1 Kings 20:1-43

20 * And King Ben-Hadad of Syria gathered all his forces and came up and besieged Samaria, 2  and sent into the city to King Ahab of Israel and told him “Says Ben-Hadad, 3 * Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine”; 4  and the king of Israel answered “As your majesty says, I and everything I have are yours.” 5  And the messengers came again and said “Says Ben-Hadad, I sent to tell you you should give me your silver and gold and wives and children; 6 * but right off tomorrow I will send my officers to you and they shall search your house and the houses of your subjects, and help themselves to whatever you especially care for and take it.” 7  And the king of Israel summoned all the elders and said to them “Look and see for yourselves, the man is after mischief; for he had sent to me for my wives and children and my silver and gold, and I had not refused.” 8  And all the elders and all the people said to him “Do not consent nor obey.” 9  And he said to Ben-Hadad’s messengers “Tell his majesty ‘Everything that you sent to me about at first I will do, but this thing I cannot’”; and the messengers went and took the reply back to him. 10  And Ben-Hadad sent word to him “The gods do so to me, and more, if the dust in Samaria will suffice for handfuls for all the people at my back”; 11  and the king of Israel answered “That will do: a man fastening his belt should not brag like a man unfastening it.” 12  And when he heard these words as he was drinking, he and the kings, in the booths, he said to his officers “Invest”; and they invested the city. 13  And a prophet approached King Ahab of Israel and said “Says Jehovah, Have you seen all this great host? I am giving it into your hands today, and you shall know that I am Jehovah.” 14  And Ahab said “By whom?” and he said “Says Jehovah, by the attendants of the lieutenants of the provinces.” And he said “Who shall take the initiative?” and he said “You.” 15  And he mustered the attendants of the lieutenants of the provinces, and there were two hundred and thirty-two of them; and behind them he mustered all the people, all the sons of Israel, seven thousand of them. 16 * And they went out at noon, while Ben-Hadad was getting drunk in the booths, he and the kings; 17  and the attendants of the lieutenants of the provinces went out first, and they sent and told him “Some men have come out of Samaria.” 18  And he said “If they have come out for peace, take them alive; and if they have come out for war, take them alive.” 19 * And these came out of the city, the attendants of the lieutenants of the provinces and the forces that were behind them, 20 * and each killed his man, and the Syrians took flight and the Israelites pursued them; and King Ben-Hadad of Syria made his escape on a pony, and some horsemen. 21  And the king of Israel went out and took the ponies and the chariots, and made great havoc among the Syrians. 22  And the prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him “Go make provisions, and have your mind made up what to do; for at the return of the year the king of Syria is coming up against you.” 23 * And the officers of the king of Syria said to him “Their gods are mountain gods; that is why they were too strong for us; but let us fight them in the plain and see if we shall not be too strong for them. 24  And take this course: remove the kings from their places and appoint viceroys instead, 25  and yourself count off a force equal to the one that deserted you, with pony for pony and chariot for chariot, and let us fight them in the plain and see if we shall not be too strong for them”; and the king of Syria listened to them and did so. 26  And at the return of the year Ben-Hadad mustered the Syrians and came up to Aphek to fight Israel, 27 * and the sons of Israel were mustered and provisioned and went to meet them; and the sons of Israel camped facing them, like two bunches of stray goats, while the Syrians filled the country. 28  And the man of God approached the king and said “Says Jehovah, Since the Syrians say ‘Jehovah is a god of the mountains and not of the vales,’ I will give all this great host into your hands, and you shall know that I am Jehovah.” 29  And they camped face to face for seven days; and on the seventh day battle was joined, and the sons of Israel defeated the Syrians, killing a hundred thousand infantry in one day; 30  and the survivors fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell on twenty-seven thousand survivors. And Ben-Hadad fled and went into a closet. 31  And his officers said to him “See here, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are kindly kings: let us put sackcloths round our waists and ropes round our heads and go out to the king of Israel; he may spare your life.” 32  And they tied sackcloths round their waists and ropes round their heads and came to the king of Israel, and said “Your servant Ben-Hadad says ‘Spare my life.’” And he said “Is he still alive? he is my brother.” 33  And the men, catching at the token, held him to him; word at once and said “Ben-Hadad is your brother!” And he said “Go in and fetch him”; 34 * and Ben-Hadad came out to him, and he took him up into the chariot. And he said to him “The cities my father took from your father I will give back, and you shall establish bazars for yourself in Damascus as my father did in Samaria.” “And on these terms I will let you go.” And he made a treaty with him and let him go. 35  And a man who belonged to the prophets’ fellowship said to his friend, by Jehovah’s direction, “Knock me down”; but the man refused to do it, 36  and he said to him “Since you did not obey Jehovah, when you go from me a lion is going to bring you down”; and he went away from him, and a lion did find him and brought him down. 37  And he found another man and said to him “Knock me down”; and the man knocked him down, drawing blood on him. 38  And the prophet went and stood in the way of the king, and 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 fight, and a man stepped out and brought a man to me and said ‘Guard this man; if he is missing it shall be your life for his, or you shall pay a hundred-weight of silver.’ 40  And then your servant was doing things in one place and another—and he was gone.” And the king of Israel said to him “That is your sentence; you have made the award yourself.” 41  And instantly he took the bandage off from over his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as being one of the prophets; 42  and he said to him “Says Jehovah, Since you have let out of your hands the man I claimed for death without quarter, it shall be your life and your people for his.” 43 * And the king of Israel went on sullen and exasperated, and came to Samaria.


20:1 Var. gathered all his forces, and thirty-two kings with him, and ponies and chariots, and came up and besieged Samaria and attacked it
20:3 Var. and your wives and children are mine
20:6 Var. whatever they take a fancy to
20:16 Codd. he and the kings, thirty-two kings who were helping him
20:19 Conj. these came out of the city and each killed his man
20:20 Or on ponies and horses
20:23 Or Their god is a mountain god
20:27 (bunches of stray goats) Unc.
20:34 Conj. in Samaria; and on these terms you shall let me go
20:39 Or your person for his
20:43 Var. went home sullen