Old Testament

2 Samuel 17
171Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men. I will set out to pursue David tonight. 2I will come upon him when he is tired and weak and cause him to panic. All the people with him will flee. Then I will strike down only the king. 3I will bring back the rest of the people to you. The life of the man whom you are seeking will gain the return of all of them.[] All the rest of the people will be safe.” 4Ahithophel's plan seemed good to all the elders of Israel.
5But Absalom said, “Call Hushai the Arkite. We should also hear what he has to say.” 6So Hushai came to Absalom, and Absalom said to him, “This is what Ahithophel has said. Shall we do it? If you disagree, speak up.”
7Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the advice Ahithophel has given is not good.” 8Hushai continued, “You know your father and his men. They are fierce warriors, like an enraged bear in the open country who has lost her cubs. Your father is a fighter. He will not spend the night with the people. 9Certainly, by now he has hidden himself in one of the caves or in some other place. What if he attacks and some of our men fall first? Whoever hears about it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the followers of Absalom.’ 10Even the very brave, whose hearts are like the heart of a lion, will melt with fear, because all Israel knows that your father is a fierce warrior, and that those who are with him are brave men. 11So, I advise you to gather all Israel to you from Dan to Beersheba, as many as the sand beside the sea, and that you personally lead them into battle. 12We should attack the king in whatever place he is found. We will come down on him like the dew that falls upon the ground. There will not even be one survivor from him and from all the men with him. 13If he withdraws into a city, all Israel should bring ropes to that city. We will drag it into the valley until there will not be even one pebble found there.”
14Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than the advice of Ahithophel.”
The Lord had arranged to defeat the good advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord could bring disaster upon Absalom.
15Then Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, “This is what Ahithophel advised Absalom and the elders of Israel. But this is what I have advised. 16Now send a message quickly and tell David, ‘Do not stay tonight at the fords in the wilderness. Also, be sure to cross over the river, or the king and all the people who are with him will be swallowed up.’”
17Jonathan and Ahima'az were to wait at En Rogel because they could not risk being seen going into the city. A female servant was to go out and inform them. Then they could go and tell King David. 18However, a young man saw them and told Absalom. So the two of them quickly went to the house of a man at Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19His wife took a cover, spread it over the mouth of the well, and scattered grain on it. Nobody knew that she did it.
20Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house and said, “Where are Ahima'az and Jonathan?”
The woman said to them, “They have passed by toward the river.”[] Absalom's servants pursued them but did not find them, so they returned to Jerusalem.
21When they left, Ahima'az and Jonathan climbed out of the well. They went and reported to King David, and they said to him, “Get up and cross over the river quickly because this is what Ahithophel advised against you.” 22So David and all the people who were with him set out and crossed the Jordan, beginning at the first light of day and continuing until everyone had crossed over the Jordan.
23When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey, set out, went to his house in his hometown, and set his household in order. Then he hanged himself. He died, and he was buried in the tomb of his father.
24David went to Mahanaim, and Absalom crossed over the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25Absalom had put Amasa in command of the army instead of Joab. (Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra, an Ishmaelite[] who had gone to Abigal,[] the daughter of Nahash, the sister of Zeruiah, the mother of Joab.)
26Israel and Absalom set up camp in the land of Gilead.
27When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28brought beds, basins, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils,[] 29honey, cheese curds, sheep, and cheese from cow's milk for David and for the people with him to eat, because they said, “The people are hungry, tired, and thirsty in the wilderness.”


  • 17:3 Literally like the return of all, the man whom you are seeking
  • 17:20 Literally they have crossed the mical of the water. The meaning of mical is unknown, but the following verses suggest that flight toward the Jordan is what is being described.
  • 17:25 The translation follows the parallel reading from 1 Chronicles 2:17, where this man is called Jether the Ishmaelite. The Hebrew text in 2 Samuel 17:25 reads Ithra the Israelite.
  • 17:25 Also called Abigail
  • 17:28 The Hebrew text here repeats roasted grain.