I - Chapter 20

1King Ben-hadad of Aram gathered his whole army; thirty-two kings accompanied him with horses and chariots. He advanced against Shomron, laid siege to it, and attacked it.

אוּבֶן־הֲדַד מֶלֶךְ־אֲרָם קָבַץ אֶת־כָּל־חֵילוֹ וּשְׁלֹשִׁים וּשְׁנַיִם מֶלֶךְ אִתּוֹ וְסוּס וָרָכֶב וַיַּעַל וַיָּצַר עַל־שֹׁמְרוֹן וַיִּלָּחֶם בָּהּ׃

2And he sent messengers to Achav inside the city

בוַיִּשְׁלַח מַלְאָכִים אֶל־אַחְאָב מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל הָעִירָה׃

3to say to him, “Thus said Ben-hadad: Your silver and gold are mine, and your beautiful wives and children are mine.”

גוַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ כֹּה אָמַר בֶּן־הֲדַד כַּסְפְּךָ וּזְהָבְךָ לִי־הוּא וְנָשֶׁיךָ וּבָנֶיךָ הַטּוֹבִים לִי־הֵם׃

4The king of Yisrael replied, “As you say, my lord king: I and all I have are yours.”

דוַיַּעַן מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמֶר כִּדְבָרְךָ אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ לְךָ אֲנִי וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר־לִי׃

5Then the messengers came again and said, “Thus said Ben-hadad: When I sent you the order to give me your silver and gold, and your wives and children,

הוַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַמַּלְאָכִים וַיֹּאמְרוּ כֹּה־אָמַר בֶּן־הֲדַד לֵאמֹר כִּי־שָׁלַחְתִּי אֵלֶיךָ לֵאמֹר כַּסְפְּךָ וּזְהָבְךָ וְנָשֶׁיךָ וּבָנֶיךָ לִי תִתֵּן׃

6I meant that tomorrow at this time I will send my servants to you and they will search your house and the houses of your courtiers and seize everything you prize and take it away.”

KEE im ka-AYT ma-KHAR esh-LAKH et a-va-DAI ay-LE-kha v'-khi-p'-SU et BAY-t'-KHA v'-AYT ba-TAY a-va-DE-kha v'-ha-YAH kol makh-MAD ay-NE-kha ya-SEE-mu v'-ya-DAM v'-la-KA-khu

וכִּי אִם־כָּעֵת מָחָר אֶשְׁלַח אֶת־עֲבָדַי אֵלֶיךָ וְחִפְּשׂוּ אֶת־בֵּיתְךָ וְאֵת בָּתֵּי עֲבָדֶיךָ וְהָיָה כָּל־מַחְמַד עֵינֶיךָ יָשִׂימוּ בְיָדָם וְלָקָחוּ׃

 20:6   And seize everything you prize and take it away

Rashi (1040-1105)

According to Rashi, Ben-Hadad is demanding that the People of Israel turn over their Torah scrolls to him. Rashi notes that Achav understands that the Torah is not his private possession, but rather a national treasure. Thus, he asks the elders of the kingdom what to do. Though the elders have sinned through idolatry, they still have honor for the Torah and refuse to permit turning over the precious scrolls to the enemy. Even one who is almost totally disconnected spiritually still maintains a small connection to Hashem, and that connection often emerges in times of crisis.

7Then the king of Yisrael summoned all the elders of the land, and he said, “See for yourselves how that man is bent on evil! For when he demanded my wives and my children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him.”

זוַיִּקְרָא מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל לְכָל־זִקְנֵי הָאָרֶץ וַיֹּאמֶר דְּעוּ־נָא וּרְאוּ כִּי רָעָה זֶה מְבַקֵּשׁ כִּי־שָׁלַח אֵלַי לְנָשַׁי וּלְבָנַי וּלְכַסְפִּי וְלִזְהָבִי וְלֹא מָנַעְתִּי מִמֶּנּוּ׃

8All the elders and all the people said, “Do not obey and do not submit!”

חוַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו כָּל־הַזְּקֵנִים וְכָל־הָעָם אַל־תִּשְׁמַע וְלוֹא תֹאבֶה׃

9So he said to Ben-hadad's messengers, “Tell my lord the king: All that you first demanded of your servant I shall do, but this thing I cannot do.” The messengers went and reported this to him.

טוַיֹּאמֶר לְמַלְאֲכֵי בֶן־הֲדַד אִמְרוּ לַאדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר־שָׁלַחְתָּ אֶל־עַבְדְּךָ בָרִאשֹׁנָה אֶעֱשֶׂה וְהַדָּבָר הַזֶּה לֹא אוּכַל לַעֲשׂוֹת וַיֵּלְכוּ הַמַּלְאָכִים וַיְשִׁבֻהוּ דָּבָר׃

10Thereupon Ben-hadad sent him this message: “May the gods do thus to me and even more, if the dust of Shomron will provide even a handful for each of the men who follow me!”

יוַיִּשְׁלַח אֵלָיו בֶּן־הֲדַד וַיֹּאמֶר כֹּה־יַעֲשׂוּן לִי אֱלֹהִים וְכֹה יוֹסִפוּ אִם־יִשְׂפֹּק עֲפַר שֹׁמְרוֹן לִשְׁעָלִים לְכָל־הָעָם אֲשֶׁר בְּרַגְלָי׃

11The king of Yisrael replied, “Tell him: Let not him who girds on his sword boast like him who ungirds it!”

יאוַיַּעַן מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמֶר דַּבְּרוּ אַל־יִתְהַלֵּל חֹגֵר כִּמְפַתֵּחַ׃

12On hearing this reply—while he and the other kings were drinking together at Succoth—he commanded his followers, “Advance!” And they advanced against the city.

יבוַיְהִי כִּשְׁמֹעַ אֶת־הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה וְהוּא שֹׁתֶה הוּא וְהַמְּלָכִים בַּסֻּכּוֹת וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־עֲבָדָיו שִׂימוּ וַיָּשִׂימוּ עַל־הָעִיר׃

13Then a certain Navi went up to King Achav of Yisrael and said, “Thus said Hashem: Do you see that great host? I will deliver it into your hands today, and you shall know that I am Hashem.”

יגוְהִנֵּה נָבִיא אֶחָד נִגַּשׁ אֶל־אַחְאָב מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמֶר כֹּה אָמַר יְהֹוָה הְרָאִיתָ אֵת כָּל־הֶהָמוֹן הַגָּדוֹל הַזֶּה הִנְנִי נֹתְנוֹ בְיָדְךָ הַיּוֹם וְיָדַעְתָּ כִּי־אֲנִי יְהֹוָה׃

14“Through whom?” asked Achav. He answered, “Thus said Hashem: Through the aides of the provincial governors.” He asked, “Who shall begin the battle?” And he answered, “You.”

ידוַיֹּאמֶר אַחְאָב בְּמִי וַיֹּאמֶר כֹּה־אָמַר יְהֹוָה בְּנַעֲרֵי שָׂרֵי הַמְּדִינוֹת וַיֹּאמֶר מִי־יֶאְסֹר הַמִּלְחָמָה וַיֹּאמֶר אָתָּה׃

15So he mustered the aides of the provincial governors, 232 strong, and then he mustered all the troops—all the Israelites—7,000 strong.

טווַיִּפְקֹד אֶת־נַעֲרֵי שָׂרֵי הַמְּדִינוֹת וַיִּהְיוּ מָאתַיִם שְׁנַיִם וּשְׁלֹשִׁים וְאַחֲרֵיהֶם פָּקַד אֶת־כָּל־הָעָם כָּל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שִׁבְעַת אֲלָפִים׃

16They marched out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk at Succoth together with the thirty-two kings allied with him.

טזוַיֵּצְאוּ בַּצָּהֳרָיִם וּבֶן־הֲדַד שֹׁתֶה שִׁכּוֹר בַּסֻּכּוֹת הוּא וְהַמְּלָכִים שְׁלֹשִׁים־וּשְׁנַיִם מֶלֶךְ עֹזֵר אֹתוֹ׃

17The aides of the provincial governors rushed out first. Ben-hadad sent [scouts], who told him, “Some men have come out from Shomron.”

יזוַיֵּצְאוּ נַעֲרֵי שָׂרֵי הַמְּדִינוֹת בָּרִאשֹׁנָה וַיִּשְׁלַח בֶּן־הֲדַד וַיַּגִּידוּ לוֹ לֵאמֹר אֲנָשִׁים יָצְאוּ מִשֹּׁמְרוֹן׃

18He said, “If they have come out to surrender, take them alive; and if they have come out for battle, take them alive anyhow.”

יחוַיֹּאמֶר אִם־לְשָׁלוֹם יָצָאוּ תִּפְשׂוּם חַיִּים וְאִם לְמִלְחָמָה יָצָאוּ חַיִּים תִּפְשׂוּם׃

19But the others—the aides of the provincial governors, with the army behind them—had already rushed out of the city,

יטוְאֵלֶּה יָצְאוּ מִן־הָעִיר נַעֲרֵי שָׂרֵי הַמְּדִינוֹת וְהַחַיִל אֲשֶׁר אַחֲרֵיהֶם׃

20and each of them struck down his opponent. The Arameans fled, and Yisrael pursued them; but King Ben-hadad of Aram escaped on a horse with other horsemen.

כוַיַּכּוּ אִישׁ אִישׁוֹ וַיָּנֻסוּ אֲרָם וַיִּרְדְּפֵם יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּמָּלֵט בֶּן־הֲדַד מֶלֶךְ אֲרָם עַל־סוּס וּפָרָשִׁים׃

21The king of Yisrael came out and attacked the horses and chariots, and inflicted a great defeat on the Arameans.

כאוַיֵּצֵא מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיַּךְ אֶת־הַסּוּס וְאֶת־הָרָכֶב וְהִכָּה בַאֲרָם מַכָּה גְדוֹלָה׃

22Then the Navi approached the king of Yisrael and said to him, “Go, keep up your efforts, and consider well what you must do; for the king of Aram will attack you at the turn of the year.”

כבוַיִּגַּשׁ הַנָּבִיא אֶל־מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ לֵךְ הִתְחַזַּק וְדַע וּרְאֵה אֵת אֲשֶׁר־תַּעֲשֶׂה כִּי לִתְשׁוּבַת הַשָּׁנָה מֶלֶךְ אֲרָם עֹלֶה עָלֶיךָ׃

23Now the ministers of the king of Aram said to him, “Their Hashem is a God of mountains; that is why they got the better of us. But if we fight them in the plain, we will surely get the better of them.

כגוְעַבְדֵי מֶלֶךְ־אֲרָם אָמְרוּ אֵלָיו אֱלֹהֵי הָרִים אֱלֹהֵיהֶם עַל־כֵּן חָזְקוּ מִמֶּנּוּ וְאוּלָם נִלָּחֵם אִתָּם בַּמִּישׁוֹר אִם־לֹא נֶחֱזַק מֵהֶם׃

24Do this: Remove all the kings from their posts and appoint governors in their place.

כדוְאֶת־הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה עֲשֵׂה הָסֵר הַמְּלָכִים אִישׁ מִמְּקֹמוֹ וְשִׂים פַּחוֹת תַּחְתֵּיהֶם׃

25Then muster for yourself an army equal to the army you lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot. And let us fight them in the plain, and we will surely get the better of them.” He took their advice and acted accordingly.

כהוְאַתָּה תִמְנֶה־לְךָ חַיִל כַּחַיִל הַנֹּפֵל מֵאוֹתָךְ וְסוּס כַּסּוּס וְרֶכֶב כָּרֶכֶב וְנִלָּחֲמָה אוֹתָם בַּמִּישׁוֹר אִם־לֹא נֶחֱזַק מֵהֶם וַיִּשְׁמַע לְקֹלָם וַיַּעַשׂ כֵּן׃

26At the turn of the year, Ben-hadad mustered the Arameans and advanced on Aphek to fight Yisrael.

כווַיְהִי לִתְשׁוּבַת הַשָּׁנָה וַיִּפְקֹד בֶּן־הֲדַד אֶת־אֲרָם וַיַּעַל אֲפֵקָה לַמִּלְחָמָה עִם־יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

27Now the Israelites had been mustered and provisioned, and they went out against them; but when the Israelites encamped against them, they looked like two flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the land.

כזוּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָתְפָּקְדוּ וְכָלְכְּלוּ וַיֵּלְכוּ לִקְרָאתָם וַיַּחֲנוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶגְדָּם כִּשְׁנֵי חֲשִׂפֵי עִזִּים וַאֲרָם מִלְאוּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ׃

28Then the man of Hashem approached and spoke to the king of Yisrael, “Thus said Hashem: Because the Arameans have said, ‘Hashem is a God of mountains, but He is not a God of lowlands,' I will deliver that great host into your hands; and you shall know that I am Hashem.”

כחוַיִּגַּשׁ אִישׁ הָאֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמֶר כֹּה־אָמַר יְהֹוָה יַעַן אֲשֶׁר אָמְרוּ אֲרָם אֱלֹהֵי הָרִים יְהֹוָה וְלֹא־אֱלֹהֵי עֲמָקִים הוּא וְנָתַתִּי אֶת־כָּל־הֶהָמוֹן הַגָּדוֹל הַזֶּה בְּיָדֶךָ וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי־אֲנִי יְהֹוָה׃

29For seven days they were encamped opposite each other. On the seventh day, the battle was joined and the Israelites struck down 100,000 Aramean foot soldiers in one day.

כטוַיַּחֲנוּ אֵלֶּה נֹכַח אֵלֶּה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַתִּקְרַב הַמִּלְחָמָה וַיַּכּוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־אֲרָם מֵאָה־אֶלֶף רַגְלִי בְּיוֹם אֶחָד׃

30The survivors fled to Aphek, inside the town, and the wall fell on the 27,000 survivors. Ben-hadad also fled and took refuge inside the town, in an inner chamber.

לוַיָּנֻסוּ הַנּוֹתָרִים אֲפֵקָה אֶל־הָעִיר וַתִּפֹּל הַחוֹמָה עַל־עֶשְׂרִים וְשִׁבְעָה אֶלֶף אִישׁ הַנּוֹתָרִים וּבֶן־הֲדַד נָס וַיָּבֹא אֶל־הָעִיר חֶדֶר בְּחָדֶר׃

31His ministers said to him, “We have heard that the kings of the House of Yisrael are magnanimous kings. Let us put sackcloth on our loins and ropes on our heads, and surrender to the king of Yisrael; perhaps he will spare your life.”

לאוַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו עֲבָדָיו הִנֵּה־נָא שָׁמַעְנוּ כִּי מַלְכֵי בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי־מַלְכֵי חֶסֶד הֵם נָשִׂימָה נָּא שַׂקִּים בְּמָתְנֵינוּ וַחֲבָלִים בְּרֹאשֵׁנוּ וְנֵצֵא אֶל־מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל אוּלַי יְחַיֶּה אֶת־נַפְשֶׁךָ׃

32So they girded sackcloth on their loins and wound ropes around their heads, and came to the king of Yisrael and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘I beg you, spare my life.'” He replied, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.”

לבוַיַּחְגְּרוּ שַׂקִּים בְּמָתְנֵיהֶם וַחֲבָלִים בְּרָאשֵׁיהֶם וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל־מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמְרוּ עַבְדְּךָ בֶן־הֲדַד אָמַר תְּחִי־נָא נַפְשִׁי וַיֹּאמֶר הַעוֹדֶנּוּ חַי אָחִי הוּא׃

33The men divined his meaning and quickly caught the word from him, saying, “Yes, Ben-hadad is your brother.” “Go, bring him,” he said. Ben-hadad came out to him, and he invited him into his chariot.

לגוְהָאֲנָשִׁים יְנַחֲשׁוּ וַיְמַהֲרוּ וַיַּחְלְטוּ הֲמִמֶּנּוּ וַיֹּאמְרוּ אָחִיךָ בֶן־הֲדַד וַיֹּאמֶר בֹּאוּ קָחֻהוּ וַיֵּצֵא אֵלָיו בֶּן־הֲדַד וַיַּעֲלֵהוּ עַל־הַמֶּרְכָּבָה׃

34Ben-hadad said to him, “I will give back the towns that my father took from your father, and you may set up bazaars for yourself in Damascus as my father did in Shomron.” “And I, for my part,” [said Achav,] “will let you go home under these terms.” So he made a treaty with him and dismissed him.

לדוַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו הֶעָרִים אֲשֶׁר־לָקַח־אָבִי מֵאֵת אָבִיךָ אָשִׁיב וְחוּצוֹת תָּשִׂים לְךָ בְדַמֶּשֶׂק כַּאֲשֶׁר־שָׂם אָבִי בְּשֹׁמְרוֹן וַאֲנִי בַּבְּרִית אֲשַׁלְּחֶךָּ וַיִּכְרָת־לוֹ בְרִית וַיְשַׁלְּחֵהוּ׃

35A certain man, a disciple of the Neviim, said to another, at the word of Hashem, “Strike me”; but the man refused to strike him.

להוְאִישׁ אֶחָד מִבְּנֵי הַנְּבִיאִים אָמַר אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ בִּדְבַר יְהֹוָה הַכֵּינִי נָא וַיְמָאֵן הָאִישׁ לְהַכֹּתוֹ׃

36He said to him, “Because you have not obeyed Hashem, a lion will strike you dead as soon as you leave me.” And when he left, a lion came upon him and killed him.

לווַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ יַעַן אֲשֶׁר לֹא־שָׁמַעְתָּ בְּקוֹל יְהֹוָה הִנְּךָ הוֹלֵךְ מֵאִתִּי וְהִכְּךָ הָאַרְיֵה וַיֵּלֶךְ מֵאֶצְלוֹ וַיִּמְצָאֵהוּ הָאַרְיֵה וַיַּכֵּהוּ׃

37Then he met another man and said, “Come, strike me.” So the man struck him and wounded him.

לזוַיִּמְצָא אִישׁ אַחֵר וַיֹּאמֶר הַכֵּינִי נָא וַיַּכֵּהוּ הָאִישׁ הַכֵּה וּפָצֹעַ׃

38Then the Navi, disguised by a cloth over his eyes, went and waited for the king by the road.

לחוַיֵּלֶךְ הַנָּבִיא וַיַּעֲמֹד לַמֶּלֶךְ עַל־הַדָּרֶךְ וַיִּתְחַפֵּשׂ בָּאֲפֵר עַל־עֵינָיו׃

39As the king passed by, he cried out to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the thick of the battle. Suddenly a man came over and brought a man to me, saying, ‘Guard this man! If he is missing, it will be your life for his, or you will have to pay a kikar of silver.'

לטוַיְהִי הַמֶּלֶךְ עֹבֵר וְהוּא צָעַק אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ וַיֹּאמֶר עַבְדְּךָ יָצָא בְקֶרֶב־הַמִּלְחָמָה וְהִנֵּה־אִישׁ סָר וַיָּבֵא אֵלַי אִישׁ וַיֹּאמֶר שְׁמֹר אֶת־הָאִישׁ הַזֶּה אִם־הִפָּקֵד יִפָּקֵד וְהָיְתָה נַפְשְׁךָ תַּחַת נַפְשׁוֹ אוֹ כִכַּר־כֶּסֶף תִּשְׁקוֹל׃

40While your servant was busy here and there, [the man] got away.” The king of Yisrael responded, “You have your verdict; you pronounced it yourself.”

מוַיְהִי עַבְדְּךָ עֹשֵׂה הֵנָּה וָהֵנָּה וְהוּא אֵינֶנּוּ וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל כֵּן מִשְׁפָּטֶךָ אַתָּה חָרָצְתָּ׃

41Quickly he removed the cloth from his eyes, and the king recognized him as one of the Neviim.

מאוַיְמַהֵר וַיָּסַר אֶת־הָאֲפֵר מעל [מֵעֲלֵי] עֵינָיו וַיַּכֵּר אֹתוֹ מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי מֵהַנְּבִאִים הוּא׃

42He said to him, “Thus said Hashem: Because you have set free the man whom I doomed, your life shall be forfeit for his life and your people for his people.”

מבוַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו כֹּה אָמַר יְהֹוָה יַעַן שִׁלַּחְתָּ אֶת־אִישׁ־חֶרְמִי מִיָּד וְהָיְתָה נַפְשְׁךָ תַּחַת נַפְשׁוֹ וְעַמְּךָ תַּחַת עַמּוֹ׃

43Dispirited and sullen, the king left for home and came to Shomron.

מגוַיֵּלֶךְ מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל־בֵּיתוֹ סַר וְזָעֵף וַיָּבֹא שֹׁמְרוֹנָה׃