1It came to pass after this that Absalom prepared a chariot and horses for himself, and 50 men to run before him.
2And Absalom rose up early and stood beside the road leading to the gate. It was so that when any man had a dispute to bring before the king for judgment, then Absalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?” And he would say, “Your servant is of such-and-such a tribe in Israel.”
3Then Absalom would say to him, “Behold, your matters are good and right, but there is no man appointed by the king to listen to you.”
4And Absalom would say, “Oh that I were made judge in the land. Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice!”
5And it was so that when any man came near to bow low before him, he put out his hand and took hold of him and kissed him.
6And Absalom acted in this manner to all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
7And it came to pass at the end of four years that Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and fulfill my vow that I have vowed to Yahweh in Hebron.
8For your servant vowed a vow while I stayed at Geshur in Syria, saying, ‘If Yahweh will indeed bring me again to Jerusalem, then I will serve Yahweh.’”
11Now with Absalom went 200 men out of Jerusalem who were invited guests, and went in their simplicity; but they did not know anything.
12Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he was offering the sacrifices. The conspiracy was strong, for the people increased continually with Absalom.
14David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise and let us flee; for otherwise none of us will escape from Absalom. Make speed to depart, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down evil on us, and strike the city with the mouth of the sword.”
15The king’s servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king chooses.”
16The king went out, and all his household after him. The king left ten women who were concubines to keep the house.
17The king went out, and all the people after him, and they stayed in Beth Merhak.
18All his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites and all the Pelethites and all the Gittites, 600 men who came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.
19Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Return and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner, and also an exile. Return to your own place.
20Whereas you came but yesterday, should I this day make you go up and down with us, since I go wherever I can? Return and take back your brothers. Mercy and truth be with you.”
21Ittai answered the king and said, “As Yahweh lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in whatever place my lord the king is, whether for death or for life, even there also will your servant be.”
22David said to Ittai, “Go and pass over.” Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men and all the little ones who were with him.
23All the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over; the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over toward the road of the wilderness.
24Behold, 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 went up until all the people finished passing out of the city.
25The king said to Zadok, “Carry back the ark of God into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of Yahweh, he will bring me again and show me both it and his dwelling place;
26but if he says thus, ‘I have no delight in you,’ behold, here I am. Let him do to me as seems good to him.”
27The king said also to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return into the city in peace and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.
28Behold, I will stay at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.”
29Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem, and they stayed there.
30And David went up by the ascent of the Mount of Olives and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot, and all the people who were with him covered his head—every man—and they went up, weeping as they went up.
David said, “Yahweh, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”
32It came to pass that when David had come to the top where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and earth on his head.
33David said to him, “If you pass on with me, then you will be a burden to me;
34but if you return to the city and tell Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king. As I have been your father’s servant in time past, so will I now be your servant,’ then will you defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel.
35Do you not have Zadok and Abiathar the priests there with you? Therefore it will be that whatever thing you will hear out of the king’s house, you will tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests.
36Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok’s son and Jonathan Abiathar’s son, and by them you are to send to me everything that you will hear.”
37So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city; and Absalom came into Jerusalem.