1The war between Saul’s royal house and David’s royal house lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger. But the royal house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.
2Sons were born to David in Hebron.
His first son was Amnon. Amnon’s mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel.
3His second son was Kileab. Kileab’s mother was Abigail. She was Nabal’s widow from Carmel.
The third son was Absalom. His mother was Maakah. She was the daughter of Talmai, the king of Geshur.
4The fourth son was Adonijah. His mother was Haggith.
The fifth son was Shephatiah. His mother was Abital.
5The sixth son was Ithream. His mother was David’s wife Eglah.
Those sons were born to David in Hebron.
Abner Goes Over to David’s Side
6The fighting continued between David’s royal house and Saul’s royal house. Abner gained more and more power in the royal house of Saul. 7While Saul was still alive, he had a concubine named Rizpah. She was the daughter of Aiah. Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, “Why did you sleep with my father’s concubine?”
8Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said. So Abner answered, “Do you think I’m only a dog’s head? Am I on Judah’s side? To this day I’ve been faithful to the royal house of your father Saul. I’ve been faithful to his family and friends. I haven’t handed you over to David. But now you claim that I’ve sinned with this woman! 9I will do for David what the Lord promised him. If I don’t, may God punish me greatly. 10I’ll take the kingdom away from Saul’s royal house. I’ll set up the throne of David’s kingdom over Israel and Judah. He will rule from Dan all the way to Beersheba.” 11Ish-Bosheth didn’t dare to say another word to Abner. He was much too afraid of him.
12Then Abner sent messengers to David to speak for him. They said, “Who will rule over this land? Make a covenant with me. Then I’ll help you bring all the Israelites over to your side.”
13“Good,” said David. “I will make a covenant with you. But there’s one thing I want you to do. Bring Saul’s daughter Michal to me. Don’t come to see me unless she’s with you.” 14Then David sent messengers to Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth. He ordered them to say, “Give me my wife Michal. She was promised to me. I paid for her the price that was demanded. I paid for her with the skins of 100 circumcised Philistines.”
15So Ish-Bosheth gave the order. He sent men who took Michal away from her husband Paltiel. Paltiel was the son of Laish. 16But her husband followed her to Bahurim. He was crying all the way. Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So he did.
17Abner talked with the elders of Israel. He said, “For some time you have wanted to make David your king. 18Now do it! The Lord made a promise to David. He said, ‘I will rescue my people Israel from the power of the Philistines. I will also rescue them from all their enemies. I will rescue them through my servant David.’ ”
19Abner also spoke to the people of Benjamin in person. Then he went to Hebron to tell David everything. He told him what Israel and all the people of Benjamin wanted to do. 20Abner had 20 men with him. They came to David at Hebron. So David prepared a feast for Abner and his men. 21Then Abner said to David, “Let me go right now. I’ll gather together all the Israelites for you. After all, you are now my king and master. The people can make a covenant with you. Then you can rule over everyone you want to.” So David sent Abner away. And he went in peace.
Joab Murders Abner
22Just then David’s men and Joab came back from attacking their enemies. They brought with them the large amount of goods they had taken. But Abner wasn’t with David in Hebron anymore. That’s because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23Joab and all the soldiers with him arrived. Then he was told that Abner, the son of Ner, had come to see the king. He was told that the king had sent Abner away. He was also told that Abner had gone in peace.
24So Joab went to the king. He said, “What have you done? Abner came to you. Why did you let him get away? Now he’s gone! 25You know what Abner, the son of Ner, is like. He came to trick you. He wanted to watch your every move. He came to find out everything you are doing.”
26Then Joab left David. He sent messengers to get Abner. They brought Abner back from the well of Sirah. But David didn’t know about it. 27When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him to one side. He brought him into an inside room. Joab acted as if he wanted to speak to him in private. But he really wanted to get even with him. That’s because Abner had spilled the blood of Joab’s brother Asahel. So Joab stabbed Abner in the stomach, and he died.
28Later on, David heard about it. He said, “I and the people of my kingdom aren’t guilty of spilling the blood of Abner, the son of Ner. We are free of blame forever in the sight of the Lord. 29May Joab and his whole family line be held accountable for spilling Abner’s blood! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has an open sore or skin disease. May his family never be without someone who has to use a crutch to walk. May his family never be without someone who gets killed by a sword. And may his family never be without someone who doesn’t have enough to eat.”
30Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner. They did it because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.
31David spoke to Joab and all the people with him. He said, “Tear your clothes. Put on the rough clothing people wear when they’re sad. Mourn when you walk in front of Abner’s body.” King David himself walked behind it. 32Abner’s body was buried in Hebron. The king wept out loud at Abner’s tomb. So did the rest of the people.
33King David sang a song of sadness over Abner. He said,
“Should Abner have died as sinful people do?
34His hands were not tied.
His feet were not chained.
He died as if he had been killed by evil people.”
All the people mourned over Abner again.
35Then all of them came and begged David to eat something. They wanted him to eat while it was still day. But David made a promise. He said, “I won’t taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down. If I do, may God punish me greatly!”
36All the people heard his promise and were pleased. In fact, everything the king did pleased them. 37So on that day all the people there and all the Israelites understood. They knew that the king didn’t have anything to do with the murder of Abner, the son of Ner.
38The king spoke to his men. He said, “Don’t you realize that a great commander has died in Israel today? 39I’m the anointed king. But today I’m weak. These sons of Zeruiah are too powerful for me. May the Lord pay back the one who killed Abner! May he pay him back for the evil thing he has done!”
1The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.
2Sons were born to David in Hebron:
his firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel;
3his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel;
the third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
4the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith;
the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
5and the sixth, Ithream the son of David’s wife Eglah.
These were born to David in Hebron.
Abner goes over to David
6During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul. 7Now Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, ‘Why did you sleep with my father’s concubine?’
8Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said. So he answered, ‘Am I a dog’s head – on Judah’s side? This very day I am loyal to the house of your father Saul and to his family and friends. I haven’t handed you over to David. Yet now you accuse me of an offence involving this woman! 9May God deal with Abner, be it ever so severely, if I do not do for David what the Lord promised him on oath 10and transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish David’s throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.’ 11Ish-Bosheth did not dare to say another word to Abner, because he was afraid of him.
12Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to say to David, ‘Whose land is it? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you bring all Israel over to you.’
13‘Good,’ said David. ‘I will make an agreement with you. But I demand one thing of you: do not come into my presence unless you bring Michal daughter of Saul when you come to see me.’ 14Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, ‘Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.’
15So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. 16Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go back home!’ So he went back.
17Abner conferred with the elders of Israel and said, ‘For some time you have wanted to make David your king. 18Now do it! For the Lord promised David, “By my servant David I will rescue my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.” ’
19Abner also spoke to the Benjaminites in person. Then he went to Hebron to tell David everything that Israel and the whole tribe of Benjamin wanted to do. 20When Abner, who had twenty men with him, came to David at Hebron, David prepared a feast for him and his men. 21Then Abner said to David, ‘Let me go at once and assemble all Israel for my lord the king, so that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may rule over all that your heart desires.’ So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.
Joab murders Abner
22Just then David’s men and Joab returned from a raid and brought with them a great deal of plunder. But Abner was no longer with David in Hebron, because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23When Joab and all the soldiers with him arrived, he was told that Abner son of Ner had come to the king and that the king had sent him away and that he had gone in peace.
24So Joab went to the king and said, ‘What have you done? Look, Abner came to you. Why did you let him go? Now he is gone! 25You know Abner son of Ner; he came to deceive you and observe your movements and find out everything you are doing.’
26Joab then left David and sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern at Sirah. But David did not know it. 27Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into an inner chamber, as if to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.
28Later, when David heard about this, he said, ‘I and my kingdom are for ever innocent before the Lord concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. 29May his blood fall on the head of Joab and on his whole family! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy3:29 The Hebrew for leprosy was used for various diseases affecting the skin. or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food.’
30(Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle of Gibeon.)
31Then David said to Joab and all the people with him, ‘Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and walk in mourning in front of Abner.’ King David himself walked behind the bier. 32They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king wept aloud at Abner’s tomb. All the people wept also.
33The king sang this lament for Abner:
‘Should Abner have died as the lawless die?
34Your hands were not bound,
your feet were not fettered.
You fell as one falls before the wicked.’
And all the people wept over him again.
35Then they all came and urged David to eat something while it was still day; but David took an oath, saying, ‘May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun sets!’
36All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them. 37So on that day all the people there and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner.
38Then the king said to his men, ‘Do you not realise that a commander and a great man has fallen in Israel this day? 39And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!’