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Ben-Hadad and Ahab Go to War

20 Ben-Hadad king of Aram ·gathered together [mobilized; mustered] all his army. There were thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots who went with him and ·surrounded [besieged] Samaria and attacked it. The king sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel.

This was his message: “Ben-Hadad says, ‘Your silver and gold ·belong to me [are mine], as well as the best of your wives and children.’”

Ahab king of Israel answered, “My ·master [lord] and king, ·I agree to what you say [L it is as you say/according to your word]. I and everything I have ·belong to you [are yours].”

Then the messengers came to Ahab again. They said, “Ben-Hadad says, ‘I told you before that you must give me your silver and gold, your wives and your children. About this time tomorrow I will send my ·men [officials; servants], who will search everywhere in your ·palace [L house] and in the homes of your ·officers [officials; servants]. Whatever ·they want [or you value] they will take and carry off.’”

Then Ahab called a meeting of all the elders of his country. He said, “Ben-Hadad is looking for trouble. First he said I had to give him my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold, and I have not refused him.”

The elders and all the people said, “Don’t listen to him or ·agree to this [consent].”

So Ahab said to Ben-Hadad’s messengers, “Tell my ·master [lord] the king: ‘I will do what you said at first, but ·I cannot allow this second command [this thing I cannot do].’” And King Ben-Hadad’s men carried the message back to him.

10 Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab: “May the gods ·punish me terribly [deal severely with me, and worse; L do to me, and even more] if I don’t completely destroy Samaria. There won’t be enough left for each of my men to get a handful of dust!”

11 Ahab answered, “Tell Ben-Hadad, ‘·The man who puts on his armor should not brag. It’s the man who lives to take it off who has the right to brag [L Let not him who puts on boast like him who takes off; C that is, boast only after victory in battle, not before].’”

12 Ben-Hadad was drinking in his tent with the ·other rulers [kings] when the message came from Ahab. Ben-Hadad commanded his men to prepare to attack the city, and they ·moved into place for battle [took their positions].

13 At the same time a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel. The prophet said, “Ahab, ·the Lord says to you [T thus says the Lord], ‘Do you see that ·big army [L great multitude]? I will hand it over to you today so you will know I am the Lord.’ ”

14 Ahab asked, “·Who will you use to defeat them [By what means; L By whom]?”

The prophet answered, “·The Lord says [T Thus says the Lord], ‘The young officers of the ·district governors [provincial commanders] will defeat them.’”

Then the king asked, “Who will ·command the main army [or attack first; begin the battle]?”

The prophet answered, “You will.”

15 So Ahab ·gathered [summoned; mustered] the young officers of the ·district governors [provincial commanders], two hundred thirty-two of them. Then he called together the ·army [L sons] of Israel, about seven thousand people in all.

16 They marched out at noon, while Ben-Hadad and the thirty-two ·rulers [kings] helping him were getting drunk in their tents. 17 The young officers of the ·district governors [provincial commanders] attacked first. Ben-Hadad sent out scouts who told him that soldiers were coming from Samaria. 18 Ben-Hadad said, “They may be coming to fight, or they may be coming to ask for peace. In either case capture them alive.”

19 The young officers of the ·district governors [provincial commanders] ·led the attack [went out from the city], followed by the army of Israel. 20 Each officer of Israel killed the man who came against him. The men from Aram ran away as Israel chased them, but Ben-Hadad king of Aram escaped on a horse with some of his ·horsemen [cavalry; charioteers]. 21 Ahab king of Israel ·led the army [L went out] and destroyed the horses and chariots and slaughtered the Arameans.

22 Then the prophet went to Ahab king of Israel and said, “The king of Aram will attack you again ·next spring [L at the turn of the year]. So go home now and strengthen ·your army [L yourself] and see what you need to do.”

23 Meanwhile the officers of Ben-Hadad king of Aram said to him, “The gods of Israel are mountain gods, so they were stronger. Let’s fight them on the ·flat land [plain], and then we will ·win [be stronger]. 24 This is what you should do. ·Don’t allow the thirty-two rulers to command the armies, but [L Remove the kings from their place/commands, and] put other commanders in their places. 25 ·Gather [Recruit; Raise; Muster] an army like the one ·that was destroyed and as many horses and chariots as before [L you lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot]. We will fight the Israelites on ·flat land [the plain], and then we will ·win [be stronger].” Ben-Hadad ·agreed with their advice [L heeded their voice] and did what they said.

26 ·The next spring [L At the turn of the year] Ben-Hadad ·gathered [mustered] the army of Aram and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel.

27 The ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] also had ·prepared for war [mustered and gathered provisions]. They marched out to meet the Arameans and camped opposite them. The Israelites looked like two small flocks of goats, but the Arameans covered the ·area [countryside].

28 A man of God came to the king of Israel with this message: “·The Lord says [T Thus says the Lord], ‘The people of Aram say that I, the Lord, am a god of the mountains, not a god of the ·valleys [plains]. So I will ·allow you to defeat this huge army [L give this great multitude into your hands], and then you will know I am the Lord.’”

29 The armies were camped across from each other for seven days. On the seventh day the battle began. The ·Israelites [L sons of Israel] ·killed [slaughtered] one hundred thousand Aramean soldiers in one day. 30 The rest of them ran away to the city of Aphek, where a city wall fell on twenty-seven thousand of them. Ben-Hadad also ran away to the city and hid in a room.

31 His ·officers [officials; L servants] said to him, “We have heard that the kings of Israel are ·trustworthy [merciful]. Let’s dress in ·rough cloth [sackcloth; burlap; C indicating sorrow], and wear ropes on our heads. Then we will go to the king of Israel, and perhaps he will ·let you live [spare your life].”

32 So they dressed in ·rough cloth [sackcloth; burlap] and wore ropes on their heads and went to the king of Israel. They said, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says, ‘Please ·let me live [spare my life].’”

Ahab answered, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.”

33 Ben-Hadad’s men ·had wanted a sign from Ahab [took this as a good sign]. They quickly ·caught [picked up on] his word, “Yes! Ben-Hadad is your brother.”

Ahab said, “Bring him to me.” When Ben-Hadad came, Ahab asked him to join him in the chariot.

34 Ben-Hadad said to him, “Ahab, I will ·give you back [restore] the cities my father took from your father. And you may ·put shops [establish bazaars/markets/trading areas] in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.”

Ahab said, “If you ·agree [covenant] to this, I will allow you to go free.” So the two kings made a ·peace agreement [covenant; treaty]. Then Ahab let Ben-Hadad go free.

A Prophet Speaks Against Ahab

35 One ·prophet from one of the groups of prophets [L of the sons of the prophets] told another, “Hit me!” He said this ·because the Lord had commanded it [by the word of the Lord], but the other man refused. 36 The prophet said, “You did not obey the ·Lord’s command [L voice of the Lord], so a lion will kill you as soon as you leave me.” When the man left, a lion found him and killed him.

37 The prophet went to another man and said, “Hit me, please!” So the man hit him and hurt him. 38 The prophet ·wrapped his face in a cloth [placed a bandage over his eyes; C to disguise himself]. Then he went and waited by the road for the king. 39 As Ahab king of Israel passed by, the prophet called out to him. “I went to fight in the battle,” the prophet said. “One of our men brought an ·enemy soldier [L man] to me. Our man said, ‘Guard this man. If he ·runs away [is missing], ·you will have to give your life in his place [L it will be your life for his life]. Or, you will have to pay a ·fine of seventy-five pounds [L talent] of silver.’ 40 But I was busy doing other things, so the man ran away.”

The king of Israel answered, “That is your ·sentence [judgment]. You have ·already said what the punishment is [pronounced it yourself].

41 Then the prophet quickly took the ·cloth from his face [bandage from his eyes]. When the king of Israel saw him, he knew he was one of the prophets. 42 The prophet said to the king, “·This is what the Lord says [T Thus says the Lord]: ‘You freed the man I ·said should die [L had devoted to destruction], so your life will be ·taken instead of his [for his life]. ·The lives of your people will also be taken instead of the lives of […and your people for] his people.’”

43 Then King Ahab went back to his palace in Samaria, ·angry and upset [resentful and sullen].