King James Version

1 Kings 20

1And Benhadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots; and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it.

And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Benhadad,

Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even 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 speaketh Benhadad, saying, Although I have sent unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children;

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

Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, Mark, I pray you, and see how this man seeketh mischief: for he sent unto 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 unto him, Hearken not unto him, nor consent.

Wherefore he said unto the messengers of Benhadad, Tell my lord the king, All that thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do: but this thing I may not do. And the messengers departed, and brought him word again.

10 And Benhadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto 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 his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.

12 And it came to pass, when Ben-hadad heard this message, as he was drinking, he and the kings in the pavilions, that he said unto his servants, Set yourselves in array. And they set themselves in array against the city.

13 And, behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab king of Israel, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.

14 And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Even by the young men of the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall order the battle? And he answered, Thou.

15 Then he numbered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty two: and after them he numbered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand.

16 And they went out at noon. But Benhadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him.

17 And the young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Benhadad 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 So these young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city, and the army which followed them.

20 And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Benhadad the king of Syria escaped on an 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 came to the king of Israel, and said unto him, Go, strengthen thyself, and mark, and see what thou doest: 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 unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.

24 And do this thing, Take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their rooms:

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 in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. And he hearkened unto their voice, and did so.

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

27 And the children of Israel were numbered, and were all present, and went against them: and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country.

28 And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

29 And they pitched one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day.

30 But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Benhadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.

31 And his servants said unto 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: peradventure he will save thy life.

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

33 Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it: and they said, Thy brother Benhadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Benhadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot.

34 And Ben-hadad said unto him, The cities, which my father took from thy father, I will restore; and thou shalt make streets for thee in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. Then said Ahab, I 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 unto his neighbour in the word of the Lord, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.

36 Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him.

37 Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him.

38 So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face.

39 And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else 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 unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it.

41 And he hasted, and took the ashes away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets.

42 And he said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people.

43 And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.

New International Reader's Version

1 Kings 20

Ben-Hadad Attacks Samaria

1Ben-Hadad brought his whole army together. He was king of Aram. He went up to Samaria. He took 32 kings and their horses and chariots with him. All of them surrounded Samaria and attacked it. Ben-Hadad sent messengers into the city. They spoke to Ahab, the king of Israel. They told him, “Ben-Hadad says, ‘Your silver and gold belong to me. The best of your wives and children also belong to me.’ ”

The king of Israel replied, “What you say is true. You are my king and master. I belong to you. And everything I have belongs to you.”

The messengers came again. They told Ahab, “Ben-Hadad says, ‘I commanded you to give me your silver and gold. I also commanded you to give me your wives and children. But now I’m going to send my officials to you. They will come about this time tomorrow. They’ll search your palace. They’ll search the houses of your officials. They’ll take everything you value. And they’ll carry it all away.’ ”

The king of Israel sent for all the elders of the land. He said to them, “This man is really looking for trouble! He sent for my wives and children. He sent for my silver and gold. And I agreed to give them to him.”

All the elders and people answered, “Don’t listen to him. Don’t agree to give him what he wants.”

So Ahab replied to Ben-Hadad’s messengers. He said, “Tell my king and master, ‘I will do everything you commanded me to do the first time. But this time, I can’t do what you want me to do.’ ” They took Ahab’s answer back to Ben-Hadad.

10 Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab. Ben-Hadad said, “There won’t be enough dust left in Samaria to give each of my followers even a handful. If there is, may the gods punish me greatly.”

11 The king of Israel replied. He said, “Tell him, ‘Someone who puts his armor on shouldn’t brag like someone who takes it off.’ ”

12 Ben-Hadad and the kings were in their tents drinking. That’s when he heard the message. He ordered his men, “Get ready to attack.” So they prepared to attack the city.

Ahab Wins the Battle Over Ben-Hadad

13 During that time a prophet came to Ahab, the king of Israel. He announced, “The Lord says, ‘Do you see this huge army? I will hand it over to you today. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ ”

14 “But who will do it?” Ahab asked.

The prophet answered, “The Lord says, ‘The junior officers who are under the area commanders will do it.’ ”

“And who will start the battle?” Ahab asked.

The prophet answered, “You will.”

15 So Ahab sent for the junior officers who were under the area commanders. The total number of officers was 232. Ahab gathered together the rest of the Israelites. The total number of them was 7,000. 16 They started out at noon. At that time Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings helping him were in their tents. They were getting drunk. 17 The junior officers who were under Ahab’s area commanders marched out first.

Ben-Hadad had sent out scouts. They came back and reported, “Men are marching against us from Samaria.”

18 Ben-Hadad said, “They might be coming to make peace. If they are, take them alive. Or they might be coming to make war. If they are, take them alive.”

19 The junior officers marched out of the city. The army was right behind them. 20 Each man struck down the one fighting against him. When that happened, the army of Aram ran away. The Israelites chased them. But Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, escaped on a horse. Some of his horsemen escaped with him. 21 The king of Israel attacked them. He overpowered the horses and chariots. Large numbers of the men of Aram were wounded or killed.

22 After that, the prophet came to the king of Israel again. The prophet said, “Make your position stronger. Do what needs to be done. Next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.”

23 During that time, the officials of the king of Aram gave him advice. They said, “The gods of Israel are gods of the hills. That’s why they were too strong for us. But suppose we fight them on the plains. Then we’ll certainly be stronger than they are. 24 Here’s what you should do. Don’t let any of the kings continue as military leaders. Have other officers take their places. 25 You must also put another army together. It should be just like the one you lost. It should have the same number of horses and chariots. Then we’ll be able to fight against Israel on the plains. And we’ll certainly be stronger than they are.” Ben-Hadad agreed with their advice. He did what they suggested.

26 The next spring Ben-Hadad brought together the men of Aram. They went up to the city of Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 The Israelites were also brought together. They were given supplies. They marched out to fight against their enemies. Israel’s army camped across from Aram’s army. The Israelites looked like two small flocks of goats that had become separated from the others. But the men of Aram covered the countryside.

28 The man of God came up to the king of Israel again. He told him, “The Lord says, ‘The men of Aram think the Lord is a god of the hills. They do not think he is a god of the valleys. So I, the Lord, will hand their huge army over to you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ ”

29 For seven days the two armies camped across from each other. On the seventh day the battle began. The Israelites wounded or killed 100,000 Aramean soldiers who were on foot. That happened in a single day. 30 The rest of the men of Aram escaped to the city of Aphek. Its wall fell down on 27,000 of them. Ben-Hadad ran to the city. He hid in a secret room.

31 His officials said to him, “Look, we’ve heard that the kings of Israel often show mercy. So let’s go to the king of Israel. Let’s wear the rough clothing people wear when they’re sad. Let’s tie ropes around our heads. Perhaps Ahab will spare your life.”

32 So they wore rough clothing. They tied ropes around their heads. Then they went to the king of Israel. They told him, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says, ‘Please let me live.’ ”

The king answered, “Is he still alive? He used to be my friend.”

33 The men thought that was good news. So they quickly used the word Ahab had used. “Yes! Your friend Ben-Hadad!” they said.

“Go and get him,” the king said. Ben-Hadad came out of the secret room. Then Ahab had him get into his chariot.

34 “I’ll return the cities my father took from your father,” Ben-Hadad offered. “You can set up your own market areas in Damascus. That’s what my father did in Samaria.”

Ahab said, “If we sign a peace treaty, I’ll set you free.” So Ben-Hadad made a treaty with him. Then Ahab let him go.

A Prophet Accuses Ahab

35 There was a group of people called the group of the prophets. A message from the Lord came to one of their members. He said to his companion, “Strike me down with your weapon.” But he wouldn’t do it.

36 The prophet said, “You haven’t obeyed the Lord. So as soon as you leave me, a lion will kill you.” The companion went away. And a lion found him and killed him.

37 The prophet found another man. He said, “Please strike me down.” So the man struck him down and wounded him. 38 Then the prophet went and stood by the road. He waited for the king to come by. He pulled his headband down over his eyes so no one would recognize him. 39 The king passed by. Then the prophet called out to him. He said, “I went into the middle of the battle. Someone came to me with a prisoner. He said, ‘Guard this man. Don’t let him get away. If he does, you will pay for his life with yours. Or you can pay 75 pounds of silver.’ 40 While I was busy here and there, the man disappeared.”

The king of Israel spoke to him. He told him, “What you’ve just said is what will happen to you.”

41 Then the prophet quickly removed the headband from his eyes. The king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 He told the king, “The Lord says, ‘You have set a man free. But I had said he should be set apart to the Lord in a special way to be destroyed. So you must pay for his life with yours. You must pay for his people’s lives with the lives of your people.’ ” 43 The king of Israel was angry. He was in a bad mood. He went back to his palace in Samaria.