1Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men and chase David tonight. 2I’ll catch him while he is tired and weak, and I’ll frighten him so all his people will run away. But I’ll kill only King David. 3Then I’ll bring everyone back to you. If the man you are looking for is dead, everyone else will return safely.” 4This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the leaders of Israel.
5But Absalom said, “Now call Hushai the Arkite, so I can hear what he says.” 6When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, “This is the plan Ahithophel gave. Should we follow it? If not, tell us.”
7Hushai said to Absalom, “Ahithophel’s advice is not good this time.” 8Hushai added, “You know your father and his men are strong. They are as angry as a bear that is robbed of its cubs. Your father is a skilled fighter. He won’t stay all night with the army. 9He is probably already hiding in a cave or some other place. If the first attack fails, people will hear the news and think, ‘Absalom’s followers are losing!’ 10Then even the men who are as brave as lions will be frightened, because all the Israelites know your father is a fighter. They know his men are brave!
11“This is what I suggest: Gather all the Israelites from Dan to Beersheba. There will be as many people as grains of sand by the sea. Then you yourself must go into the battle. 12We will go to David wherever he is hiding. We will fall on him as dew falls on the ground. We will kill him and all of his men so that no one will be left alive. 13If David escapes into a city, all the Israelites will bring ropes to that city and pull it into the valley. Not a stone will be left!”
14Absalom and all the Israelites said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.” (The Lord had planned to destroy the good advice of Ahithophel so the Lord could bring disaster on Absalom.)
15Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, what Ahithophel had suggested to Absalom and the elders of Israel. He also reported to them what he himself had suggested. Hushai said, 16“Quickly! Send a message to David. Tell him not to stay tonight at the crossings into the desert but to cross over the Jordan River at once. If he crosses the river, he and all his people won’t be destroyed.”
17Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at En Rogel. They did not want to be seen going into the city, so a servant girl would go out to them and give them messages. Then Jonathan and Ahimaaz would go and tell King David.
18But a boy saw Jonathan and Ahimaaz and told Absalom. So Jonathan and Ahimaaz left quickly and went to a man’s house in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19The man’s wife spread a sheet over the opening of the well and covered it with grain. No one could tell that anyone was hiding there.
20Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house and asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”
She said to them, “They have already crossed the brook.”
Absalom’s servants then went to look for Jonathan and Ahimaaz, but they could not find them. So they went back to Jerusalem.
21After Absalom’s servants left, Jonathan and Ahimaaz climbed out of the well and went to tell King David. They said, “Hurry, cross over the river! Ahithophel has said these things against you!” 22So David and all his people crossed the Jordan River. By dawn, everyone had crossed the Jordan.
23When Ahithophel saw that the Israelites did not accept his advice, he saddled his donkey and went to his hometown. He left orders for his family and property, and then he hanged himself. He died and was buried in his father’s tomb.
War Between David and Absalom
24David arrived at Mahanaim. And Absalom and all his Israelites crossed over the Jordan River. 25Absalom had made Amasa captain of the army instead of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Jether the Ishmaelite. Amasa’s mother was Abigail daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. 26Absalom and the Israelites camped in the land of Gilead.
27Shobi, Makir, and Barzillai were at Mahanaim when David arrived. Shobi son of Nahash was from the Ammonite town of Rabbah. Makir son of Ammiel was from Lo Debar, and Barzillai was from Rogelim in Gilead. 28They brought beds, bowls, clay pots, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, small peas, 29honey, milk curds, sheep, and cheese made from cows’ milk for David and his people. They said, “The people are hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert.”