Passage: 1 Kings 20, 21 (RSV)

1 Kings 20

1Ben-ha'dad the king of Syria gathered all his army together; thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots; and he went up and besieged Sama'ria, and fought against it.
2And he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, and said to him, "Thus says Ben-ha'dad:
3`Your silver and your gold are mine; your fairest wives and children also are mine.'"
4And the king of Israel answered, "As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have."
5The messengers came again, and said, "Thus says Ben-ha'dad: `I sent to you, saying, "Deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children";
6nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants, and lay hands on whatever pleases them, and take it away.'"
7Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, "Mark, now, and see how this man is seeking trouble; for he sent to me for my wives and my children, and for my silver and my gold, and I did not refuse him."
8And all the elders and all the people said to him, "Do not heed or consent."
9So he said to the messengers of Ben-ha'dad, "Tell my lord the king, `All that you first demanded of your servant I will do; but this thing I cannot do.'" And the messengers departed and brought him word again.
10Ben-ha'dad sent to him and said, "The gods do so to me, and more also, if the dust of Sama'ria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me."
11And the king of Israel answered, "Tell him, `Let not him that girds on his armor boast himself as he that puts it off.'"
12When Ben-ha'dad heard this message as he was drinking with the kings in the booths, he said to his men, "Take your positions." And they took their positions against the city.
13And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, "Thus says the LORD, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day; and you shall know that I am the LORD."
14And Ahab said, "By whom?" He said, "Thus says the LORD, By the servants of the governors of the districts." Then he said, "Who shall begin the battle?" He answered, "You."
15Then he mustered the servants of the governors of the districts, and they were two hundred and thirty-two; and after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand.
16And they went out at noon, while Ben-ha'dad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings who helped him.
17The servants of the governors of the districts went out first. And Ben-ha'dad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, "Men are coming out from Sama'ria."
18He said, "If they have come out for peace, take them alive; or if they have come out for war, take them alive."
19So these went out of the city, the servants of the governors of the districts, and the army which followed them.
20And each killed his man; the Syrians fled and Israel pursued them, but Ben-ha'dad king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen.
21And the king of Israel went out, and captured the horses and chariots, and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter.
22Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel, and said to him, "Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do; for in the spring the king of Syria will come up against you."
23And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, "Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.
24And do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in their places;
25and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot; then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they." And he hearkened to their voice, and did so.
26In the spring Ben-ha'dad mustered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel.
27And the people of Israel were mustered, and were provisioned, and went against them; the people of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the country.
28And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, "Thus says the LORD, `Because the Syrians have said, "The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys," therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.'"
29And they encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the people of Israel smote of the Syrians a hundred thousand foot soldiers in one day.
30And the rest fled into the city of Aphek; and the wall fell upon twenty-seven thousand men that were left. Ben-ha'dad also fled, and entered an inner chamber in the city.
31And his servants said to him, "Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings; let us put sackcloth on our loins and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life."
32So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and went to the king of Israel and said, "Your servant Ben-ha'dad says, `Pray, let me live.'" And he said, "Does he still live? He is my brother."
33Now the men were watching for an omen, and they quickly took it up from him and said, "Yes, your brother Ben-ha'dad." Then he said, "Go and bring him." Then Ben-ha'dad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot.
34And Ben-ha'dad said to him, "The cities which my father took from your father I will restore; and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Sama'ria." And Ahab said, "I will let you go on these terms." So he made a covenant with him and let him go.
35And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow at the command of the LORD, "Strike me, I pray." But the man refused to strike him.
36Then he said to him, "Because you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall kill you." And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion met him and killed him.
37Then he found another man, and said, "Strike me, I pray." And the man struck him, smiting and wounding him.
38So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes.
39And as the king passed, he cried to the king and said, "Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and behold, a soldier turned and brought a man to me, and said, `Keep this man; if by any means he be missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.'
40And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone." The king of Israel said to him, "So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it."
41Then he made haste to take the bandage away from his eyes; and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets.
42And he said to him, "Thus says the LORD, `Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.'"
43And the king of Israel went to his house resentful and sullen, and came to Sama'ria.

1 Kings 21

1Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Sama'ria.
2And after this Ahab said to Naboth, "Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money."
3But Naboth said to Ahab, "The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers."
4And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food.
5But Jez'ebel his wife came to him, and said to him, "Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?"
6And he said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, `Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it'; and he answered, `I will not give you my vineyard.'"
7And Jez'ebel his wife said to him, "Do you now govern Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite."
8So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who dwelt with Naboth in his city.
9And she wrote in the letters, "Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people;
10and set two base fellows opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, `You have cursed God and the king.' Then take him out, and stone him to death."
11And the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city, did as Jez'ebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters which she had sent to them,
12they proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
13And the two base fellows came in and sat opposite him; and the base fellows brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, "Naboth cursed God and the king." So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death with stones.
14Then they sent to Jez'ebel, saying, "Naboth has been stoned; he is dead."
15As soon as Jez'ebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jez'ebel said to Ahab, "Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead."
16And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
17Then the word of the LORD came to Eli'jah the Tishbite, saying,
18"Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Sama'ria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession.
19And you shall say to him, `Thus says the LORD, "Have you killed, and also taken possession?"' And you shall say to him, `Thus says the LORD: "In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood."'"
20Ahab said to Eli'jah, "Have you found me, O my enemy?" He answered, "I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD.
21Behold, I will bring evil upon you; I will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel;
22and I will make your house like the house of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, and like the house of Ba'asha the son of Ahi'jah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin.
23And of Jez'ebel the LORD also said, `The dogs shall eat Jez'ebel within the bounds of Jezreel.'
24Any one belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and any one of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat."
25(There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jez'ebel his wife incited.
26He did very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the people of Israel.)
27And when Ahab heard those words, he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went about dejectedly.
28And the word of the LORD came to Eli'jah the Tishbite, saying,
29"Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son's days I will bring the evil upon his house."

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