1 Kings 20 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Ahab’s Wars with the Arameans
20 King Ben-hadad of Aram gathered all his army together; thirty-two kings were with him, along with horses and chariots. He marched against Samaria, laid siege to it, and attacked it. 2 Then he sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel, and said to him: “Thus says Ben-hadad: 3 Your silver and gold are mine; your fairest wives and children also are mine.” 4 The king of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” 5 The messengers came again and said: “Thus says Ben-hadad: I sent to you, saying, ‘Deliver to me your silver and gold, your wives and children’; 6 nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants, and lay hands on whatever pleases them,[a] and take it away.”
7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, “Look now! See how this man is seeking trouble; for he sent to me for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold; and I did not refuse him.” 8 Then all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen or consent.” 9 So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the king: All that you first demanded of your servant I will do; but this thing I cannot do.” The messengers left and brought him word again. 10 Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria will provide a handful for each of the people who follow me.” 11 The king of Israel answered, “Tell him: One who puts on armor should not brag like one who takes it off.” 12 When Ben-hadad heard this message—now he had been drinking with the kings in the booths—he said to his men, “Take your positions!” And they took their positions against the city.
Prophetic Opposition to Ahab
13 Then a certain prophet came up to King Ahab of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Look, I will give it into your hand today; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 14 Ahab said, “By whom?” He said, “Thus says the Lord, By the young men who serve the district governors.” Then he said, “Who shall begin the battle?” He answered, “You.” 15 Then he mustered the young men who served the district governors, two hundred thirty-two; after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand.
16 They went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings allied with him. 17 The young men who served the district governors went out first. Ben-hadad had sent out scouts,[b] and they reported to him, “Men have come out 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 But these had already come out of the city: the young men who served the district governors, and the army that followed them. 20 Each killed his man; the Arameans fled and Israel pursued them, but King Ben-hadad of Aram escaped on a horse with the cavalry. 21 The king of Israel went out, attacked the horses and chariots, and defeated the Arameans with a great slaughter.
22 Then the prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do; for in the spring the king of Aram will come up against you.”
The Arameans Are Defeated
23 The servants of the king of Aram said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. 24 Also do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in place of them; 25 and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot; then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” He heeded their voice, and did so.
26 In the spring Ben-hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 After the Israelites had been mustered and provisioned, they went out to engage them; the people of Israel encamped opposite them like two little flocks of goats, while 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,’ therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 29 They encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle began; the Israelites killed one hundred thousand Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30 The rest fled into the city of Aphek; and the wall fell on twenty-seven thousand men that were left.
Ben-hadad also fled, and entered the city to hide. 31 His servants said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings; let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life.” 32 So they tied sackcloth around their waists, put ropes on their heads, went 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 watching for an omen; they quickly took it up from him and said, “Yes, Ben-hadad is your brother.” Then he said, “Go and bring him.” So Ben-hadad came out to him; and he had him come up into the chariot. 34 Ben-hadad[c] said to him, “I will restore the towns that my father took from your father; and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” The king of Israel responded,[d] “I will let you go on those terms.” So he made a treaty with him and let him go.
A Prophet Condemns Ahab
35 At the command of the Lord a certain member of a company of prophets[e] said to another, “Strike me!” 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 have left me, a lion will kill you.” And when he had left him, a lion met him and killed him. 37 Then he found another man and said, “Strike me!” So the man hit him, striking and wounding him. 38 Then the prophet departed, and waited for the king along the road, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 As the king passed by, he cried to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the thick of the battle; then a soldier turned and brought a man to me, and said, ‘Guard this man; if he is missing, your life shall be given for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’ 40 While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” The king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.” 41 Then he quickly took the bandage away from his eyes. The king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 Then he said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let the man go whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.’” 43 The king of Israel set out toward home, 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.