2 Samuel 18
Absalom dies fleeing the battle
David organizes three armies1David assembled his men and organized them into fighting units, each led by a commander. He created companies of 100 men and battalions of 1,000. 2David sent the men into battle, divided into three armies.
First army: Joab commanded one third of the combined forces.
Second army: Joab’s brother, Abishai, commanded the second army. Their father was Zeruiah.
Third army: Ittai from the city of Gath commanded the third army.
David told the officers, “I’m coming to fight beside you.”
3The men said, “No, you shouldn’t do that. If our enemies see you there, they won’t fight us anymore. They’re coming for you. They wouldn’t care if we ran away or if they killed half of us. They would only have eyes for you. You are worth 10,000 of us. It’s best if you watch from the city and send reinforcements if we need it.”
4David said, “You’re the commanders. I’ll do what you think best.” So, he stood at the city gate as the army marched away in their companies of 100 and battalions of 1,000. 5The king gave one order to his three commanders, Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake, be gentle with the young man Absalom.”
Battle of Ephraim Forest6David’s army marched to the forest of Ephraim, where they fought Absalom’s army. 7David’s men slaughtered 20,000 of Absalom’s men of Israel, defeating their army. 8The two armies fought all over the countryside. But the dangerous forest itself, thick with trees, killed more people than the swords did.
9The forest killed Absalom. Riding his mule through the woods, Absalom got his head  caught in a tree. It was a big oak, thick in branches. Absalom on the mule came to a sudden stop when his head got stuck in the tree. The mule kept going, leaving Absalom dangling in the air.
A solider refuses to kill Absalom10One of David’s soldiers told Joab, “I found Absalom dangling from an oak tree.”
11Joab said, “What? You saw him? Is that all? You left him hanging? Why didn’t you kill him? I would have given you a reward for that. Ten pieces of silver  and a warrior’s belt for your sword.” 
12The soldier said, “Sir, you could put a thousand pieces of silver in my hands if you like. But I still wouldn’t raise a hand against the king’s son. I heard the king order you, Abishai, and Ittai not to hurt him. He said, ‘For my sake, be gentle with the young man Absalom.’ 13If I had done something that treacherous, the king would have found out. And you would have had no choice but to turn me in and let me suffer the consequences.”
14Joab said, “I’m not going to waste another second arguing with you.” He grabbed three spears. He took them to where Absalom was alive and hanging from the oak tree. And he drove them into Absalom’s heart. 15Joab had 10 young men with him—armor bearers who carried shields and other weapons for the warriors. They attacked Absalom to make sure he was dead.
Absalom’s pit burial16Joab ordered men to blow the ram’s horn signal to call the soldiers back. His warriors stopped fighting and returned to their base camp.
17Some of the men took Absalom’s body and tossed it into a deep pit. They covered the pit with a huge pile of stones. Absalom’s Israelite army scattered and ran back to their homes. 18Absalom had a pillar  built in honor of himself. He erected it in King’s Valley.  He said, “I don’t have a son  to carry on my name.” So he named the pillar after himself. Today, people still call it Absalom’s Monument. 
Racing to get the news to David19Priest Zadok’s son, Ahimaaz, told Joab, “Let me run and tell the king that the LORD saved him, and crushed his enemies.”
20Joab said, “This is not the kind of news for you deliver. Someone else needs to do it because the king’s son is dead. You can deliver news to the king another day.”
21Joab asked a messenger from Ethiopia  to deliver the news. “Go tell the king everything you’ve seen here today.” The man bowed then took off running. 22Ahimaaz asked Joab, “Let me run behind as a second the messenger.” Joab said, “Why? There’s no reward for the first one to get there.” 23“It doesn’t matter,” Ahimaaz said, “I want to run.” Joab said, “Then run.” Ahimaaz took a faster route through the flat Jordan River Valley.  He outran Joab’s messenger.
David waits by the gate for news24David waited in the passageway between the city’s outer gate and it’s secondary, inner gate.  A lookout standing on top of the gate saw a man running toward the city.
25The lookout shouted his report. The king said, “If he’s running alone, he’s bringing news.” The runner kept coming. 26The lookout spotted a second runner and yelled to the man in charge of the gates, “I see another man running alone!” The king said, “He’s bringing news, too.” 27The lookout said, “That first runner is running like Zadok’s son, Ahimaaz.” The king said, “He’s a good man. He’ll bring us good news.”
David gets the good news28Ahimaaz yelled as he approached, “It’s all good!” He dropped to the ground in front of the king. Still facing down, he said, “Thank the LORD our God, he let us defeat the men who rebelled against you, my king.”
29The king said, “Is everything okay with the young man, Absalom?” Ahimaaz said, “I don’t know. There was a lot of commotion when Joab sent me here, and I don’t know what it was all about.” 30The king said, “Stand over here and wait.” So he did.
David gets the bad news31The runner from Ethiopia came and said, “Good news for you, my king and master! The LORD showed he was on your side. He saved you from the forces that rebelled against you.”
32The king asked, “Is everything okay with the young man Absalom?” The messenger from Ethiopia said, “May all your enemies end up the way that young man did.”
33Shocked, David began to tremble. Soon, he stood and began walking toward a room above the city gate. As he climbed the stairs, he wept, “My son! Absalom, my son, my son! I wish I had died instead of you. Absalom, my son, my son.”
The writer says only that Absalom’s head got stuck. It may have been his hair that got caught, since the writer earlier emphasized Absalom’s long and heavy hair (2 Samuel 14:26). But the writer doesn’t mention the hair here.
Literally 10 shekels. That’s about four ounces or 114 grams. That’s the weight of about 20 America quarters or 20 Euro 20-cent coins.
The Hebrew text has only “belt.” But the belt seems to have been something the soldier would have wanted. The belt warriors wore into battle held their sword.
There’s irony in this pillar of honor. The writer mentions it immediately after reporting on Absalom’s burial of dishonor beneath a pile of rocks.
Also known in more ancient times at Shaveh Valley (Genesis 14:17). Some scholars say it’s part of the Kidron Valley on the east side of Jerusalem.
He had three sons according to 2 Samuel 14:7. They may have died, since infant mortality was high in Bible times. Or family members of Amnon, whom Absalom ordered killed, may have killed the boys to punish Absalom who had gone into exile (see example of this in Genesis 42:37).
This monument isn’t the same “Absalom’s Tomb” in Jerusalem today. Scholars date the tomb to about the time of Jesus, almost 1,000 years after Absalom’s lifetime.
Literally “Cush,” a territory south of Egypt, which includes parts of what is now Ethiopia and Sudan.
Ahimaaz’s shortcut is unclear. The Hebrew word is kikkar, which can mean plain, region, or territory. One guess is that the Ethiopian messenger took a direct route from the battlefield to King David in Mahanaim. But Ahimaaz may have taken the longer, easier route. He would have traveled through a flat river valley instead of mountains and hills. Though Joab told young Ahimaaz the king would not reward him for the news, Ahimaaz may have hoped for one anyhow.
Literally, he waited between two gates. Many fortified cities had extra protection on city gates, since they were the most likely target for invaders trying to get into the city. Some cities had an outside gate protected beneath twin towers for guards. Inside, they had a second gate for added protection.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.