War with Aram

20 Now (A)Ben-hadad, king of Aram, gathered all his army, (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, “This is what Ben-hadad says: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your most beautiful wives and children are also mine.’” And the king of Israel replied, “As [a]you say, my lord, O king; I am yours, as well as all that I have.” Then the messengers returned and said, “Ben-hadad says [b]this: ‘I did indeed send word to you, saying, “You shall give me your silver, your gold, 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 they will take in their hands everything that is pleasing to your eyes, and take it all away.’”

Then the king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land and said, “Please be aware and (D)see that this man is looking for trouble; for he sent me his demand for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold, and I did not refuse him.” Then all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen nor consent.” So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the king, ‘Everything that you sent as a demand to your servant at the first, I will do; but this thing I cannot do.’” Then the messengers departed, and brought him word again. 10 Ben-hadad sent word to him and said, “May (E)the gods do so to me and more so, [c]if the dust of Samaria will be enough for handfuls for all the people who [d]follow me.” 11 Then the king of Israel replied, “Tell him, ‘(F)He who straps on his weapons had better not boast like one who takes them off.’” 12 And when Ben-hadad heard this message, while (G)he was drinking [e]with the kings in the [f]temporary shelters, he said to his servants, “Take your positions.” So they took their positions against the city.

Ahab Victorious

13 Now behold, a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel, and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, (H)I am going to hand them over to you today, and (I)you shall know that I am the Lord.’” 14 But Ahab said, “By whom?” So he said, “The Lord says this: ‘By the young men of the leaders of the provinces.’” Then he said, “Who will begin the battle?” And he said, “You will.” 15 So he mustered the young men of the leaders of the provinces, and there were 232; and after them he mustered all the people, all the sons of Israel: seven thousand.

16 They went out at noon, while (J)Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the [g]temporary shelters [h]with the thirty-two kings who were helping him. 17 The young men of the leaders of the provinces went out first; and Ben-hadad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, saying, “Men have come out from Samaria.” 18 (K)Then he said, “If they have come out [i]for peace, take them alive; or if they have come out for war, take them alive as well.”

19 So these men went out from the city, the young men of the leaders of the provinces, and the army which followed them. 20 And they [j]killed, each one, his man; and the Arameans fled and Israel pursued them, and Ben-hadad the king of Aram escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 The king of Israel also went out and struck the horses and chariots, and [k]killed the Arameans in a great slaughter.

22 Then (L)the prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, show yourself courageous and be aware and see what you have to do; for (M)at [l]the turn of the year the king of Aram will march against you.”

23 Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, “(N)Their gods are gods of the mountains; for that reason they were stronger than we. But let us fight them in the plain, and we will certainly be stronger than they. 24 Carry out this [m]plan: remove the kings, each from his place, and put governors in their place, 25 and [n]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 we will certainly be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so.

Another Aramean War

26 So (O)at [o]the turn of the year Ben-hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to (P)Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 And the sons of Israel were mustered and given provisions, and they went to meet them; and the sons of Israel camped opposite them like two little flocks of goats, (Q)while the Arameans filled the country. 28 Then (R)a man of God approached and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Since the Arameans have said, “(S)The Lord is a god of mountains, but He is not a god of valleys,” therefore (T)I will hand over to you all this great multitude, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’” 29 So they camped, one opposite the other, for seven days. And on the seventh day the battle was joined, and the sons of Israel [p]killed of the Arameans a hundred thousand foot soldiers in a single day. 30 But the rest fled to (U)Aphek into the city, and the wall fell on twenty-seven thousand men who were left. And Ben-hadad fled and came into the city, going from one (V)inner room to another.

31 But (W)his servants said to him, “Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Please let’s (X)put sackcloth [q]around our waists and ropes on our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will let [r]you live.” 32 So (Y)they put sackcloth [s]around their waists and ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel and said, “(Z)Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please let [t]me live.’” And Ahab said, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” 33 Now the men took this as a good omen, and quickly [u]accepting it from him, they said, “Your brother Ben-hadad.” Then he said, “Go, bring him.” Then Ben-hadad came out to him, and he had him mount the chariot. 34 And Ben-hadad said to him, “(AA)The cities which my father took from your father I will restore, and you can 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 made a covenant with him and let him go.

35 Now a man from (AB)the sons of the prophets said to [v]another (AC)by the word of the Lord, “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 the Lord, behold, as soon as you leave me, (AD)a lion will [w]kill you.” And as soon as he left him a lion found him and [x]killed him. 37 Then he found another man and said, “Please strike me.” And the man struck him, [y]injuring him. 38 So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the road, and (AE)disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 And as the king passed 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 goes missing, (AF)then your life shall be forfeited in place of his life, or else you shall pay a [z]talent of silver.’ 40 Now while your servant was busy here and there, he disappeared.” And the king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself determined it.” 41 Then he quickly took the bandage away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him, that he was one of the prophets. 42 And the prophet said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Since you have let go from your hand the man I had designated for destruction, (AG)your [aa]life shall be forfeited in place of his [ab]life, and your people in place of his people.’” 43 So (AH)the king of Israel went to his house sullen and furious, and came to Samaria.


  1. 1 Kings 20:4 Lit your word
  2. 1 Kings 20:5 Lit this, saying
  3. 1 Kings 20:10 I.e., what is left of Samaria after it is destroyed
  4. 1 Kings 20:10 Lit are at my feet
  5. 1 Kings 20:12 Lit he and
  6. 1 Kings 20:12 Or huts
  7. 1 Kings 20:16 Or huts
  8. 1 Kings 20:16 Lit he and the 32 kings
  9. 1 Kings 20:18 I.e., to seek terms for surrender
  10. 1 Kings 20:20 Lit struck
  11. 1 Kings 20:21 Lit struck
  12. 1 Kings 20:22 I.e., spring
  13. 1 Kings 20:24 Lit word
  14. 1 Kings 20:25 Lit count
  15. 1 Kings 20:26 I.e., spring
  16. 1 Kings 20:29 Lit struck
  17. 1 Kings 20:31 Lit on
  18. 1 Kings 20:31 Lit your soul
  19. 1 Kings 20:32 Lit on
  20. 1 Kings 20:32 Lit my soul
  21. 1 Kings 20:33 Lit accepted
  22. 1 Kings 20:35 Lit his neighbor
  23. 1 Kings 20:36 Lit strike
  24. 1 Kings 20:36 Lit struck
  25. 1 Kings 20:37 Lit striking and injuring
  26. 1 Kings 20:39 About 75 lb. or 34 kg
  27. 1 Kings 20:42 Lit soul
  28. 1 Kings 20:42 Lit soul

Ahab Covets Naboth’s Vineyard

21 Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in (A)Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab, the king of Samaria. And Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “(B)Give me your vineyard so that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard in place of it; if [a]you prefer, I will give you what [b]it is worth in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid me (C)that I would give you the inheritance of my fathers!” (D)So Ahab entered his house sullen and furious because of the [c]answer that Naboth the Jezreelite had given to him, since he said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned his face away, and ate no [d]food.

But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “How is it that your spirit is so sullen that you are not eating [e]food?” So he said to her, “It is because I was speaking to Naboth the Jezreelite and saying to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you a vineyard in place of it.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” Jezebel his wife said to him, “(E)Do you now [f]reign over Israel? Arise, eat bread, and let your heart be joyful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

(F)So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to (G)the elders and to the nobles who were living with Naboth in his city. Now she had written in the letters, saying, “Proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the head of the people; 10 and seat two (H)worthless men opposite him, and have them testify against him, saying, ‘(I)You [g]cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and (J)stone him [h]to death.”

Jezebel’s Plot

11 So the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did just as Jezebel had sent word to them, just as it was written in the letters which she had sent them. 12 They (K)proclaimed a fast, and seated Naboth at the head of the people. 13 Then the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him; and the worthless men testified against him, against Naboth, before the people, saying, “Naboth [i]cursed God and the king.” (L)So they took him outside the city and stoned him [j]to death with stones. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.”

15 And when Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab got up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 18 “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, (M)who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone down to take possession of it. 19 And you shall speak to him, saying, ‘This is what the Lord says: “(N)Have you murdered and also taken possession?”’ And you shall speak to him, saying, ‘The Lord says this: “(O)In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, the dogs will lick up your blood, yours as well.”’”

20 Then Ahab said to Elijah, “(P)Have you found me, enemy of mine?” And he [k]answered, “I have found you, (Q)because you have given yourself over to do evil in the sight of the Lord. 21 Behold, I am bringing disaster upon you, and I (R)will utterly sweep you away, and will eliminate from Ahab every male, both [l]bond and free in Israel; 22 and (S)I will make your house (T)like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and because you (U)have misled Israel into sin. 23 The Lord has also spoken of Jezebel, saying, ‘(V)The dogs will eat Jezebel in the [m]territory of Jezreel.’ 24 (W)The one belonging to Ahab, who dies in the city, the dogs will eat; and the one who dies in the field, the birds of the sky will eat.”

25 (X)There certainly was no one like Ahab who gave himself over to do evil in the sight of the Lord, [n]because Jezebel his wife incited him. 26 (Y)He also acted very despicably in following idols, (Z)conforming to everything that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord drove out from the sons of Israel.

27 Yet it came about, when Ahab heard these words, that (AA)he tore his clothes and put [o]on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently. 28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; I will bring the disaster upon his house (AB)in his son’s days.”


  1. 1 Kings 21:2 Lit it is good in your eyes
  2. 1 Kings 21:2 Lit this
  3. 1 Kings 21:4 Lit word...had spoken to him
  4. 1 Kings 21:4 Lit bread
  5. 1 Kings 21:5 Lit bread
  6. 1 Kings 21:7 Lit exercise kingship
  7. 1 Kings 21:10 Lit blessed, an ancient euphemism to avoid any mention of the cursing of God
  8. 1 Kings 21:10 Lit so that he dies
  9. 1 Kings 21:13 See note 1 v 10
  10. 1 Kings 21:13 Lit with stones so that he died
  11. 1 Kings 21:20 Lit said
  12. 1 Kings 21:21 Or child and adult
  13. 1 Kings 21:23 As in some mss and ancient versions; MT rampart
  14. 1 Kings 21:25 Or whom Jezebel his wife
  15. 1 Kings 21:27 Lit sackcloth on his flesh

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