2 Samuel 20

Sheba causes trouble for David

1 There was a wicked man there in Gilgal. His name was Sheba. He was Bicri's son, who belonged to Benjamin's tribe. He made a loud noise with a trumpet and then he shouted, ‘Israelite people, we have nothing to do with Jesse's son, David! We do not belong to his kingdom! So we should all return to our homes.’

20:1Sheba was probably a relative of King Saul.

2 So the Israelites left David in Gilgal, and they went with Bicri's son, Sheba. But the men of Judah's tribe stayed with David. They helped him on his journey all the way from the Jordan river to Jerusalem.

3 David returned to his palace in Jerusalem. Then he took the ten slave wives that he had left there to take care of his palace. Now he made them live in their own house, with guards to keep them safe. He gave them everything that they needed, but he did not sleep with them. They lived there on their own. They lived like widows until they died.

David sends Amasa to fetch all the men from Judah

4 The king said to Amasa, ‘Bring all the men of Judah's tribe here to me. Three days from now, I will meet with them. You must also be here yourself.’

5 Amasa went to fetch Judah's men, but he did not return in three days.

20:5Amasa was the new leader of David's army. He was one of Joab's relatives.

6 Then David said to Abishai, ‘Bicri's son, Sheba, will cause us more trouble than Absalom did. So, take my soldiers and chase after him. If you do not catch him, his people will hide in towns with strong walls. Then he will escape from us.’

7 So Abishai took Joab's soldiers, as well as the king's personal guards, the Pelethites and the Kerethites. He and all the king's soldiers marched out from Jerusalem to find Sheba. 8 When they arrived at the big rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his soldier's clothes. He had a long knife that was tied to his belt. As Joab went towards Amasa, the knife fell to the ground.

9 Joab said to Amasa, ‘How are you, my brother?’ He took hold of Amasa's beard with his right hand. He pretended that he wanted to kiss him. 10 But Amasa did not see the knife in Joab's other hand. Joab pushed the knife into Amasa's stomach. His inside parts poured out on to the ground. He died immediately. Joab did not have to hit him again.

Then Joab and his brother Abishai continued to chase after Sheba.

11 One of Joab's soldiers stood beside Amasa's dead body. He shouted, ‘If you are fighting for Joab and for King David, you must follow Joab!’ 12 Amasa's dead body was lying in the road. His blood was all around it. All the soldiers who came there stopped when they saw the body. So the man pulled Amasa's dead body off the road into a field. He covered it with a cloth. 13 After he had removed Amasa's dead body from the road, the soldiers all followed Joab. They continued to chase after Bicri's son, Sheba.

14 Sheba travelled through the land of all Israel's tribes. He arrived at Abel Beth Maakah. All the people of Bicri's clan also came to the city. They joined Sheba there. 15 Then Joab's soldiers arrived and they started to attack Abel Beth Maakah. They made their camp all around the city. They built heaps of earth against the city's walls. They started to dig holes through the walls to cause them to fall down. 16 Then a wise woman stood on the wall and she shouted to them, ‘Listen! Listen to me! Tell Joab to come near so that I can speak to him!’

20:14The city called Abel Beth Maakah was more than 160 kilometres north of Jerusalem. It was near the city called Dan, which was at the north border of Israel's land.

17 So Joab went towards her. The woman asked him, ‘Are you Joab?’

He answered, ‘Yes, I am.’

She said to him, ‘Please listen to what I have to say.’

‘I am listening, so tell me,’ he replied.

18 Then she said, ‘A long time ago, people said, “If you want an answer to your problem, go to Abel city.” So that is what people did when they had problems. 19 The people of this city like to live in peace. We are faithful to our nation, Israel. Have you decided to destroy such an important city in Israel? Why do you want to destroy a city that belongs to the Lord?’

20 Joab answered her, ‘That is stupid! I would never do that! I am not trying to destroy anything. 21 That is not what we want. But there is a man in your city called Sheba. He is Bicri's son and he comes from the hill country of Ephraim. He has turned against King David. If you will give me this one man, I will go away from your city. I will not destroy it.’

The woman said to Joab, ‘Wait there! I will throw his head to you from the wall.’

22 Then the woman spoke to all the people in the city. She told them her wise advice. So they cut off Sheba's head and they threw it off the wall to Joab.

Then Joab made a loud noise with his trumpet. So his soldiers went away from the city. Each of them went to his own home. Joab returned to King David in Jerusalem.

David's officers

23 Joab was the officer who led all Israel's army.

Jehoiada's son Benaiah was the leader of the king's personal guards.

20:23The Pelethites and the Kerethites were David's own special guards.

24 Adoniram ruled over the men who had to work for the king.

Ahilud's son Jehoshaphat wrote a report of everything that the king did.

25 Sheva was the royal secretary.

Zadok and Abiathar were the priests.

26 Ira from Jair was David's special priest.