1 Absalom provided a chariot and horses for himself. He had an escort of fifty men to run ahead of him.
2 He would rise early in the morning and stand by the road at the city gate. When someone came there with a dispute that he wanted the king to settle, Absalom would call him over and ask him where he was from. After the man told him what tribe he was from,
3 Absalom would say: »My friend, the law is on your side. However, there is no representative of the king to hear your case.«
4 He added: »How I wish I were a judge! Then anyone who had a dispute or a claim could come to me. I would give him justice.«
5 The man would approach Absalom and bow down before him. Then Absalom would reach out and hug and kiss him.
6 Absalom did this with every Israelite who came to the king for judgment. That way he won their loyalty.
7 After four years Absalom said to King David: »My lord let me go to Hebron and keep a promise I made to Jehovah.
8 »When I lived at Geshur in Syria Aram, I promised Jehovah that if he would take me back to Jerusalem, I would worship him in Hebron.«
9 »Go in peace,« the king said. »So Absalom went to Hebron.«
10 He sent messengers to all the tribes of Israel. He told them: »When you hear the sound of trumpets, shout: Absalom is king in Hebron!«
11 Absalom had two hundred men who at his invitation traveled from Jerusalem with him. They knew nothing of the plot and went in good faith.
12 Absalom was offering sacrifices. He sent for Ahithophel, Davids adviser, to come from his home in Giloh. Meanwhile, the conspiracy grew stronger. The number of people siding with Absalom kept getting larger.
13 A messenger told David: »Absalom has the hearts of the people of Israel.«
14 David told all his men who were with him in Jerusalem: »We must run away quickly, or none of us will escape from Absalom. Leave right away or he will catch up to us and bring ruin upon us when he massacres the city.«
15 The kings servants told him: »No matter what happens, we are Your Majestys servants.«
16 The king left on foot. His whole household followed him. The king left ten concubines behind to take care of the palace.
17 The king and his troops left the city on foot. They stopped at the city limits.
18 All his mercenaries passed by him. The Cherethites, all the Pelethites, Ittai, and all six hundred men who had followed him from Gath marched past the king.
19 The king asked Ittai from Gath: »Why should you go with us? Go back, and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland.
20 »In fact you came to us just yesterday. Should I make you wander around with me when I do not even know where I am going? Go back and take your countrymen with you. May Jehovah always show you kindness.«
21 Ittai answered: »Your Majesty, I swear to you in the name of Jehovah that I will always go with you wherever you go, even if it means death.«
22 David answered: »That is fine. March on!« So Ittai went on with all his men and their dependents.
23 The people cried loudly as Davids followers left. The king crossed Kidron Brook. His men followed him. They went to the wilderness.
24 Zadok the priest was there. He had Levites there carrying the sacred Ark of God. They set it down and did not pick it up again until all the people left the city. The priest Abiathar was there too.
25 The king said to Zadok: »Take the Ark of the Covenant back to the city. If Jehovah is pleased with me he will let me come back to see it and the place where it stays.
26 »Let him do to me what he wishes if he is not pleased with me.«
27 He also said to Zadok: »You are a seer, are you? Take your son Ahimaaz and Abiathars son Jonathan and go back to the city in peace.
28 »I will wait at the river crossings in the wilderness until you send news.«
29 Zadok and Abiathar took the Ark of the Covenant back into Jerusalem and stayed there.
30 David went up the slope of the Mount of Olives. He was barefoot and crying. He covered his head to show his sorrow. Everyone with him was crying. They covered their heads too.
31 Someone told David: »Ahithophel is helping Absalom conspire against you!« David said: »Please Jehovah keep Ahithophels plans from working!«
32 David reached the top of the Mount of Olives. He met Hushai the Archite at a place of worship. Hushais robe was torn, and dust was on his head.
33 David told him: »You might slow me down if you come with me.«
34 Go back into the city and tell Absalom: »Your Majesty, I am your servant. I will serve you just as I served your father in the past. Hushai, if you do that you can help me ruin Ahithophels plans.
35 »Zadok and Abiathar the priests will be there with you. You can tell them everything you hear in the palace.
36 »Have them send their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to tell me what you hear.«
37 Davids advisor Hushai slipped back into Jerusalem. Absalom came into the city at the same time.