1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
2 And Absalom used to rise up early, and stand beside the way of the gate; and it was so, that when any man had a suit which should come to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said: 'Of what city art thou?' And he said: 'Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.'
3 And Absalom said unto him: 'See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.'
4 Absalom said moreover: 'Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man who hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!'
5 And it was so, that when any man came nigh to prostrate himself before him, he put forth his hand, and took hold of him, and kissed him.
6 And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
7 And it came to pass at the end of forty years, that Absalom said unto the king: 'I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto HaShem, in Hebron.
8 For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Aram, saying: If HaShem shall indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve HaShem.'
9 And the king said unto him: 'Go in peace.' So he arose, and went to Hebron.
10 But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying: 'As soon as ye hear the sound of the horn, then ye shall say: Absalom is king in Hebron.'
11 And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were invited, and went in their simplicity; and they knew not any thing.
12 And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered the sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.
13 And there came a messenger to David, saying: 'The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom.'
14 And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem: 'Arise, and let us flee; for else none of us shall escape from Absalom; make speed to depart, lest he overtake us quickly, and bring down evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.'
15 And the king's servants said unto the king: 'Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall choose.'
16 And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, that were concubines, to keep the house.
17 And the king went forth, and all the people after him; and they tarried in Beth-merhak.
18 And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men that came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.
19 Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite: 'Wherefore goest thou also with us? return, and abide with the king; for thou art a foreigner, and also an exile from thine own place.
20 Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us, seeing I go whither I may? return thou, and take back thy brethren with thee in kindness and truth.'
21 And Ittai answered the king, and said: 'As HaShem liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, even there also will thy servant be.'
22 And David said to Ittai: 'Go and pass over.' And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him.
23 And all the country wept with a loud voice, as all the people passed over; and as the king passed over the brook Kidron, all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness.
24 And, lo, Zadok also came, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of G-d; and they set down the ark of G-d--but Abiathar went up--until all the people had done passing out of the city.
25 And the king said unto Zadok: 'Carry back the ark of G-d into the city; if I shall find favour in the eyes of HaShem, He will bring me back, and show me both it, and His habitation;
26 but if He say thus: I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him.'
27 The king said also unto Zadok the priest: 'Seest thou? return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.
28 See, I will tarry in the plains of the wilderness, until there come word from you to announce unto me.'
29 Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of G-d back to Jerusalem; and they abode there.
30 And David went up by the ascent of The Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered, and went barefoot; and all the people that were with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.
31 And one told David, saying: 'Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.' And David said: 'O HaShem, I pray Thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.'
32 And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the ascent, where G-d was wont to be worshipped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head.
33 And David said unto him: 'If thou passest on with me, then thou wilt be a burden unto Me;
34 but if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom: I will be thy servant, O king; as I have been thy father's servant in time past, so will I now be thy servant; then wilt thou defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel.
35 And hast thou not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the priests? therefore it shall be, that what thing soever thou shalt hear out of the king's house, thou shalt tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests.
36 Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok's son, and Jonathan Abiathar's son; and by them ye shall send unto me every thing that ye shall hear.'
37 So Hushai David's friend came into the city; and Absalom was at the point of coming into Jerusalem.
Sources: Portions copyright © 1997 by Benyamin Pilant, All Rights Reserved
JPS Electronic Edition Copyright © 1998 by Larry Nelson, All Rights Reserved