The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Kings
After this David asked counsel from the Lord, whether he should remove into one of the cities of Juda. When the Lord bade him remove, he asked, Into which of them? And the answer came, To Hebron.
So thither David took his two wives, Achinoam from Jezrahel and Abigail that had been wife to Nabal at Carmel;
thither, too, went the men who followed him, each with his own household, settling in the townships that belonged to Hebron.
There the men of Juda came to him, and anointed him king over the line of Juda. And when David heard how the men of Jabes-Galaad had given Saul burial,
he sent messengers to say, The Lord’s blessing on you, for the faithfulness you have shewn to Saul, your master, in thus burying him;
may the Lord make return to you for your loyalty and kindliness! I too will prove myself grateful for it.
Strong be those arms of yours, keep your courage high; now that you no longer have Saul to rule over you, the tribe of Juda has anointed me to be its king.
But meanwhile Abner the son of Ner, who was in command of the army, brought Isboseth forward, Saul’s remaining son, and gave him a royal progress through the camp;
setting him up as king of Galaad and Gessuri and Jezrahel and Ephraim and Benjamin and all the rest of Israel.
Isboseth, heir to king Saul, was forty years old when his reign over Israel began, and it lasted two years; David had no following except the tribe of Juda,
and as king of Juda, for seven and a half years, he reigned at Hebron.
And now they offered battle from their camp at Gabaon, Abner son of Ner and the men that recognized Isboseth as heir to king Saul;
and by the pool at Gabaon the army of David went out to meet them, under Joab son of Sarvia. So they met, and confronted one another on opposite sides of the pool.
Thereupon Abner proposed to Joab that champions should come forward and make trial of arms, and to this Joab agreed.
Come forward they did, twelve men that acknowledged Isboseth as the heir of Saul, and twelve followers of David, and met one another.
Each caught his man by the head and thrust his sword deep, and together they fell slain; there in the field by Gabaon which has taken its name from them, the Field of the Champions.
It was a fierce battle that raged that day, and David’s men routed Abner and the Israelites.
Two sons of Sarvia besides Joab were fighting, Abisai and Asael; Asael, swift of foot as any wild roe.
And this Asael gave chase to Abner, following him still without swerving to right or left;
till at last Abner looked behind him, and asked if he were Asael. When he learned that it was so,
he warned him, Why then, turn aside this way or that, overtake one of my men, and from him secure thy spoils. But still Asael would not give up the pursuit,
and again Abner warned him, Turn back, and follow me no more; must I strike thee down, and never again look thy brother Joab in the face?
At last, finding that he would not listen to him and never turned aside, Abner, with a backward thrust of his spear, smote him through the groin. There and then he fell dead; and none that came up behind him ventured beyond the place where Asael died.
But meanwhile Joab and Abisai were in pursuit of Abner. When the sun set, they had reached the Hill of the Aqueduct, that lies on the side of the ravine opposite the desert road to Gabaon.
All the men of Benjamin had rallied to Abner, and there they stood gathered in one mass, with one hill-top to defend.
And now Abner cried out to Joab, Is there no glutting that sword of thine? Hast thou never heard that desperate men are dangerous? Call off thy men, before it is too late, from the pursuit of their own brethren.
As the Lord is a living God, Joab answered, hadst thou only spoken, my men would have let their brethren alone while it was still morning.
With that, he sounded his trumpet, and all his army halted; there was no more pursuit of Israel, no more fighting.
All that night Abner and his men marched over the plain, crossed the Jordan, and made their way along Beth-horon to their camp.✻
When Joab returned after abandoning the pursuit, he called the roll and found only nineteen of David’s men missing, besides Asael;
whereas the toll they had taken of Benjamin and the rest of Abner’s forces was three hundred and sixty dead.
Asael they bore off, and gave him burial in his father’s tomb at Bethlehem; then they too, Joab and his army, marched all through the night, and reached Hebron as dawn was breaking.
The Holy Bible