The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Kings
Now, said Achitophel to Absalom, let me pick twelve thousand men, and set out in pursuit of David this very night;
so I shall overtake him and easily defeat him, weary as he is and unnerved; first scatter the company that went with him, and then strike him down, with none to aid him.
All the people I will bring round to thy cause, as easily as I would persuade a single man; thou hast but one enemy, the rest of the people will be well content.
Both Absalom and all the elders of Israel liked his counsel well;
but Absalom would have them summon Chusai the Arachite, to find out his opinion too.
So Chusai the Arachite came in, and Absalom told him what Achitophel had said; Were it well done? he asked. What advice givest thou?
And Chusai answered, No, it will not serve our turn, this counsel Achitophel has given.
Bethink thee now, what brave warriors they are, thy father and the men he leads; how fierce in their anger, fierce as the she-bear that lurks in a wood, when her cubs have been taken away from her; thy father is a fighting man, he will not remain there among the common folk.
No, by now he is hidden in some pit under ground, or some other vantage-point. A few deaths among his pursuers, and the word will go round, Absalom’s followers are routed!
Then the most lion-hearted will be overcome with sudden fear; well all the people of Israel knows that thy father and the warriors that bear him company are men of mettle.
No, here is a plan more to my liking, that thou shouldst summon all Israel, from Dan to Bersabee, an army countless as the sand, and thyself march out with it.
Hide he where he may, we will find him, and we will be all about him, covering the earth like dew; never a man of his company shall escape us.
Why, even if he should defend himself behind city walls, this great army of Israel could wind ropes round it and drag it down into the nearest valley, till never a stone was to be found of it!
Thereupon Absalom and all the men of Israel agreed that Chusai the Arachite had given better counsel than Achitophel. Whereas in truth Achitophel’s advice was the more to their purpose, but the Lord foiled it, to compass Absalom’s ruin.
Then Chusai told the priests, Sadoc and Abiathar, what Achitophel’s counsel had been, and what his own;
Send a message to David, said he, with all speed, telling him not to linger in the desert plain this night, but cross Jordan without delay; else he and all that are with him may be overwhelmed.
Jonathan and Achimaas stood at their post by the spring of Rogel, and a maid-servant must go and give them the message before they could take it to king David; they did not dare shew themselves in the city.
Even so a lad saw them, and told Absalom, and they must turn aside with all speed into the house of a man at Bahurim, that had a well by the porch of it, and climb down into this for safety.
Nor was their hiding-place discovered; a woman came and spread a cloth over the mouth of the well, as if she would dry her barley-groats there;
and when Absalom’s men reached the house, asking her where were Jonathan and Achimaas, she said they had gone quickly on their way, only stopping for a mouthful of water; so their pursuers returned baffled to Jerusalem.
These gone, Jonathan and Achimaas climbed up out of the well, and brought king David word; Bestir yourselves, they said, and cross the river without more ado; and told what advice Achitophel had given.
So king David and all that bore him company took the road, and were across Jordan before ever dawn broke; not a man was left west of the river.
As for Achitophel, when he found that his advice was not followed, he saddled his ass and went home to Gilon; there he put his affairs in order, and hanged himself. So there they buried him, in his father’s tomb.
David made his way to the Encampment; and now Absalom crossed the Jordan after him, with all Israel at his back.
In Joab’s place, Absalom gave the command of his army to Amasa, that was son to a man called Jethra, of Jezrahel; he had mated with Abigail, daughter of Naas, that was sister to Joab’s mother Sarvia.
So Israel, and Absalom with them, pitched their tents in the country of Galaad.
Meanwhile, upon David’s coming to the Encampment, Sobi son of Naas the Ammonite, and Machir son of Ammihel from Lodabar, and Berzellai that dwelt in Galaad, at Rogelim,
brought him presents; beds and coverlets and earthenware, wheat and barley, flour and parched corn, beans and lentils and fried pulse,
honey and butter, sheep and fattened calves. So they made provision for David and his followers, that were like to be hard pressed with hunger and thirst, there in the desert.
The Holy Bible