Joab Pursues Sheba: David’s Rule Defended
2 Samuel 20:1-3a; 4-23a KJV
1. And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, “We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.”
2. So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.
3a, 4. Now David came to his house at Jerusalem…Then said the king [David] to Amasa, “Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present.”
5. So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him.
6. And David said to Abishai, “Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy lord’s servants, and pursue after him, lest Sheba get himself fenced cities, and escape us.”
7-8a. And there went out after [joined and followed] him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri. When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them.
8b. And Joab’s garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out.
9. And Joab said to Amasa, “Art thou in health, my brother?” And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.
10a. But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand: so Joab smote Amasa therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died.
10b. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.
11. And one of Joab’s men stood by Joab, and said, “He that favours Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after [join and follow] Joab.”
12-13. And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by Amasa stood still. When Amasa was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after [joined and followed] Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
14-15. And Joab went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him [followed Joab in pursuit of Sheba]. And they came and besieged Sheba in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.
16. Then cried a wise woman out of the city, “Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.”
17a. And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, “Art thou Joab?”
17b. And he answered, “I am he.”
17c. Then she said unto him, “Hear the words of thine handmaid.”
17d. And he answered, “I do hear.”
18-19. Then she spake, saying, “They were wont to speak in old times, saying, ‘They shall surely ask counsel at Abel’: and so they ended their matters. I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seeks to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why will thou swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?”
20-21a. And Joab answered and said, “Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy. The matter is not so: but a man of Mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city.”
21b. And the woman said unto Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.”
22a. Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab.
22b-23a. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king. Now Joab was over all the host of Israel.