1. So the war dragged on between the House of Saul and the House of David, but David grew steadily stronger and the House of Saul steadily weaker.
2. The sons born to David at Hebron were: his first-born Amnon, by Ahinoam of Jezreel;
3. his second Chileab, by Abigail widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third Absalom son of Maacah, daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
4. the fourth Adonijah son of Haggith; the fifth Shephatiah son of Abital;
5. the sixth Ithream, by David's wife, Eglah. These were born to David at Hebron.
6. This is what took place during the war between the House of Saul and the House of David. Abner took complete control in the House of Saul.
7. Now, there was a concubine of Saul's called Rizpah daughter of Aiah, and Abner took her. Ishbaal said to Abner, 'Why have you slept with my father's concubine?'
8. At these words of Ishbaal, Abner flew into a rage. 'Am I a dog's head?' he shouted. 'Here am I, full of faithful love towards the House of Saul your father, his brothers and his friends, not leaving you to the hands of David, and now you find fault with me over a woman!
9. May God bring unnameable ills on Abner, and worse ones, too, if I do not bring about what Yahweh has sworn to David:
10. to take the sovereignty from the House of Saul, and establish David's throne over Israel as well as Judah, from Dan to Beersheba!'
11. Ishbaal dared not say a single word to Abner in reply, as he was afraid of him.
12. Abner sent messengers on his own behalf to say to David, '. . . and furthermore, come to an agreement with me and I will give you my support to win all Israel over to you.'
13. 'Very well,' David said, 'I will come to an agreement with you. I impose one condition however; you will not be admitted to my presence unless you bring me Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come to see me.'
14. David then sent messengers to say to Ishbaal son of Saul, 'Give me back my wife Michal, whom I acquired for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.'
15. So Ishbaal sent for her to be taken from her husband Paltiel son of Laish.
16. Her husband set off with her and followed her, weeping as he went, as far as Bahurim; but Abner said to him, 'Go back!' and he went.
17. Now Abner conferred with the elders of Israel. 'For a long time now,' he said, 'you have wanted David as your king.
18. Now you must take action, since Yahweh has said of David, "By the hand of my servant David I shall deliver my people Israel from the clutches of the Philistines and all their enemies." '
19. Abner also spoke to the men of Benjamin and then went to Hebron to tell David everything that had been agreed by Israel and the House of Benjamin.
20. Abner, accompanied by twenty men, came to David at Hebron, and David held a feast for Abner and the men who were with him.
21. Abner then said to David, 'I must get up and go. I am going to rally all Israel to my lord the king, so that they will make an alliance with you, and you will reign over all that you desire.' So David allowed Abner to go, and he went unmolested.
22. David's retainers were just then coming back with Joab from a raid, bringing a great quantity of booty with them. Abner was no longer with David at Hebron, since David had allowed him to go, and he had gone unmolested.
23. When Joab and the whole company with him had arrived, Joab was told, 'Abner son of Ner has been to the king, and the king has allowed Abner to go away unmolested.'
24. Joab then went to the king and said, 'What have you done? Abner comes to you and you let him go away and now he has gone-why?
25. You know Abner son of Ner! He came to trick you, to discover your every move, to find out what you are doing.'
26. Joab left David's presence and sent messengers after Abner and these, unknown to David, brought him back from the storage-well at Sirah.
27. When Abner reached Hebron, Joab took him aside in the town-gate, as if to have a quiet word with him, and there struck him a mortal blow in the belly to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel.
28. Afterwards, when David heard of this, he said, 'I and my kingdom are for ever innocent before Yahweh of the blood of Abner son of Ner;
29. may it fall on the head of Joab and on all his family! May the House of Joab never be free of men afflicted with haemorrhage or a virulent skin-disease, whose strength is in the distaff, who fall by the sword, who lack food.'
30. (Joab and his brother Abishai had murdered Abner because he killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.)
31. David then said to Joab and the whole company with him, 'Tear your clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourn over Abner,' and King David walked behind the bier.
32. They buried Abner at Hebron, and the king wept aloud on his grave, and the people all wept too.
33. The king made this lament over Abner: Should Abner have died as a brute dies?
34. Your hands were not tied, your feet not chained; you fell as a man falls at the hands of criminals. And all the people wept for him louder than ever.
35. The people then all tried to persuade David to have some food while it was still daylight, but David swore this oath, 'May God bring unnameable ills on me, and worse ills, too, if I taste bread or anything whatever until the sun is down!'
36. All the people took note of this and it pleased them; indeed, everything the king did pleased the people.
37. That day, all the people and all Israel understood that the king had had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner.
38. The king said to his retainers, 'Do you not realise that a prince, a great man, has fallen in Israel today?
39. I, though anointed king, am weak at present, and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too strong for me. May Yahweh repay the criminal as his crime deserves!'