Ahab and the Prophets
1Now King Ben-Hadad of Aram gathered all his army. With him were 32 kings, along with horses and chariots. He marched up, besieged Samaria and attacked it.
2Then he sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel,
3and said to him, “Thus says Ben-Hadad: ‘Your silver and gold are mine! Your best wives and children are also mine.”
4The king of Israel replied, “As you say, my lord the king: I am yours, along with all I have.”
5Then the messengers came back and said, “Thus says Ben-Hadad: Indeed I sent word to you, ordering you to give me your silver, your gold, your wives and your children.
6Now I will send my servants to you tomorrow at this time, and they shall search your palace and the houses of your courtiers. Whatever is valuable in your eyes, they shall seize in their hand and take it away.”
7Then the king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land and said, “Please know and see how this man is bent on evil! For he sent someone to me for my wives, my children, my silver and my gold, and I didn’t refuse him.”
8All the elders and all the people said to him, “Don’t listen to him or consent.”
9So he said to the messengers of Ben-Hadad, “Tell my lord the king: All that you sent to your servant at first, I will do, but this thing I cannot do,” The messengers departed and reported to him.
10Then Ben-Hadad sent word to him again saying, “May the gods do so to me and even more, if the dust of Samaria will suffice for handfuls for all the people at my feet.”
11The king of Israel answered and said, “Tell him: ‘Let not the one who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off.”
12On hearing this reply—while he and the other kings were drinking in the booths—he said to his servants, “Take your positions.” So they stationed themselves against the city.
13Then behold, a prophet approached King Ahab of Israel and said, “Thus says Adonai: Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand this day, and you will know that I am Adonai.”
14Ahab asked, “By whom?” He said, “Thus says Adonai: By the young men of the rulers of the provinces.” Then he asked, “Who should begin the battle?” “You!” he answered.
15So he mustered the young men of the rulers of the provinces. There were 232. After them he mustered all the people of all the children of Israel, 7,000.
16They marched out at noon, while Ben-Hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths—he and the 32 kings allied with him.
17The young men of the rulers of the provinces marched out first. Ben-Hadad sent out scouts, who reported to him saying, “There are men coming out from Samaria.”
18He said, “Whether they are coming out for peace, take them alive, or whether they are coming out for battle, take them alive.”
19Now when the young men of the rulers of the provinces marched out of the city, with the army following them,
20each man struck down his foe. Then the Arameans fled and Israel pursued them, but King Ben-Hadad of Aram escaped on a horse with horsemen.
21Then the king of Israel went out, struck the horses and chariots, and inflicted on the Arameans a great defeat.
22The prophet then approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, strengthen yourself. Consider carefully what you should do, for at the turn of the year the king of Aram will march up against you.”
23Meanwhile, the servants of the king of Aram said to him, “Their God is a God of the mountains—that’s why they were stronger than us. But let’s fight against them in the plain. Then surely we’ll be stronger than them.
24So this is what you should do: remove the kings, each from his post, and appoint governors in their place.
25Then muster an army like the army that you lost—horse for horse and chariot for chariot—and let’s fight against them in the plain, and surely we’ll be stronger than them!” He listened to their advice and acted accordingly.
26It came about at the turn of the year that Ben-Hadad mustered the Arameans and marched up to Aphek, to fight against Israel.
27Now the children of Israel were mustered, given provisions, and marched against them. But when the children of Israel encamped before them, they looked like two little flocks of goats while the Arameans covered the land.
28Then a man of God approached the king of Israel and spoke to him saying, “Thus says Adonai: Because the Arameans have said, ‘Adonai is a God of the mountains, 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 Adonai.”
29So they encamped one over against the other seven days. On the seventh day the battle was joined, and the children of Israel struck down 100,000 of the Aramean foot soldiers in a single day.
30The rest fled to Aphek into the city and the wall fell upon 27,000 men that were left. But Ben-Hadad fled into the city, into an inner chamber.
31His officials said to him, “Look now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Please let’s put sackcloth on our loins and ropes on our heads, and surrender to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.”
32So they girded sackcloth on their loins, put ropes on their heads, came to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says: ‘Please let me live.’” He replied, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.”
33The men took it as a good sign and were quick to catch on, so they said, “Yes, Ben-Hadad is your brother.” “Go, bring him,” he said. So Ben-Hadad came out to him and he took him up into his chariot.
34Then he said to him, “The cities which my father took from your father I will give back, and you may set up markets for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” “Then I will let you go with this covenant.” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.
35Now a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow by the word of Adonai, “Strike me please!” But the man refused to strike him.
36Then he said to him, “Because you did not obey the voice of Adonai, behold, as soon as you leave me, a lion shall kill you.” As soon as he left him, a lion found him and killed him.
37Then he found another man, and said, “Strike me please!” So the man struck him and wounded him.
38Then the prophet left and waited for the king by the road, disguising himself with a headband over his eyes.
39As the king was passing by, he cried to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the midst of the battle, and behold, a man turned aside and brought another man to me and said, ‘Guard this man! If by any means he is missing, then your life will be for his life, or else you will weigh out a talent of silver.’
40Then as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” The king of Israel said to him, “So will your sentence be—you yourself have decided it.”
41Then he quickly took the headband away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets.
42Then he said to him, “Thus says Adonai: ‘Because you have released out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life will be in place of his life and your people in place of his people.’”
43Then the king of Israel went home to Samaria sullen and resentful.