1Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men and set off in pursuit of David tonight.
2I'll attack him while he is tired and weak. I'll catch him by surprise and all his men will run away. I'll only kill the king
3and bring everybody else back to you. When everybody returns apart from the one man you're after, the whole country will be at peace.”
4This plan looked good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.
5But then Absalom said, “Call in Hushai the Archite too, and let's hear what he's got to say as well.”
6When Hushai came in, Absalom, asked him, “Ahithophel has recommended this plan. Should we go ahead with it? If not, what's your suggestion?”
7“For once Ahithophel's advice isn't good,” Hushai replied.
8“You know what your father and his men are like. They're great fighters, and now they're as furious as a she-bear robbed of her cubs. In any case, your father is experienced in military tactics, and he won't spend the night with his men.
9Right now he's holed up in a cave or some place like that. If he attacks first and some of your men are killed, people who hear about it will say, ‘Absalom's men are being slaughtered.’
10Then even the bravest soldier who has the heart of a lion will be scared to death, because everyone in Israel knows that your father is a powerful man who has brave men with him.
11My recommendation is that you call up the entire Israelite army from Dan to Beersheba—an army as numerous as the sand on the seashore! Once they've assembled, then you yourself lead them into battle!
12Then we'll attack David wherever he is, and we'll fall on him as dew falls on the ground. Neither he nor a single one of all the men with him will be left alive!
13If he tries to find protection in a town, all of Israel will bring ropes to that town, and we will pull it down into the valley so that not even a stone will be left.”
14Absalom and all the Israelite leaders said, “Hushai the Arkite's advice is better than Ahithophel's.” For the Lord had decided to block Ahithophel's good advice in order that he might bring disaster on Absalom.
15Hushai spoke to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, and told them, “Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the Israelite leaders to act in one way, but I have advised them to act in this different way.
16So send a message quickly to David and tell him, ‘Don't wait and spend the night at the fords of the wilderness, but cross over immediately or the king and everybody with him will be destroyed.’”
17Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En-rogel because they couldn't be seen entering the city. A servant girl would come and tell them what was happening. Then they would go and let King David know.
18But a boy did see them and he told Absalom. So the two left immediately and went to the house of a man in the town of Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed into it.
19His wife took a cloth to cover the well and spread it out over the opening and then scattered grain over it. No one knew the men were there.
20When Absalom's officers arrived they asked the woman, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” “They crossed over the stream,” she replied. The men searched for them but didn't find them, so they went back to Jerusalem.
21After Absalom's officers left, the two men climbed out of the well and rushed off to give the king their message. “Have everybody get up and cross the river right away, for Ahithophel's advice is to attack you immediately.”
22David and everybody with him got up and crossed the Jordan. By the time it got light there wasn't anybody who hadn't crossed over.
23When Ahithophel realized that his advice had been ignored, he saddled up his donkey and left for his home in the town where he lived. He put his affairs in order and then he hanged himself. He died and was buried in his father's tomb.
24David went on to Mahanaim, and Absalom crossed over the Jordan with the entire Israelite army.
25Absalom had put Amasa in charge of the army to replace Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra, the Ishmaelite who lived with Abigail, the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother.
26The Israelites under Absalom set up camp in the land of Gilead.
27When David arrived at Mahanaim, he was welcomed by Shobi, son of Nahash, from Rabbah of the Ammonites, Machir, son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim.
28They brought bedding, bowls, and clay jars, as well as wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils,
29honey, curds, sheep, and cheese made from cow's milk for David and the people with him to eat. For they said, “The people are hungry, tired, and thirsty from their time in the wilderness.”