Posted: February 27, 2016 in When the Wolf Howls
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Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 72

A murmur went through the crowd, each person shocked at David’s proposal. Joab thought No-one is going to agree with this, and he was right.

David had planned as carefully as he could. Firstly he had set commanders over every hundred men and overall commanders over every thousand men. Each of the commanders were seasoned warriors. He had divided his army further into three groups, headed by Joab, Abishai, and Ittai the Gittite. But as he finished his battle plan and strategies he had said, “I will lead you out and may the Lord be with us.”

For a moment there was silence and then everyone began to speak at once. One man said, “My lord, you should not go with us. You are their main target. They are not concerned about us. If half of us died, they would still only be concerned to find and kill you.” Another man confirmed this by saying, “You are worth ten thousand of us, my lord.” One of the commanders of thousands said, “Please, my lord, it would be better that you remain in the city and be ready for the last line of attack.” They were all united in their agreement.

David could see that it was not worth arguing. He had not been looking forward to facing his own son in battle so this came as a welcome relief. “As you wish. I’ll do whatever you think is best.”

He then spoke to Joab, Abishai and Ittai, in the hearing of all the people, “I command each of you to deal gently with Absalom for my sake. He is my son. Bring him back to me alive.” Abishai and Ittai gave their agreement. Joab snarled something under his breath and began to get his commanders ready.

As his forces left the city in their regiments David stood at the gate and prayed God’s blessing over them.

Joab sent scouts ahead. “Find out where Absalom’s men are stationed and give me a report of the terrain.” They were familiar with the drill.

The battle began as Absalom had hoped. David’s forces led by Ittai attacked the superior numbers of Absalom’s army. They came swarming out of the forest, shouting and waving their swords, shields and spears. It was not long, however, before Ittai’s forces looked as if they would be overwhelmed.

Suddenly, Ittai did the only thing he was able to do. He sounded a retreat. Absalom signalled his troops to pursue the enemy. From his vantage point, he could see that they would be trapped by the rugged terrain.

Ittai’s men looked helpless as they ran headlong back into the forest. They stopped before a large pitted area. As Absalom had predicted, the rugged terrain would not allow them the time they needed to retreat any further. They could only watch as Absalom’s forces bore down upon them. Ittai faced his pursuers with courage.

Just before Absalom’s men engaged them in battle, Ittai turned to his trumpeter and said, “Now!” The trumpeter signalled the attack. When Joab heard the signal his men suddenly closed in from the sides.

The ambush was successful but the sheer numbers of Absalom’s army meant the battle was not yet won. Ittai manoeuvred his forces and speared his way out of the forest splitting the rest of Absalom’s distracted army in half. From his position, Absalom had no way of knowing his men had fallen into Joab’s trap until he saw his army being separated.

Simultaneously, Abishai’s men had manoeuvred themselves behind Absalom’s main command force and attacked them. Without their commanders, Absalom’s army was in disarray and was now scattering all over the countryside. Many, disoriented without their commanders and not understanding what had happened in the forest, continued to run straight into Joab’s trap.

Abishai’s troops systematically cleaned up the remaining forces from behind and fought wherever they were needed the most. The battle was long and bloody.


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