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Antiquities of the Jews, Book 7.

The eventful, forty-year reign of King David

1. David rules in Hebron. In the civil war, Asahel and Abner are killed

2. After the murder of Ishbosheth, David becomes the undisputed king

3. David captures Jerusalem from the Jebusites, and settles it as his capital

4. David recaptures the Ark from the Philistines, and plans to build a Temple

5. David's victories. He shows mercy towards the house of Saul

6. Successful conclusion to the war against the Ammanites

7. David's sin with Bethsabé; Uriah's Murder is condemned by Prophet Nathan

8. Absalom kills Amnon for raping Tamar, is banished, then recalled by David

9. Absalom's rebellion against David, urged on by Ahithophel

10. Joab catches up with Absalom, and kills him, to David's sorrow

11. David's clemency towards Shimei and Sibas. Amasa is killed by Joab

12. Famine averted, when vengeance is satisfied; David's prosperity

13. The pride of David's census brings divine anger on the people

14. David's preparations for the Temple. He appoints Solomon as successor

15. David's parting advice to his son, Solomon


Chapter 1. [001-045]
David's rule begins in Hebron. In the civil war, Asahel and Abner are killed

1.

001 This battle was on the same day that David returned to Sikella, victorious over the Amalekites. When he had been two days at Sikella, the man who had killed Saul came to him on the third day after the battle with the Philistines, fleeing to him with his clothes torn and with ashes on his head. 002 When he knelt to him and was asked where he came from, he said: "From Israel's battlefield," and he told him how it had turned out badly, with thousands of the Hebrews killed including king Saul and his sons. 003 He said he could tell him the news, as he had been present when the Hebrews were beaten and was with the king when he fled, nor did he deny that he had killed him, who had implored him to do so as he was about to be taken by the enemy. Although Saul had fallen on his sword, his wounds had made him so weak that he could not end his own life. 004 As proofs that the king was killed, he produced the golden bracelet that had been on the king's arm and his crown, that he had taken from Saul's corpse and brought to him. As there was no longer any reason to disbelieve him in light of these clear signs of Saul's death, David rent his clothing and spent all that day in tears and grief with his companions. 005 His grief was increased by the thought of Jonathan, Saul's son, who had been his most faithful friend and who had saved his life. He showed his virtue and his goodwill towards Saul, by not only taking his death so hard, though his own life had often been threatened by him, but also by punishing the man who killed him. 006 David told him that he was his own accuser, in saying he had killed the king, and learning that he was the son of an Amalekite, he ordered him killed. He also wrote some dirges and poems of praise for Saul and Jonathan, which have lasted to my own time.

2.

007 After honouring the king in this way, he ceased mourning and through the prophet asked God which city of the tribe of Judas he would grant him to dwell in. When he replied, Hebron, he left Sikella and came to Hebron taking his two wives with him and his warriors. 008 Then all the people of that tribe came to him and ordained him as their king. When he heard that the people of Jabes-Galadene had buried Saul and his sons, he sent to them and praised them and approved their action, promising to reward them for their care of the dead. At the same time he told them that the tribe of Judas had chosen him as their king.

3.

009 As soon as Abner, son of Ner, who was general of Saul's army and a very active and good man, knew that the king and Jonathan and his two other sons had fallen in the battle, he hurried to the camp and, taking with him Ishbosheth, Saul's remaining son, he crossed over to the land beyond the Jordan and proclaimed him king of the whole people, except the tribe of Judas. 010 He made his royal seat in a place called Mahanaim in our tongue, but in the language of the Greeks, The Camps. Abner hurried from there with an elite corps of soldiers, to fight any of the tribe of Judas who were so inclined, angry that this tribe had set up David as their king. 011 But the general of the army, Joab, the son of Suri and of David's sister Zeruias, marched against him at David's command, along with his brothers, Abishai and Asahel, and all David's warriors. Finding him at a fountain in the city of Gabaon, he prepared for battle. 012 When Abner said he wished to see which of them had the braver soldiers, it was agreed that twelve of each side should fight each other. Those chosen by both generals for this fight came in between the two armies and after hurling their lances they drew their swords and catching each other by the head, they held tight and stabbed each other in the side and groin, until, as if by mutual agreement, all died together. 013 When these had fallen, the rest of the army came to a fierce battle and Abner's side was defeated, and after their rout Joab did not give up the pursuit, but pressed them hard, urging his soldiers to follow them close and not give up killing them. 014 His brothers also fought hard, most especially the younger, Asahel, famous for his speed of foot, in which he not only outran others, but is reported to have overtaken a horse, when they raced together. He ran hard after Abner, deviating neithre to one side or the other. 015 But Abner turned around and skillfully parried his attack. At one point he told him to give up the chase and take the armour of one of his soldiers, and when he could not persuade him, he urged him to stop following him, or he would be forced to kill him and then would not be able to look his brother in the face. When he ignored these words and still continued his pursuit, Abner struck him by a back-stroke with his spear, killing him at once. 016 Those who pursued Abner with him, on coming to the place where Asahel lay, stood around his corpse and left off pursuing the enemy. But Joab and his brother Abishai ran past his body and more enraged at Abner because his death, pursued him with incredible speed and passion to a place called Ammah, about sunset. 017 He ascended a hill and stood where he could see the tribe of Benjamin and Abner too. Abner shouted that it was not right to make men of the same nation fight each other so bitterly. Also, his brother Asahel had himself to blame, for not heeding his advice to pursue him no farther, which had led to his wounding and death. So Joab agreed to what he said and accepted these words and recalled the soldiers with the sound of the trumpet, and put a stop to any further pursuit. 018 Joab encamped there that night, but Abner marched all night and crossed the river Jordan and came to Ishbosheth, Saul's son, to Mahanaim. Next day, Joab counted the dead and arranged all the funerals. 019 About three hundred and sixty of Abner's soldiers were killed, but nineteen of David's along with Asahel, whose body Joab and Abishai brought to Bethlehem. When they had buried him in the burial vault of their fathers, they came to David in Hebron. 020 This was the beginning of the Hebrews' civil war, which lasted a long time, during which the followers of David grew stronger by the dangers they endured while almost every day the servants and subjects of Saul's sons grew weaker.

4.

021 By this time David had fathered six sons, born of as many mothers. The eldest was by Ahinoam and was named Arenon; the second was Daniel, by his wife Abigail; the name of the third was Absalom, by Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; the fourth he named Adonijah, by his wife Haggith; the fifth was Shephatias, by Abital; the sixth he named Ithream, by Eglah. 022 While this civil war went on and the subjects of the two kings were often engaged in battle, it was Abner, general of the army of Saul's son, who, by his prudence and great influence among the people, got them to stay with Ishbosheth, and for a long time they stayed on his side. 023 Later on, Abner was blamed and faulted for having intercourse with Saul's concubine, Rispah, the daughter of Aiah. When Ishbosheth faulted him for this, he was indignant and angry, that one of whom he had taken such care was unfair to him. He threatened to hand the kingdom to David and so prove that it was not by his own power and wisdom that Ishbosheth ruled the people beyond the Jordan, but by his generalship and fidelity. 024 He sent envoys to David in Hebron, asking for his guarantee on oath to treat him as his ally and friend, if he persuaded the people to leave Saul's son and elect him as king of the whole region. 025 When, pleased with the message Abner had sent him, David agreed to this, he asked as the first sign of their agreement that his wife Michal be returned to him, for he had purchased her at great risk, with those six hundred heads of the Philistines which he brought to her father, Saul. 026 So Abner took Michal from Phaltiel, who was then her husband and sent her to David, with the consent of Ishbosheth, for David had written to him that by right he should get his wife back. Abner also gathered the elders of the people, the officers and officers of thousands and told them 027 that he had formerly argued against it, when they were ready to forsake Ishbosheth and join with David, but now they could do so if they wished, for they knew how God had chosen David as king of all the Hebrews through Samuel the prophet, foretelling that he would punish the Philistines and overcome them and bring them down. 028 When the elders and officers heard this and saw how Abner had come over to their own earlier opinions about the public affairs, they changed their policy and joined in with David. 029 When these had agreed to Abner's proposal, he called together the tribe of Benjamin, for all of that tribe were Ishbosheth's bodyguards, and he spoke to them to the same purpose. Seeing that they did not in the least oppose what he said, but came over to his opinion, he took about twenty of his friends and came to David, in order to personally receive assurance upon oath from him, for we may rightly reckon those things to be firmer which each of us do by ourselves than those which we do by another. He also gave him an account of what he had said to the officers and the whole tribe. 030 David received him courteously and treated him with great hospitality for many days. When he was dismissed, Abner wanted to bring the people with him, for them to hand over the leadership to him with David himself present to see it done.

5.

031 When David had sent Abner away, Joab, the leader of his army, came immediately to Hebron. He knew that Abner had been with David and had parted from him a little earlier with promises and agreements that the leadership would pass over to David, and feared that David would give the highest dignity to Abner, for helping him to gain the kingdom, especially since he was in other respects shrewd at understanding affairs and managing them skillfully, as occasion required, and that he himself should be ranked lower and be deprived of the command of the army, so he followed a sly and wicked course. 032 First he tried to calumniate him to the king, urging him to be suspicious of him and not to heed what he had engaged to do for him, because of all he did to establish the leadership to Saul's son; that he had come to him deceitfully and with guile and had left hoping to gain his purpose by this procedure. 033 When he could not persuade David of this, nor get him at all exasperated, he embarked on an even bolder project : he decided to kill Abner, and in order to do this, sent some messengers after him, with orders that when they overtook him they should recall him in David's name and tell him he had something to say to him about his affairs, which he had not remembered to speak of when he was with him. 034 When Abner heard what the messengers said, (for they overtook him in a certain place called Besira, twenty furlongs from Hebron,) he suspected none of the harm which awaited him and returned. Joab met him in the gate and received him in the kindest manner, as if he were Abner's most benevolent acquaintance and friend, for such as undertake the vilest actions, in order to prevent the suspicion that any secret harm is intended, often make the greatest imitation of what really good men sincerely do. 035 So he took him aside from his own followers, as though to speak with him in private, and brought him into a quiet place at the gate, accompanied by nobody but his brother Abishai; then he drew his sword and struck him in the groin. 036 Abner died by this treachery of Joab, who explained it as by way of punishment for his brother Asahel, whom Abner had struck and killed as he was pursuing after him in the battle of Hebron, but in truth it was from his fear of losing the command of the army and his dignity with the king, and to avoid being deprived of those advantages, and lest Abner should obtain the highest rank in David's court. 037 By these examples one may learn how many and how great evils men will venture upon for the sake of gaining money and authority and to avoid failure in either of them, for as when they are eager to gain these, they acquire them by ten thousand evil practices, 038 so when they are afraid of losing them, they hold on to them by practices much worse than the former, as if no worse disaster could happen to them than failure to gain so exalted an authority; or when they have acquired it and by long habit enjoyed the sweetness of it, to lose it again. Since the latter would be the heaviest of all sufferings, all of them plan and risk the most difficult actions, for fear of losing the same. But let it suffice that I have made these short reflections upon that subject.

6.

039 When David heard that Abner was killed, it grieved his soul, and he called all people to witness, stretching out his hands to God and crying out that he was not a partaker in the murder of Abner and that his death was not by his command or approval. He also wished the heaviest curses to come upon the one who killed him and upon his whole house, and he prayed the same penalties on those who had helped him in this murder. 040 He took care not to appear to have had any hand in this death, contrary to the assurances he had given and the oaths he had taken to Abner. On the contrary, he ordered all the people to weep and lament this man and to honour his corpse with the usual solemnities; that is, by rending their clothing and putting on sackcloth and that this should be their dress as they walked before the bier. 041 Then he followed it himself, with the elders and the officers, lamenting Abner and by his tears showing his goodwill towards him while he was alive and his sorrow for him now he was dead, and that he was not removed by his consent. So he buried him magnificently at Hebron and published funeral elegies for him. 042 He also stood first over the monument, weeping, and caused others to do the same; indeed so deeply did the death of Abner affect him, that there was no way his companions could force him to take any food, but he declared on oath that he would taste nothing until the sun was set. 043 This gained him the goodwill of the people, for those who had an affection for Abner were very satisfied with the respect he paid him when he was dead and the keeping of the fidelity he had promised him, which was shown in his giving him all the usual ceremonies, as if he had been his kinsman and his friend and not letting him be neglected and insulted with a dishonourable burial, as if he had been his enemy. So the whole nation was pleased by the king's gentleness and mildness of disposition, each being ready to suppose that the king would have taken the same care of them in similar circumstances, which they saw him showing in the burial of Abner's dead body. 044 David valued his good name and therefore was careful to act prudently in this case, which is why nobody suspected him of causing Abner's death. He told the people how greatly troubled he was at the death of so good a man, and that the affairs of the Hebrews had suffered a heavy loss by being deprived of one so gifted at saving them by his excellent advice and by the strength of his arms in war. 045 He added, "God, who sees all people's actions, will not allow this man to go unrevenged, but please realise that I am unable to do anything to these sons of Zeruias, Joab and Abishai, who are more powerful than myself. But God will repay their insolent actions upon their own heads." Such was the fateful end of Abner's life.

Chapter 2. [046-060]
After the murder of Ishbosheth, David becomes undisputed king

1.

046 When Ishbosheth, Saul's son, heard of his death, he took it hard to be bereft of a man who was both his relative and had won him the kingship, and was greatly afflicted and grieved by Abner's death. He did not survive him for long, but was treacherously attacked and killed by the sons of Erremon, Baanah and Thaenas. 047 These, from a Benjamite family of the highest rank, thought that for killing Ishbosheth they would be richly rewarded by David and be made officers by him, or win some other mark of his esteem. 048 Finding Ishbosheth alone and asleep at noon, in an upper room, with none of his guards present and the woman at the door asleep, tired with the work she had been about and with the heat of the day, these went into the room where Saul's son lay asleep and killed him. 049 They cut off his head and travelled a whole night and a day, thinking they were escaping from those they had wronged, to one who would accept it as a favour and would give them security, and so reached Hebron. As they showed David the head of Ishbosheth, they presented themselves as his well-wishers, who had killed his enemy and his rival for the kingdom. 050 But David did not welcome their deed as they expected, but said, "You wretches, you shall get justice without delay. Did you not know how I took revenge on Saul's murderer, who brought me his golden crown, though his killer was doing him a favour, to stop his enemies from taking him prisoner ? 051 Or do you think I have changed and am not the man I was, but would be glad of evildoing by men and reckon your villainy in murderering your master as a benefit to me? You have killed a just man in his bed, who never did evil to anyone and treated you with much kindness and respect. 052 You shall suffer the due penalty I must inflict on you for killing Ishbosheth and thinking I would be glad at his death, for you could not stain my honour more than by such a notion." Saying this, he had them tortured in many ways and then executed; but he used all the rites of honour when burying the head of Ishbosheth, and laid it in the grave of Abner.

2.

053 When these matters were duly concluded, all the leaders of the Hebrew people came to David to Hebron, with the heads of thousands and other officers and yielded to him, reminding him of the goodwill they had shown him in Saul's lifetime and the respect they then had not ceased to show him when he was leader of a thousand, and that he, with his sons, was chosen by God through the prophet Samuel. They also declared that God had given him power to save the land of the Hebrews and to overcome the Philistines. 054 He was gratified by their commitment and urged them to continue so, for they would have no reason to regret it. When he had feasted them and treated them kindly, he sent them to bring all the people to him. 055 Then about six thousand eight hundred warriors of the tribe of Judas, armed with shields and spears, came to him, who had continued with Saul's son, when the rest of the tribe of Judas had chosen David as their king. 056 From the tribe of Simon there came seven thousand, one hundred; and from the tribe of Levi came four thousand, seven hundred, led by Jodas. After these came Sadok the high priest, with twenty-two officers related to him. From the tribe of Benjamin came four thousand warriors, while the rest of the tribe continued to hope that someone of the house of Saul would reign over them. 057 From the tribe of Ephraim came twenty thousand, eight hundred mighty men of unusual strength. From the half tribe of Manasses came eighteen thousand mighty men. From the tribe of Issachar came two hundred who could predict the future, and twenty thousand warriors. 058 From the tribe of Zebulon fifty thousand elite warriors. This was the only tribe to totally rally to David and all these had the same weapons as the tribe of Gad. From the tribe of Naphtali came a thousand eminent people and officers, whose weapons were shields and spears and the tribe itself followed after, being uncounted. 059 From the tribe of Dan came twenty-seven thousand, six hundred were chosen; and forty thousand from the tribe of Asher. From the two tribes beyond the Jordan and the rest of the tribe of Manasses came a hundred and twenty thousand. These used shields and spears and head-pieces and swords, while the rest of the tribes used swords only. 060 These thronged together to Hebron to David, with a large amount of corn and wine and all sorts of other food and established David in his kingdom by common consent. When they had celebrated for three days in Hebron, David and all the people moved and came to Jerusalem.

Chapter 3. [061-070]
David takes Jerusalem from the Jebusites, to make it his capital

1.

061 The Jebusite inhabitants, of the Canaanite race, shut their gates and placed the blind and the lame and all their maimed people upon the wall, by way of derision of the king, claiming that even the lame could stop him from gaining entrance. Thereby they mocked his power and showed their confidence in the strength of their walls, so that David, enraged. began to besiege Jerusalem. 062 He did so with utmost commitment, intending by capturing this place to demonstrate his power and intimidate any others who might be similarly disposed towards him, and took the lower city by storm. 063 The citadel still held out, so the king, knowing that the promise of dignities and rewards would encourage his soldiers to greater actions, announced that the first man to cross the gorge and go up to the citadel and take it, would become general of the entire people. 064 In their eagerness for command they all wanted to go up and thought no pains too great to do so. Joab, son of Zeruias, got ahead of the rest, and as soon as he reached the citadel he shouted to the king and claimed the chief command.

2.

065 When David had expelled the Jebusites from the citadel he rebuilt Jerusalem and named it the City of David and stayed there throughout his reign, except for the seven years and six months that he reigned in Hebron over the tribe of Judas alone. Assigning Jerusalem as his royal city, his affairs prospered more and more, by the providence of God, who gave them improvement and increase. 066 Hiram the king of the Tyrians sent envoys to him and made with him a treaty of friendship and alliance, and sent him gifts, cedar-trees and mechanics and men skilled in building and architecture, to build him a royal palace in Jerusalem. Now David took the upper city and joined the citadel to it and made it one entity, surrounding it with a wall, and appointed Joab to take care of them. 067 David, therefore, was the first to expel the Jebusites from `Jerusalem and called it by his own name, The City of David. For under our forefather Abraham it was called Solyma, but some say it was after that time, since Homer mentions it by that name of Solyma, calling the temple Solyma, which in the Hebrew language, means security. 068 The whole period from the war campaign against the Canaanites under general Joshua when he defeated them and distributed the land among the Hebrews, for the Israelites could never expel the Canaanites from `Jerusalem until David took it by siege, was five hundred and fifteen years.

3.

069 I shall now recall the memory of Araunah, a wealthy man among the Jebusites who was not killed by David in the siege of Jerusalem, because of his goodwill to the Hebrews and his special care and graciousness to himself, of which I shall speak a little later at a suitable time. 070 Now David married other wives along with his former ones and also had concubines. He had eleven sons, whose names were Amases, Amnon, Sebas, Nathan, Solomon, Jebar, Elien, Phalnagen, Naphes, Jenae, Eliphale, and a daughter, Tamar. Nine of these were born of legitimate wives, but the two last-named of concubines, and Tamar had the same mother as Absalom.

Chapter 4. [071-095]
David recaptures the Ark from the Philistines. He makes plans to build a Temple

1.

071 When the Philistines learned that David had been made king of the Hebrews, they made war against him in Jerusalem, and when they had captured the so-called Valley of the Giants a place not far from the city, they encamped there. 072 The king of the Jews, who never permitted himself to do anything without prophecy and God's command, depending on him as a security for the future, bade the high priest to foretell the will of God to him and what would be the outcome of this battle. 073 When he foretold that he would win and come to rule, he led out his army against the Philistines, and suddenly coming up from the rear during the battle, he attacked the enemy and killed some and put the rest to flight. 074 Let no one suppose that it was a small army of Philistines that came against the Hebrews, drawing that conclusion from the swiftness of their defeat and that they made no great resistance; that they were slow to march and lacking in courage; let him know rather, that all Syria and Phoenicia, with many other warlike nations came to their help and took part in this war, 075 which was the sole reason why, after being so often defeated and losing so many thousands of their men, they attacked the Hebrews with still greater armies. Despite their losses they attacked David with an army three times as numerous as before and encamped on the same piece of ground. 076 So the king of the Israelites asked God again about the outcome of the battle, and the high priest told him in prophecy to post his army in the so-called Groves of Weeping, not far from the enemy's camp and not to move or begin to fight until the trees of the grove moved without the wind's blowing. 077 Once these trees moved and the time God foretold to him arrived, he should go out unhesitatingly and gain a manifest victory, for the various ranks of the enemy's army would not hold but retreat at the first onset. He attacked and killed them and pursued them to the city of Gaza at the border of their region and ransacked their camp where he found great wealth, and destroyed their gods.

2.

078 On this outcome of the battle, after consulting the elders and officers and officers of thousands, David decided to send for those who were in the flower of their age among all his countrymen and from the whole land and for the priests and Levites, to go to Kariathjearim and bring up the ark of God from that city to Jerusalem and to keep it there and offer before it the sacrifices and other honours which the divinity used to accept. 079 This they had done in the reign of Saul, when they had suffered no great misfortune. When, as they had resolved, all the people had assembled, the king came to the ark, which the priest brought from the house of Aminadab and laid it upon a new cart and let their brothers and their children pull it along with the oxen. 080 Before it went the king and the whole people, singing hymns to God with all their usual songs and a variety of musical instruments and dancing and psalm-singing and the sounds of trumpets and of cymbals; and so they brought the ark to Jerusalem. 081 But when they reached the place called Chidon's threshing-floor, Uzzah was killed by the wrath of God, for as the oxen shook the ark, he stretched out his hand and wanted to take hold of it, but because he touched the ark without being a priest, God struck him dead. 082 King and the people alike were grieved at the death of Uzzah, and the place where he died is still called the Destruction of Uzzah. David was afraid, thinking that if he personally took the ark into the city, he might suffer as Uzzah had, who died like that merely for putting his hand to the ark. 083 So he did not himself receive it into the city, but took it aside to a certain place belonging to a righteous man named Obadar, a Levite by family, and deposited the ark with him where it remained for three whole months. This caused the house of Obadar to grow and conferred many blessings upon it. 084 When the king heard what had happened to Obadar, how from being a poor man of lowly estate, he had prospered and become the object of envy to all who looked at his house, he took courage, and, hoping to meet with no misfortune thereby, transferred the ark to his own house. 085 The priests carried it, while seven companies of singers, arranged by the king, went before it and he himself played on the harp and joined in the music, so that when his wife Michal, the daughter of Saul, our first king, saw him doing so, she laughed at him. 086 When they had brought it in they placed it under the tent David had pitched for it and he offered perfect sacrifices and peace-offerings and treated the whole people and presented to both women and men and children a loaf of bread and a cake and another sweetmeat, with the portion of the sacrifice. When he had so feasted the people, he sent them away and returned to his own house.

3.

087 Michal his wife, the daughter of Saul, came and stood beside him and wished him all prosperity and prayed that anything whatever he might desire would be given him by God's favour. And still she blamed him, that such a great king should dance so ineligantly and uncover himself among the servants and the serving girls. 088 He replied that he was not ashamed to do what was acceptable to God, who had favoured him above her father and above all others, and that he would often play and dance, no matter what the serving girls and she herself thought of it. 089 David's wife Michal had no children with him, but when she was later married to the man to whom Saul her father gave her, (from whom she separated when David took her,) she bore five children. But I shall treat of them in a suitable place.

4.

090 When the king saw his affairs improving almost every day, by God's will he thought it would be an offence if, while himself lived in a lofty house of cedar, adorned with the finest works of art, he were to let the ark go on being housed in a tent. 091 So he wished to build for God a temple just as Moses had predicted and after speaking of it with the prophet Nathan and being instructed by him to do as he desired, for God would help him in all things, he was keen to set about building the temple. 092 But that very night God appeared to Nathan and told him to tell David that he appreciated his purpose and his desires, since nobody before had thought of building him a temple, but that as he had many times gone to war and was defiled by slaughtering his enemies he would not let him to build a temple for him. 093 After his death however, after living a long life, a temple would be built by one of his sons, his successor as king, who would be called Solomon; and God promised to provide for him, as a father provides for his son, by preserving the kingdom for his son's descendants and giving it to them, though he would still punish him if he sinned, with diseases and barrenness of the soil. 094 When David heard this from the prophet and was overjoyed to learn of the sure continuation of his descendants as rulers, and that his house should be splendid and very famous, he came to the ark 095 and falling down on his face he began to adore God and thank him for all the benefits he had given to him in raising him from his lowly state as a shepherd to such high dominion and glory, and for all he had promised to his descendants, and for his providence towards the Hebrews in gaining them the freedom they enjoyed. After saying this and singing a hymn to God, he went away.

Chapter 5. [096-116]
David's victories. His mercy towards the house of Saul

1.

096 A little later, he thought he should make war against the Philistines and not be idle or neglectful in order that, as God had foretold to him, he might destroy his enemies and should leave his descendants to reign in peace afterwards. 097 He reassembled his army and gpt them ready for war and when he thought that all was in order he left Jerusalem and advanced on the Philistines. 098 When he had defeated them in battle and annexed most of their region to that of the Hebrews, he turned the war on the Moabites, and after defeating two parts of their army he took the remaining part prisoner. 099 He imposed a yearly tribute on them and went to war against Artazar, son of Araos, king of Sophene, and having fought him at the river Euphrates, destroyed twenty thousand of his infantry and about seven thousand of his cavalry. He also took a thousand of his chariots and destroyed most of them and ordered that no more than one hundred should be kept.

2.

100 When Hadad, king of Damascus and of Syria, heard that David fought against Hadadezer, who was his friend, hoping to rescue him he came to him with a powerful army, and when he had fought David at the river Euphrates, he was defeated and in the battle lost many of his soldiers, for of Hadad's army twenty thousand were killed and all the rest fled. 101 Nicolaus also mentions this king in the fourth book of his histories where he says: "Long after this a man of that region named Hadad became very powerful and reigned over Damascus and the rest of Syria, except Phoenicia. He made war on David the king of Judea and risked many battles and particularly the last one at the Euphrates, where he was defeated. 102 He was judged to be the most excellent of all their kings in strength and manhood," Then he says that his descendants succeeded each other to his kingship and his name. He adds "When Hadad was dead, his descendants reigned for ten generations, each of his successor inheriting his father's his rule and name as did the Ptolemies in Egypt. 103 But the third was the most powerful of them all and wanted to avenge the defeat of his forefather so he attacked the Jews and ravaged the city which is now called Samaria." This is no mistake, for he is the Hadad who made the expedition against Samaria, in the reign of Achab, king of Israel, of whom we shall speak in due place.

3.

104 After attacking Damascus and the other parts of Syria and conquering it all and setting garrisons in the region and making them pay tax, David returned home. He dedicated to God in Jerusalem the golden quivers and all the armour worn by Hadad's bodyguards, 105 which wass later taken away Shishak, the king of Egypt, when he fought David's grandson, Rehoboam, along with other wealth which he took from Jerusalem, as will be explained in its proper place later. The king of the Hebrews was helped by God, who gave him great success in his wars and his expedition against the finest cities of Hadadezer, Betah and Machen, which he stormed and laid waste. 106 He found there much gold and silver and the brass said to be more valuable than gold, of which Solomon made that large vessel called The Sea and the intricate lavers, when he built the temple for God.

4.

107 When the king of Hamath learned of Hadadezer's failure and heard of the ruin of his army, he was afraid for himself and resolved to bind himself in friendship and loyalty to David lest he should come against him, so he sent to him his son Joram to express his thanks to him for fighting against his enemy Hadadezer, and made a treaty of alliance and friendship with him. 108 He also sent him gifts, vessels of ancient workmanship, of gold, silver and brass. After David had made this alliance with Thainos, which was the name of the king of Hamath, and had received the gifts he sent him, he dismissed his son with expressions of mutual respect. Then he brought the gifts the other had sent and the rest of the gold and silver he had taken from the cities he had conquered and dedicated them to God. 109 Not only did God give him victory and success when he went personally to battle at the head of his army, but also gave him victory over the Idumaeans through Abishai, the brother of his chief general, Joab, when he sent him with an army into Idumaea. For Abishai destroyed eighteen thousand of them in the battle, and the king placed garrisons through all Idumaea and gathered tax from the region and from every head among them. 110 He was just by nature and made his decisions in truth. He had Joab as general of his whole army, and he appoointed Josaphat, son of Achilos, as recorder. He also appointed Sadok, of the family of Phinehas, as high priest, along with Abiathar, for he was his friend and made Sisan the scribe and gave the command of his bodyguards to Banaias, the son of Jodas. His elder sons were also around him for his protection.

5.

111 He recalled the covenants and oaths he had made with Saul's son Jonathan and the friendship and affection he had shown him, for along with his other good qualities he was very mindful of those who had done him good at other times. 112 So he had an enquiry made to see if any of his lineage were living, to whom he could repay Jonathan's friendship towards him, for which he was still in his debt. When one of Saul's freedmen was brought to him, who knew the surviving members of his family he asked if he could tell him of any of Jonathan's family were still alive who could be repaid for the benefits he had received from Jonathan. 113 When he said that a son called Memphibosthos remained, but that he was lame because when his nurse heard that the child's father and grandfather had fallen in the battle, she snatched him up and fled but let him fall from her shoulders and his feet were lamed. Once he learned where and by whom the boy had been brought up, he sent messengers to Machir in the city of Lodebar, with whom Jonathan's son had been reared and sent for him to come to him. 114 When Memphibosthos came to the king, he fell prostrate and worshipped him, but David encouraged him and told him to take heart and to look forward to better times. So he gave him his father's house and all the estate owned by his grandfather Saul and invited him to dine with him at his own table and not to be absent from it a single day. 115 When the youth had bowed down in homage at his words and the gifts given to him, he called for Sibas and told him he had given the youth his father's house and all of Saul's estate. He sent Sibas to cultivate his land for him and to bring all the profits of it to him in Jerusalem. So David had him at his table every day and gave Sibas and his fifteen sons, along with twenty servants, to the boy Memphibosthos. 116 When the king had made these arrangements and Sibas had worshipped him and promised to do as he was told, he left; and this son of Jonathan lived in Jerusalem and dined at the king's table and was cared for like a son. He himself also had a son, whom he named Michanos.

Chapter 6. [117-129]
Successful conclusion to the Ammanite War

1.

117 The remnants of Saul's and Jonathan's line received these honours from David. About this time the king of the Ammanites, Naases, died who had been David's friend, and when his son succeeded to his father's kingdom, David sent envoys to comfort him, urging him to accept his father's death with patience and saying he would continue to show him the same friendship he had shown to his father. 118 The princes of the Ammanites resented this message and misrepresented David's intent, and misled the king, saying that David had sent men to spy out the region and its strength, under the pretext of kindness and further advised him to be careful and not to heed his words or be tricked by him into terrible disaster. 119 Anon, the king of the Ammanites, thought that what they said was probably true and so mistreated the envoys by shaving off half of their beards and cutting off a half of their clothing and so sent his answer not in words, but in deeds. 120 On seeing it the king of Israel was angry and publicly stated that he would not condone such shameful treatment, but would make war on the Ammanites and take revenge on their king for so abusing his envoys. 121 His friends and officers, realising that they had violated their alliance and were liable to be punished for it, prepared for war. They also sent a thousand talents to the Syrian king of Mesopotamia as the price to get him as an ally, and also invited Souba. These kings had twenty thousand infantry; and they also enlisted the king of the region called Micah and a fourth king, named Ishtob, who had twelve thousand warriors.

2.

122 David was not alarmed by this alliance, or by the forces of the Ammanites, but trusted in God because he was going to war in a just cause in response to the abuse done to him, and immediately sent his commander-in-chief Joab against them with the flower of his army. 123 They encamped by Rabbah, the metropolis of the Ammanites and the enemy came out and arranged their ranks not in one group but in two, for the allies were arrayed together in the plain but the army of the Ammanites at the gates opposite the Hebrews, and seeing this, Joab planned a counter move. 124 He chose the bravest of his men to face the king of Syria and the kings with him and gave the rest to his brother Abishai with orders to set them facing the Ammanites. He told him that if he should see the Syrians pressing him hard and defeating him, to order his troops to wheel around and help him, and he said that he himself would do the same for him, if he saw him hard pressed by the Ammanites. 125 So he sent his brother ahead urging him to act everything bravely and with commitment, to avoid disgrace and fight manfully, and so sent him off to fight the Ammanites, while he attacked the Syrians. 126 For a while they put up strong opposition but then Joab killed many of them and put the rest to flight. On seeing this and also being afraid of Abishai and his army, the Ammanites waited no longer but fled like their allies to the city. After so defeating the enemy, Joab returned in splendour to Jerusalem to the king.

3.

127 This defeat did not still induce the Ammanites to keep the peace or to accept their [enemies as]
superiors, but they sent to Chalaman, the king of the Syrians beyond the Euphrates, and hired him for an ally. He had Shobach for the officer of his army, with eighty thousand infantry and ten thousand cavalry. 128 When the king of the Hebrews learned that the Ammanites had again gathered such a large army he decided to make war with them no longer by his generals, but he crossed the river Jordan himself with all his army, and when he met them he fought them and overcame them and killed forty thousand of their infantry and seven thousand of their cavalry and also wounded Shobach, the general of Chalaman's forces, who died of that blow. 129 Seeing how the battle ended, the people of Mesopotamia surrendered to David and sent him gifts, and he returned to Jerusalem for the winter. But at the beginning of the spring he sent his general Joab to fight the Ammanites, and he overran and ravaged all their region and shut them up in their metropolis Rabbah and besieged them there.

Chapter 7. [130-161]
David's Adultery. Uriah's Murder condemned by Nathan

1.

130 But David fell into a grievous fault, though by nature he was a just and godly man who kept firmly to the ancestral laws. Late one evening as he was looking out from the roof of his palace where he used to walk at that hour, he saw a woman of supreme and unsurpassed beauty washing herself in her own house. Her name was Bethsabé and captivated by her beauty and unable to restrain his desire, he made love with her. 131 The woman became pregnant so she sent to the king to plan some way of hiding the sin, for according to their ancestral laws, an adulteress should be put to death. So he sent to recall the woman's husband, Urias, Joab's armour-bearer, and when he arrived, enquired about the army and the siege. 132 When he replied that it was going according to plan, the king offered him a part of his supper and told him go home to his wife and relax with her. Urias did not do so, but slept near the king, along with the rest of the arme men. 133 When the king learned of this, he asked him why he did not go home to his house and his wife after such a long absence, as people naturally do when they come back from being away. The man replied that it was not right for him to rest and take comfort with his wife, while his fellow soldiers and the general slept on the ground, camped in enemy territory. 134 When he said this, the king told him to stay there that night and he would send him to the general the following day. Inviting Urias to supper, the king slyly and deliberately plied him with drink until he was drunk, but still he slept at the king's gates without any inclination to go to his wife. 135 Infuriated by this, the king wrote to Joab telling him to punish Urias, claiming he had offended him, but suggesting a form of punishment that would not point to himself as the author. 136 He told him to set him opposite the part of the enemy's line that was hardest to attack and to leave him there in danger, ordering his fellow soldiers to retire from the battle. After writing this to him and sealing the letter with his own seal, he gave it to Urias to take to Joab. 137 When Joab received the letter he saw the king's meaning and set Urias with some of the best soldiers in the army just where he knew the enemy would be toughest, saying that if they could break down part of the wall and enter the city, he would reinforce them with the whole army. 138 Being valiant soldier esteemed both by the king and by his countrymen, he was glad of the chance to prove his bravery by such great efforts and not upset by it. When Urias willingly undertook the task ahead, his companions were privately ordered to leave him when they saw the enemy make a charge. 139 When the Hebrews attacked the city, the Ammanites feared that the enemy might outflank them and get into the city just where Urias was stationed, so setting their best soldiers in front they opened the gates suddenly and attacked, running at the enemy in force. 140 When Uriah's companions saw this, they all retreated as Joab had directed them, but Urias, ashamed to run off and leave his post, stayed facing the enemy. He withstood the violence of their charge and killed many of them, but being surrounded and caught in the middle of them, he was killed and some of the others fell alongside him.

2.

141 After this had happened Joab sent messengers to the king to tell him he had done all he could to capture the city quickly, but that they had been forced to retire with great losses as they assaulted the wall. He said that if they saw the king getting angry at this, to report the death of Urias. 142 When the king heard this from the messengers, he took it badly and said it was wrong to attack the wall, and they should have tried capturing the city by undermining and other means. Surely they knew how Abimelech, son of Gideon, had tried storming the tower in Thebai and was killed by a large stone thrown at him by an old woman, and though he was a man of great prowess, he died ignominiously because of his inept attack. 143 They should have remembered this and not come near the enemy's wall, for the best method of success in war was to recall the actions of former wars and how things turned out in similar dangerous situations, so as to imitate the one and avoid the other. 144 When he was in this vein, the messenger told him of Uriah's death, then his rage ceased and he sent him back to Joab to say that such misfortune often happens to people and that it is the nature of war that one side now succeeds and then the other. 145 He should take care with the siege, so as to suffer no further losses in it, but raise bulwarks and use siege machines, and once the city was captured, to destroy its foundations and kill everyone in it; and the messenger hurried to bring the king's instructions back to Joab. 146 When Bethsabé, the wife of Urias, learned of the death of her husband, she mourned him for many days, but as soon as her mourning and tears for Urias had ceased, the king took her as wife, and she bore him a son.

3.

147 This marriage was not pleasing to God, who he was angry at David and appeared to Nathan the prophet in his sleep complaining of the king. Now Nathan was a shrewd and prudent man, and considering how kings, when they fall into a rage, are guided more by it than by justice, he decided to be quiet about his message from God and had a pleasant talk with him as follows. 148 He asked his opinion about a particular case, saying: "Two men lived in the same city, one of them rich, with many flocks of livestock, sheep and cows, but the poor man had only one ewe lamb. 149 This he brought up with his children, letting her take her food with them, and he loved her as one might love a daughter. When a visitor came to the rich man, he would not let any of his own flocks to be killed for theto give a feast for his friend, but sent and took the poor man's lamb and had her prepared as a feast for the stranger." 150 The story greatly troubled the king, who said to Nathan, "It was a crime to do such a thing!" and that justice demanded that the lamb be restored fourfold and the man be punished with death." Nathan said that according to his own sentence, he himself was the man who should suffer, for it was he who had done this great and terrible crime. 151 He revealed and laid before him the wrath of God, who had made him king of the Hebrew people and master of the many great surrounding nations, and who had earlier saved him from the hands of Saul and given him the wives he had properly and legally married. He had scorned and affronted God by his impiety of marrying and keeping another man's wife, and killing her husband by exposing him to the enemy. 152 But God would punish him for this: his own wives would be violated by one of his sons, and the same son would treacherously supplant him, and though he had done the evil in secret, his punishment would be in public. "And the child she bore you shall soon die!" 153 The king was shaken and upset by this, and with tears of sorrow he said that he had sinned, for he was truly a pious man and guilty of no sin in his whole life, except in the matter of Urias. God took pity on him and was reconciled to him, promising to spare both his life and his kingdom and said that, seeing how he repented of what he had done, he was no longer angry with him. So Nathan delivered this prophecy to the king and returned home.

4.

154 The divinity then made the child born to David of the wife of Urias severely ill, which so troubled the king that he did not eat for seven days, despite the urgings of his servants to take some food, and he dressed in black and lay on the ground in sackcloth, begging God for the child's recovery, for he loved its mother greatly. 155 When on the seventh day the child died, the king's servants dared not tell him, thinking that when he learned of it he would be even less willing to eat and would neglect himself in mourning the death of his son, since he had been so wretched with grief when the child was only sick. 156 When he noticed his servants so shaken and behaving as though trying to conceal something, the king learned that the child had died, and having called one of his servants and finding that it was true, he got up and washed himself and put on a white robe and came into the Tent of God. 157 He ordered his supper to be brought, which greatly surprised his relatives and servants as he had not done so when the child was sick but now did so when he was dead. So asking his permission to ask a question, they asked for an explanation. 158 Calling them dunces he said that while the child was alive he hoped for its recovery and so did all he ought to do, thinking to win God's favour by this, but that once the child was dead there was no longer need for useless grief. As he said this, they praised the king's wisdom and understanding. He then had intercourse with his wife Bethsabé and she conceived and bore a son, and at the orders of the prophet Nathan called him Solomon.

5.

159 In the siege, Joab hit the Ammanites badly by cutting off their water-supply and other supplies, until they were utterly deprived of food and drink, for they depended on just one small well and this they had to use sparingly in case the spring should fail them entirely. 160 So he wrote to the king to point this out, urging him to come himself to capture the city and have the victory ascribed to him. The king welcomed the goodwill and fidelity of Joab's letter and brought his army to finish off Rabbah, and after storming it, let his soldiers loot it. 161 He himself took the king of the Ammanites' crown, weighing a talent of gold, set in the middle with a jewel called a sardonyx, and from then on David wore this crown on his own head. In the city he also found many other splendid vessels of great value, but he tortured and killed the men, and did the same to the other cities of the Ammanites that he captured.

Chapter 8. [162-193]
Absalom kills his half-brother Amnon for raping Tamar. He is banished, then recalled by David

1.

162 When the king had returned to Jerusalem, the following misfortune befell his family. He had a virgin daughter who excelled all other women in beauty, named Tamar and born of the same mother as Absalom 163 David's eldest son, Amnon, fell in love with her but was unable to fulfil his desires as her virginity was well guarded, he was so distracted and devoured by grief that he grew thin and his complexion changed. 164 Jenadab his kinsman and friend learned of his passion, for he was a clever man with a very sharp mind. When he saw how Amnon was not in his proper form each morning he came and invited him to explain to him the reason, saying that he guessed it arose from the passion of love. 165 When Amnon confessed his passion, how he was in love with his half-sister, who shared the same father as himself, he suggested to him a practical method by which to obtain his desires. He persuaded him to pretend sickness and that when his father came to visit him, to ask that his sister should come and take care of him, pleading that this would quickly make him recover from his sickness. 166 Following Jonadab's suggestion Amnon fell into bed and pretended to be sick, and when his father came and enquired how he was, he asked him to send his sister to him. Immediately he ordered her to be brought to him, and when she came Amnon asked her to make cakes for him and fry them in a pan, doing it all with her own hands, because he would prefer to take them directly from herself. 167 So she kneaded the dough in her brother's sight and made him cakes and baked them in a pan and brought them to him, but he would not taste them then but ordered his servants to expel everyone from his chamber, as because he wanted to rest without noise and disturbance. 168 When his orders were carried out, he asked his sister to bring him his supper into the inner room and when the girl did this, he took hold of her and tried to persuade her to lie with him. The girl cried out and said, "Do not force me, brother, or be so wicked as to break the laws and involve yourself in the utmost shame. Curb your wicked, impure lust which will bring our house nothing but reproach and disgrace." 169 She advised him to speak to his father about the matter, for he would permit him [to marry]. This she said, wishing to deflect her brother's violent passion at that moment but he would not yield and, inflamed with lust and blinded with the force of passion, raped his sister. 170 As soon as Amnon had satisfied his lust, he immediately hated her and speaking shameful words to her, bade her get up and be gone. She said it would be an even worse insult than his former behaviour, if, now he had raped her, he did not let her stay with him until evening but made her leave in broad day-light, when she might meet people who would witness her shame; but he ordered his servant to turn her out of his house. 171 Outraged at the violent wrong done to her, she rent her outer tunic, for in former times the virgins wore outer tunics reaching to the wrists and down to the ankles, that the inner tunic might not be seen, and sprinkled ashes on her head, and went up the middle of the city, crying out and grieving for the violence that had been done to her. 172 Her brother Absalom met her and asked her what terrible thing had happened to her to put her into such a state, and when she told him of the insult he consoled her and advised her to be quiet and take it patiently and not to reckon being seduced by her brother as an insult. On his advice she ceased crying out and telling people of the rape and she lived with her brother Absalom for a long time as a widow.

2.

173 When David his father learned of this, he grieved by what Amnon had done but because of his extraordinary affection for him as his eldest son, he could not punish him. Absalom however hated him and watched for a suitable opportunity to avenge the crime. 174 The second year after the scandal about his sister, when Absalom was going to shear his sheep at Baalhazor, a city in the district of Ephraim, he asked his father and brothers to come and feast with him. 175 He [David]
excused himself, not wanting to burden him, but he asked him to send his brothers anyway, so he sent them. Then he told his servants that when they noticed Amnon drunk and drowsy with wine and he gave them a signal, they should kill him, fearing nobody.

3.

176 When they had done as ordered, the rest of his brothers were shocked and anxious and feared for themselves, and immediately got on horseback and rode off to their father, but someone went ahead of them and told their father that Absalom had killed them all. 177 He was overwhelmed with sorrow that so many of his sons were killed at once, by their own brother, and the thought that it was their own brother who seemed to have killed them, aggravated his sorrow. He neither asked about the reason for this slaughter, nor stayed to hear anything else, which he should have done on being told od such a great, incredible misfortune. He rent his clothes and threw himself on the ground and lay there, weeping for the loss of all his sons, both those whom he had been told were killed and the one who had killed them. 178 But Jonathes, the son of his brother Samah, implored him not to moderate his sorrow, as he did not believe that the rest of his sons had been killed, for he could find no reaason for it; he should just enquire about Amnon, since Absalom might well dare to kill him for the wrong he had done to Tamar. 179 Meanwhile their attention was drawn by the noise of horses and the sound of people arriving. It was the king's sons, who had fled from the feast. Their father met them as they were weeping and he himself grieved with them, though it was more than he expected to see those his sons again, whom a little earlier he had heard had died. 180 So there were tears on all sides, as they grieved their brother who was killed and the king lamented the loss of his son. Absalom fled to Geshur, to the king of that region, his grandfather by his mother's side, and remained with him three whole years.

4.

181 David wanted to send for Absalom, not to punish him but to be with him, since the effects of his anger abated with the passing of time. It was Joab, his army general, who mainly persuaded him to do so. 182 He bribed an old woman to go to the king in mourning apparel, and tell him that two of her sons had a bitter quarrel, in the course of which they began to fight, and that one was struck by the other and died. 183 She asked him to intervene in the case to save her son from her relatives who wanted to have the killer of his brother put to death. In this way she would not be further robbed of her hopes of being care for by him in her old age. If he could prevent her son being killed by those who wished to, he would do her a great favour, since nothing but the fear of him could restrain the relatives from their purpose. 184 When the king granted the woman's request she replied: "I owe you thanks for your kindness to me in pitying my old age that I might not be left childless, but to confirm your kindness to me, first be reconciled to your own son and cease from your anger at him. 185 For how shall I believe that you have really granted me this favour if you yourself continue your anger towards your own son? For it is foolish to willfully add another death to that of your son, his death was against your wishes." 186 The king grasped that this pretended story was a ruse planned by Joab and when asked the old woman and learned that it was so, he called for Joab and told him he had obtained his request, with which he agreed, and told him to bring Absalom back, for he was no longer upset and had already ceased to be angry with him. 187 He bowed down to the king and was glad at his words and immediately went to Geshur and brought back Absalom to Jerusalem.

5.

188 As he was coming, the king sent a message ahead to his son telling him to go to his own house, for he was not yet ready to see him. So at the father's command, he stayed away from his presence and was satisfied with just the respects paid him by his own family. 189 His beauty was unimpaired, either by the grief he had endured, or by the lack of the usual care shown to a king's son, for he still excelled all others in height and surpassed those who dined the most luxuriously, and so abundant was the hair of his head, that it had to be cut every eighth day, with difficulty, and the hair weighed two hundred shekels, or five pounds. 190 He lived two years in Jerusalem and fathered three sons and one daughter; this daughter was very beautiful and Rehoboam, son of Solomon, later took her as his wife and by her had a son named Abias. 191 Absalom sent to Joab, asking him to pacify his father towards him, and to beg his permission to come and see him and speak with him. When Joab neglected to do so, he sent some of his own servants and set fire to the field adjoining his property, and when Joab learned of this, he came to accuse Absalom of what he had done, and asking him the reason for it. 192 "I have contrived this" he replied, "to bring you to us, since you did not bother with my instruction to reconcile my father to me. And Now that you are here, I implore you to pacify my father towards me, since I feel that being here is worse than my banishment, as long as my father's anger against me continues." 193 Joab was persuaded by this and pitied Absalom's distress and became his intercessor with the king. Speaking to his father, he soon reconciled him to Absalom, and at once he sent for him, and when he threw himself down on the ground and begged forgiveness for his faults, the king raised him up and promised to forget what he had done in the past.

Chapter 9. [194-231]
Absalom & Ahithophel's rebellion against David

1.

194 After this success with his father the king, Absalom soon got himself many horses and chariots and had a bodyguard of fifty warriors. 195 Every day he came early to the king's palace and spoke agreeably to those who came for justice and had lost their cases, saying it had happened for the lack of good counsellors round the king, or that perhaps the judges were mistaken in the unjust sentence they gave, and won favour with them all by saying that if only the authority was in his hands, he would reward them handsomely. 196 Rousing them in this way he courted popularity and judged that he had already secured the people's goodwill. Then, four years after being reconciled with his father, he asked his permission to go to Hebron and pay to God the sacrifice he had vowed to him during his flight. When David allowed it, he went there and large crowds soon gathered to him, for he had sent out word to many.

2.

197 Among them came David's counsellor, Ahithophel the Gilonite, and two hundred men from Jerusalem itself, unaware of the plot, who were sent for as though invited to a sacrifice, and he was chosen as king by them all, as he had planned. 298 When this was reported to David and he heard the strange news about his son, he was alarmed at his impiety and audacity and amazed that, instead of remembering how his offense had been so lately pardoned, he was now involved in crimes that were much worse: first, to claim a kingship not given him by God, and then to take his own father's life; so he resolved to escape to the land across the Jordan. 199 He called together his closest friends and openly told them of his son's rashness, and leaving God to judge between them regarding everything, he put his ten concubines in charge of his royal palace and left Jerusalem, with the the rest of his people leaving with him, including the six hundred warriors who had been with him from his former flight in the days of Saul. 200 He persuaded the high priests Abiathar and Sadok, who wanted to leave with him, and all the Levites guarding the ark, to stay behind, hoping that God would save him without removing it. 201 He directed them to secretly let him know how things proceeded, and had their sons, Ahimmaz the son of Sadok and Jonathan the son of Abiathar, to help him in all things. Ittai the Gittite went with him too, against David wishes, for he tried to persuade him to stay behind, and seemed more friendly to him on account of it. 202 As he was ascending the Mount of Olives in bare feet, and all his company were in tears, he was told that Ahithophel was with Absalom as a supporter. This news increased his grief, and he begged God to alienate the Absalom's mind from Ahithophel, for he was afraid he would influence him with his advice, for he was a shrewd man, very sharp at seeing his own advantage. 203 When he got to the top of the mountain, he looked back at the city and, having lost his kingdom, prayed to God with many tears, and here his faithful friend named Hushai, met him. 204 When he saw him with his clothes rent and with ashes all over his head and in mourning for the upheaval in his affairs, he comforted him and urged him to stop grieving. Then he implored him to go back to Absalom and appear to support him and find out his inmost plans, and make objections to Ahithophel's advice, for he could not do him as much good by being with him as he could by being with Absalom. So, persuaded by David, he left him and came to Jerusalem, where Absalom himself also arrived a little later.

3.

205 When David went on a little farther, he met Sibas, the servant of Memphibosthos, whom he had sent to take care of the gifts he had given him, as the son of Saul's son Jonathan. The man had a couple of donkeys loaded with provisions, and told him take as much of them as he and his followers needed. 206 When the king asked him where he had left Memphibosthos, he said he was in Jerusalem, expecting to be chosen king in the present upheaval, in remembrance of the benefits Saul had brought them. The king was angry at this and handed over to Sibas all that he had formerly given Memphibosthos, considering him more suited to have them than the other, and Sibas was delighted.

4.

207 When David was at a place called Bahurim, Shimei, a kinsman of Saul's, came out and threw stones at him and abused him, and as his friends stood about to protect the king, Shimei continued his insults, calling him a murderer who had caused much harm. 208 He ordered him to leave the land, being impure and accursed, and thanked God for depriving him of his kingdom and causing him to be punished through his own son for the wrongs he had done to his own master. When all were provoked and angry at him and particularly Abishai, who wanted to kill Shimei, David restrained his anger. 209 He said, "Let us not bring another misfortune on ourselves on top of those we have already, for I am not in the least ashamed or concerned that this dog raves at me. I submit to God, who allows this man to treat us so wildly. No wonder that I have to bear this from him, when I am opposed by my own impious son. God may show pity upon us, and it is his will we overcome our enemy." 210 So he continued his journey without troubling further with Shimei, who ran along the other side of the mountain, cursing him freely. Reaching the Jordan, David let his companions take their ease, for they were tired.

5.

211 When Absalom and his counsellor Ahithophel, came to Jerusalem, with all the people, David's friend Hushai came to them, and after bowing to Absalom, prayed that his reign would last a long time and continue for all ages. When he asked him, "How comes it, that so close a friend of my father, who seemed faithful to him in all things, is not with him now, but has left him and come over to me?" he answered aptly and prudently, 212 "My lord and master, we should follow God and the majority of the people. While these are with you, I ought to follow too, for you have received the kingdom from God. Therefore, if you trust me to be your friend, I will show you the same fidelity and friendship which you know I gave your father. There no reason to be in the annoyed with the present situation, for the kingship has not moved, but remains in the same family when the son has received it after his father." 213 Though he had felt suspicious of him, this persuaded him. Then he called Ahithophel to consult him on what to do next. He advised him to have intercourse with his father's concubines, saying that "This action will let the people see that your difference with your father is irreconcilable and that therefore you will fight your father with full commitment, for up to now they are afraid to openly break with him, while they expect that you will again be reconciled." 214 Persuaded by this advice he ordered his servants to pitch him a tent on the roof of the royal palace, in full view of the crowd, and he went in to lie with his father's concubines. This fulfilled Nathan's prophecy, who predicted to David that his son would rise up against him.

6.

215 When Absalom had done what Ahithophel advised, he next asked his advice about the war against his father. He only asked for ten thousand elite troops and promised to kill his father and to bring his soldiers back alive. He said that the kingdom would then be firmly his, once David was no longer alive. 216 Pleased with this advice, Absalom called for Hushai, calling him "arch-friend of David" and telling him Ahithophel's view, and then asking for his opinion on the matter. Now this man knew that if he followed Ahithophel's advice, David could be captured and killed, so he tried to introduce a contrary opinion. 217 He said, "You are not unaware, my king, of the bravery of your father and his companions, how he has fought many wars and always defeated his enemies. Probably he is now keeping within the camp, for he is skilled in strategy and in foreseeing the ruses of an oncoming enemy. 218 But at evening he will leave his men and either hide himself in some valley, or set an ambush at some rock, so that when our army attacks him, his soldiers will retire a little way, but will come back at us again, encouraged by the king's being near them. Then in the heat of battle your father will suddenly show himself and inspire his own people when they are in danger, but will startle yours. 219 So consider my advice and think about it, and if you think it best, set aside Ahithophel's opinion. Send to the whole land of the Hebrews and order them to come to this campaign against your father. You should lead the army and be your own general in this war and not entrust it to another. 220 You can expect to beat him easily, if you catch him in the open with his few partisans, while you have many thousands, who will be eager demonstrate to you their diligence and loyalty. And if your father shuts himself up to withstand a siege, we will destroy that city by undermining it with machines." 221 With this, he gained his point against Ahithophel, for Absalom preferred his opinion to the other's. But it was God who made Hushai's counsel appear best to his mind.

7.

222 He hurried to the high priests, Sadok and Abiathar, and told them Ahithophel's opinion and his own, and that it was his advice they had resolved to follow. He bade them send to David, therefore, to tell him what had been discussed and to urge him to quickly cross over the Jordan in case his son should change his mind and hurry after him and seize him before he got to safety. 223 The high priests had deliberately kept their sons hidden outside the city, to bring news to David of whatever was done. They sent them a trusted handmaid, to bring the news about Absalom's advice and to pass it on to David with all speed. 224 Without hesitancy or delay they obeyed their fathers' orders as faithful servants, and judging that speed was the best sign of loyalty, hurried to meet David. 225 As they were two furlongs from the city some cavalry saw them and told Absalom about them, and immediately he sent men to capture them. When the sons of the high priest saw this, they left the road and went to a village called Bahurim, where they asked a woman to hide them and give them refuge. 226 She let the young men down by a rope into a well and laid sheeps' fleeces over them, and when their pursuers came to ask if she had seen them, she did not deny it, as they had stayed with her for some time, but then had gone away. She predicted that if they pursued them immediately they would catch them, but when after a long pursuit they could not catch them, they turned back for home. 227 When the woman saw them going away and that there was no longer any fear of them catching the young men, she drew them up by the rope and sent them on their way. They hurried quickly and came to David and told him in detail of all Absalom's plans. So he told his companions to cross the Jordan during the night and make no delay about it.

8.

228 But after the his advice was rejected, Ahithophel got upon his donkey and rode away to his own region, Gilon, and, calling his family together, he told them the advice he had given Absalom, and that since he had not taken it, he was sure to die and very soon, for David would defeat him and return to his kingdom. 229 So he said it was better for him to take his own life with freedom and courage than leave himself to be punished by David, against whom he had done everything on Absalom's behalf. After saying this, he went into the inmost room of his house and hanged himself. Such was the death of Ahithophel, who was his own executioner, and when his relatives had taken him down from the rope, they buried him. 230 David, as we have said, crossed over the Jordan, and came to The Camps, a very fine and strong city. Ashamed that had been forced to flee, all the leaders of the region who had respected him in his former prosperity, received him with pleasure. These were Barzillai the Galadite, Siphar the ruler of Ammanitis, and Machir the chief of the region of Galaditis. 231 These furnished all the necessary provisions for him and his followers, so that there was no shortage of beds or blankets, bread or wine, and they brought them plenty of meat and provided all that was required to refresh tired and hungry men.

Chapter 10. [232-257]
Joab catches up with Absalom, and kills him, to David's sorrow

1.

232 Such was the situation when Absalom gathered a large army of the Hebrews to oppose his father and with it crossed the river Jordan, halting not far from Mahanaim, in the region of the Galadnes. He gave Amasa command of the entire army, in place of his kinsman Joab. This man's father was Jethra and his mother was Abigail, and she and Joab's mother, Sarouia, were David's sisters. 233 When David counted his followers and found them to be about four thousand, he decided not to wait for Absalom to attack him, but appointed officers of thousands and officers of hundreds and divided his army into three sections; one section he entrusted to Joab, one to Joab's brother Abishai, and the third to Ittai, his companion and friend, who came from the city of Gitta. 234 He wished to go out to battle in person alongside them, but his friends would not let him, for a very good reason. If they suffered defeat along with him, all realistic hope would be lost, but if they were defeated in one part of the army, the other parts could retreat to him and he could inspire them with new vigour and the enemy would suppose that he had another army with him. 235 Persuaded by this advice he decided to stay at Mahanaim and sent his friends and officers to the battle, urging them to show vigour and fidelity and to remember the benefits they had received from him. He implored them in their victory to spare his son Absalom, as it would grieve him if he were killed. Then, praying for victory, he sent out his army.

2.

236 Then Joab drew up his force opposite the enemy in a large plain, with a wood behind him, and Absalom led out his army against him. During the battle great deeds of strength and daring were done on both sides; the one side scorning danger and trying their utmost to recover the kingship for David, and the other risking all in their zeal to prevent its being taken from Absalom and his being punished by his father for what he had ventured against him. 237 The larger force did not want the disgrace of being defeated by Joab and his few officers, while David's soldiers strove for the honour of overcoming the many cohorts the enemy. After a hard struggle David's men were victorious, due to their greater energy and skill in war. 238 They pursued those who fled through the forests and ravines, taking some as prisoners but killing many, so that more died in the flight than in the battle, and about twenty thousand fell that day. Then all David's men went after Absalom, who was recognisable by his beauty and size. 239 Afraid of being captured by his enemies, he mounted the royal mule and fled. But as he was carried along at full speed and dizzy with the noise and the motion, his hair became entangled in the branches of a rugged, wide-spreading tree, and he hung there oddly suspended. His swift mount kept going as if still ridden by his master, but hanging from the branches he was taken by the enemy. 240 When one of David's soldiers saw this, he told Joab, and when the general said that he would give him fifty shekels if he had struck and killed Absalom, he replied, "Not if you gave me a thousand would I kill my master's son, especially since we all heard him ask that the young man be spared." 241 But he ordered him to show where he had seen Absalom hanging; and then shot an arrow through his heart and killed him; and Joab's armour-bearers came round the tree and took down the corpse. 242 They threw it into a large pit and filled it up with stones until it had the shape and size of a grave. Then Joab sounded the retreat and recalled his soldiers from pursuing the enemy forces, in order to spare their countrymen.

3.

243 Absalom had erected for himself a marble pillar in the Valley of Kings, two furlongs from Jerusalem, which he named Absalom's Hand, saying that even if his children were killed, his name would remain on that pillar; for as we said before, he had three sons and one daughter named Thomar. 244 When she was married to Solomon's son, Roboam, she bore a son named Abias, who succeeded to the kingdom, but of these we shall speak later, in a more suitable part of our history. After the death of Absalom, the people dispersed to their own homes.

4.

245 Then Ahimas, son of the high priest Sadok, went to Joab to ask permission to go and tell David of this victory and announce the good news that God had shown his help and providence. 246 But he refused, saying that it was not fitting for one who had always been the messenger of good news to go now and tell the king that his son was dead, so he bade him stay and called Chousi and told him to tell the king what he had seen. 247 When Ahimas again asked to be let bring the message and said that he would tell only about the victory and be silent about Absalom's death, he let him make the journey to David; and by taking a shorter road which he alone knew, he arrived before Chousi. 248 Now as David sat between the gates, waiting for somebody to come to him from the battle and report about it, one of the watchmen saw Ahimaaz running and still unable to know who it was, told David that someone was coming to him. 249 As he was saying that it was a messenger of good news, he told him that another was following shortly after, and the king said that he also was a messenger. Ahimas was very near when the watchman recognised him and notified the king that the runner was the son of Sadok the high priest. David was very glad and said that the messenger was bringing back good news from the battle.

5.

250 As the king was saying this, Ahimaaz appeared and bowed before the king and being asked about the battle, he anounced the good news of decisive victory. When he enquired what news he had about his son, he said that he had left immediately after the enemy was defeated, but that he heard a great shout from the men pursuing Absalom but that he could learn no more, as he was sent by Joab to report the victory. 251 Then when Chousi arrived and had bowed before him and told him of the victory, he asked him about his son. He replied, "May your enemies suffer the same fate as Absalom." 252 This news robbed him and his men of all joy at the victory, great though it was. David went up to the highest part of the city, and wept for his son, beating ihis breast, tearing at his head and hurting himself in many ways, as he cried out, "O my son! I wish that I myself had died and ended up with you!" for he was tender-hearted and exceptionally fond of him. 253 When the army and Joab heard how the king mourned for his son, they were ashamed to enter the city in the style of conquerors, but all appeared with downcast heads and in tears, as if in defeat. 254 While the king hid himself and groaned about his son, Joab went in to console him. "My lord," he said, "don't you see how you harm yourself by what you are doing? You seem to hate those who love you and have risked danger on your behalf; and even to hate yourself and your family and to love those most opposed to hou and to desire the company of those who are no longer alive but have justly been killed. 255 If Absalom were victorious and had won firm hold of the kingdom, none of us would be left alive, but all, beginning with yourself and your children, would have died miserably, and our enemies would have not wept but been glad about us, and punished even those who pitied our troubles. Are you not ashamed to act like this about your bitter enemy, one who though he was your own son, did such wrong? 256 So give up your misplaced grieving, and come out and be seen by your soldiers and thank them for their commitment in the fight. For if you continue as you are, I myself will persuade the people today to abandon you and hand over the kingdom to another, and then I shall do something to really cause you bitter grief." 257 By these words Joab made the king leave aside his sorrow and made him aware of the state of affairs. So David changed his clothing and showed himself properly to the people and sat at the gates until all the people heard of it and ran together to greet him; and that was how matters stood.

Chapter 11. [258-293]
David's clemency towards Shimei and Sibas. His faithful officer, Amasa, is killed by Joab

1.

258 After the Hebrews of Absalom's party had retreated from the battle and returned home, they sent messengers to every city to remind them of the benefits David had given them and the freedom he won for them through many great wars, 259 and they blamed themselves for expelling him from his realm and giving it to another. Since the one they had given it to was now dead, should they not beg David to set aside his anger and become friends with them, and resume charge of their affairs and take the kingdom again? 260 Reports of this kind were regularly brought to David, but he sent to Sadok and Abiathar the high priests, to tell the officers of the tribe of Judas what a reproach upon them it would be if the other tribes chose David as king before they did, "although you are of the same flesh and blood with him." 261 He bade them to tell general Amasa, his sister's son, that whereas he had not persuaded the people to restore the kingdom to David, he could expect from him not only a reconciliation, for this was already there, but also the command of all the army, as was already given to him by Absalom. 262 When they had told the officers of the tribe what the king had ordered the high priests persuaded Amasa to take on the duties proposed by him. In turn, he persuaded that tribe to immediately send envoys to David, imploring him to return to his kingdom; and at Amasa's persuasion, all the Israelites did the same thing.

2.

263 When the envoys came to him, David went to Jerusalem, and Judas was the first of the tribes to come to meet the king at the river Jordan. And Shimei, son of Gera, came with a thousand men whom he brought from the tribe of Benjamin, and Saul's freedman Sibas and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants. 264 All these, as well as the tribe of Judas, laid a ford over the river, that the king and his companions might easily pass over. When he arrived at the Jordan, the tribe of Judas greeted him. Shimei also came to the crossing and took hold of his feet imploring pardon for his faults and not to be too harsh with him or make of him a first example of severity after coming to power, but rather to consider how he had repented of his errors and hastened to be the first to meet him. 265 While he was so begging and imploring for mercy, Abishai, Joab's brother, said, "Should you not die because you cursed the king whom God has appointed to reign over us?" But David turned to him and said, "Will you not give up, you children of Sarouia? Do not stir up new troubles and rebellions among us, now that the past is past. 266 For you should not be unaware that this day my reign begins and therefore I swear an amnesty to all rebels and not to prosecute anyone for their offences. And you, Shimei, take heart and have no fear of being put to death." So he reverenced him and went ahead of him.

3.

267 Another who met him was Memphibosthos, Saul's grandson, wearing a soiled garment and with his hair thick and neglected, for after David's flight he was so grieved that he had neither cut his hair nor washed his clothes, but condemned himself to such hardships because of the change of the king's affairs, and he had been unjustly calumniated to the king by Sibas, his steward. 268 When he had greeted the king and worshipped him, the king asked him why he did not leave Jerusalem with him and accompany him during his flight. He replied that it was due to Sibas, who when he was ordered to get things ready to depart with him, paid no heed but had scorned him as if he were a mere slave. 269 "For if my feet were sound and strong, and I could have used them to flee I would not have deserted you. And this was not the only harm Sibas did to me, regarding my duty to you, my lord and master, for he maliciously slandered and calumniated me. But I know that you will not believe such calumnies, but are disposed to justice and love the truth, which God's will intends to prevail. 270 For though my grandfather put you in grave danger and our whole family was due for destruction on that account, you were moderate and merciful and forgetting all those things, which, if you had borne them in mind, would have had us punished. Instead, you deemed me your friend and set me every day at your own table, no less honoured than your nearest relatives." 271 At these words David resolved neither to punish Memphibosthos nor to condemn Sibas for having lied about his master. He said that as he had not left along with Sibas, he had given all his estate to the latter, but he promised to forgive him and ordered a half of his estate to be restored to him. Memphibosthos said, "Let Sibas have it all! It is enough for me that you have recovered your kingdom."

4.

272 David wanted Barzillai the Galadite, a great and good man who had provided plentifully for him at Mahanaim and guided him as far as the Jordan, to accompany him to Jerusalem, promising to treat him in his old age with all respect, and care and provide for him. 273 But Barzillai was so keen to live at home that he begged to be excused from attending on him, and said that he was too old enjoy pleasures, as he was eighty years old and was preparing for his death and burial. 274 So he made this request and asked him to release him, for he had no relish in his food or drink, because of his age, as he was too deaf to hear the sound of pipes, or the melody of other musical instruments, the delight of those who live with kings. To this request the king said, "I do release you, but grant me your son Chimham and I will bestow all sorts of good things upon him." 275 So Barzillai left his son with him and bowed before the king and wished him his hearts desire, and returned home. Then David came to Galgala, accompanied by half the people and the tribe of Judas.

5.

276 The leaders of each tribe came to Galgala to him with a large crowd and complained that the tribe of Judas had come to him secretly, whereas they ought all to have met him together, with the same intention. But the leaders of the tribe of Judas implored them not to take offence at them for anticipating them; for, they said, "We are David's relatives, and we cared for him and loved him all the more, and so came to him first." They also said that they had not, by coming early, received any gifts from him, that should cause any uneasiness to those who came later. 277 Though the leaders of the tribe of Judas said this the officers of the other tribes were not appeased, but went on, "Brothers, we are surprised that you claim the king as your kinsman, whereas he who has received from God power over all of us should be reckoned a kinsman to us all, so that the whole people have eleven shares in him and you only one share. We are also older than you, so it was not right for you to come to the king privately and secretly."

6.

278 While the leaders disputed about this, Sabaios, son of Bochorius, of the tribe of Benjamin, a rogue who took a pleasure in rebellious actions, stood up among the people and said in a loud voice, "We have no share in David, nor any inheritance in the son of Jesse." 279 After those words, he blew a trumpet and declared war on the king, so that all followed him, abandoning David; only the tribe of Judas stood by him and brought him back to his royal palace in Jerusalem. Then he moved his concubines, with whom Absalom his son had lain, to another house, telling their attendants to make plentiful provision for them, but he never went near them again. 280 He appointed Amasa as commander of his forces and gave him the high office that Joab had held before, and told him to gather as large an army as possible from the tribe of Judas, and to come to him in three days, when he would hand over his entire army to him and send him to fight against the son of Bochorius. 281 While Amasa had left, but delayed in gathering the army and had not yet returned, on the third day the king said to Joab, "It is not right to delay our attack on Sabaios, in case he gathers a greater force and causes more harm and damage to our affairs than even Absalom. 282 So do not wait any longer, but take with you such forces as you have at hand and the troop of six hundred men and with your brother Abishai pursue the enemy, and try to engage him wherever you catch him. Hurry to prevent him seizing some fortified cities and so causing us much toil and effort."

7.

283 Joab determined to wait no longer, but took his brother and the six hundred men and ordered the rest of the army in Jerusalem to follow him, and quickly marched against Sabaios, and when he reached Gabaon, a village forty furlongs from Jerusalem, Amasa brought a large army and met Joab. Now Joab was girded with a sword and had his breastplate on, and when Amasa came near him to greet him, he arranged that his sword should fall out, as though by accident. 284 When Amasa approached as though to kiss him, he took up his sword and gripped Amasa's beard with his other hand and unexpectedly struck him in his belly and killed him. Joab did this impious, outrageous thing to a good young man, his own kinsman who had done him no harm, simply from a jealous fear that he would get the chief command of the army and enjoy equal status to himself with the king. 285 For the same reason he killed Abner. But the death of his brother Asahel which it was meant to avenge gave a decent pretext for the earlier killing and made it pardonable, while there was no such excuse for this murder of Amasa. 286 When Joab had killed his fellow-general, he pursued Sabaios, leaving a man beside the corpse with orders to proclaim aloud to the army that Amasa had been justly and deservedly punished, and to say, "if you are for the king, follow his general, Joab, and Abishai his brother!" 287 But as the body lay on the road and all the people came running to it, and, as is usual with crowds, stood gazing at it, the guard moved it and brought it to a place remote from the road, where he laid it and covered it with a garment. After this all the people followed Joab. 288 Now as he pursued Sabaios through all the region of Israel, someone said he was in a stronghold called Abelbeth-maachah. Joab went there and laid siege to it with his army and threw up a bank round it, ordering his soldiers to undermine the walls and throw them down, for the people in the city did not let him in and he was highly angry at them.

8.

289 There was a small, wise and intelligent woman, who seeing her native town in dire straits, ascended the wall and summoned Joab through his soldiers. When he came to her, she started by saying that God appointed kings and generals of armies to destroy the enemies of the Hebrews and win them peace from them, "but here you are, trying to sack and destroy a major city of the Israelites, which has done no wrong." 290 Then he prayed for the continued mercy of God, and said he wanted to avoid killing any of the people, much less to destroy such a city as this, and if they handed over Sabaios, son of Bochorius, who has rebelled against the king, he would give up the siege and withdraw the army. 291 On hearing Joab's words the woman bade him to wait a while and the head of his enemy would instantly be thrown out to him. Then she went down to the citizens and said, "Do you want to be wicked and die ignobly, along with your children and wives, for the sake of a worthless fellow whom nobody knows? Do you want him for your king instead of David, who has done you good in so many ways, and set your city alone against such a mighty army?" 292 So she persuaded them and they cut off the head of Sabaios and threw it to Joab's army. When this was done, the king's general sounded a retreat and raised the siege, and when he arrived in Jerusalem, he was again appointed general of the whole people. 293 The king also set Banaios over the bodyguards and the six hundred men. He set Adoram over the tax and Josaphat the sone of Achilos over the records. He also appointed Sousa as scribe and Sadok and Abiathar as high priests.

Chapter 12. [294-317]
Famine averted, when the Gabaonites' vengeance is satisfied. David's great prosperity

1.

294 Then when the region was afflicted by famine, David begged God to have mercy on the people and to show him the reason for the affliction, and its remedy. The prophets replied that God wanted the Gabaonites avenged, whom king Saul had so wickedly slaughtered, treacherously violating the oath which general Joshua and the elders had sworn to them. 295 If, he would allow the Gabaonites to take whatever vengeance they wished for those who had been killed, He promised to be reconciled to them and free the people from their affliction. 296 When he learned from the prophets that this was God's desire, he sent for the Gabaonites and asked them what satisfaction they desired, and when they asked to have seven sons of Saul handed over to them for punishment, he handed them over, but spared Memphibosthos the son of Jonathan. 297 When the Gabaonites received the men they punished them as they pleased, and at once God began to send rain and to restore the earth to its usual fruitfulness and freed it from the drought, and the land of the Hebrews flourished again. 298 A little later the king made war on the Philistines, and after doing battle with them and putting them to flight, during the pursuit he was left alone, and when tired he was was seen by one of the enemy, named Achmon, son of Araph. 299 This man was a descendant of the giants and had a spear whose handle weighed three hundred shekels and a breastplate of chain-work and a sword. He turned round and violently rushed to kill the enemy king, who was worn out with exertion. But Abishai, Joab's brother, suddenly appeared and protected the king with his shield by standing over him, and killed the enemy. 300 The people took badly how close the king had come to being killed, and the officers made him swear to no longer go out with them to battle, in case through his courage and audacity he should suffer injury, thereby depriving the people of the benefits he now brought them and those they would later enjoy if he lived among them for a long time.

2.

301 When the king heard that the Philistines had gathered at the city of Gazara, he sent an army against them. On that occasion one of David's bravest men, Sabreches the Hittite, acted in a praiseworthy fashion by killing many of those who claimed to be descended from the giants and boasted much of their bravery; and so he brought victory to the Hebrews. 302 After this defeat, the Philistines again made war, and when David sent an army against them, Ephan his kinsman fought the bravest of all the Philistines in single combat and killed him and put the rest to flight, and many of them were killed in the battle. 303 Soon afterwards they encamped at a city not far from the border of the Hebrews' land. They had a man who was six feet tall and had on each of his feet and hands an extra toe and finger beyond the normal. 304 One of the soldiers David sent against them, Jonathan, son of Souma, fought this man and killed him, and as he was the one who turned the tide of battle, he won first prize for bravery. This Philistine boasted of being descended from the giants, but after this fight they no longer made war on the Israelites.

3.

305 Now free from wars and dangers and enjoying peace, David composed for God songs and hymns of several sorts of metre; some in trimeters and some in pentameters. He also made musical instruments and taught the Levites to sing hymns to God on what is called the sabbath day and on other festivals. 306 The shape of the instruments was roughly as follows: The kinera was an instrument of ten strings, struck by a plectrum; the nabla which had twelve notes, was plucked by the fingers; the cymbala were wide, large plates of brass. This is enough for us to say about these instruments, so that our readers may not be fully ignorant of their nature.

4.

307 All the king's companions were men of courage, but thirty-eight of them were outstanding and for the splendour of their deeds. Of these I will tell of the exploits of only five, enough to illustrate the virtues of the others, who were powerful enough to subdue countries and conquer great nations. 308 First among them was Isebos, son of Achemaios, who made repeated onslaughts on the troops of the enemy and did not cease fighting until he had felled nine hundred of them. Then came Eleazar, son of Dodeios, who was with the king in Arasam. 309 This man, once when the Israelites were running away, distraught at the number of the Philistines, held his ground alone and attacked the enemy and killed so many of them that his sword stuck to his hand by the blood he had shed and the Israelites, seeing the Philistines routed by him, came down from the heights and pursued them and thereby won a surprising and famous victory, with Eleazar dealing out death and the rest following to despoil the slain. 310 The third was Sabaias, son of Elos. In a battle against the Philistines, who were camped at Siagon [Jaw-bone], when the Hebrews were again afraid of their force and did not hold their ground, this man stood there alone, like an army in battle-line, and killed some and pursued the others, who were unable to withstand his powerful attack. 311 These are the great warlike exploits performed by these three. Once when the king was in Jerusalem and the Philistine army was at war with him, David went up to the top of the citadel, as already said, to enquire of God about the battle, 312 while the enemy lay camped in the valley extending toward the city of Bethlehem, twenty furlongs from Jerusalem. He said to his companions, "We have good water in my native town, especially in the cistern near the gate," and wondered if anyone would bring him some of it to drink. He said that he would rather have it than a great sum of money. 313 When these three men heard him say it, they instantly ran off and burst through the midst of their enemy's camp and came to Bethlehem, and when they had drawn the water, returned again through the enemy's camp to the king, and the Philistines were so surprised at their audacity and zeal that they stayed quiet and did nothing to them, as if scorning their small number. 314 When the water was brought to the king, he would not drink it, saying that it had been brought at the cost of danger and human blood and that therefore it was not right to drink it, but he poured it out to God and gave him thanks for sparing the men. Next to these was Abishai, Joab's brother, for in one day he killed six hundred. 315 The fifth was Banaios, of priestly lineage, who was challenged by famous brothers in the region of Moab, and overcame them by his bravery. On another occasion, a native Egyptian of vast bulk challenged him, and though he was unarmed, he struck him with his own spear and killed him, for he took the other's spear by force, and while he was alive and fighting, stripped off his armour and killed him with his own weapons. 316 To his exploits we may add another, as the most impressive of them, or at least equal to the rest. Once when God sent a snowfall, a lion slipped and fell into a cistern and as its entrance was so narrow the beast would clearly die, blocked in by the snow, it saw no way to get out and save itself, and roared. 317 Banaios, passing by, heard the wild beast, and going towards the noise he went down into the mouth of the cistern and struck the struggling lion with the staff in his hand and immediately killed it. The rest of them also were just as brave.

Chapter 13. [318-334]
The pride of David's census brings divine anger on the people

1.

318 King David wished to know how many thousands of the people there were, but forgot the commands of Moses, who foretold that if the people were counted they should pay half a shekel to God for every head. The king ordered Joab, his commander, to go and count the whole population; 319 and when he replied that there was no need for such a census, he ignored him and said to proceed to count the Hebrews without delay. So Joab took the heads of the tribes and the scribes and went around the Israelite region, noting the number of the people, and after nine months and twenty days returned to Jerusalem to the king. He reported to the king the number of the people, apart from the tribe of Benjamin, for he had not yet counted that tribe, nor the tribe of Levi, for the king repented of having sinned against God. 320 The number of the rest of the Israelites was nine hundred thousand men capable of bearing arms and going to war, but the tribe of Judas, by itself, was four hundred thousand.

2.

321 When the prophets pointed out to David that God was angry at him, he began to implore him to be merciful to him and forgive his sin. But God sent him Nathan the prophet, to propose to him the choice of three things, to select which of them he liked best: To have famine come upon the region for seven years; or endure a war, and be subdued three months by his enemies; or, for God to send a plague and illness upon the Hebrews for three days. 322 Confused by such a choice among great woes, he was troubled and when the prophet said that he must make his choice and answer quickly, and declare to God what he had chosen, the king reflected that if he asked for famine, he would seem to do it to others at no risk to himself, since he had plenty of corn in store, and the harm would come to others. 323 If he chose three months of defeat, he would seem to have evaded the war, as he had brave men and strongholds around him and need fear no harm, so he chose the misfortune which is common to kings and their subjects, where the fear is equal for all, saying first that it was much better to fall into the hands of God than into the hands of his enemies.

3.

324 Heard this, the prophet declared it to God, who then sent a pestilence and plague upon the Hebrews. But not all of them died in the same manner, nor was it easy to know what sickness it was. 325 The same terrible disease carried them off in a myriad mysterious ways, for one died in the embrace of another and the terrible malady suddenly seized them and brought them to their end, some quickly giving up the ghost with great pain and bitter grief and others wasting away with sicknesses and leaving nothing behind to be buried, being entirely emaciated. 326 Some, stricken with sudden darkness, suffocated as they gasped; others fell down dead as they were burying a relative, without finishing the rites of the funeral. Seventy thousand died of this disease, which began in the morning and lasted until the hour of supper. 327 The angel stretched out his hand over Jerusalem too, and it suffered greatly. The king wore sackcloth and lay upon the ground, entreating God and imploring that the sickness would finally cease and he be satisfied with those who had already died. Looking up into the air, the king saw the angel carried through it into Jerusalem, with his sword drawn, and said to God that 328 in justice it was he, their shepherd, who should be punished, but that the sheep who had not sinned should be saved, and he begged God to vent his anger upon him and his family, but to spare the people.

4.

329 When God heard his prayer, he made the plague cease and sent the prophet Gad to him telling him to immediately go up to the threshing-floor of Oronas the Jebusite and build there an altar to God and offer sacrifices. When David heard it, he did not delay, but hurried to the place indicated. 330 Oronas was threshing wheat, and when he saw the king and all his servants coming he ran out and came to him and bowed before him. By his lineage he was a Jebusite, but was a particular friend of David's, and for that reason he did not harm him when he destroyed the city, as we told the reader a little earlier. 331 To Oronas's enquiry, "Why is my lord come to his servant?" he answered, "To buy the threshing-floor from him, and in it build an altar to God and offer sacrifice." He replied that he would give him the threshing-floor for free, along with the ploughs and the oxen for a holocaust, and he begged God to accept his sacrifice graciously. 332 The king admired his generosity and magnanimity and accepted his kindness, but wanted him to accept the price of them all, for it was not right to offer a sacrifice that cost nothing. Oronas said that the king could do as he pleased, so he bought the threshing-floor from him for fifty shekels. 333 When he had built an altar, he offered divine service and a holocaust and peace-offerings. With these God was pacified and was gracious to them again. It was to this very place that Abraham had come to offer his son Isaac as a holocaust, and when the youth was about to have his throat cut, a ram suddenly appeared beside the altar, which Abraham sacrificed in place of his son, as we said earlier. 334 When king David saw that God had heard his prayer and graciously accepted his sacrifice, he decided to call the whole place The Altar of all the People and to build there a temple to God, words that foretold what was to happen later when God sent the prophet to tell him that his son should build him an altar there, the son who was to succeed him on the throne.

Chapter 14. [335-382]
David's preparations for the Temple. He appoints Solomon as successor

1.

335 After this prophecy, the king ordered that the aliens be counted, and they turned out to be one hundred and eighty thousand, eighty thousand of whom he appointed as hewers of stone and set the rest of the people to carry the stones, putting three thousand five hundred in charge of the workmen. He also prepared a large amount of iron and brass for the work, and many large cedar trees that the Tyrians and Sidonians sent them to him when he had ordered a supply of timber. 336 He told his friends that these things were prepared in order to leave the materials for the building of the temple ready for his son who would reign after him, so that he would not have to search for them while still an unskilled youth but would have them ready to hand and so be the more able to complete the work.

2.

337 Then he called his son Solomon and told him to build a temple for God once he had succeeded to the kingship, saying how he himself had wanted to do so, but that God stopped him because he was polluted by bloodshed and war. He had foretold that his youngest son Solomon would build him a temple and be called by this name, and he had promised to care for him like a father for his son, and to make the land of the Hebrews prosper under him by, among other things, giving it the greatest of all blessings: peace and freedom from wars and from internal revolts. 338 "Since you were ordained king by God himself before you were born, try to be fully worthy of his guidance, particularly by being religious and righteous and brave. Keep his commands and his laws, which he has given us by Moses, and do not permit others to break them. 339 Hurry and make for God the temple he has chosen to be built under your reign, and do not recoil from the sheer size of the task, nor be timid about it, for I will have everything ready for you before I die. 340 Note that ten thousand talents of gold and a hundred thousand talents of silver have already been collected, and I have also laid up a vast amount of brass and iron and timber and stone. You also have many thousands of stone-cutters and carpenters, and if you need anything further, add it yourself. 341 Do this great work, and you will have God as your protector." He also urged the officers of the people to help his son in this building and to devote themselves to the worship of God, as a reward for which they would enjoy peace and order, by which God rewards those who are devout and righteous. 342 He further ordered that once the temple was built, they should put in it the ark with the holy vessels, which would long ago have had a temple if the ancestors had not ignored God's commands that they should build him a temple when they had taken possession of the land. This was David's speech to the officers and his son.

3.

343 David was now an old man and because of his age, his body had become cold and numb, so that even by covering himself with many clothes he could not get warm. When the physicians came together, they advised that a beautiful girl be chosen from the whole region, to sleep with the king, so that the girl would nurse him and relieve his numbness. 344 In the city they found a woman named Abishag, of a beauty surpassing all others, who kept the king warm merely by sleeping with him, for due to his age and weakness he was beyond sexual intercourse with a woman. We shall say more about this girl later.

4.

345 David's fourth son was a beautiful, tall young man, born to him by his wife Haggith. He was named Adonijah and in a similar in spirit to Absalom he aspired to be king and telling his friends that he was going to take over the leadership, he provided himself with many chariots and horses and fifty men to run before him. 346 When his father saw this, he neither reproached nor restrained him from his purpose, and did not even go so far as to ask why he did these things. Now Adonijah had as his accomplices Joab the general and Abiathar the high priest, and his only opponents were the high priest Sadok and the prophet Nathan and Banaios, head of the bodyguards and Shimei, David's friend, and all the other bravest men. 347 Adonijah held a supper outside the city, near the fountain in the royal garden, inviting all his brothers except Solomon and he brought along general Joab, and Abiathar and the officers of the tribe of Judas, but he had not invited to this feast either Sadok the high priest, or Nathan the prophet, or Banaios the chief of the bodyguards, nor any of the opposing party. 348 The prophet Nathan reported this to Solomon's mother, Bethsabé, how Adonijah was acting as king and that David knew nothing of it, and he advised her to save herself and her son Solomon by going alone to David and saying telling him that, although he had sworn the royal succession to Solomon, Adonijah had in fact taken it over. 349 While she was telling this to the king, the prophet himself would come in and confirm her words. Persuaded by Nathan, Bethsabé went in to the king and bowed to him and asked his permission to speak. 350 She told him everything as the prophet had suggested, including the supper Adonijah had held and the ones he had invited: Abiathar the priest and general Joab and all the king's sons except Solomon and his closest friends. She also said that all the people were looking to him, to know whom he would choose as king, and urged him to realise that if Adonijah were king after his departure, he would kill her and her son Solomon.

5.

351 As she was speaking, the king's chamberlain announced that Nathan wished to see him. When the king had him admitted, he asked him if he had appointed Adonijah as king that day and given him the leadership, 352 for he had made a splendid supper and invited all his sons except Solomon, and had also invited Joab the general, and that they were feasting with applause and joyful sounds of instruments and wishing his kingship to last for ever. "But he did not invite me, nor Sadok the high priest, nor Banaios the chief of the bodyguards, and it is only right that all should know whether or not this is done by your approval." 353 When Nathan had said this, the king ordered them to call Bethsabé to him, for she had left the room when the prophet came. When Bethsabé arrived David said, "I swear by Almighty God that certainly your son Solomon shall be king, as I swore in the past, and that he shall sit upon my throne this very day!" 354 So Bethsabé worshipped him and wished him long life, and the king sent for Sadok the high priest and Banaios the head of his bodyguard. When they came, he told them to take with them Nathan the prophet and all the warriors about the palace 355 and to set his son Solomon upon the king's mule and to take him from the city to the fountain called Gihon and there anoint him with the holy oil and make him king. 356 This command he gave to Sadok the high priest and Nathan the prophet, directing them to follow Solomon through the city and to sound the trumpets and pray aloud that Solomon the king would sit upon the royal throne for ever, so that all the people should know that he was ordained king by his father. He also instructed Solomon about his government, to rule the whole Hebrew nation and particularly the tribe of Judas, religiously and justly. 357 When Banaios had prayed for God's favour on Solomon, they quickly set upon the mule and brought him from of the city to the fountain, and anointed him with oil and brought him back into the city, with acclamations and prayers that his kingdom might continue a long time. 358 Then they had led him into the king's house and set him on the throne, and all the people set to merrymaking and celebrating a festival, with dancing and joyous piping, until the sound of their instruments echoed through all the earth and sky.

6.

359 When Adonijah and his guests heard this noise, they were troubled, and general Joab said he did not like these echoes and the sound of the trumpets. When supper was set before them, nobody would taste it, and they were all wondering what was afoot when Jonathan, the son of Abiathar the high priest, came running to them, 360 Adonijah was pleased to see the young man, saying he was a messenger of good, but he told them all about Solomon and the decision of king David. Therefore Adonijah and all the guests rose quickly from the feast and they all fled to their own homes. 361 Now afraid of the king for what he had done, Adonijah took refuge in God and laid hold of the prominent horns of the altar. Solomon learned that he had done so and that he was asking for his assurances not to remember the harm he had done and not to severely punish him for it. 362 He replied very mildly and prudently that he forgave him his offense, but said that if he were caught attempting any revolt, he would bring punishment upon himself. So he sent to him and raised him up from the place of his prayer. When he came to the king and had worshipped him, the king told him go away to his own house and not fear any harm, asking him to show himself a worthy man for his own good.

7.

363 Eager to install his son as king of the whole people, David called together their officers to Jerusalem, with the priests and the Levites, and having first numbered the Levites, he found them to be thirty-eight thousand, from thirty years old to fifty. 364 From these he appointed twenty-three thousand to take care of the building of the temple and six thousand of them as judges of the people and scribes, four thousand as porters to the house of God and the same number as singers, to sing along with the instruments which David had prepared, as already said. 365 He divided them into groups: and when he had singled out the priests he took twenty-four groups of these priests, sixteen of the house of Eleazar and eight of that of Ithamar, and he ordained that one group should minister to God every eight days, from sabbath to sabbath. 366 So the groups were distributed by lot, in the presence of David and Sadok and Abiathar the high priests and all the officers, and the group which came up first was written down as the first, then the second and so on to the twenty-fourth; a division that has remained to this day. 367 He also made twenty-four divisions of the tribe of Levi, and when they cast lots they too were assigned their rota of eight days in the same way. He also honoured the descendants of Moses and appointed them keepers of the treasury of God and of the donations dedicated by the kings. He also ordained that all the tribe of Levi, as well as the priests, should serve God night and day, as Moses had ordered them.

8.

368 After this he divided the entire army into twelve divisions, with their generals and officers of hundreds and lower officers. Now every division had twenty-four thousand and was ordered to wait on Solomon for periods of thirty days at a time, from the first day to the last, under the officers of thousands and of hundreds. 369 He set over each division officers whom he knew to be good and righteous men and set others, whose names I do not think it necessary to mention, in charge of the treasurey and the villages and the fields and the animals.

9.

370 When David had ordered all these matters as stated, he assembled the officers of the Hebrews and their heads of tribes and the heads of the various divisions and those in charge of every work and every property and standing on a high platform he addressed them as follows: 371 "My brothers and my people, I want you to know that I intended to build a house for God and have prepared a large amount of gold and a hundred thousand talents of silver, but through the prophet Nathan God prohibited me, because of the wars I had on your behalf and my right hand was polluted with the slaughter of our enemies, but he ordered my son, who would succeed me as king, to build a temple for him. 372 Therefore, since you know that of the twelve sons of our forefather Jacob, Judas was appointed as king and that I was preferred before my six brothers and received the leadership from God and that none of them quarrelled over it, so I now wish that my sons not be rebellious against each other, now that Solomon has received the kingship, but to cheerfully accept him as their master, knowing that God has chosen him. 373 If it is not too much to obey even a foreigner as a ruler, if it be God's will, how right it is to rejoice when a brother gains that dignity, since the rest share in it with him. Now I pray that God's promises may be fulfilled, and that the prosperity he has promised to bestow upon king Solomon and over all the region, may continue in it for all time to come. 374 These promises my son, will be firm and prosper if you prove to be a devout and righteous man and keep the ancestral laws, but if not, you may expect adversity for disobeying them."

10.

375 After saying this, the king paused, and then he gave to Solomon in the sight of them all an exact description of the building of the temple: the foundations and the chambers, lower and upper; how many they were to be and their height and width, and he decided the weight of the golden and silver vessels. 376 Earnestly he urged them to commit heartily to the work and urged the officers and particularly the tribe of Levi, to help him, both because of his youth and because God had chosen him to take care of the building of the temple and of governing the kingdom. 377 He assured them that the work would be easy and not too laborious for them, since he had prepared for it many talents of gold and still more of silver, with timber and many carpenters and stone-cutters and a large amount of emeralds and all sorts of precious stones, 378 and he said that even now he would give two hundred talents from his own goods and three hundred other talents of pure gold, for the most holy place and for the chariot of God, the cherubim, which were to stand over and cover the ark. When David had finished speaking, a great commitment was seen among the officers and the priests and the Levites, who now contributed and made lavish promises of future contribution. 379 They undertook to bring five thousand talents and ten thousand drachmas of gold, and ten thousand talents of silver and many times ten thousand talents of iron, and if anyone had a precious stone he brought it and bequeathed it to be put among the treasures, in charge of which was Jachiel, one of the descendants of Moses.

11.

380 All the people rejoiced at this, and David in particular, when he saw the zeal and ambition of the officers and priests and all the others, and he began to bless God aloud, calling him the Father and Parent of the universe and the Author of things human and divine, with which he had adorned Solomon, the patron and guardian of the Hebrew nation and its prosperity and of the kingdom which he has given his son. 381 He prayed for prosperity for the whole people, and for his son Solomon a sound and a righteous mind firm in all sorts of virtue, and then he told the people to bless God. At this they all fell upon the ground and worshipped him and gave thanks to David for all the blessings they had received since he had become king. 382 The following day, he offered sacrifices to God, a thousand bullocks and as many lambs, as holocausts. They also offered peace-offerings and slaughtered many thousands of sacrifices, and the king feasted all day with all the people, and they anointed Solomon with oil a second time and appointed him as king and Sadok as the high priest of the whole throng. Then they brought Solomon to the royal palace and set him upon his father's throne, and obeyed him from that day onward.

Chapter 15. [383-394]
David's parting advice to his son Solomon

1.

383 Soon David was ill of old age, and knowing that he was near death, called his son Solomon and said to him, "My son, I am now going to my destiny and to my fathers, which is the common journey to be made by all who are, or shall ever be, and from this journey there is no possible return to learn what goes on among the living. 384 So, though near to death, while I am still alive I urge you, as I have done in the past, to be righteous towards your subjects and devoted to God who has given you the kingdom. Keep his commands and laws, which he has sent us by Moses, and do you not let favour or flattery or lust or any other passion cause you to disregard them. 385 If you transgress his laws, you will lose God's favour and turn aside his providence from you in all things. But if you behave yourself according to your duty and as I urge you, you will preserve the kingship within our family and no other house but ours will rule over the Hebrews for all ages. 386 Remember also the faults of general Joab, who from envy killed the generals Abner, son of Ner, and Amasa, son of Jethra, who were righteous and good men. Avenge their death as you think best since Joab has bested me and been stronger than I and has eluded justice up to now. 387 I also entrust to you the children of Barzillai the Galadite, whom, if you want to please me, you shall highly honour and take care of, because we did no good for him up to now, but we should repay the debt we owe his father for helping me during my flight. 388 And Shimei the son of Gera, of the tribe of Benjamin, who, after hurling many insults at me during my flight, as I was going to The Camps, met me at the Jordan and was assured of being unharmed at that time... now seek out some good reason to punish him."

2.

389 When David had admonished his son about everything and about his friends and those who should be punished, he died, having lived seventy years and reigned for seven years and six months in Hebron over the tribe of Judas, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem over the whole country. 390 He was a man of excellent character, with every virtue needed in a king entrusted with the safety of so many tribes, for he was extraordinarily brave and when fighting for his subjects was prepared to go first into all dangers, spurring the soldiers to action by his own example on their behalf and not by ordering them like a despot. 391 With a great understanding and grasp of things present and future in the management of affairs, he was prudent, moderate and kind to those in any trouble, righteous and humane, qualities found only in the best of kings. Neither did he commit any wrong in exercising his authority, except regarding the wife of Urias. He left behind him greater wealth than any other king, either of the Hebrews or of other nations.

3.

392 His son Solomon buried him in Jerusalem, with great pomp and all the funeral honours usually given to kings. Great, immense wealth was buried with him, whose size can be guessed from what I will now say. 393 A thousand, three hundred years later Hyrcanus the high priest, when besieged by Antiochus the Pious, son of Demetrius and needing to give him money to get him to raise the siege and withdraw his army and having no other way to get the money, opened a room of David's burial vault and took out three thousand talents and gave part of that sum to Antiochus, and so caused the siege to be raised, as we have said elsewhere. 394 Many years later, king Herod opened another room and took away a large amount of money. Yet neither of them came upon the coffins of the kings themselves, for they were so artfully buried under the earth that they were not seen even by those who entered into their tombs. But that is enough to say about these matters.