Melachim I Twenty: Ben-Haddad

So, war is back. “And Ben-Haddad the king of Aram gathered all his army and thirty-two kings with him and horses and chariots, and he went up and besieged Samaria and waged war with it (Kings I 20:1).” He sends messengers to Ahab, saying that all of his silver and gold and his wives and children are his. Ahab agrees, but the messengers bring back a false reply. “And the king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land and said, ‘Please realize and see that this is looking to cause harm, for he has sent to me for my wives, my sons, my silver and gold, and I have not denied him (Kings I 20:7).'” Ahab agreed to totally humble himself, but the people encourage him to stand up and say no to Ben-Haddad.

Ahab prepares to do battle with Ben-Haddad. “And they went out at noon and Ben-Haddad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings – the thirty-two kings who aided him (Kings I 20:16).” The Israelites defeat his troops, but the king escapes on horseback with some of his companions. Eventually, Ben-Haddad fulfills a prophecy, by returning to once again do battle against the Israelites and loses again. The Israelites slaughter the Arameans, but he escapes again. This goes against most of the codes of bravery that the Israelites subscribe to, where the leader of people would lead the troops into battle, rather than repeatedly abandoning his people.

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