1 Then, Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Please let me choose 12,000 men, and I will set out and pursue David tonight. 2 I will (a)strike while he is weary and (b)exhausted, and terrify him; and all the people with him will flee [in terror]. Then I will attack the king alone, 3 and I will bring all the people [who follow David] back to you. (c)The return of everyone depends on the [death of the] man you are seeking; then all the people will be at peace [and accept you as king].” 4 So the plan (d)pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.
5 Nevertheless, Absalom said, “Now call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he has to say.” 6 When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, “Ahithophel has advised this [plan of action]. Should we do what he says? If not, you speak [and explain why not].” 7 So Hushai said to Absalom, “Ahithophel has not given good advice this time.” 8 And Hushai said, “You know your father and his men, that they are brave men, and they are (e)enraged and fierce, like a bear deprived of her cubs in the field. Your father is a [shrewd] man of war, and will not spend the night with the people [knowing that you seek his life]. 9 Behold, he has hidden himself [even] now in one of the ravines or in another place; and when some of (f)your troops fall at the first attack, whoever hears about it will say, ‘There has been a defeat among the people who follow Absalom.’ 10 And even the one who is brave, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will completely lose heart and melt away; for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and that those who are with him are brave men. 11 But I advise that all [the men of] Israel be summoned to you, from Dan [in the north] to Beersheba [in the south], like the sand that is by the sea in abundance, and that you personally go into battle. 12 So shall we come upon David in one of the places where he can be found, and we will fall on him as the dew falls [unseen and unheard] on the ground; and of him and of all the men who are with him, not even one will be left. 13 If he retreats into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into the ravine until not even a pebble [of it] is found there.” 14 Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had ordained to thwart the good advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord could bring disaster upon Absalom.
Hushai’s Warning Saves David
15 Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “This is the advice that Ahithophel gave to Absalom and the elders of Israel, and this is the advice that I have given. 16 Now then, send word quickly and tell David, ‘Do not spend the night at the (g)fords [on the west side of the Jordan] in the wilderness, but by all means cross over [to the east side of the river], or else the king and all the people with him will be destroyed [if Ahithophel is allowed by Absalom to lead an attack].’” 17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz [the priests’ sons] were staying at (h)En-rogel, and a maidservant [appearing to go for water] would go and tell them [what was happening], and they would go [secretly] and inform King David; for they could not [allow themselves to] be seen coming into the city [of Jerusalem]. 18 But a boy saw them and told Absalom; so the two of them left quickly and came to the house of a man in Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard, and [with his permission] they went down into it. 19 And the woman [of the house] took a covering and spread it over the mouth of the well and scattered grain on it; so nothing was discovered. 20 Then Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house and asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” And the woman said to them, “They have crossed over the brook.” When they searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.
21 After they left, Jonathan and Ahimaaz came up out of the well and went and informed King David, and said to David, “Arise and cross over the (i)Jordan River quickly, for Ahithophel has advised [an attack] against you.” 22 Then David and all the people who were with him departed and crossed over the Jordan. By daybreak, not even one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.
23 Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out and went to his home, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself. So he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.
24 Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. 25 Absalom put Amasa in command of the army instead of Joab. Now Amasa was the son of a man named (j)Ithra the Israelite, who had married Abigail the daughter of Nahash, [the half sister of David and] the sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. 26 So Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.
27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought beds, basins, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, broad beans, lentils, and [other] roasted grain, 29 honey, cream, sheep, and cheese of the herd, for David and the people who were with him, to eat; for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”
a. 2 Samuel 17:2: Lit come upon him.
b. 2 Samuel 17:2: Lit slack of hands.
c. 2 Samuel 17:3: Lit Like the return of the whole is the man whom you are seeking.
d. 2 Samuel 17:4: Lit was pleasing in the eyes of.
e. 2 Samuel 17:8: Lit bitter of soul.
f. 2 Samuel 17:9: Lit them.
g. 2 Samuel 17:16: I.e. narrow or shallow places where a river may be crossed by wading.
h. 2 Samuel 17:17: I.e. a spring in the Kidron Valley just outside Jerusalem.
i. 2 Samuel 17:21: Lit water.
j. 2 Samuel 17:25: This man was also known as Jether the Ishmaelite (1 Chr 2:17).