David, King of Judah
1 Some time later, David inquired of the Lord: "Should I go to one of the towns of Judah?" The Lord answered him, "Go." Then David asked, "Where should I go?" "To Hebron," the Lord replied.
2 So David went there with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 3 In addition, David brought the men who were with him, each one with his household, and they settled in the towns near Hebron. 4 Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. They told David: "It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul."
5 David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, "The Lord bless you, because you have shown this special kindness to Saul your lord when you buried him. 6 Now, may the Lord show special kindness and faithfulness to you, and I will also show the same goodness to you because you have done this deed. 7 Therefore, be strong and courageous, for though Saul your lord is dead, the house of Judah has anointed me king over them."
8 Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, took Saul's son Ish-boshethand moved him to Mahanaim. 9 He made him king over Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin-over all Israel. 10 Saul's son Ish-bosheth was 40 years old when he began his reign over Israel; he ruled for two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David. 11 The length of time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
12 Abner son of Ner and soldiers of Ish-bosheth son of Saul marched out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13 So Joab son of Zeruiah and David's soldiers marched out and met them by the pool of Gibeon. The two groups took up positions on opposite sides of the pool.
14 Then Abner said to Joab, "Let's have the young men get up and compete in front of us." "Let them get up," Joab replied.
15 So they got up and were counted off-12 for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth son of Saul, and 12 from David's soldiers. 16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and [thrust] his sword into his opponent's side so that they all died together. So this place, which is in Gibeon, is named Field of Blades.
17 The battle that day was extremely fierce, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David's soldiers. 18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was a fast runner, like one of the wild gazelles. 19 He chased Abner and did not turn to the right or the left in his pursuit of him. 20 Abner glanced back and said, "Is that you, Asahel?" "Yes it is," Asahel replied.
21 Abner said to him, "Turn to your right or left, seize one of the young soldiers, and take whatever you can get from him." But Asahel would not stop chasing him. 22 Once again, Abner warned Asahel, "Stop chasing me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How could I ever look your brother Joab in the face?"
23 But Asahel refused to turn away, so Abner hit him in the stomach with the end of his spear. The spear went through his body, and he fell and died right there. When all who came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, they stopped, 24 but Joab and Abishai pursued Abner. By sunset, they had gone as far as the hill of Ammah, which is opposite Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon.
25 The Benjaminites rallied to Abner; they formed a single unit and took their stand on top of a hill. 26 Then Abner called out to Joab: "Must the sword devour forever? Don't you realize this will only end in bitterness? How long before you tell the troops to stop pursuing their brothers?"
27 "As God lives," Joab replied, "if you had not spoken up, the troops wouldn't have stopped pursuing their brothers until morning." 28 Then Joab blew the ram's horn, and all the troops stopped; they no longer pursued Israel or continued to fight. 29 So Abner and his men marched through the Arabah all that night. They crossed the Jordan, marched all morning, and arrived at Mahanaim.
30 When Joab had turned back from pursuing Abner, he gathered all the troops. In addition to Asahel, 19 of David's soldiers were missing, 31 but they had killed 360 of the Benjaminites and Abner's men. 32 Afterwards, they carried Asahel to his father's tomb in Bethlehem and buried him. Then Joab and his men marched all night and reached Hebron at dawn.