1Then David mustered the people who were with him and set commanders of thousands and captains of hundreds over them.
2Then David sent out the troops, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the troops, “I must certainly go out with you also.”
3But the troops said, “You must not go out! For if we were to flee, they would not care about us, even if half of us die, they still wouldn’t care about us—but you are worth 10,000 of us. Therefore now, it is better that you be ready to support us from the city.”
4Then the king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood beside the gate and all the troops went out by their hundreds and thousands.
5Then the king charged Joab, Abishai and Ittai saying, “Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake.” Now all the troops heard the king’s charge to all the commanders concerning Absalom.
6Then the troops went out to the field to confront Israel but the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim.
7The people of Israel were defeated there before the followers of David, and the slaughter that day was great—20,000 men.
8For the battle there was spread over the face of the entire countryside and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
9Now Absalom encountered some of David’s servants. When Absalom was riding on his mule, the mule went under the thick branches of the great oak, and his head got caught in the oak, so that he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on.
10Then a certain man saw it and told Joab saying, “Look, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.”
11Then Joab said to his informant, “Look here, you saw him, so why didn’t you strike him there to the ground? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt!”
12But the man said to Joab, “Even if I had 1,000 pieces of silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king charged you, Abishai and Ittai saying, ‘Watch over the young man Absalom for me.’
13Otherwise, I would have betrayed his soul—and nothing stays hidden from the king—and you yourself would have stood aloof.”
14“I won’t wait for you!” Joab said. So he took three darts in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
15Then ten young men who were Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck and finished him off.
16Then Joab blew the shofar and the troops returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab held back the troops.
17They took Absalom and threw him into a deep pit in the forest and piled over him a very large heap of stones. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his tent.
18(Now Absalom, in his lifetime, had taken and set up for himself a pillar, which is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to preserve the memory of my name.” So he called the pillar by his name and it has been called Absalom’s Monument to this day.)
19Then Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, “Let me now run and bring the king news that Adonai has vindicated him against the hand of his enemies.”
20But Joab said to him, “You are not to be the bearer of news today. You may do it another day, but today you shall bear no news—for the king’s son is dead.”
21Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go tell the king what you have seen.” So the Cushite bowed to Joab and took off running.
22But Ahimaaz son of Zadok once again said to Joab, “Whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.” “Why should you run, my son,” Joab said, “since you would have no news worth telling?”
23“Whatever may come of it, I want to run!” So he said to him, “Run!” Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and so passed the Cushite.
24Now David was sitting between the two gates. When the watchman on the roof over the gate walked over to the wall, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and all of a sudden, he saw a man running alone.
25The watchman cried out and told the king. The king said, “If he is alone, there is good news in his mouth.” So he came closer and closer.
26Then the watchman saw another man running, so the watchman called out to the gatekeeper and said, “Look, another man is running alone.” The king said, “He too is bringing good news.”
27Then the watchman said, “I can see that the running of the first one is like the running of Ahimaaz son of Zadok.” “This is a good man and he comes with good news,” the king replied.
28Then Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “Shalom.” Then he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Blessed be Adonai your God, who has given over the men who lifted up their hand against my lord the king.”
29Then the king asked, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz answered, “I saw a great tumult when the king’s servant Joab sent me, your servant, but I did not know what it was about.”
30“Step aside and stand here,” the king said. So he stepped aside and stood still.
31Then the Cushite arrived and said, “Let my lord the king receive good news for Adonai has vindicated you today against all who rose up against you.”
32Then the king asked the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “Let the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be as that young man!”