Sheba rebels against David
1Now a troublemaker named Sheba son of Bikri, a Benjaminite, happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and shouted,
‘We have no share in David,
no part in Jesse’s son!
Every man to his tent, Israel!’
2So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bikri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
3When David returned to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to take care of the palace and put them in a house under guard. He provided for them but had no sexual relations with them. They were kept in confinement till the day of their death, living as widows.
4Then the king said to Amasa, ‘Summon the men of Judah to come to me within three days, and be here yourself.’ 5But when Amasa went to summon Judah, he took longer than the time the king had set for him.
6David said to Abishai, ‘Now Sheba son of Bikri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us.’#20:6 Or and do us serious injury 7So Joab’s men and the Kerethites and Pelethites and all the mighty warriors went out under the command of Abishai. They marched out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.
8While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his military tunic, and strapped over it at his waist was a belt with a dagger in its sheath. As he stepped forward, it dropped out of its sheath.
9Joab said to Amasa, ‘How are you, my brother?’ Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10Amasa was not on his guard against the dagger in Joab’s hand, and Joab plunged it into his belly, and his intestines spilled out on the ground. Without being stabbed again, Amasa died. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bikri.
11One of Joab’s men stood beside Amasa and said, ‘Whoever favours Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab!’ 12Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road, and the man saw that all the troops came to a halt there. When he realised that everyone who came up to Amasa stopped, he dragged him from the road into a field and threw a garment over him. 13After Amasa had been removed from the road, everyone went on with Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.
14Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maakah and through the entire region of the Bikrites,#20:14 See Septuagint and Vulgate; Hebrew Berites. who gathered together and followed him. 15All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, 16a wise woman called from the city, ‘Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so that I can speak to him.’ 17He went towards her, and she asked, ‘Are you Joab?’
‘I am,’ he answered.
She said, ‘Listen to what your servant has to say.’
‘I’m listening,’ he said.
18She continued, ‘Long ago they used to say, “Get your answer at Abel,” and that settled it. 19We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?’
20‘Far be it from me!’ Joab replied, ‘Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.’
The woman said to Joab, ‘His head will be thrown to you from the wall.’
22Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.
23Joab was over Israel’s entire army;
Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites;
24Adoniram#20:24 Some Septuagint manuscripts (see also 1 Kings 4:6 and 5:14); Hebrew Adoram was in charge of forced labour;
Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder;
25Sheva was secretary;
Zadok and Abiathar were priests;
26and Ira the Jairite#20:26 Hebrew; some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac (see also 23:38) Ithrite was David’s priest.