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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Chapter 20

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A scoundrel named Sheba son of Bichri, a Benjaminite, happened to be there. He sounded the horn and proclaimed:

“We have no portion in David, No share in Jesse's son! Every man to his tent, O Israel!”

1 2All the men of Israel left David and followed Sheba son of Bichri; but the men of Judah accompanied their king from the Jordan to Jerusalem. 3David went to his palace in Jerusalem, and the king took the ten concubines he had left to mind the palace and put them in a guarded place; he provided for them, but he did not cohabit with them. They remained in seclusion until the day they died, in living widowhood.

4The king said to Amasa, “Call up the men of Judah to my standard, and report here three days from now.” 5Amasa went to call up Judah, but he took longer than the time set for him. 6And David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bichri will cause us more trouble than Absalom. So take your lord's servants and pursue him, before he finds fortified towns and d‐ Meaning of Heb. uncertain. eludes us.” ‐d Meaning of Heb. uncertain. 7 e‐ Emendation yields “Joab, the Cherethites and Pelethites, and all the warriors marched out behind Abishai.” Joab's men, the Cherethites and Pelethites, and all the warriors, marched out behind him. ‐e Emendation yields “Joab, the Cherethites and Pelethites, and all the warriors marched out behind Abishai.” They left Jerusalem in pursuit of Sheba sonof Bichri. 8They were near the great stone in Gibeon when Amasa appeared before them. a‐ Meaning of Heb. uncertain. Joab was wearing his military dress, with his sword girded over it and fastened around his waist in its sheath; and, as he stepped forward, it fell out. ‐a Meaning of Heb. uncertain. 9Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, brother?” and with his right hand Joab took hold of Amasa's beard as if to kiss him. 10Amasa was not on his guard against the sword in Joab's [left] hand, and [Joab] drove it into his belly so that his entrails poured out on the ground and he died; he did not need to strike him a second time.

Joab and his brother Abishai then set off in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri, 11while one of Joab's henchmen stood by b‐ Heb. “him.” the corpse ‐b Heb. “him.” and called out, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is on David's side, follow Joab!” 12Amasa lay in the middle of the road, drenched in his blood; and the man saw that everyone stopped. And when he saw that all the people were stopping, he dragged Amasa from the road into the field and covered him with a garment. 13Once he was removed from the road, everybody continued to follow Joab in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri. 14[Sheba] had passed through all the tribes of Israel up to Abel of c Heb. “and.” Cf. v. 15 (and “Abel‐beth‐maacah” in 1 Kings 15.20 and 2 Kings 15.29 ). Beth‐maacah; and all the Beerites d Emendation yields “Bichrites”; cf. Septuagint. assembled and followed him inside. 15[Joab's men] came and besieged him in Abel of Beth‐maacah; they threw up a siegemound against the city e‐ Meaning of Heb. uncertain. The phrase would read well in the next verse (“…a clever woman stood on the rampart and shouted….”). and it stood against the rampart. ‐e Meaning of Heb. uncertain. The phrase would read well in the next verse (“…a clever woman stood on the rampart and shouted….”).

All the troops with Joab were f‐ Lit. “destroying, to topple the wall.” Septuagint and Targum read “were planning to topple the wall.” engaged in battering the wall, ‐f Lit. “destroying, to topple the wall.” Septuagint and Targum read “were planning to topple the wall.” 16when a clever woman shouted from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come over here so I can talk to him.” 17He approached her, and the woman asked, “Are you Joab?” “Yes,” he answered; and she said to him, “Listen to what your handmaid has to say.” “I'm listening,” he replied. 18And she continued, “In olden times people used to say, a‐ Meaning of Heb. uncertain. ‘Let them inquire of Abel,’ ‐a Meaning of Heb. uncertain. and that was the end of the matter. 19I am one of those who seek the welfare of the faithful in Israel. But you seek to bring death upon a mother city in Israel! Why should you destroy the LORD's possession?” 20Joab replied, “Far be it, far be it from me to destroy or to ruin! 21Not at all! But a certain man from the hill country of Ephraim, named Sheba son of Bichri, has rebelled against King David. Just hand himalone over to us, and I will withdraw from the city.” The woman assured Joab, “His head shall be thrown over the wall to you.” 22The woman came to all the people with her clever plan; and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bichri and threw it down to Joab. He then sounded the horn; all the men dispersed to their homes, and Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.

23Joab was commander of the whole army [of] Israel; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was commander of the Cherethites and the Pelethites; 24Adoram a So in 1 Kings 12.18 and 2 Chron. 10.18 (“Hadoram”); elsewhere “Adoniram.” was in charge of forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 25Sheva b See note b at 8.17 . was scribe; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests. 26Ira the Jairite also served David as priest.

Notes:

d‐d Meaning of Heb. uncertain.

e‐e Emendation yields “Joab, the Cherethites and Pelethites, and all the warriors marched out behind Abishai.”

a‐a Meaning of Heb. uncertain.

b‐b Heb. “him.”

c Heb. “and.” Cf. v. 15 (and “Abel‐beth‐maacah” in 1 Kings 15.20 and 2 Kings 15.29 ).

d Emendation yields “Bichrites”; cf. Septuagint.

e‐e Meaning of Heb. uncertain. The phrase would read well in the next verse (“…a clever woman stood on the rampart and shouted….”).

f‐f Lit. “destroying, to topple the wall.” Septuagint and Targum read “were planning to topple the wall.”

a So in 1 Kings 12.18 and 2 Chron. 10.18 (“Hadoram”); elsewhere “Adoniram.”

b See note b at 8.17 .

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