1. After this, Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, as well as fifty men to run before him.
2. Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the gateway. Whenever a man with a grievance came before the king's tribunal, Absalom would call to him and say, "From which city are you?" Should he say, "Your servant is from such and such a tribe in Israel,"
3. Absalom would tell him, "Your cause is good and just but there is no one to hear you on behalf of the king."
4. Absalom added, "I wish I were judge in the land! Then every man with a grievance or cause could come to me and I would give him justice."
5. Whenever a man approached to pay him homage, he would stretch out his arms to hold and embrace him.
6. Absalom did this to all Israelites who came to the tribunal of the king, winning their hearts for himself.
7. After four years, Absalom said to the king, "Please allow me to go and fulfill the vow I have to pay to Yahweh in Hebron.
8. For while I lived at Geshur in Aram, I made this vow: 'If Yahweh will really bring me back to Jerusalem, I shall go there to worship him!"
9. The king said to him, "Go in peace," and he left for Hebron.
10. Absalom sent spies throughout the tribes of Israel with this instruction, "As soon as you hear the trumpet sound, proclaim: 'Absalom is king in Hebron!"
11. Two hundred men from Jerusalem had left with Absalom as invited guests. But nothing of his purpose dawned on them.
12. While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahitophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city Giloh. Meantime, the conspiracy grew strong and the number of people with Absalom kept increasing.
13. A messenger came to report to David that the Israelites were siding with Absalom.
14. Then David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem, "Let us flee, for we cannot resist Absalom. Go quickly, lest he come hurriedly and overtake us. Surely he will put the city to the sword if he can bring disaster upon us."
15. The king's servants answered him, "Your servants are with you in whatever my lord the king decides."
16. The king departed with all his household, but left ten concubines behind to take care of the house.
17. The king left on foot and the people followed him. They stopped at the last house of the city and
18. his servants marched past him, as well as the Cherethites, the Pelethites and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, and went ahead of him.
19. Then the king said to the commander, Ittai, the Gittite, "Why are you also coming with us? Go back and stay with your king, for you are a foreigner, an exile from your home.
20. Are you setting out when you have just arrived? Shall I make you wander about with us? Go back, take your brothers with you and may Yahweh show you kindness and faithfulness.
21. Ittai, however, answered the king, "As Yahweh lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether in life or in death, there also will your servant be."
22. Then David said to Ittai,"Go then, march on." So Ittai the Gittite marched on with all his men and all the children who were with him.
23. Meanwhile, all those in the countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by. Then the king crossed the brook Kidron and all the people moved on to the desert.
24. The priest Zadok came with all the Levites bearing the ark of the Covenant of God. They set down the ark of God where Abiathar stood until the people had all gone out of the city;
25. after which the king said to Zadok, "Carry the ark of God back into the city. If Yahweh looks kindly on me, he will bring me back and allow me to again see the ark and its lodging place.
26. But if he says, 'I am not pleased with you,' I am here; let him do to me what seems good to him."
27. The king also said to the priest Zadok, "See, better go back to the city in peace and take with you your son Ahimaaz, and Jonathan, son of Abiathar.
28. I will wait in the desert fords until you send word for me."
29. So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem and remained there.
30. David himself went up the Mount of Olives, weeping. He was barefooted and had his head covered, and all the people who were with him had their heads covered and wept as they went.
31. When David was informed that Ahitophel was among the conspirators with Absalom, he said, "O Yahweh, turn the counsel of Ahitophel into folly."
32. When David reached the summit where God is worshiped, Hushai the Archite met him with his coat torn and dust strewn on his head.
33. David said to him, "If you come with me, you will be a burden to me.
34. It would be better for you to return to the city and say to Absalom, 'I will be your servant, O king! Just as I have been your father's servant in the past, I will now be your servant.' In that way you will be useful to me in thwarting the counsel of Ahitophel.
35. The priests Zadok and Abiathar are there to help you. Report whatever you hear from the king's house.
36. Both their sons are there, Ahimaaz, Zadok's son, and Jonathan, Abiathar's son, and you shall report to me through them everything you hear."
37. So David's friend Hushai arrived in the city just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.