2 Samuel

Absalom’s Conspiracy

After this, Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men as runners before him. He would get up early and stand beside the road to the gate [of the city, where court was held]; and when any man who had a dispute came to the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him, “From what city are you?” And he would say, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man appointed as the king’s agent to listen to you.” Moreover Absalom would say, “Oh, that I were appointed judge in the land! Then every man who had a dispute could come to me and I would get justice for him.” And whenever a man approached to bow down before him, he would put out his hand, take hold of him, and kiss him. This is how Absalom dealt with everyone in Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

And after [a]four years, Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow which I have made to the Lord at [b]Hebron [my birthplace]. For your servant made a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram (Syria), ‘If the Lord will in fact bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord [by offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving].’” And [David] the king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron. 10 But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, you shall say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’” 11 Then two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited [as guests to his sacrificial feast] went with Absalom. They went innocently and knew nothing [about his plan against David]. 12 And Absalom sent for [c]Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh, while he was offering sacrifices. And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom increased continually.

David Flees Jerusalem

13 Then a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” 14 David said to all his [d]servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, let us flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom! Go in haste, or he will overtake us quickly and bring disaster on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” 15 The king’s servants said to him, “Listen, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.” 16 So the king left, and all his household [e]with him. But the king left behind ten women who were [f]concubines to take care of the house (palace).(A) 17 The king left, and all the people with him, and they stopped at the last house. 18 All of David’s [g]servants passed on beside him, and all the Cherethites, Pelethites and the Gittites, six hundred men who had come with him from Gath, passed on before the king.

19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you go with us, too? Go back and stay with the king [of your own country], for you are a foreigner and an exile as well; return to your own place. 20 You came only yesterday, so should I make you wander with us today while I go where I will? Return and take your brothers back with you also. May lovingkindness and faithfulness be with you.” 21 But Ittai answered the king, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, most certainly wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or life, there will your servant be also.” 22 So David said to Ittai, “Go on and cross over [the Brook Kidron].” So Ittai the Gittite crossed over with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23 While all the country was weeping with a loud voice, all the people crossed over. The king also crossed the Brook Kidron, and all the people went on toward the way of the wilderness [that lies between Jerusalem and the Jordan River].

24 Now Zadok also came, and all the Levites with him carrying the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar [the priest] came up [and officiated] until all the people had finished passing from the city. 25 Then the king told Zadok, “Take the ark of God back to [its rightful place in] the city [of Jerusalem, the capital]. If I find favor in the Lord’s sight, He will bring me back again and let me see both it and His dwelling place (habitation). 26 But if He should say, ‘I have no delight in you,’ then here I am; let Him do to me what seems good to Him.” 27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace [you and Abiathar], and your two sons with you, your son Ahimaaz and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28 See, I am going to wait at the [h]fords [of the Jordan] in the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar brought the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they stayed there.

30 And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot [in despair]. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went. 31 David was told, “Ahithophel [your counselor] is among the conspirators with Absalom.” David said, “O Lord, I pray You, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.”

32 It happened when David came to the summit [of the Mount of Olives], where he worshiped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his tunic torn and dust on his head [as if in mourning]. 33 David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in the past, so I will be your servant now;’ then you can thwart (make useless) the advice of Ahithophel for me. 35 Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So it shall be that every word you hear from the king’s palace, you shall report it to them. 36 Their two sons are there with them, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son; and by them you shall send to me everything that you hear.” 37 So Hushai, David’s friend, returned to the city, and [at about the same time] Absalom came into Jerusalem.


  1. 2 Samuel 15:7 The Hebrew text reads “forty years.” The LXX, Syriac, and writings of Josephus read “four years.” Absalom would be about thirty years old at this time.
  2. 2 Samuel 15:7 David had moved the capital from Hebron to Jerusalem, but Hebron was still an important city.
  3. 2 Samuel 15:12 Ahithophel, one of David’s wisest and most trusted advisers, was the father of Eliam, Bathsheba’s father. Ahithophel’s alliance with Absalom may have been an act of revenge motivated by David’s sin against his granddaughter and her murdered husband.
  4. 2 Samuel 15:14 This would have included various officials, guards, staff, and other members of David’s court and household.
  5. 2 Samuel 15:16 Lit at his feet.
  6. 2 Samuel 15:16 See note Gen 22:24.
  7. 2 Samuel 15:18 See note v 14.
  8. 2 Samuel 15:28 I.e. narrow or shallow places where a river may be crossed by wading.

Cross references

  1. 2 Samuel 15:16 : 2 Sam 12:11; 20:3