King Ahab told his wife Jezebel everything that Elijah had done and how he had put all the prophets of Baal to death.
She sent a message to Elijah: "May the gods strike me dead if by this time tomorrow I don't do the same thing to you that you did to the prophets."
Elijah was afraid and fled for his life; he took his servant and went to Beersheba in Judah. Leaving the servant there,
Elijah walked a whole day into the wilderness. He stopped and sat down in the shade of a tree and wished he would die. "It's too much, Lord," he prayed. "Take away my life; I might as well be dead!"
He lay down under the tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said, "Wake up and eat."
He looked around and saw a loaf of bread and a jar of water near his head. He ate and drank, and lay down again.
The Lord's angel returned and woke him up a second time, saying, "Get up and eat, or the trip will be too much for you."
Elijah got up, ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to walk forty days to Sinai, the holy mountain.
There he went into a cave to spend the night. Suddenly the Lord spoke to him, "Elijah, what are you doing here?"
He answered, "Lord God Almighty, I have always served you - you alone. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed all your prophets. I am the only one left - and they are trying to kill me!"
"Go out and stand before me on top of the mountain," the Lord said to him. Then the Lord passed by and sent a furious wind that split the hills and shattered the rocks - but the Lord was not in the wind. The wind stopped blowing, and then there was an earthquake - but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was a fire - but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the soft whisper of a voice.
When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, "Elijah, what are you doing here?"
He answered, "Lord God Almighty, I have always served you - you alone. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed all your prophets. I am the only one left - and they are trying to kill me."
The Lord said, "Return to the wilderness near Damascus, then enter the city and anoint Hazael as king of Syria;
anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.
Anyone who escapes being put to death by Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and anyone who escapes Jehu will be killed by Elisha.
Yet I will leave seven thousand people alive in Israel - all those who are loyal to me and have not bowed to Baal or kissed his idol."
Elijah left and found Elisha plowing with a team of oxen; there were eleven teams ahead of him, and he was plowing with the last one. Elijah took off his cloak and put it on Elisha.
Elisha then left his oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, "Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you." Elijah answered, "All right, go back. I'm not stopping you!"
Then Elisha went to his team of oxen, killed them, and cooked the meat, using the yoke as fuel for the fire. He gave the meat to the people, and they ate it. Then he went and followed Elijah as his helper.
King Benhadad of Syria gathered all his troops, and supported by thirty-two other rulers with their horses and chariots, he marched up, laid siege to Samaria, and launched attacks against it.
He sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel to say, "King Benhadad demands that
you surrender to him your silver and gold, your women and the strongest of your children."
"Tell my lord, King Benhadad, that I agree; he can have me and everything I own," Ahab answered.
Later the messengers came back to Ahab with another demand from Benhadad: "I sent you word that you were to hand over to me your silver and gold, your women and your children.
Now, however, I will send my officers to search your palace and the homes of your officials, and to take everything they consider valuable. They will be there about this time tomorrow."
King Ahab called in all the leaders of the country and said, "You see that this man wants to ruin us. He sent me a message demanding my wives and children, my silver and gold, and I agreed."
The leaders and the people answered, "Don't pay any attention to him; don't give in."
So Ahab replied to Benhadad's messengers, "Tell my lord the king that I agreed to his first demand, but I cannot agree to the second." The messengers left and then returned with another message
from Benhadad: "I will bring enough men to destroy this city of yours and carry off the rubble in their hands. May the gods strike me dead if I don't!"
King Ahab answered, "Tell King Benhadad that a real soldier does his bragging [after] a battle, not before it."
Benhadad received Ahab's answer as he and his allies, the other rulers, were drinking in their tents. He ordered his men to get ready to attack the city, and so they moved into position.
Meanwhile, a prophet went to King Ahab and said, "The Lord says, "Don't be afraid of that huge army! I will give you victory over it today, and you will know that I am the Lord.' "
"Who will lead the attack?" Ahab asked. The prophet answered, "The Lord says that the young soldiers under the command of the district governors are to do it." "Who will command the main force?" the king asked. "You," the prophet answered.
So the king called out the young soldiers who were under the district commanders, 232 in all. Then he called out the Israelite army, a total of seven thousand men.
The attack began at noon, as Benhadad and his thirty-two allies were getting drunk in their tents.
The young soldiers advanced first. Scouts sent out by Benhadad reported to him that a group of soldiers was coming out of Samaria.
He ordered, "Take them alive, no matter whether they are coming to fight or to ask for peace."
The young soldiers led the attack, followed by the Israelite army,
and each one killed the man he fought. The Syrians fled, with the Israelites in hot pursuit, but Benhadad escaped on horseback, accompanied by some of the cavalry.
King Ahab took to the field, captured the horses and chariots, and inflicted a severe defeat on the Syrians.
Then the prophet went to King Ahab and said, "Go back and build up your forces and make careful plans, because the king of Syria will attack again next spring."
King Benhadad's officials said to him, "The gods of Israel are mountain gods, and that is why the Israelites defeated us. But we will certainly defeat them if we fight them in the plains.
Now, remove the thirty-two rulers from their commands and replace them with field commanders.
Then call up an army as large as the one that deserted you, with the same number of horses and chariots. We will fight the Israelites in the plains, and this time we will defeat them." King Benhadad agreed and followed their advice.
The following spring he called up his men and marched with them to the city of Aphek to attack the Israelites.
The Israelites were called up and equipped; they marched out and camped in two groups facing the Syrians. The Israelites looked like two small flocks of goats compared to the Syrians, who spread out over the countryside.
A prophet went to King Ahab and said, "This is what the Lord says: "Because the Syrians say that I am a god of the hills and not of the plains, I will give you victory over their huge army, and you and your people will know that I am the Lord.' "
For seven days the Syrians and the Israelites stayed in their camps, facing each other. On the seventh day they started fighting, and the Israelites killed a hundred thousand Syrians.
The survivors fled into the city of Aphek, where the city walls fell on twenty-seven thousand of them. Benhadad also escaped into the city and took refuge in the back room of a house.
His officials went to him and said, "We have heard that the Israelite kings are merciful. Give us permission to go to the king of Israel with sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our necks, and maybe he will spare your life."
So they wrapped sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their necks, went to Ahab and said, "Your servant Benhadad pleads with you for his life." Ahab answered, "Is he still alive? Good! He's like a brother to me!"
Benhadad's officials were watching for a good sign, and when Ahab said "brother," they took it up at once, and said, "As you say, Benhadad is your brother!" "Bring him to me," Ahab ordered. When Benhadad arrived, Ahab invited him to get in the chariot with him.
Benhadad said to him, "I will restore to you the towns my father took from your father, and you may set up a commercial center for yourself in Damascus, just as my father did in Samaria." Ahab replied, "On these terms, then, I will set you free." He made a treaty with him and let him go.
At the Lord's command a member of a group of prophets ordered a fellow prophet to hit him. But he refused,
so he said to him, "Because you have disobeyed the Lord's command, a lion will kill you as soon as you leave me." And as soon as he left, a lion came along and killed him.
Then this same prophet went to another man and said, "Hit me!" This man did so; he hit him a hard blow and hurt him.
The prophet bandaged his face with a cloth, to disguise himself, and went and stood by the road, waiting for the king of Israel to pass.
As the king was passing by, the prophet called out to him and said, "Your Majesty, I was fighting in the battle when a soldier brought a captured enemy to me and said, "Guard this man; if he escapes, you will pay for it with your life or else pay a fine of three thousand pieces of silver.'
But I got busy with other things, and the man escaped." The king answered, "You have pronounced your own sentence, and you will have to pay the penalty."
The prophet tore the cloth from his face, and at once the king recognized him as one of the prophets.
The prophet then said to the king, "This is the word of the Lord: "Because you allowed the man to escape whom I had ordered to be killed, you will pay for it with your life, and your army will be destroyed for letting his army escape.' "
The king went back home to Samaria, worried and depressed.
The whole group rose up and took Jesus before Pilate,
where they began to accuse him: "We caught this man misleading our people, telling them not to pay taxes to the Emperor and claiming that he himself is the Messiah, a king."
Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "So you say," answered Jesus.
Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, "I find no reason to condemn this man."
But they insisted even more strongly, "With his teaching he is starting a riot among the people all through Judea. He began in Galilee and now has come here."
When Pilate heard this, he asked, "Is this man a Galilean?"
When he learned that Jesus was from the region ruled by Herod, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
Herod was very pleased when he saw Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been wanting to see him for a long time. He was hoping to see Jesus perform some miracle.
So Herod asked Jesus many questions, but Jesus made no answer.
The chief priests and the teachers of the Law stepped forward and made strong accusations against Jesus.
Herod and his soldiers made fun of Jesus and treated him with contempt; then they put a fine robe on him and sent him back to Pilate.
On that very day Herod and Pilate became friends; before this they had been enemies.
Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people,
and said to them, "You brought this man to me and said that he was misleading the people. Now, I have examined him here in your presence, and I have not found him guilty of any of the crimes you accuse him of.
Nor did Herod find him guilty, for he sent him back to us. There is nothing this man has done to deserve death.
So I will have him whipped and let him go."
The whole crowd cried out, "Kill him! Set Barabbas free for us!
(Barabbas had been put in prison for a riot that had taken place in the city, and for murder.)
Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, so he appealed to the crowd again.
But they shouted back, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
Pilate said to them the third time, "But what crime has he committed? I cannot find anything he has done to deserve death! I will have him whipped and set him free."
But they kept on shouting at the top of their voices that Jesus should be crucified, and finally their shouting succeeded.
So Pilate passed the sentence on Jesus that they were asking for.
He set free the man they wanted, the one who had been put in prison for riot and murder, and he handed Jesus over for them to do as they wished.