1David counted the people who were with him and set commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds over them.
2David sent out the people, a third under the hand of Joab, and a third under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and a third under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the people, “I will go out, yes, go out with you, even I myself.”
3But the people said, “You must not go out! For if we flee, yes flee, they will not care about us, nor if half of us die will they care about us. But you are worth 10,000 of us. So now it is better that you are ready to help us from inside the city.”
4And the king said to them, “I will do what seems best to you.” So the king stood beside the gate and all the people went out by hundreds and by thousands.
5And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king commanded all the commanders concerning Absalom.
6So the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was in the forest of Ephraim.
7The people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and there was a great defeat there that day: 20,000 men.
8For the battle there spread out over the face of all the land, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
9Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak and he was taken up between the sky and earth and the mule that was under him went on.
10A certain man saw it and told Joab and said, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.”
12But the man said to Joab, “Though I should receive 1,000 pieces of silver in my hand, I still would not stretch out my hand against the king’s son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Take note of anyone who would hurt the young man Absalom.’
13Otherwise, if I had acted treacherously against his life—and there is nothing hidden from the king—then you yourself would have set yourself against me.”
14Then Joab said, “I will not wait around like this with you.” And he took three arrows in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the heart of the oak.
15Then ten young men who were Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded and struck Absalom and put him to death.
16Joab blew the shofar and the people returned from pursuing after Israel, for Joab held back the people.
17And they took Absalom and threw him into the large pit in the forest, and raised over him a very large heap of stones. And all Israel fled, everyone to his tent.
18Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself the standing-stone that is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to preserve the memory of my name.” And he called the standing-stone after his own name and it is called Absalom’s monument to this day.
20Joab said to him, “You are not to be the one to proclaim the news this day, but you may proclaim news another day. But today you are not to proclaim the news because the king’s son is dead.”
21Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen!” The Cushite prostrated himself to Joab and ran.
But Joab said, “Why do you want to run, my son, since you have no news that will find favor?”
He said to him, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the Plain and outran the Cushite.
24Now David was sitting between the two gates, and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate to the wall and lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, a man running alone.
25The watchman cried out and told the king.
The king said, “If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.” He came closer and closer.
26The watchman saw another man running, and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, “Behold, a man running alone!”
The king said, “He also brings news.”
The king said, “He is a good man and comes with good news.”
28Ahimaaz called and said to the king, “All is well.” He bowed himself before the king with his face to the earth and said, “Blessed is Yahweh your God who has given over the men who lifted up their hand against my lord the king!”
Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, even me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I do not know what it was.”
The Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you to do you harm be as that young man is.”