1 Kings 20 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
King Ahab Defeats King Benhadad
20 King Benhadad of Aram gathered together his whole army. With him were 32 kings along with their horses and chariots. He went to blockade Samaria and fight against it. 2 He sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel. They told Ahab, “This is what Benhadad says: 3 Your silver and gold are mine. Your beloved wives and children are mine.”
4 The king of Israel answered, “As you say, Your Majesty. I and everything I have are yours.”
5 But Benhadad sent messengers back ⌞to Ahab⌟. They said, “Benhadad has sent this message to you: ‘Your silver, gold, wives, and children are mine. Give ⌞them to me⌟. 6 At this time tomorrow I’m going to send my servants to search your palace and your servants’ houses. They will take anything that you consider valuable.’ ”
7 Then the king of Israel called for all the leaders of the country. He said, “You can see how this man is looking for trouble. When he sent for my wives, children, silver, and gold, I didn’t refuse him.”
8 All the leaders and all the people told him, “Don’t listen to him. Don’t agree ⌞to his demands⌟.”
9 Ahab told Benhadad’s messengers, “Tell His Majesty, ‘I did everything your messengers told me the first time, but I can’t do this.’ ” The messengers left to take back his answer.
10 Then Benhadad sent Ahab the following message: “May the gods strike me dead if there will be enough dust left from Samaria to give a handful to each soldier who follows me.”
11 The king of Israel answered, “The saying goes, ‘Don’t brag about a victory before you have even dressed for battle.’ ”
12 Benhadad heard this as he and his allies were drinking in their tents. He told his officers to get ready. So they got ready ⌞to attack⌟ the city.
13 Then a prophet came to King Ahab of Israel and said, “This is what the Lord says: Have you seen this large army? I will hand it over to you today. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
14 Ahab asked, “How ⌞will this be done⌟?”
The prophet answered, “This is what the Lord says: by using the young officers of the district governors.”
“Who will start the battle?” Ahab asked.
“You will,” the prophet answered.
15 Ahab counted the young officers of the district governors. There were 232. After counting them, he counted all the Israelite soldiers. There were 7,000. 16 They attacked at noon, when Benhadad was in his tent getting drunk with the 32 kings who were his allies. 17 The young officers of the district governors went out first.
Benhadad had sent men ⌞to watch the city⌟. They informed him that some men had come out of Samaria.
18 He said, “Take them alive, whether they have come out to make peace or to fight.”
19 The young officers of the district governors led an attack, and the troops followed them. 20 Each officer killed his opponent. The Arameans fled, and Israel pursued them. King Benhadad of Aram escaped on a horse with the cavalry. 21 The king of Israel went out and destroyed the horses and chariots and decisively defeated the Arameans.
Ahab Spares Benhadad
22 Then the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “Reinforce your army. Consider what you have to do. When spring comes, the king of Aram will attack ⌞again⌟.”
23 Meanwhile, the officers of King Benhadad of Aram told him, “Their god is a god of the hills. That is why they were stronger than we were. However, if we fight them on the plain, we will be stronger than they are. 24 This is what we must do: Remove all of the kings from their positions, and substitute governors for them. 25 Recruit an army with as many horses and chariots as the one which was defeated. Then, if we fight them on the plain, we will be stronger than they are.” He took their advice and followed it.
26 Spring came, and Benhadad organized the Aramean army and went to Aphek to fight Israel. 27 When the Israelite ⌞troops⌟ had been organized and given provisions, they went to meet the enemy. The Israelites, while camped opposite the Arameans who filled the country, seemed like two newborn goats.
28 The man of God came again. He said to the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: Because the Arameans said that the Lord is a god of the hills but not a god of the valleys, I will hand over their entire army to you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
29 They camped facing one another for seven days, and on the seventh day the battle started. The Israelites killed 100,000 Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30 The survivors fled to Aphek, the city where the wall fell on 27,000 of them. Benhadad had also fled. He came to the city and hid in an inner room.
31 His officers told him, “We have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Allow us to dress in sackcloth, put ropes around our necks, and go to the king of Israel. Maybe he’ll let you live.” 32 So they dressed in sackcloth and put ropes around their necks. They went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Benhadad says, ‘Please let me live.’ ”
Ahab asked, “He’s still alive? He’s my brother.”
33 The men, watching for a good sign, were quick to take him at his word. “Benhadad is your brother,” they said.
Ahab said, “Bring him here.” When Benhadad arrived, Ahab had him come up on the chariot with him.
34 Benhadad told him, “I will give back the towns my father took from your father. You may set up trading centers in Damascus as my father did in Samaria.”
Ahab said, “If you will put this into a treaty, I will let you go.” So Ahab made a treaty with Benhadad and let him go.
35 A disciple of the prophets spoke to a friend as the Lord’s word had told him. ⌞The disciple said,⌟ “Punch me,” but the man refused to punch him. 36 The disciple said, “Since you didn’t obey the Lord, a lion will kill you when you leave me.” When the friend left, a lion found him and killed him.
37 Then the disciple found another man. He said, “Punch me.” The man punched him hard and wounded him.
38 Then the prophet, disguised with a bandage over his eyes, waited for the king by the road. 39 When the king passed by, the disciple called to him. “I went to fight in the battle. A man turned around and brought a prisoner to me. He said, ‘Guard this prisoner. If he gets away, you will pay for his life with your own life or be fined 75 pounds of silver.’ 40 But while I was busy doing other things, he got away.”
The king of Israel told him, “That’s your own penalty. You have determined it yourself.”
41 Then he quickly took the bandage off his eyes. The king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets.
42 The prophet told him, “This is what the Lord says: You let the man go. He was claimed by God and should have been killed. For that reason your life will be taken in place of his life and your people in place of his people.”
43 Resentful and upset, the king of Israel went home 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. 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 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.