1. After this, David consulted Yahweh, "Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah?" Yahweh answered him, "Go!" Then David asked, "Where shall I go?" He answered, "To Hebron."
2. So David went up to Hebron with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel.
3. David also brought up his men with their families and they settled in the towns of Hebron.
4. Then the men of Judah came and there they anointed David king over the nation of Judah. David learned that the men of Jabesh-gilead had buried Saul,
5. so he sent messengers to them with these words, "May Yahweh bless you for you have dealt kindly with Saul, your master, and have buried him.
6. May Yahweh show his love and fidelity to you! I, in turn, will be kind to you for having done this.
7. Now be brave and strong for although your master Saul is dead, the people of Judah have anointed me their king."
8. Now Abner, son of Ner, Saul's general, had taken Ishbaal, son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim
9. where he made him king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin and the rest of Israel.
10. Ishbaal, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned for two years. Only the people of Judah followed David.
11. David was their king in Hebron and he ruled over them for seven years and six months.
12. Abner, son of Ner, and the menservants of Ishbaal, Saul's son, left Mahanaim for Gibeon
13. where Joab, son of Zeruiah and the men of David met them at the pool of Gibeon. There they sat, one group on one side of the pool, the other on the opposite side.
14. Abner told Joab, "Let the young men rise and perform for us." Joab replied, "Let them rise!"
15. So they rose and were counted off: twelve of the Benjaminites of Ishbaal, Saul's son, and twelve of David's men.
16. Each one caught his opponent's head and thrust his sword in his opponent's side, and all fell down together. Therefore, that place in Gibeon was called field of the fighting.
17. After a very fierce battle that day, Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David's troops.
18. The three sons of Zeruiah - Joab, Abishai and Asahel - were there.
19. Asahel, who ran as fast as a wild gazelle, pursued Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left.
20. Abner turned around and asked, "Is that you, Asahel?" He replied, "Yes, it is I."
21. Abner said to him, "Turn right or left, go after one of the young men and take his spoil." But Asahel refused to desist from following him,
22. so Abner again said, "Stop following me! I will surely strike you down and then, how could I face your brother Joab?"
23. But Asahel would not heed, and Abner, without turning back, struck him in the belly with his spear which ran through him and came out his back. He fell and died on the spot and all who came to the place where Asahel fell dead, stopped there.
24. Joab and Abishai, however, pursued Abner and, by sunset, arrived at the hill of Ammah which lies near Giah toward the desert of Gibeon.
25. The Benjaminites then rallied around Abner, forming one band, and took their position on the hilltop.
26. Then Abner called to Joab, "When will the sword rest? Do you not realize that this will bring you more bitterness? When will you order your men to stop pursuing their brothers?"
27. Joab replied, "As God lives, if you had not spoken, my men would have continued pursuing their brothers until morning."
28. So Joab blew the trumpet and the men desisted from pursuing the Israelites and fighting them.
29. Abner and his men marched all night through the lowland, crossed the Jordan, and marched the whole morning until they reached Mahanaim.
30. As for Joab, he stopped pursuing Abner and gathered all his men. Besides Asahel, nineteen of David's servants were missing.
31. But David's men had killed three hundred and sixty of Abner's men from among the Benjaminites.
32. Asahel was taken and buried in his father's tomb at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night and reached Hebron at daybreak.