1 AFTER THIS, Absalom got a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
2 And [he] rose up early and stood beside the gateway; and when any man who had a controversy came to the king for judgment, Absalom called to him, Of what city are you? And he would say, Your servant is of such and such a tribe of Israel.
3 Absalom would say to him, Your claims are good and right, but there is no man appointed as the king's agent to hear you.
4 Absalom added, Oh, that I were judge in the land! Then every man with any suit or cause might come to me and I would do him justice!
5 And whenever a man came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand, take hold of him, and kiss him.
6 Thus Absalom did to all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
7 And after [four] years, Absalom said to the king, I pray you, let me go to Hebron [his birthplace] and pay my vow to the Lord.
8 For your servant vowed while I dwelt at Geshur in Syria, If the Lord will bring me again to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord [by offering a sacrifice].
9 And the king said to him, Go in peace. So he arose and went to Hebron.
10 But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, Absalom is king at Hebron.
11 With Absalom went 200 men from Jerusalem, who were invited [as guests to his sacrificial feast]; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not a thing.
12 And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy was strong; the people with Absalom increased continually.
13 And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.
14 David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, Arise and let us flee, or else none of us will escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring evil upon us and smite the city with the sword.
15 And the king's servants said to the king, Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king says.
16 So the king and all his household after him went forth. But he left ten women who were concubines to keep the house. [II Sam. 12:11; 20:3.]
17 The king went forth with all the people after him, and halted at the last house.
18 All David's servants passed on beside him, along with [his bodyguards] all the Cherethites, Pelethites; also all the Gittites, 600 men who came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.
19 The king said to Ittai the Gittite, Why do you go with us also? Return to your place and remain with the king [Absalom], for you are a foreigner and an exile.
20 Since you came only yesterday, should I make you go up and down with us? Since I must go where I may, you return, and take back your brethren with you. May loving-kindness and faithfulness be with you.
21 But Ittai answered the king, As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or life, even there also will your servant be.
22 So David said to Ittai, Go on and pass over [the Kidron]. And Ittai the Gittite passed over and all his men and all the little ones who were with him.
23 All the country wept with a loud voice as all the people passed over. The king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people went on toward the wilderness.
24 Abiathar [the priest] and behold, Zadok came also, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God until all the people had gone from the city.
25 Then the king told Zadok, Take back the ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the Lord's eyes, He will bring me back and let me see both it and His house.
26 But if He says, I have no delight in you, then here I am; let Him do to me what seems good to Him.
27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, Are you not a seer? [You and Abiathar] return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son and Jonathan son of Abiathar.
28 See, I will wait at the fords [at the Jordan] of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.
29 Zadok, therefore, and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem and they stayed there.
30 And David went up over the Mount of Olives and wept as he went, barefoot and his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, weeping as they went.
31 David was told, Ahithophel [your counselor] is among the conspirators with Absalom. David said, O Lord, I pray You, turn Ahithophel's counsel into foolishness.
32 When David came to the summit [of Olivet], where he worshiped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent and earth upon his head.
33 David said to him, If you go with me, you will be a burden to me.
34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father's servant in the past, so will I be your servant now, then you may defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel.
35 Will not Zadok and Abiathar the priests be with you? So whatever you hear from the king's house, just tell it to [them].
36 Behold, their two sons are there with them, Ahimaaz, Zadok's son and Jonathan, Abiathar's son; and by them send to me everything you hear.
37 So Hushai, David's friend, returned, and Absalom also came into Jerusalem.