1 There was a long war between those who wanted Saul's son to be their king and those who wanted David to be their king. But more and more people began to want David to be the king, while the number of people who wanted Saul's son to be the king continued to become smaller.
David's sons born at Hebron
2 David's wives gave birth to six sons at Hebron. The oldest was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam, from Jezreel city.
3 The next one was Kileab, whose mother was Abigail, the widow of Nabal, from Carmel city.
The next one was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, the king of the Geshur region.
4 The next one was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith.
The next one was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital.
5 The youngest one was Ithream, whose mother was Eglah, another one of David's wives.
Those sons of David were all born in Hebron.
Abner decided that David would be king of all of them
6 While those who wanted Saul's son to rule over them and those who wanted David to rule over them continued to fight against each other, Abner was becoming more influential among those who wanted Saul's son to be the king. 7 When Saul was alive, he had as one of his wives a slave woman named Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. But one day Abner had sexual relations with her. So Ishbosheth said to Abner, “Why have you had sexual relations with [EUP] my father's slave wife?”
8 Abner became very angry about what Ishbosheth said to him. He said to Ishbosheth, “◄Do you think that I am a worthless dog [MET] from Judah?/You are treating me as though I am a worthless dog [MET] from Judah.► [RHQ] From the beginning, I have been loyal to Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends. And I have prevented you from being defeated by David's army. So now ◄why are you criticizing me about what I have done with some woman?/you should not be criticizing me about what I have done with some woman.► [RHQ] 9-10 Yahweh solemnly promised that he would not allow Saul and his descendants to continue to rule. He promised that he would cause David to rule over all the tribes of Israel and Judah, from Dan city far in the north to Beersheba city far in the south. So I hope/desire that God will punish me severely [HYP] if I do not enable that to happen!” 11 Ishbosheth was very afraid of Abner, so he did not say anything in reply to Abner.
12 Then Abner sent messengers to David when he was at Hebron, to say to him, “ Either you or I should be [RHQ] the ruler of this entire nation, but not Isbosheth. However, if you make an agreement with me, I will help you by encouraging all the people of Israel to ◄be want you to be their king/start to support► you.” 13 David sent back this reply: “Good! I am willing to make an agreement with you. But before that happens, there is one thing that you must do. When you come to see me, you must bring my wife Michal, Saul's daughter.” 14 Then David sent messengers to Ishbosheth, to say to him, “I had to kill 100 men from Philistia and cut off their foreskins to give to Saul to pay for Michal to be my wife. So now give her back to me!”
15 So Ishbosheth sent some men to take Michal from her husband Palti. But when they took her, her husband followed them all the way to Bahurim town, crying as he went. 16 Then Abner turned and said to him, “Go back home!”, so he did.
17 Abner went to the Israeli leaders and talked with them. He said, “For a long time you have wanted David to be your king. 18 So now you have an opportunity to do that. Keep in mind that Yahweh promised this: ‘With the help of David, who serves me well, I will rescue my people from the people of Philistia, and from the power [MTY] of all their other enemies’.” 19 Abner also spoke to the people of the tribe of Benjamin. Then he went to Hebron, to tell David what all the people of Israel and the people of the tribe of Benjamin had agreed to do.
20 When Abner came with twenty of his soldiers to see David at Hebron, David made a feast for all of them. 21 Afterwards, Abner said to David, “Sir/Your majesty, I will now go and encourage all the people of Israel to accept you to be their king, as you have desired.” Then Abner left, peacefully.
Joab murdered Abner
22 Soon after that, Joab and some of David's other soldiers returned to Hebron after raiding one of their enemies' villages, bringing with them a lot of things that they had captured. But Abner was not there at Hebron, because David had sent him safely home. 23 When Joab and the soldiers who were with him arrived, someone told him that Abner had come there and talked with the king, and that the king allowed to go home safely.
24 So Joab went to the king and said, “Why have you done that? Listen to me! Abner is your enemy, but when he came to you, you allowed him [RHQ] to leave! 25 Do you not know that he came to you to deceive you and to find out everything that you are doing, and all the places that you go to?”
26 After Joab left David, he sent some messengers to get Abner. They found him at Sirah Well, and brought him back to Hebron, but David did not know that they had done that. 27 So when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab met him at the city gate, and took him aside as though he wanted to speak with him privately. Then he stabbed Abner in the stomach with his knife/sword. In that way he murdered Abner because Abner had killed [MTY] Joab's brother Asahel.
28 Later, after David heard what had happened, he said, “Yahweh knows that I and the people of my kingdom are not at all ◄responsible for/guilty of► murdering [MTY] Abner. 29 I hope/desire that Joab and all his family will be punished [MTY] for doing that! I hope/desire that there will always be someone in his family who has sores, or someone who is a leper, or some man who is forced to do women's work, or someone who is killed in a battle, or someone who does not have enough food to eat!”
30 That is how Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.
31 Then David said to Joab and to all Joab's soldiers, “Tear your clothes and put on coarse cloth to show that you are sad, and mourn for Abner!” And at the funeral, King David walked behind the men who were carrying the coffin. 32 They buried Abner's body at Hebron. And at the grave, the king cried loudly, and all the other people also cried.
33 David sang this sad song to lament for Abner:
It is not right that [RHQ] Abner died like outlaws die!
34 No one tied his hands or put chains on his feet, like they do to criminals.
No, he was murdered by wicked men!
35 Then many [HYP] people came to David to tell him to eat some food before sunset, but David refused. He said, “I hope/desire that God will punish me severely [HYP] if I eat any food before the sun goes down!” 36 All the people saw what David did, and they were pleased. Truly, everything that the king did pleased the people.
37 So all the people realized that the king had not wanted Abner to be killed. 38 The king said to his officials, “◄Do you not realize that a leader and a great man has died today in Israel?/You should realize that a leader and a great man has died today in Israel.► [RHQ] 39 Even though Yahweh appointed me to be the king, today I feel weak. These two sons of Zeruiah, Joab and Abishai, are very violent; I cannot control them. So I hope/desire that Yahweh will punish them severely in return for this wicked thing that they have done!”