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1After this David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And he said, “To Hebron.” 2So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinʹo-am of Jezreel, and Abʹigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 3And David brought up his men who were with him, every one with his household; and they dwelt in the towns of Hebron. 4And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

When they told David, “It was the men of Jaʹbesh-gilʹead who buried Saul,” 5David sent messengers to the men of Jaʹbesh-gilʹead, and said to them, “May you be blessed by the Lord, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord, and buried him! 6Now may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you! And I will do good to you because you have done this thing. 7Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant; for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”

8Now Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-boʹsheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaʹim; 9and he made him king over Gilead and the Ashʹurites and Jezreel and Eʹphraim and Benjamin and all Israel. 10Ish-boʹsheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. 11And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

12Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-boʹsheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaʹim to Gibeon. 13And Joʹab the son of Zeruʹiah, and the servants of David, went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon; and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool. 14And Abner said to Joʹab, “Let the young men arise and play before us.” And Joʹab said, “Let them arise.” 15Then they arose and passed over by number, twelve for Benjamin and Ish-boʹsheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. 16And each caught his opponent by the head, and thrust his sword in his opponent’s side; so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called Helʹkath-hazzuʹrim, which is at Gibeon. 17And the battle was very fierce that day; and Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David.

18And the three sons of Zeruʹiah were there, Joʹab, Abiʹshai, and Asʹahel. Now Asʹahel was as swift of foot as a wild gazelle; 19and Asʹahel pursued Abner, and as he went he turned neither to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner. 20Then Abner looked behind him and said, “Is it you, Asʹahel?” And he answered, “It is I.” 21Abner said to him, “Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and seize one of the young men, and take his spoil.” But Asʹahel would not turn aside from following him. 22And Abner said again to Asʹahel, “Turn aside from following me; why should I smite you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joʹab?” 23But he refused to turn aside; therefore Abner smote him in the belly with the butt of his spear, so that the spear came out at his back; and he fell there, and died where he was. And all who came to the place where Asʹahel had fallen and died, stood still.

24But Joʹab and Abiʹshai pursued Abner; and as the sun was going down they came to the hill of Ammah, which lies before Giʹah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon. 25And the Benjaminites gathered themselves together behind Abner, and became one band, and took their stand on the top of a hill. 26Then Abner called to Joʹab, “Shall the sword devour for ever? Do you not know that the end will be bitter? How long will it be before you bid your people turn from the pursuit of their brethren?” 27And Joʹab said, “As God lives, if you had not spoken, surely the men would have given up the pursuit of their brethren in the morning.” 28So Joʹab blew the trumpet; and all the men stopped, and pursued Israel no more, nor did they fight any more.

29And Abner and his men went all that night through the Arabah; they crossed the Jordan, and marching the whole forenoon they came to Mahanaʹim. 30Joʹab returned from the pursuit of Abner; and when he had gathered all the people together, there were missing of David’s servants nineteen men besides Asʹahel. 31But the servants of David had slain of Benjamin three hundred and sixty of Abner’s men. 32And they took up Asʹahel, and buried him in the tomb of his father, which was at Bethlehem. And Joʹab and his men marched all night, and the day broke upon them at Hebron.

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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