battle, Absalom’s men will not care. Even if half of us are killed, Absalom’s men will not care. But you are worth 10,000 of us! It is better for you to stay in the city. Then, if we need help, you can help us.” 4The king said to his people, “I will do what you think is best.” Then the king stood at the side of the gate. The army went out. They went out in groups of 100 and 1,000. 5The king gave a command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai. He said, “Do this for me: Be gentle with young Absalom!” All the people heard the king’s orders about Absalom to the captains. 6David’s army went out into the field against Absalom’s Israelites. They fought in the forest of Ephraim. 7David’s army defeated the Israelites. There were 20,000 men killed that day. 8The battle spread through all the country. But that day more men died in the forest than by the sword. 9It happened that Absalom met David’s officers. Absalom jumped on his mule and tried to escape. The mule went under the branches of a large oak tree. The branches were thick, and Absalom’s head got caught in the tree. His mule ran out from under him, so Absalom was hanging above the ground. 10A man saw this happen. He told Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree.” 11Joab said to the man, “Why did you not kill him and let him fall to the ground? I would have given you a belt and ten pieces of silver!” 12The man said to Joab, “I would not try to hurt the king’s son even if you gave me 1,000 ˻pieces of˼ silver. Why? Because we heard the king’s command to you, Abishai, and Ittai. The king said, 'Be careful not to hurt young Absalom.’ 13If I had killed Absalom, the king himself would find out. And you would punish me.” 14Joab said, “I will not waste my time here with you!” Absalom was still alive and hanging in the oak tree. Joab took three spears and threw them at Absalom. The spears went through Absalom’s heart. 15Joab had ten young soldiers who helped him in battle. These ten men gathered around Absalom and killed him. 16Joab blew the trumpet ˻and called˼ the people to stop chasing ˻Absalom’s˼ Israelites. 17Then Joab’s men took Absalom’s body and threw it into a large hole in the forest. They filled the large hole with many stones. All the Israelites ˻that followed Absalom˼ ran away and went home. 18While Absalom was alive he put up a pillar in King’s Valley. Absalom said, “I have no son to keep my name alive.” So he named the pillar after himself. That pillar is called “Absalom’s Monument” even today. 19Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said ˻to Joab˼, “Let me now run and bring the news to King David. I’ll tell him the Lord has destroyed the enemy for him.” 20Joab answered Ahimaaz, “No, you will not bring the news ˻to David˼ today. You can bring the news another time, but not today. Why? Because the king’s son is dead.” 21Then Joab said to a man from Ethiopia, “Go, tell the king about the things you have seen.” So the Ethiopian bowed to Joab and ran ˻to tell David˼. 22But Ahimaaz son of Zadok begged Joab again, “No matter what happens, please let me also run after the Ethiopian!” Joab said, “Son, why do you want to carry the news? You will not get any reward for the news you bring.” 23Ahimaaz answered, “No matter what happens, I will run ˻to David˼.” Joab said to Ahimaaz, “Fine, run ˻to David˼!” Then Ahimaaz ran through Jordan Valley and passed the Ethiopian. 24David was sitting between the two gates ˻of the city˼. The watchman went up to the roof over the gate walls. The watchman looked up and saw a man running alone. 25The watchman shouted to tell King David. King David said, “If the man is alone, he is bringing news.” The man came closer and closer to the city. 26The watchman saw another man running. The watchman called to the gatekeeper, “Look! Another man is running alone.” The king said, “He is also bringing news.” 27The watchman said, “I think the first man runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok.” The king said, “Ahimaaz is a good man. He must be bringing good news.” 28Ahimaaz called to the king, “All is fine!” Ahimaaz bowed with his face to the ground in front of the king. Ahimaaz said, “Praise the Lord your God! The Lord has defeated the men who were against you, my lord and king.” 29The king asked, “Is young Absalom all right?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent me, I saw some great excitement. But I don’t know what it was.” 30Then the king said, “Step over here and wait.” Ahimaaz went there and stood there waiting. 31The Ethiopian arrived. He said, “News for my lord and king. Today the Lord has punished the people who were against you!” 32The king asked the Ethiopian, “Is young Absalom all right?” The Ethiopian answered, “I hope your enemies and all people who come against you to hurt you will be ˻punished˼ like this young man ˻(Absalom)˼.” 33˻Then the king knew Absalom was dead˼. The king was very upset. He went up to the room over the gate and cried. He kept crying again and again as he walked to that room. He was saying, “O my son Absalom, my son Absalom! I wish I had died instead of you. O Absalom, my son, my son!”

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