The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Kings
Then Joab, son of Sarvia, aware that the king’s heart had relented towards Absalom,
sent for a wise woman who lived at Thecua, and spoke to her thus: Make as if thou wert in mourning, put on funeral garments, and never a drop of oil to anoint thee, like a woman who has long been mourning for the dead.
Then go into the king’s presence, and speak as I bid thee speak. And with that, he told her all she should say.
So the woman from Thecua came into David’s presence and there bowed to the ground to do him reverence; Lord king, she said, give me redress!
What wrong, asked he, is being done thee? And she said, I am a widow, with no husband to protect me.
And, my lord, I had two sons; but they came to blows out in the open fields, where there was none to interfere, and one gave the other a blow which killed him.
And now the whole clan is at my heels; give up the murderer I must, so that they may kill him in vengeance for his brother’s death, and make an end of the race. The one hope that is left me they would extinguish, so that my husband will have none left on earth to bear his name.
Go home, said the king; I will see that justice is done thee.
And the guilt, said the woman of Thecua, let that rest with me and with my own kindred; the king and his heirs shall be quit of it.
If anyone crosses thy will, the king said, bring him before me, and I will not let him do thee any more hurt.
Ah, said she, if the king would only take an oath in the name of the Lord his God that the kinsfolk shall not be allowed to carry on the feud, that my son’s life shall indeed be spared! Not a hair shall fall from his head, the king answered.
And now the woman asked leave to speak one word besides, and the king granted it.
Then she said, Why does the king’s grace treat the people of God so differently? Why does he persist in doing them wrong, by refusing to restore the man he has exiled?
We must all die, water spilt on the ground; there is no bringing back the dead. Never a soul will God suffer to be lost in the reckoning; still he busies himself with remedies to save the life of him who is banished.✻
I came to make my suit before my lord the king, with his subjects standing by, thinking to myself, Come, I will plead with the king, and perhaps he will grant his handmaid’s request;
and the king’s grace has listened to me, and given me redress against those who would have blotted out my name and my son’s name from the record of the Lord’s people.
And now let this plea of thy handmaid’s move thee, my lord king, to speak a generous word.✻ Though indeed my lord the king is wise as an angel of God; thou art not moved from thy purpose by fair word or foul; the Lord thy God is with thee.
Then the king said to her, I have a question to ask thee; answer it openly. My Lord king, she said, thou hast only to speak.
Tell me then, said the king, was not Joab concerned in all this? As thou art a living man, she answered, that guess the king’s grace has made has not missed the truth by a hair’s breadth. It was thy servant Joab who sent me on my errand, and told me all I was to say;
it was thy servant Joab who bade me use this parable. My lord king, thou art wise as an angel of God; nothing on earth is hidden from thee.
And the king turned to Joab, and said, I relent, and grant thy request; go and bring my son Absalom home.
Whereupon Joab bowed his face to the ground in reverence, and blessed the king’s name. To-day, he said, I am assured of thy royal favour, that thou shouldst so grant thy servant his will.
Then he set out on his journey to Gessur, and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem.
But the king said, Let him go back to his own house, and never come into my presence; so Absalom went home, and might not have access to the king.
This Absalom was a man of good presence and famed for his beauty, none like him in all Israel; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head was no blemish to be found;
and when he cut his hair, as each year he must for the heavy burden it was, the locks that were cut weighed two hundred sicles by common weight.✻
Three sons he had, and one daughter called Tamar, a woman fair to see.
So for two years Absalom was in Jerusalem without sight of the king;
then he sent for Joab, to win him audience, but Joab would not come. A second time the request was made and refused;
then Absalom said to his servants, You know that field of Joab’s next to mine, that is under barley; go and set fire to it. So Absalom’s men set fire to the crop, and now Joab’s men went to find him with their garments torn about them, and told him Absalom had had part of his field burned.
Thereupon Joab went to see Absalom at his house, and asked, What means it, that thy men have set fire to my crop?
Why, answered Absalom, I was fain to see thee; it was my thought to send thee to the king, and ask him why he brought me home from Gessur. Better have stayed there; pray win me admittance to the king’s presence, or let him put me to death if he cannot forgive the wrong.
So Joab went and repeated this to the king, and Absalom was summoned into the king’s presence. Low he bowed before him, with his face to the ground; but David greeted Absalom with a kiss.
The Holy Bible