David Is Anointed King of Judah
Later David asked the LORD for advice. David said, “Should I take control*
of any of the cities of Judah?”
The LORD said to David, “Yes.”
David asked, “Where should I go?”
The Lord answered, “To Hebron.”
2 So David and his two wives moved to Hebron. (His wives were Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, who had been the wife of Nabal from Carmel.) 3 David also brought his men and their families. All of them made their homes in Hebron and the towns nearby.
4 The men of Judah came to Hebron and anointed David to be the king of Judah. Then they told David, “The men of Jabesh Gilead buried Saul.”
David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead. These messengers told the men in Jabesh: “The LORD bless you, because you have shown kindness to your lord Saul by burying him.† 6
The LORD will be kind and true to you, and so will I. 7
Now be strong and brave. Your lord, Saul, is dead, but the tribe of Judah has anointed me to be their king.”
Ish Bosheth Becomes King
Abner son of Ner was the captain of Saul’s army. Abner took Ish Bosheth‡
son of Saul to Mahanaim 9
and made him king of Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all Israel.§
10 Ish Bosheth son of Saul was 40 years old when he began to rule over Israel. He ruled Israel two years, but the tribe of Judah followed David. 11 David ruled over the tribe of Judah from Hebron for seven years and six months.
The Deadly Contest
12 Abner son of Ner and the officers of Ish Bosheth son of Saul left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. 13 Joab, Zeruiah’s son, and the officers of David also went to Gibeon. They met Abner and Ish Bosheth’s officers at the pool of Gibeon. Abner’s group sat on one side of the pool. Joab’s group sat on the other side.
14 Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have the young soldiers get up and have a contest here.”
Joab said, “Yes, let’s have a contest.”
So the young soldiers got up. The two groups counted their men for the contest. They chose twelve men from the tribe of Benjamin to fight for Ish Bosheth son of Saul, and they chose twelve men from David’s officers. 16
Each of the men grabbed his opponent’s head and stabbed him in the side with his sword, and then they fell down together. That is why this place in Gibeon is called “The Field of the Sharp Knives.”* 17
That contest turned into a terrible battle and David’s officers defeated Abner and the Israelites that day.
Abner Kills Asahel
18 Zeruiah had three sons, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was a fast runner, as fast as a wild deer. 19 Asahel ran straight toward Abner and began chasing him. 20 Abner looked back and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?”
Asahel said, “Yes, it’s me.”
21 Abner didn’t want to hurt Asahel, so he said to Asahel, “Stop chasing me—go after one of the young soldiers. You could easily take his armor for yourself.” But Asahel refused to stop chasing Abner.
22 Abner again said to Asahel, “Stop chasing me, or I will have to kill you. Then I will not be able to look your brother Joab in the face again.”
23 But Asahel refused to stop chasing Abner. So Abner used the back end of his spear and pushed it into Asahel’s stomach. The spear went deep into Asahel’s stomach and came out of his back. Asahel died right there.
Joab and Abishai Chase Abner
Asahel’s body lay on the ground. Everyone who came that way stopped to look at Asahel, 24
but Joab and Abishai†
continued chasing Abner. The sun was just going down when they came to Ammah Hill. (Ammah Hill is in front of Giah on the way to the desert of Gibeon.) 25
The men from the tribe of Benjamin gathered around Abner at the top of the hill.
26 Abner shouted to Joab and said, “Must we fight and kill each other forever? Surely you know that this will only end in sadness. Tell the people to stop chasing their own brothers.”
27 Then Joab said, “As surely as God is alive, if you had not said something, people would still be chasing their brothers in the morning.” 28 So Joab blew a trumpet, and his people stopped chasing the Israelites. They did not try to fight the Israelites anymore.
29 Abner and his men marched all night through the Jordan Valley. They crossed the Jordan River and then marched all day until they came to Mahanaim.
30 Joab stopped chasing Abner and turned back. Joab had gathered his men and learned that 19 of David’s officers were missing, including Asahel. 31 But David’s officers had killed 360 of Abner’s men from the tribe of Benjamin. 32 David’s officers took Asahel and buried him in the tomb of his father at Bethlehem.
Joab and his men marched all night. The sun came up just as they reached Hebron.