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2 Samuel 20 Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV)

Sheba’s Rebellion

20 A worthless troublemaker named Sheba son of Bikri, a Benjaminite, was present. He blew the ram’s horn and said, “We have no share with David, and no inheritance with the son of Jesse. Every man to his own tent,[a] Israel!” So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba son of Bikri. But the men of Judah stuck with their king and accompanied him from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

David arrived at his palace in Jerusalem. The king took the ten concubines whom he had left to take care of the house and put them in a residence that was under guard. He provided for them but did not go to them anymore. They were confined until the day of their death—a life of widowhood.

The king said to Amasa, “You have three days to bring all the men of Judah to me and to be here yourself.” So Amasa went to summon Judah, but he took longer than the time that David had set for him.

So David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bikri will do more damage to us than Absalom. You take the soldiers of your lord. Pursue Sheba, so that he does not find fortified cities for himself, and we lose him.”

So Joab’s men, the Kerethites, the Pelethites, and all the elite troops followed Abishai. They went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.

When they were by the large stone that is at Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his battle dress and had a belt with a sheathed dagger fastened around his waist. As he went forward, the dagger fell out. Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” With his right hand Joab grabbed Amasa’s beard to kiss him. 10 Amasa was not on guard against the dagger that was in Joab’s other hand. With it Joab struck Amasa in the abdomen, and Amasa’s intestines spilled out on the ground. It did not take another blow to kill him.

Joab and his brother Abishai resumed their pursuit of Sheba son of Bikri. 11 One of Joab’s young officers stood beside Amasa. He said, “Who favors Joab? Who is for David? Follow Joab.”

12 Amasa was still wallowing in his blood in the middle of the highway. Someone saw that all the people were stopping when they came upon Amasa and saw him, so he dragged Amasa off the highway into the field and threw a garment over him. 13 When Amasa was removed from the highway, everyone followed Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.

14 Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Ma’akah, and all the Berites[b] were gathered together and they followed him.

15 All the men who were with Joab besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Ma’akah. They constructed a siege ramp against the rampart of the city, and they started battering the wall to make it fall down.

16 A wise woman called out from the city, “Listen! Listen! Please tell Joab, ‘Come here and let me speak to you.’” 17 He approached her, and the woman said, “Are you Joab?”

He said, “I am.”

She said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.”

He said, “I am listening.”

18 She said, “In former times they always said, ‘Let them ask in Abel.’ That is how they settled things. 19 I am one of the peaceful, faithful people of Israel. You are seeking to put to death a whole city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?”

20 Joab answered, “May I be cursed, yes, cursed, if I am here to swallow up or destroy. 21 That is not the case. The fact is, a man from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name is Sheba son of Bikri, lifted up his hand against King David. Just give him up, and I will withdraw from the city.”

The woman said to Joab, “Certainly! His head will be thrown over the wall to you.”

22 So the woman went to all the people with her wisdom, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. Then he blew the ram’s horn, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his tent. Joab then returned to the king in Jerusalem.

David’s Officers

23 Joab was over the whole army of Israel. Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and the Pelethites. 24 Adoram was in charge of forced labor. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the record keeper.[c] 25 Sheva[d] was the secretary, and Zadok and Abiathar were the high priests. 26 Also Ira the Jairite was a government minister[e] for David.


  1. 2 Samuel 20:1 To his own tent is an idiom for to his own home. It is used regardless of the form of the dwelling. In many cases we could simply translate to his own home.
  2. 2 Samuel 20:14 The Hebrew reads Berites. The Greek and Latin versions read Bikrites. There is no other reference to Berites in the Bible.
  3. 2 Samuel 20:24 This official also served as a spokesman and chief of protocol. Like the secretary, he was the equivalent of a cabinet-level official.
  4. 2 Samuel 20:25 Hebrew variant Sheya. This name has various forms and spellings. In Hebrew script the letters v and y look alike.
  5. 2 Samuel 20:26 The Hebrew word cohen usually means priest, that is, a spiritual minister. Here cohen is used in the European sense of a minister of state.
Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV)

The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version®, EHV®, © 2019 Wartburg Project, Inc. All rights reserved.


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