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1There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; and David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.

2And sons were born to David at Hebron: his first-born was Amnon, of Ahinʹo-am of Jezreel; 3and his second, Chilʹe-ab, of Abʹigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; and the third, Abʹsalom the son of Maʹacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4and the fourth, Adoniʹjah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiʹah the son of Abiʹtal; 5and the sixth, Ithʹre-am, of Eglah, David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.

6While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. 7Now Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiʹah; and Ish-boʹsheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?” 8Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-boʹsheth, and said, “Am I a dog’s head of Judah? This day I keep showing loyalty to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David; and yet you charge me today with a fault concerning a woman. 9God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the Lord has sworn to him, 10to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beer-sheba.” 11And Ish-boʹsheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.

12And Abner sent messengers to David at Hebron, saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring over all Israel to you.” 13And he said, “Good; I will make a covenant with you; but one thing I require of you; that is, you shall not see my face, unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see my face.” 14Then David sent messengers to Ish-boʹsheth Saul’s son, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed at the price of a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” 15And Ish-boʹsheth sent, and took her from her husband Palʹti-el the son of Laʹish. 16But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahuʹrim. Then Abner said to him, “Go, return”; and he returned.

17And Abner conferred with the elders of Israel, saying, “For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. 18Now then bring it about; for the Lord has promised David, saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.’ ” 19Abner also spoke to Benjamin; and then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin thought good to do.

20When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21And Abner said to David, “I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.” So David sent Abner away; and he went in peace.

22Just then the servants of David arrived with Joʹab from a raid, bringing much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David at Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23When Joʹab and all the army that was with him came, it was told Joʹab, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has let him go, and he has gone in peace.” 24Then Joʹab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you; why is it that you have sent him away, so that he is gone? 25You know that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you, and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing.”

26When Joʹab came out from David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah; but David did not know about it. 27And when Abner returned to Hebron, Joʹab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he smote him in the belly, so that he died, for the blood of Asʹahel his brother. 28Afterward, when David heard of it, he said, “I and my kingdom are for ever guiltless before the Lord for the blood of Abner the son of Ner. 29May it fall upon the head of Joʹab, and upon all his father’s house; and may the house of Joʹab never be without one who has a discharge, or who is leprous, or who holds a spindle, or who is slain by the sword, or who lacks bread!” 30So Joʹab and Abiʹshai his brother slew Abner, because he had killed their brother Asʹahel in the battle at Gibeon.

31Then David said to Joʹab and to all the people who were with him, “Rend your clothes, and gird on sackcloth, and mourn before Abner.” And King David followed the bier. 32They buried Abner at Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept. 33And the king lamented for Abner, saying,

“Should Abner die as a fool dies?

34Your hands were not bound,

your feet were not fettered;

as one falls before the wicked

you have fallen.”

And all the people wept again over him. 35Then all the people came to persuade David to eat bread while it was yet day; but David swore, saying, “God do so to me and more also, if I taste bread or anything else till the sun goes down!” 36And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them; as everything that the king did pleased all the people. 37So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king’s will to slay Abner the son of Ner. 38And the king said to his servants, “Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39And I am this day weak, though anointed king; these men the sons of Zeruʹiah are too hard for me. The Lord requite the evildoer according to his wickedness!”

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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