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The Story of Absalom.
(From the 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th Chapters of 2 SAMUEL.)
In all Israel, there was none so much praised for his beauty as Absalom the Son of David, the King; from the sole of his foot, even to the crown of his head, there was no blemish in him; and when he cut off his hair, at every year's end, because it was heavy upon him, the hair of his head weighed two hundred shekels after the king's weight.
And it came to pass that Absalom wished to make himself king, in the place of his father David. And Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And he stood in the gate, and when any one passed for to go to the king for judgment, Absalom called unto him and said, “There is no one deputed of the king to hear thee! Oh, that I were King, that every man which had any suit or cause would come unto me, and I would do him justice.” And when any man came nigh unto him, to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. And he sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying: “As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet,
ye shall say, “ Absalom reigneth in Hebron.” And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.
And then came a messenger unto David, saying: “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, “ Arise : let us flee! for else we shall not escape from Absalom."
And David went up by the ascent of Mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot. And all the people that were with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.
And there came forth a man whose name was Shimei ; and cursed as he came. And he cast stones at king David, and at all the servants of king David. And one of the servants said unto the king, “ Why should this dead dog curse my lord, the king? Let me go over I pray thee and take off his head ?” And the king said: “Let him curse; behold, my son, even mine own son, seeketh my life; how much more may this Benjamite do it? Let him alone; and let him curse. It may be that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day.” And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill-side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.
And Absalom and all the people that were with him came to Jerusalem.
And David arose, and all the people that were with him, and passed over Jordan: by the morning light there was not one of them that was not gone over Jordan.
Then Absalom passed over Jordan also, he and all the men of Israel with him, to fight against David.
Then David numbered the people that were with him, and sent them forth, under the hand of Joab and Abishai, his captains. And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands. And the King commanded his captains, saying: “Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom.” And all the people heard when the King gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom. So the people went out unto the battle; and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim. And there was a great slaughter that day. And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away. And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak.” And Joab said unto the man that told him, “ And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground ? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver and a girdle.” And the man said unto Joab, “ Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in my hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son; for in our hearing the king charged thee, · Beware that none touch the • young man Absalom.'” Then said Joab, “I may not thus tarry;"
and he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak; and the young men that bare Joab's armor compassed about and smote Absalom and slew him. And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after the army of Absalom. And they took Absalom and cast him into a great pit into the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him : and all his army fled.
And David sat between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, a man running alone; and the watchman cried and told the king; and the king said, “If he be alone there is tidings in his mouth. And the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, “Behold, another man running alone !"
And the foremost, when he drew near, called and said unto the king, “ All is well ! ”
And he fell down on his face before the king, and said, “ Blessed be the Lord thy God which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king !"
And the king said, “Is Absalom safe?”
And the messenger answered “ When Joab sent thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was."
And the king said, “ Turn aside and stand here ;” and he turned aside and stood still. And behold the second messenger came and said, “ Tidings,
my lord the king; for the Lord hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.”
And the king said, “Is the young man Absalom safe ? "
And he answered, “ The enemies of my lord, the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.” And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom ! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people : for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son. And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle. But the king covered his face, and cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son,