Ahithophel’s Advice About David
Ahithophel also said to Absalom, “Now, let me choose 12,000 men to chase David tonight. I will catch him while he is tired and weak. I will frighten him, and all his people will run away. But I will kill only King David. Then I will bring all the people back to you. If David is dead, all the people will come back in peace.”
This plan seemed good to Absalom and all the leaders of Israel. But Absalom said, “Now call Hushai the Arkite. I also want to hear what he says.”
Hushai Ruins Ahithophel’s Advice
Hushai came to Absalom. Absalom said to Hushai, “This is the plan Ahithophel gave. Should we follow it? If not, tell us.”
Hushai said to Absalom, “Ahithophel’s advice is not good this time.” Hushai added, “You know that your father and his men are strong men. They are as dangerous as a wild bear when something has taken its cubs. Your father is a skilled fighter. He will not stay all night with the people. He is probably already hiding in a cave or some other place. If your father attacks your men first, people will hear the news and think, ‘Absalom’s followers are losing!’ 10 Then even your bravest men will be frightened, because all the Israelites know that your father is a powerful soldier and that his men are very brave.
11 This is what I suggest: You must gather all the Israelites together from Dan to Beersheba.* Then there will be many people, like the sand by the sea. Then you yourself must go into the battle. 12 We will catch David wherever he is hiding and attack him with so many soldiers that they will be like the dew that covers the ground. We will kill David and all of his menno one will be left alive. 13 But if David escapes into a city, all the Israelites can bring ropes to that city and pull its walls down into the valley. Not even a small stone will be left in that city.”
14 Absalom and all the Israelites said, “Hushai’s advice is better than Ahithophel’s.” Actually, Ahithophel’s advice was good, but they said this because the LORD had decided to make Ahithophel’s advice useless. He did this to punish Absalom.
Hushai Sends a Warning to David
15 Hushai told the priests, Zadok and Abiathar, what was said. He told them what Ahithophel suggested to Absalom and the leaders of Israel. Hushai also told them what he himself had suggested. He said, 16 Send a message to David now! Tell him not to spend the night at the places where people cross into the desert. Tell him to go across the Jordan River at once. If he crosses the river, the king and all his people will not be caught.”
17 The priests’ sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, did not want to be seen going into the town, so they waited at En Rogel. A servant girl went out to them and gave them the message. Then Jonathan and Ahimaaz carried the message to King David.
18 But a boy saw Jonathan and Ahimaaz and ran to tell Absalom. Jonathan and Ahimaaz ran away quickly. They arrived at a man’s house in Bahurim. The man had a well in his courtyard. Jonathan and Ahimaaz went down into this well. 19 The man’s wife spread a sheet over the mouth of the well and covered it with grain. The well looked like a pile of grain, so no one would know to look there. 20 Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house. They asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”
The woman said to Absalom’s servants, “They have already crossed over the brook.”
Absalom’s servants then went to look for Jonathan and Ahimaaz, but they could not find them. So Absalom’s servants went back to Jerusalem.
21 After Absalom’s servants left, Jonathan and Ahimaaz climbed out of the well and went to King David. They said to David, “Hurry, go across the river. Ahithophel is planning to do something to you.”
22 So David and his people crossed over the Jordan River. By sunrise, all of David’s people had crossed the Jordan River. No one was left behind.
Ahithophel Kills Himself
23 When Ahithophel saw that the Israelites did not do what he suggested, he saddled his donkey and went back to his hometown. He made plans for his family and then hanged himself. They buried him in his father’s tomb.
Absalom Crosses the Jordan River
24 David arrived at Mahanaim just as Absalom and the Israelites who were with him crossed over the Jordan River. 25-26 Absalom and the Israelites made their camp in the land of Gilead. Absalom had made Amasa the new captain of the army. He took Joab’s place. Amasa was the son of Ithra the Ishmaelite.§ His mother was Abigail, the daughter of Nahash, the sister of Joab’s mother, Zeruiah.*
Shobi, Makir, and Barzillai
27 When David arrived at Mahanaim, Shobi, Makir, and Barzillai were there. Shobi son of Nahash was from the Ammonite town of Rabbah. Makir son of Ammiel was from Lo Debar. Barzillai was from Rogelim in Gilead. 28-29 These three men said, “The people are tired, hungry, and thirsty from the desert.” So they brought many things to David and those with him. They brought beds, bowls, and other kinds of dishes. They also brought wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, dried seeds, honey, butter, sheep, and cheese made from cow’s milk.
* 17:11 Dan to Beersheba This means the whole nation of Israel, north and south. Dan was a town in the northern part of Israel, and Beersheba was in the southern part of Judah. 17:18 courtyard An open area outside the house. Many houses were built around courtyards so that people could work, cook, or eat outside. 17:25-26 He took Joab’s place Joab still supported David. Joab was one of the three captains in David’s army when David was running away from Absalom. See 2 Sam. 18:2. § 17:25-26 Ishmaelite This is from the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has “Israelite,” but see 1 Chron. 2:17. * 17:25-26 His mother … Zeruiah Literally, “Ithra had sexual relations with Abigail, the daughter of Nahash sister of Zeruiah.”