1Sometime after this, David asked the Lord, “Should I go to one of the towns of Judah?” “Yes, do it,” the Lord replied. “Which one should I go to?” David asked. “Go to Hebron,” said the Lord.
2So David moved there with his two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal's widow from Carmel.
3He also brought the men who were with him, along with their families, and they settled in the villages near Hebron.
4Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king of the people of Judah. When David found out that it was the men from Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul,
5he sent messengers to them, saying, “May the Lord bless you, because you demonstrated your loyal love to Saul your master, and you buried him properly.
6Now may the Lord show you loyal love and trustworthiness, and I will also be good to you because of what you did for Saul.
7So be strong and be brave, for even though Saul your master is dead, the people of Judah have anointed me as their king.”
8However, Abner, son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, had taken Ishbosheth, son of Saul, to Mahanaim.
9There he set up Ishbosheth as king over Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, and Benjamin, in fact over all Israel.
10Ishbosheth, son of Saul, was forty when he became king over Israel, and he reigned for two years. However, the people of Judah were on David's side.
11David ruled in Hebron as king over the people of Judah for seven years and six months.
12One day Abner and Ishbosheth's men left Mahanaim and went to the town of Gibeon.
13Joab, son of Zeruiah, and David's men set off and met them at the pool of Gibeon, where they all sat down, facing each other across the pool.
14Abner said to Joab, “Why not let's have some of the men fight in hand to hand combat before us.” “Fine,” Joab agreed.
15So twelve men came forward from each side—twelve for Benjamin and Ishbosheth, and twelve for David.
16Each man grabbed his opponent's head and drove his sword into his opponent's side so that they all fell down dead together. That's why this place in Gibeon is called the Field of Sword-edges.
17The battle that followed was hard-fought, but eventually Abner and his men were defeated by David's men.
18The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was a fast runner, like a gazelle racing across the open countryside.
19He chased after Abner with single-minded determination.
20Abner looked back and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?” “Yes, it's me,” Asahel replied.
21Abner told him, “Leave me alone! Go and fight somebody else and take his weapons for yourself!” But Asahel refused to stop chasing him.
22Abner warned Asahel again. “Stop chasing me!” he shouted. “Why do you want me to kill you? How could I ever face your brother Joab?”
23But Asahel wouldn't stop chasing him, so Abner drove the handle of his spear into his belly. It came out the back, and he fell down dead right there. Everyone who passed by stopped at the place where Asahel had fallen and died.
24But Joab and Abishai set off to chase after Abner. By the time the sun went down they had got as far as the hill of Ammah near Giah, on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon.
25Abner's men from the tribe of Benjamin rallied to him there, forming a tight group around him standing at the top of the hill.
26Abner shouted to Joab: “Do we have to keep killing each other forever? Don't you realize that if we go on it'll only get worse? How long are you going to wait before you order your men to stop chasing their brothers?”
27“As God lives,” Joab replied, “if you had not said anything, my men would have continued chasing their brothers until the morning.”
28Joab blew the horn so all the men stopped—they didn't continue chasing or fighting the Israelites.
29All through the night Abner and his men marched through the Jordan Valley. They crossed the Jordan River, and continued all morning until they arrived back at Mahanaim.
30When Joab got back from chasing Abner, he gathered all the men together. Nineteen of David's men were missing in addition to Asahel.
31However, they had killed three hundred and sixty of Abner's men from the tribe of Benjamin.
32They took Asahel's body and buried him in his father's tomb in Bethlehem. Then they marched all through the night and reached Hebron at dawn.