1 David brought together all the men who were with him. He chose some officers to lead groups of 1,000 soldiers, and some to lead groups of 100 soldiers. 2 David sent his army out in three groups. Joab led one group. Joab's brother Abishai, Zeruiah's son, led another group. Ittai from Gath led the third group. The king said to them all, ‘I myself will go with you into battle.’
3 But the men replied, ‘No, you must not go with us. If we have to run away quickly, it will not matter to Absalom's men. Even if they kill half of our soldiers, it will not seem important to them. What they really want is to kill you. You are worth 10,000 of us. You must stay here in the city. Then you can send help to us if we need it.’
4 The king said to them, ‘I will do whatever you think is good.’ So he stood beside the gate of the city while his army marched out. They marched out in their groups of hundreds and of thousands. 5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, ‘Because the young man Absalom is my son, do not hurt him.’ All the soldiers heard David give this command to the three officers.
6 David's army marched out to fight Israel's army. They fought the battle in the forest of Ephraim. 7 David's soldiers won the fight against Israel's soldiers. Many soldiers died in the battle that day. There were 20,000 dead men. 8 They fought the battle everywhere in the forest and around it. The forest itself caused the death of more men than the battle did.
9 During the battle, Absalom was riding on his mule and he met some of David's soldiers. His mule carried him under a big oak tree. The tree's branches caught Absalom's hair so that he hung there above the ground. His mule ran off and left him there.
10 One of David's men saw what had happened. He told Joab, ‘I have seen Absalom. He is hanging from an oak tree.’
11 Joab said to the man who told him the news, ‘You saw him there, did you? So why did you not kill him? I would have given you 10 silver coins and a brave soldier's belt.’
12 But the man replied, ‘I would never hurt the king's son, even for a gift of 1,000 silver coins. We all heard the king give this command to you, Abishai and Ittai. He said, “Keep the young man Absalom safe, because he is my son.” 13 If I had killed Absalom, my own life would be in danger. The king knows everything that happens! You would not have tried to save me from the king's punishment.’
14 Joab said, ‘I cannot stay here while you talk like this.’ So he took three spears and he went to the tree where Absalom was hanging. While Absalom was still alive, Joab pushed the spears into Absalom's heart. 15 Then ten of Joab's own guards came around Absalom. They knocked him down and they killed him.
16 Then Joab made a sound with his trumpet to stop the battle. So his soldiers stopped chasing after Israel's soldiers. 17 They took Absalom's dead body and they threw it into a deep hole in the forest. They made a big heap of stones over the body.
All the Israelite soldiers ran back to their homes.
18 While Absalom was alive, he had built a tall pillar in the King's Valley. He built it so that people would remember him. He thought, ‘I have no son, so my family's name will not continue.’ He put his own name on the pillar, so people still call it Absalom's Pillar.