Through the Bible – Day 127

Bible text(s)

King Ahab and Queen Jezebel

Syria attacks Israel

1King Benhadad of Syria called his army together. He was joined by thirty-two other kings with their horses and chariots, and together they marched to Samaria and attacked. 2Benhadad sent a messenger to tell King Ahab of Israel, 3“Ahab, give me your silver and gold, your wives, and your strongest sons!”

4“Your Majesty,” Ahab replied, “everything I have is yours, including me.”

5Later, Benhadad sent another messenger to say to Ahab, “I have already told you to give me your silver and gold, your wives, and your children. 6But tomorrow at this time, I will send my officials into your city to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will take everything else that you own.”

7Ahab called a meeting with the leaders of Israel and said, “Benhadad is causing real trouble. He told me to give him my wives and children, as well as my silver and gold. And I agreed.”

8“Don't listen to him!” they answered. “You don't have to do what he says.”

9So Ahab sent someone to tell Benhadad, “Your Majesty, I'll give you my silver and gold, and even my wives and children. But I won't let you have anything else.”

When Benhadad got his answer, 10he replied, “I'll completely destroy Samaria! There won't even be enough of it left for my soldiers to carry back in their hands. If I don't do it, I pray that the gods will punish me terribly.”

11Ahab then answered, “Benhadad, don't boast before the fighting even begins. Wait and see if you live through it.”

12Meanwhile, Benhadad and the other kings had been drinking in their tents. But when Ahab's reply came, he ordered his soldiers to prepare to attack Samaria, and they all got ready.

13At that very moment, a prophet ran up to Ahab and said, “You can see that Benhadad's army is very strong. But the LORD has promised to help you defeat them today. Then you will know that the LORD is in control.”

14“Who will fight the battle?” Ahab asked.

The prophet answered, “The young bodyguards who serve the district officials.”

“But who will lead them into battle?” Ahab asked.

“You will!” the prophet replied.

15So Ahab called together the two hundred and thirty-two young soldiers and the seven thousand troops in Israel's army, and he got them ready to fight the Syrians.

Israel defeats the Syrians

16-17At midday, King Ahab and his Israelite army marched out of Samaria, with the young soldiers in front.

King Benhadad of Syria and the thirty-two kings with him were drunk when the scouts he had sent out ran up to his tent, shouting, “We just now saw soldiers marching out of Samaria!”

18“Take them alive!” Benhadad ordered. “I don't care if they have come out to fight or to surrender.”

19The young soldiers led Israel's troops into battle, 20and each of them attacked and killed an enemy soldier. The rest of the Syrian army turned and ran, and the Israelites went after them. Benhadad and some others escaped on horses, 21but Ahab and his soldiers followed them and captured their horses and chariots.

Ahab and Israel's army crushed the Syrians.

22Later, the prophet went back and warned Ahab, “Benhadad will attack you again next spring. Build up your troops and make sure you have some good plans.”

Syria attacks Israel again

23Meanwhile, Benhadad's officials went to him and explained:

Israel's gods are mountain gods. We fought Israel's army in the hills, and that's why they defeated us. But if we fight them on flat land, there's no way we can lose.

24Here's what you should do. First, get rid of those thirty-two kings and put army commanders in their places. 25Then get more soldiers, horses, and chariots, so your army will be as strong as it was before. We'll fight Israel's army on flat land and wipe them out.

Benhadad agreed and did what they suggested.

26In the spring, Benhadad got his army together, and they marched to the town of Aphek to attack Israel. 27The Israelites also prepared to fight. They marched out to meet the Syrians, and the two armies camped facing each other. The Syrians covered the whole area, but the Israelites looked like two little flocks of goats.

28The prophet went to Ahab and said, “The Syrians think the LORD is a god of the hills and not of the valleys. So he has promised to help you defeat their powerful army. Then you will know that the LORD is in control.”

29For seven days the two armies stayed in their camps, facing each other. Then on the seventh day the fighting broke out, and before sunset the Israelites had killed one hundred thousand Syrian troops. 30The rest of the Syrian army ran back to Aphek, but the town wall fell and crushed twenty-seven thousand of them.

Benhadad also escaped to Aphek and hid in the back room of a house. 31His officials said, “Your Majesty, we've heard that Israel's kings keep their agreements. We will wrap sackcloth around our waists, put ropes around our heads, and ask Ahab to let you live.”

32They dressed in sackcloth and put ropes on their heads, then they went to Ahab and said, “Your servant Benhadad asks you to let him live.”

“Is he still alive?” Ahab asked. “Benhadad is like a brother to me.”

33Benhadad's officials were trying to understand what Ahab was thinking, and when he said “brother”, they quickly replied, “You're right! You and Benhadad are like brothers.”

“Go and get him,” Ahab said.

When Benhadad came out, Ahab asked him to climb up into his chariot.

34Benhadad said, “I'll give back the towns my father took from your father. And you can have shops in Damascus, just as my father had in Samaria.”

Ahab replied, “If you do these things, I'll let you go free.” Then they signed a peace treaty, and Ahab let Benhadad go.

A prophet condemns Ahab

35About this time the LORD commanded a prophet to say to a friend, “Hit me!” But the friend refused, 36and the prophet told him, “You disobeyed the LORD, and as soon as you walk away, a lion will kill you.” The friend left, and suddenly a lion killed him.

37The prophet found someone else and said, “Hit me!” So this man beat him up.

38The prophet left and put a bandage over his face to disguise himself. Then he went and stood beside the road, waiting for Ahab to pass by.

39When Ahab went by, the prophet shouted, “Your Majesty, right in the heat of battle, someone brought a prisoner to me and told me to guard him. He said if the prisoner got away, I would either be killed or forced to pay three thousand pieces of silver. 40But I got busy doing other things, and the prisoner escaped.”

Ahab answered, “You will be punished just as you have said.”

41The man quickly tore the bandage off his face, and Ahab saw that he was one of the prophets. 42The prophet said, “The LORD told you to kill Benhadad, but you let him go. Now you will die in his place, and your people will die in place of his people.”

43Ahab went back to Samaria, angry and depressed.

Jezebel has Naboth killed

1Naboth owned a vineyard in Jezreel near King Ahab's palace.

2One day, Ahab said, “Naboth, your vineyard is near my palace. Give it to me so I can turn it into a vegetable garden. I'll give you a better vineyard or pay whatever you want for yours.”

3Naboth answered, “This vineyard has always been in my family. I won't let you have it.”

4So Ahab went home, angry and depressed because of what Naboth had told him. He lay on his bed, just staring at the wall and refusing to eat a thing.

5Jezebel his wife came in and asked, “What's wrong? Why won't you eat?”

6“I asked Naboth to sell me his vineyard or to let me give him a better one,” Ahab replied. “And he told me I couldn't have it.”

7“Aren't you the king of Israel?” Jezebel asked. “Get out of bed and eat something! Don't worry, I'll get Naboth's vineyard for you.”

8-10Jezebel wrote a letter to each of the leaders of the town where Naboth lived. In the letters she said:

Call everyone together and tell them to go without eating today. When they come together, give Naboth a seat at the front. Get two liars to sit facing him and swear that Naboth has cursed God and the king. Then take Naboth outside and stone him to death!

She signed Ahab's name to the letters and sealed them with his seal. Then she sent them to the town leaders.

11After receiving her letters, they did exactly what she had asked. 12They told the people that it was a day to go without eating, and when they all came together, they seated Naboth at the front. 13The two liars came in and sat facing Naboth. Then they accused him of cursing God and the king, so the people dragged Naboth outside and stoned him to death.

14The leaders of Jezreel sent a message back to Jezebel that said, “Naboth is dead.”

15As soon as Jezebel got their message, she told Ahab, “Now you can have the vineyard Naboth refused to sell. He's dead.” 16Ahab got up and went to take over the vineyard.

Elijah condemns Ahab

17The LORD said to Elijah the prophet, 18“King Ahab of Israel is in Naboth's vineyard right now, taking it over. 19Go and tell him that I say, ‘Ahab, you murdered Naboth and took his property. And so, in the very spot where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, they will lick up your blood.’ ”

When Elijah found him, 20Ahab said, “So, my enemy, you've found me at last.”

Elijah answered:

Yes, I have! Ahab, you have managed to do everything the LORD hates. 21Now you will be punished. You and every man and boy in your family will die, whether slave or free. 22Your whole family will be wiped out, just like the families of King Jeroboam and King Baasha. You've made the LORD very angry by sinning and causing the Israelites to sin.

23And as for Jezebel, dogs will eat her body there in Jezreel. 24Dogs will also eat the bodies of your relatives who die in town, and vultures will eat the bodies of those who die in the country.

25-29When Ahab heard this, he tore his clothes and wore sackcloth day and night. He was depressed and refused to eat.

Some time later, the LORD said, “Elijah, do you see how sorry Ahab is for what he did? I won't punish his family while he is still alive. I'll wait until his son is king.”

No one was more determined than Ahab to disobey the LORD. And Jezebel encouraged him. Worst of all, he had worshipped idols, just as the Amorites had done before the LORD forced them out of the land and gave it to Israel.

1 Kings 20:1-21:29CEVOpen in Bible reader

Pilate questions Jesus

1Everyone in the council got up and led Jesus off to Pilate. 2They started accusing him and said, “We caught this man trying to get our people to riot and to stop paying taxes to the Emperor. He also claims that he is the Messiah, our king.”

3Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Those are your words,” Jesus answered.

4Pilate told the chief priests and the crowd, “I don't find him guilty of anything.”

5But they all kept on saying, “He has been teaching and causing trouble all over Judea. He started in Galilee and has now come all the way here.”

Jesus is brought before Herod

6When Pilate heard this, he asked, “Is this man from Galilee?” 7After Pilate learnt that Jesus came from the region ruled by Herod, he sent him to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at that time.

8For a long time Herod had wanted to see Jesus and was very happy because he finally had this chance. He had heard many things about Jesus and hoped to see him perform a miracle.

9Herod asked him a lot of questions, but Jesus did not answer. 10Then the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses stood up and accused him of all kinds of bad things.

11Herod and his soldiers made fun of Jesus and insulted him. They put a fine robe on him and sent him back to Pilate. 12That same day Herod and Pilate became friends, even though they had been enemies before this.

The death sentence

13Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people. 14He told them, “You brought Jesus to me and said he was a troublemaker. But I have questioned him here in front of you, and I have not found him guilty of anything that you say he has done. 15Herod didn't find him guilty either and sent him back. This man doesn't deserve to be put to death! 16-17I will just have him beaten with a whip and set free.”

18But the whole crowd shouted, “Kill Jesus! Give us Barabbas!” 19Now Barabbas was in jail because he had started a riot in the city and had murdered someone.

20Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, so he spoke again to the crowds. 21But they kept shouting, “Nail him to a cross! Nail him to a cross!”

22Pilate spoke to them a third time, “But what crime has he done? I have not found him guilty of anything for which he should be put to death. I will have him beaten with a whip and set free.”

23The people kept on shouting as loud as they could for Jesus to be put to death. 24Finally, Pilate gave in. 25He freed the man who was in jail for rioting and murder, because he was the one the crowd wanted to be set free. Then Pilate handed Jesus over for them to do what they wanted with him.

Luke 23:1-25CEVOpen in Bible reader
Canadian Bible Societyv.4.21.9
Follow us on: