1Now a wicked man, a Benjaminite named Sheba son of Bichri, happened to be there. He blew the ram’s horn and shouted:
We have no portion in David,
no inheritance in Jesse’s son.
Each man to his tent,#20:1 Alt Hb tradition reads gods Israel!
2So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba son of Bichri, but the men of Judah from the Jordan all the way to Jerusalem remained loyal to their king.#1Kg 12:16-17
3When David came to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to take care of the palace and placed them under guard.#2Sm 15:16; 16:21-22 He provided for them, but he was not intimate with them. They were confined until the day of their death, living as widows.
4The king said to Amasa, “Summon the men of Judah to me within three days and be here yourself.” 5Amasa went to summon Judah, but he took longer than the time allotted him. 6So David said to Abishai, “Sheba son of Bichri will do more harm to us than Absalom. Take your lord’s soldiers and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and elude us.”#20:6 Lit and snatch away our eyes
7So Joab’s men, the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and all the warriors marched out under Abishai’s command;#20:7 Lit out following him they left Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bichri. 8They were at the great stone in Gibeon when Amasa joined them. Joab was wearing his uniform and over it was a belt around his waist with a sword in its sheath. As he approached, the sword fell out. 9Joab asked Amasa, “Are you well, my brother?” Then with his right hand Joab grabbed Amasa by the beard to kiss him.#Mt 26:49; Mk 14:45; Lk 22:47 10Amasa was not on guard against the sword in Joab’s hand, and Joab stabbed him in the stomach with it and spilled his intestines out on the ground. Joab did not stab him again, and Amasa died.#1Kg 2:5
Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bichri. 11One of Joab’s young men had stood over Amasa saying, “Whoever favors Joab and whoever is for David, follow Joab!” 12Now Amasa had been writhing in his blood in the middle of the highway, and the man had seen that all the troops stopped. So he moved Amasa from the highway to the field and threw a garment over him because he realized that all those who encountered Amasa were stopping. 13When he was removed from the highway, all the men passed by and followed Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bichri.
14Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah. All the Berites#20:14 LXX, Vg read Bichrites came together and followed him. 15Joab’s troops came and besieged Sheba in Abel of Beth-maacah. They built a siege ramp#2Kg 19:32; Is 37:33; Jr 6:6; Ezk 4:2; 26:8 against the outer wall of the city. While all the troops with Joab were battering the wall to make it collapse, 16a wise woman called out from the city, “Listen! Listen! Please tell Joab to come here and let me speak with him.”
17When he had come near her, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?”
“I am,” he replied.
“Listen to the words of your servant,” she said to him.
He answered, “I’m listening.”
18She said, “In the past they used to say, ‘Seek counsel in Abel,’ and that’s how they settled disputes. 19I am one of the peaceful and faithful in Israel, but you’re trying to destroy a city that is like a mother in Israel. Why would you devour the Lord’s inheritance?”
20Joab protested: “Never! I would never devour or demolish! 21That is not the case. There is a man named Sheba son of Bichri, from the hill country of Ephraim, who has rebelled against King David. Deliver this one man, and I will withdraw from the city.”
The woman replied to Joab, “Watch! His head will be thrown over the wall to you.” 22The woman went to all the people with her wise counsel,#Ec 9:14-15 and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bichri and threw it to Joab. So he blew the ram’s horn, and they dispersed from the city, each to his own tent. Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.
23Joab commanded the whole army of Israel;#2Sm 8:16-18; 1Kg 4:3-6
Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and Pelethites;
24Adoram#20:24 Some Hb mss, LXX, Syr read Adoniram; 1Kg 4:6; 5:14 was over forced labor;#1Kg 12:18
Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was court historian;
25Sheva was court secretary;
Zadok and Abiathar were priests;
26and in addition, Ira the Jairite was David’s priest.