Now Ben-Hadad1 king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria2 and attacked it.
He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, "This is what Ben-Hadad says:
'Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.' "
The king of Israel answered, "Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours."
The messengers came again and said, "This is what Ben-Hadad says: 'I sent to demand your silver and gold, your wives and your children.
But about this time tomorrow I am going to send my officials to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will seize everything you value and carry it away.' "
The king of Israel summoned all the elders3 of the land and said to them, "See how this man is looking for trouble!4 When he sent for my wives and my children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him."
The elders and the people all answered, "Don't listen to him or agree to his demands."
So he replied to Ben-Hadad's messengers, "Tell my lord the king, 'Your servant will do all you demanded the first time, but this demand I cannot meet.' " They left and took the answer back to Ben-Hadad.
Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab: "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if enough dust5 remains in Samaria to give each of my men a handful."
The king of Israel answered, "Tell him: 'One who puts on his armor should not boast6 like one who takes it off.' "
Ben-Hadad heard this message while he and the kings were drinking7 in their tents,a and he ordered his men: "Prepare to attack." So they prepared to attack the city.