1Later David asked the Lord for advice. David said, “Should I take control of any of the cities of Judah?” The Lord said to David, “Yes.” David asked, “Where should I go?” The Lord answered, “To Hebron.” 2So David and his two wives moved to Hebron. (His wives were Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel.) 3David also brought his men and their families. All of them made their homes in Hebron and the towns nearby. 4The men of Judah came to Hebron and anointed David to be the king of Judah. Then they told David, “The men of Jabesh Gilead buried Saul.” 5David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead. These messengers told the men in Jabesh: “The Lord bless you, because you have shown kindness to your lord Saul by burying ˻his ashes˼. 6The Lord will be kind and true to you. And I will also be kind to you. 7Now be strong and brave. Your lord, Saul, is dead. But the family group of Judah has anointed me to be their king.” 8Abner son of Ner was the captain of Saul’s army. Abner took Saul’s son Ish Bosheth to Mahanaim 9and made him king of Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all of Israel. 10Ish Bosheth was Saul’s son. Ish Bosheth was 40 years old when he began to rule over Israel. He ruled two years. But the family group of Judah followed David. 11David was king in Hebron. David ruled over the family group of Judah for seven years and six months. 12Abner son of Ner and the officers of Saul’s son Ish Bosheth left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. 13Joab, Zeruiah’s son, and the officers of David also went to Gibeon. They met Abner and Ish Bosheth’s officers at the pool of Gibeon. Abner’s group sat on one side of the pool. Joab’s group sat on the other side of the pool. 14Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have the young soldiers get up and have a contest here.” Joab said, “Yes, let’s have a contest.” 15So the young soldiers got up. The two groups counted their men for the contest. They chose twelve men from the family group of Benjamin to fight for Saul’s son Ish Bosheth. And they chose twelve men from David’s officers. 16Each of the men grabbed his opponent’s head and stabbed him in the side with his sword, and then they fell down together. That is why the place is called “The Field of the Sharp Knives.” The place is in Gibeon. 17That contest became a terrible battle and David’s officers defeated Abner and the Israelites that day. 18Zeruiah had three sons, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was a fast runner. He was as fast as a wild deer. 19Asahel ran straight toward Abner and began chasing him. 20Abner looked back and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?” Asahel said, “Yes, it’s me.” 21˻Abner didn’t want to hurt Asahel.˼ So Abner said to Asahel, “Stop chasing me—go after one of the young soldiers. You could easily take his armor for yourself.” But Asahel refused to stop chasing Abner. 22Abner again said to Asahel, “Stop chasing me or I will have to kill you. Then I won’t be able to look your brother Joab in the face again.” 23But Asahel refused to stop chasing Abner. So Abner used the back end of his spear and pushed it into Asahel’s stomach. The spear went ˻deep into Asahel’s stomach and came˼ out of his back. Asahel died right there. Asahel’s body lay on the ground. All of the men that ran that way stopped ˻to look at Asahel˼. 24But Joab and Abishai continued chasing Abner. The sun was just going down when they came to Ammah Hill. (Ammah Hill is in front of Giah on the way to Gibeon Desert.) 25The men from the family group of Benjamin gathered around Abner at the top of the hill. 26Abner shouted to Joab and said, “Must we fight and kill each other forever? Surely you know that this will only end in sadness. Tell the people to stop chasing their own brothers.” 27Then Joab said, “It is a good thing you said that. As sure as God is alive, if you had not said something, then people would still be chasing their brothers in the morning.” 28So Joab blew a trumpet, and his people stopped chasing the Israelites. They did not try to fight the Israelites any more. 29Abner and his men marched all night through the Jordan Valley. They crossed the Jordan River and marched all day until they came to Mahanaim. 30Joab stopped chasing Abner and went back. Joab had gathered his men and learned that 19 of David’s officers were missing, including Asahel. 31But David’s officers had killed 360 of Abner’s men from the family group of Benjamin. 32David’s officers took Asahel and buried him in the tomb of his father at Bethlehem. Joab and his men marched all night. The sun came up just as they reached Hebron.
2 Samuel 2