1A rabble-rouser called Sheba, son of Bichri, from the tribe of Benjamin, happened to be there. He blew the ram's horn and shouted: “We have no interest in David, no commitment to Jesse's son. Israelites, let's all go home!”
2So all the men of Israel abandoned David to follow Sheba, son of Bichri. But the men of Judah accompanied their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
3When David returned to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to look after the palace and put them in a house under guard. He took care of their needs but he didn't sleep with them. They were imprisoned until they died, living like widows.
4Then the king ordered Amasa, “Call up the army of Judah. Have them come to me within three days, and you come too.”
5Amasa called up the army of Judah, but he took longer than the time he was given.
6David then spoke to Abishai, saying, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri is going to cause us more trouble than Absalom did. Take the king's men and chase him down, or he will take over fortified towns and get away from us.”
7So Joab's men, along with the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and all the experienced fighters, marched out of Jerusalem to chase down Sheba, son of Bichri.
8While they were at the large rock in Gibeon, Amasa caught up with them. Joab was dressed for battle. Over his clothes was a belt around his waist with a dagger in its sheath. As he moved forward, it fell out.
9“How are you doing, my brother?” Joab asked Amasa. Joab held Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him.
10Amasa wasn't prepared for the dagger in Joab's left hand. Joab stabbed him in the belly and his intestines poured out onto the ground. Joab didn't need to stab him twice, because Amasa was already dead. Then Joab and his brother Abishai set off in pursuit of Sheba.
11One of Joab's men stood beside Amasa and called out, “If you're on Joab's side, and if you are on David's side, then follow Joab!”
12But Amasa was there, lying in his blood in the middle of the main road. When the man saw that everybody was stopping to look, he pulled the body off the road into a field and threw a cloth over it.
13Once Amasa's body was off the road, all the men followed Joab in pursuit of Sheba.
14In the meantime Sheba had gone around all the tribes of Israel and eventually ended up the town of Abel-beth-maacah. All the Bichrites gathered for battle and followed him into the town.
15Joab's army came and besieged Sheba in Abel-Beth-Maacah. They built a siege ramp against the town's outer wall. While all of Joab's army was battering the wall to knock it down,
16a wise woman from the town called out, “Listen! Please listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come over here so I can speak to you.’”
17He went over to her, and the woman asked, “Are you Joab?” “Yes, that's me,” he replied. “Please listen to what I, your servant, have to say,” she said. “I'm listening,” he replied.
18Then the woman said, “In times gone by people used to say, ‘If you want advice, go to Abel,’ and that's how arguments were settled.
19I am one of the peaceful and faithful people of Israel. You're trying to destroy a town that's like a mother in Israel. Why do you want to tear down the Lord's possession?”
20“Certainly not!” Joab answered. “It's not what I want—to destroy or tear down this town!
21That's not the intention. But a man called Sheba, son of Bichri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has rebelled against the king, against David. Just hand over this one man and I will withdraw from the town.” “Fine,” the woman replied, “his head will be thrown over the wall to you.”
22The woman went and talked with everyone about her wise plan. So they cut off the head of Sheba and threw it to Joab. Then Joab blew the ram's horn to sound the retreat, and all his men left the town and went home. Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.
23Joab commanded the whole army of Israel. Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, was in charge of the Cherethites and Pelethites.
24Adoniram was in charge of the labor force. Jehoshaphat, son of Ahilud, kept the official records.
25Sheva was the secretary. Zadok and Abiathar were the priests,
26and Ira the Jairite was David's priest.