1Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his whole army -- thirty-two kings were with him, and horses andchariots -- and marched on Samaria, to besiege it and take it by assault. 2He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel to tel him, 'Ben-Hadad says this, 3"Your silver and gold are mine. Your wives and children remain yours." ' 4The king of Israel replied, 'As you command, my lord king. Myself and al I have are yours.' 5The messengers came again, this time they said, 'Ben-Hadad says this, "I have already sent you anorder to hand over your silver and your gold, your wives and your children; 6but I swear, this time tomorrow, I shal send my servants to ransack your house and your servants'houses and lay hands on everything that they value and take it away." ' 7The king of Israel summoned al the elders of the country and said, 'You can see clearly how this manintends to ruin us. He has already demanded my wives and my children, although I have not refused him mysilver and gold.' 8Al the elders and all the people said, 'Take no notice. Do not consent.' 9So he gave this answer to Ben-Hadad's messengers, 'Say to my lord the king, "Al you first required ofyour servant I wil do, but this I cannot do." ' And the messengers went back with the answer. 10Ben-Hadad then sent him the following message, 'May the gods bring unnameable ills on me andworse il s too, if there is enough dust in Samaria for each of my fol owers to have a handful!' 11But the king of Israel returned this answer, 'Say: the man who puts on his armour is not the one toboast, but the man who takes it off.' 12When Ben-Hadad heard this message -- he was under the awnings drinking with the kings -- he gaveorders to his servants, 'Take up position!' And they took up their positions against the city. 13A prophet then arrived, looking for Ahab king of Israel. 'Yahweh says this,' he said. ' "You have seenthis huge army? This very day I shal deliver it into your hands, and you will know that I am Yahweh." ' 14'By whose means?' Ahab asked. The prophet replied, 'Yahweh says this, "By means of the guards ofthe district governors." ' 'Who wil co-ordinate the attack?' Ahab asked. 'You will,' the prophet replied. 15So Ahab inspected the guards of the district governors: there were two hundred and thirty-two. Afterthese he reviewed the army, all the Israelites: there were seven thousand. 16They made a sortie at midday, when Ben-Hadad was drinking himself senseless under the awnings,he and the thirty-two kings who were al ies. 17The guards of the district governors led the sortie. A report was made to Ben-Hadad: 'Some menhave come out of Samaria.' 18He said, 'If they have come out for peace, take them alive; if they have come out for war, take themalive too.' 19So they made a sortie from the city, the district governors' guards and behind them the army, 20and each struck down his man. Aram took to flight and Israel pursued; Ben-Hadad king of Aramescaped on horseback. 21The king of Israel then advanced, capturing horses and chariots and inflicting a great defeat on Aram. 22The prophet then went to the king of Israel and said, 'Now is the time to be resolute and think careful yabout what you should do, for at the turn of the year the king of Aram wil march against you.' 23The servants of the king of Aram said to him, 'Their gods are gods of the mountains; that is why theyhave proved stronger than we are. But if we fight them on level ground, we shal certainly beat them. 24This is what you must do: remove all these kings from their commands and appoint professionalsoldiers in their place. 25You, for your part, must recruit an army as large as the one which deserted you, with as many horsesand as many chariots; then if we fight them on level ground, we shal certainly beat them.' He listened to theiradvice and acted accordingly. 26At the turn of the year, Ben-Hadad mustered the Aramaeans and marched on Aphek to fight Israel. 27The Israelites were already mobilised and provisioned, and marched out to meet them. Encampedopposite them, the Israelites looked like two herds of goats, whereas the Aramaeans fil ed the countryside. 28The man of God then went to the king of Israel and said, 'Yahweh says this, "Since Aram has saidthat Yahweh is a god of the mountains and not a god of the plains, I shall put the whole of this huge army intoyour power, and you will know that I am Yahweh." ' 29For seven days they were encamped opposite each other. On the seventh day battle was joined andthe Israelites slaughtered the Aramaeans, a hundred thousand foot soldiers in one day. 30The rest fled to Aphek, into the citadel, but the city walls collapsed on twenty-seven thousand of thesurvivors. Now Ben-Hadad had fled and taken refuge in an inner room inside the citadel. 31'Look,' his servants said to him, 'we have heard that the kings of Israel are faithful and kind kings. Letus put sackcloth round our waists and cords round our heads and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he wilspare your life.' 32So they wrapped sackcloth round their waists and put cords round their heads and went to the king ofIsrael, and said, 'Your servant Ben-Hadad says, "Spare my life." ' 33'So he is stil alive?' he replied. 'He is my brother.' The men took this for a good omen and quicklyseized on his words. 'Yes,' they said, 'Ben-Hadad is your brother.' Ahab said, 'Go and fetch him.' Then Ben-Hadad came out to him and Ahab made him get up into his chariot. 34Ben-Hadad said, 'I shall restore the towns which my father took from your father and you may set upa trading quarter for yourself in Damascus as my father did in Samaria.' 'With a treaty,' Ahab said, 'I shall set youfree.' Granting him a treaty, Ahab let him go. 35At Yahweh's command a member of the brotherhood of prophets said to a companion of his, 'Strikeme,' but the man refused to strike him. 36So he said to him, 'Since you have disobeyed Yahweh's order, the very moment you leave me a lionwil kill you.' And no sooner had he left him than he met a lion, which killed him. 37The prophet then went to find another man and said, 'Strike me,' and the man struck him andwounded him. 38The prophet then went and stood waiting for the king on the road, disguising himself with a bandageover his eyes. 39As the king passed, he cal ed out to him, 'Your servant was making his way to where the fight wasthickest when someone left the fighting to bring a man to me, and said, "Guard this man; if he is found missing,your life wil pay for his, or else you wil have to pay one talent of silver." 40But your servant was busy with one thing and another, the man disappeared.' The king of Israel said,'That is your sentence then. You have pronounced it yourself.' 41At this the man quickly pul ed off the bandage over his eyes, and the king of Israel recognised him asone of the prophets. 42He said to the king, 'Yahweh says this, "Since you have let the man escape who was under my curseof destruction, your life wil pay for his, your people for his people." ' 43And the king of Israel went home, gloomy and out of temper, back to Samaria.
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