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1 DAVID NUMBERED the men who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and of hundreds.
2 David sent forth the army, a third under command of Joab, a third under Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. [He] told the men, I myself will go out with you also.
3 But the men said, You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us; if half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth 10,000 such as we are. So now it is better that you be able to help us from the city.
4 The king said to them, Whatever seems best to you I will do. So he stood beside the gate, and all the army came out by hundreds and by thousands.
5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom.
6 So the army went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim.
7 [Absalom's] men of Israel were defeated by the servants of David, and there was a great slaughter that day of 20,000 men.
8 For the battle spread over the face of all the country, and the forest devoured more men that day than did the sword.
9 Then Absalom [unavoidably] met the servants of David. Absalom rode on a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and Absalom's head caught fast [in a fork] of the oak; and the mule under him ran away, leaving him hanging between the heavens and the earth.
10 A certain man saw it and told Joab, Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.
11 Joab said to the man, You saw him! Why did you not strike him down to the ground? I would have given you ten shekels of silver and a girdle.
12 The man told Joab, Though I should receive 1,000 pieces of silver, yet I would not put forth my hand against the king's son. For in our hearing the king charged you, Abishai, and Ittai, Have a care, whoever you be, for the young man Absalom.
13 Otherwise, if I had dealt falsely against his life–for nothing is hidden from the king–you yourself would have taken sides against me.
14 Joab said, I will not tarry thus with you. He took three darts in his hand and thrust them into the body of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
15 And ten young men, Joab's armor-bearers, surrounded and struck Absalom and killed him.
16 Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained and spared them.
17 They took Absalom and cast him into a great pit in the forest and raised a very great heap of stones upon him. And all Israel fled, everyone to his own home.
18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had reared up for himself a pillar which is in the King's Valley, for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance. He called the pillar after his own name, and to this day it is called Absalom's Monument.
19 Then said Ahimaaz son of Zadok, Let me now run and bear the king tidings of how the Lord has avenged David of his enemies.
20 Joab told him, You shall not carry news today, but another time. Today you shall bear no news, for the king's son is dead.
21 Then said Joab to the Cushite [an Ethiopian], Go tell the king what you have seen. And the Cushite bowed to Joab and ran.
22 Then said Ahimaaz son of Zadok again to Joab, But anyhow, let me, I pray you, also run after the Cushite. Joab said, Why should you run, my son, seeing you will have no reward, for you have not sufficient tidings?
23 But he said, Let me run anyhow. So Joab said to him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain and outran the Cushite.
24 Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate by the wall, and when he looked, he saw a man running alone.
25 The watchman called out and told the king. The king said, If he is alone, he has news to tell. And he came on and drew near.
26 Then the watchman saw another man running, and the watchman called to the gatekeeper, Behold, another man running alone. The king said, He also brings news.
27 The watchman said, I think the man in front runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok. The king said, He is a good man and comes with good tidings.
28 And Ahimaaz called and said to the king, All is well! And he fell down to the ground on his face before the king and said, Blessed be the Lord your God, Who has shut up the men who lifted up their hands against my lord the king.
29 The king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant and me, your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I do not know what it was.
30 The king told him, Turn aside; stand here. And he turned aside and stood still.
31 And behold, the Cushite (Ethiopian) came, and he said, News, my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from all who rose up against you.
32 The king said to the Cushite, Is the young man Absalom safe? The Cushite replied, May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise against you to do evil be like that young man is.
33 And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would to God I had died for you, O Absalom, my son, my son!
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1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation