Victory over Ben-hadad

20 Now Ben-hadad(A) king of Aram assembled his entire army. Thirty-two kings,(B) along with horses and chariots, were with him. He marched up, besieged Samaria,(C) and fought against it. He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “This is what Ben-hadad says: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine! And your best wives and children are mine as well!’”(D)

Then the king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king: I am yours, along with all that I have.”

The messengers then returned and said, “This is what Ben-hadad says: ‘I have sent messengers to you, saying: You are to give me your silver, your gold, your wives, and your children. But at this time tomorrow I will send my servants to you, and they will search your palace and your servants’ houses. They will lay their hands on and take away whatever is precious to you.’”

Then the king of Israel called for all the elders of the land and said, “Think it over and you will see that this one is only looking for trouble,(E) for he demanded my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold, and I didn’t turn him down.”

All the elders and all the people said to him, “Don’t listen or agree.”

So he said to Ben-hadad’s messengers, “Say to my lord the king, ‘Everything you demanded of your servant the first time, I will do, but this thing I cannot do.’” So the messengers left and took word back to him.

10 Then Ben-hadad sent messengers to him and said, “May the gods punish me and do so severely(F) if Samaria’s dust(G) amounts to a handful for each of the people who follow me.”

11 The king of Israel answered, “Say this: ‘Don’t let the one who puts on his armor boast(H) like the one who takes it off.’”

12 When Ben-hadad heard this response, while he and the kings were drinking(I) in the tents, he said to his servants, “Take your positions.” So they took their positions against the city.

13 A prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Do you see this entire great army? Watch, I am handing it over to you today so that you may know that I am Yahweh.’”(J)

14 Ahab asked, “By whom?”

And the prophet said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘By the young men of the provincial leaders.’”

Then he asked, “Who is to start the battle?”(K)

He said, “You.”

15 So Ahab counted the young men of the provincial leaders, and there were 232. After them he counted all the Israelite troops: 7,000.(L) 16 They marched out at noon while Ben-hadad and the 32 kings(M) who were helping him were getting drunk in the tents. 17 The young men of the provincial leaders marched out first. Then Ben-hadad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, saying, “Men are marching out of Samaria.”(N)

18 So he said, “If they have marched out in peace,(O) take them alive, and if they have marched out for battle, take them alive.”

19 The young men of the provincial leaders and the army behind them marched out from the city, 20 and each one struck down his opponent.(P) So the Arameans fled and Israel pursued them,(Q) but Ben-hadad king of Aram escaped on a horse with the cavalry. 21 Then the king of Israel marched out and attacked the cavalry and the chariots. He inflicted a great slaughter on Aram.

22 The prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Go and strengthen yourself, then consider what you should do, for in the spring(R) the king of Aram will march against you.”

23 Now the king of Aram’s servants said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hill country.(S) That’s why they were stronger than we were. Instead, we should fight with them on the plain; then we will certainly be stronger than they will be. 24 Also do this: remove each king from his position and appoint captains in their place. 25 Raise another army for yourself like the army you lost—horse for horse, chariot for chariot—and let’s fight with them on the plain; and we will certainly be stronger than they will be.” The king listened to them and did so.

26 In the spring, Ben-hadad mobilized the Arameans and went up to Aphek(T) to battle Israel. 27 The Israelites mobilized, gathered supplies, and went to fight them. The Israelites camped in front of them like two little flocks of goats, while the Arameans filled the landscape.(U)

28 Then the man of God(V) approached and said to the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans have said: Yahweh is a god of the mountains and not a god of the valleys,(W) I will hand over all this great army to you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”(X)

29 They camped opposite each other for seven days. On the seventh day,(Y) the battle took place, and the Israelites struck down the Arameans—100,000 foot soldiers in one day. 30 The ones who remained fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell on those 27,000 remaining men.

Ben-hadad also fled and went into an inner room(Z) in the city. 31 His servants said to him, “Consider this: we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. So let’s put sackcloth around our waists(AA) and ropes around our heads, and let’s go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.”

32 So they dressed with sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, went to the king of Israel, and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please spare my life.’”

So he said, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.”

33 Now the men were looking for a sign of hope, so they quickly picked up on this[a] and responded, “Yes, it is your brother Ben-hadad.”

Then he said, “Go and bring him.”

So Ben-hadad came out to him, and Ahab had him come up into the chariot. 34 Then Ben-hadad said to him, “I restore to you the cities that my father took from your father,(AB) and you may set up marketplaces for yourself in Damascus, like my father set up in Samaria.”(AC)

Ahab responded, “On the basis of this treaty, I release you.” So he made a treaty with him and released him.

Ahab Rebuked by the Lord

35 One of the sons of the prophets(AD) said to his fellow prophet by the word of the Lord, “Strike me!” But the man refused to strike him.

36 He told him, “Because you did not listen to the voice of the Lord, mark my words: When you leave me, a lion will kill you.”(AE) When he left him, a lion attacked and killed him.

37 The prophet found another man and said to him, “Strike me!” So the man struck him, inflicting a wound. 38 Then the prophet went and waited for the king on the road. He disguised(AF) himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 As the king was passing by, he cried out to the king and said, “Your servant marched out into the middle of the battle. Suddenly, a man turned aside and brought someone to me and said, ‘Guard this man! If he is ever missing, it will be your life in place of his life,(AG) or you will weigh out 75 pounds[b] of silver.’ 40 But while your servant was busy here and there, he disappeared.”

The king of Israel said to him, “That will be your sentence; you yourself have decided it.”(AH)

41 He quickly removed the bandage from his eyes. The king of Israel recognized that he was one of the prophets. 42 The prophet said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because you released from your hand the man I had set apart for destruction,(AI) it will be your life in place of his life and your people in place of his people.’” 43 The king of Israel left for home resentful and angry,(AJ) and he entered Samaria.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Kings 20:33 Some Hb mss, alt Hb tradition, LXX; other Hb mss read they hastened and caught hold; “Is this it?”
  2. 1 Kings 20:39 Lit a talent

Ben-Hadad Attacks Samaria

20 Now Ben-Hadad(A) king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria(B) and attacked it. He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’”

The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.”

The messengers came again and said, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘I sent to demand your silver and gold, your wives and your children. But about this time tomorrow I am going to send my officials to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will seize everything you value and carry it away.’”

The king of Israel summoned all the elders(C) of the land and said to them, “See how this man is looking for trouble!(D) When he sent for my wives and my children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him.”

The elders and the people all answered, “Don’t listen to him or agree to his demands.”

So he replied to Ben-Hadad’s messengers, “Tell my lord the king, ‘Your servant will do all you demanded the first time, but this demand I cannot meet.’” They left and took the answer back to Ben-Hadad.

10 Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab: “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if enough dust(E) remains in Samaria to give each of my men a handful.”

11 The king of Israel answered, “Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast(F) like one who takes it off.’”

12 Ben-Hadad heard this message while he and the kings were drinking(G) in their tents,[a] and he ordered his men: “Prepare to attack.” So they prepared to attack the city.

Ahab Defeats Ben-Hadad

13 Meanwhile a prophet(H) came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know(I) that I am the Lord.’”

14 “But who will do this?” asked Ahab.

The prophet replied, “This is what the Lord says: ‘The junior officers under the provincial commanders will do it.’”

“And who will start(J) the battle?” he asked.

The prophet answered, “You will.”

15 So Ahab summoned the 232 junior officers under the provincial commanders. Then he assembled the rest of the Israelites, 7,000 in all. 16 They set out at noon while Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings allied with him were in their tents getting drunk.(K) 17 The junior officers under the provincial commanders went out first.

Now Ben-Hadad had dispatched scouts, who reported, “Men are advancing from Samaria.”

18 He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive; if they have come out for war, take them alive.”

19 The junior officers under the provincial commanders marched out of the city with the army behind them 20 and each one struck down his opponent. At that, the Arameans fled, with the Israelites in pursuit. But Ben-Hadad king of Aram escaped on horseback with some of his horsemen. 21 The king of Israel advanced and overpowered the horses and chariots and inflicted heavy losses on the Arameans.

22 Afterward, the prophet(L) came to the king of Israel and said, “Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring(M) the king of Aram will attack you again.”

23 Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, “Their gods are gods(N) of the hills. That is why they were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they. 24 Do this: Remove all the kings from their commands and replace them with other officers. 25 You must also raise an army like the one you lost—horse for horse and chariot for chariot—so we can fight Israel on the plains. Then surely we will be stronger than they.” He agreed with them and acted accordingly.

26 The next spring(O) Ben-Hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek(P) to fight against Israel. 27 When the Israelites were also mustered and given provisions, they marched out to meet them. The Israelites camped opposite them like two small flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the countryside.(Q)

28 The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god(R) of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know(S) that I am the Lord.’”

29 For seven days they camped opposite each other, and on the seventh day the battle was joined. The Israelites inflicted a hundred thousand casualties on the Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30 The rest of them escaped to the city of Aphek,(T) where the wall collapsed(U) on twenty-seven thousand of them. And Ben-Hadad fled to the city and hid(V) in an inner room.

31 His officials said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful.(W) Let us go to the king of Israel with sackcloth(X) around our waists and ropes around our heads. Perhaps he will spare your life.”

32 Wearing sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, they went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says: ‘Please let me live.’”

The king answered, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.”

33 The men took this as a good sign and were quick to pick up his word. “Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad!” they said.

“Go and get him,” the king said. When Ben-Hadad came out, Ahab had him come up into his chariot.

34 “I will return the cities(Y) my father took from your father,” Ben-Hadad(Z) offered. “You may set up your own market areas(AA) in Damascus,(AB) as my father did in Samaria.”

Ahab said, “On the basis of a treaty(AC) I will set you free.” So he made a treaty with him, and let him go.

A Prophet Condemns Ahab

35 By the word of the Lord one of the company of the prophets(AD) said to his companion, “Strike me with your weapon,” but he refused.(AE)

36 So the prophet said, “Because you have not obeyed the Lord, as soon as you leave me a lion(AF) will kill you.” And after the man went away, a lion found him and killed him.

37 The prophet found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” So the man struck him and wounded him. 38 Then the prophet went and stood by the road waiting for the king. He disguised himself with his headband down over his eyes. 39 As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, “Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and someone came to me with a captive and said, ‘Guard this man. If he is missing, it will be your life for his life,(AG) or you must pay a talent[b] of silver.’ 40 While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared.”

“That is your sentence,”(AH) the king of Israel said. “You have pronounced it yourself.”

41 Then the prophet quickly removed the headband from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 He said to the king, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You(AI) have set free a man I had determined should die.[c](AJ) Therefore it is your life for his life,(AK) your people for his people.’” 43 Sullen and angry,(AL) the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Kings 20:12 Or in Sukkoth; also in verse 16
  2. 1 Kings 20:39 That is, about 75 pounds or about 34 kilograms
  3. 1 Kings 20:42 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

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