Sheba rebels against David
1A troublemaker from the tribe of Benjamin was there. His name was Sheba the son of Bichri, and he blew a trumpet to get everyone's attention. Then he said, “People of Israel, David the son of Jesse doesn't belong to us! Let's go home.”#1 K 12.16; 2 Ch 10.16.
2So they stopped following David and went off with Sheba. But the people of Judah stayed close to David all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
David's ten wives
3David had left ten of his wives in Jerusalem to take care of his palace. But when he came back, he had them taken to another house, and he placed soldiers there to guard them. He gave them whatever they needed, but he never slept with any of them again.#20.3 he…again: Because of what Absalom had done (see 16.21,22). They had to live there for the rest of their lives as if they were widows.#2 S 16.22.
The army goes after Sheba
4David said to Amasa, “Three days from now I want you and all of Judah's army to be here!”
5Amasa started bringing the army together, but it was taking him more than three days. 6So David said to Abishai, “Sheba will hurt us more than Absalom ever did. Take my best soldiers and go after him. We don't want him to take over any walled cities and get away from us.”#20.6 get…us: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Joab kills Amasa
7Abishai left Jerusalem to try and capture Sheba. He took along Joab and his soldiers, as well as David's bodyguard#20.7 bodyguard: See the note at 8.18. and best troops. 8They had gone as far as the big rock at Gibeon when Amasa caught up with them. Joab had a dagger strapped around his waist over his military uniform, but it fell out as he started towards Amasa.
9Joab said, “Amasa, my cousin, how are you?” Then Joab took hold of Amasa's beard with his right hand, so that he could greet him with a kiss. 10Amasa did not see the dagger in Joab's other hand. Joab stuck it in Amasa's stomach, and his insides spilt out on the ground. Joab only struck him once, but Amasa was dying.
Joab and his brother Abishai went off to chase Sheba. 11One of Joab's soldiers stood by Amasa and shouted, “If any of you like Joab, and if you are for David, then follow Joab!”
12Amasa was still rolling in his own blood in the middle of the road. The soldier who had shouted noticed that everyone who passed by would stop, so he dragged Amasa off the road and covered him with a blanket. 13After this, no one else stopped. They all walked straight past him on their way to help Joab capture Sheba.
Sheba hides out in the town of Abel
14Sheba had gone through all the tribes of Israel when he came to the town of Abel Beth-Maacah. All his best soldiers#20.14 best soldiers: One ancient translation; the difficult Hebrew text may mean either “Berites” or “Bichrites”, Sheba's relatives. met him there and followed him into the town.
15Joab and his troops came and surrounded Abel, so that no one could go in or come out. They made an earth ramp up to the town wall and then started to use a battering ram to knock the wall down.
A wise woman saves the town
16A wise woman shouted from the top of the wall,#20.16 the top of the wall: Or “the town”. “Listen to me! Listen to me! I have to talk to Joab! Tell him to come here!” 17When he came, the woman said, “Are you Joab?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
She said, “Please, listen to what I have to say.”
“All right,” he said. “I'll listen.”
18She said, “Long ago people used to say, ‘If you want good advice, go to the town of Abel to get it.’ The answers they got here were all that was needed to settle any problem. 19We are Israelites, and we want peace! You can trust us. Why are you trying to destroy a town that's like a mother in Israel? Why do you want to wipe out the LORD's people?”
20Joab answered, “No, no! I'm not trying to wipe you out or destroy your town! 21That's not it at all. There's a man in your town from the hill country of Ephraim. His name is Sheba, and he is the leader of a rebellion against King David. Turn him over to me, and we will leave your town alone.”
The woman told Joab, “We will throw his head over the wall.”
22She went to the people of the town and talked them into doing it. They cut off Sheba's head and threw it to Joab.
Joab blew a signal on his trumpet, and the soldiers returned to their homes. Joab went back to David in Jerusalem.
Another list of David's officials#20.23 Another list of David's officials: See also the list in 8.16,17.
23Joab was the commander of Israel's entire army.
Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in command of David's bodyguard.#20.23 David's bodyguard: See the note at 8.18.
24Adoram#20.24 Adoram: One ancient translation “Adoniram” (see 1 Kings 4.6; 5.14). was in charge of the slave labour force.
Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud kept government records.
25Sheva was the secretary.
Zadok and Abiathar were the priests.
26Ira from Jair was David's priest.