And no inheritance in the son of Jesse,
Every man to his tents, O Israel!”
2 So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri; but the men of Judah stayed faithfully with their king, from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
3 Then David came to his house (palace) at Jerusalem, and the king took the ten women, his [b]concubines whom he had left to take care of the house, and placed them under guard and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were confined, and lived as widows until the day of their death.
4 Now the king said to Amasa [the commander of his army], “Summon the [fighting] men of Judah to me within three days, and be present here yourself.” 5 So Amasa went to summon [the fighting men of] Judah, but he delayed longer than the time which David had set for him. 6 And David said to Abishai [his nephew], “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your lord’s servants and pursue him, so that he does not find fortified cities for himself and [c]escape from our sight.” 7 So Joab’s men went after him, along with [David’s bodyguards] the Cherethites and Pelethites and all the warriors; they went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. 8 When they were at the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing his military uniform, and over it he had a belt with a sheathed sword strapped around his hips; and as he went forward, [d]it fell out. 9 Joab said to Amasa, “Is it going well with you, my [e]brother?” And with his right hand Joab took hold of Amasa by the beard [as if] to kiss him [in greeting].
10 But Amasa [who had replaced Joab as David’s commander] was off guard and not attentive to the sword in Joab’s hand. So Joab struck Amasa in the abdomen with the sword, spilling his intestines to the ground. Without another blow Amasa died. Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. 11 Now one of Joab’s young men stood by him and said, “Whoever favors Joab and is for David, let him follow Joab!” 12 But Amasa was wallowing in his blood in the middle of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people who came by stopped [to look], he moved Amasa from the highway into the field and threw a garment over him when he saw that everyone who came by Amasa stopped.
Revolt Put Down
13 When [the body of] Amasa was removed from the highway, everyone followed after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.
14 Now Joab went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel, even Beth-maacah, and all the Berites; and they assembled and also went after Sheba. 15 And [f]the army of Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth-maacah, and they built up an [g]assault ramp against the city, and it stood against the outer rampart; and all the people who were with Joab were wreaking destruction to make the wall fall. 16 Then a wise woman cried out from the city, “Hear, hear! Tell Joab, ‘Come here so that I may speak to you.’” 17 So when he approached her, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your maidservant.” He answered, “I am listening.” 18 Then she said, “In the past people used to say, ‘They will certainly ask advice at Abel,’ and so they settled the dispute. 19 I am one of the peaceable and faithful in Israel. You are seeking to destroy a city, and a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up (devour) the inheritance of the Lord?” 20 Joab answered, “Far be it, far be it from me that I would swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has lifted up his hand [in rebellion] against King David. Only hand him over, and I will leave the city.” And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” 22 Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people [to inform them of the agreement]. And they beheaded Sheba the son of Bichri and threw his head [down] to Joab. So he blew the trumpet [signaling the end of the attack], and they dispersed from the city, every man to his own tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to [David] the king.(A)
23 Now Joab was [commander] over the entire army of Israel; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was [commander] over the Cherethites and Pelethites [the king’s bodyguards]; 24 Adoram was over the forced labor; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; 25 Sheva was the scribe; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 26 also Ira the Jairite was a priest to David.
- 2 Samuel 20:1 Lit a son of Belial.
- 2 Samuel 20:3 See note Gen 22:24.
- 2 Samuel 20:6 Lit pull out our eyes.
- 2 Samuel 20:8 Most likely a feigned “accident” so Joab could strike Amasa before he was on guard.
- 2 Samuel 20:9 Joab and Amasa were actually related as cousins.
- 2 Samuel 20:15 Lit they.
- 2 Samuel 20:15 Probably the most famous example of this was the huge ramp built against Masada by the Romans, which still stands.
- 2 Samuel 20:22 : Eccl 9:13-16