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II Samuel 18

1David mustered the troops who were with him and set over them captains of thousands and captains of hundreds.

אוַיִּפְקֹד דָּוִד אֶת־הָעָם אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ וַיָּשֶׂם עֲלֵיהֶם שָׂרֵי אֲלָפִים וְשָׂרֵי מֵאוֹת׃

2David 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.”

בוַיְשַׁלַּח דָּוִד אֶת־הָעָם הַשְּׁלִשִׁית בְּיַד־יוֹאָב וְהַשְּׁלִשִׁית בְּיַד אֲבִישַׁי בֶּן־צְרוּיָה אֲחִי יוֹאָב וְהַשְּׁלִשִׁת בְּיַד אִתַּי הַגִּתִּי וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל־הָעָם יָצֹא אֵצֵא גַּם־אֲנִי עִמָּכֶם׃

3But 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.”

גוַיֹּאמֶר 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׃]

4And 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.

דוַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר־יִיטַב בְּעֵינֵיכֶם אֶעֱשֶׂה וַיַּעֲמֹד הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל־יַד הַשַּׁעַר וְכָל־הָעָם יָצְאוּ לְמֵאוֹת וְלַאֲלָפִים׃

5The king gave orders to Yoav, Avishai, and Ittai: “Deal gently with my boy Avshalom, for my sake.” All the troops heard the king give the order about Avshalom to all the officers.

vai-TZAV ha-ME-lekh et yo-AV v'-et a-vee-SHAI v'-et i-TAI lay-MOR l'-at LEE la-NA-ar l'-av-sha-LOM v'-khol ha-AM sha-m'-U b'-tza-VOT ha-ME-lekh et kol ha-sa-REEM al d'-VAR av-sha-LOM

הוַיְצַו הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת־יוֹאָב וְאֶת־אֲבִישַׁי וְאֶת־אִתַּי לֵאמֹר לְאַט־לִי לַנַּעַר לְאַבְשָׁלוֹם וְכָל־הָעָם שָׁמְעוּ בְּצַוּׂת הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת־כָּל־הַשָּׂרִים עַל־דְּבַר אַבְשָׁלוֹם׃

 18:5   Deal gently with my boy Avshalom, for my sake

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner (b. 1943)

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…”

6The troops marched out into the open to confront the Israelites, and the battle was fought in the forest of Efraim.

ווַיֵּצֵא הָעָם הַשָּׂדֶה לִקְרַאת יִשְׂרָאֵל וַתְּהִי הַמִּלְחָמָה בְּיַעַר אֶפְרָיִם׃

7The Israelite troops were routed by David's followers, and a great slaughter took place there that day—twenty thousand men.

זוַיִּנָּגְפוּ שָׁם עַם יִשְׂרָאֵל לִפְנֵי עַבְדֵי דָוִד וַתְּהִי־שָׁם הַמַּגֵּפָה גְדוֹלָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא עֶשְׂרִים אָלֶף׃

8The battle spread out over that whole region, and the forest devoured more troops that day than the sword.

חוַתְּהִי־שָׁם הַמִּלְחָמָה נפצית [נָפֹצֶת] עַל־פְּנֵי כָל־הָאָרֶץ וַיֶּרֶב הַיַּעַר לֶאֱכֹל בָּעָם מֵאֲשֶׁר אָכְלָה הַחֶרֶב בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא׃

9Avshalom 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.

טוַיִּקָּרֵא אַבְשָׁלוֹם לִפְנֵי עַבְדֵי דָוִד וְאַבְשָׁלוֹם רֹכֵב עַל־הַפֶּרֶד וַיָּבֹא הַפֶּרֶד תַּחַת שׂוֹבֶךְ הָאֵלָה הַגְּדוֹלָה וַיֶּחֱזַק רֹאשׁוֹ בָאֵלָה וַיֻּתַּן בֵּין הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבֵין הָאָרֶץ וְהַפֶּרֶד אֲשֶׁר־תַּחְתָּיו עָבָר׃

10One of the men saw it and told Yoav, “I have just seen Avshalom hanging from a terebinth.”

יוַיַּרְא אִישׁ אֶחָד וַיַּגֵּד לְיוֹאָב וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה רָאִיתִי אֶת־אַבְשָׁלֹם תָּלוּי בָּאֵלָה׃

11Yoav 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.”

יאוַיֹּאמֶר יוֹאָב לָאִישׁ הַמַּגִּיד לוֹ וְהִנֵּה רָאִיתָ וּמַדּוּעַ לֹא־הִכִּיתוֹ שָׁם אָרְצָה וְעָלַי לָתֶת לְךָ עֲשָׂרָה כֶסֶף וַחֲגֹרָה אֶחָת׃

12But 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.'

יבוַיֹּאמֶר הָאִישׁ אֶל־יוֹאָב ולא [וְלוּא] אָנֹכִי שֹׁקֵל עַל־כַּפַּי אֶלֶף כֶּסֶף לֹא־אֶשְׁלַח יָדִי אֶל־בֶּן־הַמֶּלֶךְ כִּי בְאָזְנֵינוּ צִוָּה הַמֶּלֶךְ אֹתְךָ וְאֶת־אֲבִישַׁי וְאֶת־אִתַּי לֵאמֹר שִׁמְרוּ־מִי בַּנַּעַר בְּאַבְשָׁלוֹם׃

13If I betrayed myself—and nothing is hidden from the king—you would have stood aloof.”

יגאוֹ־עָשִׂיתִי בנפשו [בְנַפְשִׁי] שֶׁקֶר וְכָל־דָּבָר לֹא־יִכָּחֵד מִן־הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאַתָּה תִּתְיַצֵּב מִנֶּגֶד׃

14Yoav replied, “Then I will not wait for you.” He took three darts in his hand and drove them into Avshalom's chest. [Avshalom] was still alive in the thick growth of the terebinth,

ידוַיֹּאמֶר יוֹאָב לֹא־כֵן אֹחִילָה לְפָנֶיךָ וַיִּקַּח שְׁלֹשָׁה שְׁבָטִים בְּכַפּוֹ וַיִּתְקָעֵם בְּלֵב אַבְשָׁלוֹם עוֹדֶנּוּ חַי בְּלֵב הָאֵלָה׃

15when ten of Yoav's young arms-bearers closed in and struck at Avshalom until he died.

טווַיָּסֹבּוּ עֲשָׂרָה נְעָרִים נֹשְׂאֵי כְּלֵי יוֹאָב וַיַּכּוּ אֶת־אַבְשָׁלוֹם וַיְמִיתֻהוּ׃

16Then Yoav sounded the horn, and the troops gave up their pursuit of the Israelites; for Yoav held the troops in check.

טזוַיִּתְקַע יוֹאָב בַּשֹּׁפָר וַיָּשָׁב הָעָם מִרְדֹף אַחֲרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי־חָשַׂךְ יוֹאָב אֶת־הָעָם׃

17They 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.—

יזוַיִּקְחוּ אֶת־אַבְשָׁלוֹם וַיַּשְׁלִיכוּ אֹתוֹ בַיַּעַר אֶל־הַפַּחַת הַגָּדוֹל וַיַּצִּבוּ עָלָיו גַּל־אֲבָנִים גָּדוֹל מְאֹד וְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵל נָסוּ אִישׁ לאהלו [לְאֹהָלָיו׃]

18Now 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.

יחוְאַבְשָׁלֹם 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׃

19Ahimaaz son of Tzadok said, “Let me run and report to the king that Hashem has vindicated him against his enemies.”

יטוַאֲחִימַעַץ בֶּן־צָדוֹק אָמַר אָרוּצָה נָּא וַאֲבַשְּׂרָה אֶת־הַמֶּלֶךְ כִּי־שְׁפָטוֹ יְהֹוָה מִיַּד אֹיְבָיו׃

20But 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!”

כוַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ יוֹאָב לֹא אִישׁ בְּשֹׂרָה אַתָּה הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה וּבִשַּׂרְתָּ בְּיוֹם אַחֵר וְהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה לֹא תְבַשֵּׂר כִּי־על [עַל־] [כֵּן] בֶּן־הַמֶּלֶךְ מֵת׃

21And Yoav said to a Cushite, “Go tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed to Yoav and ran off.

כאוַיֹּאמֶר יוֹאָב לַכּוּשִׁי לֵךְ הַגֵּד לַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתָה וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ כוּשִׁי לְיוֹאָב וַיָּרֹץ׃

22But Ahimaaz son of Tzadok again said to Yoav, “No matter what, let me run, too, behind the Cushite.” Yoav asked, “Why should you run, my boy, when you have no news worth telling?”

כבוַיֹּסֶף עוֹד אֲחִימַעַץ בֶּן־צָדוֹק וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־יוֹאָב וִיהִי מָה אָרֻצָה־נָּא גַם־אָנִי אַחֲרֵי הַכּוּשִׁי וַיֹּאמֶר יוֹאָב לָמָּה־זֶּה אַתָּה רָץ בְּנִי וּלְכָה אֵין־בְּשׂוֹרָה מֹצֵאת׃

23“I am going to run anyway.” “Then run,” he said. So Ahimaaz ran by way of the Plain, and he passed the Cushite.

כגוִיהִי־מָה אָרוּץ וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ רוּץ וַיָּרָץ אֲחִימַעַץ דֶּרֶךְ הַכִּכָּר וַיַּעֲבֹר אֶת־הַכּוּשִׁי׃

24David 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.

כדוְדָוִד יוֹשֵׁב בֵּין־שְׁנֵי הַשְּׁעָרִים וַיֵּלֶךְ הַצֹּפֶה אֶל־גַּג הַשַּׁעַר אֶל־הַחוֹמָה וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת־עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה־אִישׁ רָץ לְבַדּוֹ׃

25The 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,

כהוַיִּקְרָא הַצֹּפֶה וַיַּגֵּד לַמֶּלֶךְ וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אִם־לְבַדּוֹ בְּשׂוֹרָה בְּפִיו וַיֵּלֶךְ הָלוֹךְ וְקָרֵב׃

26the 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.”

כווַיַּרְא הַצֹּפֶה אִישׁ־אַחֵר רָץ וַיִּקְרָא הַצֹּפֶה אֶל־הַשֹּׁעֵר וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה־אִישׁ רָץ לְבַדּוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ גַּם־זֶה מְבַשֵּׂר׃

27The 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.”

כזוַיֹּאמֶר הַצֹּפֶה אֲנִי רֹאֶה אֶת־מְרוּצַת הָרִאשׁוֹן כִּמְרֻצַת אֲחִימַעַץ בֶּן־צָדוֹק וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אִישׁ־טוֹב זֶה וְאֶל־בְּשׂוֹרָה טוֹבָה יָבוֹא׃

28Ahimaaz 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.”

כחוַיִּקְרָא אֲחִימַעַץ וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ שָׁלוֹם וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לַמֶּלֶךְ לְאַפָּיו אָרְצָה וַיֹּאמֶר בָּרוּךְ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר סִגַּר אֶת־הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר־נָשְׂאוּ אֶת־יָדָם בַּאדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ׃

29The king asked, “Is my boy Avshalom safe?” And Ahimaaz answered, “I saw a large crowd when Your Majesty's servant Yoav was sending your servant off, but I don't know what it was about.”

כטוַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ שָׁלוֹם לַנַּעַר לְאַבְשָׁלוֹם וַיֹּאמֶר אֲחִימַעַץ רָאִיתִי הֶהָמוֹן הַגָּדוֹל לִשְׁלֹחַ אֶת־עֶבֶד הַמֶּלֶךְ יוֹאָב וְאֶת־עַבְדֶּךָ וְלֹא יָדַעְתִּי מָה׃

30The king said, “Step aside and stand over there”; he stepped aside and waited.

לוַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ סֹב הִתְיַצֵּב כֹּה וַיִּסֹּב וַיַּעֲמֹד׃

31Just 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!”

לאוְהִנֵּה הַכּוּשִׁי בָּא וַיֹּאמֶר הַכּוּשִׁי יִתְבַּשֵּׂר אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ כִּי־שְׁפָטְךָ יְהֹוָה הַיּוֹם מִיַּד כָּל־הַקָּמִים עָלֶיךָ׃

32The 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!”

לבוַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל־הַכּוּשִׁי הֲשָׁלוֹם לַנַּעַר לְאַבְשָׁלוֹם וַיֹּאמֶר הַכּוּשִׁי יִהְיוּ כַנַּעַר אֹיְבֵי אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר־קָמוּ עָלֶיךָ לְרָעָה׃