December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- After this David inquired of the LORD, "Shall I go up into one of the cities of Judah?" The LORD replied to him, "Yes." Then David asked, "Where shall I go?" He replied, "To Hebron."
- So David went up there accompanied by his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel.
- David also brought up his men with their families, and they dwelt in the cities near Hebron.
- Then the men of Judah came there and anointed David king of the Judahites.A report reached David that the men of Jabesh-gilead had buried Saul.
- So David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them: "May you be blessed by the LORD for having done this kindness to your lord Saul in burying him.
- And now may the LORD be kind and faithful to you. I, too, will be generous to you for having done this.
- Take courage, therefore, and prove yourselves valiant men, for though your lord Saul is dead, the Judahites have anointed me their king."
- Abner, son of Ner, Saul's general, took Ishbaal, son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim,
- where he made him king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and the rest of Israel.
- Ishbaal, son of Saul, was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned for two years. The Judahites alone followed David.
- In all, David spent seven years and six months in Hebron as king of the Judahites.
- Now Abner, son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbaal, Saul's son, left Mahanaim for Gibeon.
- Joab, son of Zeruiah, and David's servants also set out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. And they sat down, one group on one side of the pool and the other on the opposite side.
- Then Abner said to Joab, "Let the young men rise and perform for us." Joab replied, "All right!"
- So they rose and were counted off: twelve of the Benjaminites of Ishbaal, son of Saul, and twelve of David's servants.
- 1 Then each one grasped his opponent's head and thrust his sword into his opponent's side, and all fell down together. And so that place, which is in Gideon, was named the Field of the Sides.
- After a very fierce battle that day, Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David's servants.
- The three sons of Zeruiah were there-Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel, who was as fleet of foot as a gazelle in the open field,
- set out after Abner, turning neither right nor left in his pursuit.
- Abner turned around and said, "Is that you, Asahel?" He replied, "Yes."
- Abner said to him, "Turn right or left; seize one of the young men and take what you can strip from him." But Asahel would not desist from his pursuit.
- Once more Abner said to Asahel: "Stop pursuing me! Why must I strike you to the ground? How could I face your brother Joab?"
- Still he refused to stop. So Abner struck him in the abdomen with the heel of his javelin, and the weapon protruded from his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And all who came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, came to a halt.
- Joab and Abishai, however, continued the pursuit of Abner. The sun had gone down when they came to the hill of Ammah which lies east of the valley toward the desert near Geba.
- Here the Benjaminites rallied around Abner, forming a single group, and made a stand on the hilltop.
- Then Abner called to Joab and said: "Must the sword destroy to the utmost? Do you not know that afterward there will be bitterness? How much longer will you refrain from ordering the people to stop the pursuit of their brothers?"
- Joab replied, "As God lives, if you had not spoken, the soldiers would not have been withdrawn from the pursuit of their brothers until morning."
- Joab then sounded the horn, and all the soldiers came to a halt, pursuing Israel no farther and fighting no more.
- Abner and his men marched all night long through the Arabah, crossed the Jordan, marched all through the morning, and came to Mahanaim.
- Joab, after interrupting the pursuit of Abner, assembled all the men. Besides Asahel, nineteen other servants of David were missing.
- But David's servants had fatally wounded three hundred and sixty men of Benjamin, followers of Abner.
- They took up Asahel and buried him in his father's tomb in Bethlehem. Joab and his men made an all-night march, and dawn found them in Hebron.
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1  The nature of this gruesome game is not clear, and the place name is variously given in the older texts.
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