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2 Samuel 18 New Life Version (NLV)

Absalom’s Death

18 Then David numbered the people who were with him. He set over them leaders of thousands and of hundreds. And he sent the people out. One third of them was under the rule of Joab. One third was under the rule of Zeruiah’s son Abishai, Joab’s brother. And one third was under the rule of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the people, “I myself will go out with you also.” But the people said, “You should not go out. For if we run, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth 10,000 of us. So it is better that you send us help from the city.” The king said to them, “I will do whatever you think is best.” So the king stood beside the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and thousands. The king told Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle toward the young man Absalom because of me.” And all the people heard him say this to all the leaders about Absalom.

Then the people went out into the field to fight against Israel. The battle was fought among the trees of Ephraim. The people of Israel lost the fight there to the servants of David. Twenty thousand men were killed there that day. The battle was spread over the whole country. Dangers from the trees destroyed more people that day than the sword.

Absalom met the servants of David. He was going on his horse, and the horse went under the many branches of a large oak tree. Absalom’s hair caught in the branches of the oak. He was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the horse under him kept going. 10 When a certain man saw it, he told Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Joab said to the man, “You saw him! Why did you not kill him and let him fall to the ground? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 The man said to Joab, “Even for a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not go against the king’s son. For we heard the king tell you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Keep the young man Absalom safe for me.’ 13 If I had gone against his life, there is nothing hidden from the king. And you would not have helped me.” 14 Then Joab said, “I will not waste time here with you.” He took three spears in his hand and threw them through Absalom’s heart while he was still alive in the oak. 15 And ten young men who carried Joab’s battle clothes gathered around and hit Absalom and killed him.

16 Then Joab sounded the horn, and all the people returned from going after Israel, for Joab stopped them. 17 They took Absalom and threw him into a deep hole among the trees, and set many stones over him. And all Israel ran away, every one to his own home. 18 While Absalom was alive, he had set up stones in his honor in the King’s Valley. For he said, “I have no son to let my name be remembered.” So he called the stones after his own name. And they are there to have Absalom be remembered to this day.

David Hears of Absalom’s Death

19 Then Zadok’s son Ahimaaz said, “Let me run and bring the king news that the Lord has saved him from those who hate him.” 20 But Joab said to him, “You must not carry news today, but another time. Today you should carry no news, because the king’s son is dead.” 21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go and tell the king what you have seen.” So the Cushite bowed to Joab and ran. 22 Zadok’s son Ahimaaz said to Joab, “Whatever happens, let me run after the Cushite.” Joab said, “Why would you run, my son? You would receive no reward for going.” 23 But Ahimaaz said, “Whatever happens, I will run.” So Joab said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and passed the Cushite.

24 David was sitting between the two gates. The man who kept watch went up to the roof of the gate by the wall. He looked up and saw a man running by himself. 25 The man who kept watch called and told the king. The king said, “If he is by himself, he has good news.” And he came nearer and nearer. 26 Then the man who kept watch saw another man running. He called to the gate-keeper and said, “See, another man is running by himself.” The king said, “This one is bringing good news also.” 27 And the man who kept watch said, “I think the man in front runs like Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” The king said, “He is a good man, and comes with good news.”

28 Ahimaaz called and said to the king, “All is well.” He put his face to the ground in front of the king, and said, “Thanks be to the Lord your God. He has given up the men who raised their hands against my lord the king.” 29 The king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, your servant, I heard noise and saw much fighting. 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 the Cushite came and said, “Let my lord the king receive good news. For the Lord has saved you today from all those who came against you.” 32 The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “May those who hate my lord the king, all those who come to do bad things against you, be as that young man!” 33 The king filled with much sorrow. He went up to the room above the gate and cried. As he walked 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!”

New Life Version (NLV)

Copyright © 1969, 2003 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.

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. 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.”

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.”

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. 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.

David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword.

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.

David Mourns

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]


  1. 2 Samuel 18:3 Two Hebrew manuscripts, some Septuagint manuscripts and Vulgate; most Hebrew manuscripts care; for now there are ten thousand like us
  2. 2 Samuel 18:11 That is, about 4 ounces or about 115 grams
  3. 2 Samuel 18:12 That is, about 25 pounds or about 12 kilograms
  4. 2 Samuel 18:12 A few Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts may be translated Absalom, whoever you may be.
  5. 2 Samuel 18:13 Or Otherwise, if I had acted treacherously toward him
  6. 2 Samuel 18:23 That is, the plain of the Jordan
  7. 2 Samuel 18:33 In Hebrew texts this verse (18:33) is numbered 19:1.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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