2 Samuel 14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Woman of Tekoa
14 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was drawn toward Absalom. 2 So Joab sent a messenger to Tekoa and [a]brought a wise woman from there, and said to her, “Please follow mourning rites, and put on mourning garments now, and do not anoint yourself with oil but be like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for many days. 3 Then go to the king and speak to him in this way.” So Joab put the words in her mouth.
4 Now when the woman of Tekoa [b]spoke to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and prostrated herself, and said, “Help, O king!” 5 And the king said to her, “What is troubling you?” And she [c]answered, “Truly I am a widow, for my husband is dead. 6 And your servant had two sons, but the two of them fought in the field, and there was no [d]one to save [e]them from each other, so one struck the other and killed him. 7 Now behold, the entire family has risen against your servant, and they have said, ‘Hand over the one who struck his brother, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed, and eliminate the heir as well.’ So they will extinguish my coal which is left, so as to [f]leave my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth.”
8 Then the king said to the woman, “Go to your home, and I will issue orders concerning you.” 9 The woman of Tekoa said to the king, “My lord, the king, the guilt is on me and my father’s house, but the king and his throne are guiltless.” 10 So the king said, “Whoever speaks to you, bring him to me, and he will not touch you anymore.” 11 Then she said, “May the king please remember the Lord your God, so that the avenger of blood will not continue to destroy, otherwise they will destroy my son.” And he said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”
12 Then the woman said, “Please let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.” And he said, “Speak.” 13 The woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in speaking this word the king is like one who is guilty, in that the king does not bring back his banished one. 14 For we will surely die and are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up. Yet God does not take away life, but makes plans so that the banished one will not be cast out from Him. 15 Now then, [g]the reason I have come to speak this word to my lord the king is that the people have made me afraid; so your servant said, ‘Let me now speak to the king, perhaps the king will perform the [h]request of his slave. 16 For the king will listen, to save his slave from the [i]hand of the man who would eliminate [j]both me and my son from the inheritance of God.’ 17 Then your servant said, ‘Please let the word of my lord the king be [k]comforting, for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and evil. And may the Lord your God be with you.’”
18 Then the king answered and said to the woman, “Please do not hide anything from me that I am about to ask you.” And the woman said, “Let my lord the king please speak.” 19 So the king said, “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?” And the woman replied, “As your soul lives, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or to the left from anything that my lord the king has spoken. Indeed, it was your servant Joab who commanded me, and it was he who put all these words in the mouth of your servant. 20 In order to change the appearance of things your servant Joab has done this thing. But my lord is wise, like the wisdom of the angel of God, to know all that is on the earth.”
21 Then the king said to Joab, “Behold now, I [l]will certainly do this thing; go then, bring back the young man Absalom.” 22 And Joab fell on his face to the ground, prostrated himself, and blessed the king; then Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, in that the king has performed the [m]request of his servant.” 23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24 However, the king said, “He shall return to his own house, but he shall not see my face.” So Absalom returned to his own house and did not see the king’s face.
25 Now in all Israel there was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the top of his head there was no impairment in him. 26 And when he cut the hair of his head (and it was at the end of every year that he cut it, because it was heavy on him, so he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head at [n]two hundred shekels by the king’s weight. 27 And to Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar; she was a woman of beautiful appearance.
28 Now Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, yet he did not see the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king, but he would not come to him. So he sent word again a second time, but he would not come. 30 Therefore he said to his servants, “See, Joab’s plot is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the plot on fire. 31 Then Joab got up, came to Absalom at his house, and said to him, “Why have your servants set my plot on fire?” 32 Absalom [o]answered Joab, “Behold, I sent for you, saying, ‘Come here, so that I may send you to the king, to say, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me still to be there.”’ Now then, let me see the king’s face, and if there is guilt in me, he can have me executed.” 33 So when Joab came to the king and told him, he summoned Absalom. Then Absalom came to the king and prostrated himself [p]with his face to the ground before the king; and the king kissed Absalom.
2 Samuel 14 New International Version (NIV)
Absalom Returns to Jerusalem
14 Joab son of Zeruiah knew that the king’s heart longed for Absalom. 2 So Joab sent someone to Tekoa and had a wise woman brought from there. He said to her, “Pretend you are in mourning. Dress in mourning clothes, and don’t use any cosmetic lotions. Act like a woman who has spent many days grieving for the dead. 3 Then go to the king and speak these words to him.” And Joab put the words in her mouth.
4 When the woman from Tekoa went[a] to the king, she fell with her face to the ground to pay him honor, and she said, “Help me, Your Majesty!”
5 The king asked her, “What is troubling you?”
She said, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6 I your servant had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in the field, and no one was there to separate them. One struck the other and killed him. 7 Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant; they say, ‘Hand over the one who struck his brother down, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed; then we will get rid of the heir as well.’ They would put out the only burning coal I have left, leaving my husband neither name nor descendant on the face of the earth.”
8 The king said to the woman, “Go home, and I will issue an order in your behalf.”
9 But the woman from Tekoa said to him, “Let my lord the king pardon me and my family, and let the king and his throne be without guilt.”
10 The king replied, “If anyone says anything to you, bring them to me, and they will not bother you again.”
11 She said, “Then let the king invoke the Lord his God to prevent the avenger of blood from adding to the destruction, so that my son will not be destroyed.”
“As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.”
12 Then the woman said, “Let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.”
“Speak,” he replied.
13 The woman said, “Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son? 14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.
15 “And now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. Your servant thought, ‘I will speak to the king; perhaps he will grant his servant’s request. 16 Perhaps the king will agree to deliver his servant from the hand of the man who is trying to cut off both me and my son from God’s inheritance.’
17 “And now your servant says, ‘May the word of my lord the king secure my inheritance, for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil. May the Lord your God be with you.’”
18 Then the king said to the woman, “Don’t keep from me the answer to what I am going to ask you.”
“Let my lord the king speak,” the woman said.
19 The king asked, “Isn’t the hand of Joab with you in all this?”
The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or to the left from anything my lord the king says. Yes, it was your servant Joab who instructed me to do this and who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. 20 Your servant Joab did this to change the present situation. My lord has wisdom like that of an angel of God—he knows everything that happens in the land.”
21 The king said to Joab, “Very well, I will do it. Go, bring back the young man Absalom.”
22 Joab fell with his face to the ground to pay him honor, and he blessed the king. Joab said, “Today your servant knows that he has found favor in your eyes, my lord the king, because the king has granted his servant’s request.”
23 Then Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 But the king said, “He must go to his own house; he must not see my face.” So Absalom went to his own house and did not see the face of the king.
25 In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him. 26 Whenever he cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels[b] by the royal standard.
27 Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she became a beautiful woman.
28 Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab refused to come to him. So he sent a second time, but he refused to come. 30 Then he said to his servants, “Look, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.
31 Then Joab did go to Absalom’s house, and he said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?”
32 Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent word to you and said, ‘Come here so I can send you to the king to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there!”’ Now then, I want to see the king’s face, and if I am guilty of anything, let him put me to death.”
33 So Joab went to the king and told him this. Then the king summoned Absalom, and he came in and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. And the king kissed Absalom.