1. Now Joab son of Zeruiah saw that the king was yearning for Absalom.
2. So he sent a messenger to Tekoa to fetch a wise woman and he told her this, "Please pretend to be a mourner. Put on mourning garments and do not perfume yourself with oil that you may look like a woman who has been mourning for several days for the dead
3. and go to the king with this message." And Joab told her what to say.
4. When the woman of Tekoa appeared before the king, she fell on her face in homage and said, "Help me, O king!"
5. The king asked her, "What is wrong?" She answered, "Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead.
6. I, your handmaid, had two sons who quarreled with one another in the field. Since there was no one to part them, one struck the other and killed him.
7. Now the entire family demand that I give up the one who struck his brother. And they say: 'We will kill him and avenge his brother's death.' So they want to quench my remaining hope; with this they will leave my husband without name or posterity on the earth."
8. Then the king said to the woman, "Go home and I will give orders on your behalf."
9. But the woman of Tekoa said to the king, "Let me and my family be blamed, my lord the king, and let the king and his throne not be criticized for this."
10. The king said, "If anyone says anything to you, bring him to me and he shall never bother you again."
11. Then she said, "Please let the king swear by Yahweh, his God, that the avenger of blood may not deepen my disgrace by killing my son." The king replied, "As Yahweh lives, not one hair of your son shall perish."
12. Then the woman said, "Please allow me to say something to my lord the king." The king told her, "Speak."
13. And she went on, "Why do you yourself act against the people of God? In giving this decision, the king condemns himself for not having brought his banished son back home.
14. We are all mortals and as water spilt on the ground cannot be gathered up again, so God does not make the soul return. So let the king find a way to bring back his banished son.
15. Now, if I have come to talk about this to my lord the king, it is because the people scared me and I thought, 'I will speak to the king; perhaps he will listen to me.
16. If he agrees to help me when I tell him about the man who seeks to cut off both me and my son from the inheritance God gave us,
17. he will surely give the decision which will bring us peace. For my lord the king is like an angel of God in understanding everything. Yahweh your God be with you!"
18. Then the king said to the woman, "Do not hide anything from me when I question you." The woman replied, "Let my lord the king speak."
19. The king asked, "Is Joab behind you in all this?" The woman answered, "As you surely live, my lord the king, all is as my lord the king says. It was your servant Joab who ordered me and taught me everything I had to say.
20. Joab did this to disguise the purpose. But my lord is as wise as an angel of God, knowing all things that happen on earth."
21. Then the king told Joab, "Well, I shall do it. Go, fetch the young man Absalom."
22. Joab fell on his face to the ground in homage and blessed the king, saying, "Today I know that you look kindly on me, my lord the king, because you have granted this my request."
23. Joab went on his way to Geshur to fetch Absalom and bring him to Jerusalem.
24. The king, however, told him, "Let him stay in his own house for I shall not receive him." So Absalom stayed in his own house and was not received by the king.
25. In all Israel, there was no one as praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom, from the sole of his feet to the crown of his head he was without defect.
26. When he cut his hair (every year he cut his hair when it became too heavy for him), he weighed it, and it weighed two hundred shekels by the king's weight.
27. There were born to Absalom three sons and a daughter named Tamar, a beautiful woman.
28. For two years Absalom stayed in Jerusalem but the king did not receive him.
29. Absalom called for Joab to send him to the king, but Joab refused to see him. He called for him a second time but Joab would not come.
30. So Absalom said to his servants, "You know Joab's field which is next to mine, planted with barley. Go set it on fire." And so they did. Then the servants of Joab came to him to tell him, "The servants of Absalom set your field on fire."
31. Then Joab went to Absalom's house and asked him, "Why have your servants set my field on fire?"
32. Absalom replied, "Come over, for I want to send you to the king with this message, 'Why did you let me return from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there yet.' Now I want to be received by the king. If I am guilty, let him send me to death!"
33. Joab went to the king and brought him the message. So the king called for Absalom who appeared before the king, bowing low with his face to the ground. And the king embraced Absalom.