Ahithophel went on to say to Absalom: “Please let me choose twelve thousand men, and be off in pursuit of David tonight.
If I come upon him when he is weary and discouraged, I shall cause him panic. When all the people with him flee, I shall strike down the king alone.
Then I can bring back the rest of the people to you, as a bride returns to her husband. It is the death of only one man you are seeking; then all the people will be at peace.”
This plan was agreeable to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.
Then Absalom said, “Now call Hushai the Archite also; let us hear what he too has to say.”
When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him: “This is what Ahithophel proposed. Shall we follow his proposal? If not, speak up.”
Hushai replied to Absalom, “This time Ahithophel has not given good counsel.”
And he went on to say: “You know that your father and his men are warriors, and that they are as fierce as a bear in the wild robbed of her cubs. Moreover, since your father is skilled in warfare, he will not spend the night with the people.
Even now he lies hidden in one of the caves or in some other place. And if some of our soldiers should fall at the first attack, whoever hears of it will say, ‘Absalom’s followers have been slaughtered.’
Then even the brave man with the heart of a lion will lose courage. For all Israel knows that your father is a warrior and that those who are with him are brave.
“This is what I counsel: Let all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba, who are as numerous as the sands by the sea, be called up for combat; and go with them yourself.
We can then attack him wherever we find him, settling down upon him as dew alights on the ground. None shall survive – neither he nor any of his followers.
And if he retires into a city, all Israel shall bring ropes to that city and we can drag it into the gorge, so that not even a pebble of it can be found.”
Then Absalom and all the Israelites pronounced the counsel of Hushai the Archite better than that of Ahithophel. For the LORD had decided to undo Ahithophel’s good counsel, in order thus to bring Absalom to ruin.
Then Hushai said to the priests Zadok and Abiathar: “This is the counsel Ahithophel gave Absalom and the elders of Israel, and this is what I counseled.
So send a warning to David immediately, not to spend the night at the fords near the desert, but to cross over without fail. Otherwise the king and all the people with him will be destroyed.”
Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En-rogel, since they could not risk being seen entering the city. A maidservant was to come with information for them, and they in turn were to go and report to King David.
But an attendant saw them and informed Absalom. They sped on their way and reached the house of a man in Bahurim who had a cistern in his courtyard. They let themselves down into this,
and the housewife took the cover and spread it over the cistern, strewing ground grain on the cover so that nothing could be noticed.
When Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house, they asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” The woman replied, “They went by a short while ago toward the water.” They searched, but found no one, and so returned to Jerusalem.
As soon as they left, Ahimaaz and Jonathan came up out of the cistern and went on to inform King David. They said to him: “Leave! Cross the water at once, for Ahithophel has given the following counsel in regard to you.”
So David and all his people moved on and crossed the Jordan. By daybreak, there was no one left who had not crossed.
When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not acted upon, he saddled his ass and departed, going to his home in his own city. Then, having left orders concerning his family, he hanged himself. And so he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.
Now David had gone to Mahanaim when Absalom crossed the Jordan accompanied by all the Israelites.
Absalom had put Amasa in command of the army in Joab’s place. Amasa was the son of an Ishmaelite named Ithra, who had married Abigail, daughter of Jesse and sister of Joab’s mother Zeruiah.
Israel and Absalom encamped in the territory of Gilead.
When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi, son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, Machir, son of Ammiel from Lodebar, and Barzillai, the Gileadite from Rogelim,
brought couches, coverlets, basins and earthenware, as well as wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils,
honey, butter and cheese from the flocks and herds, for David and those who were with him to eat; for they said, “The people have been hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert.”