2 Samuel 18 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
18 David reviewed his troops and appointed commanders of hundreds and of thousands over them. 2 He then sent out the troops, a third under Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the troops, “I will also march out with you.”
3 “You must not go!” the people pleaded. “If we have to flee, they will not pay any attention to us. Even if half of us die, they will not pay any attention to us because you are worth[a] 10,000 of us. Therefore, it is better if you support us from the city.”
4 “I will do whatever you think is best,” the king replied to them. So he stood beside the gate while all the troops marched out by hundreds and thousands. 5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, “Treat the young man Absalom gently for my sake.” All the people heard the king’s orders to all the commanders about Absalom.
6 Then David’s forces marched into the field to engage Israel in battle, which took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 The people of Israel were defeated by David’s soldiers, and the slaughter there was vast that day—20,000 casualties. 8 The battle spread over the entire region, and that day the forest claimed more people than the sword.
9 Absalom was riding on his mule when he happened to meet David’s soldiers. When the mule went under the tangled branches of a large oak tree, Absalom’s head was caught fast in the tree. The mule under him kept going, so he was suspended in midair.[b] 10 One of the men saw him and informed Joab. He said, “I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree!”
12 The man replied to Joab, “Even if I had the weight of 1,000 pieces of silver[e] in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son. For we heard the king command you, Abishai, and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for me.’[f] 13 If I had jeopardized my own[g] life—and nothing is hidden from the king—you would have abandoned me.”
14 Joab said, “I’m not going to waste time with you!” He then took three spears in his hand and thrust them into Absalom’s heart while he was still alive in the oak tree, 15 and 10 young men who were Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him, and killed him.
16 Afterward, Joab blew the ram’s horn, and the troops broke off their pursuit of Israel because Joab restrained them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a large pit in the forest, and piled a huge mound of stones over him. And all Israel fled, each to his tent.
18 When he was alive, Absalom had set up a pillar for himself in the King’s Valley, for he had said, “I have no son to preserve the memory of my name.” So he gave the pillar his name. It is still called Absalom’s Monument today.
19 Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, “Please let me run and tell the king the good news that the Lord has delivered him from his enemies.”
20 Joab replied to him, “You are not the man to take good news today. You may do it another day, but today you aren’t taking good news, because the king’s son is dead.” 21 Joab then said to the Cushite, “Go tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed to Joab and took off running.
22 However, Ahimaaz son of Zadok persisted and said to Joab, “No matter what, please let me also run behind the Cushite!”
Joab replied, “My son, why do you want to run since you won’t get a reward?”
23 “No matter what, I want to run!”
“Then run!” Joab said to him. So Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and outran the Cushite.
24 David was sitting between the two gates when the watchman went up to the roof of the gate and over to the wall. The watchman looked out and saw a man running alone. 25 He called out and told the king.
The king said, “If he’s alone, he bears good news.”
As the first runner came closer, 26 the watchman saw another man running. He called out to the gatekeeper, “Look! Another man is running alone!”
“This one is also bringing good news,” said the king.
27 The watchman said, “The way the first man runs looks to me like the way Ahimaaz son of Zadok runs.”
“This is a good man; he comes with good news,” the king commented.
28 Ahimaaz called out to the king, “All is well,” and then bowed down to the king with his face to the ground. He continued, “May the Lord your God be praised! He delivered up the men who rebelled against my lord the king.”
29 The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom all right?”
Ahimaaz replied, “When Joab sent the king’s servant and your servant, I saw a big disturbance, but I don’t know what it was.”
30 The king said, “Move aside and stand here.” So he stood to one side.
31 Just then the Cushite came and said, “May my lord the king hear the good news: today the Lord has delivered you from all those rising up against you!”
32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom all right?”
The Cushite replied, “May what has become of the young man happen to the enemies of my lord the king and to all who rise up against you with evil intent.”
33 [h]The king was deeply moved and went up to the gate chamber and wept. As he walked, he cried, “My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!”
2 Samuel 18 New International Version (NIV)
18 David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 David sent out his troops, a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, “I myself will surely march out with you.”
3 But the men said, “You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us.[a] It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.”
4 The king answered, “I will do whatever seems best to you.”
So the king stood beside the gate while all his men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands. 5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.
6 David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. 8 The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword.
9 Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.
10 When one of the men saw what had happened, he told Joab, “I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree.”
11 Joab said to the man who had told him this, “What! You saw him? Why didn’t you strike him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels[b] of silver and a warrior’s belt.”
12 But the man replied, “Even if a thousand shekels[c] were weighed out into my hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.[d]’ 13 And if I had put my life in jeopardy[e]—and nothing is hidden from the king—you would have kept your distance from me.”
14 Joab said, “I’m not going to wait like this for you.” So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. 15 And ten of Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.
16 Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.
18 During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as a monument to himself, for he thought, “I have no son to carry on the memory of my name.” He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.
19 Now Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, “Let me run and take the news to the king that the Lord has vindicated him by delivering him from the hand of his enemies.”
20 “You are not the one to take the news today,” Joab told him. “You may take the news another time, but you must not do so today, because the king’s son is dead.”
21 Then Joab said to a Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed down before Joab and ran off.
22 Ahimaaz son of Zadok again said to Joab, “Come what may, please let me run behind the Cushite.”
But Joab replied, “My son, why do you want to go? You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.”
23 He said, “Come what may, I want to run.”
So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain[f] and outran the Cushite.
24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out to the king and reported it.
The king said, “If he is alone, he must have good news.” And the runner came closer and closer.
26 Then the watchman saw another runner, and he called down to the gatekeeper, “Look, another man running alone!”
The king said, “He must be bringing good news, too.”
27 The watchman said, “It seems to me that the first one runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok.”
“He’s a good man,” the king said. “He comes with good news.”
28 Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, “All is well!” He bowed down before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise be to the Lord your God! He has delivered up those who lifted their hands against my lord the king.”
29 The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
Ahimaaz answered, “I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was.”
30 The king said, “Stand aside and wait here.” So he stepped aside and stood there.
31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, “My lord the king, hear the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.”
32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”
33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”[g]