Absalom Leads an Insurrection against David
1 Some time later Absalom managed to acquiretn Heb “acquired for himself.” a chariot and horses, as well as fifty men to serve as his royal guard.tn Heb “to run ahead of him.”
2 Now Absalom used to get up early and stand beside the road that led to the city gate. Whenever anyone came by who had a complaint to bring to the king for arbitration, Absalom would call out to him, “What city are you from?” The person would answer, “I, your servant,tn Heb “your servant.” So also in vv. 8, 15, 21. am from one of the tribes of Israel.”
3 Absalom would then say to him, “Look, your claims are legitimate and appropriate.tn Heb “good and straight.” But there is no representative of the king who will listen to you.”
4 Absalom would then say, “If only they would make metn Heb “Who will make me?” a judge in the land! Then everyone who had a judicial complainttn Heb “a complaint and a judgment.” The expression is a hendiadys. could come to me and I would make sure he receives a just settlement.”
5 When someone approached to bow before him, Absalomtn Heb “he”; the referent (Absalom) has been specified in the translation for clarity. would extend his hand and embrace him and kiss him.
6 Absalom acted this way toward everyone in Israel who came to the king for justice. In this way Absalom won the loyaltytn Heb “stole the heart.” of the citizenstn Heb “the men.” of Israel.
7 After fourtc The MT has here “forty,” but this is presumably a scribal error for “four.” The context will not tolerate a period of forty years prior to the rebellion of Absalom. The Lucianic Greek recension (τέσσαρα ἔτη, tessara ete), the Syriac Peshitta (’arba’ sanin), and Vulgate (post quattuor autem annos) in fact have the expected reading “four years.” Most English translations follow the versions in reading “four” here, although some (e.g. KJV, ASV, NASB, NKJV), following the MT, read “forty.” years Absalom said to the king, “Let me go and repay my vow that I made to the Lord while I was in Hebron.
8 For I made this vowtn Heb “for your servant vowed a vow.” The formal court style of referring to one’s self in third person (“your servant”) has been translated here as first person for clarity. when I was living in Geshur in Aram: ‘If the Lord really does allow me to return to Jerusalem,map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. I will serve the Lord.’”
9 The king replied to him, “Go in peace.” So Absalomtn Heb “he”; the referent (Absalom) has been specified in the translation for clarity. got up and went to Hebron.
10 Then Absalom sent spies through all the tribes of Israel who said, “When you hear the sound of the horn, you may assumetn Heb “say.” that Absalom rules in Hebron.”
11 Now two hundred men had gone with Absalom from Jerusalem. Since they were invited, they went naively and were unaware of what Absalom was planning.tn Heb “being invited and going naively and they did not know anything.”
12 While he was offering sacrifices, Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s adviser,tn Traditionally, “counselor,” but this term is more often associated with psychological counseling today, so “adviser” was used in the translation instead. to come from his city, Giloh.tn Heb “Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, the adviser of David, from his city, from Giloh, while he was sacrificing.” It is not entirely clear who (Absalom or Ahithophel) was offering the sacrifices. The conspiracy was gaining momentum, and the people were starting to side with Absalom.
David Flees from Jerusalem
13 Then a messenger came to David and reported, “The men of Israel are loyal to Absalom!”tn Heb “the heart of the men of Israel is with Absalom.”
14 So David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem,map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. “Come on!tn Heb “Arise!” Let’s escape!tn Heb “let’s flee.” Otherwise no one will be delivered from Absalom! Go immediately, or else he will quickly overtake us and bringtn Heb “thrust.” disaster on us and kill the city’s residents with the sword.”tn Heb “and strike the city with the edge of the sword.”
15 The king’s servants replied to the king, “We will do whatever our lord the king decides.”tn Heb “according to all that my lord the king will choose, behold your servants!”
16 So the king and all the members of his royal courttn Heb “and all his house.” set out on foot, though the king left behind ten concubinestn Heb “women, concubines.” to attend to the palace.
17 The king and all the people set out on foot, pausingtn Heb “and they stood.” at a spottn Heb “house.” some distance away.
18 All his servants were leaving with him,tn Heb “crossing over near his hand.” along with all the Kerethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites – some six hundred men who had come on foot from Gath. They were leaving withtn Heb “crossing over near the face of.” the king.
19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come with us? Go back and stay with the newtn The word “new” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation to make it clear that David refers to Absalom, not himself. king, for you are a foreigner and an exile from your own country.tn Heb “place.”
20 It seems like you arrived just yesterday. Today should I make you wander around by going with us? I go where I must go. But as for you, go back and take your mentn Heb “brothers,” but see v. 22. with you. May genuine loyal lovetn Heb “loyal love and truth.” The expression is a hendiadys. protecttn Heb “be with.” you!”
21 But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king is, whether dead or alive,tn Heb “whether for death or for life.” there Itn Heb “your servant.” will be as well!”
22 So David said to Ittai, “Come along then.”tn Heb “Come and cross over.” So Ittai the Gittite went along,tn Heb “crossed over.” accompanied by all his men and all the dependentstn Heb “all the little ones.” who were with him.
23 All the land was weeping loudlytn Heb “with a great voice.” as all these people were leaving.tn Heb “crossing over.” As the king was crossing over the Kidron Valley, all the people were leavingtn Heb “crossing near the face of.” on the road that leads to the desert.
24 Zadok and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. When they positioned the ark of God, Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leavingtn Heb “crossing from.” the city.
25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back to the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s sight he will bring me back and enable me to see both it and his dwelling place again.
26 However, if he should say, ‘I do not take pleasure in you,’ then he will deal with me in a way that he considers appropriate.”tn Heb “as [is] good in his eyes.”
27 The king said to Zadok the priest, “Are you a seer?tn The Greek tradition understands the Hebrew word as an imperative (“see”). Most Greek mss have ἴδετε (idete); the Lucianic recension has βλέπε (blepe). It could just as well be taken as a question: “Don’t you see what is happening?” The present translation takes the word as a question, with the implication that Zadok is a priest and not a prophet (i.e., “seer”) and therefore unable to know what the future holds. Go back to the city in peace! Your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan may go with you and Abiathar.tn Heb “And Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar, two of your sons, with you.” The pronominal suffix on the last word is plural, referring to Zadok and Abiathar.
28 Look, I will be waiting at the fords of the desert until word from youtn The pronoun is plural, referring to Zadok and Abiathar. reaches me.”
29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and remained there.
30 As David was going up the Mount of Olives, he was weeping as he went; his head was covered and his feet were bare. All the people who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went up.
31 Now Davidtc The translation follows 4QSama, part of the Greek tradition, the Syriac Peshitta, Targum, and Vulgate uldavid in reading “and to David,” rather than MT וְדָוִד (vÿdavid, “and David”). As Driver points out, the Hebrew verb הִגִּיד (higgid, “he related”) never uses the accusative for the person to whom something is told (S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 316). had been told, “Ahithophel has sided with the conspirators who are with Absalom. So David prayed,tn Heb “said.” “Make the advice of Ahithophel foolish, O Lord!”
32 When David reached the summit, where he used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite met him with his clothes torn and dirt on his head.
33 David said to him, “If you leavetn Heb “cross over.” with me you will be a burden to me.
34 But you will be able to counter the advice of Ahithophel if you go back to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king! Previously I was your father’s servant, and now I will be your servant.’
35 Zadok and Abiathar the priests will be there with you.tn Heb “Will not Zadok and Abiathar the priests be there with you?” The rhetorical question draws attention to the fact that Hushai will not be alone. Everything you hear in the king’s palacetn Heb “from the house of the king.” you must tell Zadok and Abiathar the priests.
36 Furthermore, their two sons are there with them, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. You must send them to me with any information you hear.”tn Heb “and you must send by their hand to me every word which you hear.” Both of the second person verb forms are plural with Zadok, Abiathar, and Hushai being the understood subjects.
37 So David’s friend Hushai arrived in the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.