King Ahab Defeats King Benhadad
1 King Benhadad of Aram gathered together his whole army. With him were 32 kings along with their horses and chariots. He went to blockade Samaria and fight against it. 2 He sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel. They told Ahab, “This is what Benhadad says: 3 Your silver and gold are mine. Your beloved wives and children are mine.”
4 The king of Israel answered, “As you say, Your Majesty. I and everything I have are yours.”
5 But Benhadad sent messengers back ⌊to Ahab⌋. They said, “Benhadad has sent this message to you: ‘Your silver, gold, wives, and children are mine. Give ⌊them to me⌋. 6 At this time tomorrow I’m going to send my servants to search your palace and your servants’ houses. They will take anything that you consider valuable.’ ”
7 Then the king of Israel called for all the leaders of the country. He said, “You can see how this man is looking for trouble. When he sent for my wives, children, silver, and gold, I didn’t refuse him.”
8 All the leaders and all the people told him, “Don’t listen to him. Don’t agree ⌊to his demands⌋.”
9 Ahab told Benhadad’s messengers, “Tell His Majesty, ‘I did everything your messengers told me the first time, but I can’t do this.’” The messengers left to take back his answer.
10 Then Benhadad sent Ahab the following message: “May the gods strike me dead if there will be enough dust left from Samaria to give a handful to each soldier who follows me.”
11 The king of Israel answered, “The saying goes, ‘Don’t brag about a victory before you have even dressed for battle.’ ”
12 Benhadad heard this as he and his allies were drinking in their tents. He told his officers to get ready. So they got ready ⌊to attack⌋ the city.
13 Then a prophet came to King Ahab of Israel and said, “This is what the Lord says: Have you seen this large army? I will hand it over to you today. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
14 Ahab asked, “How ⌊will this be done⌋?”
The prophet answered, “This is what the Lord says: by using the young officers of the district governors.”
“Who will start the battle?” Ahab asked.
“You will,” the prophet answered.
15 Ahab counted the young officers of the district governors. There were 232. After counting them, he counted all the Israelite soldiers. There were 7,000. 16 They attacked at noon, when Benhadad was in his tent getting drunk with the 32 kings who were his allies. 17 The young officers of the district governors went out first.
Benhadad had sent men ⌊to watch the city⌋. They informed him that some men had come out of Samaria.
18 He said, “Take them alive, whether they have come out to make peace or to fight.”
19 The young officers of the district governors led an attack, and the troops followed them. 20 Each officer killed his opponent. The Arameans fled, and Israel pursued them. King Benhadad of Aram escaped on a horse with the cavalry. 21 The king of Israel went out and destroyed the horses and chariots and decisively defeated the Arameans.
Ahab Spares Benhadad
22 Then the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “Reinforce your army. Consider what you have to do. When spring comes, the king of Aram will attack ⌊again⌋.”
23 Meanwhile, the officers of King Benhadad of Aram told him, “Their god is a god of the hills. That is why they were stronger than we were. However, if we fight them on the plain, we will be stronger than they are. 24 This is what we must do: Remove all of the kings from their positions, and substitute governors for them. 25 Recruit an army with as many horses and chariots as the one which was defeated. Then, if we fight them on the plain, we will be stronger than they are.” He took their advice and followed it.
26 Spring came, and Benhadad organized the Aramean army and went to Aphek to fight Israel. 27 When the Israelite ⌊troops⌋ had been organized and given provisions, they went to meet the enemy. The Israelites, while camped opposite the Arameans who filled the country, seemed like two newborn goats.#Hebrew meaning of this sentence uncertain.
28 The man of God came again. He said to the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: Because the Arameans said that the Lord is a god of the hills but not a god of the valleys, I will hand over their entire army to you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
29 They camped facing one another for seven days, and on the seventh day the battle started. The Israelites killed 100,000 Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30 The survivors fled to Aphek, the city where the wall fell on 27,000 of them. Benhadad had also fled. He came to the city and hid in an inner room.
31 His officers told him, “We have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Allow us to dress in sackcloth, put ropes around our necks, and go to the king of Israel. Maybe he’ll let you live.” 32 So they dressed in sackcloth and put ropes around their necks. They went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Benhadad says, ‘Please let me live.’”
Ahab asked, “He’s still alive? He’s my brother.”
33 The men, watching for a good sign, were quick to take him at his word. “Benhadad is your brother,” they said.
Ahab said, “Bring him here.” When Benhadad arrived, Ahab had him come up on the chariot with him.
34 Benhadad told him, “I will give back the towns my father took from your father. You may set up trading centers in Damascus as my father did in Samaria.”
Ahab said, “If you will put this into a treaty, I will let you go.” So Ahab made a treaty with Benhadad and let him go.
35 A disciple of the prophets spoke to a friend as the word of the Lord had told him. ⌊The disciple said,⌋ “Punch me,” but the man refused to punch him. 36 The disciple said, “Since you didn’t obey the Lord, a lion will kill you when you leave me.” When the friend left, a lion found him and killed him.
37 Then the disciple found another man. He said, “Punch me.” The man punched him hard and wounded him.
38 Then the prophet, disguised with a bandage over his eyes, waited for the king by the road. 39 When the king passed by, the disciple called to him. “I went to fight in the battle. A man turned around and brought a prisoner to me. He said, ‘Guard this prisoner. If he gets away, you will pay for his life with your own life or be fined 75 pounds of silver.’ 40 But while I was busy doing other things, he got away.”
The king of Israel told him, “That’s your own penalty. You have determined it yourself.”
41 Then he quickly took the bandage off his eyes. The king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets.
42 The prophet told him, “This is what the Lord says: You let the man go. He was claimed by God and should have been killed. For that reason your life will be taken in place of his life and your people in place of his people.”
43 Resentful and upset, the king of Israel went home to Samaria.
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