1Joab, son of Zeruiah, knew that the king kept on thinking about Absalom.
2So Joab sent a messenger to Tekoa to bring back a wise woman who lived there. He told her, “Pretend to be a mourner. Put on clothes for mourning, and don't use any scented oils. Be like a woman who has been in mourning for the dead a long time.
3Then go to the king and tell him this.” Joab told her what to say.
4When the woman from Tekoa went to see the king, she bowed facedown to the ground in respect, and said, “Please help me, Your Majesty!”
5“What's the matter?” the king asked her. “Sadly I'm a widow. My husband is dead,” she replied.
6“Your Majesty, I had two sons. They had a fight outside, and there was nobody there to stop them. One of them hit the other, and killed him.
7Now the whole family is against me. They're saying, ‘Hand over your son who killed his brother so we can put him to death for murdering his brother. That way he won't inherit anything either!’ By doing this they would snuff out the last ember of hope I have to carry on my husband's name and family in the world.”
8“Go on home,” the king told the woman, “and I myself will make sure your case is dealt with for you.”
9“Thank you, Your Majesty,” said the woman. “I and my family will take the blame, and may Your Majesty and your family be held to be innocent.”
10“If anyone complains to you about it, bring him here to me, and he won't bother you again!” the king told her.
11“Please, Your Majesty,” the woman continued, “swear by the Lord your God that you will stop the person wanting to avenge the murder from making it worse by killing my son!” “As the Lord lives,” he promised, “not a single hair from your son's head will fall to the ground.”
12“Could I please ask for one other thing, Your Majesty?” the woman asked. “Go ahead,” he replied.
13“So why have you schemed in a similar way against the people of God?” the woman asked. “Since Your Majesty just decided my case by what you said, haven't you convicted yourself because you refuse to bring back the son you banished?
14Yes, we all have to die. We're like water spilled on the ground that can't be collected again. But that's not what God does. Instead he works out ways for anyone who is banished to come back home to him.
15That's why I've come to explain this to Your Majesty, because someone has frightened me. So I thought to myself, I will go and speak to the king. Perhaps he will grant my request.
16Perhaps the king will listen and save me from the man who would cut off both me and my son from God's chosen people.
17I thought: May what Your Majesty says bring me peace, for Your Majesty is able to tell the difference between good and evil, just like an angel of God. May the Lord your God be with you!”
18“Please don't refuse to answer the question I'm about to ask,” the king said to the woman. “Please ask your question, Your Majesty,” she replied.
19“Is all this Joab's doing?” the king asked. The woman replied, “As you live, Your Majesty, no one can hide anything from you. Yes, it was Joab, your officer, who ordered me to do this—he told me exactly what to say.
20He did so to show the other side of the situation, but Your Majesty is as wise as an angel of God, and you know everything that happens in this country.”
21The king said to Joab, “Fine, I'll do it. Go and bring young Absalom back.”
22Joab bowed down with his face to the ground in respect, and blessed the king. “Today,” said Joab, “I, your servant, know that you approve of me, Your Majesty, because you have granted my request.”
23Joab went to Geshur, and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem.
24But the king gave this order, “He may return to his home, but he's not to come and see me.” So Absalom returned to his own home, but he didn't go and see the king.
25Absalom was admired as the most handsome man in the whole of Israel. He didn't have a single blemish from head to toe.
26He cut his hair every year because it got so heavy—it weighed two hundred royal shekels.
27He had three sons, and a daughter named Tamar—a very beautiful woman.
28Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years but was not permitted to see the king.
29Absalom called Joab to arrange for him to see the king, for Joab, to send him to the king, but Joab refused to come. Absalom called Joab again, but Joab still wouldn't come.
30So Absalom told his servants, “Look, Joab's field is next to mine, and he has barley growing there. Go and set it on fire!” Absalom's servants went and set the field on fire.
31Joab went to Absalom's house and asked “Why did your servants set my field on fire?”
32“Look here,” said Absalom, “I sent for you, saying, ‘Come here. I want you to go to the king and ask: Why did I bother coming back from Geshur? It would have been better for me to stay there.’ So go and arrange for me to see the king, and if I'm guilty of anything, he can kill me.”
33So Joab went and told the king what Absalom had said. Then David summoned Absalom, who came and bowed down with his face to the ground before him in respect. Then the king kissed Absalom.