Syria attacks. The LORD God defends them. The LORD God defends them again.
VERSE 1. Ben Hadad the king of Syria gathered all his army together; and there were thirty-two kings with him, with horses and chariots. He went up and besieged Samaria, and fought against it.
Ben Hadad. This is Ben-Hadad II. He is king of Aram, which is Israel’s neighbor to the north.
there were thirty-two kings with him. Ben-Hadad leads a coalition of 32 city-states.
He sent messengers. They deliver Ben-Hadad’s demands to king Ahab of Israel.
VERSE 3. ‘Your silver and your gold are mine. Your wives also and your children, even the best, are mine.’ ”
VERSE 4. The king of Israel answered, “It is according to your saying, my lord, O king. I am yours, and all that I have.”
I am yours, and all that I have. Evil king Ahab is a coward. So he capitulates.
In the Book of Kings, the leaders exhibit narcissistic behaviors. They demand subservience. They commit idolatry and murder. They disobey sexual laws. Read more »
VERSE 5. The messengers came again and said, “Ben Hadad says, ‘I sent indeed to you, saying, “You shall deliver me your silver, your gold, your wives, and your children;
The messengers came again. Ben-Hadad is surprised over such an easy victory. So he demands even more.
VERSE 6. but I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they will search your house and the houses of your servants. Whatever is pleasant in your eyes, they will put it in their hand, and take it away.” ’ ”
VERSE 7. Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, “Please notice 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 didn’t deny him.”
this man seeks mischief. Ahab easily surrendered his silver, gold, wives, and children. But now he refuses to surrender random trinkets.
VERSE 8. All the elders and all the people said to him, “Don’t listen, and don’t consent.”
VERSE 9. Therefore he said to the messengers of Ben Hadad, “Tell my lord the king, ‘All that you sent for to your servant at the first I will do, but this thing I cannot do.’ ” The messengers departed and brought him back the message.
this thing I cannot do. Ahab refuses to surrender his random trinkets.
VERSE 10. Ben Hadad sent to him, and said, “The gods do so to me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria will be enough for handfuls for all the people who follow me.”
VERSE 11. The king of Israel answered, “Tell him, ‘Don’t let him who puts on his armor brag like he who takes it off.’ ”
That is, Ben-Hadad should not boast of victory until he obtains it.
VERSE 12. When Ben Hadad heard this message as he was drinking, he and the kings in the pavilions, he said to his servants, “Prepare to attack!” So they prepared to attack the city.
as he was drinking. Ben-Hadad is drinking alcohol. This is a grave dereliction of duty. He should not lead an army into battle.
VERSE 13. Behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel, and said, “The LORD says, ‘Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’ ”
a prophet. The name of this prophet is not given. We will encounter him again in verse 22 below.
I will deliver it into your hand today. The prophet says king Ahab will be victorious.
Then you will know that I am the LORD. This great outpouring of grace from the Most High God is not prompted not by Ahab, who is a terrible king and a terrible human bring.
Rather, the purpose is to get the people to acknowledge the LORD God.
VERSE 14. Ahab said, “By whom?” He said, “The LORD says, ‘By the young men of the princes of the provinces.’ ” Then he said, “Who shall begin the battle?” He answered, “You.”
VERSE 15. Then he mustered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty-two. After them, he mustered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand.
VERSE 16. They went out at noon. But Ben Hadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty-two kings who helped him.
Ben Hadad was drinking himself drunk. Ben-Hadad is drunk. This is a grave dereliction of duty. He should not lead an army into battle.
he and the kings. The 32 kings are drunk. This too is a grave dereliction of duty. They should not lead an army into battle.
VERSE 17. The young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Ben Hadad sent out, and they told him, saying, “Men are coming out from Samaria.”
VERSE 18. He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive; or if they have come out for war, take them alive.”
It is not clear to Ben-Hadad whether the 232 men are coming to talk peace or for war. Thus he does not prepare for their attack.
VERSE 19. So these went out of the city, the young men of the princes of the provinces, and the army which followed them.
VERSE 20. They each killed his man. The Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them. Ben Hadad the king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen.
The Syrians fled. This is no surprise. All their leaders are drunk.
VERSE 21. The king of Israel went out and struck the horses and chariots, and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter.
VERSE 22. The prophet came near to the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, strengthen yourself, and plan what you must do, for at the return of the year, the king of Syria will come up against you.”
The prophet. This is the same unnamed prophet from verse 13 above.
VERSE 23. The servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their god is a god of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we. But let’s fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they.
The person saying this assumes each god is confined to a specific territory.
VERSE 24. Do this thing: take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their place.
take the kings away. The kings were drunk, as we saw in verse 16 above. That was a grave dereliction of duty. They should not have led their armies into battle.
put captains in their place. Proper military officers are skilled in leadership. And they are not drunk.
VERSE 25. Muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot. We will fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they are.” He listened to their voice and did so.
VERSE 26. At the return of the year, Ben Hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel.
VERSE 27. The children of Israel were mustered and given provisions, and went against them. The children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of young goats, but the Syrians filled the country.
two little flocks of young goats. Very few Israelites are present.
Syrians filled the country. The Syrian army is huge. The Israelites are hopelessly outnumbered.
VERSE 28. A man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, “The LORD says, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is a god of the hills, but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’ ”
I will deliver all this great multitude. Tiny Israel will be victorious.
you shall know that I am the LORD. This great outpouring of grace from the Most High God is not prompted not by Ahab, who is a terrible king and a terrible human bring.
Rather, the purpose is to get the people to acknowledge the LORD God.
VERSE 29. They encamped opposite each other for seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel killed one hundred thousand footmen of the Syrians in one day.
killed one hundred thousand footmen. This is an epic military victory for Israel!
VERSE 30. But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and the wall fell on twenty-seven thousand men who were left. Ben Hadad fled and came into the city, into an inner room.
the rest fled to Aphek. The remainder of the Syrian army flees.
Ben Hadad fled. The leader of the Syrian army flees.
VERSE 31. His servants said to him, “See now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Please let us put sackcloth on our bodies and ropes on our heads, and go out to the king of Israel. Maybe he will save your life.”
VERSE 32. So they put sackcloth on their bodies and ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, “Your servant Ben Hadad says, ‘Please let me live.’ ” He said, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.”
VERSE 33. Now the men observed diligently and hurried to take this phrase; and they said, “Your brother Ben Hadad.” Then he said, “Go, bring him.” Then Ben Hadad came out to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot.
VERSE 34. Ben Hadad said to him, “The cities which my father took from your father I will restore. You shall make streets for yourself in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria.” “I”, said Ahab, “will let you go with this covenant.” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.
he made a covenant. Ahab makes a grave mistake.
VERSE 35. A certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow by the LORD’s word, “Please strike me!” The man refused to strike him.
VERSE 36. Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the LORD’s voice, behold, as soon as you have departed from me, a lion will kill you.” As soon as he had departed from him, a lion found him and killed him.
VERSE 37. Then he found another man, and said, “Please strike me.” The man struck him and wounded him.
VERSE 38. So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with his headband over his eyes.
VERSE 39. As the king passed by, he cried to the king, and he said, “Your servant went out into the middle of the battle; and behold, a man came over and brought a man to me, and said, ‘Guard this man! If by any means he is missing, then your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’
a talent. One talent is about 30 kilograms or 66 pounds.
VERSE 40. As your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” The king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be. You yourself have decided it.”
VERSE 41. He hurried, and took the headband away from his eyes; and the king of Israel recognized that he was one of the prophets.
VERSE 42. He said to him, “The LORD says, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life will take the place of his life, and your people take the place of his people.’ ”
VERSE 43. The king of Israel went to his house sullen and angry, and came to Samaria.
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