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1After this Abʹsalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 2And Abʹsalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate; and when any man had a suit to come before the king for judgment, Abʹsalom would call to him, and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” 3Abʹsalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right; but there is no man deputed by the king to hear you.” 4Abʹsalom said moreover, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” 5And whenever a man came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand, and take hold of him, and kiss him. 6Thus Abʹsalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment; so Abʹsalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

7And at the end of four years Abʹsalom said to the king, “Pray let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. 8For your servant vowed a vow while I dwelt at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to the Lord.’ ” 9The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose, and went to Hebron. 10But Abʹsalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Abʹsalom is king at Hebron!’ ” 11With Abʹsalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their simplicity, and knew nothing. 12And while Abʹsalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithʹophel the Giʹlonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Abʹsalom kept increasing.

13And a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Abʹsalom.” 14Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee; or else there will be no escape for us from Abʹsalom; go in haste, lest he overtake us quickly, and bring down evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.” 15And the king’s servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.” 16So the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten concubines to keep the house. 17And the king went forth, and all the people after him; and they halted at the last house. 18And all his servants passed by him; and all the Cherʹethites, and all the Pelʹethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, passed on before the king.

19Then the king said to Itʹtai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back, and stay with the king; for you are a foreigner, and also an exile from your home. 20You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, seeing I go I know not where? Go back, and take your brethren with you; and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” 21But Itʹtai answered the king, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” 22And David said to Itʹtai, “Go then, pass on.” So Itʹtai the Gittite passed on, with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23And all the country wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness.

24And Abiʹathar came up, and lo, Zadok came also, with all the Levites, bearing the ark of the covenant of God; and they set down the ark of God, until the people had all passed out of the city. 25Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his habitation; 26but if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.” 27The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Look, go back to the city in peace, you and Abiʹathar, with your two sons, Ahimʹa-az your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiʹathar. 28See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness, until word comes from you to inform me.” 29So Zadok and Abiʹathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem; and they remained there.

30But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered; and all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. 31And it was told David, “Ahithʹophel is among the conspirators with Abʹsalom.” And David said, “O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithʹophel into foolishness.”

32When David came to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent and earth upon his head. 33David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. 34But if you return to the city, and say to Abʹsalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithʹophel. 35Are not Zadok and Abiʹathar the priests with you there? So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to Zadok and Abiʹathar the priests. 36Behold, their two sons are with them there, Ahimʹa-az, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiʹathar’s son; and by them you shall send to me everything you hear.” 37So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Abʹsalom was entering Jerusalem.

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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