And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
13-21. behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab—Though the king and people of Israel had highly offended Him, God had not utterly cast them off. He still cherished designs of mercy towards them, and here, though unasked, gave them a signal proof of His interest in them, by a prophet's animating announcement that the Lord would that day deliver the mighty hosts of the enemy into his hand by means of a small, feeble, inadequate band. Conformably to the prophet's instructions, two hundred thirty-two young men went boldly out towards the camp of the enemy, while seven thousand more, apparently volunteers, followed at some little distance, or posted themselves at the gate, to be ready to reinforce those in front if occasion required it. Ben-hadad and his vassals and princes were already, at that early hour—scarcely midday—deep in their cups; and though informed of this advancing company, yet confiding in his numbers, or it may be, excited with wine, he ordered with indifference the proud intruders to be taken alive, whether they came with peaceful or hostile intentions. It was more easily said than done; the young men smote right and left, making terrible havoc among their intended captors; and their attack, together with the sight of the seven thousand, who soon rushed forward to mingle in the fray, created a panic in the Syrian army, who immediately took up flight. Ben-hadad himself escaped the pursuit of the victors on a fleet horse, surrounded by a squadron of horse guards. This glorious victory, won so easily, and with such a paltry force opposed to overwhelming numbers, was granted that Ahab and his people might know (1Ki 20:13) that God is the Lord. But we do not read of this acknowledgment being made, or of any sacrifices being offered in token of their national gratitude.Went out, i.e. proceeded further in his march, and fought against them.
The horses and chariots, i.e. the men that fought from them, or belonged to them; for so horses and chariots are sometimes taken. See Poole "1 Samuel 13:5".
and smote the horses and chariots; that is, the men that rode on horses; and in chariots, the Syrian cavalry:
and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter; how many were slain is not said; but the Jewish historian (d) says they plundered the camp, in which were much riches, and great plenty of gold and silver, and took their chariots and horses, and returned to the city of Samaria.And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21. And the king of Israel went out] Ahab’s part appears to have been a small one. He seems to have given directions to the young men, and to those that followed them, but himself to have tarried in Samaria, until the rout was seen to have begun.Verse 21. - And the king of Israel went out [It looks as if Ahab had remained within the city until the defeat of the Syrians was assured], and smote [LXX. καὶ ἐλαβε, and captured] the horses and chariots [i.e., the cavalry and chariotry; cf. ver. 1], and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter. [Heb. in Syria a great, etc.] 1 Kings 20:19), amounted to 7000 men. And at noon, when Benhadad and his thirty-two auxiliary kings were intoxicated at a carousal in the booths (שׁכּור שׁתה as in 1 Kings 16:9), he ordered his men to advance, with the servants of the provincial governors taking the lead. The 7000 men are not to be regarded as the 7000 mentioned in 1 Kings 19:18, who had not bowed their knee before Baal, as Rashi supposes, although the sameness in the numbers is apparently not accidental; but in both cases the number of the covenant people existing in Israel is indicated, though in 1 Kings 19:18 and 7000 constitute the ἐκλογή of the true Israel, whereas in the verse before us they are merely the fighting men whom the Lord had left to Ahab for the defence of his kingdom.
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