And Benhadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it.
A. M. 3103. B.C. 901. Ben-hadad
Thirty and two
And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Benhadad,
Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine.
And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have.
I am thine
Yet I will send my servants unto thee to morrow about this time, and they shall search thine house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away.
and they shall search
Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, Mark, I pray you, and see how this man seeketh mischief: for he sent unto me for my wives, and for my children, and for my silver, and for my gold; and I denied him not.
all the elders
denied him not
Heb. kept not back from him.
And Benhadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me.
if the dust
Heb. are at my feet.
And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.
Let not him, etc
This was no doubt a proverbial mode of expression. Jonathan renders it: "Let not him who girds himself, and goes down to battle, boast as one who has conquered and returned from it."
The word harness is an obsolete word for armour, derived from the French harnois; see Ex 13:18.
And it came to pass, when Benhadad heard this message, as he was drinking, he and the kings in the pavilions, that he said unto his servants, Set yourselves in array. And they set themselves in array against the city.
Heb. word. drinking.
or, tents. That persons of regal dignity regaled themselves in this manner, we may learn from Dr. Chandler, who, when he went to visit the Aga of Suki, after his return from hawking, found him vexed and tired; and "a couch was prepared from him beneath a shed made against a cottage, and covered with green boughs to keep off the sun. He entered as we were standing by, and fell down on it to sleep, without taking any notice of us."
Set yourselves in array
And they set, etc. or, Place the engines. And they placed engines.
And, behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab king of Israel, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
Heb. approached. Hast thou.
and thou shalt
And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Even by the young men of the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall order the battle? And he answered, Thou.
Heb. bind, or tie.
Then he numbered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty two: and after them he numbered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand.
And they went out at noon. But Benhadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him.
Isaiah 54:15 The Syrians, the besiegers, had their directions from a drunken king, who gave orders over his cups, while he was drinking at noon. Drunkenness is a sin which is most detestable in all, but more so in a king than in a private individual, inasmuch as the greater weight a man's situation carries, whether from accumulated riches, family connections, hereditary authority, or invested command, so is the influence which his vices must have on those around him. Perhaps it may be said, from past experience, that drunkenness, which is a most heinous sin in the sight of God, may be charged on those who indulge only now and then in that which may eventually lead them into drunkenness; for they shut their eyes against the most palpable facts, and rather than give up the paltry gratification of a debauch, involve thousands by their example to positive harm. Benhadad's drunkenness was the forerunner of his fall. Belshazzar also, we read, drank wine with his princes, his wives, and his concubines, and praised the gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone: and in the same hour came forth the finger of a man's hand and wrote his doom on the plaster of the wall. Those who fancy themselves perfectly secure, and above the possibility of falling, are commonly nearest their destruction: there is always an Ahab read to take advantage of and improve the self-imposed imbecility.
And the young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Benhadad sent out, and they told him, saying, There are men come out of Samaria.
And he said, Whether they be come out for peace, take them alive; or whether they be come out for war, take them alive.
And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Benhadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen.
And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.
And the prophet came to the king of Israel, and said unto him, Go, strengthen thyself, and mark, and see what thou doest: for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against thee.
at the return
And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.
It was the general belief in the heathen world, that each district had its tutelary and protecting deity, who could do nothing out of his own province.
And do this thing, Take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their rooms:
And number thee an army, like the army that thou hast lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot: and we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. And he hearkened unto their voice, and did so.
thou hast lost
Heb. was fallen. and surely.
And it came to pass at the return of the year, that Benhadad numbered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel.
Supposed to be the Aphek near the river Adonis, between Heliopolis and Biblos, and probably the same place that Paul Lucas mentions in his Voyage to the Levant. It was swallowed up by an earthquake, and formed a lake about nine miles in circumference, in which he says there were several houses still to be seen entire, under the water.
to fight against Israel
Heb. to the war with Israel.
And the children of Israel were numbered, and were all present, and went against them: and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country.
were all present
or, were victualled.
And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
ye shall know
And they pitched one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day.
an hundred thousand
But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Benhadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.
into an inner chamber
or, from chamber to chamber. Heb. into a chamber within a chamber.
And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life.
let us, I pray thee
Six of the citizens of Calais are reported to have acted nearly in the same manner, when they surrendered their city to Edward the Third, king of England, in 1346. See the whole story circumstantially related by Sir John Froissart, (who lived in that time,) with that simplicity and detail that give it every appearance of truth.
So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Benhadad saith, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother.
he is my brother
Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it: and they said, Thy brother Benhadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Benhadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot.
and he caused
And Benhadad said unto him, The cities, which my father took from thy father, I will restore; and thou shalt make streets for thee in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. Then said Ahab, I will send thee away with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and sent him away.
So he made a covenant
One of the conditions of this covenant, we learn, was, that Ahab should have "streets (chutzoth) in Damascus;" a proposal better relished by Ahab then understood by the generality of commentators. This, however, is well illustrated by Mr. Harmer, from William of Tyre, the great historian of the Crusades; from whom it appears that it was customary to give those nations which were engaged in them, churches, streets, and great jurisdiction therein, in those places which they assisted to conquer. The Genoese and Venetians had each a street in Acon, or Acre, in which they had their own jurisdiction, with liberty to have an oven, mill, baths, weights, and measures, etc.
And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the LORD, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.
of the sons
in the word
Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him.
Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him.
so that, etc
Heb. smiting and wounding.
So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face.
And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver.
And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it.
he was gone
Heb. he was not. So shall thy judgment be.
And he hasted, and took the ashes away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets.
the ashes away
And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people.
thy life shall go
And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.