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1 Kings 20 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

Victory over Ben-hadad

20 Now King Ben-hadad of Aram assembled his entire army. Thirty-two kings, along with horses and chariots, were with him. He marched up, besieged Samaria, and fought against it. He sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel and said to him, “This is what Ben-hadad says: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine! And your best wives and children are mine as well!’”

Then the king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king: I am yours, along with all that I have.”

The messengers then returned and said, “This is what Ben-hadad says: ‘I have sent messengers to you, saying: You are to give me your silver, your gold, your wives, and your children. But at this time tomorrow I will send my servants to you,[a] and they will search your palace and your servants’ houses. They will lay their hands on and take away whatever is precious to you.’”

Then the king of Israel called for all the elders of the land and said, “Recognize[b] that this one is only looking for trouble, for he demanded my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold, and I didn’t turn him down.”

All the elders and all the people said to him, “Don’t listen or agree.”

So he said to Ben-hadad’s messengers, “Say to my lord the king, ‘Everything you demanded of your servant the first time, I will do, but this thing I cannot do.’” So the messengers left and took word back to him.

10 Then Ben-hadad sent messengers to him and said, “May the gods punish me and do so severely if Samaria’s dust amounts to a handful for each of the people who follow me.”

11 The king of Israel answered, “Say this: ‘Don’t let the one who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off.’”

12 When Ben-hadad heard this response, while he and the kings were drinking in their quarters,[c] he said to his servants, “Take your positions.” So they took their positions against the city.

13 A prophet approached King Ahab of Israel and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Do you see this whole huge army? Watch, I am handing it over to you today so that you may know that I am the Lord.’”

14 Ahab asked, “By whom?”

And the prophet said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘By the young men of the provincial leaders.’”

Then he asked, “Who is to start the battle?”

He said, “You.”

15 So Ahab mobilized the young men of the provincial leaders, and there were 232. After them he mobilized all the Israelite troops: 7,000. 16 They marched out at noon while Ben-hadad and the thirty-two kings who were helping him were getting drunk in their quarters. 17 The young men of the provincial leaders marched out first. Then Ben-hadad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, saying, “Men are marching out of Samaria.”

18 So he said, “If they have marched out in peace, take them alive, and if they have marched out for battle, take them alive.”

19 The young men of the provincial leaders and the army behind them marched out from the city, 20 and each one struck down his opponent. So the Arameans fled and Israel pursued them, but King Ben-hadad of Aram escaped on a horse with the cavalry. 21 Then the king of Israel marched out and attacked the cavalry and the chariots. He inflicted a severe slaughter on Aram.

22 The prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Go and strengthen yourself, then consider carefully[d] what you should do, for in the spring the king of Aram will attack you.”

23 Now the king of Aram’s servants said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hill country. That’s why they were stronger than we were. Instead, we should fight with them on the plain; then we will certainly be stronger than they are. 24 Also do this: remove each king from his position and appoint captains in their place. 25 Raise another army for yourself like the army you lost—horse for horse, chariot for chariot—and let’s fight with them on the plain; and we will certainly be stronger than they are.” The king listened to them and did it.

26 In the spring, Ben-hadad mobilized the Arameans and went up to Aphek to battle Israel. 27 The Israelites mobilized, gathered supplies, and went to fight them. The Israelites camped in front of them like two little flocks of goats, while the Arameans filled the landscape.

28 Then the man of God approached and said to the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans have said: The Lord is a god of the mountains and not a god of the valleys, I will hand over all this whole huge army to you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

29 They camped opposite each other for seven days. On the seventh day, the battle took place, and the Israelites struck down the Arameans—one hundred thousand foot soldiers in one day. 30 The ones who remained fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell on those twenty-seven thousand remaining men.

Ben-hadad also fled and went into an inner room in the city. 31 His servants said to him, “Consider this: we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. So let’s put sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads, and let’s go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.”

32 So they dressed with sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, went to the king of Israel, and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please spare my life.’”

So he said, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.”

33 Now the men were looking for a sign of hope, so they quickly picked up on this[e] and responded, “Yes, it is your brother Ben-hadad.”

Then he said, “Go and bring him.”

So Ben-hadad came out to him, and Ahab had him come up into the chariot. 34 Then Ben-hadad said to him, “I restore to you the cities that my father took from your father, and you may set up marketplaces for yourself in Damascus, like my father set up in Samaria.”

Ahab responded, “On the basis of this treaty, I release you.” So he made a treaty with him and released him.

Ahab Rebuked by the Lord

35 One of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow prophet by the word of the Lord, “Strike me!” But the man refused to strike him.

36 He told him, “Because you did not listen to the Lord, mark my words: When you leave me, a lion will kill you.” When he left him, a lion attacked and killed him.

37 The prophet found another man and said to him, “Strike me!” So the man struck him, inflicting a wound. 38 Then the prophet went and waited for the king on the road. He disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 As the king was passing by, he cried out to the king and said, “Your servant marched out into the middle of the battle. Suddenly, a man turned aside and brought someone to me and said, ‘Guard this man! If he is ever missing, it will be your life in place of his life, or you will weigh out seventy-five pounds[f] of silver.’ 40 But while your servant was busy here and there, he disappeared.”

The king of Israel said to him, “That will be your sentence; you yourself have decided it.”

41 He quickly removed the bandage from his eyes. The king of Israel recognized that he was one of the prophets. 42 The prophet said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because you released from your hand the man I had set apart for destruction, it will be your life in place of his life and your people in place of his people.’” 43 The king of Israel left for home resentful and angry, and he entered Samaria.

Footnotes:

  1. 20:6 Lit take all the delight of your eyes
  2. 20:7 Lit “Know and see
  3. 20:12 Lit booths, also in v. 16
  4. 20:22 Lit then know and see
  5. 20:33 Some Hb mss, alt Hb tradition, LXX; other Hb mss read they hastened and caught hold; “Is this it?”
  6. 20:39 Lit a talent
Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

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. Then he sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel, and said to him: “Thus says Ben-hadad: Your silver and gold are mine; your fairest wives and children also are mine.” The king of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” 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’; 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.”

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

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Kings 20:6 Gk Syr Vg: Heb you
  2. 1 Kings 20:17 Heb lacks scouts
  3. 1 Kings 20:34 Heb He
  4. 1 Kings 20:34 Heb lacks The king of Israel responded
  5. 1 Kings 20:35 Heb of the sons of the prophets
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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