1 Kings 20-22
New International Version - UK
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 armour 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 Afterwards, 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 round our waists and ropes round our heads. Perhaps he will spare your life.’
32 Wearing sackcloth round their waists and ropes round 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 brought him 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 recognised 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.
21 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, ‘Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.’
3 But Naboth replied, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.’
4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.’ He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, ‘Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?’
6 He answered her, ‘Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, “Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.” But he said, “I will not give you my vineyard.”’
7 Jezebel his wife said, ‘Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.’
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:
‘Proclaim a day of fasting and give Naboth a prominent seat among the people. 10 But put two scoundrels opposite him and get them to bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.’
11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, ‘Naboth has cursed both God and the king.’ So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: ‘Naboth has been stoned to death.’
15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, ‘Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.’ 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.
17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 ‘Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, “This is what the Lord says: have you not murdered a man and seized his property?” Then say to him, “This is what the Lord says: in the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood – yes, yours!”’
20 Ahab said to Elijah, ‘So you have found me, my enemy!’
‘I have found you,’ he answered, ‘because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. 21 He says, “I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel – slave or free.[d] 22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.”
23 ‘And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: “Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of[e] Jezreel.”
24 ‘Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.’
25 (There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.)
27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.
28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 ‘Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.’
Micaiah prophesies against Ahab
22 For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel. 2 But in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel. 3 The king of Israel had said to his officials, ‘Don’t you know that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us and yet we are doing nothing to retake it from the king of Aram?’
4 So he asked Jehoshaphat, ‘Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?’
Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, ‘I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.’ 5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, ‘First seek the counsel of the Lord.’
6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets – about four hundred men – and asked them, ‘Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?’
‘Go,’ they answered, ‘for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.’
7 But Jehoshaphat asked, ‘Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can enquire of?’
8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one prophet through whom we can enquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.’
‘The king should not say such a thing,’ Jehoshaphat replied.
9 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, ‘Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.’
10 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing-floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. 11 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, ‘This is what the Lord says: “With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.”’
12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. ‘Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,’ they said, ‘for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.’
13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, ‘Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favourably.’
14 But Micaiah said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.’
15 When he arrived, the king asked him, ‘Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or not?’
‘Attack and be victorious,’ he answered, ‘for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.’
16 The king said to him, ‘How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?’
17 Then Micaiah answered, ‘I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, “These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.”’
18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?’
19 Micaiah continued, ‘Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing round him on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, “Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?”
‘One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, “I will entice him.”
22 ‘“By what means?” the Lord asked.
‘“I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,” he said.
‘“You will succeed in enticing him,” said the Lord. “Go and do it.”
23 ‘So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.’
24 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. ‘Which way did the spirit from[f] the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you?’ he asked.
25 Micaiah replied, ‘You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room.’
26 The king of Israel then ordered, ‘Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king’s son 27 and say, “This is what the king says: put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.”’
28 Micaiah declared, ‘If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me.’ Then he added, ‘Mark my words, all you people!’
Ahab killed at Ramoth Gilead
29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.’ So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.
31 Now the king of Aram had ordered his thirty-two chariot commanders, ‘Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.’ 32 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, ‘Surely this is the king of Israel.’ So they turned to attack him, but when Jehoshaphat cried out, 33 the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel and stopped pursuing him.
34 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armour. The king told his chariot driver, ‘Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.’ 35 All day long the battle raged, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran onto the floor of the chariot, and that evening he died. 36 As the sun was setting, a cry spread through the army: ‘Every man to his town. Every man to his land!’
37 So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there. 38 They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed),[g] and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared.
39 As for the other events of Ahab’s reign, including all he did, the palace he built and adorned with ivory, and the cities he fortified, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 40 Ahab rested with his ancestors. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.
Jehoshaphat king of Judah
41 Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for twenty-five years. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. 43 In everything he followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. The high places, however, were not removed, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.[h] 44 Jehoshaphat was also at peace with the king of Israel.
45 As for the other events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, the things he achieved and his military exploits, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 46 He rid the land of the rest of the male-shrine prostitutes who remained there even after the reign of his father Asa. 47 There was then no king in Edom; a provincial governor ruled.
48 Now Jehoshaphat built a fleet of trading ships[i] to go to Ophir for gold, but they never set sail – they were wrecked at Ezion Geber. 49 At that time Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Let my men sail with yours,’ but Jehoshaphat refused.
50 Then Jehoshaphat rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the city of David his father. And Jehoram his son succeeded him as king.
Ahaziah king of Israel
51 Ahaziah son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel for two years. 52 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, because he followed the ways of his father and mother and of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. 53 He served and worshipped Baal and aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, just as his father had done.
- 1 Kings 20:12 Or in Sukkoth; also in verse 16
- 1 Kings 20:39 That is, about 34 kilograms
- 1 Kings 20:42 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.
- 1 Kings 21:21 Or Israel – every ruler or leader
- 1 Kings 21:23 Most Hebrew manuscripts; a few Hebrew manuscripts, Vulgate and Syriac (see also 2 Kings 9:26) the plot of ground at
- 1 Kings 22:24 Or Spirit of
- 1 Kings 22:38 Or Samaria and cleaned the weapons
- 1 Kings 22:43 In Hebrew texts this sentence (22:43b) is numbered 22:44, and 22:44-53 is numbered 22:45-54.
- 1 Kings 22:48 Hebrew of ships of Tarshish