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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

Chapter 15

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Text Commentary

Absalom's Plot. 1After this Absalom provided himself with chariots, horses, and fifty henchmen. p 1 Sm 8, 11; 1 Kgs 1, 5 . 2Moreover, Absalom used to rise early and stand alongside the road leading to the gate. If someone had a lawsuit to be decided by the king, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he replied, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe of Israel,” 3Absalom would say to him, “Your suit is good and just, but there is no one to hear you in the king's name.” 4And he would continue: “If only I could be appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a lawsuit to be decided might come to me and I would render him justice.” 5Whenever a man approached him to show homage, he would extend his hand, hold him, and kiss him. 6By behaving in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king for judgment, Absalom was stealing away the loyalties of the men of Israel.

Conspiracy in Hebron. 7After a period of four years, Absalom said to the king: “Allow me to go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the LORD. 8For while living in Geshur in Aram, your servant made this vow: ‘If the LORD ever brings me back to Jerusalem, I will worship him in Hebron.’ ” q 2 Sm 3, 3; 13, 37 . 9The king wished him a safe journey, and he went off to Hebron. 10Then Absalom sent spies throughout the tribes of Israel to say, “When you hear the sound of the horn, declare Absalom king in Hebron.” 11Two hundred men had accompanied Absalom from Jerusalem. They had been invited and went in good faith, knowing nothing of the plan. 12Absalom also sent to Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, an invitation to come from his town, Giloh, for the sacrifices he was about to offer. So the conspiracy gained strength, and the people with Absalom increased in numbers. r 2 Sm 16, 23 .

David Flees Jerusalem. 13An informant came to David with the report, “The Israelites have transferred their loyalty to Absalom.” s Ps 3 . 14At this, David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem: “Up! Let us take flight, or none of us will escape from Absalom. Leave quickly, lest he hurry and overtake us, then visit disaster upon us and put the city to the sword.” 15The king's officers answered him, “Your servants are ready, whatever our lord the king chooses to do.” 16Then the king set out, accompanied by his entire household, except for ten concubines whom he left behind to take care of the palace. t 2 Sm 16, 21f; 20, 3 . 17As the king left the city, with all his officers accompanying him, they halted opposite the ascent of the Mount of Olives, at a distance, 18while the whole army marched past him. u 2 Sm 8, 18 .

David and Ittai. As all the Cherethites and Pelethites, and the six hundred men of Gath who had accompanied him from that city, were passing in review before the king, 19he said to Ittai the Gittite: “Why should you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and you, too, are an exile from your own country. 20You came only yesterday, and shall I have you wander about with us today, wherever I have to go? Return and take your brothers with you, and may the LORD be kind and faithful to you.” 21But Ittai answered the king, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, your servant shall be wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life.” v Ru 1, 16 . 22So the king said to Ittai, “Go, then, march on.” And Ittai the Gittite, with all his men and all the dependents that were with him, marched on. 23Everyone in the countryside wept aloud as the last of the soldiers went by, and the king crossed the Kidron Valley with all the soldiers moving on ahead of him by way of the Mount of Olives, toward the desert.

David and the Priests. 24Zadok, too [with all the Levite bearers of the ark of the covenant of God], and Abiathar brought the ark of God to a halt until the soldiers had marched out of the city. 25Then the king said to Zadok: “Take the ark of God back to the city. If I find favor with the LORD, he will bring me back and permit me to see it and its lodging. 26But if he should say, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ I am ready; let him do to me as he sees fit.” w 2 Sm 16, 10 . 27The king also said to the priest Zadok: “See to it that you and Abiathar return to the city in peace, and both your sons with you, your own son Ahimaaz, and Abiathar's son Jonathan. 28Remember, I shall be waiting at the fords near the desert until I receive information from you.” 29So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and remained there.

30As David went up the Mount of Olives, he wept without ceasing. His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot. All those who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went. x 2 Sm 19, 5; Mi 1, 8 . 31When David was informed that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom, he said, “O LORD, turn the counsel of Ahithophel to folly!” y 2 Sm 16, 23; 17, 14. 23 .

David and Hushai. 32When David reached the top, where men used to worship God, Hushai the Archite was there to meet him, with rent garments and dirt upon his head. z 2 Sm 16, 16 . 33David said to him: “If you come with me, you will be a burden to me. 34But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘Let me be your servant, O king; I was formerly your father's servant, but now I will be yours,’ you will undo for me the counsel of Ahithophel a 2 Sm 16, 19 . . 35You will have the priests Zadok and Abiathar there with you. If you hear anything from the royal palace, you shall report it to the priests Zadok and Abiathar, 36who have there with them both Zadok's son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan. Through them you shall send on to me whatever you hear.” 37So David's friend Hushai went into the city of Jerusalem as Absalom was about to enter it.


p: 1 Sm 8, 11; 1 Kgs 1, 5 .

q: 2 Sm 3, 3; 13, 37 .

r: 2 Sm 16, 23 .

s: Ps 3 .

t: 2 Sm 16, 21f; 20, 3 .

u: 2 Sm 8, 18 .

v: Ru 1, 16 .

w: 2 Sm 16, 10 .

x: 2 Sm 19, 5; Mi 1, 8 .

y: 2 Sm 16, 23; 17, 14. 23 .

z: 2 Sm 16, 16 .

a: 2 Sm 16, 19 .

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