1. David then mustered the men who were with him and set over them commanders of a thousand men and commanders of a hundred men. He sent forth the army, of which one third was under the command of Joab;
2. one third, under the command of Abishai, son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and one third, under the command of Ittai, the Gittite. Then the king said to the men, "I myself will go out with you."
3. But the men replied, "You shall not go out. They could not care less if we flee or if half of us die. But you are worth ten thousand of us and it is better if you are able to send us assistance from the city."
4. So the king said to them, "I will do whatever seems best to you." Then the king stood by the side of the gate while the entire army marched out by hundreds and by thousands.
5. The king ordered Joab, Abishai and Ittai, "Don't hurt the young man Absalom for my sake." All the army heard the king giving orders to all the commanders concerning Absalom.
6. The army of David went out into the field against Israel. The battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim
7. where the Israelites were defeated by the men of David. The slaughter there on that day was great, numbering twenty thousand men.
8. The battle spread over the entire country and more people perished in the ravines of the forest than were killed by the sword that day.
9. Absalom was riding a mule and happened to meet the guards of David. As the mule passed under the thick branches of a big oak tree, his head was caught in the oak tree and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule he was riding went its way.
10. Someone reported to Joab, "I saw Absalom hanging from an oak tree."
11. Joab said to the man who reported this, "What! You saw him but did not strike him at once? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt."
12. But the man answered Joab, "Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not raise my hand against the king's son, for we heard the king command you, Abishai and Ittai: 'For my sake, spare the young man Absalom.'
13. If I had not done my duty, the king would come to know about it and you yourself would have kept your distance."
14. Joab replied, "I will not waste time talking with you." So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them into Absalom's heart while he was still alive in the oak tree.
15. Then ten guards, Joab's armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him down.
16. Joab blew the trumpet and the troops stopped pursuing the Israelites as Joab restrained them.
17. They then took Absalom, threw him into a deep pit in the forest and covered him with a great heap of stones. In the meantime all the Israelites fled, each one to his own home.
18. During his lifetime Absalom had a memorial created for himself in the king's Valley for he said, "I have no son by whom my name may be remembered." He called the pillar after his own name and, to this day, it is called Absalom's monument.
19. Then Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, said, "Let me run and report to the king that Yahweh has delivered him from the power of his enemies."
20. But Joab said to him, "Today you would not be a bearer of good news; another day you will run, but today there is no good news because the king's son is dead."
21. Joab then said to a Cushite, "Go tell the king what you have seen." The Cushite bowed before Joab and ran.
22. But Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, again said to Joab, "Come what may, let me also run behind the Cushite." Joab asked, "Why must you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward for this news?"
23. Ahimaaz insisted, "It does not matter, I will run." So Joab allowed him to go, and Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain, outrunning the Cushite.
24. David was sitting between the two gates. The watchman posted at the roof of the gate, on the wall, saw a man running alone.
25. So he called out and reported to the king who said, "If he is alone, he brings good news." As he was drawing near,
26. the watchman saw another man running. So he called to the gatekeeper and said, "Look, another man is running alone!" The king said, "He also brings good news."
27. The watchman said, "The first man runs like Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok." The king replied, "He is a good man, so he comes with good news."
28. Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, "All is well." Bowing before the king with his face to the ground, he said, "Blessed be Yahweh your God who has delivered up the men who rebelled against my lord the king!"
29. The king asked him, "How is the young Absalom?" Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent your servant, I saw a great tumult but did not know what it was all about."
30. So the king said, "Move away and stand here." He moved aside and stayed there.
31. The Cushite arrived and said, "Good news for my lord the king! Yahweh has done you justice today and saved you from all those who rebelled against you."
32. The king asked the Cushite, "How is the young Absalom?" The Cushite answered, "May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rebel against you end up like that young man."