1Moreover, Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will set out and pursue David tonight. 2I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged, and throw him into a panic; and all the people who are with him will flee. I will strike down only the king, 3and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man,17.3 Gk: Heb like the return of the whole (is) the man whom you seek and all the people will be at peace.’ 4The advice pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.
The Counsel of Hushai
5Then Absalom said, ‘Call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear too what he has to say.’ 6When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, ‘This is what Ahithophel has said; shall we do as he advises? If not, you tell us.’ 7Then Hushai said to Absalom, ‘This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good.’ 8Hushai continued, ‘You know that your father and his men are warriors, and that they are enraged, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. Besides, your father is expert in war; he will not spend the night with the troops. 9Even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits, or in some other place. And when some of our troops17.9 Gk Mss: Heb some of them fall at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, “There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.” 10Then even the valiant warrior, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly melt with fear; for all Israel knows that your father is a warrior, and that those who are with him are valiant warriors. 11But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beer-sheba, like the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. 12So we shall come upon him in whatever place he may be found, and we shall light on him as the dew falls on the ground; and he will not survive, nor will any of those with him. 13If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there.’ 14Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.’ For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring ruin on Absalom.
Hushai Warns David to Escape
15Then Hushai said to the priests Zadok and Abiathar, ‘Thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and so I have counselled. 16Therefore send quickly and tell David, “Do not lodge tonight at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means cross over; otherwise the king and all the people who are with him will be swallowed up.” ’ 17Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at En-rogel; a servant-girl used to go and tell them, and they would go and tell King David; for they could not risk being seen entering the city. 18But a boy saw them, and told Absalom; so both of them went away quickly, and came to the house of a man at Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard; and they went down into it. 19The man's wife took a covering, stretched it over the well's mouth, and spread out grain on it; and nothing was known of it. 20When Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house, they said, ‘Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?’ The woman said to them, ‘They have crossed over the brook17.20 Meaning of Heb uncertain of water.’ And when they had searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.
21After they had gone, the men came up out of the well, and went and told King David. They said to David, ‘Go and cross the water quickly; for thus and so has Ahithophel counselled against you.’ 22So David and all the people who were with him set out and crossed the Jordan; by daybreak not one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.
23When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order, and hanged himself; he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.
24Then David came to Mahanaim, while Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25Now Absalom had set Amasa over the army in the place of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ishmaelite,17.25 1 Chr 2.17: Heb Israelite who had married Abigal daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother. 26The Israelites and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead.
27When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, meal, parched grain, beans and lentils,17.28 Heb and lentils and parched grain 29honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat; for they said, ‘The troops are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.’
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.