Verse 1 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.
Verse 6 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.
Verse 7 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.
The word harness is an obsolete word for armour, derived from the French harnois; see Ex 13:18.
Verse 12 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.
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."
And they set, etc. or, Place the engines. And they placed engines.
Verse 13 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.
Verse 15 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.
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.
Verse 17 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.
Verse 22 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.
Verse 23 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.
Verse 25 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.
Verse 26 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.
Verse 27 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.
Verse 28 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.
Verse 29 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.
Verse 31 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.
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.
Verse 32 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.
Verse 33 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.
Verse 34 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.
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.
Verse 36 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.
Verse 39 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.
Verse 42 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.