1. Now, Joab son of Zeruiah observed that the king was favourably inclined to Absalom.
2. Joab therefore sent to Tekoa for a wise woman. 'Pretend to be in mourning,' he said. 'Dress yourself in mourning, do not perfume yourself; act like a woman who has long been mourning for the dead.
3. Then go to the king and say this to him.' And Joab put the words into her mouth which she was to say.
4. So the woman of Tekoa went to the king and, falling on her face to the ground, prostrated herself. 'Help, my lord king!' she said.
5. The king said, 'What is the matter?' 'As you see,' she replied, 'I am a widow; my husband is dead.
6. Your servant had two sons and out in the fields, where there was no one to intervene, they had a quarrel. And one of them struck the other one and killed him.
7. And now the whole clan has risen against your servant. "Give up the man who killed his brother," they say, "so that we can put him to death, to atone for the life of the brother whom he has murdered; and thus we shall destroy the heir as well." By this means, they will extinguish the ember still left to me, leaving my husband neither name nor survivor on the face of the earth,'
8. Then the king said to the woman, 'Go home; I myself shall give orders about your case.'
9. The woman of Tekoa said to the king, 'My lord king! May the guilt be on me and on my family; the king and his throne are innocent of it.'
10. 'Bring me the man who threatened you,' the king replied, 'and he shall never hurt you again.'
11. She then said, 'Let the king be pleased to pronounce the name of Yahweh your God, so that the avenger of blood may not do greater harm and destroy my son.' 'As Yahweh lives,' he said, 'not one of your son's hairs shall fall to the ground!'
12. Then the woman said, 'Permit your servant to say something else to my lord the king.' 'Go on,' he said.
13. The woman said, 'Why then has the king, who by giving this verdict has condemned himself, conceived the idea, against God's people's interests, of not bringing home the son whom he has banished?
14. We are all mortal; we are like water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again, nor does God raise up a corpse; let the king therefore make plans for his banished son not to remain far away from him in exile.
15. 'Now, the reason why I came to speak about this to my lord the king is that I was being intimidated, and your servant thought, "I shall speak to the king; perhaps the king will do what his servant asks.
16. Surely the king will consent to save his servant from the clutches of the man who is trying to cut both me and my son off from God's heritage.
17. Let a word from my lord the king, restore the peace!" your servant thought, "for my lord the king is like the Angel of God in understanding good and evil." May Yahweh your God be with you!'
18. Replying to the woman, the king said, 'Now do not evade the question which I am going to ask you.' The woman said, 'Let my lord the king ask his question.'
19. 'Is not Joab's hand behind you in all this?' the king asked. The woman replied, 'As you live, my lord king, I cannot escape what my lord the king says, either to right or to left. Yes, it was your servant Joab who gave me my orders; he put all these words into your servant's mouth.
20. Your servant Joab did this to approach the matter indirectly, but my lord has the wisdom of the Angel of God; he knows everything that happens on earth!'
21. The king then said to Joab, 'Very well, the suit is granted. Go and bring the young man Absalom back.'
22. Joab fell on his face to the ground, prostrated himself and blessed the king. 'My lord king,' Joab said, 'today your servant knows that he has won your favour, since the king has done what his servant asked.'
23. Joab then set off, went to Geshur, and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem.
24. The king, however, said, 'Let him retire to his own house; he is not to appear in my presence.' So Absalom retired to his own house and was not received by the king.
25. In all Israel there was no one more praised for his beauty than Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, he could not be faulted.
26. When he cut his hair -- he shaved it once a year because his hair got too heavy -- he would weigh the hair: two hundred shekels, king's weight.
27. To Absalom were born three sons and one daughter called Tamar; she was a beautiful woman.
28. Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without being received by the king.
29. Absalom then summoned Joab, intending to send him to the king, but Joab would not come to him. He sent for him a second time, but still he would not come.
30. At this, Absalom said to his retainers, 'Look, Joab's field is next to mine and he has barley in it; go and set it on fire.' Absalom's retainers set fire to the field.
31. Joab then stirred himself, went to Absalom in his house and asked, 'Why have your retainers set my field on fire?'
32. Absalom replied to Joab, 'Look, I sent word to you: Come here, so that I can send you to the king to say, "Why come back from Geshur? Better for me to have been there still!" Now I want to be received by the king, and if I am guilty, let him put me to death!'
33. Joab went to the king and told him this. He then summoned Absalom, who prostrated himself with his face to the ground before the king. And the king kissed Absalom.