Good News Translation (GNB)
20

War with Syria

201King Benhadad of Syria gathered all his troops, and supported by 32 other rulers with their horses and chariots, he marched up, laid siege to Samaria, and launched attacks against it. 2He sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel to say, “King Benhadad demands that 3you surrender to him your silver and gold, your women and the strongest of your children.”

4“Tell my lord, King Benhadad, that I agree; he can have me and everything I own,” Ahab answered.

5Later the messengers came back to Ahab with another demand from Benhadad: “I sent you word that you were to hand over to me your silver and gold, your women and your children. 6Now, however, I will send my officers to search your palace and the homes of your officials, and to take everything they20.6 Some ancient translations they; Hebrew you. consider valuable. They will be there about this time tomorrow.”

7King Ahab called in all the leaders of the country and said, “You see that this man wants to ruin us. He sent me a message demanding my wives and children, my silver and gold, and I agreed.”

8The leaders and the people answered, “Don't pay any attention to him; don't give in.”

9So Ahab replied to Benhadad's messengers, “Tell my lord the king that I agreed to his first demand, but I cannot agree to the second.”

The messengers left and then returned with another message 10from Benhadad: “I will bring enough men to destroy this city of yours and carry off the rubble in their hands. May the gods strike me dead if I don't!”

11King Ahab answered, “Tell King Benhadad that a real soldier does his boasting after a battle, not before it.”

12Benhadad received Ahab's answer as he and his allies, the other rulers, were drinking in their tents. He ordered his men to get ready to attack the city, so they moved into position.

13Meanwhile, a prophet went to King Ahab and said, “The LORD says, ‘Don't be afraid of that huge army! I will give you victory over it today, and you will know that I am the LORD.’ ”

14“Who will lead the attack?” Ahab asked.

The prophet answered, “The LORD says that the young soldiers under the command of the district governors are to do it.”

“Who will command the main force?” the king asked.

“You,” the prophet answered.

15So the king called out the young soldiers who were under the district commanders, 232 in all. Then he called out the Israelite army, a total of 7,000 men.

16The attack began at noon, as Benhadad and his 32 allies were getting drunk in their tents. 17The young soldiers advanced first. Scouts sent out by Benhadad reported to him that a group of soldiers was coming out of Samaria. 18He ordered, “Take them alive, no matter whether they are coming to fight or to ask for peace.”

19The young soldiers led the attack, followed by the Israelite army, 20and each one killed the man he fought. The Syrians fled, with the Israelites in hot pursuit, but Benhadad escaped on horseback, accompanied by some of the cavalry. 21King Ahab took to the field, captured20.21 One ancient translation captured; Hebrew destroyed. the horses and chariots, and inflicted a severe defeat on the Syrians.

22Then the prophet went to King Ahab and said, “Go back and build up your forces, and make careful plans, because the king of Syria will attack again next spring.”

The Second Syrian Attack

23King Benhadad's officials said to him, “The gods of Israel are mountain gods, and that is why the Israelites defeated us. But we will certainly defeat them if we fight them in the plains. 24Now, remove the 32 rulers from their commands and replace them with field commanders. 25Then call up an army as large as the one that deserted you, with the same number of horses and chariots. We will fight the Israelites in the plains, and this time we will defeat them.”

King Benhadad agreed and followed their advice. 26The following spring he called up his men and marched with them to the city of Aphek to attack the Israelites. 27The Israelites were called up and equipped; they marched out and camped in two groups facing the Syrians. The Israelites looked like two small flocks of goats compared with the Syrians, who spread out over the countryside.

28A prophet went to King Ahab and said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Because the Syrians say that I am a god of the hills and not of the plains, I will give you victory over their huge army, and you and your people will know that I am the LORD.’ ”

29For seven days the Syrians and the Israelites stayed in their camps, facing each other. On the seventh day they started fighting, and the Israelites killed a hundred thousand Syrians. 30The survivors fled into the city of Aphek, where the city walls fell on 27,000 of them.

Benhadad also escaped into the city and took refuge in the back room of a house. 31His officials went to him and said, “We have heard that the Israelite kings are merciful. Give us permission to go to the king of Israel with sackcloth round our waists and ropes round our necks, and maybe he will spare your life.” 32So they wrapped sackcloth round their waists and ropes round their necks, went to Ahab and said, “Your servant Benhadad pleads with you for his life.”

Ahab answered, “Is he still alive? Good! He's like a brother to me!”

33Benhadad's officials were watching for a good sign, and when Ahab said “brother”, they took it up at once, and said, “As you say, Benhadad is your brother!”

“Bring him to me,” Ahab ordered. When Benhadad arrived, Ahab invited him to get in the chariot with him. 34Benhadad said to him, “I will restore to you the towns my father took from your father, and you may set up a commercial centre for yourself in Damascus, just as my father did in Samaria.”

Ahab replied, “On these terms, then, I will set you free.” He made a treaty with him and let him go.

A Prophet Condemns Ahab

35At the LORD's command a member of a group of prophets ordered a fellow-prophet to hit him. But he refused, 36

20.36:
1 Kgs 13.24
so he said to him, “Because you have disobeyed the LORD's command, a lion will kill you as soon as you leave me.” And as soon as he left, a lion came along and killed him.

37Then this same prophet went to another man and said, “Hit me!” This man did so; he hit him a hard blow and hurt him. 38The prophet bandaged his face with a cloth, to disguise himself, and went and stood by the road, waiting for the king of Israel to pass. 39As the king was passing by, the prophet called out to him and said, “Your Majesty, I was fighting in the battle when a soldier brought a captured enemy to me and said, ‘Guard this man; if he escapes, you will pay for it with your life or else pay a fine of 3,000 pieces of silver.’ 40But I got busy with other things, and the man escaped.”

The king answered, “You have pronounced your own sentence, and you will have to pay the penalty.”

41The prophet tore the cloth from his face, and at once the king recognized him as one of the prophets. 42The prophet then said to the king, “This is the word of the LORD: ‘Because you allowed the man to escape whom I had ordered to be killed, you will pay for it with your life, and your army will be destroyed for letting his army escape.’ ”

43The king went back home to Samaria, worried and depressed.

21

Naboth's Vineyard

211Near King Ahab's palace in Jezreel there was a vineyard owned by a man named Naboth. 2One day Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard; it is close to my palace, and I want to use the land for a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard for it, or, if you prefer, I will pay you a fair price.”

3“I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors,” Naboth replied. “The LORD forbid that I should let you have it!”

4Ahab went home, depressed and angry over what Naboth had said to him. He lay down on his bed, facing the wall, and would not eat. 5His wife Jezebel went to him and asked, “Why are you so depressed? Why won't you eat?”

6He answered, “Because of what Naboth said to me. I offered to buy his vineyard, or, if he preferred, to give him another one for it, but he told me that I couldn't have it!”

7“Well, are you the king or aren't you?” Jezebel replied. “Get out of bed, cheer up and eat. I will get you Naboth's vineyard!”

8Then she wrote some letters, signed them with Ahab's name, sealed them with his seal, and sent them to the officials and leading citizens of Jezreel. 9The letters said: “Proclaim a day of fasting, call the people together, and give Naboth the place of honour. 10Get a couple of scoundrels to accuse him to his face of cursing God and the king. Then take him out of the city and stone him to death.”

11The officials and leading citizens of Jezreel did what Jezebel had commanded. 12They proclaimed a day of fasting, called the people together, and gave Naboth the place of honour. 13The two scoundrels publicly accused him of cursing God and the king, and so he was taken outside the city and stoned to death. 14The message was sent to Jezebel: “Naboth has been put to death.”

15As soon as Jezebel received the message, she said to Ahab, “Naboth is dead. Now go and take possession of the vineyard which he refused to sell to you.” 16At once Ahab went to the vineyard to take possession of it.

17Then the LORD said to Elijah, the prophet from Tishbe, 18“Go to King Ahab of Samaria. You will find him in Naboth's vineyard, about to take possession of it. 19

21.19:
1 Kgs 22.38
Tell him that I, the LORD, say to him, ‘After murdering the man, are you taking over his property as well?’ Tell him that this is what I say: ‘In the very place that the dogs licked up Naboth's blood they will lick up your blood!’ ”

20When Ahab saw Elijah, he said, “Have you caught up with me, my enemy?”

“Yes, I have,” Elijah answered. “You have devoted yourself completely to doing what is wrong in the LORD's sight. 21So the LORD says to you, ‘I will bring disaster on you. I will do away with you and get rid of every male in your family, young and old alike. 22Your family will become like the family of King Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the family of King Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have stirred up my anger by leading Israel into sin.’ 23

21.23:
2 Kgs 9.36
And concerning Jezebel, the LORD says that dogs will eat her body in the city of Jezreel. 24Any of your relatives who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and any who die in the open country will be eaten by vultures.”

25(There was no one else who had devoted himself so completely to doing wrong in the LORD's sight as Ahab — all at the urging of his wife Jezebel. 26He committed the most shameful sins by worshipping idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD had driven out of the land as the people of Israel advanced.)

27When Elijah finished speaking, Ahab tore his clothes, took them off, and put on sackcloth. He refused food, slept in the sackcloth, and went about gloomy and depressed.

28The LORD said to the prophet Elijah, 29“Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has done this, I will not bring disaster on him during his lifetime; it will be during his son's lifetime that I will bring disaster on Ahab's family.”

22

The Prophet Micaiah Warns Ahab

(2 Chr 18.2–27)

221There was peace between Israel and Syria for the next two years, 2but in the third year King Jehoshaphat of Judah went to see King Ahab of Israel.

3Ahab asked his officials, “Why is it that we have not done anything to get back Ramoth in Gilead from the king of Syria? It belongs to us!” 4And Ahab asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to attack Ramoth?”

“I am ready when you are,” Jehoshaphat answered, “and so are my soldiers and my cavalry. 5But first let's consult the LORD.”

6So Ahab called in the prophets, about 400 of them, and asked them, “Should I go and attack Ramoth, or not?”

“Attack it,” they answered. “The Lord will give you victory.”

7But Jehoshaphat asked, “Isn't there another prophet through whom we can consult the LORD?”

8Ahab answered, “There is one more, Micaiah son of Imlah. But I hate him, because he never prophesies anything good for me; it's always something bad.”

“You shouldn't say that!” Jehoshaphat replied.

9Then Ahab called in a court official and told him to go and fetch Micaiah at once.

10The two kings, dressed in their royal robes, were sitting on their thrones at the threshing place just outside the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying in front of them. 11One of them, Zedekiah son of Chenaanah, made iron horns and said to Ahab, “This is what the LORD says: ‘With these you will fight the Syrians and totally defeat them.’ ” 12All the other prophets said the same thing. “March against Ramoth and you will win,” they said. “The LORD will give you victory.”

13Meanwhile, the official who had gone to get Micaiah said to him, “All the other prophets have prophesied success for the king, and you had better do the same.”

14But Micaiah answered, “By the living LORD I promise that I will say what he tells me to!”

15When he appeared before King Ahab, the king asked him, “Micaiah, should King Jehoshaphat and I go and attack Ramoth, or not?”

“Attack!” Micaiah answered. “Of course you'll win. The LORD will give you victory.”

16But Ahab replied, “When you speak to me in the name of the LORD, tell the truth! How many times do I have to tell you that?”

17

22.17:
Num 27.17
Mt 9.36
Mk 6.34
Micaiah answered, “I can see the army of Israel scattered over the hills like sheep without a shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘These men have no leader; let them go home in peace.’ ”

18Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn't I tell you that he never prophesies anything good for me? It's always something bad!”

19

22.19:
Is 6.1
Job 1.6
Micaiah went on: “Now listen to what the LORD says! I saw the LORD sitting on his throne in heaven, with all his angels standing beside him. 20The LORD asked, ‘Who will deceive Ahab so that he will go and be killed at Ramoth?’ Some of the angels said one thing, and others said something else, 21until a spirit stepped forward, approached the LORD, and said, ‘I will deceive him.’ 22‘How?’ the LORD asked. The spirit replied, ‘I will go and make all Ahab's prophets tell lies.’ The LORD said, ‘Go and deceive him. You will succeed.’ ”

23And Micaiah concluded: “This is what has happened. The LORD has made these prophets of yours lie to you. But he himself has decreed that you will meet with disaster!”

24Then the prophet Zedekiah went up to Micaiah, slapped his face, and asked, “Since when did the LORD's spirit leave me and speak to you?”

25“You will find out when you go into some back room to hide,” Micaiah replied.

26Then King Ahab ordered one of his officers, “Arrest Micaiah and take him to Amon, the governor of the city, and to Prince Joash. 27Tell them to throw him in prison and to put him on bread and water until I return safely.”

28“If you return safely,” Micaiah exclaimed, “then the LORD has not spoken through me!” And he added, “Listen, everyone, to what I have said!”

The Death of Ahab

(2 Chr 18.28–34)

29Then King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah went to attack the city of Ramoth in Gilead. 30Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself, but you wear your royal garments.” So the king of Israel went into battle in disguise.

31The king of Syria had ordered his 32 chariot commanders to attack no one else except the king of Israel. 32So when they saw King Jehoshaphat, they all thought that he was the king of Israel, and they turned to attack him. But when he cried out, 33they realized that he was not the king of Israel, and they stopped their attack. 34By chance, however, a Syrian soldier shot an arrow which struck King Ahab between the joints of his armour. “I'm wounded!” he cried out to his chariot driver. “Turn round and pull out of the battle!”

35While the battle raged on, King Ahab remained propped up in his chariot, facing the Syrians. The blood from his wound ran down and covered the bottom of the chariot, and at evening he died. 36Near sunset the order went out through the Israelite ranks: “Every man go back to his own country and city!”

37So died King Ahab. His body was taken to Samaria and buried. 38His chariot was cleaned up at the pool of Samaria, where dogs licked up his blood and prostitutes washed themselves, as the LORD had said would happen.

39Everything else that King Ahab did, including an account of his palace decorated with ivory and all the cities he built, is recorded in The History of the Kings of Israel. 40At his death his son Ahaziah succeeded him as king.

King Jehoshaphat of Judah

(2 Chr 20.31—21.1)

41In the fourth year of the reign of King Ahab of Israel, Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah 42at the age of 35, and he ruled in Jerusalem for 25 years. His mother was Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi. 43Like his father Asa before him, he did what was right in the sight of the LORD; but the places of worship were not destroyed, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. 44Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.

45Everything else that Jehoshaphat did, all his bravery and his battles, are recorded in The History of the Kings of Judah. 46He got rid of all the male and female prostitutes serving at the pagan altars who were still left from the days of his father Asa.

47The land of Edom had no king; it was ruled by a deputy appointed by the king of Judah.

48King Jehoshaphat built ocean-going ships to sail to the land of Ophir for gold; but they were wrecked at Eziongeber and never sailed. 49Then King Ahaziah of Israel offered to let his men sail with Jehoshaphat's men, but Jehoshaphat refused the offer.

50Jehoshaphat died and was buried in the royal tombs in David's City, and his son Jehoram succeeded him as king.

King Ahaziah of Israel

51In the seventeenth year of the reign of King Jehoshaphat of Judah, Ahaziah son of Ahab became king of Israel, and he ruled in Samaria for two years. 52He sinned against the LORD, following the wicked example of his father Ahab, his mother Jezebel, and King Jeroboam, who had led Israel into sin. 53He worshipped and served Baal, and like his father before him, he aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel.