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¶ NOW there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David;
but David grew stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul became weaker and impoverished.
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And sons were born to David in Hebron;
and his first-born was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;
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And his second, Caleb, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite;
and the third, Absalom, the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
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And the fourth, Adonijah, the son of Haggith;
and the fifth, Shephatiah, the son of Abital;
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And the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah.
These were born to David in Hebron.
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And it came to pass, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul.
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¶ And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Ana;
and Ashbashul said to Abner, Why are you going in unto my father’s concubine?
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Then Abner was exceedingly displeased at the words of Ashbashul, and Abner said, Am I the leader of vicious men in Judah?
This day I show kindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hand of David, and yet you charge me today with this iniquity concerning a woman?
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So do God to Abner, and more also, if I do not perform what the LORD has spoken to David, even so will I do,
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To transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah from Dan to Beer-sheba.
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And Ashbashul could not reply to Abner, because he feared him.
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And Abner sent messengers to David, saying, Whose is the land?
Now make your covenant with me, and, behold, my hand shall be with you, to bring all Israel to you.
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And David said, Well, I will make a covenant with you;
but one thing I require of you, you shall not see my face, unless you first bring Malchel, Saul’s daughter with you.
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Then David sent messengers to Ashbashul Saul’s son, saying, Deliver to me my wife, Malchel, whom I espoused for two hundred foreskins of the Philistines.
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And Ashbashul sent, and took her from her husband, Palti, the son of Laish of Gallim.
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And her husband went along with her weeping as far as Beth-hurim.
Then Abner said to him, Return.
And he returned.
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And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying.
You have sought for David in times past to be king over you;
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Now then do so;
for the LORD has spoken of David, saying.
By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and out of the hand of all their enemies.
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And Abner also spoke in the presence of the Benjamites;
and Abner went also to speak in the presence of David in Hebron.
And when it seemed good in the sight of all Israel and in the sight of the whole house of Benjamin,
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Then Abner came to David at Hebron, and twenty men with him.
And David made Abner and the men who were with him a great feast.
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And Abner said to David, I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you and that you may reign over all that your soul desires.
And David sent Abner away;
and he went in peace.
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¶ And behold, the men of David and Joab came from a raid and brought a great spoil with them;
but Abner was not with David in Hebron;
for he bad sent him away, and he was gone in peace.
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When Joab and all the people who were with him were come, they told Joab, saying, Abner the son of Ner came to King David, and he has sent him away and he has gone in peace.
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Then Joab came to King David, and said to him, What have you done?
Behold, Abner came to you;
why have you sent him away, and he is gone from you?
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Do you not know that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you and to know your going out and your coming in and to know all that you are doing?
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And when Joab was come out from the presence of David, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah;
but David knew it not.
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And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside to a secret place within the gate to speak with him quietly, and he smote him there in his abdomen, and he died, for the blood of Ashael his brother.
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And afterward when David heard it, he said, I and my kingdom are guiltless before the LORD for ever from the blood of Abner the son of Ner;
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Let it rest on the head of Joab and on the head of all his father’s house;
and let there never fail to be in the house of Joab one who has a discharge or who is a leper or who is a beggar holding a bowl or who falls by the sword or who lacks bread.
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So Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner because he had slain their brother Ashael at Gibeon in the battle.
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And David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, Rend your clothes and gird yourselves with sackcloth and mourn for Abner.
And King David himself and all the people followed the bier.
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And they buried Abner in Hebron;
and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner;
and all the people wept.
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And the king lamented over Abner and said, Abner died like Nabal.
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Your hands were not bound nor were your feet put into fetters;
as one falls before the wicked men, so have you fallen.
And all the people wept again over him.
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And all the people tried to persuade David to eat food while it was still day, but David swore, saying, So do God to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else till the sun goes down.
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And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them;
whatever the king did pleased all the people;
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For all the people and all Israel understood that day that the king had no hand in the slaying of Abner, the son of Ner.
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And the king said to the people, Do you not know that there is a great prince fallen this day in Israel?
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And I am this day troubled, and as king I see that the sons of Zoriah are too hard for me;
the LORD shall reward the evil doer according to his wickedness.