2 Samuel 20

Sheba causes trouble for David

1 A man called Sheba was in Gilgal. He was Bicri's son, from Benjamin's tribe. He liked to cause trouble. He made a noise with a trumpet and he shouted, ‘We will not follow David the son of Jesse. Men from Israel, we should return to our homes.’ 2 So the Israelites left David and they went with Sheba. But the men from Judah stayed with David and they followed him. They were all the people who lived in places from the River Jordan to Jerusalem.

20:2Sheba was probably a relative of King Saul.

David keeps his ladies safe

3 David returned to the king's house in Jerusalem. Then he took the 10 lady friends. They had stayed there when he left Jerusalem. Now he shut them away safely in a special house. People were watching them carefully. He gave to them all that they needed. But he did not sleep with them. They stayed there. And they lived like widows until they died.

David sends Amasa to fetch all the men from Judah

4 The king spoke to Amasa. ‘Bring all the men from Judah to me here during the next three days. And come with them yourself.’ 5 Amasa went to fetch them but he was away for more than three days.

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

6 David said to Abishai, ‘Now Bicri's son Sheba will cause us more trouble than Absalom. Take my men and go after him. If you do not catch him they may hide in towns with strong walls. He might get away from us.’ 7 So Abishai took Joab's men, the Pelethites and the Kerethites and all the king's soldiers with him. They marched out from Jerusalem to find Bicri's son Sheba. 8 Amasa came to meet them at the big rock in Gibeon. Joab was dressed for the fight and a sword was hanging from his belt. It fell out of its place as Joab went towards Amasa.

Joab kills Amasa

9 Joab said to Amasa, ‘How are you my brother?’ And he took Amasa by his beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 But Amasa did not see the sword in Joab's other hand. Then Joab pushed it completely into Amasa's stomach. All his inside parts fell out on the ground and he died immediately. Joab did not have to hit him again.

Then Joab and his brother Abishai went on. They were following after Sheba.

11 A man stood by Amasa's dead body. The man belonged to Joab's soldiers. He shouted, ‘Everyone who wants to follow David, follow Joab!’ 12 Amasa's dead body was in the road, covered in his blood. Everyone who saw him stopped there. The man had seen that they stopped. So he pulled the dead body into a field and he covered it with a cloth. 13 After he had taken Amasa's dead body from the road, the men went on with Joab. They were going after Sheba the son of Bicri.

They find Sheba and people kill him to save their city

14 Sheba went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maacah. All Bicri's family came together and they followed him into the city. 15 Some people told Joab's men that Sheba was there. So they went and they stood all round the city. They built the ground up high near to its walls. And they dug under the walls to cause them to fall down. 16 A wise woman shouted to them from the wall. ‘Listen, listen. Ask Joab to come here so that I can speak to him’, she said. 17 He went towards her. ‘Are you Joab?’ she asked.

‘I am’, he answered.

‘Listen to what I have to say’, she said.

‘I am listening’, he replied.

20:17The city called Abel Beth Maacah was over 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Jerusalem. It was near the city called Dan, which was at the north end of Israel.

18 Then she said, ‘A long time ago, people said, “Get your answer at the city called Abel.” And that is what they did. 19 We are a peaceful city that is faithful to Israel. Why are you trying to destroy it? Do you want to hurt what is the LORD's?’

20 ‘I would never do that!’ Joab answered. ‘I would never hurt or destroy your city. 21 That is not what we want. But a man called Sheba, son of Bicri, has come there from the hills of Ephraim. He has said that he will not follow King David. If you will give me this one man, I will leave your city. I will not destroy it.’

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

22 Then the woman went to all the people in the city. She told them why they should kill Sheba. So they cut off the head of Bicri's son Sheba and they threw it to Joab. Then he made a noise with his trumpet and all his men left the city. Each of them went to his home. And Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.

David's officers

23 Joab was the officer who led all Israel's army. Jehoiada's son led the Pelethites and the Kerethites who kept David safe. 24 Adoniram ruled over the men that had to work for the king. Ahilud's son Jehoshaphat wrote down all that the king did. 25 Sheva was another writer, and Zadok and Abiathar were priests. 26 Ira from the town called Jair was a priest for David.