1 Ben Hadad the king of Syria gathered all his army together; and there were thirty-two kings with him, and horses and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and fought against it. 2 He sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel, into the city, and said to him, "Thus says Ben Hadad, 3 'Your silver and your gold is mine. Your wives also and your children, even the best, are mine.'" 4 The king of Israel answered, "It is according to your saying, my lord, O king. I am yours, and all that I have." 5 The messengers came again, and said, "Ben Hadad says, 'I sent indeed to you, saying, "You shall deliver me your silver, and your gold, and your wives, and your children; 6 but I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house, and the houses of your servants; and it shall be, that whatever is pleasant in your eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away."'" 7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, "Please notice how this man seeks mischief; for he sent to me for my wives, and for my children, and for my silver, and for my gold; and I didn't deny him." 8 All the elders and all the people said to him, "Don't listen, neither consent." 9 Therefore he said to the messengers of Ben Hadad, "Tell my lord the king, 'All that you sent for to your servant at the first I will do; but this thing I cannot do.'" The messengers departed, and brought him back the message. 10 Ben Hadad sent to him, and said, "The gods do so to me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me." 11 The king of Israel answered, "Tell him, 'Don't let him who puts on his armor brag like he who takes it off.'" 12 It happened, when Ben Hadad heard this message, as he was drinking, he and the kings, in the pavilions, that he said to his servants, "Prepare to attack!" They prepared to attack the city. 13 Behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel, and said, "Thus says Yahweh, 'Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand this day; and you shall know that I am Yahweh.'" 14 Ahab said, "By whom?" He said, "Thus says Yahweh, 'By the young men of the princes of the provinces.'" Then he said, "Who shall begin the battle?" He answered, "You." 15 Then he mustered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty-two. After them, he mustered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand. 16 They went out at noon. But Ben Hadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty-two kings who helped him. 17 The young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Ben Hadad sent out, and they told him, saying, "Men are coming out from Samaria." 18 He said, "If they have come out for peace, take them alive; or if they have come out for war, take them alive." 19 So these went out of the city, the young men of the princes of the provinces, and the army which followed them. 20 They each killed his man. The Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them. Ben Hadad the king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 The king of Israel went out, and struck the horses and chariots, and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter. 22 The prophet came near to the king of Israel, and said to him, "Go, strengthen yourself, and mark, and see what you do; for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against you." 23 The servants of the king of Syria said to him, "Their god is a god of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. 24 Do this thing: take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their place. 25 Muster an army, like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. We will fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than them." He listened to their voice, and did so. 26 It happened at the return of the year, that Ben Hadad mustered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel. 27 The children of Israel were mustered, and were provisioned, and went against them. The children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of young goats; but the Syrians filled the country. 28 A man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, "Thus says Yahweh, 'Because the Syrians have said, "Yahweh is a god of the hills, but he is not a god of the valleys;" therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am Yahweh.'" 29 They encamped one over against the other seven days. So it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel killed one hundred thousand footmen of the Syrians in one day. 30 But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and the wall fell on twenty-seven thousand men who were left. Ben Hadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner room. 31 His servants said to him, "See now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Please let us put sackcloth on our bodies, and ropes on our heads, and go out to the king of Israel. Maybe he will save your life." 32 So they put sackcloth on their bodies and ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, "Your servant Ben Hadad says, 'Please let me live.'" He said, "Is he still alive? He is my brother." 33 Now the men observed diligently, and hurried to take this phrase; and they said, "Your brother Ben Hadad." Then he said, "Go, bring him." Then Ben Hadad came out to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot. 34 Ben Hadad said to him, "The cities which my father took from your father I will restore. You shall make streets for yourself in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria." "I," said Ahab, "will let you go with this covenant." So he made a covenant with him, and let him go. 35 A certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow by the word of Yahweh, "Please strike me!" The man refused to strike him. 36 Then he said to him, "Because you have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh, behold, as soon as you are departed from me, a lion shall kill you." As soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and killed him. 37 Then he found another man, and said, "Please strike me." The man struck him, smiting and wounding him. 38 So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with his headband over his eyes. 39 As the king passed by, he cried to the king; and he said, "Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man to me, and said, 'Guard this man! If by any means he be missing, then your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.' 40 As your servant was busy here and there, he was gone." The king of Israel said to him, "So your judgment shall be; yourself have decided it." 41 He hurried, and took the headband away from his eyes; and the king of Israel recognized that he was of the prophets. 42 He said to him, "Thus says Yahweh, 'Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.'" 43 The king of Israel went to his house sullen and angry, and came to Samaria.
Ben-hadad, king of Syria, and thirty-two kings, besiege Samaria, 1-Kings 20:1. He sends an insulting message to Ahab; and insists on pillaging the whole city, 1-Kings 20:2-7. The elders of Israel counsel the king not to submit to such shameful conditions, 1-Kings 20:8. He sends a refusal to Ben-hadad; who, being enraged, vows revenge, 1-Kings 20:9-12. A prophet comes to Ahab, and promises him victory, and gives him directions how he should order the battle, 1-Kings 20:13-19. The Syrians are discomfited, and Ben-hadad scarcely escapes, 1-Kings 20:20, 1-Kings 20:21. The prophet warns Ahab to be on his guard, for the Syrians would return next year, 1-Kings 20:22. The counsellors of the king of Syria instruct him how he may successfully invade Israel, 1-Kings 20:23-25. He leads an immense army to Aphek, to fight with Ahab, 1-Kings 20:26, 1-Kings 20:27. A man of God encourages Ahab, who attacks the Syrians, and kills one hundred thousand of them, 1-Kings 20:28, 1-Kings 20:29. They retreat to Aphek, where twenty-seven thousand of them are slain by a casualty, 1-Kings 20:30. Ben-hadad and his courtiers, being closely besieged in Aphek, and unable to escape, surrender themselves with sackcloth on their loins, and halters on their heads; the king of Israel receives them in a friendly manner, and makes a covenant with Ben-hadad, 1-Kings 20:31-34. A prophet, by a symbolical action, shows him the impolicy of his conduct in permitting Ben-hadad to escape, and predicts his death and the slaughter of Israel, 1-Kings 20:35-43.
INTRODUCTION TO 1 KINGS 20
This chapter relates the siege of Samaria by the king of Syria, and his insolent demand of Ahab's wives, children, and riches, 1-Kings 20:1, the sally made out upon him, at the direction of the prophet, and the route made of the Syrian army, 1-Kings 20:13, the return of the Syrian army the next year, when there was a pitched battle between them and Israel, in which the former were entirely defeated, 1-Kings 20:22, the peace Ahab made with the king of Syria, 1-Kings 20:31, and the reproof one of the sons of the prophets gave him for it, which made him very uneasy, 1-Kings 20:35.
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