May 17. Ahab’s War/Treaty with Syria

I Kin. 20:1-43

Israel and Syria were bitter enemies. Through an exchange of messages between Ahab and Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, Ahab agreed to surrender to the Syrian king. However, Ben-Hadad raised the stakes and a prophet from God informed Ahab that God would deliver Syria into his “hand today, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” Ahab’s army consisted of seven thousand, two hundred thirty two men against the mighty army of Syria. With God’s help, they “killed the Syrians with a great slaughter.”

The next spring, Ben-Hadad again attacked Israel and suffered a great defeat losing one hundred thousand men in battle and another twenty-seven thousand when a wall fell on them. The Syrian king and his army fled in defeat. In an effort to save his own life, he offered to restore all the cities that his father had taken from Israel and to allow the Israelites to set up market places in Damascus, the Syrian capital. Ahab agreed to the treaty and there was peace between the two kingdoms.

God was displeased with Ahab for making a treaty with Ben-Hadad instead of destroying him. He sent a disguised prophet to the king to make His displeasure known. After revealing himself, the prophet spoke the Lord’s words, “Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.” Upon hearing the message from God, Ahab returned home sullen and displeased.