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Monday, June 2 2014

1 Kings 20: Benhadad of Syria

"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"

Syria (not to be confused with Assyria; see the three maps below) is one of the most ancient and Biblically-relevant nations. The territorial definition of Syria has varied widely over the course of history. Although it was centered primarily upon what are the borders of modern-day Syria, in more ancient times it extended from northeast of Phoenicia to beyond the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Among its main cities were Damascus (see Damascus In History And Prophecy) and Antioch (the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch; see Antioch On The Orontes).

Syria Syria is rich in Bible history. It is located along the "fertile crescent" that Abraham knew as he made his journey from his native Iraq to the land of Canaaan and Egypt (see A Biography Of Abraham: From Ur To Canaan). The patriarchs of the tribes of Israel originated in Syria (see the Fact Finder question below). The original "abomination of desolation" was committed by a Syrian king in Jerusalem (see A History Of Jerusalem: Abomination Of Desolation). Jesus Christ spoke Aramaic, the Syrian language (see the Fact Finder question below).

Benhadad, or Ben-Hadad I, was "the king of Syria" in the time of King Baasha and King Ahab of Israel (see Baasha Of Israel and Ahab Of Israel) and King Asa of Judah (see Asa Of Judah). Geographically, the Kingdom of Israel was immediately adjacent to Syria, while the Kingdom of Judah was located farther south.

When Benhadad attacked Samaria, the heartland of the Kingdom of Israel, Ahab proved himself weak in the defense of his nation. Rather than annihilating the invaders (for those who love their country, the only good invader is a dead one), Ahab whined to Benhadad "My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have."

"20:1 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. 20:2 And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Benhadad, 20:3 Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine.

20:4 And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have." (1 Kings 20:1-4 KJV)

When Benhadad demanded more ("Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children"), Ahab refused.

"20:5 And the messengers came again, and said, Thus speaketh Benhadad, saying, Although I have sent unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children; 20:6 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.

20:7 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.

20:8 And all the elders and all the people said unto him, Hearken not unto him, nor consent.

20:9 Wherefore he said unto the messengers of Benhadad, Tell my lord the king, All that thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do: but this thing I may not do. And the messengers departed, and brought him word again.

20:10 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.

20:11 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.

20:12 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." (1 Kings 20:5-12 KJV)

The Middle East
For the sake of Israel, not for a weak, corrupt king, the LORD (Who was and is Jesus Christ - see Genesis 1: In The Beginning Was The Word and The Kingdom Of The LORD God) declared to Ahab, "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." The result was a rout for Israel: "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."

"20:13 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.

20:14 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.

20:15 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. 20:16 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. 20:17 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.

20:18 And he said, Whether they be come out for peace, take them alive; or whether they be come out for war, take them alive.

20:19 So these young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city, and the army which followed them. 20:20 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. 20:21 And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.

20:22 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.

20:23 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. 20:24 And do this thing, Take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their rooms: 20:25 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." (1 Kings 20:13-25 KJV)

In the spring of the next year, Benhadad attacked again with a large army. Once again, "the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day." The second defeat made Benhadad, dressed in sackcloth, to seek a peace treaty with Ahab who allowed him to live - contrary to the LORD's Command. "Then said Ahab, I will send thee away with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and sent him away."

Israel and Judah

"20:26 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. 20:27 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.

20:28 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.

20:29 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. 20:30 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.

20:31 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.

20:32 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.

20:33 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.

20:34 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." (1 Kings 20:26-34 KJV)

Ahab was then confronted by a prophet of the LORD with the declaration "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." Ahab's fate was sealed.

"20:35 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.

20:36 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.

20:37 Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him. 20:38 So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face. 20:39 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. 20:40 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.

20:41 And he hasted, and took the ashes away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets. 20:42 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. 20:43 And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria." (1 Kings 20:35-43 KJV)

Fact Finder: (a) Were nearly all of the Israelite patriarchs, including Judah, born in Syria? (b) What was the Messiah's native language?
(a) See A Biography Of Jacob: The Jacobites Of Syria
(b) See The Syrian Tongue Of Jesus


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This Day In History, June 2

455: Gaiseric and the Vandals (from which the term "vandalism originated) captured and plundered Rome (see also The Arian Kingdoms).

597: Augustine, missionary to England and the first archbishop of Canterbury, baptized Saxon king Ethelbert. The Christian-professing faith then spread rapidly among the Angles and Saxons.

Witch Trials 1098: During the First Crusade (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy), the first Siege of Antioch ended when Crusader forces captured the city.

1420: King Henry V of England married Catherine of Valois, daughter of King Charles VI of France.

1692: Bridget Bishop became the first woman to face the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. She was hanged on June 10.

1734: During the War of the Polish Succession, Russia and Austria took Danzig after a siege which had begun in October of the year before.

1740: Comte Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade, known as the Marquis de Sade, French writer and man of letters, was born. The perversion term "sadism" is derived from his name.

1763: During Pontiac's Rebellion in Michigan, Chippewas captured Fort Michilimackinac by diverting the defender's attention with a game of lacrosse, then chasing a ball into the fort.

1780: Riots began in London in protest against Parliament's plans to extend the Catholic Relief Act, canceling restrictions on Roman Catholics.

1793: Maximillian Robespierre, a member of France’s Committee on Public Safety, began the "Reign of Terror," a purge of those accused of disloyalty against the French Republic.

1818: The British defeated the alliance of Maratha in Bombay, India.

1848: The Slavic congress in Prague began.

1886: U.S. President Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom in the White House, becoming the only President to be married in the White House. The groom was 49, the bride was 22.

1896: Guglielmo Marconi applied for a patent for his new invention: the radio.

1910: Charles Stewart Roll became the first man to fly an airplane across the English Channel.

1924: The U.S. granted full citizenship to the native people, the "Indians" (ironically, the "American" government granted citizenship to the original Americans who lived there for millennia before the European immigrants, who later claimed themselves to be the Americans, came).

1928: Nationalist Chiang Kai-shek captured Peking in a bloodless takeover.

1949: Transjordan was renamed Jordan (see also Beyond Jordan).

1953: The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place at Westminster Abbey in London, 4 months after the death of her father King George VI. It was the first coronation seen on television.

1969: The Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne collided with the U.S. destroyer Frank E. Evans off the coast of South Vietnam. The destroyer was split in two.

1979: Pope John Paul II arrived in Poland in the first visit by a Pope to a communist country.

1997: A jury in Denver found Timothy McVeigh guilty of the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 that killed 168 people.

2003: The European Space Agency launched its first space vehicle to another planet, the Mars Express. It was launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.


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