David Is Made King of Judah
1Later, David prayed to the Lord, saying, “Should I go up to any of the cities of Judah?”
The Lord said to David, “Go.”
David asked, “Where should I go?”
The Lord answered, “To Hebron.”
2So David went up to Hebron with his two wives: Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel. 3David also brought his men and their families, and they all made their homes in the cities of Hebron. 4Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and appointed David king over Judah.
They told David that the men of Jabesh Gilead had buried Saul. 5So David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead and said to them, “The Lord bless you. You have shown loyalty to your master Saul by burying him. 6May the Lord now be loyal and true to you. I will also treat you well because you have done this. 7Now be strong and brave. Saul your master is dead, and the people of Judah have appointed me their king.”
War Between Judah and Israel
8Abner son of Ner was the commander of Saul’s army. Abner took Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth to Mahanaim 9and made him king of Gilead, Ashuri, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all Israel. 10Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he ruled two years. But the people of Judah followed David. 11David was king in Hebron for seven years and six months.
12Abner son of Ner and the servants of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. 13Joab son of Zeruiah and David’s men also went there and met Abner and Ish-Bosheth’s men at the pool of Gibeon. Abner’s group sat on one side of the pool; Joab’s group sat on the other.
14Abner said to Joab, “Let the young men have a contest here.”
Joab said, “Yes, let them have a contest.”
15Then the men got up and were counted—twelve from the people of Benjamin for Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve from David’s men. 16Each man grabbed the one opposite him by the head and stabbed him in the side with a knife. So the men fell down together. For that reason, that place in Gibeon is called the Field of Knives. 17That day there was a terrible battle, and David’s men defeated Abner and the Israelites.
Abner Kills Asahel
18Zeruiah’s three sons, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, were there. Now Asahel was a fast runner, as fast as a deer in the field. 19Asahel chased Abner, going straight toward him. 20Abner looked back and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?”
Asahel said, “Yes, it is.”
21Then Abner said to Asahel, “Turn to your right or left and catch one of the young men and take his armor.” But Asahel refused to stop chasing him.
22Abner again said to Asahel, “Stop chasing me! If you don’t stop, I’ll have to kill you! Then I won’t be able to face your brother Joab again!”
23But Asahel refused to stop chasing Abner. So using the back end of his spear, Abner stabbed Asahel in the stomach, and the spear came out of his back. Asahel died right there, and everyone stopped when they came to the place where Asahel’s body lay.
24But Joab and Abishai continued chasing Abner. As the sun was going down, they arrived at the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the desert near Gibeon. 25The men of Benjamin came to Abner, and all stood together at the top of the hill.
26Abner shouted to Joab, “Must the sword kill forever? Surely you must know this will only end in sadness! Tell the people to stop chasing their own brothers!”
27Then Joab said, “As surely as God lives, if you had not said anything, the people would have chased their brothers until morning.” 28Then Joab blew a trumpet, and his people stopped chasing the Israelites. They did not fight them anymore.
29Abner and his men marched all night through the Jordan Valley. They crossed the Jordan River, and after marching all day, arrived at Mahanaim.
30After he had stopped chasing Abner, Joab came back and gathered the people together. Asahel and nineteen of David’s men were missing. 31But David’s men had killed three hundred sixty Benjaminites who had followed Abner. 32David’s men took Asahel and buried him in the tomb of his father at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night. The sun came up as they reached Hebron.