A scoundrel named Sheba son of Bichri, a Benjaminite, happened to be there. He sounded the horn and proclaimed:
“We have no portion in David,
No share in Jesse’s son!
Every man to his tent, O Israel!”
All the men of Israel left David and followed Sheba son of Bichri; but the men of Judah accompanied their king from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
David went to his palace in Jerusalem, and the king took the ten concubines he had left to mind the palace and put them in a guarded place; he provided for them, but he did not cohabit with them. They remained in seclusion until the day they died, in living widowhood.
The king said to Amasa, “Call up the men of Judah to my standard, and report here three days from now.”
Amasa went to call up Judah, but he took longer than the time set for him.
And David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bichri will cause us more trouble than Absalom. So take your lord’s servants and pursue him, before he finds fortified towns and aMeaning of Heb. uncertain.eludes us.”-a
bEmendation yields “Joab, the Cherethites and Pelethites, and all the warriors marched out behind Abishai.”Joab’s men, the Cherethites and Pelethites, and all the warriors, marched out behind him.-b They left Jerusalem in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri.
They were near the great stone in Gibeon when Amasa appeared before them. aMeaning of Heb. uncertain.Joab was wearing his military dress, with his sword girded over it and fastened around his waist in its sheath; and, as he stepped forward, it fell out.-a
Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, brother?” and with his right hand Joab took hold of Amasa’s beard as if to kiss him.
Amasa was not on his guard against the sword in Joab’s [left] hand, and [Joab] drove it into his belly so that his entrails poured out on the ground and he died; he did not need to strike him a second time.
Joab and his brother Abishai then set off in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri,
while one of Joab’s henchmen stood by cHeb. “him.”the corpse-c and called out, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is on David’s side, follow Joab!”
Amasa lay in the middle of the road, drenched in his blood; and the man saw that everyone stopped. And when he saw that all the people were stopping, he dragged Amasa from the road into the field and covered him with a garment.
Once he was removed from the road, everybody continued to follow Joab in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri.
[Sheba] had passed through all the tribes of Israel up to Abel ofdHeb. “and.” Cf. v. 15 (and “Abel-beth-maacah” in 1 Kings 15.20 and 2 Kings 15.29). Beth-maacah; and all the BeeriteseEmendation yields “Bichrites”; cf. Septuagint. assembled and followed him inside.
[Joab’s men] came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah; they threw up a siegemound against the city fMeaning of Heb. uncertain. The phrase would read well in the next verse (“…a clever woman stood on the rampart and shouted…”).and it stood against the rampart.-f
All the troops with Joab were gLit. “destroying, to topple the wall.” Septuagint and Targum read “were planning to topple the wall.”engaged in battering the wall,-g
when a clever woman shouted from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come over here so I can talk to him.”
He approached her, and the woman asked, “Are you Joab?” “Yes,” he answered; and she said to him, “Listen to what your handmaid has to say.” “I’m listening,” he replied.
And she continued, “In olden times people used to say, aMeaning of Heb. uncertain.‘Let them inquire of Abel,’-a and that was the end of the matter.
I am one of those who seek the welfare of the faithful in Israel. But you seek to bring death upon a mother city in Israel! Why should you destroy the LORD’s possession?”
Joab replied, “Far be it, far be it from me to destroy or to ruin!
Not at all! But a certain man from the hill country of Ephraim, named Sheba son of Bichri, has rebelled against King David. Just hand him alone over to us, and I will withdraw from the city.” The woman assured Joab, “His head shall be thrown over the wall to you.”
The woman came to all the people with her clever plan; and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bichri and threw it down to Joab. He then sounded the horn; all the men dispersed to their homes, and Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.
Joab was commander of the whole army [of] Israel; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was commander of the Cherethites and the Pelethites;
AdoramhSo in 1 Kings 12.18 and 2 Chron. 10.18 (“Hadoram”); elsewhere “Adoniram.” was in charge of forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder;
ShevaiSee note j at 8.17. was scribe; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests.
Ira the Jairite also served David as priest.