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1 Kings 20:22-34

The Lord Gives Israel Another Victory

20:22 The prophet 1  visited the king of Israel and instructed him, “Go, fortify your defenses. 2  Determine 3  what you must do, for in the spring 4  the king of Syria will attack 5  you.” 20:23 Now the advisers 6  of the king of Syria said to him: “Their God is a god of the mountains. That’s why they overpowered us. But if we fight them in the plains, we will certainly overpower them. 20:24 So do this: Dismiss the kings from their command, and replace them with military commanders. 20:25 Muster an army like the one you lost, with the same number of horses and chariots. 7  Then we will fight them in the plains; we will certainly overpower them.” He approved their plan and did as they advised. 8 

20:26 In the spring 9  Ben Hadad mustered the Syrian army 10  and marched to Aphek to fight Israel. 11  20:27 When the Israelites had mustered and had received their supplies, they marched out to face them in battle. When the Israelites deployed opposite them, they were like two small flocks 12  of goats, but the Syrians filled the land. 20:28 The prophet 13  visited the king of Israel and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Syrians said, “The Lord is a god of the mountains and not a god of the valleys,” I will hand over to you this entire huge army. 14  Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

20:29 The armies were deployed opposite each other for seven days. On the seventh day the battle began, and the Israelites killed 100,000 Syrian foot soldiers in one day. 20:30 The remaining 27,000 ran to Aphek and went into the city, but the wall fell on them. 15  Now Ben Hadad ran into the city and hid in an inner room. 16  20:31 His advisers 17  said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of the Israelite dynasty are kind. 18  Allow us to put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads 19  and surrender 20  to the king of Israel. Maybe he will spare our lives.” 20:32 So they put sackcloth around their waists and ropes on their heads and went to the king of Israel. They said, “Your servant 21  Ben Hadad says, ‘Please let me live!’” Ahab 22  replied, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” 23  20:33 The men took this as a good omen and quickly accepted his offer, saying, “Ben Hadad is your brother.” Ahab 24  then said, “Go, get him.” So Ben Hadad came out to him, and Ahab pulled him up into his chariot. 20:34 Ben Hadad 25  said, “I will return the cities my father took from your father. You may set up markets 26  in Damascus, just as my father did in Samaria.” 27  Ahab then said, “I want to make a treaty with you before I dismiss you.” 28  So he made a treaty with him and then dismissed him.

1 tn The definite article indicates previous reference, that is, “the prophet mentioned earlier” (see v. 13).

2 tn Heb “strengthen yourself.”

3 tn Heb “know and see.”

4 tn Heb “at the turning of the year.”

5 tn Heb “go up against.”

6 tn Or “servants.”

7 tn Heb “And you, you muster an army like the one that fell from you, horse like horse and chariot like chariot.”

8 tn Heb “he listened to their voice and did so.”

9 tn Heb “at the turning of the year.”

10 tn Heb “mustered Aram.”

11 tn Heb “and went up to Aphek for battle with Israel.”

12 tn The noun translated “small flocks” occurs only here. The common interpretation derives the word from the verbal root חשׂף, “to strip off; to make bare.” In this case the noun refers to something “stripped off” or “made bare.” HALOT 359 s.v. II חשׂף derives the noun from a proposed homonymic verbal root (which occurs only in Ps 29:9) meaning “cause a premature birth.” In this case the derived noun could refer to goats that are undersized because they are born prematurely.

13 tn Heb “the man of God.”

14 tn Heb “I will place all this great horde in your hand.”

15 tn Heb “and the remaining ones fled to Aphek to the city and the wall fell on twenty-seven thousand men, the ones who remained.”

16 tn Heb “and Ben Hadad fled and went into the city, [into] an inner room in an inner room.”

17 tn Or “servants.”

18 tn Or “merciful.” The word used here often means “devoted” or “loyal.” Perhaps the idea is that the Israelite kings are willing to make treaties with other kings.

19 sn Sackcloth was worn as a sign of sorrow and repentance. The precise significance of the ropes on the head is uncertain, but it probably was a sign of submission. These actions were comparable to raising a white flag on the battlefield or throwing in the towel in a boxing match.

20 tn Heb “go out.”

21 sn Your servant. By referring to Ben Hadad as Ahab’s servant, they are suggesting that Ahab make him a subject in a vassal treaty arrangement.

22 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Ahab) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

23 sn He is my brother. Ahab’s response indicates that he wants to make a parity treaty and treat Ben Hadad as an equal partner.

24 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Ahab) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

25 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Ben Hadad) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

26 tn Heb “streets,” but this must refer to streets set up with stalls for merchants to sell their goods. See HALOT 299 s.v. חוּץ.

27 map For location see Map2 B1; Map4 D3; Map5 E2; Map6 A4; Map7 C1.

28 tn Heb “I will send you away with a treaty.” The words “Ahab then said” are supplied in the translation. There is nothing in the Hebrew text to indicate that the speaker has changed from Ben Hadad to Ahab. Some suggest adding “and he said” before “I will send you away.” Others prefer to maintain Ben Hadad as the speaker and change the statement to, “Please send me away with a treaty.”

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