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1 Kings Chapter 20 | Parsha:

1King Ben-hadad of Aram gathered his whole army; thirty-two kings accompanied him with horses and chariots. He advanced against Samaria, laid siege to it, and attacked it. 2And he sent messengers to Ahab inside the city 3to say to him, “Thus said Ben-hadad: Your silver and gold are mine, and your beautiful wives and children are mine.” 4The king of Israel replied, “As you say, my lord king: I and all I have are yours.” 5Then the messengers came again and said, “Thus said Ben-hadad: When I sent you the order to give me your silver and gold, and your wives and children, 6I meant that tomorrow at this time I will send my servants to you and they will search your house and the houses of your courtiers and seize everything you prize and take it away.”

7Then the king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land, and he said, “See for yourselves how that man is bent on evil! For when he demanded my wives and my children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him.” 8All the elders and all the people said, “Do not obey and do not submit!” 9So he said to Ben-hadad’s messengers, “Tell my lord the king: All that you first demanded of your servant I shall do, but this thing I cannot do.” The messengers went and reported this to him. 10Thereupon Ben-hadad sent him this message: “May the gods do thus to me and even more, if the dust of Samaria will provide even a handful for each of the men who follow me!”

11The king of Israel replied, “Tell him: Let not him who girds on his sword boast like him who ungirds it!”

12On hearing this reply—while he and the other kings were drinking together at Succoth—he commanded his followers, “Advance!” And they advanced against the city. 13Then a certain prophet went up to King Ahab of Israel and said, “Thus said the Lord: Do you see that great host? I will deliver it into your hands today, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 14“Through whom?” asked Ahab. He answered, “Thus said the Lord: Through the aides of the provincial governors.” He asked, “Who shall begin the battle?” And he answered, “You.”

15So he mustered the aides of the provincial governors, 232 strong, and then he mustered all the troops—all the Israelites—7,000 strong. 16They marched out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk at Succoth together with the thirty-two kings allied with him. 17The aides of the provincial governors rushed out first. Ben-hadad sent [scouts], who told him, “Some men have come out from Samaria.” 18He said, “If they have come out to surrender, take them alive; and if they have come out for battle, take them alive anyhow.” 19But the others—the aides of the provincial governors, with the army behind them—had already rushed out of the city, 20and each of them struck down his opponent. The Arameans fled, and Israel pursued them; but King Ben-hadad of Aram escaped on a horse with other horsemen. 21The king of Israel came out and attacked the horses and chariots, and inflicted a great defeat on the Arameans. 22Then the prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, keep up your efforts, and consider well what you must do; for the king of Aram will attack you at the turn of the year.”

23Now the ministers of the king of Aram said to him, “Their God is a God of mountains; that is why they got the better of us. But if we fight them in the plain, we will surely get the better of them. 24Do this: Remove all the kings from their posts and appoint governors in their place. 25Then muster for yourself an army equal to the army you lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot. And let us fight them in the plain, and we will surely get the better of them.” He took their advice and acted accordingly.

26At the turn of the year, Ben-hadad mustered the Arameans and advanced on Aphek to fight Israel. 27Now the Israelites had been mustered and provisioned, and they went out against them; but when the Israelites encamped against them, they looked like two flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the land. 28Then the man of God approached and spoke to the king of Israel, “Thus said the Lord: Because the Arameans have said, ‘The Lord is a God of mountains, but He is not a God of lowlands,’ I will deliver that great host into your hands; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

29For seven days they were encamped opposite each other. On the seventh day, the battle was joined and the Israelites struck down 100,000 Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30The survivors fled to Aphek, inside the town, and the wall fell on the 27,000 survivors.
Ben-hadad also fled and took refuge inside the town, in an inner chamber.
31His ministers said to him, “We have heard that the kings of the House of Israel are magnanimous kings. Let us put sackcloth on our loins and ropes on our heads, and surrender to the king of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life.” 32So they girded sackcloth on their loins and wound ropes around their heads, and came to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘I beg you, spare my life.’” He replied, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” 33The men divined his meaning and quickly caught the word from him, saying, “Yes, Ben-hadad is your brother.” “Go, bring him,” he said. Ben-hadad came out to him, and he invited him into his chariot. 34Ben-hadad said to him, “I will give back the towns that my father took from your father, and you may set up bazaars for yourself in Damascus as my father did in Samaria.” “And I, for my part,” [said Ahab,] “will let you go home under these terms.” So he made a treaty with him and dismissed him.

35A certain man, a disciple of the prophets, said to another, at the word of the Lord, “Strike me”; but the man refused to strike him. 36He said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the Lord, a lion will strike you dead as soon as you leave me.” And when he left, a lion came upon him and killed him. 37Then he met another man and said, “Come, strike me.” So the man struck him and wounded him. 38Then the prophet, disguised by a cloth over his eyes, went and waited for the king by the road. 39As the king passed by, he cried out to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the thick of the battle. Suddenly a man came over and brought a man to me, saying, ‘Guard this man! If he is missing, it will be your life for his, or you will have to pay a talent of silver.’ 40While your servant was busy here and there, [the man] got away.” The king of Israel responded, “You have your verdict; you pronounced it yourself.” 41Quickly he removed the cloth from his eyes, and the king recognized him as one of the prophets. 42He said to him, “Thus said the Lord: Because you have set free the man whom I doomed, your life shall be forfeit for his life and your people for his people.” 43Dispirited and sullen, the king left for home and came to Samaria.

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