1 Kings 20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
War with Aram
20 Now Ben-hadad, king of Aram, gathered all his army, and there were thirty-two kings with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and besieged Samaria, and fought against it. 2 Then he sent messengers to the city to Ahab, king of Israel, and said to him, “This is what Ben-hadad says: 3 ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your most beautiful wives and children are also mine.’” 4 And the king of Israel replied, “As [a]you say, my lord, O king; I am yours, as well as all that I have.” 5 Then the messengers returned and said, “Ben-hadad says [b]this: ‘I did indeed send word to you, saying, “You shall give me your silver, your gold, your wives, and your children”; 6 but about this time tomorrow I will send my servants to you, and they will search your house and the houses of your servants; and they will take in their hands everything that is pleasing to your eyes, and take it all away.’”
7 Then the king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land and said, “Please be aware and see that this man is looking for trouble; for he sent me his demand for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold, and I did not refuse him.” 8 Then all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen nor consent.” 9 So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the king, ‘Everything that you sent as a demand to your servant at the first, I will do; but this thing I cannot do.’” Then the messengers departed, and brought him word again. 10 Ben-hadad sent word to him and said, “May the gods do so to me and more so, [c]if the dust of Samaria will be enough for handfuls for all the people who [d]follow me.” 11 Then the king of Israel replied, “Tell him, ‘He who straps on his weapons had better not boast like one who takes them off.’” 12 And when Ben-hadad heard this message, while he was drinking [e]with the kings in the [f]temporary shelters, he said to his servants, “Take your positions.” So they took their positions against the city.
13 Now behold, a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel, and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I am going to hand them over to you today, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’” 14 But Ahab said, “By whom?” So he said, “The Lord says this: ‘By the young men of the leaders of the provinces.’” Then he said, “Who will begin the battle?” And he said, “You will.” 15 So he mustered the young men of the leaders of the provinces, and there were 232; and after them he mustered all the people, all the sons of Israel: seven thousand.
16 They went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the [g]temporary shelters [h]with the thirty-two kings who were helping him. 17 The young men of the leaders of the provinces went out first; and Ben-hadad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, saying, “Men have come out from Samaria.” 18 Then he said, “If they have come out [i]for peace, take them alive; or if they have come out for war, take them alive as well.”
19 So these men went out from the city, the young men of the leaders of the provinces, and the army which followed them. 20 And they [j]killed, each one, his man; and the Arameans fled and Israel pursued them, and Ben-hadad the king of Aram escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 The king of Israel also went out and struck the horses and chariots, and [k]killed the Arameans in a great slaughter.
22 Then the prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, show yourself courageous and be aware and see what you have to do; for at [l]the turn of the year the king of Aram will march against you.”
23 Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, “Their gods are gods of the mountains; for that reason they were stronger than we. But let us fight them in the plain, and we will certainly be stronger than they. 24 Carry out this [m]plan: remove the kings, each from his place, and put governors in their place, 25 and [n]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 we will certainly be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so.
Another Aramean War
26 So at [o]the turn of the year Ben-hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 And the sons of Israel were mustered and given provisions, and they went to meet them; and the sons of Israel camped opposite them like two little flocks of goats, while the Arameans filled the country. 28 Then a man of God approached and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Since the Arameans have said, “The Lord is a god of mountains, but He is not a god of valleys,” therefore I will hand over to you all this great multitude, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’” 29 So they camped, one opposite the other, for seven days. And on the seventh day the battle was joined, and the sons of Israel [p]killed of the Arameans a hundred thousand foot soldiers in a single day. 30 But the rest fled to Aphek into the city, and the wall fell on twenty-seven thousand men who were left. And Ben-hadad fled and came into the city, going from one inner room to another.
31 But his servants said to him, “Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Please let’s put sackcloth [q]around our waists and ropes on our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will let [r]you live.” 32 So they put sackcloth [s]around their waists and ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please let [t]me live.’” And Ahab said, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” 33 Now the men took this as a good omen, and quickly [u]accepting it from him, they said, “Your brother Ben-hadad.” Then he said, “Go, bring him.” Then Ben-hadad came out to him, and he had him mount the chariot. 34 And Ben-hadad said to him, “The cities which my father took from your father I will restore, and you can make streets for yourself in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria.” Ahab said, “And I will let you go with this covenant.” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.
35 Now a man from the sons of the prophets said to [v]another by the word of the Lord, “Please strike me.” But the man refused to strike him. 36 Then he said to him, “Because you have not listened to the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you leave me, a lion will [w]kill you.” And as soon as he left him a lion found him and [x]killed him. 37 Then he found another man and said, “Please strike me.” And the man struck him, [y]injuring him. 38 So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the road, 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 midst of the battle; and behold, a man turned aside and brought a man to me and said, ‘Guard this man; if for any reason he goes missing, then your life shall be forfeited in place of his life, or else you shall pay a [z]talent of silver.’ 40 Now while your servant was busy here and there, he disappeared.” And the king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself determined it.” 41 Then he quickly took the bandage away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him, that he was one of the prophets. 42 And the prophet said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Since you have let go from your hand the man I had designated for destruction, your [aa]life shall be forfeited in place of his [ab]life, and your people in place of his people.’” 43 So the king of Israel went to his house sullen and furious, 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. 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.