2 Samuel 14
Absalom comes home angry at dad
The talent in Tekoa1David’s military chief, Joab, could see how much David missed Absalom—and how it weighed heavily on the king.
2Joab sent for an especially intelligent woman who lived south, in Tekoa. He told her, “I want you to perform for the king. Pretend you’re in mourning. Wear mourning clothes. Skip the scented moisturizing oil. Behave like you’ve been mourning the dead for a long time. 3Go to him and deliver these lines as though you’re telling him your story.” Joab gave her the words of the script.
The performance in Jerusalem4Then the woman from Tekoa went to the king and bowed face-down in front of him. “Please help me, my king.”
5David asked, “What’s wrong?” She said, “My husband has died. I’m a widow now. 6I had two sons, but they got into a fight and there was no one to stop them. One of my sons killed the other.  7Now, everyone else in my extended family is coming after the only son I have left. They’re saying, ‘Tell us where he is. He killed his brother. Now he has to die even though he’s the only one left in your family who can inherit your husband’s property.’ They would erase the last of my husband’s name and give away all he owns.”
8The king told the woman, “Go home and don’t worry about this anymore. I’ll make a royal decree that protects your family.” 9The woman from Tekoa said, “If the people are going to criticize anyone for this, I hope they blame me. I don’t want anyone to criticize you for helping me and my family.”
10The king said, “Well if anyone criticizes you about the decree, bring them here. They’ll never bother you about it again.” 11She said, “Please, king, what about God’s law that allows a family member—the blood avenger —to hunt down and execute the killer? People consider this a matter of justice for the victim.” He said, “As the LORD is my witness, no one is going to pull a single hair from you son’s head.”
Point of the story: Bring Absalom home12The woman said, “Please, my king, may I say one more thing? He said, “Yes, I’m listening.”
13She said, “What you’ve done for me is something you refuse to do for your own family, the people of Israel. You just convicted yourself. You’re the blood avenger  who’s putting the son of Israel in danger by leaving him banished and in exile. 14We’re all going to die sooner or later. But God won’t make it “sooner” for a person with the courage to bring home an exiled son.
15I came here to tell you my story as a terrified mother and widow. I came hoping you would listen and consider my request. 16I knew if you heard this story, you would help me. I knew you would protect my family from the blood avenger coming for justice at the expense of my only surviving son’s life. 17I thought you would put my mind to rest, and you did. The king is like an angel—a messenger from God who knows the difference between goodness and evil. The LORD is with you, my king.”
Credits: Author, Joab18The king said, “I want you to answer some questions. And don’t hold back on me.” She said, “Yes. What would you like to know?”
19The king said, “Is Joab behind all of this?” The woman said, “As sure as you’re breathing, everything you said about my situation nailed your situation as well. And yes, you’re right about Joab, too. He wrote the script for the story I told you. 20He did it to change the situation we’re all facing here. You know what to do because you’re God’s messenger. And you have the wisdom that comes with it.”
21The king said to Joab, “Okay then. I’ll approve your request. Bring young Absalom home.” 22Joab bowed low before the king and thanked him. He said, “I’m glad you’re pleased with me for doing this—at least pleased enough to grant my request.”
23Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24But the king said, “Take him to his house. I don’t want to see him.” So Absalom went home without seeing the king.
Absalom orders Joab’s barley field set on fire25Absalom was the best-looking human in Israel. Not a flaw, head to toe. 26He cut his long hair at the end of every year when it felt too heavy. It weighed five pounds.  27Absalom had three sons and one daughter he named Tamar.  She grew into a beautiful woman.
28For two years, Absalom lived in Jerusalem without ever seeing the king. 29Absalom finally had enough. He sent for Joab, asking if Joab could arrange for him to finally see his father. Joab didn’t respond. Absalom sent a second request, with the same nothing of an answer.
30Absalom told his servants, “Go over to Joab’s barley field that’s next to my property. Set it on fire.” The servants set it on fire. 31Joab went straight to Absalom’s house. He said, “What are doing? Why did you have your servants light up my barley field?”
32Absalom said, “Why do you think? I sent for you because I wanted to give you a question to ask the king. Here’s the question: ‘Why did you bring me back from Geshur?’ I’d be better off there. Let me see the king. If I need to die for what I did, let him kill me and get it over with!”
David forgives son with a kiss33Joab went to the king and delivered Absalom’s message. Later, Absalom went to the king and bowed low before him. David kissed him.
The fighting sons in the story represent Absalom and Amnon. One son kills the other.
See Numbers 35:19; Deuteronomy 19:11-12.
“Blood avenger” isn’t in this verse literally. But some scholars say this may be the connection the writer was trying to make to the story the woman told. The Hebrew phrasing in this verse and in 14:14 is vexing, and it leaves scholars guessing because as is, in the Hebrew, it doesn’t make much sense logically or in a scholarly exegesis. This interpretation is a best guess, as are other paraphrases and translations.
Two hundred shekels in Israel’s ancient system of weight. This is about 2 kilograms.
Named after his raped and lonely, unmarried sister (2 Samuel 13).
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