Absalom is restored
1Now Joab, Zeruiah’s son, could see that the king’s mind was on Absalom. 2So Joab sent someone to Tekoa and brought a wise woman from there. He said to her, "Pretend to be in mourning. Dress in mourning clothes. Don’t anoint yourself with oil. Act like a woman who has spent a long time mourning over someone who has died. 3Go to the king and speak to him as follows." Then Joab told her what to say.
4When the woman from Tekoa came to the king, she fell facedown, bowing low out of respect. "King, help me!" she said.
5"What is wrong?" the king asked her.
"It’s terrible!" she said. "I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6Your servant had two sons, but the two of them fought in the field. No one could separate them, and one struck the other and killed him. 7Now the entire clan has turned against your servant. They say, ‘Hand over the one who killed his brother so we can execute him for murdering his brother, even though we would destroy the heir as well.’ So they would snuff out the one ember I have left, leaving my husband without name or descendant on the earth."
8The king said to the woman, "Return home, and I will issue an order in your behalf."
9The woman of Tekoa said to the king, "My master and king, let the guilt be on me and on my father’s household. The king and his throne are innocent."
10"If anyone speaks against you, bring him to me, and he will never trouble you again," the king replied.
11She said, "Please let the king remember the LORD your God so that the one seeking revenge doesn’t add to the destruction and doesn’t kill my son."
"As surely as the LORD lives," David said, "not one of your son’s hairs will fall to the ground."
12Then the woman said, "May your female servant say something to my master the king?"
"Speak!" he said.
13The woman said, “Why have you planned the very same thing against God’s people? In giving this order, the king has become guilty because the king hasn’t restored his own banished son. 14We all have to die—we’re like water spilled out on the ground that can’t be gathered up again. But God doesn’t take life away; instead, he makes plans so those banished from him don’t stay that way.#Heb uncertain
15#14:15-17 may have originally followed 14:7."I have come to my master the king to talk about this because people have made me afraid. Your servant thought, I must speak with the king. Maybe the king will act on the request of his servant, 16because the king will agree to deliver his servant from the power of anyone who would destroy both me and my son from the inheritance God gave. 17Your servant thought, The word of my master the king will definitely comfort me, because my master the king is like one of God’s messengers, understanding good and evil. May the LORD your God be with you!"
18#14:18 may have originally followed 14:14. The king answered the woman, "I must ask you something—don’t hide anything from me!"
The woman said, "Please, my master and king, speak."
19So the king said, "Has Joab put you up to this?"
The woman answered, "As surely as you live, my master and king, no one can deviate a bit from whatever my master and king says. Yes, it was your servant Joab who directed me, and it was Joab who told your female servant to say all these things. 20Your servant Joab did this to change the way things look.#Heb uncertain But my master’s wisdom is like the wisdom of one of God’s own messengers—he knows everything that takes place in the land."
21So the king said to Joab, "All right then. I will do it. Go and bring back my boy Absalom."
22Joab fell facedown, bowing low out of respect, and he blessed the king.
"Today your servant knows that you think well of me, my master and king," Joab said, "because the king has followed up on his servant’s recommendation."
23So Joab got up, went to Geshur, and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem.
24The king said, "He must go straight to his own house. He must not see my face." So Absalom went straight to his own house and did not see the king.
25No man throughout Israel was as praised for his good looks as Absalom. From the soles of his feet to the crown of his head there was nothing wrong with him. 26When he shaved his head—he had to shave his head at the end of each year because his hair was so heavy that he had to shave it—the weight of the hair from his head was two hundred shekels by the royal weight. 27Absalom had three sons and one daughter. The daughter’s name was Tamar. She was a beautiful woman.
28Absalom lived in Jerusalem two years without ever seeing the king’s face. 29Absalom called for Joab in order to send Joab to the king, but Joab refused to come. Absalom called for Joab a second time, but he still wouldn’t come. 30So Absalom said to his servants, "Look, Joab’s property is next to mine. He has barley there. Go and set it on fire." So Absalom’s servants set the property on fire. Then Joab’s servants went to Joab with their clothes torn. "Absalom’s servants set the property on fire," they said.#DSS (4QSamc) LXX; MT lacks Then Joab’s servants… said.
31So Joab went straight to Absalom’s house and said to him, "Why have your servants set my property on fire?"
32Absalom answered Joab, "Look, I sent you a message: Come here so I can send you to the king to ask, ‘Why have I returned from Geshur? I would be better off if I were still there!’ Please let me see the king’s face. If I’m guilty, then the king can kill me."
33Joab went to the king and reported this to him. Then the king called for Absalom, and Absalom came to the king. He bowed low out of respect, nose to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Absalom.