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1 Kings 20 Darby Translation (DARBY)

20 And Ben-Hadad king of Syria assembled all his host; and there were thirty-two kings with him, and horses and chariots; and he went up and besieged Samaria, and fought against it.

And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said to him, Thus says Ben-Hadad:

Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, the goodliest, are mine.

And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have.

And the messengers came again, and said, Thus speaks Ben-Hadad saying: I sent to thee indeed, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children;

but to-morrow about this time I will send my servants to thee, and they shall search thy house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thy sight, they shall put in their hand and take away.

And the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, Mark, I pray you, and see how this [man] seeks mischief; for he sent to me for my wives, and for my children, and for my silver, and for my gold; and I denied him not.

And all the elders and all the people said to him, Hearken not, nor consent.

And he said to the messengers of Ben-Hadad, Tell my lord the king, All that thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do; but this thing I cannot do. And the messengers departed, and brought him word again.

10 And Ben-Hadad sent to him and said, The gods do so to me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me!

11 And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell [him], Let not him that girdeth on boast himself as he that putteth off!

12 And it came to pass when he heard this word, as he was drinking, he and the kings in the tents, that he said to his servants, Set yourselves. And they set themselves against the city.

13 And behold, a prophet drew near to Ahab king of Israel, and said, Thus saith Jehovah: Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thy hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah.

14 And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith Jehovah: By the servants of the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall begin the battle? And he said, Thou.

15 And he numbered the servants of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty-two; and after them he numbered all the people, all the children of Israel, seven thousand.

16 And they went out at noon; and Ben-Hadad drank himself drunk in the tents, he and the kings, the thirty-two kings that helped him.

17 And the servants of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Ben-Hadad sent out, and they told him saying, There are men come out of Samaria.

18 And he said, Whether they be come out for peace, take them alive; or whether they be come out for war, take them alive.

19 And these servants of the princes of the provinces came out of the city, and the army that followed them.

20 And they slew every one his man; and the Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them; and Ben-Hadad the king of Syria escaped on a horse with the horsemen.

21 And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.

22 And the prophet drew near to the king of Israel, and said to him, Go, strengthen thyself, and understand, and see what thou shalt do; for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against thee.

23 And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, Their gods are gods of the mountains; therefore they were stronger than we; but if we fight against them on the plateau, shall we not be stronger than they?

24 And do this: take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put governors in their stead;

25 and number thee an army, like the army that thou hast lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot; and we will fight against them on the plateau: shall we not be stronger than they? And he hearkened to their voice, and did so.

26 And it came to pass, at the return of the year, that Ben-Hadad numbered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel.

27 And the children of Israel were numbered and victualled, and they went against them; and the children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats; but the Syrians filled the land.

28 And the man of God drew near, and spoke to the king of Israel and said, Thus saith Jehovah: Because the Syrians have said, Jehovah is a god of the mountains, but he is not a god of the valleys, I will give all this great multitude into thy hand, and ye shall know that I am Jehovah.

29 And they encamped one over against the other seven days; and it came to pass that on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel smote of the Syrians a hundred thousand footmen in one day.

30 And the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and the wall fell on twenty-seven thousand men of them that were left. And Ben-Hadad fled, and came into the city, [from] chamber to chamber.

31 And his servants said to him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will save thy life.

32 And they girded sackcloth on their loins, and ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Ben-Hadad says, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother.

33 And the men took it as a good omen, and hastened to catch what came from him, and they said, Thy brother Ben-Hadad. … And he said, Go, bring him. And Ben-Hadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot.

34 And [Ben-Hadad] said to him, The cities that my father took from thy father I will restore; and thou shalt make streets for thyself in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. And I [said Ahab] will send thee away with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and sent him away.

35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to another by the word of Jehovah, Smite me, I pray thee. But the man refused to smite him.

36 Then said he to him, Because thou hast not hearkened to the voice of Jehovah, behold, when thou departest from me, the lion will slay thee. And when he had departed from him, the lion found him and slew him.

37 Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him violently, and wounded [him].

38 And the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with a sash over his eyes.

39 And as the king passed by, he cried to the king and said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man to me and said, Keep this man; if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or thou shalt pay a talent of silver.

40 And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said to him, So [is] thy judgment: thyself hast decided [it].

41 Then he hastily took the sash away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him, that he was of the prophets.

42 And he said to him, Thus saith Jehovah: Because thou hast let go out of thy hand the man that I had devoted to destruction, thy life shall be for his life, and thy people for his people.

43 And the king of Israel went to his house sullen and vexed, 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. He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’”

The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.”

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. 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.’”

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.”

The elders and the people all answered, “Don’t listen to him or agree to his demands.”

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.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Kings 20:12 Or in Sukkoth; also in verse 16
  2. 1 Kings 20:39 That is, about 75 pounds or about 34 kilograms
  3. 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.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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