The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Kings
Chapter 19
Word came back to Joab that the king was in tears, mourning over his son;
and the news of the royal grief went round among the army, so that the victory they had won that day issued only in lament.
They would not even return that day to the city, feeling such shame as a broken and routed army feels;
and all the while the king hid his face away, and went on crying aloud, My son Absalom, Absalom, my son, my son!
At last Joab made his way into the royal lodging, and said to the king, Here is a fine day’s work, to make all thy followers go about hanging their heads! The men who have saved thee and thy sons and daughters, thy wives and concubines, from peril of death!
Nothing but love for thy enemies, nothing but hatred for thy friends; never a thought, this day, for thy own captains and thy own men! If we were all dead, and Absalom still lived, I warrant thou hadst been the better pleased.
Bestir thyself, come out and speak to thy men, and earn their good will; I swear by the Lord that if thou dost not come out, not a man will be left to serve thy cause by night-fall; and worse awaits thee than all the troubles which have come upon thee from the days of thy youth till now.
So the king rose up, and seated himself at the gateway; and there, once the word had gone round that the king was sitting in the gateway, all his followers came into the royal presence.

But the men of Israel had fled home. And now, all through the tribes of Israel, there was high debate; Here is a king, men said, that has rid us of our enemies, rescued us from the power of the Philistines, and he must be exiled from his kingdom to please Absalom!
This Absalom, whom we anointed to be our king, has fallen in battle; why is no voice raised for bringing the king back to us?
News of what the Israelites were saying had reached the court, and now king David sent word to the priests, Sadoc and Abiathar, bidding them ask the elders of Juda, Why are you the last to welcome the king home again?
You are my own tribesmen, my own kith and kin, why do you hang back, instead of restoring me to the throne?
He bade them, too, give this message to Amasa, Art thou not my own flesh and blood? May the Lord punish me as I deserve, and more than I deserve, if I do not make thee, instead of Joab, commander of my army henceforward!
Thus he won over the men of Juda till they had but a single thought, and a message was sent to the king bidding him come back to them, and all his men with him.

So the king set out for home, and by the time he reached the Jordan, the whole of Juda had assembled at Galgal to meet him and escort him over the river.
Semei the son of Gera, the Benjamite, hastened to bear them company, welcoming king David
with a thousand of his own tribesmen; there was Siba, too, that had once been a servant in the court of Saul, with his fifteen sons and twenty servants of his, and these, plunging into the Jordan
before the king could reach it, were across the ford, ready to escort his household and wait upon his bidding. Semei, Gera’s son, was no sooner across Jordan than he fell at the king’s feet;
My lord, he said, do not hold me guilty, forget the wrong thy servant did thee when thou, my lord king, hadst left Jerusalem; let there be no grudge in thy royal heart.
I, thy servant, confess this day the wrong I did; that is why I have come, first spokesman of the other tribes, to meet the king’s grace on his way.
At this, Abisai son of Sarvia would have Semei put to death, for the curses he uttered against an anointed king.
What, sons of Sarvia, David answered, will you never give me rest? This day, of all others, would you mar my peace? No Israelite shall lose his life this day, which has taught me for the first time that I am king in Israel.
And to Semei he said, Thou shalt not die, and took his oath to confirm it.

Then the king was met by Miphiboseth, that was heir to Saul; he came with feet begrimed, with beard untrimmed, in garments that went unwashed from the day of the king’s departure to the day of his return.
Down from Jerusalem he came to meet him, and when the king asked, Why didst thou not bear me company, Miphiboseth?
his answer was, My lord king, my own servant played me false; may it please thee, I bade him saddle me an ass, so that I could ride in the king’s company, lame as I am;
and he, not content with disobeying, has brought a false charge against me before my lord the king. But thou, my lord king, art wise as an angel of God; do what thou wilt.
For indeed, the whole of my father’s line deserve nothing better than death at thy hands, and thou hast given me, thy servant, a place among the guests at thy table; what right have I to complain? I will raise my voice no more in my defence.
And the king told him, No need to say more. My word has been passed; do thou and Siba divide the lands between you.
Why, let him take all, Miphiboseth answered; enough for me that my lord the king has come home in peace.

Berzellai, too, the man of Galaad, came down from Rogelim, to attend his crossing of Jordan, ready to accompany him to the further bank.
Berzellai of Galaad was an old man, eighty years old; he it was that brought the king provisions, while he lay at the Encampment, for he was a man of great riches.
To him the king said, Bear me company, and take thy ease with me at Jerusalem.
But Berzellai answered, What, a man of my years go up to Jerusalem with the king’s grace?
I am eighty years old now; are my senses still keen, to tell sweet from bitter? Can thy servant take pleasure in food and drink? Can my ear catch the tone of songster and songstress? Nay, I would not be a burden to my lord the king;
let thy servant go with thee a little of the way beyond Jordan, and no more. I need no such exchange of friendship;
rather, my prayer is that I should be allowed to go back and die in my own city, and be buried close to the grave where my father and mother lie. Here is thy servant Chamaam; let him go with thee, my lord king, and do with him what thou wilt.
Chamaam shall go with me, the king replied, and it shall be for thee to choose what is to be done with him; no request of thine shall go ungranted.
So, when he and all the people had crossed over Jordan, the king kissed Berzellai and blessed him, and he went home,
while the king passed on to Galgal, and Chamaam with him.

All the men of Juda had been the king’s escort, but of the other Israelites only a half;
and now the men of Israel came to him with one accord, and asked, How is it that our brethren, the men of Juda, have stolen thee from us? By what warrant did they escort the king, and his household and the warriors of David’s army, on their passage over Jordan?
Why, answered the men of Juda, he is nearer of kin to us. There is no cause here for anger. Have we lived on the king’s bounty, or been singled out to receive his gifts?
And the Israelites replied, We are ten to one; our rights with the king, our claims upon David, are ten times as great as yours. Why did you wrong us by not conferring with us first about our king’s restoration? Thus either side pleaded its own cause, but the men of Juda more bitterly than the men of Israel.