2 Samuel

The House of David Strengthened

Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; and David became steadily stronger, while the house of Saul became steadily weaker.

Sons were born to David in Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; and his second, Chileab, by Abigail the [a]widow of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These sons were born to David in Hebron.

Abner Joins David

Now it happened that while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was [b]strengthening himself in the house of Saul. And Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah; and [c]Ish-bosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?” Then Abner became very angry over Ish-bosheth’s [d]question and said, “Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show kindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and have not let you fall into the hands of David; yet today you call me to account for wrongdoing with [e]that woman? May God do so to [f]me, and more so, if as the Lord has sworn to David, I do not accomplish this for him: 10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba!” 11 And Ish-bosheth could no longer say a word in response to Abner, because he was afraid of him.

12 Then Abner sent messengers to David at his place, saying, “Whose is the land? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel over to you.” 13 And he said, “Good! I will make a covenant with you, only I require one thing of you, [g]namely, that you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see [h]me.” 14 So David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, to whom I was betrothed for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” 15 Ish-bosheth sent men and [i]had her taken from her husband, from [j]Paltiel the son of Laish. 16 And her husband went with her, weeping as he went, [k]following her as far as Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go, return.” So he returned.

17 Now Abner had a [l]consultation with the elders of Israel, saying, “In times past you were seeking for David to be king over you. 18 Now then, do it! For the Lord has spoken regarding David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David [m]I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hands of all their enemies.’” 19 Abner also spoke [n]to Benjamin; and in addition Abner went to speak [o]to David in Hebron everything that seemed good to Israel and to the entire house of Benjamin.

20 Then Abner and twenty men with him came to David at Hebron. And David held a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 Abner said to David, “Let me set out and go and gather all Israel to my lord the king, so that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may be king over all that your soul desires.” So David let Abner go, and he went in peace.

22 And behold, the servants of David and Joab came from a raid and brought a large amount of plunder with them; but Abner was not with David in Hebron, since he had let him go, and he had gone in peace. 23 When Joab and all the army that was with him arrived, they informed Joab, saying, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has let him go on his way, and he has gone in peace.” 24 Then Joab came to the king and said, “What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you; why then have you let him go, so that he is already gone? 25 You know Abner the son of Ner, that he came to gain your confidence, and to learn of your [p]going out and coming in and to find out everything that you are doing.”

Joab Murders Abner

26 When Joab left David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah; but David did not know about it. 27 So when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the middle of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he struck him in the belly, so that he died on account of the blood of his brother Asahel. 28 Afterward, when David heard about this, he said, “I and my kingdom are innocent before the Lord forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner. 29 May it turn upon the head of Joab and on all his father’s house; and may there not be eliminated from the house of Joab someone who suffers a discharge, or has leprosy, or [q]holds the spindle, or falls by the sword, or lacks bread.” 30 So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because he had put their brother Asahel to death in the battle at Gibeon.

David Mourns Abner

31 Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth, and mourn before Abner.” And King David walked behind the bier. 32 And they buried Abner in Hebron; and the king raised his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. 33 And the king sang a song of mourning for Abner and said,

“Should Abner die as a fool dies?

34 Your hands were not bound, nor your feet put in bronze shackles;

As one falls before the [r]wicked, you have fallen.”

And all the people wept over him again. 35 Then all the people came to provide [s]food for David in his distress while it was still day; but David vowed, saying, “May God do so to me, and more so, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down.” 36 Now all the people took note of David’s vow, and it [t]pleased them, just as everything that the king did [u]pleased all the people. 37 So all the people and all Israel understood on that day that it had not been the desire of the king to put Abner the son of Ner to death. 38 Then the king said to his servants, “Do you not know that a leader and a great man has fallen in Israel this day? 39 And I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too difficult for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer in proportion to his evil.”


  1. 2 Samuel 3:3 Lit wife
  2. 2 Samuel 3:6 Or remaining faithful to
  3. 2 Samuel 3:7 As in some mss and ancient versions; MT he
  4. 2 Samuel 3:8 Lit words
  5. 2 Samuel 3:8 Lit the
  6. 2 Samuel 3:9 Lit Abner
  7. 2 Samuel 3:13 Lit saying
  8. 2 Samuel 3:13 Lit my face
  9. 2 Samuel 3:15 Lit took her
  10. 2 Samuel 3:15 In 1 Sam 25:44, Palti
  11. 2 Samuel 3:16 Lit after her
  12. 2 Samuel 3:17 Lit a word
  13. 2 Samuel 3:18 As in many mss and ancient versions; MT he
  14. 2 Samuel 3:19 Lit in the ears of
  15. 2 Samuel 3:19 Lit in the ears of
  16. 2 Samuel 3:25 I.e., daily business
  17. 2 Samuel 3:29 I.e., an effeminate man; LXX holds on to a staff (prob. a crutch)
  18. 2 Samuel 3:34 Lit sons of wickedness
  19. 2 Samuel 3:35 Lit bread
  20. 2 Samuel 3:36 Lit was good in their eyes
  21. 2 Samuel 3:36 Lit was good in the eyes of all