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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 20


Now a rebellious individual from Benjamin named Sheba, the son of Bichri, happened to be there. He sounded the horn and cried out, "We have no portion in David, nor any share in the son of Jesse. Every man to his tent, O Israel!"


So all the Israelites left David for Sheba, son of Bichri. But from the Jordan to Jerusalem the Judahites remained loyal to their king.


When King David came to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines whom he had left behind to take care of the palace and placed them in confinement. He provided for them, but had no further relations with them. And so they remained in confinement to the day of their death, lifelong widows.


Then the king said to Amasa: "Summon the Judahites for me within three days. Then present yourself here."


Accordingly Amasa set out to summon Judah, but delayed beyond the time set for him by David.


Then David said to Abishai: "Sheba, son of Bichri, may now do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your lord's servants and pursue him, lest he find fortified cities and take shelter while we look on."


So Joab and the Cherethites and Pelethites and all the warriors marched out behind Abishai from Jerusalem to campaign in pursuit of Sheba, son of Bichri.


1 They were at the great stone in Gibeon when Amasa met them. Now Joab had a belt over his tunic, from which was slung, in its sheath near his thigh, a sword that could be drawn with a downward movement.


And Joab asked Amasa, "How are you, my brother?" With his right hand Joab held Amasa's beard as if to kiss him.


And since Amasa was not on his guard against the sword in Joab's other hand, Joab stabbed him in the abdomen with it, so that his entrails burst forth to the ground, and he died without receiving a second thrust. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba, son of Bichri.


One of Joab's attendants stood by Amasa and said, "Let him who favors Joab and is for David follow Joab."


Amasa lay covered with blood in the middle of the highroad, and the man noticed that all the soldiers were stopping. So he removed Amasa from the road to the field and placed a garment over him, because all who came up to him were stopping.


When he had been removed from the road, everyone went on after Joab in pursuit of Sheba, son of Bichri.


Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth-maacah. Then all the Bichrites assembled and they too entered the city after him.


So David's servants came and besieged him in Abel Beth-maacah. They threw up a mound against the city, and all the soldiers who were with Joab began battering the wall to throw it down.


Then a wise woman from the city stood on the outworks and called out, "Listen, listen! Tell Joab to come here, that I may speak with him."


When Joab had come near her, the woman said, "Are you Joab?" And he replied, "Yes." She said to him, "Listen to what your maidservant has to say." He replied. "I am listening."


2 Then she went on to say: "There is an ancient saying, 'Let them ask if they will in Abel


or in Dan whether loyalty is finished or ended in Israel.' You are seeking to beat down a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you wish to destroy the inheritance of the LORD?"


Joab answered, "Not at all, not at all! I do not wish to destroy or to ruin anything.


That is not the case at all. A man named Sheba, son of Bichri, from the hill country of Ephraim has rebelled against King David. Surrender him alone, and I will withdraw from the city." Then the woman said to Joab, "His head shall be thrown to you across the wall."


She went to all the people with her advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba, son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. He then sounded the horn, and they scattered from the city to their own tents, while Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.


Joab was in command of the whole army of Israel. Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, was in command of the Cherethites and Pelethites.


Adoram was in charge of the forced labor. Jehoshaphat, son of Ahilud, was the chancellor.


Shawsha was the scribe. Zadok and Abiathar were priests.


Ira the Jairite was also David's priest.



1 [8] The text of this verse is quite uncertain.

2 [18-19] The proverbial expression here has been poorly transmitted, and its sense is doubtful.

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