1 David mustered the troops who were with him and set over them captains of thousands and captains of hundreds.
א וַיִּפְקֹד דָּוִד אֶת־הָעָם אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ וַיָּשֶׂם עֲלֵיהֶם שָׂרֵי אֲלָפִים וְשָׂרֵי מֵאוֹת׃
2 David sent out the troops, one-third under the command of Yoav, one-third under the command of Yoav‘s brother Avishai son of Tzeruya, and one-third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And David said to the troops, “I myself will march out with you.”
3 But the troops replied, “No! For if some of us flee, the rest will not be concerned about us; even if half of us should die, the others will not be concerned about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore, it is better for you to support us from the town.”
ג וַיֹּאמֶר הָעָם לֹא תֵצֵא כִּי אִם־נֹס נָנוּס לֹא־יָשִׂימוּ אֵלֵינוּ לֵב וְאִם־יָמֻתוּ חֶצְיֵנוּ לֹא־יָשִׂימוּ אֵלֵינוּ לֵב כִּי־עַתָּה כָמֹנוּ עֲשָׂרָה אֲלָפִים וְעַתָּה טוֹב כִּי־תִהְיֶה־לָּנוּ מֵעִיר לעזיר [לַעְזוֹר׃]
4 And the king said to them, “I will do whatever you think best.” So the king stood beside the gate as all the troops marched out by their hundreds and thousands.
ד וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר־יִיטַב בְּעֵינֵיכֶם אֶעֱשֶׂה וַיַּעֲמֹד הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל־יַד הַשַּׁעַר וְכָל־הָעָם יָצְאוּ לְמֵאוֹת וְלַאֲלָפִים׃
18:5 Deal gently with my boy Avshalom, for my sake
King David orders that his rebellious son Avshalom be captured unharmed. On the surface, this seems shocking, as Avshalom was attempting to kill his father. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner notes that throughout David’s struggles, he retains his attribute of mercy. Thus, though he has no intention of surrendering to King Shaul who wants to kill him, David nevertheless respects him (see I Samuel 24). Similarly, he also still loves his son Avshalom, though Avshalom wants to murder him. The Sages (Yevamot 79a) consider the attribute of mercy to be one of the hallmarks of the Children of Israel. Failing to act with mercy is cause for punishment and even exile from the Land of Israel, as it says in Hoshea (4:1-3), “Because there is no honesty and no goodness and no obedience to Hashem in the land… For that, the earth is withered…”Comment
6 The troops marched out into the open to confront the Israelites, and the battle was fought in the forest of Efraim.
7 The Israelite troops were routed by David‘s followers, and a great slaughter took place there that day—twenty thousand men.
ז וַיִּנָּגְפוּ שָׁם עַם יִשְׂרָאֵל לִפְנֵי עַבְדֵי דָוִד וַתְּהִי־שָׁם הַמַּגֵּפָה גְדוֹלָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא עֶשְׂרִים אָלֶף׃
8 The battle spread out over that whole region, and the forest devoured more troops that day than the sword.
ח וַתְּהִי־שָׁם הַמִּלְחָמָה נפצית [נָפֹצֶת] עַל־פְּנֵי כָל־הָאָרֶץ וַיֶּרֶב הַיַּעַר לֶאֱכֹל בָּעָם מֵאֲשֶׁר אָכְלָה הַחֶרֶב בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא׃
9 Avshalom encountered some of David‘s followers. Avshalom was riding on a mule, and as the mule passed under the tangled branches of a great terebinth, his hair got caught in the terebinth; he was held between heaven and earth as the mule under him kept going.
י וַיַּרְא אִישׁ אֶחָד וַיַּגֵּד לְיוֹאָב וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה רָאִיתִי אֶת־אַבְשָׁלֹם תָּלוּי בָּאֵלָה׃
11 Yoav said to the man who told him, “You saw it! Why didn’t you kill him then and there? I would have owed you ten shekalim of silver and a belt.”
12 But the man answered Yoav, “Even if I had a thousand shekalim of silver in my hands, I would not raise a hand against the king’s son. For the king charged you and Avishai and Ittai in our hearing, ‘Watch over my boy Avshalom, for my sake.’
13 If I betrayed myself—and nothing is hidden from the king—you would have stood aloof.”
יג אוֹ־עָשִׂיתִי בנפשו [בְנַפְשִׁי] שֶׁקֶר וְכָל־דָּבָר לֹא־יִכָּחֵד מִן־הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאַתָּה תִּתְיַצֵּב מִנֶּגֶד׃
17 They took Avshalom and flung him into a large pit in the forest, and they piled up a very great heap of stones over it. Then all the Israelites fled to their homes.—
18 Now Avshalom, in his lifetime, had taken the pillar which is in the Valley of the King and set it up for himself; for he said, “I have no son to keep my name alive.” He had named the pillar after himself, and it has been called Avshalom‘s Monument to this day.
יח וְאַבְשָׁלֹם לָקַח וַיַּצֶּב־לוֹ בחיו [בְחַיָּיו] אֶת־מַצֶּבֶת אֲשֶׁר בְּעֵמֶק־הַמֶּלֶךְ כִּי אָמַר אֵין־לִי בֵן בַּעֲבוּר הַזְכִּיר שְׁמִי וַיִּקְרָא לַמַּצֶּבֶת עַל־שְׁמוֹ וַיִּקָּרֵא לָהּ יַד אַבְשָׁלֹם עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה׃
19 Ahimaaz son of Tzadok said, “Let me run and report to the king that Hashem has vindicated him against his enemies.”
יט וַאֲחִימַעַץ בֶּן־צָדוֹק אָמַר אָרוּצָה נָּא וַאֲבַשְּׂרָה אֶת־הַמֶּלֶךְ כִּי־שְׁפָטוֹ יְהֹוָה מִיַּד אֹיְבָיו׃
20 But Yoav said to him, “You shall not be the one to bring tidings today. You may bring tidings some other day, but you’ll not bring any today; for the king’s son is dead!”
כ וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ יוֹאָב לֹא אִישׁ בְּשֹׂרָה אַתָּה הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה וּבִשַּׂרְתָּ בְּיוֹם אַחֵר וְהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה לֹא תְבַשֵּׂר כִּי־על [עַל־] [כֵּן] בֶּן־הַמֶּלֶךְ מֵת׃
23 “I am going to run anyway.” “Then run,” he said. So Ahimaaz ran by way of the Plain, and he passed the Cushite.
כג וִיהִי־מָה אָרוּץ וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ רוּץ וַיָּרָץ אֲחִימַעַץ דֶּרֶךְ הַכִּכָּר וַיַּעֲבֹר אֶת־הַכּוּשִׁי׃
24 David was sitting between the two gates. The watchman on the roof of the gate walked over to the city wall. He looked up and saw a man running alone.
כד וְדָוִד יוֹשֵׁב בֵּין־שְׁנֵי הַשְּׁעָרִים וַיֵּלֶךְ הַצֹּפֶה אֶל־גַּג הַשַּׁעַר אֶל־הַחוֹמָה וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת־עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה־אִישׁ רָץ לְבַדּוֹ׃
25 The watchman called down and told the king; and the king said, “If he is alone, he has news to report.” As he was coming nearer,
כה וַיִּקְרָא הַצֹּפֶה וַיַּגֵּד לַמֶּלֶךְ וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אִם־לְבַדּוֹ בְּשׂוֹרָה בְּפִיו וַיֵּלֶךְ הָלוֹךְ וְקָרֵב׃
26 the watchman saw another man running; and he called out to the gatekeeper, “There is another man running alone.” And the king said, “That one, too, brings news.”
כו וַיַּרְא הַצֹּפֶה אִישׁ־אַחֵר רָץ וַיִּקְרָא הַצֹּפֶה אֶל־הַשֹּׁעֵר וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה־אִישׁ רָץ לְבַדּוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ גַּם־זֶה מְבַשֵּׂר׃
27 The watchman said, “I can see that the first one runs like Ahimaaz son of Tzadok”; to which the king replied, “He is a good man, and he comes with good news.”
כז וַיֹּאמֶר הַצֹּפֶה אֲנִי רֹאֶה אֶת־מְרוּצַת הָרִאשׁוֹן כִּמְרֻצַת אֲחִימַעַץ בֶּן־צָדוֹק וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אִישׁ־טוֹב זֶה וְאֶל־בְּשׂוֹרָה טוֹבָה יָבוֹא׃
28 Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “All is well!” He bowed low with his face to the ground and said, “Praised be Hashem your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king.”
כח וַיִּקְרָא אֲחִימַעַץ וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ שָׁלוֹם וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לַמֶּלֶךְ לְאַפָּיו אָרְצָה וַיֹּאמֶר בָּרוּךְ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר סִגַּר אֶת־הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר־נָשְׂאוּ אֶת־יָדָם בַּאדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ׃
30 The king said, “Step aside and stand over there”; he stepped aside and waited.
ל וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ סֹב הִתְיַצֵּב כֹּה וַיִּסֹּב וַיַּעֲמֹד׃
31 Just then the Cushite came up; and the Cushite said, “Let my lord the king be informed that Hashem has vindicated you today against all who rebelled against you!”
לא וְהִנֵּה הַכּוּשִׁי בָּא וַיֹּאמֶר הַכּוּשִׁי יִתְבַּשֵּׂר אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ כִּי־שְׁפָטְךָ יְהֹוָה הַיּוֹם מִיַּד כָּל־הַקָּמִים עָלֶיךָ׃
32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is my boy Avshalom safe?” And the Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rose against you to do you harm fare like that young man!”
לב וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל־הַכּוּשִׁי הֲשָׁלוֹם לַנַּעַר לְאַבְשָׁלוֹם וַיֹּאמֶר הַכּוּשִׁי יִהְיוּ כַנַּעַר אֹיְבֵי אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר־קָמוּ עָלֶיךָ לְרָעָה׃