Now when David had paid these honors to the king, he left off his mourning, and inquired of God by the prophet which of the cities of the tribe of Judah he would bestow upon him to dwell in; who answered that he bestowed upon him Hebron. So he left Ziklag, and came to Hebron, and took with him his wives, who were in number two, and his armed men; whereupon all the people of the aforementioned tribe came to him, and ordained him their king. But when he heard that the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead had buried Saul and his sons [honorably], he sent to them and commended them, and took what they had done kindly, and promised to make them amends for their care of those that were dead; and at the same time he informed them that the tribe of Judah had chosen him for their king.
But as soon as Abner, the son of Ner, who was general of Saul's army, and a very active man, and good-natured, knew that the king, and Jonathan, and his two other sons, were fallen in the battle, he made haste into the camp; and taking away with him the remaining son of Saul, whose name was Ishbosheth, he passed over to the land beyond Jordan, and ordained him the King of the whole multitude, excepting the tribe of Judah; and made his royal seat in a place called in our own language Mahanaim, but in the language of the Grecians, The Camps; from whence Abner made haste with a select body of soldiers, to fight with such of the tribe of Judah as were disposed to it, for he was angry that this tribe had set up David for their king. But Joab, whose father was Suri, and his mother Zeruiah, David's sister, who was general of David's army, met him, according to David's appointment. He had with him his brethren, Abistiai and Asahel, as also all David's armed men. Now when he met Abner at a certain fountain, in the city of Gibeon, he prepared to fight.
And when Abner said to him, that he had a mind to know which of them had the more valiant soldiers, it was agreed between them that twelve soldiers of each side should fight together. So those that were chosen out by both the generals for this fight came between the two armies, and throwing their lances one against the other, they drew their swords, and catching one another by the head, they held one another fast, and ran each other's swords into their sides and groins, until they all, as it were by mutual agreement, perished together. When these were fallen down dead, the rest of the army came to a sore battle, and Abner's men were beaten; and when they were beaten, Joab did not leave off pursuing them, but he pressed upon them, and excited the soldiers to follow them close, and not to grow weary of killing them. His brethren also pursued them with great alacrity, especially the younger, Asahel, who was the most eminent of them.
He was very famous for his swiftness of foot, for he could not only be too hard for men, but is reported to have overrun a horse, when they had a race together. This Asahel ran violently after Abner, and would not turn in the least out of the straight way, either to the one side or to the other. Hereupon Abner turned back, and attempted artfully to avoid his violence. Sometimes he bade him leave off the pursuit, and take the armor of one of his soldiers; and sometimes, when he could not persuade him so to do, he exhorted him to restrain himself, and not to pursue him any longer, lest he should force him to kill him, and he should then not be able to look his brother in the face: but when Asahel would not admit of any persuasions, but still continued to pursue him, Abner smote him with his spear, as he held it in his flight, and that by a back-stroke, and gave him a deadly wound, so that he died immediately; but those that were with him pursuing Abner, when they came to the place where Asahel lay, they stood round about the dead body, and left off the pursuit of the enemy.
However, both Joab himself, and his brother Abishai, ran past the dead corpse, and making their anger at the death of Asahel an occasion of greater zeal against Abner, they went on with incredible haste and alacrity, and pursued Abner to a certain place called Ammah: it was about sun-set. Then did Joab ascend a certain hill, as he stood at that place, having the tribe of Benjamin with him, whence he took a view of them, and of Abner also. Hereupon Abner cried aloud, and said that it was not fit that they should irritate men of the same nation to fight so bitterly one against another; that as for Asahel his brother, he was himself in the wrong, when he would not be advised by him not to pursue him any farther, which was the occasion of his wounding and death.
So Joab consented to what he said, and accepted these his words as an excuse [about Asahel], and called the soldiers back with the sound of the trumpet, as a signal for their retreat, and thereby put a stop to any further pursuit. After which Joab pitched his camp there that night; but Abner marched all that night, and passed over the river Jordan, and came to Ishbosheth, Saul's son, to Mahanaim. On the next day Joab counted the dead men, and took care of all their funerals. Now there were slain of Abner's soldiers about three hundred and sixty; but of those of David nineteen, and Asahel, whose body Joab and Abishai carried to Bethlehem; and when they had buried him in the sepulcher of their fathers, they came to David to Hebron. From this time therefore there began an intestine war, which lasted a great while, in which the followers of David grew stronger in the dangers they underwent, and the servants and subjects of Saul's sons did almost every day become weaker.
About this time David was become the father of six sons, born of as many mothers. The eldest was by Ahinoam, and he was called Arenon; the second was Daniel, by his wife Abigail; the name of the third was Absalom, by Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur; the fourth he named Adonijah, by his wife Haggith; the fifth was Shephatiah, by Abital; the sixth he called Ithream, by Eglah. Now while this intestine war went on, and the subjects of the two kings came frequently to action and to fighting, it was Abner, the general of the host of Saul's son, who, by his prudence, and the great interest he had among the multitude, made them all continue with Ishbosheth; and indeed it was a considerable time that they continued of his party; but afterwards Abner was blamed, and an accusation was laid against him, that he went in unto Saul's concubine: her name was Rispah, the daughter of Aiah.
So when he was complained of by Ishbosheth, he was very uneasy and angry at it, because he had not justice done him by Ishbosheth, to whom he had shown the greatest kindness; whereupon he threatened to transfer the kingdom to David, and demonstrate that he did not rule over the people beyond Jordan by his own abilities and wisdom, but by his warlike conduct and fidelity in leading his army. So he sent ambassadors to Hebron to David, and desired that he would give him security upon oath that he would esteem him his companion and his friend, upon condition that he should persuade the people to leave Saul's son, and choose him King of the whole country; and when David had made that league with Abner, for he was pleased with his message to him, he desired that he would give this as the first mark of performance of the present league, that he might have his wife Michal restored to him, as her whom he had purchased with great hazards, and with those six hundred heads of the Philistines which he had brought to Saul her father.
So Abner took Michal from Phaltiel, who was then her husband, and sent her to David, Ishbosheth himself affording him his assistance, for David had written to him that of right he ought to have this his wife restored to him. Abner also called together the elders of the multitude, the commanders and captains of thousands, and spake thus to them: That he had formerly dissuaded them from their own resolution, when they were ready to forsake Ishbosheth, and to join themselves to David; that, however, he now gave them leave so to do, if they had a mind to it, for they knew that God had appointed David to be King of all the Hebrews by Samuel the prophet; and had foretold that he should punish the Philistines, and overcome them, and bring them under. Now when the elders and rulers heard this, and understood that Abner was come over to those sentiments about the public affairs which they were of before, they changed their measures, and came in to David.
When these men had agreed to Abner's proposal, he called together the tribe of Benjamin, for all of that tribe were the guards of Ishbosheth's body, and he spake to them to the same purpose. And when he saw that they did not in the least oppose what he said, but resigned themselves up to his opinion, he took about twenty of his friends and came to David, in order to receive himself security upon oath from him; for we may justly esteem those things to be firmer which every one of us do by ourselves, than those which we do by another. He also gave him an account of what he had said to the rulers, and to the whole tribe of Benjamin; and when David had received him in a courteous manner, and had treated him with great hospitality for many days, Abner, when he was dismissed, desired him to bring the multitude with him, that he might deliver up the government to him, when David himself was present, and a spectator of what was done.
When David had sent Abner away, Joab, the of his army, came immediately to Hebron; he had understood that Abner had been with David, and had parted with him a little before under leagues and agreements that the government should be delivered up to David, he feared lest David should place Abner, who had assisted him to gain the kingdom, in the first rank of dignity, especially since he was a shrewd man in other respects, in understanding affairs, and in managing them artfully, as proper seasons should require, and that he should himself be put lower, and be deprived of the command of the army; so he took a knavish and a wicked course.
In the first place, he endeavored to calumniate Abner to the king, exhorting him to have a care of him, and not to give attention to what he had engaged to do for him, because all he did tended to confirm the government to Saul's son; that he came to him deceitfully and with guile, and was gone away in hopes of gaining his purpose by this management: but when he could not thus persuade David, nor saw him at all exasperated, he betook himself to a project bolder than the former: - he determined to kill Abner; and in order thereto, he sent some messengers after him, to whom he gave in charge, that when they should overtake him they should recall him in David's name, and tell him that he had somewhat to say to him about his affairs, which he had not remembered to speak of when he was with him. Now when Abner heard what the messengers said, (for they overtook him in a certain place called Besira, which was distant from Hebron twenty furlongs,) he suspected none of the mischief which was befalling him, and came back.
Hereupon Joab met him in the gate, and received him in the kindest manner, as if he were Abner's most benevolent acquaintance and friend; for such as undertake the vilest actions, in order to prevent the suspicion of any private mischief intended, do frequently make the greatest pretenses to what really good men sincerely do. So he took him aside from his own followers, as if he would speak with him in private, and brought him into a void place of the gate, having himself nobody with him but his brother Abishai; then he drew his sword, and smote him in the groin; upon which Abner died by this treachery of Joab, which, as he said himself, was in the way of punishment for his brother Asahel, whom Abner smote and slew as he was pursuing after him in the battle of Hebron, but as the truth was, out of his fear of losing his command of the army, and his dignity with the king, and lest he should be deprived of those advantages, and Abner should obtain the first rank in David's court.
By these examples any one may learn how many and how great instances of wickedness men will venture upon for the sake of getting money and authority, and that they may not fail of either of them; for as when they are desirous of obtaining the same, they acquire them by ten thousand evil practices; so when they are afraid of losing them, they get them confirmed to them by practices much worse than the former, as if no other calamity so terrible could befall them as the failure of acquiring so exalted an authority; and when they have acquired it, and by long custom found the sweetness of it, the losing it again: and since this last would be the heaviest of all afflictions they all of them contrive and venture upon the most difficult actions, out of the fear of losing the same. But let it suffice that I have made these short reflections upon that subject.
When David heard that Abner was slain, it grieved his soul; and he called all men to witness, with stretching out his hands to God, and crying out that he was not a partaker in the murder of Abner, and that his death was not procured by his command or approbation. He also wished the heaviest curses might light upon him that slew him and upon his whole house; and he devoted those that had assisted him in this murder to the same penalties on its account; for he took care not to appear to have had any hand in this murder, contrary to the assurances he had given and the oaths he had taken to Abner. However, he commanded all the people to weep and lament this man, and to honor his dead body with the usual solemnities; that is, by rending their garments, and putting on sackcloth, and that things should be the habit in which they should go before the bier; after which he followed it himself, with the elders and those that were rulers, lamenting Abner, and by his tears demonstrating his good-will to him while he was alive, and his sorrow for him now he was dead, and that he was not taken off with his consent.
So he buried him at Hebron in a magnificent manner, and indited funeral elegies for him; he also stood first over the monument weeping, and caused others to do the same; nay, so deeply did the death of Abner disorder him, that his companions could by no means force him to take any food, but he affirmed with an oath that he would taste nothing till the sun was set. This procedure gained him the good-will of the multitude; for such as had an affection for Abner were mightily satisfied with the respect he paid him when he was dead, and the observation of that faith he had plighted to him, which was shown in his vouchsafing him all the usual ceremonies, as if he had been his kinsman and his friend, and not suffering him to be neglected and injured with a dishonorable burial, as if he had been his enemy; insomuch that the entire nation rejoiced at the king's gentleness and mildness of disposition, every one being ready to suppose that the King would have taken the same care of them in the like circumstances, which they saw be showed in the burial of the dead body of Abner.
And indeed David principally intended to gain a good reputation, and therefore he took care to do what was proper in this case, whence none had any suspicion that he was the author of Abner's death. He also said this to the multitude, that he was greatly troubled at the death of so good a man; and that the affairs of the Hebrews had suffered great detriment by being deprived of him, who was of so great abilities to preserve them by his excellent advice, and by the strength of his hands in war. But he added, that
"God, who hath a regard to all men's actions, will not suffer this man [Joab] to go off unrevenged; but know ye, that I am not able to do any thing to these sons of Zeruiah, Joab and Abishai, who have more power than I have; but God will requite their insolent attempts upon their own heads."
And this was the fatal conclusion of the life of Abner.
David rules all Israel
WHEN Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, had heard of the death of Abner, he took it to heart to be deprived of a man that was of his kindred, and had indeed given him the kingdom, but was greatly afflicted,and Abner's death very much troubled him; nor did he himself outlive any long time, but was treacherously set upon by the sons of Rimmon, (Baanah and Rechab were their names,) and was slain by them; for these being of a family of the Benjamites, and of the first rank among them, thought that if they should slay Ishbosheth, they should obtain large presents from David, and be made commanders by him, or, however, should have some other trust committed to them.
So when they once found him alone, and asleep at noon, in an upper room, when none of his guards were there, and when the woman that kept the door was not watching, but was fallen asleep also, partly on account of the labor she had undergone, and partly on account of the heat of the day, these men went into the room in which Ishbosheth, Saul's son, lay asleep, and slew him; they also cut off his head, and took their journey all that night, and the next day, as supposing themselves flying away from those they had injured, to one that would accept of this action as a favor, and would afford them security. So they came to Hebron, and showed David the head of Ishbosheth, and presented themselves to him as his well-wishers, and such as had killed one that was his enemy and antagonist. Yet David did not relish what they had done as they expected, but said to them,
"You vile wretches, you shall immediately receive the punishment you deserve. Did not you know what vengeance I executed on him that murdered Saul, and brought me his crown of gold, and this while he who made this slaughter did it as a favor to him, that he might not be caught by his enemies? Or do you imagine that I am altered in my disposition, and suppose that I am not the same man I then was, but am pleased with men that are wicked doers, and esteem your vile actions, when you are become murderers of your master, as grateful to me, when you have slain a righteous man upon his bed, who never did evil to any body, and treated you with great good-will and respect? Wherefore you shall suffer the punishment due on his account, and the vengeance I ought to inflict upon you for killing Ishbosheth, and for supposing that I should take his death kindly at your hands; for you could not lay a greater blot on my honor, than by making such a supposal."
When David had said this, he tormented them with all sorts of torments, and then put them to death; and he bestowed all accustomed rites on the burial of the head of Ishbosheth, and laid it in the grave of Abner.
When these things were brought to this conclusion, all the principal men of the Hebrew people came to David to Hebron, with the heads of thousands, and other rulers, and delivered themselves up to him, putting him in mind of the good-will they had borne to him in Saul's lifetime, and the respect they then had not ceased to pay him when he was captain of a thousand, as also that he was chosen of God by Samuel the prophet, he and his sons; and declaring besides, how God had given him power to save the land of the Hebrews, and to overcome the Philistines. Whereupon he received kindly this their alacrity on his account; and exhorted them to continue in it, for that they should have no reason to repent of being thus disposed to him. So when he had feasted them, and treated them kindly, he sent them out to bring all the people to him; upon which came to him about six thousand and eight hundred armed men of the tribe of Judah, who bare shields and spears for their weapons, for these had [till now] continued with Saul's son,when the rest of the tribe of Judah had ordained David for their king.
There came also seven thousand and one hundred out of the tribe of Simeon. Out of the tribe of Levi came four thousand and seven hundred, having Jehoiada for their leader. After these came Zadok the high priest, with twenty-two captains of his kindred. Out of the tribe of Benjamin the armed men were four thousand; but the rest of the tribe continued, still expecting that some one of the house of Saul should reign over them. Those of the tribe of Ephraim were twenty thousand and eight hundred, and these mighty men of valor, and eminent for their strength. Out of the half tribe of Manasseh came eighteen thousand, of the most potent men. Out of the tribe of Issachar came two hundred, who foreknew what was to come hereafter, but of armed men twenty thousand.
Of the tribe of Zebulon fifty thousand chosen men. This was the only tribe that came universally in to David, and all these had the same weapons with the tribe of Gad. Out of the tribe of Naphtali the eminent men and rulers were one thousand, whose weapons were shields and spears, and the tribe itself followed after, being (in a manner) innumerable [thirty-seven thousand]. Out of the tribe of Dan there were of chosen men twenty-seven thousand and six hundred. Out of the tribe of Asher were forty thousand. Out of the two tribes that were beyond Jordan, and the rest of the tribe of Manasseh, such as used shields, and spears, and head-pieces, and swords, were a hundred and twenty thousand. The rest of the tribes also made use of swords. This multitude came together to Hebron to David, with a great quantity of corn, and wine, and all other sorts of food, and established David in his kingdom with one consent. And when the people had rejoiced for three days in Hebron, David and all the people removed and came to Jerusalem.
King David lays siege to Jerusalem
NOW the Jebusites, who were the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and were by extraction Canaanites, shut their gates, and placed the blind, and the lame, and all their maimed persons, upon the wall, in way of derision of the king, and said that the very lame themselves would hinder his entrance into it. This they did out of contempt of his power, and as depending on the strength of their walls. David was hereby enraged, and began the siege of Jerusalem, and employed his utmost diligence and alacrity therein, as intending by the taking of this place to demonstrate his power, and to intimidate all others that might be of the like [evil] disposition towards him. So he took the lower city by force, but the citadel held out still; whence it was that the king, knowing that the proposal of dignities and rewards would encourage the soldiers to greater actions, promised that he who should first go over the ditches that were beneath the citadel, and should ascend to the citadel itself and take it, should have the command of the entire people conferred upon him. So they all were ambitious to ascend, and thought no pains too great in order to ascend thither, out of their desire of the chief command. However, Joab, the son of Zeruiah, prevented the rest; and as soon as he was got up to the citadel, cried out to the king, and claimed the chief command.
When David had cast the Jebusites out of the citadel, he also rebuilt Jerusalem, and named it The City of David, and abode there all the time of his reign; but for the time that he reigned over the tribe of Judah only in Hebron, it was seven years and six months. Now when he had chosen Jerusalem to be his royal city, his affairs did more and more prosper, by the providence of God, who took care that they should improve and be augmented. Hiram also, the King of the Tyrians, sent ambassadors to him, and made a league of mutual friendship and assistance with him. He also sent him presents, cedar-trees, and mechanics, and men skillful in building and architecture, that they might build him a royal palace at Jerusalem.
Now David made buildings round about the lower city: he also joined the citadel to it, and made it one body; and when he had encompassed all with walls, he appointed Joab to take care of them. It was David, therefore, who first cast the Jebusites out of Jerusalem, and called it by his own name, The City of David: for under our forefather Abraham it was called (Salem, or) Solyma; but after that time, some say that Homer mentions it by that name of Solyma, [for he named the temple Solyma, according to the Hebrew language, which denotes security.] Now the whole time from the warfare under Joshua our general against the Canaanites, and from that war in which he overcame them, and distributed the land among the Hebrews, (nor could the Israelites ever cast the Canaanites out of Jerusalem until this time, when David took it by siege,) this whole time was five hundred and fifteen years.
I shall now make mention of Araunah, who was a wealthy man among the Jebusites, but was not slain by David in the siege of Jerusalem, because of the good-will he bore to the Hebrews, and a particular benignity and affection which he had to the King himself; which I shall take a more seasonable opportunity to speak of a little afterwards. Now David married other wives over and above those which he had before: he had also concubines. The sons whom he had were in number eleven, whose names were Amnon, Emnos, Eban, Nathan, Solomon, Jeban, Elien, Phalna, Ennaphen, Jenae, Eliphale; and a daughter, Tamar. Nine of these were born of legitimate wives, but the two last-named of concubines; and Tamar had the same mother with Absalom.
David conquers Philistines, moves Ark to Jerusalem
WHEN the Philistines understood that David was made King of the Hebrews, they made war against him at Jerusalem; and when they had seized upon that valley which is called The Valley of the Giants, and is a place not far from the city, they pitched their camp therein; but the King of the Jews, who never permitted himself to do any thing without prophecy, and the command of God and without depending on him as a security for the time to come, bade the high priest to foretell to him what was the will of God, and what would be the event of this battle. And when he foretold that he should gain the victory and the dominion, he led out his army against the Philistines; and when the battle was joined, he came himself behind, and fell upon the enemy on the sudden, and slew some of them, and put the rest to flight.
And let no one suppose that it was a small army of the Philistines that came against the Hebrews, as guessing so from the suddenness of their defeat, and from their having performed no great action, or that was worth recording, from the slowness of their march, and want of courage; but let him know that all Syria and Phoenicia, with many other nations besides them, and those warlike nations also, came to their assistance, and had a share in this war, which thing was the only cause why, when they had been so often conquered, and had lost so many ten thousands of their men, they still came upon the Hebrews with greater armies; nay, indeed, when they had so often failed of their purpose in these battles, they came upon David with an army three times as numerous as before, and pitched their camp on the same spot of ground as before.
The King of Israel therefore inquired of God again concerning the event of the battle; and the high priest prophesied to him, that he should keep his army in the groves, called the Groves of Weeping, which were not far from the enemy's camp, and that he should not move, nor begin to fight, till the trees of the grove should be in motion without the wind's blowing; but as soon as these trees moved, and the time foretold to him by God was come, he should, without delay, go out to gain what was an already prepared and evident victory; for the several ranks of the enemy's army did not sustain him, but retreated at the first onset, whom he closely followed, and slew them as he went along, and pursued them to the city Gaza (which is the limit of their country): after this he spoiled their camp, in which he found great riches; and he destroyed their gods.
When this had proved the event of the battle, David thought it proper, upon a consultation with the elders, and rulers, and captains of thousands, to send for those that were in the flower of their age out of all his countrymen, and out of the whole land, and withal for the priests and the Levites, in order to their going to Kirjathjearim, to bring up the ark of God out of that city, and to carry it to Jerusalem, and there to keep it, and offer before it those sacrifices and those other honors with which God used to be well-pleased; for had they done thus in the reign of Saul, they had not undergone any great misfortunes at all. So when the whole body of the people were come together, as they had resolved to do, the King came to the ark, which the priest brought out of the house of Aminadab, and laid it upon a new cart, and permitted their brethren and their children to draw it, together with the oxen.
Before it went the king, and the whole multitude of the people with him, singing hymns to God, and making use of all sorts of songs usual among them, with variety of the sounds of musical instruments, and with dancing and singing of psalms, as also with the sounds of trumpets and of cymbals, and so brought the ark to Jerusalem. But as they were come to the threshing-floor of Chidon, a place so called, Uzzah was slain by the anger of God; for as the oxen shook the ark, he stretched out his hand, and would needs take hold of it. Now, because he was not a priest and yet touched the ark, God struck him dead. Hereupon both the King and the people were displeased at the death of Uzzah; and the place where he died is still called the Breach of Uzzah unto this day.
So David was afraid; and supposing that if he received the ark to himself into the city, he might suffer in the like manner as Uzzah had suffered, who, upon his bare putting out his hand to the ark, died in the manner already mentioned, he did not receive it to himself into the city, but he took it aside unto a certain place belonging to a righteous man, whose name was Obededom, who was by his family a Levite, and deposited the ark with him; and it remained there three entire months. This augmented the house of Obededom, and conferred many blessings upon it.
And when the King heard what had befallen Obededom, how he was become, of a poor man in a low estate, exceeding happy, and the object of envy to all those that saw or inquired after his house, he took courage, and, hoping that he should meet with no misfortune thereby, he transferred the ark to his own house; the priests carrying it, while seven companies of singers, who were set in that order by the king, went before it, and while he himself played upon the harp, and joined in the music, insomuch, that when his wife Michel, the daughter of Saul, who was our first king, saw him so doing, she laughed at him. But when they had brought in the ark, they placed it under the tabernacle which David had pitched for it, and he offered costly sacrifices and peace-offerings, and treated the whole multitude, and dealt both to the women, and the men, and the infants a loaf of bread and a cake, and another cake baked in a pan, with the portion of the sacrifice. So when he had thus feasted the people, he sent them away, and he himself returned to his own house.
But when Michal his wife, the daughter of Saul, came and stood by him, she wished him all other happiness, and entreated that whatsoever he should further desire, to the utmost possibility, might be given him by God, and that he might be favorable to him; yet did she blame him, that so great a King as he was should dance after an unseemly manner, and in his dancing, uncover himself among the servants and the handmaidens. But he replied, that he was not ashamed to do what was acceptable to God, who had preferred him before her father, and before all others; that he would play frequently, and dance, without any regard to what the handmaidens and she herself thought of it. So this Michal, who was David's wife, had no children; however, when she was afterward married to him to whom Saul her father had given her, (for at this time David had taken her away from him, and had her himself,) she bare five children. But concerning those matters I shall discourse in a proper place.
Now when the King saw that his affairs grew better almost every day, by the will of God, he thought he should offend him, if, while he himself continued in houses made of cedar, such as were of a great height, and had the most curious works of architecture in them, he should overlook the ark while it was laid in a tabernacle, and was desirous to build a temple to God, as Moses had predicted such a temple should be built. And when he had discoursed with Nathan the prophet about these things, and had been encouraged by him to do whatsoever he had a mind to do, as having God with him, and his helper in all things, he was thereupon the more ready to set about that building.
But God appeared to Nathan that very night, and commanded him to say to David, that he took his purpose and his desires kindly, since nobody had before now taken it into their head to build him a temple, although upon his having such a notion he would not permit him to build him that temple, because he had made many wars, and was defiled with the slaughter of his enemies; that, however, after his death, in his old age, and when he had lived a long life, there should be a temple built by a son of his, who should take the kingdom after him, and should be called Solomon, whom he promised to provide for, as a father provides for his son, by preserving the kingdom for his son's posterity, and delivering it to them; but that he would still punish him, if he sinned, with diseases and barrenness of land.
When David understood this from the prophet, and was overjoyful at this knowledge of the sure continuance of the dominion to his posterity, and that his house should be splendid, and very famous, he came to the ark, and fell down on his face, and began to adore God, and to return thanks to him for all his benefits, as well for those that he had already bestowed upon him in raising him from a low state, and from the employment of a shepherd, to so great dignity of dominion and glory; as for those also which he had promised to his posterity; and besides, for that providence which he had exercised over the Hebrews in procuring them the liberty they enjoyed. And when he had said thus, and had sung a hymn of praise to God, he went his way.
David conquers surrounding peoples
A LITTLE while after this, he considered that he ought to make war against the Philistines, and not to see any idleness or laziness permitted in his management, that so it might prove, as God had foretold to him, that when he had overthrown his enemies, he should leave his posterity to reign in peace afterward: so he called together his army again, and when he had charged them to be ready and prepared for war, and when he thought that all things in his army were in a good state, he removed from Jerusalem, and came against the Philistines; and when he had overcome them in battle, and had cut off a great part of their country, and adjoined it to the country of the Hebrews, he transferred the war to the Moabites; and when he had overcome two parts of their army in battle, he took the remaining part captive, and imposed tribute upon them, to be paid annually. He then made war against Iadadezer, the son of Rehob, King of Sophene; and when he had joined battle with him at 'the river Euphrates, he destroyed twenty thousand of his footmen, and about seven thousand of his horsemen. He also took a thousand of his chariots, and destroyed the greatest part of them, and ordered that no more than one hundred should be kept.
Now when Hadad, King of Damascus and of Syria, heard that David fought against Hadadezer, who was his friend, he came to his assistance with a powerful army, in hopes to rescue him; and when he had joined battle with David at the river Euphrates, he failed of his purpose, and lost in the battle a great number of his soldiers; for there were slain of the army of Hadad twenty thousand, and all the rest fled. Nicelens also [of Damascus] makes mention of this King in the fourth book of his histories; where he speaks thus:
"A great while after these things had happened, there was one of that country whose name was Hadad, who was become very potent; he reigned over Damascus, and, the other parts of Syria, excepting Phoenicia. He made war against David, the King of Judea, and tried his fortune in many battles, and particularly in the last battle at Euphrates, wherein he was beaten. He seemed to have been the most excellent of all their kings in strength and manhood,"
Nay, besides this, he says of his posterity, that
"they succeeded one another in his kingdom, and in his name;"
where he thus speaks:
"When Hadad was dead, his posterity reigned for ten generations, each of his successors receiving from his father that his dominion, and this his name; as did the Ptolemies in Egypt. But the third was the most powerful of them all, and was willing to avenge the defeat his forefather had received; so he made an expedition against the Jews, and laid waste the city which is now called Samaria."
Nor did he err from the truth; for this is that Hadad who made the expedition against Samaria, in the reign of Ahab, King of Israel, concerning whom we shall speak in due place hereafter.
Now when David had made an expedition against Damascus, and the other parts of Syria, and had brought it all into subjection, and had placed garrisons in the country, and appointed that they should pay tribute, he returned home. He also dedicated to God at Jerusalem the golden quivers, the entire armor which the guards of Hadad used to wear; which Shishak, the King of Egypt, took away when he fought with David's grandson, Rehoboam, with a great deal of other wealth which he carried out of Jerusalem. However, these things will come to be explained in their proper places hereafter. Now as for the King of the Hebrews, he was assisted by God, who gave him great success in his wars, and he made all expedition against the best cities of Hadadezer, Betah and Machen; so he took them by force, and laid them waste. Therein was found a very great quantity of gold and silver, besides that sort of brass which is said to be more valuable than gold; of which brass Solomon made that large vessel which was called The [Brazen] Sea, and those most curious lavers, when he built the temple for God.
But when the King of Hamath was informed of the ill success of Hadadezer, and had heard of the ruin of his army, he was afraid on his own account, and resolved to make a league of friendship and fidelity with David before he should come against him; so he sent to him his son Joram, and professed that he owed him thanks for fighting against Hadadezer, who was his enemy, and made a league with him of mutual assistance and friendship. He also sent him presents, vessels of ancient workmanship, both of gold, of silver, and of brass. So when David had made this league of mutual assistance with Toi, (for that was the name of the King of Hamath,) and had received the presents he sent him, he dismissed his son with that respect which was due on both sides; but then David brought those presents that were sent by him, as also the rest of the gold and silver which he had taken of the cities whom he had conquered, and dedicated them to God.
Nor did God give victory and success to him only when he went to the battle himself, and led his own army, but he gave victory to Abishai, the brother of Joab, general of his forces, over the Idumeans, and by him to David, when he sent him with an army into Idumea: for Abishai destroyed eighteen thousand of them in the battle; whereupon the King [of Israel] placed garrisons through all Idumea, and received the tribute of the country, and of every head among them. Now David was in his nature just, and made his determination with regard to truth. He had for the general of his whole army Joab; and he made Jehoshaphat, the son of Ahilud, recorder. He also appointed Zadok, of the family of Phinehas, to be high priest, together with Abiathar, for he was his friend. He also made Seisan the scribe, and committed the command over the guards of his body to Benaiah; the son of Jehoiada. His elder sons were near his body, and had the care of it also.
He also called to mind the covenants and the oaths he had made with Jonathan, the son of Saul, and the friendship and affection Jonathan had for him; for besides all the rest of his excellent qualities with which he was endowed, he was also exceeding mindful of such as had at other times bestowed benefits upon him. He therefore gave order that inquiry should be made, whether any of Jonathan's lineage were living, to whom he might make return of that familiar acquaintance which Jonathan had had with him, and for which he was still debtor. And when one of Saul's freed men was brought to him, who was acquainted with those of his family that were still living, he asked him whether he could tell him of any one belonging to Jonathan that was now alive, and capable of a requital of the benefits which he had received from Jonathan. And he said, that a son of his was remaining, whose name was Mephibosheth, but that he was lame of his feet; for that when his nurse heard that the father and grandfather of the child were fallen in the battle, she snatched him up, and fled away, and let him fall from her shoulders, and his feet were lamed.
So when he had learned where and by whom he was brought up, he sent messengers to Machir, to the city of Lodebar, for with him was the son of Jonathan brought up, and sent for him to come to him. So when Mephibosheth came to the king, he fell on his face and worshipped him; but David encouraged him, bade him be of good cheer, and expect better times. So he gave him his father's house, and all the estate which his grandfather Saul was in possession of, and bade him come and diet with him at his own table, and never to be absent one day from that table. And when the youth had worshipped him on account of his words and gifts given to him, he called for Ziba, and told him that he had given the youth his father's house, and all Saul's estate. He also ordered that Ziba should cultivate his land, and take care of it, and bring him the profits of all to Jerusalem. Accordingly, David brought him to his table every day, and bestowed upon the youth, Ziba and his sons, who were in number fifteen, and his servants, who were in number twenty. When the King had made these appointments, and Ziba had worshipped him, and promised to do all that he had bidden him, he went his way; so that this son of Jonathan dwelt at Jerusalem, and dieted at the king's table, and had the same care that a son could claim taken of him. He also had himself a son, whom he named Micha.
War against the Ammonites
THIS were the honors that such as were left of Saul's and Jonathan's lineage received from David. About this time died Nahash, the King of the Ammonites, who was a friend of David's; and when his son had succeeded his father in the kingdom, David sent ambassadors to him to comfort him; and exhorted him to take his father's death patiently, and to expect that he would continue the same kindness to himself which he had shown to his father. But the princes of the Ammonites took this message in evil part, and not as David's kind dispositions gave reason to take it; and they excited the King to resent it; and said that David had sent men to spy out the country, and what strength it had, under the pretense of humanity and kindness. They further advised him to have a care, and not to give heed to David's words, lest he should be deluded by him, and so fall into an inconsolable calamity.
Accordingly Nahash's [son], the King of the Ammonites, thought these princes spake what was more probable than the truth would admit, and so abused the ambassadors after a very harsh manner; for he shaved the one half of their beards, and cut off one half of their garments, and sent his answer, not in words, but in deeds. When the King of Israel saw this, he had indignation at it, and showed openly that he would not overlook this injurious and contumelious treatment, but would make war with the Ammonites, and would avenge this wicked treatment of his ambassadors on their king. So that king's intimate friends and commanders, understanding that they had violated their league, and were liable to be punished for the same,made preparations for war; they also sent a thousand talents to the Syrian King of Mesopotamia, and endeavored to prevail with him to assist them for that pay, and Shobach. Now these kings had twenty thousand footmen. They also hired the King of the country called Maacah, and a fourth king, by name Ishtob; which last had twelve thousand armed men.
But David was under no consternation at this confederacy, nor at the forces of the Ammonites; and putting his trust in God, because he was going to war in a just cause, on account of the injurious treatment he had met with, he immediately sent Joab, the captain of his host, against them, and gave him the flower of his army, who pitched his camp by Rabbah, the metropolis of the Ammonites; whereupon the enemy came out, and set themselves in array, not all of them together, but in two bodies; for the auxiliaries were set in array in the plain by themselves, but the army of the Ammonites at the gates over against the Hebrews. When Joab saw this, he opposed one stratagem against another, and chose out the most hardy part of his men, and set them in opposition to the King of Syria, and the kings that were with him, and gave the other part to his brother Abishai, and bid him set them in opposition to the Ammonites; and said to him, that in case he should see that the Syrians distressed him, and were too hard for him, he should order his troops to turn about and assist him; and he said that he himself would do the same to him, if he saw him in the like distress from the Ammonites.
So he sent his brother before, and encouraged him to do every thing courageously and with alacrity, which would teach them to be afraid of disgrace, and to fight manfully; and so he dismissed him to fight with the Ammonites, while he fell upon the Syrians. And though they made a strong opposition for a while, Joab slew many of them, but compelled the rest to betake themselves to flight; which, when the Ammonites saw,and were withal afraid of Abishai and his army, they staid no longer, but imitated their auxiliaries, and fled to the city. So Joab, when he had thus overcome the enemy, returned with great joy to Jerusalem to the king.
This defeat did not still induce the Ammonites to be quiet, nor to own those that were superior to them to be so, and be still, but they sent to Chalaman, the King of the Syrians, beyond Euphrates, and hired him for an auxiliary. He had Shobach for the captain of his host, with eighty thousand footmen, and ten thousand horsemen. Now when the King of the Hebrews understood that the Ammonites had again gathered so great an army together, he determined to make war with them no longer by his generals, but he passed over the river Jordan himself with all his army; and when he met them he joined battle with them, and overcame them, and slew forty thousand of their footmen, and seven thousand of their horsemen. He also wounded Shobach, the general of Chalaman's forces, who died of that stroke; but the people of Mesopotamia, upon such a conclusion of the battle, delivered themselves up to David, and sent him presents, who at winter time returned to Jerusalem. But at the beginning of the spring he sent Joab, the captain of his host, to fight against the Ammonites, who overran all their country, and laid it waste, and shut them up in their metropolis Rabbah, and besieged them therein.
David commits adultery with Bathsheba
BUT David fell now into a very grievous sin, though he were otherwise naturally a righteous and a religious man, and one that firmly observed the laws of our fathers; for when late in an evening he took a view round him from the roof of his royal palace, where he used to walk at that hour, he saw a woman washing herself in her own house: she was one of extraordinary beauty, and therein surpassed all other women; her name was Bathsheba. So he was overcome by that woman's beauty, and was not able to restrain his desires, but sent for her, and lay with her. Hereupon she conceived with child, and sent to the king, that he should contrive some way for concealing her sin (for, according to the laws of their fathers, she who had been guilty of adultery ought to be put to death). So the King sent for Joab's armor-bearer from the siege, who was the woman's husband, and his name was Uriah.
And when he was come, the King inquired of him about the army, and about the siege; and when he had made answer that all their affairs went according to their wishes, the King took some portions of meat from his supper, and gave them to him, and bade him go home to his wife, and take his rest with her. Uriah did not do so, but slept near the King with the rest of his armor-bearers. When the King was informed of this, he asked him why he did not go home to his house, and to his wife, after so long an absence; which is the natural custom of all men, when they come from a long journey. He replied, that it was not right, while his fellow soldiers, and the general of the army, slept upon the ground, in the camp, and in an enemy's country, that he should go and take his rest, and solace himself with his wife. So when he had thus replied, the King ordered him to stay there that night, that he might dismiss him the next day to the general.
So the King invited Uriah to supper, and after a cunning and dexterous manlier plied him with drink at supper, till he was thereby disordered; yet did he nevertheless sleep at the king's gates without any inclination to go to his wife. Upon this the King was very angry at him; and wrote to Joab, and commanded him to punish Uriah, for he told him that he had offended him; and he suggested to him the manner in which he would have him punished, that it might not be discovered that he was himself the author of this his punishment; for he charged him to set him over against that part of the enemy's army where the attack would be most hazardous, and where he might be deserted, and be in the greatest jeopardy, for he bade him order his fellow soldiers to retire out of the fight. When he had written thus to him, and sealed the letter with his own seal, he gave it to Uriah to carry to Joab. When Joab had received it, and upon reading it understood the king's purpose, he set Uriah in that place where he knew the enemy would be most troublesome to them; and gave him for his partners some of the best soldiers in the army; and said that he would also come to their assistance with the whole army, that if possible they might break down some part of the wall, and enter the city.
And he desired him to be glad of the opportunity of exposing himself to such great pains, and not to be displeased at it, since he was a valiant soldier, and had a great reputation for his valor, both with the King and with his countrymen. And when Uriah undertook the work he was set upon with alacrity, he gave private orders to those who were to be his companions, that when they saw the enemy make a sally, they should leave him. When, therefore, the Hebrews made an attack upon the city, the Ammonites were afraid that the enemy might prevent them, and get up into the city, and this at the very place whither Uriah was ordered; so they exposed their best soldiers to be in the forefront, and opened their gates suddenly, and fell upon the enemy with great vehemence, and ran violently upon them. When those that were with Uriah saw this, they all retreated backward, as Joab had directed them beforehand; but Uriah, as ashamed to run away and leave his post, sustained the enemy, and receiving the violence of their onset, he slew many of them; but being encompassed round, and caught in the midst of them, he was slain, and some other of his companions were slain with him.
When this was done, Joab sent messengers to the king, and ordered them to tell him that he did what he could to take the city soon; but that, as they made an assault on the wall, they had been forced to retire with great loss; and bade them, if they saw the King was angry at it, to add this, that Uriah was slain also. When the King had heard this of the messengers, he took it heinously, and said that they did wrong when they assaulted the wall, whereas they ought, by undermining and other stratagems of war, to endeavor the taking of rite city, especially when they had before their eyes the example of Abimelech, the son of Gideon, who would needs take the tower in Thebes by force, and was killed by a large stone thrown at him by an old woman; and although he was a man of great prowess, he died ignominiously by the dangerous manner of his assault: that they should remember this accident, and not come near the enemy's wall, for that the best method of making war with success was to call to mind the accidents of former wars, and what good or bad success had attended them in the like dangerous cases, that so they might imitate the one, and avoid the other.
But when the King was in this disposition, the messenger told him that Uriah was slain also; whereupon he was pacified. So he bade the messenger go back to Joab and tell him that this misfortune is no other than what is common among mankind, and that such is the nature, and such the accidents of war, insomuch that sometimes the enemy will have success therein, and sometimes others; but that he ordered him to go on still in his care about the siege, that no ill accident might befall him in it hereafter; that they should raise bulwarks and use machines in besieging the city; and when they have gotten it, to overturn its very foundations, and to destroy all those that are in it. Accordingly the messenger carried the king's message with which he was charged, and made haste to Joab. But Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, when she was informed of the death of her husband, mourned for his death many days; and when her mourning was over, and the tears which she shed for Uriah were dried up, the King took her to wife presently; and a son was born to him by her.
With this marriage God was not well pleased, but was thereupon angry at David; and he appeared to Nathan the prophet in his sleep, and complained of the king. Now Nathan was a fair and prudent man; and considering that kings, when they fall into a passion, are guided more by that passion than they are by justice, he resolved to conceal the threatenings that proceeded from God, and made a good-natured discourse to him, and this after the manner following: - He desired that the King would give him his opinion in the following case: -
"There were," said he, "two men inhabiting the same city, the one of them was rich, and [the other poor]. The rich man had a great many flocks of cattle, of sheep, and of kine; but the poor man had but one ewe lamb. This he brought up with his children, and let her eat her food with them; and he had the same natural affection for her which any one might have for a daughter. Now upon the coming of a stranger to the rich man, he would not vouchsafe to kill any of his own flocks, and thence feast his friend; but he sent for the poor man's lamb, and took her away from him, and made her ready for food, and thence feasted the stranger."
This discourse troubled the King exceedingly; and he denounced to Nathan, that
"this man was a wicked man who could dare to do such a thing; and that it was but just that he should restore the lamb fourfold, and be punished with death for it also."
Upon this Nathan immediately said that he was himself the man who ought to suffer those punishments, and that by his own sentence; and that it was he who had perpetrated this 'great and horrid crime. He also revealed to him, and laid before him, the anger of God against him, who had made him King over the army of the Hebrews, and lord of all the nations, and those many and great nations round about him; who had formerly delivered him out of the hands of Saul, and had given him such wives as he had justly and legally married; and now this God was despised by him, and affronted by his impiety, when he had married, and now had, another man's wife; and by exposing her husband to the enemy, had really slain him; that God would inflict punishments upon him on account of those instances of wickedness; that his own wives should be forced by one of his sons; and that he should be treacherously supplanted by the same son; and that although he had perpetrated his wickedness secretly, yet should that punishment which he was to undergo be inflicted publicly upon him;
"that, moreover," said he, "the child which was born to thee of her shall soon die."
When the King was troubled at these messages, and sufficiently confounded, and said with tears and sorrow that he had sinned, (for he was without controversy a pious man, and guilty of no sin at all in his whole life, excepting those in the matter of Uriah,) God had compassion on him, and was reconciled to him, and promised that he would preserve to him both his life and his kingdom; for he said that, seeing he repented of the things he had done, he was no longer displeased with him. So Nathan, when he had delivered this prophecy to the king, returned home.
However, God sent a dangerous distemper upon the child that was born to David of the wife of Uriah, at which the King was troubled, and did not take any food for seven days, although his servants almost forced him to take it; but he clothed himself in a black garment, and fell down, and lay upon the ground in sackcloth, entrusting God for the recovery of the child, for he vehemently loved the child's mother; but when, on the seventh day, the child was dead, the king's servants durst not tell him of it, as supposing that when he knew it, he would still less admit of food, and other care of himself, by reason of his grief at the death of his son, since when the child was only sick, he so greatly afflicted himself, and grieved for him: but when the King perceived that his servants were in disorder, and seemed to be affected, as those who are very desirous to conceal something, he understood that the child was dead; and when he had called one of his servants to him, and discovered that so it was, he arose up and washed himself, and took a white garment, and came into the tabernacle of God.
He also commanded them to set supper before him, and thereby greatly surprised his kindred and servants, while he did nothing of this when the child was sick, but did it all when he was dead. Whereupon having first begged leave to ask him a question, they besought him to tell them the reason of this his conduct; he then called them unskillful people, and instructed them how he had hopes of the recovery of the child while it was alive, and accordingly did all that was proper for him to do, as thinking by such means to render God propitious to him; but that when the child was dead, there was no longer any occasion for grief, which was then to no purpose. When he had said this, they commended the king's wisdom and understanding. He then went in unto Bathsheba his wife, and she conceived and bare a son; and by the command of Nathan the prophet called his name Solomon.
But Joab sorely distressed the Ammonites in the siege, by cutting off their waters, and depriving them of other means of subsistence, till they were in the greatest want of meat and drink, for they depended only on one small well of water, and this they durst not drink of too freely, lest the fountain should entirely fail them. So he wrote to the king, and informed him thereof; and persuaded him to come himself to take the city, that he might have the honor of the victory. Upon this letter of Joab's, the King accepted of his good-will and fidelity, and took with him his army, and came to the destruction of Rabbah; and when he had taken it by force, he gave it to his soldiers to plunder it; but he himself took the King of the Ammonites' crown, whose weight was a talent of gold; and it had in its middle a precious stone called a sardonyx; which crown David ever after wore on his own head. He also found many other vessels in the city, and those both splendid and of great price; but as for the men, he tormented them, and then destroyed them; and when he had taken the other cities of the Ammonites by force, he treated them after the same manner.
David's son Absalom murders Amnon
WHEN the King was returned to Jerusalem, a sad misfortune befell his house, on the occasion following: He had a daughter, who was yet a virgin, and very handsome, insomuch that she surpassed all the most beautiful women; her name was Tamar; she had the same mother with Absalom. Now Amnon, David's eldest son, fell in love with her, and being not able to obtain his desires, on account of her virginity, and the custody she was under, was so much out of order, nay, his grief so eat up his body, that he grew lean, and his color was changed. Now there was one Jenadab, a kinsman and friend of his, who discovered this his passion, for he was an extraordinary wise man, and of great sagacity of mind. When, therefore, he saw that every morning Amnon was not in body as he ought to be, he came to him, and desired him to tell him what was the cause of it: however, he said that he guessed that it arose from the passion of love.
Amnon confessed his passion, that he was in love with a sister of his, who had the same father with himself. So Jenadab suggested to him by what method and contrivance he might obtain his desires; for he persuaded him to pretend sickness, and bade him, when his father should come to him, to beg of him that his sister might come and minister to him; for if that were done, he should be better, and should quickly recover from his distemper. So Amnon lay down on his bed, and pretended to be sick, as Jonadab had suggested. When his father came, and inquired how he did, he begged of him to send his sister to him.
Accordingly, he presently ordered her to be brought to him; and when she was come, Amnon bade her make cakes for him, and fry them in a pan, and do it all with her own hands, because he should take them better from her hand [than from any one's else]. So she kneaded the flour in the sight of her brother, and made him cakes, and baked them in a pan, and brought them to him; but at that time he would not taste them, but gave order to his servants to send all that were there out of his chamber, because he had a mind to repose himself, free from tumult and disturbance. As soon as what he had commanded was done, he desired his sister to bring his supper to him into the inner parlor; which, when the damsel had done, he took hold of her, and endeavored to persuade her to lie with him. Whereupon the damsel cried out, and said,
"Nay, brother, do not force me, nor be so wicked as to transgress the laws, and bring upon thyself the utmost confusion. Curb this thy unrighteous and impure lust, from which our house will get nothing but reproach and disgrace."
She also advised him to speak to his father about this affair; for he would permit him [to marry her]. This she said, as desirous to avoid her brother's violent passion at present. But he would not yield to her; but, inflamed with love and blinded with the vehemency of his passion, he forced his sister: but as soon as Amnon had satisfied his lust, he hated her immediately, and giving her reproachful words, bade her rise up and be gone. And when she said that this was a more injurious treatment than the former, if, now he had forced her, he would not let her stay with him till the evening, but bid her go away in the day-time, and while it was light, that she might meet with people that would be witnesses of her shame, - he commanded his servant to turn her out of his house.
Whereupon she was sorely grieved at the injury and violence that had been offered to her, and rent her loose coat, (for the virgins of old time wore such loose coats tied at the hands, and let down to the ankles, that the inner coats might not be seen,) and sprinkled ashes on her head; and went up the middle of the city, crying out and lamenting for the violence that had been offered her. Now Absalom, her brother, happened to meet her, and asked her what sad thing had befallen her, that she was in that plight; and when she had told him what injury had been offered her, he comforted her, and desired her to be quiet, and take all patiently, and not to esteem her being corrupted by her brother as an injury. So she yielded to his advice, and left off her crying out, and discovering the force offered her to the multitude; and she continued as a widow with her brother Absalom a long time.
When David his father knew this, he was grieved at the actions of Amnon; but because he had an extraordinary affection for him, for he was his eldest son, he was compelled not to afflict him; but Absalom watched for a fit opportunity of revenging this crime upon him, for he thoroughly hated him. Now the second year after this wicked affair about his sister was over, and Absalom was about to go to shear his own sheep at Baalhazor, which is a city in the portion of Ephraim, he besought his father, as well as his brethren, to come and feast with him: but when David excused himself, as not being willing to be burdensome to him, Absalom desired he would however send his brethren; whom he did send accordingly. Then Absalom charged his own servants, that when they should see Amnon disordered and drowsy with wine, and he should give them a signal, they should fear nobody, but kill him.
When they had done as they were commanded, the rest of his brethren were astonished and disturbed, and were afraid for themselves, so they immediately got on horseback, and rode away to their father; but somebody there was who prevented them, and told their father they were all slain by Absalom; whereupon he was overcome with sorrow, as for so many of his sons that were destroyed at once, and that by their brother also; and by this consideration, that it was their brother that appeared to have slain them, he aggravated his sorrow for them. So he neither inquired what was the cause of this slaughter, nor staid to hear any thing else, which yet it was but reasonable to have done, when so very great, and by that greatness so incredible, a misfortune was related to him: he rent his clothes and threw himself upon the ground, and there lay lamenting the loss of all his sons, both those who, as he was informed, were slain, and of him who slew them.
But Jonadab, the son of his brother Shemeah, entreated him not to indulge his sorrow so far, for as to the rest of his sons he did not believe that they were slain, for he found no cause for such a suspicion; but he said it might deserve inquiry as to Amnon, for it was not unlikely that Absalom might venture to kill him on account of the injury he had offered to Tamar. In the mean time, a great noise of horses, and a tumult of some people that were coming, turned their attention to them; they were the king's sons, who were fled away from the feast. So their father met them as they were in their grief, and he himself grieved with them; but it was more than he expected to see those his sons again, whom he had a little before heard to have perished. However, their were tears on both sides; they lamenting their brother who was killed, and the King lamenting his son, who was killed also; but Absalom fled to Geshur, to his grandfather by his mother's side, who was King of that country, and he remained with him three whole years.
Now David had a design to send to Absalom, not that he should come to be punished, but that he might be with him, for the effects of his anger were abated by length of time. It was Joab, the captain of his host, that chiefly persuaded him so to do; for he suborned an ordinary woman, that was stricken in age, to go to the King in mourning apparel, who said thus to him: - That two of her sons, in a coarse way, had some difference between them, and that in the progress of that difference they came to an open quarrel, and that one was smitten by the other, and was dead; and she desired him to interpose in this case, and to do her the favor to save this her son from her kindred, who were very zealous to have him that had slain his brother put to death, that so she might not be further deprived of the hopes she had of being taken care of in her old age by him; and that if he would hinder this slaughter of her son by those that wished for it, he would do her a great favor, because the kindred would not be restrained from their purpose by any thing else than by the fear of him. And when the King had given his consent to what the woman had begged of him, she made this reply to him: -
"I owe thee thanks for thy benignity to me in pitying my old age, and preventing the loss of my only remaining child; but in order to assure me of this thy kindness, be first reconciled to thine own son, and cease to be angry with him; for how shall I persuade myself that thou hast really bestowed this favor upon me, while thou thyself continuest after the like manner in thy wrath to thine own son? for it is a foolish thing to add willfully another to thy dead son, while the death of the other was brought about without thy consent."
And now the King perceived that this pretended story was a subornation derived from Joab, and was of his contrivance; and when, upon inquiry of the old woman, he understood it to be so in reality, he called for Joab, and told him he had obtained what he requested according to his own mind; and he bid him bring Absalom back, for he was not now displeased, but had already ceased to be angry with him. So Joab bowed himself down to the king, and took his words kindly, and went immediately to Geshur, and took Absalom with him, and came to Jerusalem.
However, the King sent a message to his son beforehand, as he was coming, and commanded him to retire to his own house, for he was not yet in such a disposition as to think fit at present to see him. Accordingly, upon the father's command, he avoided coming into his presence, and contented himself with the respects paid him by his own family only. Now his beauty was not impaired, either by the grief he had been under, or by the want of such care as was proper to be taken of a king's son, for he still surpassed and excelled all men in the tallness of his body, and was more eminent [in a fine appearance] than those that dieted the most luxuriously; and indeed such was the thickness of the hair of his head, that it was with difficulty that he was polled every eighth day; and his hair weighed two hundred shekels which are five pounds.
However, he dwelt in Jerusalem two years, and became the father of three sons, and one daughter; which daughter was of very great beauty, and which Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, took to wife afterward, and had by her a son named Abijah. But Absalom sent to Joab, and desired him to pacify his father entirely towards him; and to beseech him to give him leave to come to him to see him, and speak with him. But when Joab neglected so to do, he sent some of his own servants, and set fire to the field adjoining to him; which, when Joab understood, he came to Absalom, and accused him of what he had done; and asked him the reason why he did so. To which Absalom replied, that
"I have found out this stratagem that might bring thee to us,while thou hast taken no care to perform the injunction I laid upon thee, which was this, to reconcile my father to me; and I really beg it of thee, now thou art here, to pacify my father as to me, since I esteem my coming hither to be more grievous than my banishment, while my father's wrath against me continues."
Hereby Joab was persuaded, and pitied the distress that Absalom was in, and became an intercessor with the King for him. And when he had discoursed with his father, he soon brought him to that amicable disposition towards Absalom, that he presently sent for him to come to him; and when he had cast himself down upon the ground, and had begged for the forgiveness of his offenses, the King raised him up, and promised him to forget what he had formerly done.
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