1. David reviewed the troops who were with him and appointed commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds to lead them.
2. David divided the army into three groups, one under the command of Joab, another under the command of Abishai son of Zeruiah and brother of Joab, and the third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. David then said to the troops, 'I shall take the field in person with you.'
3. But the troops replied, 'You are not to take the field. No one will bother about us if we run away, they will not even bother about us if half of us are killed, but you are ten thousand times more valuable. So it is better if you stay inside the town, in case we need reinforcements.'
4. David said, 'I will do what you think best.' And the king stood beside the gate as the troops marched out by their hundreds and their thousands.
5. The king gave orders to Joab, Abishai and Ittai, 'For my sake, treat young Absalom gently!' And the troops all heard the king give all the commanders these orders about Absalom.
6. So the troops marched out into the open to engage Israel, and the battle took place in the Forest of Ephraim.
7. There, the army of Israel was beaten by David's retainers; it was a great defeat that day, with twenty thousand casualties.
8. The fighting spread throughout the region and that day the forest claimed more victims than the sword.
9. Absalom happened to run into some of David's guards. Absalom was riding his mule and the mule passed under the thick branches of a great oak. Absalom's head got caught in the oak and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule he was riding went on.
10. Someone saw this and reported to Joab, 'I have just seen Absalom hanging from an oak.'
11. Joab said to the man who had informed him, 'If you saw him, why did you not strike him to the ground then and there? I would have made it my business to give you ten silver shekels and a belt!'
12. The man replied to Joab, 'Even if I could feel the weight of a thousand silver shekels in my hand, I would not lift my hand against the king's son. In our own hearing, the king gave you and Abishai and Ittai these orders, "For my sake, spare young Absalom."
13. Even if I had deceived myself, nothing stays hidden from the king and you would have dissociated yourself from me.'
14. Joab then said, 'I cannot waste time arguing with you!' And, taking three darts in his hand, he planted them in Absalom's heart, while he was still alive, deep in the oak-tree.
15. Ten soldiers, Joab's armour-bearers, then came in close, struck Absalom and killed him.
16. Joab then had the trumpet sounded, and the troops left off pursuing Israel, since Joab held the troops back.
17. They took Absalom, flung him into a deep pit in the forest and raised a huge cairn over him. All the Israelites had fled, dispersing to their homes.
18. Now, during his lifetime, Absalom had made and erected a pillar to himself, which is in the Valley of the King. 'I have no son', he said, 'to preserve the memory of my name.' He gave his own name to the pillar, and today it is still called Absalom's Monument.
19. Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, 'Let me run and tell the king the good news that Yahweh has vindicated his cause by ridding him of his enemies.'
20. But Joab said, 'Today you would be no bearer of good news, some other day you may be; but today you would not be bringing good news, since the king's son is dead.'
21. Joab then said to the Cushite, 'Go and tell the king what you have seen.' The Cushite prostrated himself to Joab and ran off.
22. But Ahimaaz son of Zadok persisted. 'Come what may,' he said to Joab, 'please let me run after the Cushite.' 'My son,' Joab said, 'why run? You will get no reward for your news.'
23. But he replied, 'Come what may, let me run!' and Joab said 'Run, then!' So Ahimaaz ran off along the road through the Plain, outrunning the Cushite.
24. David was sitting between the two gates. The sentry, having gone up to the roof of the gate, looked out from the ramparts and saw a man running alone.
25. The sentry called down to the king and told him. The king said, 'If he is alone, he is bringing good news.'
26. As the man drew steadily nearer, the lookout man saw another man running, and the sentry above the gate shouted, 'Here comes another man, running alone!' David said, 'He too is a bearer of good news.'
27. The sentry said, 'I recognise the way the first man runs; Ahimaaz son of Zadok runs like that.' 'He is a good man', said the king, 'and comes with good news.'
28. Ahimaaz went up to the king. 'All hail!' he said, prostrating himself on the ground before the king. 'Blessed be Yahweh your God', he said, 'who has handed over the men who rebelled against my lord the king!'
29. 'Is all well with young Absalom?' the king asked. Ahimaaz replied, 'I saw a great commotion when Joab, the king's servant, sent your servant off, but I do not know what it was.'
30. The king said, 'Go and stand over there.' He stood to one side and waited.
31. Then the Cushite arrived. 'Good news for my lord the king!' the Cushite shouted. 'Today Yahweh has vindicated your cause, by ridding you of all who had risen up against you.'
32. 'Is all well with young Absalom?' the king asked the Cushite. 'May the enemies of my lord the king', the Cushite answered, 'and all who rise up to harm you, share the fate of that young man!'