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Ben-Hadad Attacks Samaria

20 Now Ben-Hadad the king of Aram gathered his army together. Thirty-two kings were with him, with horses and chariots, and he went up and besieged Samaria and fought against it. He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “Thus says Ben-Hadad: Your silver and gold is mine, as are your most attractive wives and children.”

The king of Israel answered, “My lord, O king, just as you have said, I and all that I own are yours.”

The messengers came again and said, “Thus says Ben-Hadad: Although I have said that you must give me your silver and gold, your wives and your children, instead I will send my servants tomorrow about this time, and they will search your house and the houses of your servants, and whatever is precious to you, they will put it in their hands and take it away.”

Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, “Please notice how this man is looking for trouble, for he has demanded I give him my wives and children and my silver and gold, and I have not denied his request.”

All the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen to him or consent to his demands.”

Therefore he said to the messengers of Ben-Hadad, “Tell my lord the king: I will comply with the first request of your servant, but this thing I will not do.” And the messengers departed and brought him word again.

10 Then Ben-Hadad sent messengers to him and said, “The gods do to me and then some if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me.”

11 The king of Israel answered, “Tell him: Let not he who puts on his armor boast himself as he who takes it off.”

12 When Ben-Hadad heard this message as he was drinking with the kings in the pavilions, he said to his servants, “Station yourselves!” And they stationed themselves against the city.

Ahab Defeats Ben-Hadad

13 Then a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “Thus says the Lord: Have you seen this great multitude? See, I will deliver it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

14 Ahab asked, “By whom?”

And he said, “Thus says the Lord: By the young leaders of the provinces.”

Then he said, “Who shall order the battle?”

And he answered, “You.”

15 Then he counted the young leaders of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty-two, and after them he counted all the people, all the children of Israel, and had seven thousand. 16 They went out at noon. But Ben-Hadad and the thirty-two kings who helped him were getting drunk in the pavilions. 17 The young leaders of the provinces went out first.

Ben-Hadad sent out scouts, and they told him, “Men from Samaria have come out.”

18 He said, “If they have come out peacefully, take them alive, and if they have come out for battle, take them alive.”

19 So these young leaders of the provinces came out of the city, followed by the army. 20 Each one killed his man, and the Arameans fled with Israel pursuing them, but Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, escaped on a horse with the horsemen. 21 The king of Israel went out and attacked the horses and chariots and killed a great number of Arameans.

22 The prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “Go, strengthen yourself and prepare, and see what you do, for next year the king of Aram will come up against you.”

23 The servants of the king of Aram said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills. That is why they were stronger than us, but if we fight against them in the plain, we will surely be stronger than they. 24 Do this: Dismiss the kings, each from his position, and put commanders in their places, 25 and assemble an army like the army that you lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot, and we will fight them in the plain and will surely be stronger than they.” And he listened to their advice and followed it.

26 The next year Ben-Hadad assembled the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 The children of Israel were assembled and were all present, and they went against them, and the children of Israel camped in front of them like two little flocks of kids, while the Arameans filled the country.

28 A man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord: Because the Arameans have said, ‘The Lord is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys,’ I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you will know that I am the Lord.”

29 They camped opposite each other for seven days, and on the seventh day, the battle was joined. The children of Israel killed a hundred thousand Aramean footmen in one day. 30 But the rest fled into the city of Aphek, where a wall fell on twenty-seven thousand of the men who were left. And Ben-Hadad fled and came into the city into an inner chamber.

31 His servants said to him, “We have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Please let us put sackcloth on our loins and ropes on our heads and go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.”

32 So they girded sackcloth on their loins and put ropes on their heads and came to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says, ‘Please let me live.’ ”

And he said, “Is he still alive? He is my brother!”

33 Now the men were diligently looking for a positive sign and quickly took hold of it, and they said, “Your brother Ben-Hadad!”

Then he said, “Go. You bring him.” Then Ben-Hadad came to him and got into the chariot.

34 Ben-Hadad said to him, “I will restore the cities which my father took from your father, and you shall make streets for yourself in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria.”

Then Ahab said, “I will send you away with this covenant.” So he made a covenant with him and sent him away.

A Prophet Condemns Ahab

35 Speaking in the word of the Lord, a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his neighbor, “Strike me, please.” But the man refused to strike him.

36 Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, as soon as you leave me, a lion will kill you.” And as soon as he left him, a lion found and killed him.

37 Then he found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” And the man struck him so that he was wounded. 38 So the prophet departed and waited by the road for the king and disguised himself with ashes on his face. 39 As the king passed by, he cried to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the midst of the battle, and a man turned aside and brought a man to me and said, ‘Keep this man, and if by any means he goes missing, then your life shall be given for his life, or else you shall pay a talent[a] of silver.’ 40 As your servant was busy here and there, he disappeared.”

And the king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you have decided it yourself.”

41 He quickly took the ashes away from his face, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 He said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand a man whom I had appointed to utter destruction, you shall pay for his life with your life and his people with your people.’ ” 43 The king of Israel went to his house in Samaria angry and depressed.


  1. 1 Kings 20:39 About 75 pounds, or 34 kilograms.