David Permits Absalom to Return to Jerusalem
Now Joab son of Zeruiah realized that the king longed to see Absalom. So Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He told her, “Pretend to be in mourning and put on garments for mourning. Don’t anoint yourself with oil. Instead, act like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for some time. Go to the king and speak to him in the following fashion.” Then Joab told her what to say.
So the Tekoan woman went to the king. She bowed down with her face to the ground in deference to him and said, “Please help me, O king!” The king replied to her, “What do you want?” She answered, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. Your servant has two sons. When the two of them got into a fight in the field, there was no one present who could intervene. One of them struck the other and killed him. Now the entire family has risen up against your servant, saying, ‘Turn over the one who struck down his brother, so that we can execute him and avenge the death of his brother whom he killed. In so doing we will also destroy the heir.’ They want to extinguish my remaining coal, leaving no one on the face of the earth to carry on the name of my husband.”
Then the king told the woman, “Go to your home. I will give instructions concerning your situation.” The Tekoan woman said to the king, “My lord the king, let any blame fall on me and on the house of my father. But let the king and his throne be innocent!”
The king said, “Bring to me whoever speaks to you, and he won’t bother you again!” She replied, “In that case, let the king invoke the name of the Lord your God so that the avenger of blood may not kill! Then they will not destroy my son!” He replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, not a single hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.”
Then the woman said, “Please permit your servant to speak to my lord the king about another matter.” He replied, “Tell me.” The woman said, “Why have you devised something like this against God’s people? When the king speaks in this fashion, he makes himself guilty, for the king has not brought back the one he has banished. Certainly we must die, and are like water spilled on the ground that cannot be gathered up again. But God does not take away life; instead he devises ways for the banished to be restored. I have now come to speak with my lord the king about this matter, because the people have made me fearful. But your servant said, ‘I will speak to the king! Perhaps the king will do what his female servant asks. Yes! The king may listen and deliver his female servant from the hand of the man who seeks to remove both me and my son from the inheritance God has given us!’ So your servant said, ‘May the word of my lord the king be my security, for my lord the king is like the angel of God when it comes to deciding between right and wrong! May the Lord your God be with you!’”
Then the king replied to the woman, “Don’t hide any information from me when I question you.” The woman said, “Let my lord the king speak!” The king said, “Did Joab put you up to all of this?” The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, there is no deviation to the right or to the left from all that my lord the king has said. For your servant Joab gave me instructions. He has put all these words in your servant’s mouth. Your servant Joab did this so as to change this situation. But my lord has wisdom like that of the angel of God, and knows everything that is happening in the land.”
Then the king said to Joab, “All right! I will do this thing! Go and bring back the young man Absalom! Then Joab bowed down with his face toward the ground and thanked the king. Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favour in your sight, my lord the king, because the king has granted the request of your servant!”
So Joab got up and went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. But the king said, “Let him go over to his own house. He may not see my face.” So Absalom went over to his own house; he did not see the king’s face.
Now in all Israel everyone acknowledged that there was no man as handsome as Absalom. From the sole of his feet to the top of his head he was perfect in appearance. When he would shave his head – at the end of every year he used to shave his head, for it grew too long and he would shave it – he used to weigh the hair of his head at three pounds according to the king’s weight. Absalom had three sons and one daughter, whose name was Tamar. She was a very attractive woman.
Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without seeing the king’s face. Then Absalom sent a message to Joab asking him to send him to the king, but Joab was not willing to come to him. So he sent a second message to him, but he still was not willing to come. So he said to his servants, “Look, Joab has a portion of field adjacent to mine and he has some barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set Joab’s portion of the field on fire.
Then Joab got up and came to Absalom’s house. He said to him, “Why did your servants set my portion of field on fire?” Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent a message to you saying, ‘Come here so that I can send you to the king with this message: “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there.”’ Let me now see the face of the king. If I am at fault, let him put me to death!” So Joab went to the king and informed him. The king summoned Absalom, and he came to the king. Absalom bowed down before the king with his face toward the ground and the king kissed him.