1. Now there happened to be a scoundrel there called Sheba son of Bichri, a Benjaminite, who sounded the trumpet and shouted: We have no share in David, we have no heritage in the son of Jesse. Every man to his tents, O Israel!
2. At this all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba son of Bichri. But the men of Judah stuck close to their king, from the Jordan all the way to Jerusalem.
3. David returned to his palace in Jerusalem. The king took the ten concubines, whom he had left to look after the palace, and put them under guard. He provided for their upkeep but never went near them again; they were shut away until the day they died, widows, as it were, of a living man.
4. The king said to Amasa, 'Summon me the men of Judah and be here yourself within three days.'
5. Amasa went off to summon Judah, but he took longer than the time fixed by David.
6. David then said to Abishai, 'Sheba son of Bichri is now in a position to do us more damage even than Absalom. Take your master's retainers and be after him, before he can reach any fortified towns and elude us.'
7. Joab, the Cherethites, the Pelethites and all the champions took the field under Abishai, setting off from Jerusalem in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri.
8. They were near the great stone at Gibeon when Amasa met them, coming the other way. Joab was wearing his uniform, over which he had buckled on a sword hanging from his waist in its scabbard; the sword came out and fell.
9. Joab said to Amasa, 'Are you well, brother?' and, with his right hand, took Amasa by the beard to kiss him.
10. Amasa paid no attention to the sword, which Joab had now picked up, and Joab struck him with it in the belly, spilling his entrails all over the ground. He did not need to strike a second blow; and Amasa died, while Joab and Abishai hurried on in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri.
11. One of Joab's men stood on guard beside Amasa, shouting, 'Whoever is on Joab's side, whoever is for David, follow Joab!'
12. Amasa meanwhile lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road. Seeing that everyone was stopping, the man dragged Amasa off the road into the field and threw a cloak over him, having realised that everyone passing would stop.
13. Once Amasa had been taken off the road, the men all carried on, following Joab in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri.
14. Sheba crossed all the tribes of Israel as far as Abel Beth-Maacah, and the Bichrites all . . . They formed up and followed him.
15. Laying siege to him in Abel Beth-Maacah, they threw up a ramp against the outer wall of the town,
16. while the whole army accompanying Joab undermined the wall to bring it down. A quick-witted woman shouted from the town, 'Listen!
17. Listen! Say to Joab, "Come here, I want to speak to you." ' He came forward, and the woman said, 'Are you Joab?' 'I am', he replied. She said, 'Listen to what your servant says.' 'I am listening,' he replied.
18. She then spoke as follows, 'In olden days people used to say, "Abel and Dan are where you should enquire
19. whether a tradition established by the faithful of Israel has finally died out." And yet you are trying to destroy a town, a metropolis of Israel. Why do you want to devour Yahweh's heritage?'
20. 'The last thing I want to do', said Joab, 'is either to devour or to destroy.
21. This is not the issue; a man from the highlands of Ephraim, called Sheba son of Bichri, has revolted against the king, against David. Hand that one man over and I will raise the siege of the town.' 'Very well,' the woman said to Joab, 'his head will be thrown over the wall to you.'
22. The woman went and spoke to all the people as her wisdom dictated. They cut off the head of Sheba son of Bichri and threw it down to Joab. He had the trumpet sounded and they withdrew from the town and all went home, while Joab himself went back to the king in Jerusalem.
23. Joab commanded the whole army; Benaiah son of Jehoiada commanded the Cherethites and Pelethites;
24. Adoram was in charge of forced labour; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was herald;
25. Shiya was secretary; Zadok and Abiathar were priests;
26. also: Ira the Jairite was David's priest.