13Some time passed. Davids son Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar; and Davids son Amnon fell in love with her. 2Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. 3But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of Davids brother Shimeah; and Jonadab was a very crafty man. 4He said to him, O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me? Amnon said to him, I love Tamar, my brother Absaloms sister. 5Jonadab said to him, Lie down on your bed, and pretend to be ill; and when your father comes to see you, say to him, Let my sister Tamar come and give me something to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, so that I may see it and eat it from her hand. 6So Amnon lay down, and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, so that I may eat from her hand.
7 Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go to your brother Amnons house, and prepare food for him. 8So Tamar went to her brother Amnons house, where he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. 9Then she took the pan and set them* out before him, but he refused to eat. Amnon said, Send out everyone from me. So everyone went out from him. 10Then Amnon said to Tamar, Bring the food into the chamber, so that I may eat from your hand. So Tamar took the cakes she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. 11But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, Come, lie with me, my sister. 12She answered him, No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do anything so vile! 13As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the scoundrels in Israel. Now therefore, I beg you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you. 14But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she was, he forced her and lay with her.
15 Then Amnon was seized with a very great loathing for her; indeed, his loathing was even greater than the lust he had felt for her. Amnon said to her, Get out! 16But she said to him, No, my brother;* for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me. But he would not listen to her. 17He called the young man who served him and said, Put this woman out of my presence, and bolt the door after her. 18(Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves; for this is how the virgin daughters of the king were clothed in earlier times.*) So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her. 19But Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went.
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, Has Amnon your brother been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart. So Tamar remained, a desolate woman, in her brother Absaloms house. 21When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.* 22But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had raped his sister Tamar.
23 After two full years Absalom had sheepshearers at Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the kings sons. 24Absalom came to the king, and said, Your servant has sheepshearers; will the king and his servants please go with your servant? 25But the king said to Absalom, No, my son, let us not all go, or else we will be burdensome to you. He pressed him, but he would not go but gave him his blessing. 26Then Absalom said, If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us. The king said to him, Why should he go with you? 27But Absalom pressed him until he let Amnon and all the kings sons go with him. Absalom made a feast like a kings feast.* 28Then Absalom commanded his servants, Watch when Amnons heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, Strike Amnon, then kill him. Do not be afraid; have I not myself commanded you? Be courageous and valiant. 29So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the kings sons rose, and each mounted his mule and fled.
30 While they were on the way, the report came to David that Absalom had killed all the kings sons, and not one of them was left. 31The king rose, tore his garments, and lay on the ground; and all his servants who were standing by tore their garments. 32But Jonadab, the son of Davids brother Shimeah, said, Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men the kings sons; Amnon alone is dead. This has been determined by Absalom from the day Amnon* raped his sister Tamar. 33Now therefore, do not let my lord the king take it to heart, as if all the kings sons were dead; for Amnon alone is dead.
34 But Absalom fled. When the young man who kept watch looked up, he saw many people coming from the Horonaim road* by the side of the mountain. 35Jonadab said to the king, See, the kings sons have come; as your servant said, so it has come about. 36As soon as he had finished speaking, the kings sons arrived, and raised their voices and wept; and the king and all his servants also wept very bitterly.
37 But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. David mourned for his son day after day. 38Absalom, having fled to Geshur, stayed there for three years. 39And the heart of* the king went out, yearning for Absalom; for he was now consoled over the death of Amnon.
14Now Joab son of Zeruiah perceived that the kings mind was on Absalom. 2Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He said to her, Pretend to be in mourning; put on mourning garments, do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead. 3Go to the king and speak to him as follows. And Joab put the words into her mouth.
4 When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king! 5The king asked her, What is your trouble? She answered, Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6Your servant had two sons, and they fought with one another in the field; there was no one to part them, and one struck the other and killed him. 7Now the whole family has risen against your servant. They say, Give up the man who struck his brother, so that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he murdered, even if we destroy the heir as well. Thus they would quench my one remaining ember, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth.
8 Then the king said to the woman, Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you. 9The woman of Tekoa said to the king, On me be the guilt, my lord the king, and on my fathers house; let the king and his throne be guiltless. 10The king said, If anyone says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall never touch you again. 11Then she said, Please, may the king keep the Lord your God in mind, so that the avenger of blood may kill no more, and my son not be destroyed. He said, As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.
12 Then the woman said, Please let your servant speak a word to my lord the king. He said, Speak. 13The woman said, Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again. 14We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up. But God will not take away a life; he will devise plans so as not to keep an outcast banished for ever from his presence.* 15Now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid; your servant thought, I will speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his servant. 16For the king will hear, and deliver his servant from the hand of the man who would cut both me and my son off from the heritage of God. 17Your servant thought, The word of my lord the king will set me at rest; for my lord the king is like the angel of God, discerning good and evil. The Lord your God be with you!
18 Then the king answered the woman, Do not withhold from me anything I ask you. The woman said, Let my lord the king speak. 19The king said, Is the hand of Joab with you in all this? The woman answered and said, As surely as you live, my lord the king, one cannot turn right or left from anything that my lord the king has said. For it was your servant Joab who commanded me; it was he who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. 20In order to change the course of affairs your servant Joab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God to know all things that are on the earth.
21 Then the king said to Joab, Very well, I grant this; go, bring back the young man Absalom. 22Joab prostrated himself with his face to the ground and did obeisance, and blessed the king; and Joab said, Today your servant knows that I have found favour in your sight, my lord the king, in that the king has granted the request of his servant. 23So Joab set off, went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24The king said, Let him go to his own house; he is not to come into my presence. So Absalom went to his own house, and did not come into the kings presence.
25 Now in all Israel there was no one to be praised so much for his beauty as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26When he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the kings weight. 27There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar; she was a beautiful woman.
28 So Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem without coming into the kings presence. 29Then Absalom sent for Joab to send him to the king; but Joab would not come to him. He sent a second time, but Joab would not come. 30Then he said to his servants, Look, Joabs field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire. So Absaloms servants set the field on fire. 31Then Joab rose and went to Absalom at his house, and said to him, Why have your servants set my field on fire? 32Absalom answered Joab, Look, I sent word to you: Come here, that I may send you to the king with the question, Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still. Now let me go into the kings presence; if there is guilt in me, let him kill me! 33Then Joab went to the king and told him; and he summoned Absalom. So he came to the king and prostrated himself with his face to the ground before the king; and the king kissed Absalom.
15After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run ahead of him. 2Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the road into the gate; and when anyone brought a suit before the king for judgement, Absalom would call out and say, From what city are you? When the person said, Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel, 3Absalom would say, See, your claims are good and right; but there is no one deputed by the king to hear you. 4Absalom said moreover, If only I were judge in the land! Then all who had a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give them justice. 5Whenever people came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of them, and kiss them. 6Thus Absalom did to every Israelite who came to the king for judgement; so Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.
7 At the end of four* years Absalom said to the king, Please let me go to Hebron and pay the vow that I have made to the Lord. 8For your servant made a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram: If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will worship the Lord in Hebron.* 9The king said to him, Go in peace. So he got up, and went to Hebron. 10But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then shout: Absalom has become king at Hebron! 11Two hundred men from Jerusalem went with Absalom; they were invited guests, and they went in their innocence, knowing nothing of the matter. 12While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for* Ahithophel the Gilonite, Davids counsellor, from his city Giloh. The conspiracy grew in strength, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.
13 A messenger came to David, saying, The hearts of the Israelites have gone after Absalom. 14Then David said to all his officials who were with him at Jerusalem, Get up! Let us flee, or there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Hurry, or he will soon overtake us, and bring disaster down upon us, and attack the city with the edge of the sword. 15The kings officials said to the king, Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king decides. 16So the king left, followed by all his household, except ten concubines whom he left behind to look after the house. 17The king left, followed by all the people; and they stopped at the last house. 18All his officials passed by him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, passed on before the king.
19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, Why are you also coming with us? Go back, and stay with the king; for you are a foreigner, and also an exile from your home. 20You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, while I go wherever I can? Go back, and take your kinsfolk with you; and may the Lord show* steadfast love and faithfulness to you. 21But Ittai answered the king, As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be. 22David said to Ittai, Go then, march on. So Ittai the Gittite marched on, with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23The whole country wept aloud as all the people passed by; the king crossed the Wadi Kidron, and all the people moved on towards the wilderness.
24 Abiathar came up, and Zadok also, with all the Levites, carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, until the people had all passed out of the city. 25Then the king said to Zadok, Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and the place where it remains. 26But if he says, I take no pleasure in you, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him. 27The king also said to the priest Zadok, Look,* go back to the city in peace, you and Abiathar,* with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan son of Abiathar. 28See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me. 29So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.
30 But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot; and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went. 31David was told that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O Lord, I pray you, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.
32 When David came to the summit, where God was worshipped, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and earth on his head. 33David said to him, If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. 34But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your fathers servant in time past, so now I will be your servant, then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. 35The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you there. So whatever you hear from the kings house, tell it to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. 36Their two sons are with them there, Zadoks son Ahimaaz and Abiathars son Jonathan; and by them you shall report to me everything you hear. 37So Hushai, Davids friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.
1 O Lord, you God of vengeance,
you God of vengeance, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O judge of the earth;
give to the proud what they deserve!
3 O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
4 They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
5 They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
6 They kill the widow and the stranger,
they murder the orphan,
7 and they say, The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.
8 Understand, O dullest of the people;
fools, when will you be wise?
9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who disciplines the nations,
he who teaches knowledge to humankind,
does he not chastise?
11 The Lord knows our thoughts,*
that they are but an empty breath.
12 Happy are those whom you discipline, O Lord,
and whom you teach out of your law,
13 giving them respite from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
15 for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.
16 Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
17 If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
18 When I thought, My foot is slipping,
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who contrive mischief by statute?
21 They band together against the life of the righteous,
and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He will repay them for their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out.
9Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? 5He asked, Who are you, Lord? The reply came, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do. 7The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias. He answered, Here I am, Lord. 11The Lord said to him, Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision* a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight. 13But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name. 15But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. 17So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul* and said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, He is the Son of God. 21All who heard him were amazed and said, Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests? 22Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus* was the Messiah.*
23 After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; 25but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall,* lowering him in a basket.
26 When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. 28So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. 30When the believers* learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31 Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
32 Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers,* he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. 33There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralysed. 34Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed! And immediately he got up. 35And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas.* She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. 37At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, Please come to us without delay. 39So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, Tabitha, get up. Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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10 February 2011