1 Kings Chapter 20  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Commentary on 1 Kng 20
Ben-hadad Attacks Samaria

1Now Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his army together, and there were 32 kings with him, and horses and chariots, and he went up and besieged Samaria and fought against it.
  2He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, and said to him, “This is what Ben-hadad says:
  3‘Your silver and your gold is mine. Your wives and your children, the best ones, are mine.’”

4And the king of Israel answered, “It is as you say, my lord, the king. I am yours and all that I have.”

5The messengers came again and said, “Ben-hadad says, ‘I sent to you, saying, “You are to give me your silver and your gold and your wives and your children!
  6But at this time tomorrow I will send my servants and they will search your house and the houses of your servants, and it will be that whatever is pleasant in your eyes, they will put it in their hand and take it.”

7Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, “Notice now, and see that this man is only looking for trouble, for he sent to me for my wives and for my children and for my silver and for my gold, and I did not refuse him.”

8All the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen to him, and do not consent to his demands.”

9So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the king, all that you demanded of your servant the first time I will do, but this thing I cannot do.” So the messengers departed and brought back the message to him.

10Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria will suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me.”

11The king of Israel answered, “Tell him, ‘He who puts on his armor should not boast like he who takes it off.’”

12And when Ben-hadad heard this message as he was drinking, he and the kings, at Sukkoth, he said to his servants, “Prepare to attack!” So they prepared to attack the city.

Ahab Defeats Ben-hadad

13Behold, a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel and said, “This is what Yahweh says: ‘Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day so that you may know that I am Yahweh.’”

14Ahab said, “By whom?” He said, “This is what Yahweh says: ‘By the young men under the commanders of the provinces.’” Then he said, “Who is to begin the battle?” He answered, “You.”

15Then he mustered the young men under the commanders of the provinces, and they were 232. After them he mustered all the people, all the children of Israel: 7,000.
  16They went out at noon. But Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk at Sukkoth, he and the kings, the 32 kings who helped him.
  17The young men under the commanders of the provinces went out first. Now Ben-hadad had sent out scouts, and they told him, saying, “Men are coming out from Samaria.”

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

19And they went out of the city—the young men under the commanders of the provinces—and the army that followed them,
  20and each one struck down his opponent. So the Syrians fled and Israel pursued them. Ben-hadad the king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen.
  21The king of Israel went out and struck down the horses and the chariots, and struck down the Syrians with a great slaughter.

22The prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, strengthen yourself, and know and pay attention to what you do, because at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against you.”

23Now 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 will be stronger than they.
  24So do this: take the kings away, every man from his place, and put commanders in their place.
  25Muster 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 they.” He listened to their voice and did so.

26And at the return of the year, Ben-hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel.
  27The children of Israel were mustered and supplied, and went against them. The children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the land.

28A man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel and said, “This is what Yahweh says: ‘Because the Syrians have said, “Yahweh is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, so that you may know that I am Yahweh.’”

29They encamped one opposite the other for seven days. And then on the seventh day the battle began, and the children of Israel struck down 100,000 Syrian foot soldiers in one day.
  30But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city, and the wall fell on 27,000 men who were left. Ben-hadad also had fled and come into the city, into an inner room.
  31His servants said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of the House of Israel are merciful kings. Now let’s put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads and go out to the king of Israel. Maybe he will save your life.”

32So they put sackcloth on their waists 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!”

33Now the men were watching for an omen, and they quickly picked it up from him, and they said, “Your brother Ben-hadad.” Then hea said, “Go, bring him.” Then Ben-hadad came out to him, and he brought him up into the chariot.
  34Ben-hadad said to him, “The cities that my father took from your father I will restore. You may make markets for yourself in Damascus as my father made in Samaria.” “I will set you free with this covenant.” So he cut a covenant with him and set him free.

A Prophet Condemns Ahab

35Now a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to another one, “By the word of Yahweh, strike me!” But the man refused to strike him.

36Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh, behold, as soon as you are departed from me, a lion will strike you down.” And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion found him and struck him down.

37Then he found another man and said, “Strike me.” The man struck him, striking and wounding him.
  38So the prophet departed and stood waiting for the king by the road, and he disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes.
  39And as the king passed by, he cried out to the king and 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 he is missing, yes, missing, then your life will be for his life, or else you will have to weigh out a talent of silver.’
  40But as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” And the king of Israel said to him, “That is your sentence; you yourself have decided it.”

41He quickly removed the bandage from his eyes and the king of Israel recognized that he was one of the prophets.
  42Then he said to him, “This is what Yahweh says: ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore it will be your life in place of his life and your people in place of his people.’”
  43So the king of Israel went to his house sullen and angry and he came to Samaria.

Ahab, king of Israel

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