2 Samuel 17

Hushai and Ahithophel do not agree

1 Ahithophel spoke to Absalom, ‘I would go tonight to attack David. Please let me choose 12,000 men. 2 I will go after him while he is tired and weak. This will make him afraid, then all the people with him will run away. I will kill only the king. 3 Then I will bring all the people back to you. If we kill this man you will cause all the people to come to you.’

4 This seemed a very good idea to Absalom and to all the leaders of Israel.

5 But Absalom said, ‘Send Hushai from the place called Archi to me. Let us hear what he has to say.’

6 Absalom spoke to Hushai when he arrived. ‘Ahithophel has suggested that we do this. What do you think? If you do not agree, please give us your ideas.’

7 Hushai replied to Absalom, ‘This time Ahithophel's idea is not good. 8 You know that your father and his men are all fighters. They fight like a mother bear when you take away her little bears. And your father has fought many times. He will not stay all night with his soldiers. 9 Even now he is hiding in a hole in the hill or another place like that. He might attack your soldiers first. Someone who saw it would tell other people. He would say, “They have killed Absalom's men!” 10 Then even your bravest soldier would become afraid. He might be as brave as a lion. But even he would be very afraid. Everyone in Israel knows that your father is a fighter. And they know that the men with him are brave.’

They choose Hushai's idea

11 Hushai said, ‘This is what I suggest. Bring here all the men in Israel who live in all the country from Dan to Beersheba. Their numbers are as great as the pieces of sand by the side of the sea. Then you yourself should lead them into the fight. 12 In this way we can attack him in any place that we find him. He will not even know that we have found him. He and his men will all die. 13 If he goes into a city, we can pull it down into the valley below. Only small pieces will remain on the hill.’

14 Absalom and all Israel's men said, ‘Hushai's idea is better than Ahithophel's.’ (The LORD had decided to make Ahithophel's idea seem worse than Hushai's idea. He wanted to cause bad trouble for Absalom.)

15 Then Hushai told the priests Zadok and Abiathar what he had said to Absalom and to his officers. And he told them what Ahithophel had suggested.

16 ‘Now send servants to David immediately’, he said. ‘They must tell him that he should not stay this side of the river in the desert. He must cross the River Jordan immediately and all the people with him. If he does not cross it tonight Absalom's men will catch them all. And then they will kill them all.’

Servants go to tell David that he should cross the river

17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel. A servant girl went to tell them what had happened. Then they went and they told it to King David. They did not want anybody to see them as they were going into the city. That was important. 18 But a young man saw them and he told Absalom. So they left quickly and they went to a man's house in Bahurim. He had a well in his yard and they climbed down into it.

A woman hides the two servants

19 His wife took a lid and she put it over the top of the well. Then she threw a lot of seeds on it, so nobody knew anything about it.

20 Absalom's men came to the house. They asked the woman, ‘Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?’

The woman answered, ‘They went across the river.’ The men looked everywhere but they did not find anyone. So they returned to Jerusalem.

The servants see David

21 After the men had gone, Ahimaaz and Jonathan climbed out of the well. They went to see David. They said to him, ‘Go now and cross the river.’ And they told him what Ahithophel had suggested. 22 So David and all the people left immediately and they crossed the river. When it was dawn they had all gone across the river.

Ahithophel kills himself

23 Ahithophel got on his donkey and he left Jerusalem. Absalom had not done as he had suggested. Ahithophel had seen that. He finished all his business and then he hung himself from his neck. He died and they buried him with his father's dead body.

24 David went to Mahanaim and Absalom crossed the River Jordan with all Israel's men. 25 Joab had been the leader of all Israel's soldiers. But Absalom had made Amasa the Ishmaelite the leader, instead. Amasa's father, Ithra had married Abigail. She was Nahash's daughter and a sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother. 26 Absalom and his army put their tents in Gilead.

Three friends give help to David's people

27 When David came to Mahanaim, three men helped him. One man was Nahash's son Shobi from Rabbah. The people called Ammonites lived in Rabbah. The other men were Ammiel's son Machir from Lo-Debar and Barzillai from Rogelim in Gilead. 28-29 They brought beds and pots and cups. They also brought wheat, barley, flour and grain that they had cooked. And they brought beans, lentils, honey, milk, sheep and cheese that they had made from cow's milk. These were for David and his people to eat. They said, ‘The people have become tired in the desert and they need food and drink.’