2 Samuel 17

Hushai and Ahithophel give advice to Absalom

1 Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Please let me choose 12,000 men so that I can go and attack David tonight. 2 Now he will be very tired and weak. So when we attack him, he will be frightened. All his soldiers will run away. But I will kill only the king. 3 Then I will bring all his army back to you. If we kill this one man that you want to destroy, then all the people will return safely.’

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

5 But Absalom said, ‘Send Hushai the Arkite to me. We should hear what advice he gives us.’

6 When Hushai arrived, Absalom said to him, ‘This is Ahithophel's advice. What do you think we should do? If you think differently, what advice do you give us?’

7 Hushai replied to Absalom, ‘This time Ahithophel's idea is not good. 8 You know your father and his men. They are all strong fighters. They are as dangerous as a mother bear when you take away her babies. Remember that your father has fought many battles. He will not stay all night among his soldiers. 9 By this time he is hiding in a cave or in some other safe place. He might attack your soldiers first and kill some of them. When somebody hears the news, he will say, “They have destroyed Absalom's army!” 10 Then your bravest soldiers will be very frightened, even if they are as brave as lions. Everyone in Israel knows that your father is a fighter. And they know that the men with him are brave.

11 This is my advice to you. Bring together all the soldiers in Israel. Tell them to come from everywhere in the land, from Dan to Beersheba. There will be as many of them as the sand on the shore of the sea. Then you yourself should lead the whole army into the battle. 12 In this way we can attack David in any place that we find him. We will suddenly be all around him, like dew that covers the ground. He and his men will all die. Not even one of them will still be alive. 13 If he escapes into a city, we can completely destroy the city. Our soldiers will use ropes to pull it all down into the valley!’

14 Absalom and all Israel's leaders said, ‘Hushai's idea is better than Ahithophel's idea.’ This happened because the Lord did not let the people accept Ahithophel's advice. His idea was a good one, but the Lord had decided to cause trouble for Absalom.

15 Then Hushai went to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. He said to them, ‘This was Ahithophel's advice to Absalom and Israel's leaders. But this was my advice. 16 So now quickly send a report to David. Warn him that he must not stay tonight at the place in the desert where the road crosses the river. Instead, he must cross the Jordan River immediately, together with all the people who are with him. If not, Absalom and his army may catch them all and destroy them.’

Jonathan and Ahimaaz take the message to David

17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel. They did not go into the city because they did not want anyone to see them there. So a female servant would take messages to them. Then they would take the messages to King David. 18 But this time a young man did see them. He told Absalom where they were. So they quickly left En Rogel and they went to a man's house in Bahurim. He had a well in his yard and they climbed down into it. 19 His wife took a lid and she put it over the top of the well. Then she put some grain on it. Nobody knew that the men were hiding there.

17:17Jonathan and Ahimaaz were sons of the priests, Zadok and Abiathar. En Rogel was a village near Jerusalem.

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

The woman answered, ‘They went across the stream.’ Absalom's men looked everywhere for them, but they did not find them. So they returned to Jerusalem.

21 After the men had gone, Ahimaaz and Jonathan climbed out of the well. Then they took the message to David. They said to him, ‘You must go across the river immediately. Ahithophel has told Absalom how he can catch you here.’

22 So David and all the people who were with him went across the Jordan River. When dawn came, they had all gone across to the other side.

Ahithophel kills himself

23 Ahithophel realized that Absalom had not agreed to his advice. So he got on his donkey and he went home to his own town. He told his family what he needed to tell them. Then he hanged himself. He died and his family buried him in his father's grave.

Three friends help David

24 David arrived at Mahanaim with his men. Absalom and Israel's army went across the Jordan River. 25 Joab had been the leader of Israel's army. But now Absalom had chosen Amasa as leader instead of Joab. Amasa's father, Jether, was a descendant of Ishmael. He had married Abigail. She was Nahash's daughter and a sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother. 26 Absalom and Israel's army made their camp in Gilead region.

27 When David arrived in Mahanaim, three men came to help him. One man was Nahash's son Shobi. He was from the Ammonites' town, Rabbah. The other men were Ammiel's son Makir, from Lo-Debar, and Barzillai from Rogelim in Gilead. 28 They brought beds and pots and cups for David's people. They also brought food for David and his people to eat. There was wheat, barley, flour and cooked grain. They also brought beans, lentils, 29 honey, cream, sheep and cheese made from cows' milk. They said, ‘The people have travelled through the desert. So they must be tired, thirsty and hungry.’