“Moreover, certain chiefs of the Ephraimites, Azariah son of Johanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai, stood up against those who were coming from the war. The chiefs said to them. ‘You shall not bring the captives in here. You propose to bring on us guilt against Yahweh in addition to our present sins and guilt. For our guilt is already great. There is a fierce wrath against Israel.’ So the warriors left the captives and the booty before the officials and all the assembly. Then those mentioned by name got up and took the captives. With the booty they clothed all that were naked among them. They clothed them. They gave them sandals. They provided them with food and drink. They anointed them. They carried all the feeble among them on donkeys. They brought them to their kindred at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.”
The men of Ephraim play a strange role. They were willing to fight with Judah, but then King Amaziah refused to let them fight with him because of a prophetic interdiction in chapter 25. There they were mad but somehow seemed closer to Judah than the other northern tribes. Here the 4 Ephraimite leaders, Azariah, Berechiah, Jehizkiah, and Amasa, were kind to the captives. They treated them like humans. They clothed them, gave them food and drink, and let the weak ride on donkeys. They gave them their stolen goods back. Finally they brought them to Jericho, which was in the Benjamin area before returning to Samaria. They were the original good Samaritans.
“King David sent this message to the priest Zadok and Abiathar. ‘Say to the elders of Judah. Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house? The talk of all Israel has come to the king. You are my kinsmen. You are my bone and my flesh. Why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’ Say to Amasa. ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? So may God do to me, and more, if you are not the commander of my army from now on, in place of Joab.’ Amasa swayed the hearts all the people of Judah as one man. They sent word to the king. ‘Return, both you and all your servants. So the king came back to the Jordan. Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and to bring him over the Jordan.”
On the other hand, King David was making plans to return himself. This might work out. First, David wanted to get the people of Judah on his side via the priests Zadok and Abiathar. The people of Israel wanted him to come back from the other side of the Jordan. He wanted the people of Judah to know that he was from Judah. It was then that he promised to make Amasa the head of army, replacing Joab, who also was a cousin of both Joab and Absalom. Amasa persuaded the others to accept David. So the first move was to get him to the west bank of the Jordan. The people of Judah went out to meet David him at Gilgal.
“Then David came to Mahanaim, while Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. Now Absalom had set Amasa over the army instead of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ishmaelite, who had married Abigal daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. The Israelites and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead.”
Amasa was the son of Ithra and Abigal, who was David’s other sister. So that Absalom, David’s son, and Amasa were first cousins, as was Joab. Remember that David came from a large family. They were set to do battle in Gilead.