1Ben Hadad was king of Aram. He gathered together all of his army. There were 32 kings with him. They had horses and chariots. They attacked Samaria and fought against it. 2The king sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel. 3This was the message, “Ben Hadad says, 'You must give me your silver and gold. You must also give me your wives and children.’” 4The king of Israel answered, “King, my master. I agree that I belong to you now. And everything I have belongs to you.” 5Then the messengers came back to Ahab. They said, “Ben Hadad says, 'I told you before that you must give me all of your silver and gold and your wives and children. 6Tomorrow I am sending my men to search through your house and through the houses of your officials. You should give my men all of your valuables, and they will bring those things back to me.’” 7So King Ahab called a meeting of all the elders ˻(leaders)˼ of his country. Ahab said, “Look, Ben Hadad is looking for trouble. First he told me that I must give him my wives, my children, my silver and my gold. I agreed to give those things to him. ˻And now he wants to take everything.˼” 8But the elders ˻(leaders)˼ and all the people said, “Don’t obey him. Don’t do what he says.” 9So Ahab sent a message to Ben Hadad. Ahab said, “I will do what you said at first. But I cannot obey your second command.” King Ben Hadad’s men carried the message to the king. 10Then they came back with another message from Ben Hadad. The message said, “I will completely destroy Samaria. I promise that there will be nothing left of that city! There won’t be enough of that city left for my men to find any souvenirs to take home. May God destroy me if I don’t do this!” 11King Ahab answered, “Tell Ben Hadad that the man who puts on his armor should not boast as much as the man who ˻lives long enough to˼ take it off.” 12King Ben Hadad was drinking in his tent with the other rulers. At that time the messengers came and gave him the message from King Ahab. King Ben Hadad commanded his men to prepare to attack the city. So the men moved into their places for the battle. 13At the same time, a prophet went to King Ahab. The prophet said, “King Ahab, the Lord says to you, 'Do you see that big army? I, the Lord, will allow you to defeat that army today. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” 14Ahab said, “Who will you use to defeat them?” The prophet answered, “The Lord says, 'The young helpers of the government officials.’” Then the king asked, “Who should command the main army?” The prophet answered, “You will.” 15So Ahab gathered the young helpers of the government officials. There were 232 of these young men. Then the king called together the army of Israel. The total number was 7,000. 16At noon, King Ben Hadad and the 32 kings helping him were drinking and becoming drunk in their tents. At this time, King Ahab’s attack began. 17The young helpers attacked first. King Ben Hadad’s men told him that soldiers had come out of Samaria. 18So Ben Hadad said, “They might be coming to fight. Or they might be coming to ask for peace. Capture them alive.” 19The young men of King Ahab were leading the attack. The army of Israel was following them. 20But each man of Israel killed the man that came against him. So the men from Aram began to run away. The army of Israel chased them. King Ben Hadad escaped on a horse from one of the chariots. 21King Ahab led the army and took all horses and chariots from the army of Aram. So King Ahab caused a great defeat of the Aramean army. 22Then the prophet went to King Ahab and said, “The king of Aram, Ben Hadad, will come to fight against you again next spring. So you should go home now and make your army stronger. And make careful plans to defend against him.” 23King Ben Hadad’s officers said to him, “The gods of Israel are mountain gods. We fought in a mountain area. So the people of Israel won. So let’s fight them on the flat land. Then we will win. 24This is what you should do. Don’t allow the 32 kings to command the armies. Let the commanders lead their armies. 25“Now you gather an army like the army that was destroyed. Gather horses and chariots like that army. Then let’s fight the Israelites on flat land. Then we will win.” Ben Hadad followed their advice. He did what they said. 26So in the spring, Ben Hadad gathered the people of Aram. He went to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27The Israelites also prepared for war. The people of Israel went to fight the army of Aram. They made their camp opposite the camp of Aram. Compared to the enemy, Israel looked like two small flocks of goats, but the Aramean soldiers covered the whole area. 28A man of God came to the king of Israel with this message: “The Lord said, '˻The people of˼ Aram said that I, the Lord, am God of the mountains. They think that I am not also the God of the valleys. So I will allow you to defeat this big army. Then you will know that I am the Lord ˻in every place˼!’” 29The armies were camped across from each other for seven days. On the seventh day the battle began. The Israelites killed 100,000 soldiers of Aram in one day. 30The survivors ran away to the city of Aphek. The wall of the city fell on 27,000 of those soldiers. Ben Hadad also ran away to the city. He hid in a room. 31His servants said to him, “We heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Let’s dress in rough cloth with ropes on our heads. Then let’s go to the king of Israel. Maybe he will let us live.” 32They dressed in rough cloth with ropes on their heads. They came to the king of Israel. They said, “Your servant, Ben Hadad, says, 'Please let me live.’” Ahab said, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” 33Ben Hadad’s men wanted King Ahab to say something to show that he would not kill King Ben Hadad. When Ahab called Ben Hadad his brother, the advisers quickly said, “Yes! Ben Hadad is your brother.” Ahab said, “Bring him to me.” So Ben Hadad came to King Ahab. King Ahab asked him to get in the chariot with him. 34Ben Hadad said to him, “Ahab, I will give you the towns that my father took from your father. And you can put shops in Damascus, like my father did in Samaria.” Ahab answered, “If you agree to this, then I will allow you to go free.” So the two kings made a peace agreement. Then King Ahab let King Ben Hadad go free. 35One of the prophets told another prophet, “Hit me!” He said that because the Lord had commanded it. But the other prophet refused to hit him. 36So the first prophet said, “You did not obey the Lord’s command. So a lion will kill you when you leave this place.” The second prophet left that place and a lion killed him. 37The first prophet went to another man and said, “Hit me!” This man hit him and hurt the prophet. 38So the prophet wrapped his face with a cloth. This way, no person could see who he was. The prophet went and waited for the king by the road. 39The king came by and the prophet said to him, “I went to fight in the battle. One of our men brought an enemy soldier to me. The man said, 'Guard this man. If he runs away, then you will have to give your life in his place. Or you will have to pay a fine of 75 pounds of silver.’ 40But I became busy doing other things. So the man ran away.” The king of Israel answered, “˻You have said that you are guilty of letting the soldier escape.˼ So you know the answer. You must do what the man said.” 41Then the prophet took the cloth from his face. The king of Israel saw him and knew that he was one of the prophets. 42Then the prophet said to the king, “The Lord says to you, 'You set free the man that I said should die. So you will take his place—you will die! And your people will take the enemies’ place—your people will die!’” 43Then the king went back home to Samaria. He was worried and upset.
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