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Ahab Wars with Aram

20 Now (A)Ben-hadad king of Aram gathered all his military force, (B)and there were thirty-two kings with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and (C)besieged Samaria and fought against it. Then he sent messengers to the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad, ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your most beautiful wives and children are also mine.’” Then the king of Israel answered and said, “It is according to your word, my lord, O king; I am yours, and all that I have.” Then the messengers returned and said, “Thus says [a]Ben-hadad, ‘Surely, I sent to you saying, “You shall give me your silver and your gold and your wives and your children,” 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 [b]whatever is desirable in your eyes, they will put in their hand and carry away.’”

Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, “Please know and (D)see how this man is looking for trouble; for he sent to me for my wives and my children and my silver and my gold, and I withheld nothing from him.” And all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen or consent.” So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Say to my lord the king, ‘All that you sent for to your servant at the first I will do, but this thing I cannot do.’” And the messengers departed and brought him word again. 10 Then Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “May (E)the gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria will be sufficient for [c]a handful for all the people who [d]follow me.” 11 Then the king of Israel answered and said, “Speak to him, ‘(F)Let not him who girds on his armor boast like him who takes it off.’” 12 Now it happened that when Ben-hadad heard this message, as (G)he was drinking [e]with the kings in the booths, he said to his servants, “Station yourselves.” So they stationed themselves against the city.

13 Now behold, a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says Yahweh, ‘Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, (H)I will deliver them into your hand today, and (I)you shall know that I am Yahweh.’” 14 And Ahab said, “By whom?” So he said, “Thus says Yahweh, ‘By the young men of the rulers of the provinces.’” Then he said, “Who shall [f]begin the battle?” And he said, “You.” 15 Then he mustered the young men of the rulers of the provinces, and there were 232; and after them he mustered all the people, even all the sons of Israel, 7,000.

16 And they went out at noon, while (J)Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths [g]with the thirty-two kings who helped him. 17 And the young men of the rulers of the provinces went out first; and Ben-hadad sent out and they told him, saying, “Men have come out from Samaria.” 18 (K)Then he said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive; or if they have come out for war, take them alive.”

19 So these went out from the city, the young men of the rulers of the provinces, and the military force which followed them. 20 And they each struck his man; and the Arameans fled and Israel pursued them, and Ben-hadad king of Aram escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 And the king of Israel went out and struck down the horses and chariots, and struck the Arameans with a great slaughter.

22 Then (L)the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, strengthen yourself and know and see what you have to do; for (M)at the turn of the year the king of Aram will come up against you.”

23 Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, “(N)Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they. 24 Do this thing: remove the kings, each from his place, and put captains in their place, 25 and you shall number a military force like the military force that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so.

Israel Fights the Arameans

26 (O)Now it happened at the turn of the year, that Ben-hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to (P)Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 Now the sons of Israel were mustered and were provided for and went to meet them; and the sons of Israel camped before them like two little flocks of goats, (Q)but the Arameans filled the land. 28 Then (R)a man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel and said, “Thus says Yahweh, ‘Because the Arameans have said, “(S)Yahweh is a god of the mountains, but He is not a god of the valleys,” therefore (T)I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am Yahweh.’” 29 So they camped one opposite the other seven days. Now it happened that on the seventh day the battle was joined, and the sons of Israel struck down of the Arameans 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. 30 But the rest fled to (U)Aphek into the city, and the wall fell on 27,000 men who were left. And Ben-hadad fled and came into the city (V)into an inner chamber.

31 (W)Then his servants said to him, “Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are kings of lovingkindness, please let us (X)put sackcloth on our loins and ropes on our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will preserve your [h]life.” 32 So (Y)they girded sackcloth on their loins and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel and said, “(Z)Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please let me live.’” And he said, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” 33 Now the men interpreted this as an omen, and hastily [i]catching his word said, “Your brother Ben-hadad.” Then he said, “Go, bring him.” Then Ben-hadad came out to him, and he [j]took him up into the chariot. 34 And Ben-hadad said to him, “(AA)The cities which my father took from your father I will return, and you shall make streets for yourself in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria.” Ahab said, “And I will let you go with this covenant.” So he cut a covenant with him and let him go.

A Prophecy Enrages Ahab

35 Now a certain man of (AB)the sons of the prophets said to [k]another (AC)by the word of Yahweh, “Please strike me.” But the man refused to strike him. 36 Then he said to him, “Because you have not listened to the voice of Yahweh, behold, as soon as you walk away from me, (AD)a lion will strike you down.” And as soon as he had walked away from him, a lion found him and struck him down. 37 Then he found another man and said, “Please [l]strike me.” And the man [m]struck him, [n]wounding him. 38 So the prophet walked away and stood by, for the king by the way, and (AE)disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 Now it happened that as the king was passing 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 for any reason he is missing, (AF)then your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a [o]talent of silver.’ 40 Now it happened that while your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” And the king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.” 41 Then he hastily took the bandage away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him, that he was of the prophets. 42 And he said to him, “Thus says Yahweh, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore (AG)your [p]life shall go for his [q]life, and your people for his people.’” 43 So (AH)the king of Israel went to his house sullen and enraged, and came to Samaria.


  1. 1 Kings 20:5 Lit Ben-hadad, saying
  2. 1 Kings 20:6 Lit all the desire of your eyes
  3. 1 Kings 20:10 Lit handfuls
  4. 1 Kings 20:10 Lit are at my feet
  5. 1 Kings 20:12 Lit he and
  6. 1 Kings 20:14 Lit bind
  7. 1 Kings 20:16 Lit he and the thirty-two kings
  8. 1 Kings 20:31 Lit soul
  9. 1 Kings 20:33 Lit caught from him
  10. 1 Kings 20:33 Lit caused him to come up
  11. 1 Kings 20:35 Lit his neighbor
  12. 1 Kings 20:37 Lit smite
  13. 1 Kings 20:37 Lit smote
  14. 1 Kings 20:37 Lit striking and wounding
  15. 1 Kings 20:39 A talent was approx. 75 lb. or 34 kg
  16. 1 Kings 20:42 Lit soul
  17. 1 Kings 20:42 Lit soul