1. After this David consulted Yahweh, asking, 'Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?' Yahweh replied, 'Go up!' 'Which one shall I go to?' David asked. 'To Hebron,' was the reply.
2. So David went up, with his two wives Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail widow of Nabal of Carmel.
3. In addition David brought up the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in the towns of Hebron.
4. The men of Judah came, and there they anointed David as king of the House of Judah. They told David that the people of Jabesh in Gilead had given Saul burial,
5. so David sent messengers to the people of Jabesh in Gilead. 'May you be blessed by Yahweh,' he said, 'for showing this faithful love to Saul your lord, and for burying him.
6. And now may Yahweh show faithful love and constancy towards you! I too shall treat you well because you have done this.
7. And now take courage and be men of valour. Saul your lord is dead, but the House of Judah has anointed me to be their king.'
8. Abner son of Ner, Saul's army commander, had taken Ishbaal son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim.
9. He had made him king of Gilead, of the Asherites, of Jezreel, of Ephraim, of Benjamin and indeed of all Israel.
10. Ishbaal son of Saul was forty years old when he became king of Israel, and he reigned for two years. Only the House of Judah supported David.
11. The length of David's reign over Judah in Hebron was seven years and six months.
12. Abner son of Ner, with the retainers of Ishbaal son of Saul, marched out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.
13. Joab son of Zeruiah, with David's retainers, also took the field, encountering them at the pool of Gibeon. There they halted, one party on one side of the pool, and the other opposite.
14. Abner then said to Joab, 'Let the men come forward and fight it out between us!' Joab replied, 'Let them come forward.'
15. So they came forward and were numbered off, twelve from Benjamin for Ishbaal son of Saul, and twelve of David's retainers.
16. Each caught his opponent by the head and drove his sword into his side; and thus they all fell together. Hence the place was called the Field of Sides; it is at Gibeon.
17. That day a very fierce battle took place, and Abner and the men of Israel were beaten by David's retainers.
18. The three sons of Zeruiah were there, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Now Asahel could run like a wild gazelle.
19. Asahel chased Abner, not swerving to the right or left from pursuing him.
20. Abner turned and said, 'Asahel, is that you?' He replied, 'It is.'
21. Abner said, 'Turn to your right or your left, catch one of the men and take his spoil!' But Asahel would not break off the pursuit.
22. Again Abner spoke to Asahel, 'Stop following me, unless you want me to strike you to the ground; and then how could I look your brother Joab in the face?'
23. But he refused to be diverted, so Abner struck him in the belly with the butt of his spear so that the shaft came out through his back; and he fell at his feet and died on the spot. On coming to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, everyone halted.
24. Joab and Abishai took up the pursuit of Abner and at sunset reached the Hill of Ammah, which is to the east of Giah on the road through the desert of Gibeon.
25. The Benjaminites gathered in close formation behind Abner and halted on the top of a hill.
26. Abner called out to Joab, 'Is the sword to go on devouring for ever? Surely you see that this can only end in bitterness? How long will it be before you order those people to stop pursuing their brothers?'
27. Joab replied, 'As Yahweh lives, if you had not spoken, these men would not have given up the pursuit of their brothers until morning.'
28. Joab then sounded the trumpet and all the troops halted; they pursued Israel no further and fought no more.
29. All that night Abner and his men made their way through the Arabah; they crossed the Jordan and, marching throughout the morning, came to Mahanaim.
30. Joab, having stopped pursuing Abner, mustered the whole contingent; David's retainers had lost nineteen men in addition to Asahel,
31. but had killed three hundred and sixty of Benjamin, Abner's men.
32. They took up Asahel and buried him in his father's tomb, which is at Bethlehem. Joab and his men then marched throughout the night, reaching Hebron at daybreak.