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2 Samuel 20

1 A worthless character named Sheba son of Bikri lived at Gilgal. He was of the tribe of Benjamin. He blew the trumpet and called out: »Down with David! We will not follow him! Men of Israel, let us go home!«

2 The Israelites deserted David and went with Sheba. The men of Judah remained loyal and followed David from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

3 David left ten of his concubines in Jerusalem to take care of his palace. When he returned, he had them taken to another house. He placed soldiers there to guard them. He gave them what they needed. He never slept with any of them again. They had to live there for the rest of their lives as if they were widows.

4 David said to Amasa: »Three days from now I want you and all of Judah’s army to be here!«

5 Amasa assembled the army of Judah. It took longer than three days.

6 David said to Abishai: »Sheba will hurt us more than Absalom ever did. Take my best soldiers and go after him. We do not want him to take over any walled cities and get away from us.«

7 Joab’s men, the Cherethites, Pelethites, and all the soldiers went with Abishai. They left Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bichri.

8 Amasa met them at the large rock in Gibeon. Joab wore a military uniform. He strapped a sword in a scabbard at his hip. He stepped forward and the sword dropped into his hand.

9 »How are you, my brother?« Joab asked Amasa. He took hold of Amasa’s beard with his right hand to kiss him.

10 Amasa was not on guard against the sword in Joab’s left hand. Joab stabbed him in the stomach. Then he stabbed him in his intestines and they poured out on the ground. He died without being stabbed again. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bichri.

11 One of Joab’s young men stood beside Amasa and said: »Those who favor Joab and are on David’s side should follow Joab.«

12 Amasa’s body was covered with blood in the middle of the road. Joab’s man saw that everybody was stopped. He dragged the body from the road out into the field and threw a blanket over it.

13 After the body had been removed from the road, everyone followed Joab in pursuit of Sheba.

14 Sheba went through all of the tribes of Israel when he came to the town of Abel Beth-Maacah. His best soldiers met him there and followed him into the town.

15 Joab and his troops surrounded Abel, so no one could go in or come out. They made a dirt ramp rampart up to the town wall. Then they used a battering ram to knock the wall down.

16 A wise woman shouted from the top of the wall: »Hear this! Listen to me! I must talk to Joab! Tell him to come here!«

17 He came near. She asked: »Are you Joab?« »I am,« He answered. »Listen to what I have to say,« She told him. »I am listening,« He answered.

18 She said: »There is an old saying: ‘Be sure to seek guidance from Abel before doing anything.’ That is the way they settle disputes.

19 »We are peaceful and faithful Israelites. You seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel? Why should you swallow up what belongs to Jehovah?’«

20 Joab answered: »That is unthinkable! I do not wish to swallow it up or destroy it.

21 »That is not so. A man from the mountains of Ephraim by the name of Sheba son of Bichri has rebelled against King David. Give him to me and I will withdraw from the city.« The woman told Joab: »Watch, for his head will be thrown to you from the wall.«

22 She went to the people of the city with her plan. They cut off Sheba’s head and threw it over the wall to Joab. He blew the trumpet as a signal for his men to leave the city. They went back home. Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.

23 Joab was in command of the army of Israel. Benaiah son of Jehoiada was in charge of David’s bodyguards.

24 Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was in charge of the records.

25 Sheva was the court secretary. Zadok and Abiathar were the priests.

26 And Ira, a descendant of Jair, was a priest to David.

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