2 Samuel

Absalom Killed

Then David [a]took a count of the people who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. And David sent the people out, a third [b]under the command of Joab, a third [c]under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and a third [d]under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, “I myself will certainly go out with you also.” But the people said, “You should not go out; for if in fact we flee, they will not care about us; and if half of us die, they will not care about us. But [e]you are [f]worth ten thousand of us; so now it is better that you will be ready to help us from the city.” Then the king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood beside the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and thousands. But the king commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the people heard when the king commanded all the commanders regarding Absalom.

Then the people went out to the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. The people of Israel were [g]defeated there by the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, twenty thousand men. For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

Now Absalom encountered the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the branches of a massive oak. Then his head caught firmly in the oak, and he was [h]left hanging between the sky and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going. 10 When a certain man saw him, he informed Joab and said, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Then Joab said to the man who had informed him, “So behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And it would have been [i]my duty to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 But the man said to Joab, “Even if I were to [j]receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king commanded you, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, ‘[k]Protect the young man Absalom for me!’ 13 Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against [l]his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have [m]avoided me.” 14 Then Joab said, “I will not [n]waste time here with you.” So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the [o]midst of the oak. 15 And ten young men who carried Joab’s armor gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him.

16 Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained the people. 17 And they took Absalom and threw him into [p]a deep pit in the forest, and erected over him a very large pile of stones. And all Israel fled, each to his own tent. 18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a memorial stone, which is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to [q]continue my name.” So he named the memorial stone after his own name, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.

David Is Grief-stricken

19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Please let me run and bring the king news that the Lord has [r]freed him from the hand of his enemies!” 20 But Joab said to him, “You are not the man to bring news this day, but you shall bring news another day; however, you shall bring no news this day, because the king’s son is dead.” 21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” So the Cushite bowed to Joab and ran. 22 However, Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said once more to Joab, “But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.” And Joab said, “Why would you run, my son, since you will have no messenger’s reward for going?” 23 “But whatever happens,” he said, “I will run.” So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and passed by the Cushite.

24 Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the watchman went to the roof of the gate by the wall, and raised his eyes and looked; and behold, a man was running by himself. 25 So the watchman called out and told the king. And the king said, “If he is by himself there is good news in his mouth.” And he came nearer and nearer. 26 Then the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, “Behold, another man is running by himself.” And the king said, “This one also is bringing good news.” 27 The watchman said, “I [s]think the running form of the first one is like the running form of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, “This is a good man, and he is coming with good news.”

28 Then Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “[t]All is well.” And he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. And he said, “Blessed is the Lord your God, who has turned over the men who raised their hands against my lord the king.” 29 But the king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great commotion, but I did not know what it was.” 30 Then the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.

31 Then behold, the Cushite arrived, and the Cushite said, “Let my lord the king receive good news, for the Lord has [u]freed you this day from the hand of all those who rose up against you.” 32 Then the king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be like that young man!”

33 [v]Then the king trembled and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And this is what he said as he walked: “My son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!”


  1. 2 Samuel 18:1 Lit mustered
  2. 2 Samuel 18:2 Lit by the hand of
  3. 2 Samuel 18:2 Lit by the hand of
  4. 2 Samuel 18:2 Lit by the hand of
  5. 2 Samuel 18:3 As in some ancient versions; MT for now there are 10,000 like us
  6. 2 Samuel 18:3 Lit like us by 10,000
  7. 2 Samuel 18:7 Lit struck
  8. 2 Samuel 18:9 Lit placed
  9. 2 Samuel 18:11 Lit And upon me
  10. 2 Samuel 18:12 Lit weigh
  11. 2 Samuel 18:12 As in some mss and ancient versions; MT Protect, whoever you are, the
  12. 2 Samuel 18:13 Another reading is my life; i.e., at the risk of my own life
  13. 2 Samuel 18:13 Lit stood aloof
  14. 2 Samuel 18:14 Lit wait so with
  15. 2 Samuel 18:14 Lit heart
  16. 2 Samuel 18:17 Lit the great
  17. 2 Samuel 18:18 Lit bring to remembrance
  18. 2 Samuel 18:19 Lit vindicated
  19. 2 Samuel 18:27 Lit see
  20. 2 Samuel 18:28 Lit Peace; Heb Shalom
  21. 2 Samuel 18:31 Lit vindicated
  22. 2 Samuel 18:33 Ch 19:1 in Heb