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1A scoundrel named Sheba son of Bichri, a man of Benjamin, happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and cried out: “We have no share in David, no lot in the son of Jesse. Every man to his tent, O Israel!”

2All the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bichri, but the men of Judah stood by their king and followed him from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

3When David went up to his palace in Jerusalem he took the ten concubines whom he had left in charge of the palace and put them in a house under guard; he maintained them but did not have intercourse with them. They were kept in seclusion, living as if they were widows until the day of their death.

4The king said to Amasa, “Call up the men of Judah and appear before me again in three days' time.”

5Amasa went to call up the men of Judah, but he took longer than the time fixed by the king.

6David said to Abishai, “Sheba son of Bichri will give us more trouble than Absalom; take the royal bodyguard and follow him closely in case he occupies some fortified cities and escapes us.”

7Joab, along with the Kerethite and Pelethite guards and all the fighting men, marched out behind Abishai, and left Jerusalem in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri.

8When they reached the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his tunic and over it a belt supporting a sword in its scabbard. He came forward, concealing his treachery,

9and said to Amasa, “I hope you are well, my brother,” and with his right hand he grasped Amasa's beard to kiss him.

10Amasa was not on his guard against the sword in Joab's hand. Joab struck him with it in the belly and his entrails poured out to the ground; he did not have to strike a second blow, for Amasa was dead. Joab with his brother Abishai went on in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri.

11One of Joab's men stood over Amasa and called out, “Follow Joab, all who are for Joab and for David!”

12Amasa's body lay soaked in blood in the middle of the road, and when the man saw how all the people stopped, he rolled him off the road into the field and threw a cloak over him; for everyone who came by stopped at the sight of the body.

13When it had been removed from the road, they all went on and followed Joab in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri.

14Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel until he came to Abel-beth-maacah, and all the clan of Bichri rallied to him and followed him into the city.

15Joab's forces came up and besieged him in Abel-beth-maacah, raised a siege-ramp against it, and began undermining the wall to bring it down.

16Then a wise woman stood on the rampart and called from the city, “Listen, listen! Tell Joab to come here and let me speak with him.”

17When he came forward the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” “Listen to what I have to say, sir,” she said. “I am listening,” he replied.

18“In the old days”, she went on, “there was a saying, ‘Go to Abel for the answer,’ and that settled the matter.

19My town is known to be one of the most peaceable and loyal in Israel; she is like a watchful mother in Israel, and you are seeking to kill her. Would you destroy the LORD's own possession?”

20Joab answered, “God forbid, far be it from me to ruin or destroy!

21That is not our aim; but a man from the hill-country of Ephraim named Sheba son of Bichri has raised a revolt against King David. Surrender this one man, and I shall retire from the city.” The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown over the wall to you.”

22Then the woman went to the people, who, persuaded by her wisdom, cut off Sheba's head and threw it to Joab. He then sounded the trumpet, and the whole army withdrew from the town; they dispersed to their homes, while Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

Stories of David's reign

23JOAB was in command of the whole army in Israel, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada commanded the Kerethite and Pelethite guards.

24Adoram was in charge of the forced levy, and Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was secretary of state.

25Sheva was adjutant-general, and Zadok and Abiathar were priests;

26Ira the Jairite was David's priest.

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