1-3Next Ahithophel advised Absalom, “Let me handpick twelve thousand men and go after David tonight. I’ll come on him when he’s bone tired and take him by complete surprise. The whole army will run off and I’ll kill only David. Then I’ll bring the army back to you—a bride brought back to her husband! You’re only after one man, after all. Then everyone will be together in peace!”
4Absalom thought it was an excellent strategy, and all the elders of Israel agreed.
5But then Absalom said, “Call in Hushai the Arkite—let’s hear what he has to say.”
6So Hushai came and Absalom put it to him, “This is what Ahithophel advised. Should we do it? What do you say?”
7-10Hushai said, “The counsel that Ahithophel has given in this instance is not good. You know your father and his men, brave and bitterly angry—like a bear robbed of her cubs. And your father is an experienced fighter; you can be sure he won’t be caught napping at a time like this. Even while we’re talking, he’s probably holed up in some cave or other. If he jumps your men from ambush, word will soon get back, ‘A slaughter of Absalom’s army!’ Even if your men are valiant with hearts of lions, they’ll fall apart at such news, for everyone in Israel knows the kind of fighting stuff your father’s made of, and also the men with him.
11-13“Here’s what I’d advise: Muster the whole country, from Dan to Beersheba, an army like the sand of the sea, and you personally lead them. We’ll smoke him out wherever he is, fall on him like dew falls on the earth, and, believe me, there won’t be a single survivor. If he hides out in a city, then the whole army will bring ropes to that city and pull it down and into a gully—not so much as a pebble left of it!”
14Absalom and all his company agreed that the counsel of Hushai the Arkite was better than the counsel of Ahithophel. (God had determined to discredit the counsel of Ahithophel so as to bring ruin on Absalom.)
15-16Then Hushai told the priests Zadok and Abiathar, “Ahithophel advised Absalom and the elders of Israel thus and thus, and I advised them thus and thus. Now send this message as quickly as possible to David: ‘Don’t spend the night on this side of the river; cross immediately or the king and everyone with him will be swallowed up alive.’”
17-20Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting around at En Rogel. A servant girl would come and give them messages and then they would go and tell King David, for it wasn’t safe to be seen coming into the city. But a soldier spotted them and told Absalom, so the two of them got out of there fast and went to a man’s house in Bahurim. He had a well in his yard and they climbed into it. The wife took a rug and covered the well, then spread grain on it so no one would notice anything out of the ordinary. Shortly, Absalom’s servants came to the woman’s house and asked her, “Have you seen Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”
The woman said, “They were headed toward the river.”
They looked but didn’t find them, and then went back to Jerusalem.
21When the coast was clear, Ahimaaz and Jonathan climbed out of the well and went on to make their report to King David, “Get up and cross the river quickly; Ahithophel has given counsel against you!”
22David and his whole army were soon up and moving and crossed the Jordan. As morning broke there was not a single person who had not made it across the Jordan.
23When Ahithophel realized that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and left for his hometown. After making out his will and putting his house in order, he hanged himself and died. He was buried in the family tomb.
24-26About the time David arrived at Mahanaim, Absalom crossed the Jordan, and the whole army of Israel with him. Absalom had made Amasa head of the army, replacing Joab. (Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra, an Ishmaelite who had married Abigail, daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, the mother of Joab.) Israel and Absalom set camp in Gilead.
27-29When David arrived at Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Ammonite Rabbah, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim brought beds and blankets, bowls and jugs filled with wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans and lentils, honey, and curds and cheese from the flocks and herds. They presented all this to David and his army to eat, “because,” they said, “the army must be starved and exhausted and thirsty out in this wilderness.”