When word came that Absalom’s forces were crossing the Jordan, David readied his men to fight, begging his three commanders, Joab, Abishai, and Ittai the Gittite to spare Absalom’s life for his sake.
The battle was fierce, with fighting all around Mahanain.
But it so happened that as Absalom was riding through some trees, his magnificent hair got so tangled up in some low-hanging branches that he was caught fast–and left hanging there as his mule rode off. It also so happened that one of David’s foot soldiers saw the whole thing. He ran and told Joab that Absalom was stuck in a tree. Joab was all, Why the fuck didn’t you kill him then?
The soldier was like, Yeah right! I heard the king say not to kill him. Like you’d have my back when David was calling for my head.
Joab was all, Whatever. I don’t have time for this. Then he went and used Absalom for target practice with three javelins. Then he had Absalom’s body thrown in a pit and covered with stones.
Joab blew the trumpet to tell the men the battle was over, and then instructed a Cushite to take the word to David that Absalom was dead. One of Zadok’s sons happened to be with the troop and he begged Joab to let him carry the news as well, but Joab was all, Why? You’ll get no thanks, and might even get killed. But the boy insisted, so Joab was all, Whatever. Go then.
Zadok’s son actually outran the Cushite, but he remembered Joab’s counsel, and merely told David that the battle was going well. The Cushite, on the other hand, ran up and was all, Great news, Sire! The rebel dog Absalom is dead! David, of course, was heart-broken at the news and began crying and pulling his hair and wailed, Absalom, oh Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you!