David was appointed to be the king of Judah
1 Some time after that, David asked Yahweh, “Should I go back to live in 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, taking 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 one of them poured olive oil on David's head to show they were appointing him to be [MTY] the king of the tribe [MTY] of Judah.
When David found out that the people of Jabesh town in the Gilead region had buried Saul's body, 5 he sent messengers to the men of Jabesh to tell them this: “I desire/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 desire/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 Now, although Saul your king is dead, be strong and courageous, like the people of Judah, who 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. That meant that he was the king of all of the people of Israel.
10 Ishbosheth was forty years old when he started to rule over the people of Israel. He ruled them for two years. But the tribe of Judah ◄was loyal to David/wanted David to be their king►, 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, and some of David's officials went from Hebron to Gibeon, and they met at the pool there. They all sat down, the one group on one side of the pool and the other group on the other side.
14 Abner said to Joab, “Let's tell some of our young men to 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 the head of the man against whom he was fighting, and thrust his sword into that man's side. The result was that all 24 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 men of Israel were defeated by David's soldiers.
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 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 pursue someone else!” But Asahel would not stop pursuing Abner.
22 So Abner yelled at him again, “Stop ◄chasing after/pursuing► me! ◄Why should I kill you?/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?/it would be very difficult for me to ‘face/be reconciled with’ your brother Joab.► [RHQ]”
23 But Asahel refused to stop pursuing Abner. So Abner suddenly turned and thrust the butt end of his spear into Asahel's stomach. Because he thrust it very strongly, that end of the spear went though Asahel's body and came out at his 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/looking at Asahel's body.
24 But Joab and Abishai continued to pursue 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 in 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 [RHQ]? Do you not realize that if we continue fighting, the result will be very bad [RHQ]? We are all descendants of Jacob. So we should stop fighting each other ◄How long will it be until you tell your soldiers to stop pursuing us?/Tell your soldiers to stop pursuing us.►” [RHQ]
27 Joab replied, “Just as surely as God lives, if you had not said that, my soldiers 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 did that. They did not pursue the soldiers of Israel anymore, and they stopped fighting.
29 That night Abner and his soldiers went through the Jordan Valley. They crossed the Jordan River and marched all the next morning, and they finally arrived at Mahanaim.
30 Joab and his soldiers stopped pursuing Abner. And when he gathered all his soldiers together, he found out that in addition to Asahel, only nineteen of them had been killed in the battle. 31 But David's soldiers had killed 360 of Abner's men, all from the tribe of Benjamin. 32 Some of Joab's soldiers 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 they arrived back home at Hebron.