Sheba Leads Israel Away from David
1It happened that a troublemaker named Sheba son of Bicri was there. Sheba was from the tribe of Benjamin. He blew the trumpet and said:
“We have no share in David!
We have no part in the son of Jesse!
People of Israel, let’s go to our own homes!”
2So all the Israelites left David and followed Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stayed with their king all the way from the Jordan River to Jerusalem.
3David came to his palace in Jerusalem. Earlier he had left there ten of his slave women who gave birth to his children. He had left them there to take care of the palace. Now he put them in a house where they would be guarded. They were kept there for the rest of their lives. David gave them food, but he did not have physical relations with them. They lived like widows until they died.
4The king said to Amasa, “Tell the men of Judah to meet with me in three days. And you must also be here.” 5So Amasa went to call the men of Judah together. But he took longer than the time the king had told him.
6David said to Abishai, “Sheba son of Bicri is more dangerous to us than Absalom was. Take my men and chase him. Hurry before he finds strong, walled cities. If he gets there, he will escape from us.” 7So Joab’s men, the Kerethites and the Pelethites, who were the king’s bodyguards, and all the soldiers went with Abishai. They went out from Jerusalem to chase Sheba son of Bicri.
8When Joab and the army came to the great rock at Gibeon, Amasa came out to meet them. Joab was wearing his uniform. At his waist he wore a belt. It held his sword in its case. As Joab stepped forward, his sword fell out of its case. 9Joab asked Amasa, “Brother, is everything all right with you?” Then with his right hand he took Amasa by the beard to kiss him. 10Amasa did not guard against the sword that was in Joab’s hand. So Joab pushed the sword into Amasa’s stomach. This caused Amasa’s insides to spill on the ground. Joab did not have to stab Amasa again. He was already dead. Then Joab and his brother Abishai continued to chase Sheba son of Bicri.
11One of Joab’s young men stood by Amasa’s body. The young man said, “Everyone who is for Joab and David should follow Joab!” 12Amasa lay in the middle of the road, covered with his own blood. The young man saw that everyone was stopping to look at the body. So he dragged Amasa’s body from the road and laid it in a field. Then he put a cloth over it. 13After Amasa’s body was taken off the road, all the men followed Joab. They went with him to chase Sheba son of Bicri.
14Sheba went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maacah. All the Berites also came together and followed him. 15So Joab and his men came to Abel Beth Maacah and surrounded it. They piled dirt up against the city wall so they could attack it. And they began digging under the city walls to make them fall down.
16But a wise woman shouted out from the city. She said, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here. I want to talk to him!”
17So Joab came near her. She asked him, “Are you Joab?”
He answered, “Yes, I am.”
Then she said, “Listen to what I say!”
Joab said, “I’m listening.”
18Then the woman said, “In the past people would say, ‘Ask for advice at Abel.’ Then the problem would be solved. 19I am one of the peaceful, loyal people of Israel. You are trying to destroy an important city of Israel. Why must you destroy what belongs to the Lord?”
20Joab answered, “May I not destroy or ruin anything. 21That is not what I want. But there is a man here from the mountains of Ephraim. He is named Sheba son of Bicri. He has turned against King David. If you will bring him to me, I will leave the city alone.”
The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown over the wall to you.”
22Then the woman spoke very wisely to all the people of the city. They cut off the head of Sheba son of Bicri. Then they threw it over the wall to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and the army left the city. Every man returned home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.
23Joab was commander of all the army of Israel. Benaiah son of Jehoiada led the Kerethites and Pelethites, the king’s bodyguards. 24Adoniram led the men who were forced to do hard work. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the recorder. 25Sheba was the royal assistant. Zadok and Abiathar were the priests. 26And Ira the Jairite was David’s priest.