Absalom Returns to Jerusalem
1Joab, the son of Zeruiah, knew that the king longed to see Absalom. 2So Joab sent someone to Tekoa to have a wise woman brought back from there. Joab said to her, “Pretend you are filled with sadness. Put on the rough clothing people wear when they’re sad. Don’t use any makeup. Act like a woman who has spent many days mourning for someone who has died. 3Then go to the king. Give him the message I’m about to give you.” And Joab told her what to say.
4The woman from Tekoa went to the king. She bowed down with her face toward the ground. She did it to show him respect. She said, “Your Majesty, please help me!”
5The king asked her, “What’s bothering you?”
She said, “I’m a widow. My husband is dead. 6I had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in a field. No one was there to separate them. One of my sons struck down the other one and killed him. 7Now my whole family group has risen up against me. They say, ‘Hand over the one who struck down his brother. Then we can put him to death for killing his brother. That will also get rid of the one who will receive the family property.’ They want to kill the only living son I have left, just as someone would put out a burning coal. That would leave my husband without any son on the face of the earth to carry on the family name.”
8The king said to the woman, “Go home. I’ll give an order to make sure you are taken care of.”
9But the woman from Tekoa said to him, “You are my king and master. Please pardon me and my family. You and your royal family won’t be guilty of doing anything wrong.”
10The king replied, “If people give you any trouble, bring them to me. They won’t bother you again.”
11She said, “Please pray to the Lord your God. Pray that he will keep our nearest male relative from killing my other son. Then my son won’t be destroyed.”
“You can be sure that the Lord lives,” the king said. “And you can be just as sure that not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.”
12Then the woman said, “King David, please let me say something else to you.”
“Go ahead,” he replied.
13The woman said, “You are the king. So why have you done something that brings so much harm on God’s people? When you do that, you hand down a sentence against yourself. You won’t let the son you drove away come back. 14All of us must die. We are like water spilled on the ground. It can’t be put back into the jar. But that is not what God desires. Instead, he finds a way to bring back anyone who was driven away from him.
15“King David, I’ve come here to say this to you now. I’ve done it because people have made me afraid. I thought, ‘I’ll go and speak to the king. Perhaps he’ll do what I’m asking. 16A man is trying to separate me and my son from the property God gave us. Perhaps the king will agree to save me from that man.’
17“So now I’m saying, ‘May what you have told me prevent that man from doing what he wants. You are like an angel of God. You know what is good and what is evil. May the Lord your God be with you.’ ”
18Then the king said to the woman, “I’m going to ask you a question. I want you to tell me the truth.”
“Please ask me anything you want to,” the woman said.
19The king asked, “Joab told you to say all of this, didn’t he?”
The woman answered, “What you have told me is exactly right. And that’s just as sure as you are alive. It’s true that Joab directed me to do this. He told me everything he wanted me to say. 20He did it to change the way things now are. You are as wise as an angel of God. You know everything that happens in the land.”
21Later the king said to Joab, “All right. I’ll do what you want. Go. Bring back the young man Absalom.”
22Joab bowed down with his face toward the ground. He did it to honor the king. And he asked God to bless the king. He said, “You are my king and master. Today I know that you are pleased with me. You have given me what I asked for.”
23Then Joab went to Geshur. He brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24But the king said, “He must go to his own house. I don’t want him to come and see me.” So Absalom went to his own house. He didn’t go to see the king.
25In the whole land of Israel there wasn’t any man as handsome as Absalom was. That’s why everyone praised him. From the top of his head to the bottom of his feet he didn’t have any flaws. 26He used to cut his hair once a year when it became too heavy for him. Then he would weigh it. It weighed five pounds in keeping with the standard weights used in the palace.
27Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter’s name was Tamar. She became a beautiful woman.
28Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without going to see the king. 29Then Absalom sent for Joab. He wanted to send Joab to the king. But Joab refused to come to Absalom. So Absalom sent for him a second time. But Joab still refused to come. 30Then Absalom said to his servants, “Joab’s field is next to mine. He has barley growing there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.
31Joab finally went to Absalom’s house. He said to Absalom, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?”
32Absalom said to Joab, “I sent a message to you. I said, ‘Come here. I want to send you to the king. I want you to ask him for me, “Why did you bring me back from Geshur? I would be better off if I were still there!” ’ Now then, I want to go and see the king. If I’m guilty of doing anything wrong, let him put me to death.”
33So Joab went to the king and told him that. Then the king sent for Absalom. He came in and bowed down to the king with his face toward the ground. And the king kissed Absalom.