During that time a prophet came to Ahab, the king of Israel. He announced, "The LORD says, 'Do you see this huge army? I will hand it over to you today. Then you will know that I am the Lord.' "
"But who will do it?" Ahab asked. The prophet answered, "The LORD says, 'The young officers who are under the area commanders will do it.' " "And who will start the battle?" he asked. The prophet answered, "You will."
So Ahab sent for the young officers who were under the area commanders. The total number of officers was 232. Ahab gathered together the rest of the men of Israel. The total number of them was 7,000.
They started out at noon. At that time Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings who were helping him were in their tents. They were getting drunk.
The young officers who were under Ahab's area commanders marched out first. Ben-Hadad had sent out scouts. They came back and reported, "Men are marching against us from Samaria."
Ben-Hadad said, "They might be coming to make peace. If they are, take them alive. Or they might be coming to make war. If they are, take them alive."
The young officers marched out of the city. The army was right behind them.
Each man struck down the one who was fighting against him. When that happened, the army of Aram ran away. The men of Israel chased them. But Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, escaped on a horse. Some of his horsemen escaped with him.
The king of Israel attacked them. He overpowered the horses and chariots. Large numbers of the men of Aram were wounded or killed.
After that, the prophet came to the king of Israel again. He said, "Make your position stronger. Do what needs to be done. Next spring the king of Aram will attack you again."
During that time, the officials of the king of Aram gave him advice. They said, "The gods of Israel are gods of the hills. That's why they were too strong for us. But suppose we fight them on the flatlands. Then we'll certainly be stronger than they are.
"Here's what you should do. Don't let any of the kings continue as military leaders. Have other officers take their places.
You must also put another army together. It should be just like the one you lost. It should have the same number of horses and chariots. Then we'll be able to fight against Israel on the flatlands. And we'll certainly be stronger than they are." Ben-Hadad agreed with their advice. He did what they suggested.
The next spring Ben-Hadad brought together the men of Aram. They went up to the city of Aphek to fight against Israel.
The men of Israel were also brought together. They were given supplies. They marched out to fight against their enemies. Israel's army camped across from Aram's army. The men of Israel looked like two small flocks of goats that had become separated from the others. But the men of Aram covered the countryside.
The man of God came up to the king of Israel again. He told him, "The LORD says, 'The men of Aram think I am a god of the hills. They do not think I am a god of the valleys. So I will hand their huge army over to you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.' "
For seven days the two armies camped across from each other. On the seventh day the battle began. The men of Israel wounded or killed 100,000 Aramean soldiers on foot. That happened in a single day.
The rest of the men of Aram escaped to the city of Aphek. Its wall fell down on 27,000 of them. Ben-Hadad ran to the city. He hid in a secret room.
His officials said to him, "Look, we've heard that the kings of Israel's royal house often show mercy. So let's go to the king of Israel. Let's wear black clothes. Let's tie ropes around our heads. Perhaps Ahab will spare your life."
So they wore black clothes. They tied ropes around their heads. Then they went to the king of Israel. They told him, "Your servant Ben-Hadad says, 'Please let me live.' " The king answered, "Is he still alive? He used to be my friend."
The men thought that was good news. So they quickly used the word Ahab had used. "Yes! Your friend Ben-Hadad!" they said. "Go and get him," the king said. Ben-Hadad came out of the secret room. Then Ahab had him get into his chariot.
"I'll return the cities my father took from your father," Ben-Hadad offered. "You can set up your own market areas in Damascus. That's what my father did in Samaria." Ahab said, "If we sign a peace treaty, I'll set you free." So he made a treaty with him. Then Ahab let him go.