The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Kings
And now Absalom must drive in state, with chariots and outriders, and fifty men that ran before him.
He would rise early, and stand at the entrance to the gate, beckoning to him everyone who had business that called for the king’s award, asking what city he came from, and, if he mentioned one of the Israelite tribes,✻
telling him, Thy pleadings seem to me well-founded and just, but the king has not appointed any judge to try thy cause. Ah, said Absalom,
if only I could be appointed as judge in the land, so that all who had matters to decide could bring them to me for a careful hearing!
And when men came up to greet him, he would put out his hand and take them to himself with a kiss.
So he did to all the men of Israel who came up to get a hearing from the king, and stole away the hearts of the Israelites.
Then, in the fortieth year of the reign,✻ Absalom said to David, Grant me leave to go to Hebron and pay a vow I made to the Lord.
It is a vow thy servant took when he was at Gessur in Syria, that if the Lord would restore him to Jerusalem, he would offer a sacrifice.
Go, said David, and peace go with thee. To Hebron, then, he went,
and meanwhile he had sent agents of his throughout all the tribes of Israel, bidding them wait till they heard the trumpet sound, and then raise the cry, Absalom is king! Absalom reigns at Hebron!
And from Jerusalem itself he took two hundred men, who went with guileless hearts, not knowing why they had been summoned.
He also invited from Gilo Achitophel, the Gilonite that was David’s own counsellor. So Absalom began to offer his victims, and his conspiracy grew ever stronger, and the number ever greater that came to his support.
Soon a messenger came and told David that the whole of Israel was giving its allegiance to Absalom;
and he said to the servants he had with him at Jerusalem, Up, we must make our escape, or we are in Absalom’s hands! We must depart with all speed, or he will come and take us by surprise, overwhelm us and put the whole city to the sword!
And his servants answered, We are at the command of our lord the king, we will do his bidding.
So the king left the city on foot with all his attendants, leaving only ten concubines in charge of the palace.
At some distance away he halted on his journey, with all the throng that accompanied him,
his own servants walking at his side, and the Cerethite and Phelethite companies, as well as the Gethite warriors (six hundred foot, that had come from Geth in his retinue), marching on before him.
Why dost thou come with us? the king asked of Ethai the Gethite. Go back to the court; thou art a wanderer who has already left his home
and camest here but yesterday; there is no need for thee to leave Jerusalem, as the rest of us are leaving it, to-day. I will go where I must; do thou and these brethren of thine return, and may the Lord’s faithful mercies reward thee for this loyal service thou hast shewn.
But Ethai answered, As the Lord is a living God, as my lord the king is a living man, it cannot be. Wherever thou art, my lord king, in life or in death, there also will thy servant be.
Come then, David said to him, pass on over the stream. So Ethai and his men passed over, and then the rest,
weeping aloud as they went, till the whole throng had gone across. The king himself crossed Cedron stream, and they all set out on the road which leads to the desert.
Sadoc the priest was among them, and with him the Levites, carrying the ark that bore witness of God’s covenant. They now set the ark down, only Abiathar going forward on his journey, till the whole multitude that had left the city should have passed by.
But the king said to Sadoc, Carry God’s ark back into the city; if the Lord takes my part, he will bring me home again, and I shall see his ark and his tabernacle there;
if he tells me that I have lost his favour, I am at his command; his will be done.
Thou hast the seer’s gift; go back in peace to the city with thy son Achimaas and Abiathar’s son Jonathan,
and I will wait till I have word from thee before I come back from my hiding-place in the desert plain.
So Sadoc and Abiathar carried the ark back to Jerusalem, and remained there.
So David went up the mount of Olives, and wept as he climbed it; bare-footed he went and with his head covered, and all that were in his company passed on, with covered heads, lamenting.
And now David was told that Achitophel had taken part in Absalom’s conspiracy; Lord, he prayed, do thou foil the designs of Achitophel.
He had already reached the top of the hill, where he meant to pay the Lord worship, when he met Chusai the Arachite, his garments torn, and his head all smeared with dust.
Nay, said David, if thou shouldst come with me, thou canst only be a burden to me;
go back to the city, and tell Absalom, lord king, I am at thy command, I will be thy servant as I was thy father’s. So thou wilt be able to thwart the designs of Achitophel.
Thou hast the priests, Sadoc and Abiathar, to help thee; pass on to the priests, to Sadoc and Abiathar, every word thou hearest at court.
Their sons remain with them, Sadoc’s son Achimaas and Abiathar’s son Jonathan; by them thou canst send me news of all thou hearest.
So David’s friend Chusai went back, and Absalom was entering Jerusalem as he reached it.
The Holy Bible