1Now Jo'ab the son of Zeru'iah perceived that the king's heart went out to Ab'salom. 2And Jo'ab sent to Teko'a, and fetched from there a wise woman, and said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning garments; do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead; 3and go to the king, and speak thus to him.” So Jo'ab put the words in her mouth.
4When the woman of Teko'a came to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, “Help, O king.” 5And the king said to her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6And your handmaid had two sons, and they quarrelled with one another in the field; there was no one to part them, and one struck the other and killed him. 7And now the whole family has risen against your handmaid, and they say, ‘Give up the man who struck his brother, that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he slew’; and so they would destroy the heir also. Thus they would quench my coal which is left, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant upon the face of the earth.”
8Then the king said to the woman, “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.” 9And the woman of Teko'a said to the king, “On me be the guilt, my lord the king, and on my father's house; let the king and his throne be guiltless.” 10The king said, “If any one says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall never touch you again.” 11Then she said, “Pray let the king invoke the LORD your God, that the avenger of blood slay no more, and my son be not destroyed.” He said, “As the LORD lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”
12Then the woman said, “Pray let your handmaid speak a word to my lord the king.” He said, “Speak.” 13And the woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again. 14We must all die, we are like water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; but God will not take away the life of him who devises14.14 Cn: Heb and he devises means not to keep his banished one an outcast. 15Now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid; and your handmaid thought, ‘I will speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his servant. 16For the king will hear, and deliver his servant from the hand of the man who would destroy me and my son together from the heritage of God.’ 17And your handmaid thought, ‘The word of my lord the king will set me at rest’; for my lord the king is like the angel of God to discern good and evil. The LORD your God be with you!”
18Then the king answered the woman, “Do not hide from me anything I ask you.” And the woman said, “Let my lord the king speak.” 19The king said, “Is the hand of Jo'ab with you in all this?” The woman answered and said, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, one cannot turn to the right hand or to the left from anything that my lord the king has said. It was your servant Jo'ab who bade me; it was he who put all these words in the mouth of your handmaid. 20In order to change the course of affairs your servant Jo'ab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God to know all things that are on the earth.”
21Then the king said to Jo'ab, “Behold now, I grant this; go, bring back the young man Ab'salom.” 22And Jo'ab fell on his face to the ground, and did obeisance, and blessed the king; and Jo'ab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favour in your sight, my lord the king, in that the king has granted the request of his servant.” 23So Jo'ab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Ab'salom to Jerusalem. 24And the king said, “Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence.” So Ab'salom dwelt apart in his own house, and did not come into the king's presence.
25Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his beauty as Ab'salom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26And when he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king's weight. 27There were born to Ab'salom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar; she was a beautiful woman.
28So Ab'salom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, without coming into the king's presence. 29Then Ab'salom sent for Jo'ab, to send him to the king; but Jo'ab would not come to him. And he sent a second time, but Jo'ab would not come. 30Then he said to his servants, “See, Jo'ab's field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” So Ab'salom's servants set the field on fire. 31Then Jo'ab arose and went to Ab'salom at his house, and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?” 32Ab'salom answered Jo'ab, “Behold, I sent word to you, ‘Come here, that I may send you to the king, to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still.” Now therefore let me go into the presence of the king; and if there is guilt in me, let him kill me.’ ” 33Then Jo'ab went to the king, and told him; and he summoned Ab'salom. So he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king; and the king kissed Ab'salom.
Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, 1957 and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.