2 Samuel 17 – Ahithophel (the wise advisor) advises Absalom to pursue David that night while he is weary and discouraged and take him down – kill him, but him alone. Don’t kill everyone. Bring the rest of David’s army back to him and let them live in peace. But then Absalom seeks the advice of Hushai, the spy of David’s who has infiltrated Absalom’s circle of friends. He tells Absalom that Ahithophel is giving him poor advice—that David would not be “weary and discouraged” or easy to catch. He is a very experienced and clever fighter. He is probably off in a cave somewhere waiting for the time of battle (17:9). He advises Absalom to muster all of Israel and then overwhelm David, killing him and everyone fighting with him. Absalom chooses to go with Hushai’s plan: “the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring ruin on Absalom” (17:14). Ahithophel, realizing he is doomed because David is sure to win this contest, goes home and hangs himself (17:23).
Hushai passes word of the plan along to Zadok and Abiathar, priests who have remained loyal to David. And they in turn get word of it to their sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, who are hidden by a man and his wife in a well. David gets the news from them when he crosses the Jordan.
Amasa is Absalom’s general. The bloodlines of all these characters are extremely tricky to follow. Amasa is, I think, a first cousin of David’s commander Joab. He is the son of Abigail who is Joab’s aunt (sister of his mother). When David arrives at Mahanaim, a man named Shobi brings food for his troops.
Mark 14:1-31 – Two days before Passover and the chief priests and scribes are still looking for a quiet way to get rid of Jesus. Fear of the crowds, fear of the people is a dominant theme in this book—crowds that are attached to Jesus, that hunger for him and for his healing touch. Jesus is in Bethany, at the house of Simon the leper. A woman anoints his head with expensive ointment. The “waste” of this costly product angers those who think the money it represents would be better spent on the poor (14:5). But Jesus says they ought not to trouble the woman, for “you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me” (14:7). He also connects her anointment of him with his coming death.
Just after this, Judas goes to the chief priests and offers to betray him. Was he outraged at Jesus’ apparent dismissal of the concern for the poor in Jesus’ words? The disciples want to go and prepare a Passover meal. He sends them into the city to meet a man who will show them a large room. That evening they gather and eat. He tells them that one among them will betray him, the “one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me” (14:20).
It is at this meal that the “tradition” holds that the sacrament of holy communion or “eucharist” [thanksgiving] is instituted: Jesus “took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (14:22-24). They then sing a hymn and go out to the Mt of Olives. Here Jesus says to them, “you will all become deserters” (14:27). Peter swears he will never desert, but Jesus tells him he will do it not once but three times (14:30). They all chime in.