David was appointed to be the king of Judah
1 Some time later, David asked Yahweh, “Shall I go up to one of the towns in Judah?” Yahweh replied, “Yes, go up there.” Then David asked, “To which town should I go?” Yahweh replied, “To Hebron.”
2 So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam who was from Jezreel city, and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel city. 3 He also took the men who had been with him, and their families. They all started to live in villages near Hebron. 4 Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and they appointed [MTY] David to be the king of the tribe [MTY] of Judah.
When David found out that the people of Jabesh in the Gilead region had buried Saul's body, 5 he sent messengers to the men of Jabesh to tell them this: “I wish/hope that Yahweh will bless you for having shown by burying the body of Saul your king that you were loyal to him. 6 Now I also wish/hope that Yahweh will faithfully love you and be loyal to you. And I will do good things for you because of what you have done for Saul. 7 So now, be strong and courageous, because although Saul your king is dead, and the people of Judah have appointed me to be their king.”
Ishbosheth was appointed to be the king of Israel
8 While this was happening, Ner's son Abner, the commander of Saul's army, took Saul's son Ishbosheth and went across the Jordan River to Mahanaim town. 9 There Abner proclaimed that Ishbosheth was now the king of the Gilead region and of the tribe of Asher and the region of Jezreel and the tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin. So he was the king of all the Israeli people.
10 He was forty years old when he started to rule over the Israeli people. He ruled them for two years. But the tribe of Judah was loyal to David, 11 and he ruled them for seven and a half years while he was living in Hebron.
The war between the armies of Judah and Israel
12 One day Abner and the officials of Isbosheth went from Mahanaim across the Jordan River to Gibeon city. 13 Joab, whose mother was Zeruiah, went with some of David's officials from Hebron to Gibeon, and they met at the pool there. They all sat down, with the one group on one side of the pool and the other group on the other side.
14 Abner said to Joab, “Let's have some of our young men fight each other.” Joab replied, “Okay!”
15 So twelve men from the tribe of Benjamin fought for Ishbosheth, against twelve of David's soldiers. 16 Each of them grabbed his opponent by the head, and thrust his sword into his opponent's side. The result was that all twenty-four of them fell down dead. So that area in Gibeon is now called ‘Field of Swords.'
17 Then the others started to fight. It was a very fierce battle. Abner and the Israeli men were defeated by David's men.
Joab's brother Asahel was killed
18 Zeruiah's three sons were there on that day: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was able to run very fast; he could run as fast as a wild gazelle/antelope. 19 Asahel started to pursue Abner. He ran straight toward Abner, without stopping. 20 Then Abner looked behind him, and said “Is that you, Asahel?” Asahel replied, “Yes!”
21 Abner yelled at him, “Turn to one side or the other, and chase after someone else!” But Asahel would not stop pursuing Abner.
22 So Abner yelled at him again, “Stop chasing after me! ◄Why should I/It would not be good for me to ► kill you [RHQ]! If I did that, how could I ◄face/be reconciled with► your brother Joab?”
23 But he refused to turn aside. So Abner suddenly turned and thrust his spear into Asahel's stomach. Because he thrust it very strongly, the tip of the spear came out at Asahel's back, and he fell to the ground, dead. All the other soldiers who came to the place where his body was lying stopped and stood there, stunned.
24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner. At sunset they came to Ammah Hill, which is east of Giah, along the road to the desert near Gibeon. 25 The men from the tribe of Benjamin gathered around Abner as one group, and stood at the top of a hill.
26 Then Abner called out to Joab, saying “Are we going to continue to fight forever? Do you not realize that if we continue fighting, the result will be very bad? We are all descendants of Jacob. So we should stop fighting each other! How long will it be until you tell your men to stop pursuing us?”
27 Joab replied, “Just as surely as God lives, if you had not said that, my men would have continued pursuing your men until tomorrow morning!”
28 So Joab blew a trumpet to signal that they should stop fighting. So all his men stopped. They did not pursue the Israeli soldiers any more, and they stopped fighting.
29 That night Abner and his men went through the Jordan Valley. They crossed the Jordan River and marched all the next morning, and finally arrived at Mahanaim.
30 Joab and his men stopped pursuing Abner. And when he gathered all his men together, he found out that only nineteen of his men had been killed in the battle, in addition to Asahel. 31 But David's men had killed 365 of Abner's men from the tribe of Benjamin. 32 Some of Joab's men took Asahel's body and buried it in the tomb where his father had been buried, in Bethlehem. Then they marched all during the night, and at dawn the arrived back home at Hebron.