David, King of Judah
1Some time later, David inquired of the Lord: “Should I go to one of the towns of Judah?”
The Lord answered him, “Go.”
Then David asked, “Where should I go?”
“To Hebron,” the Lord replied.
2So David went there with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 3In addition, David brought the men who were with him, each one with his family, and they settled in the towns near Hebron. 4Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. They told David, “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul.”
5David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “The Lord bless you because you have shown this kindness to Saul your lord when you buried him. 6Now, may the Lord show kindness and faithfulness to you, and I will also show the same goodness to you because you have done this deed. 7Therefore, be strong and valiant, for though Saul your lord is dead, the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”
8Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Saul’s son Ish-bosheth and moved him to Mahanaim. 9He made him king over Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin — over all Israel. 10Saul’s son Ish-bosheth was forty years old when he became king over Israel; he reigned for two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David. 11The length of time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
12Abner son of Ner and soldiers of Ish-bosheth son of Saul marched out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13So Joab son of Zeruiah and David’s soldiers marched out and met them by the pool of Gibeon. The two groups took up positions on opposite sides of the pool.
14Then Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have the young men get up and compete in front of us.”
“Let them get up,” Joab replied.
15So they got up and were counted off — twelve for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth son of Saul, and twelve from David’s soldiers. 16Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his sword into his opponent’s side so that they all died together. So this place, which is in Gibeon, is named Field of Blades.
17The battle that day was extremely fierce, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David’s soldiers. 18The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was a fast runner, like one of the wild gazelles. 19He chased Abner and did not turn to the right or the left in his pursuit of him. 20Abner glanced back and said, “Is that you, Asahel?”
“Yes it is,” Asahel replied.
21Abner said to him, “Turn to your right or left, seize one of the young soldiers, and take whatever you can get from him.” But Asahel would not stop chasing him. 22Once again, Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How could I ever look your brother Joab in the face?”
23But Asahel refused to turn away, so Abner hit him in the stomach with the butt of his spear. The spear went through his body, and he fell and died right there. As they all came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, they stopped, 24but Joab and Abishai pursued Abner. By sunset, they had gone as far as the hill of Ammah, which is opposite Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon.
25The Benjaminites rallied to Abner; they formed a unit and took their stand on top of a hill. 26Then Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize this will only end in bitterness? How long before you tell the troops to stop pursuing their brothers?”
27“As God lives,” Joab replied, “if you had not spoken up, the troops wouldn’t have stopped pursuing their brothers until morning.” 28Then Joab blew the ram’s horn, and all the troops stopped; they no longer pursued Israel or continued to fight. 29So Abner and his men marched through the Arabah all that night. They crossed the Jordan, marched all morning, and arrived at Mahanaim.
30When Joab had turned back from pursuing Abner, he gathered all the troops. In addition to Asahel, nineteen of David’s soldiers were missing, 31but they had killed 360 of the Benjaminites and Abner’s men. 32Afterward, they carried Asahel to his father’s tomb in Bethlehem and buried him. Then Joab and his men marched all night and reached Hebron at dawn.