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2 Samuel 18

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 1 And David numbered the people that were with him, and appointed commanders of thousands, and commanders of hundreds over them.

 2 And David assigned a third part of the army under the command of Joab; a third part under command of Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother; and a third part under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the army, "For certain I will go out of the city with you [to battle] also."

 3 But the army answered, "You shall not go out for if we flee away, they will not care for us [be strengthened in courage]; neither if half of us die, will they care for us [be strengthened in courage]; but now you are worth ten thousand of us, [for if you die, the enemy will become too encouraged]. Therefore it is better that you support us from within the city.

 4 The king said to them, "What seems best to you, that I will do." So the king stood by the side of the gate, and all the army came out by hundreds and by thousands.

 5 And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, "For my sake deal gently the young man Absalom." All the army heard king David give all the commanders his request concerning Absalom.

 6 So the army went out into the field against Israel; and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim;

 7 Where the army of Israel was slain by the servants of David. In that day there was a great slaughter of twenty thousand men.

 8 For the battle was scattered over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

 9 Absalom faced the troops of David. Absalom was riding on a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak tree, and his head was caught in the branches of the oak, and he was left dangling above the earth, as the mule that was under him went away.

 10 A certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, "Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree."

 11 And Joab said to the man who told him, "And you saw him; and why did you not strike him there down to the ground? If you had, I would have given you ten shekels of silver and a great belt."

 12 And the man said to Joab, "Even though I would receive a thousand shekels of silver in my hand, yet would I not put forth my hand against the king's son because we heard the king order you, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, 'Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.'

 13 To have done otherwise [killed Absalom] I would have forced a lie against my own life for there is no matter hidden from the king, and you yourself would have set yourself against me."

 14 Then Joab said, "I must not delay this way with you." And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was still alive hanging in the midst of the oak.

 15 And ten young men who bore Joab's armor surrounded Absalom striking him, [to be sure he was] dead.

 16 Joab blew the trumpet, and David's army returned from pursuing after Israel; so Joab held back the army [knowing the battle was over with the death of Absalom].

 17 They took Absalom and threw him into a great pit in the wood, where they laid a very great heap of stones upon him; and then all Israel [the army with Absalom's] fled, everyone back to his home.

 18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and 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."1 He called the pillar after his own name, and it is called to this day, Absalom's Monument.

 19 Then Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, said, "Let me now run and tell the king the news, how the LORD has avenged him of his enemies."

 20 And Joab said to him, "You shall not take the news this day, but you shall take the news on another day; but on this day you shall take no news because the king's son is dead."2

 21 Then said Joab to a Cushite [an Ethiopioan], "Go tell the king what you have seen." The Cushite bowed himself to Joab and ran.

 22 Then Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, asked again of Joab, "Whatever, I beg of you, let me also run after the Cushite." And Joab said, "Why would you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward, for you don't have news?"

 23 "Whatever, let me run." And he said to him, "Then run." So Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and outran the Cushite.

 24 David was sitting between the two gates. The watchman went up to the roof over the gate to the wall, and when he lifted up his eyes and looked, he saw a man running alone.

 25 The watchman cried and told the king. And the king said, "If he is alone, there is news in his mouth. And he came swiftly and drew near.

 26 The watchman saw another man running, and he called to the gatekeeper saying, "Look, another man is running alone." And the king said, "He also brings news."

 27 And the watchman said, "I think the front runner runs like Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, "He is a good man, and he comes with good news."

 28 And Ahimaaz called, and said to the king, "All is well." And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, "Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king."

 29 And the king asked, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" And Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent the king's servant, and I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was."

 30 And the king said to him, "Stand aside, and wait here." And he stood aside and remained still.

 31 And, behold, the Cushite came; and the Cushite said, "News, my lord the king; the LORD has avenged you this day of all those who rose up against you."

 32 And the king said to the Cushite, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" And the Cushite answered, "The enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise against you to do you harm — may they be as that young man is."

 33 The king was greatly distressed, and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept; and as he went, he exclaimed, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would to God that I had died for you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"


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1 Yet we know from 2 Sam 14:27 that Absalom had three sons and one daughter, Tamar. So, perhaps his three sons had died without record.

2 Joab said to him, "You shall not take the news this day, but you shall take the news on another day; but on this day you shall take no news because the king's son is dead." Joab in kindness is trying to spare Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, from the danger of bringing the bad news of the death of Absalom to the king, fearing David might harm the messenger who brings bad news.

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