The Israelites are not privileged (Am 9:7-9:8)

“‘Are you not

Like the Ethiopians

To me?

O people of Israel!’

Says Yahweh.

‘Did I not bring up


From the land of Egypt?

Did I not bring up

The Philistines

From Caphtor?

Did I not bring up

The Arameans

From Kir?

The eyes

Of Yahweh God

Are upon

The sinful kingdom.

I will destroy it

From the face

Of the earth.


I will not utterly destroy

The house of Jacob.’

Says Yahweh.”

In this oracle of Yahweh, Amos pointed out that the Israelites were not privileged, since Yahweh had brought other countries from one place to another like Israel came from Egypt.  He had helped the Philistines come from Caphtor, also a part of Egypt.  Yahweh also helped the Arameans from Kir, an area in Mesopotamia.  The Israelites were no better than the Ethiopians.  They had become a sinful nation.  Thus, he was going to destroy them from the face of the earth.  However, Yahweh would not utterly destroy the house of Jacob.  He would leave a remnant.

They discuss the idea of seizing the spring water (Jdt 7:8-7:15)

“Then all the chieftains of the Edomites and all the leaders of the Moabites along with the commanders of the coastland came to General Holofernes and said.

‘Listen to what we have to say, my lord.

Your army will suffer no losses.

This people, the Israelites,

Do not rely on their spears

But on the height of the mountains where they live.

It is not easy to reach the tops of their mountains.

Therefore, my lord,

Do not fight against them in regular formation.

Not a man of your army will fall.

Remain in your camp!

Keep all the men in your forces with you.

Let your servants take possession of the spring of water

That flows from the foot of the mountain,

Which is where all the people of Bethulia get their water.

So thirst will destroy them.

They will surrender their town.

Meanwhile, we and our people

Will go up to the tops of the nearby mountains.

We will camp there to keep watch to see

That no one gets out of the town.

They and their wives and children will waste away with famine.

Before the sword reaches them

They will be strewn about in the streets where they live.

Thus you will pay them back with evil,

Because they rebelled and did not receive you peaceably.’”

The local groups of Edomites, Moabites, and coastal people had a proposal for General Holofernes. They came up with the idea where the Assyrians would lose no men in battle because the mountains were hard to climb. This is the only occasion where mountains seem to favor the Israelites. In all other cases the battles seemed to be around towns and in valleys. They proposed that the water supply be shut down. Somehow the water springs were at the bottom of the mountain. It seems like there might be water at the top of the mountain. The Israelites would suffer from a great thirst. Eventually, they would surrender their towns as they would waste away with famine. This is somewhat similar to the idea of trying to cause a famine in Samaria under the Israelite King Jehoram (852-841 BCE) in 2 Kings, chapter 6, when he was attacked by the king of the Arameans. This would be an easy way to conquer these rebellious men of Judah and Benjamin, since theoretically Israel had already been conquered the previous century.

King Ahaziah joins with King Jehoram of Israel (2 Chr 22:5-22:6)

“He even followed their advice. He went with King Jehoram of Israel, the son of Ahab, to make war against King Hazael of Aram at Ramoth-gilead. The Arameans wounded King Jehoram. He returned to Jezreel to be healed of the wounds which he had received at Ramah, when he fought against King Hazael of Aram. King Ahaziah son of King Jehoram of Judah went down to see King Jehoram son of King Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.”

Once again this is very close to 2 Kings, chapter 8. He followed the advice of his counselors and went to battle with his uncle King Jehoram of Israel at Ramoth-gilead. This seems to be a favorite spot to do battle with the Arameans. This is the same spot where King Ahab of Israel was killed when King Jehoshaphat of Judah went to fight the Arameans in 1 Kings, chapter 22. Now it is 12 years later when disaster strikes again. King Jehoram of Israel was wounded so that he returned to Jezreel. His nephew, King Ahaziah went to see him there at Jezreel because he was sick or wounded as in 2 Kings.

The battle at Ramoth-gilead (2 Chr 18:28-18:32)

“So the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. The king of Israel said to King Jehoshaphat. ‘I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.’ So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. Now the king of Aram had commanded the captains of his chariots. ‘Fight with no one small or great, but only with the king of Israel.’ When the captains of the chariots saw King Jehoshaphat, they said. ‘It is the king of Israel.’ So they turned to fight against him. However King Jehoshaphat cried out. Yahweh helped him. God drew them away from him. When the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him.”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 1 Kings, chapter 22. King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat went out together to do battle with the Arameans at Ramoth-gilead on the east side of the Jordan River. King Ahab must have expected something because he disguised himself and sent King Jehoshaphat with full robes into battle. In fact, the king of the Arameans had told his captains to kill King Ahab and not anyone else. Obviously the Arameans saw King Jehoshaphat with all his royal robes so that they thought that he was King Ahab. They started to fight against him until King Jehoshaphat cried out to go to battle. Here the biblical author says that Yahweh helped him to draw the Arameans away from him. Then they realized that is was not King Ahab and stopped pursuing him.

The prophecy of success (2 Chr 18:9-18:11)

“Now the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes. They were sitting at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria. All the prophets were prophesying before them. Zedekiah son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron. He said. ‘Thus says Yahweh. ‘With these you shall gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’ All the prophets were prophesying the same and saying. ‘Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph. Yahweh will give it into the hand of the king.’”

Once again, this is word for word from 1 Kings, chapter 22. Most of the great discussions took place at the gate to the town. The 2 kings sat on their thrones listening to the prophets of Queen Jezebel of Israel proclaim that Yahweh would guarantee success for this battle. This prophet Zedekiah is not to be confused with the later King Zedekiah. He made horns of iron that showed how the Arameans would be destroyed. These horns symbolized the victory of the 2 kings. These were common war instruments worn on the head to show how fierce you were. The 400 prophets saw nothing but success.


The last request and prophecy of Elisha (2 Kings 13:14-13:19)

“Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, King Joash of Israel went down to him. He wept before him, crying. ‘My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ Elisha said to him. ‘Take a bow and arrows.’ So King Joash took a bow and arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel. ‘Draw the bow.’ He drew it. Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands. Then he said. ‘Open the window eastward.’ He opened it. Elisha said. ‘Shoot!’ He shot it. Then he said. ‘Yahweh’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram! For you shall fight the Arameans in Aphek until you have made an end of them.’ He continued. ‘Take the arrows.’ He took them. He said to the king of Israel. ‘Strike the ground with them.’ He struck it three times. Then he stopped. Then the man of God was angry with him. ‘You should have struck it five or six times. Then you would have struck down the Arameans until you had made an end of them. But now you will strike down Aram only three times.’”

Interesting enough, it is King Joash of Israel who is at his side. You should note that Elisha never did have much to say about the king of Judah. In typical fashion, Elisha seems to know that he is dying since the good death is part of most stories. King Joash is genuinely moved and cries for Elisha. Elisha the prophet has one more request and prophecy for the king. He wants him to shoot an arrow out the east window. This is somewhat reminiscent of the bow and arrow incident with Jonathan and David in 1 Samuel, chapter 20. This shoot was the arrow of victory as the Israelites would prevail at Aphek. Elisha told King Joash to strike the ground with his arrows. The king only strikes the arrows to the ground 3 times. It was not clear how he would know to strike it more times. Nevertheless, the irascible prophet Elisha remained irascible to the very end. He told King Joash that he should have struck the arrows 5 or 6 times. Now he will only be able to defeat the Arameans 3 times instead of total destruction.

King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat plan to attack Ramoth-gilead (1 Kings 22:1-22:4)

“For three years Aram and Israel continued without war. But in the third year King Jehoshaphat of Judah came down to the king of Israel. The king of Israel said to his servants. ‘Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us? Yet we are doing nothing to take it out of the hand of the king of Aram. He said to King Jehoshaphat. ‘Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?’ King Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel. ‘I am as you are. My people are your people. My horses are your horses.’”

There was some kind of truce after the great defeat at Aphek in chapter 20. King Jehoshaphat of Judah came to King Ahab in some kind of reconciliation. King Ahab was consulting with his advisors or servants on whether to take back Ramon-gilead which was on the east side of the Jordan River. He asked King Jehoshaphat to come with him. His response was in complete agreement as he said that he, and his people and their horses were at his disposal.

The Israelite victory at Aphek (1 Kings 20:26-20:30)

“In the spring King Ben-hadad mustered the Arameans. They went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel. After the Israelites had been mustered and provisioned, they went out to engage them. The people of Israel encamped opposite them like two little flocks of goats, while the Arameans filled the country. A man of God approached. He said to the king of Israel. ‘Thus says Yahweh. Because the Arameans have said. ‘Yahweh is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,’ therefore I will give this entire great multitude into your hand. You shall know that I am Yahweh.’ They encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle began. The Israelites killed one hundred thousand Aramean foot soldiers in one day. The rest fled into the city of Aphek. The wall fell on the twenty-seven thousand men that were left.”

In the spring time, King Ben-hadad set out to defeat the Israelites. They went to a place called Aphek, on the road between Israel and Syria. There are other places with this same name where the Philistines and the Canaanites were. The 2 armies camped against each other for 7 days. On the 7th day, the Israelites attacked. Once again, the unnamed prophet, man of God, appeared to King Ahab to tell him that he was going to be successful. This time the Israelites killed 100,000 Arameans, while another 27,000 were killed when a wall collapsed. This was a great victory. The numbers seem a little high, but they indicate the complete defeat of the Aramean army from the Syrian area.

The Israelite victory (1 Kings 20:19-20:21)

“But the Israelites had already come out of the city, the young men who served the district governors, and the army that followed them. Each killed his man. The Arameans fled. Israel pursued them, but King Ben-hadad of Aram escaped on a horse with the cavalry. The king of Israel went out. He attacked the horses and the chariots. He defeated the Arameans with a great slaughter.”

It was too late for the scouts since the elite Israelite 232 with the 7,000 troops behind them had left the city. They each killed a man. However, King Ben-hadad escaped on horseback with his cavalry. King Ahab went out and attacked the horses and chariots that led to a great slaughter of the Arameans.

The first demand of King Ben-hadad (1 Kings 20:1-20:4)

“King Ben-hadad of Aram gathered all his army together. Thirty-two kings were with him, along with horses and chariots. He marched against Samaria, laid siege to it, and attacked it. Then he sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel. He said to him. ‘Thus says Ben-hadad. ‘Your silver and your gold are mine. Your fairest wives and children also are mine.’ The king of Israel answered. ‘As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.’”

This is an odd story. This may have been Ben-hadad II, since Ben-hadad I had made a deal with King Asa (911-870 BCE) of Judah to attack Israel. This may be a continuation of this battle. King Ben-hadad had with him 32 kings. These must have 32 chiefs or kings or small territories. His messengers came to King Ahab to tell him they he wanted all their gold, silver, wives, and children. In a strange response Ahab seems to say okay. You can have everything.