After this Absalom provided himself with chariots, horses, and fifty henchmen.
Moreover, Absalom used to rise early and stand alongside the road leading to the gate. If someone had a lawsuit to be decided by the king, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he replied, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe of Israel,”
Absalom would say to him, “Your suit is good and just, but there is no one to hear you in the king’s name.”
And he would continue: “If only I could be appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a lawsuit to be decided might come to me and I would render him justice.”
Whenever a man approached him to show homage, he would extend his hand, hold him, and kiss him.
By behaving in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king for judgment, Absalom was stealing away the loyalties of the men of Israel.
After a period of four years, Absalom said to the king: “Allow me to go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the LORD.
For while living in Geshur in Aram, your servant made this vow: ‘If the LORD ever brings me back to Jerusalem, I will worship him in Hebron.'”
The king wished him a safe journey, and he went off to Hebron.
Then Absalom sent spies throughout the tribes of Israel to say, “When you hear the sound of the horn, declare Absalom king in Hebron.”
Two hundred men had accompanied Absalom from Jerusalem. They had been invited and went in good faith, knowing nothing of the plan.
Absalom also sent to Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, an invitation to come from his town, Giloh, for the sacrifices he was about to offer. So the conspiracy gained strength, and the people with Absalom increased in numbers.
An informant came to David with the report, “The Israelites have transferred their loyalty to Absalom.”
At this, David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem: “Up! Let us take flight, or none of us will escape from Absalom. Leave quickly, lest he hurry and overtake us, then visit disaster upon us and put the city to the sword.”
The king’s officers answered him, “Your servants are ready, whatever our lord the king chooses to do.”
Then the king set out, accompanied by his entire household, except for ten concubines whom he left behind to take care of the palace.
As the king left the city, with all his officers accompanying him, they halted opposite the ascent of the Mount of Olives, at a distance,
while the whole army marched past him.As all the Cherethites and Pelethites, and the six hundred men of Gath who had accompanied him from that city, were passing in review before the king,
he said to Ittai the Gittite: “Why should you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and you, too, are an exile from your own country.
You came only yesterday, and shall I have you wander about with us today, wherever I have to go? Return and take your brothers with you, and may the LORD be kind and faithful to you.”
But Ittai answered the king, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, your servant shall be wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life.”
So the king said to Ittai, “Go, then, march on.” And Ittai the Gittite, with all his men and all the dependents that were with him, marched on.
Everyone in the countryside wept aloud as the last of the soldiers went by, and the king crossed the Kidron Valley with all the soldiers moving on ahead of him by way of the Mount of Olives, toward the desert.
Zadok, too (with all the Levite bearers of the ark of the covenant of God), and Abiathar brought the ark of God to a halt until the soldiers had marched out of the city.
Then the king said to Zadok: “Take the ark of God back to the city. If I find favor with the LORD, he will bring me back and permit me to see it and its lodging.
But if he should say, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ I am ready; let him do to me as he sees fit.”
The king also said to the priest Zadok: “See to it that you and Abiathar return to the city in peace, and both your sons with you, your own son Ahimaaz, and Abiathar’s son Jonathan.
Remember, I shall be waiting at the fords near the desert until I receive information from you.”
So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and remained there.
As David went up the Mount of Olives, he wept without ceasing. His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot. All those who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went.
When David was informed that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom, he said, “O LORD, turn the counsel of Ahithophel to folly!”
When David reached the top, where men used to worship God, Hushai the Archite was there to meet him, with rent garments and dirt upon his head.
David said to him: “If you come with me, you will be a burden to me.
But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘Let me be your servant, O king; I was formerly your father’s servant, but now I will be yours,’ you will undo for me the counsel of Ahithophel.
You will have the priests Zadok and Abiathar there with you. If you hear anything from the royal palace, you shall report it to the priests Zadok and Abiathar,
who have there with them both Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. Through them you shall send on to me whatever you hear.”
So David’s friend Hushai went into the city of Jerusalem as Absalom was about to enter it.