1. Ahithophel said to Absalom, 'Let me choose twelve thousand men and set off this very night in pursuit of David.
2. I shall fall on him while he is tired and dispirited; I shall strike terror into him, and all the people who are with him will run away. I shall kill only the king,
3. and I shall then bring all the people back to you, like a bride returning to her husband. You seek the life of one individual only; the people as a whole will have peace.'
4. The suggestion seemed a good one to Absalom and all the elders of Israel.
5. Then Absalom said, 'Now call Hushai the Archite, for us to hear what he too has to say.'
6. When Hushai had come to Absalom, Absalom said, 'This is what Ahithophel says. Are we to do as he suggests? If not, suggest something yourself.'
7. Hushai said to Absalom, 'On this occasion the advice given by Ahithophel is not good.
8. You know', Hushai went on, 'that your father and his men are great fighters and that they are now as angry as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Your father is a man of war: he will not let the army rest during the night.
9. At this moment he is concealed in some hollow or other place. If at the outset there are casualties among our troops, word will go round that the army supporting Absalom has met with disaster.
10. And then even the valiant, the truly lion-hearted, will be demoralised; for all Israel knows that your father is a champion and that the men with him are valiant.
11. For my part, I offer this advice: Summon all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, to rally to you, as numerous as the sand on the seashore, and you take the field in person with them.
12. We shall reach him wherever he is to be found; we shall fall on him as the dew falls on the ground, and not leave him or any one of the men with him.
13. Should he retire into a town, all Israel will bring ropes to that town, and we shall drag it into the river-bed until not a pebble of it is to be found.'
14. Then Absalom and all the people of Israel said, 'Hushai the Arkite's advice is better than Ahithophel's,' Yahweh having resolved to thwart Ahithophel's shrewd advice and so bring disaster on Absalom.
15. Hushai then told the priests Zadok and Abiathar, 'Ahithophel gave such and such advice to Absalom and the elders of Israel, but I advised so and so.
16. Send with all speed to David and say, "Do not camp in the desert passes tonight, but get through them as fast as you can, or the king and his whole army may be annihilated." '
17. Jonathan and Ahimaaz were posted at the Fuller's Spring; a servant-girl was to go and warn them and they in turn were to warn King David, since they could not give themselves away by coming into the city themselves.
18. A young man saw them nonetheless and told Absalom. The pair of them, however, made off quickly, reaching the house of a man in Bahurim. In his courtyard was a storage-well and they got down into it.
19. The woman took a piece of canvas and, spreading it over the mouth of the storage-well, scattered crushed grain on it so that nothing showed.
20. When Absalom's servants reached the woman at the house, they said, 'Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?' The woman said, 'They have gone further on, towards the water.' They searched but, having found nothing, went back to Jerusalem.
21. When they had gone, the men climbed out of the storage-well and went to warn King David. 'Set out!' they told David. 'Cross the water quickly, for Ahithophel has given such and such advice against you!'
22. So David and all the troops with him set off and crossed the Jordan. By dawn no one was left, all had crossed the Jordan.
23. When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set off and went home to his own town. Then, having set his house in order, he hanged himself. He was buried in his father's tomb.
24. David had reached Mahanaim by the time that Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel.
25. Absalom had put Amasa in command of the army in place of Joab. This Amasa was the son of a man called Ithra the Ishmaelite, who had married Abigail, daughter of Jesse and sister of Zeruiah, mother of Joab.
26. Israel and Absalom pitched their camp in the territory of Gilead.
27. When David reached Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah-of-the-Ammonites, Machir son of Ammiel from Lo-Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim
28. brought bedding, rugs, bowls and crockery; and wheat, barley, meal, roasted grain, beans, lentils,
29. honey, curds and cows' cheese and sheep's cheese, which they presented to David and the people with him for them to eat. 'The army', they said, 'must have been hungry, tired and thirsty in the desert.'