1 Kings 20 Amplified Bible (AMP)
War with Aram
20 Ben-hadad king of Aram (Syria) gathered all his army together; thirty-two kings were [allied] with him, with horses and chariots. And he went up and besieged Samaria [Israel’s capital], and fought against it. 2 Then he sent messengers to the city to Ahab king of Israel; and he said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad: 3 ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your wives and your children, even the fairest, also are mine [as conditions of peace].’” 4 The king of Israel [conceded his defeat and] answered, “By your word, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” 5 The messengers returned and said, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘I indeed sent word to you, saying, “You shall give me your silver, your gold, your wives, and your children,” 6 but about this time tomorrow I will send my servants to you, and they will search your house and the houses of your servants; and they will take with their hands (confiscate) whatever is desirable in your eyes and carry it away.’”
7 Then the king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land and said, “Please observe and see how this man is seeking our destruction. For he sent messengers to me for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold, and I did not refuse him.” 8 All the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen or consent [to this additional demand].” 9 So he said to Ben-hadad’s messengers, “Tell my lord the king, ‘Every demand you first sent to your servant I will do, but I cannot do this [additional] thing [as a condition of peace].’” And the messengers left; then they brought him word again. 10 Ben-hadad sent word to him and said, “May the gods do so to me, and more also, if there is enough dust left of Samaria for handfuls for all the [armed] people who follow me.” 11 The king of Israel answered, “Tell him, ‘A man who puts on [his armor to go to battle] should not boast like the man who takes it off [after the battle has been won].’” 12 When Ben-hadad heard this message, as he and the kings were drinking in the temporary shelters, he said to his servants, “Station yourselves.” So they stationed themselves against the city [of Samaria].
13 Then a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Have you seen all this great army? Behold, I will hand them over to you, and you shall know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord.’” 14 Ahab said, “By whom?” And he said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘By the young men [the attendants or bodyguards] of the governors of the districts.’” Then Ahab said, “Who shall begin the battle?” And he answered, “You.” 15 Then Ahab assembled and counted the young men of the governors of the districts, and there were 232. After them he assembled and counted all the people, all the sons of Israel, 7,000.
16 They went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was getting drunk in the temporary shelters, he and the thirty-two kings who were helping him. 17 The young men of the governors of the districts went out first; and Ben-hadad sent men out and they told him, saying, “Men have come out of Samaria.” 18 And he said, “Whether they have come out for peace or for war, take them alive.”
19 So these young men of the governors of the districts went out of the city, and the army followed them. 20 And each one killed his man; and the Arameans (Syrians) fled and Israel pursued them. Ben-hadad king of Aram escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 The king of Israel went out and struck [the riders of] the horses and chariots, and killed the Arameans in a great slaughter.
22 Then the prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, strengthen yourself and observe and see what you have to do; for at the first of next year the king of Aram (Syria) will come up against you.”
23 Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, “Israel’s [a]god is a [b]god of the hills; that is why they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they. 24 Do this: remove the [thirty-two allied] kings, each from his place, and put captains in their place, 25 and assemble an army like the army that you have lost in battle, horse for horse and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” And he listened to their words and did so.
Another Aramean War
26 At the first of the year [in spring], Ben-hadad assembled and counted the Arameans (Syrians) and went up to Aphek [east of the Sea of Galilee] to fight against Israel. 27 The sons of Israel were counted and given provisions, and they went to meet them. The Israelites camped before the enemy like two [c]little flocks of goats [with everything against them, except God], and the Arameans filled the country. 28 A man of God approached and said to the king of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Arameans have said, “The Lord is a god of the hills, but He is not a god of the valleys,” I will give this great army into your hand, and you shall know [by experience] that I am the Lord.’” 29 So they camped opposite each other for seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle began, and the sons of Israel killed 100,000 of the Aramean foot soldiers in a single day. 30 But the rest ran to the city of Aphek, and the [city] wall fell on 27,000 of the men who were left. Ben-hadad escaped and came into the city, going into an inner chamber [to hide].
31 But his servants said to him, “We have heard that the kings of the house (royal line) of Israel are merciful kings. Please let us put sackcloth around our [d]loins and ropes on our necks [as symbols of submission], and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life.” 32 So they put sackcloth around their loins and ropes on their necks, and came to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please let me live.’” And Ahab asked, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” 33 Now the men took it as a good omen, and quickly understanding his meaning said, “Yes, your brother Ben-hadad lives.” Then the king said, “Go, bring him.” Then Ben-hadad came out to him, and Ahab had him come up into the chariot. 34 Ben-hadad [tempting him] said to him, “I will restore the cities which my father took from your father; and you may set up bazaars (shops) of your own in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” Then, Ahab replied, “I will let you go with this covenant (treaty).” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.
35 Now a certain man of [e]the sons of the prophets said to another by the word of the Lord, “Please strike me.” But the man refused to strike him. 36 Then the prophet said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you leave me, a lion will kill you.” And as soon as he left him, a lion found him and killed him. 37 Then the prophet found another man and said, “Please strike me.” So the man struck him hard, wounding him. 38 So the prophet left and waited for King Ahab by the road, and disguised himself [as a wounded soldier] with a bandage over his eyes. 39 As the king passed by, the prophet called out to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the middle of the battle, and behold, a man turned aside and brought a man to me and said, ‘Guard this man; if for any reason he is missing, then your life shall be required for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’ 40 But while your servant was busy here and there, he [escaped and] was gone.” And the king of Israel said to him, “Such is your own judgment (verdict); you have determined it.” 41 Then the prophet quickly removed the bandage from his eyes, and [Ahab] the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 He said to the king, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because you have released from your hand the man [Ben-hadad] whom I had devoted to destruction, your life shall be required for his life, and your people for his people.’” 43 So the king of Israel went to his house resentful and sullen, and came to Samaria.
1 Kings 20 New International Version (NIV)
Ben-Hadad Attacks Samaria
20 Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it. 2 He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: 3 ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’”
4 The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.”
5 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. 6 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.’”
7 The king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land and said to them, “See how this man is looking for trouble! When he sent for my wives and my children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him.”
8 The elders and the people all answered, “Don’t listen to him or agree to his demands.”
9 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 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 like one who takes it off.’”
12 Ben-Hadad heard this message while he and the kings were drinking 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 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 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 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. 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 came to the king of Israel and said, “Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.”
23 Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, “Their gods are gods 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 Ben-Hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek 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.
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 of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know 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, where the wall collapsed on twenty-seven thousand of them. And Ben-Hadad fled to the city and hid in an inner room.
31 His officials said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Let us go to the king of Israel with sackcloth 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 my father took from your father,” Ben-Hadad offered. “You may set up your own market areas in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.”
Ahab said, “On the basis of a treaty 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 said to his companion, “Strike me with your weapon,” but he refused.
36 So the prophet said, “Because you have not obeyed the Lord, as soon as you leave me a lion 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, 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,” 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 have set free a man I had determined should die.[c] Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’” 43 Sullen and angry, the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria.