The Lord rescues Israel
13 Then a prophet came to Ahab, the king of Israel. He said, ‘The Lord says this to you: “Look at Ben-Hadad's great army! Today I will put them under your power. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” ’ 14 King Ahab asked, ‘But who will fight this battle?’ The prophet answered, ‘This is what the Lord says: “The young soldiers who are under the authority of each region's officer will do it.” ’ Then Ahab asked, ‘Who will lead them into the battle?’ The prophet answered, ‘You will do that.’
15 So Ahab brought together the young soldiers of each region. There were 232 of them. Then he brought together the whole Israelite army. There were 7,000 of them.
16 The soldiers marched out of Samaria at noon. Ben-Hadad and the 32 other kings were still drinking in their tents. They were drunk. 17 The young soldiers of each region's officers went in front of the Israelite army.
Ben-Hadad had sent men out to watch the Israelites. They told him, ‘Men are marching out from Samaria.’ 18 Ben-Hadad commanded, ‘If they are coming to make peace with me, catch them alive. If they have come out to fight a battle, do the same thing.’
19 The Israelites marched out of the city as the young soldiers led the whole army. 20 Each of the Israelite soldiers killed one of the enemy's soldiers. Then the Syrian soldiers ran away as the Israelites chased them. Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, rode away on his horse and he escaped. Some of his soldiers who rode on horses went with him. 21 Then the king of Israel came out of the city and he attacked the Syrian horses and chariots. He destroyed them and he won the battle against the Syrian army.
22 After the battle, the prophet came to the king of Israel again. He said to him, ‘Now go and make your army strong. Decide what you need to do. Do this, because next spring the king of Syria will attack you again.’
23 At the same time, some of the king of Syria's officers said to him, ‘The gods of the Israelites are gods who live in the hills. That is why the Israelites were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the lower ground, we will surely be stronger than them. 24 You should do this: Remove all the other kings. Put your own officers to lead the army instead. 25 Bring together enough men to make an army as big as the one that lost the battle. There must be the same number of horses and chariots. Then we will fight the Israelites on the low ground. If we do that, we will surely be stronger than them.’ Ben-Hadad agreed with them. He did what they had suggested.
26 The next spring, King Ben-Hadad brought together the men for his army. The Syrian army marched to Aphek to fight against the Israelites. 27 King Ahab brought together the Israelite army and he gave them food and weapons. Then they marched out to fight against the Syrian army. The Israelite soldiers stood there in two groups. They looked like two small groups of goats! The Syrian soldiers were so many that they covered all the land around.
28 God's servant, the prophet, went to the king of Israel. He said to the king, ‘This is what the Lord says: “The Syrians think that the Lord is a god who lives only in the hills. They think that he has no authority in the valleys. But I will give you power over all their great army. Then you will know that I am the Lord” ’
29 For seven days, the two armies stayed in their camps where they could see each other. On the seventh day, the battle started. The Israelites killed 100,000 Syrian soldiers on that one day. 30 The other soldiers ran back to Aphek. When they went into the city, the city wall fell on 27,000 of them. King Ben-Hadad also ran into the city. He hid in a room at the back of a house.
31 Some of Ben-Hadad's officers said to him, ‘We have heard that the family of kings who rule Israel are kind men. We should show that we are sorry. We will tie sackcloth around our bodies. We will put ropes around our heads. Then maybe King Ahab will let you live.’ 32 So they tied sackcloth around themselves. They put ropes around their heads. They went to the king of Israel and they said, ‘Your servant Ben-Hadad says, “Please let me live.” ’ King Ahab asked, ‘Is Ben-Hadad still alive? He is like my own brother.’ 33 When Ben-Hadad's men heard this, they thought that it was a friendly answer. So they quickly agreed, ‘Yes! Ben-Hadad is like your own brother.’ King Ahab said, ‘Go and fetch him.’
20:32They wore these clothes to show that they were sorry. Maybe they put the ropes around their necks.
20:32‘like my brother’ means that both of them were equal as kings.
So Ben-Hadad came out from Aphek city. Ahab took him up into his chariot. 34 Ben-Hadad said, ‘I will give back to you the cities that my father took from your father. Your traders can have their own markets in Damascus, as my father had in Samaria.’ Ahab answered, ‘If you do that, I will agree to let you go as a free man.’ So King Ahab made an agreement with King Ben-Hadad. Then he let him go home.