And David numbered the people that were with him, and setcaptains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them. AndDavid set forth a third part of the people under the hand ofJoab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son ofZeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittaithe Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely goforth with you myself also.
But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: for if weflee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die,will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us:therefore now it is better that thou succor us out of thecity.
And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do.And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came outby hundreds and by thousands. And the king commanded Joab andAbishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the youngman, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the kinggave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.
So the people went out into the field against Israel: and thebattle was in the wood of Ephraim; where the people of Israelwere slain before the servants of David, and there was there agreat slaughter that day, of twenty thousand men. For the battlewas there scattered over the face of all the country: and thewood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon amule, 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 betweenthe heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him wentaway.
And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold Isaw Absalom hanged in an oak.
And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thousawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground?and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and agirdle.
And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousandshekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth minehand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king chargedthee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch theyoung man Absalom. Otherwise I should have wrought falsehoodagainst mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king,and thou thyself wouldst have set thyself against me.
Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he tookthree darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart ofAbsalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. And tenyoung men that bare Joab's armor compassed about and smoteAbsalom, and slew him. And Joab blew the trumpet, and the peoplereturned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back thepeople. And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit inthe wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and allIsrael fled every one to his tent.—2 Samuel xviii, 1-17.