1 David called the troops that were with him. He appointed commanders in charge of regiments and battalions.
2 David assigned a third of the troops under Joabs command. He put another third under Joabs brother Abishai son of Zeruiah. Then he placed the last third under Ittai from Gath. »I am going into battle with you,« the king said to the troops.
3 »You must not go with us,« they answered. »It will not make any difference to the enemy if the rest of us turn and run. It will not matter even if half of us are killed. But you are worth ten thousand of us. It will be better if you stay here in the city and send us help.«
4 »I will do what you think best,« the king answered. Then he stood by the side of the gate as his men marched out in units of a thousand and of a hundred.
5 The king ordered Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: »Treat the young man Absalom gently for my sake.« All the troops heard him give the commanders this order regarding Absalom.
6 So the troops went to the country to fight Israel in the forest of Ephraim.
7 Battles were fought all over the forest. Davids soldiers were winning. Twenty thousand soldiers were killed that day.
8 More soldiers died from the dangers of the forest than from the fighting.
9 Absalom happened to come face to face with some of Davids men. He was riding on a mule. The mule went under the tangled branches of a large tree. Absaloms head became caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair when the mule under him ran away.
10 A man who saw this told Joab: »I saw Absalom hanging in a tree.«
11 »What! You saw what?« Joab said. »Why did you not strike him to the ground? Then I would have felt obligated to give you four ounces of silver and a belt.«
12 The man told Joab: »Even if I felt the weight of twenty pounds of silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the kings son. We heard the order the king gave you, Abishai, and Ittai. Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.
13 »Would you have stood by me if I did something treacherous to him? There is nothing hidden from the king. You would turn against me.«
14 »I will not waste any more time with you,« Joab said. He took three spears and plunged them into Absaloms chest while he was still alive and hanging in the oak tree.
15 Ten of Joabs soldiers closed in on Absalom and finished killing him.
16 Joab ordered the trumpet blown to stop the fighting. His troops came back from pursuing the Israelites.
17 They took Absaloms body and threw it into a deep pit in the forest. Then they covered it with a huge pile of stones. All the Israelites fled to their own hometowns.
18 During his lifetime Absalom built a monument for himself in Kings Valley. He had no son to keep his name alive. So he named it after himself. To this day it is known as Absaloms Monument.
19 Ahimaaz son of Zadok said: »Joab let me run and tell King David that Jehovah rescued him from his enemies.«
20 Joab answered: »You are not the one to tell the king his son is dead. You can take him a message some other time, but not today.«
21 Someone from Ethiopia was standing there. Joab told him: »Go tell the king what you have seen.« The man knelt down in front of Joab and then got up and started running.
22 Ahimaaz spoke to Joab again: »No matter what happens, I still want to run. The Ethiopian has already left.« Joab said: »Why should you run? You will not get a reward for the news you have!«
23 »I would like to run whatever happens, Let me run,« replied Ahimaaz. Joab told him: »Run!« So Ahimaaz ran along the valley road and got ahead of the Sudanese messenger.
24 David was sitting between the two gates. The watchman walked along the roof of the gate by the wall. He looked at the man running alone.
25 The watchman called and alerted the king. If he is alone, the king said, »He has good news to tell.« The runner came closer.
26 The watchman saw another man running. He called: »There is another man running alone.« The king said: »This one is also bringing good news.«
27 The watchman said: »It appears the first one runs like Ahimaaz, Zadoks son. Hes a good man,« the king said. »He must be coming with good news.«
28 Ahimaaz approached the king, greeted him, and bowed down in front of him. Ahimaaz said: »May Jehovah your God be praised. He has handed over the men who rebelled against Your Majesty.«
29 »Is the young man Absalom all right?« The king asked. Ahimaaz answered: »I saw a lot of confusion when Joab sent me away. I did not know what it meant.«
30 »Step aside, and stand here,« the king said. He stepped aside and stood there.
31 Then the Sudanese messenger came. Good news for Your Majesty! He said. Today Jehovah freed you from all who turned against you.
32 »Is the young man Absalom all right?« The king asked. The Sudanese messenger answered: »May your enemies and all who turned against you be like that young man!«
33 The king was shaken by the news. He went to the room above the gate and cried. »My son Absalom!« He said. »My son, my son Absalom! I wish I had died in your place! Absalom, my son, my son!«