1 Kings 20:33
Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it: and they said, Your brother Benhadad. Then he said, Go you, bring him. Then Benhadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot.
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(33) Now the men.—There has been much discussion of the meaning here, and some proposals of slight emendations of the reading. But the general sense seems accurately rendered by our version. “The men watched” (“as for augury,” says the LXX.), “and hasted, and caught up” (so as to make it sure) “what fell from him.” What follows may be a question, “Is Ben-hadad thy brother?” but probably the simple acceptance of the title is better. The whole description is graphic. The Syrians speak of “thy slave Ben-hadad.” Ahab, in compassion or show of magnanimity, says, “my brother.” Eagerly the ambassadors catch up the word, which, according to Eastern custom, implied a pledge of amity not to be recalled; and Ahab accepts their inference, and seals it publicly by taking the conquered king into his chariot. (Comp. 2Kings 10:15-16.)

1 Kings 20:33. The men did diligently observe, &c. — They were wise persons whom Ben-hadad employed in this embassy; who watched attentively to hear whether any kind word would drop from Ahab’s mouth, on which they might lay hold, and make their advantage of it, before he could retract it. And they catched hastily at the word brother, and said, Thy brother Ben-hadad lives, and implores this favour, that he may live. They repeated the word again, to try whether the king would own it, or whether it had only dropt casually from him; or whether he spoke this from his heart, or only in dissimulation and design; for it seemed too good news to be true.20:31-43 This encouragement sinners have to repent and humble themselves before God; Have we not heard, that the God of Israel is a merciful God? Have we not found him so? That is gospel repentance, which flows from an apprehension of the mercy of God, in Christ; there is forgiveness with him. What a change is here! The most haughty in prosperity often are most abject in adversity; an evil spirit will thus affect a man in both these conditions. There are those on whom, like Ahab, success is ill bestowed; they know not how to serve either God or their generation, or even their own true interests with their prosperity: Let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness. The prophet designed to reprove Ahab by a parable. If a good prophet were punished for sparing his friend and God's when God said, Smite, of much sorer punishment should a wicked king be thought worthy, who spared his enemy and God's, when God said, Smite. Ahab went to his house, heavy and displeased, not truly penitent, or seeking to undo what he had done amiss; every way out of humour, notwithstanding his victory. Alas! many that hear the glad tidings of Christ, are busy and there till the day of salvation is gone.The meaning of this verse is that the men from the first moment of their arrival were on the watch to note what Ahab would say; and the moment he let fall the expression "He is my brother," they caught it up and repeated it, fixing him to it, as it were, and preventing his retreat. By the Oriental law of "dakheel" anyone is at any time entitled to put himself under the protection of another, be that other his friend or his greatest enemy; and if the man applied to does not at once reject him, if the slightest forms of friendly speech pass between the two, the bond is complete, and must not be broken. Ben-hadad's friends were on the watch to obtain for him "dakheel;" and the single phrase "He is my brother," having been accepted by them on his part, was sufficient to complete the bond, and secure the life of the captive. Ahab having called Ben-hadad his brother, treated him as he would a brother; he took him up into his chariot, than which there could not be a greater honor. 32-34. put ropes on their heads—Captives were dragged by ropes round their necks in companies, as is depicted on the monuments of Egypt. Their voluntary attitude and language of submission flattered the pride of Ahab, who, little concerned about the dishonor done to the God of Israel by the Syrian king, and thinking of nothing but victory, paraded his clemency, called the vanquished king "his brother," invited him to sit in the royal chariot, and dismissed him with a covenant of peace. Did hastily catch it; or, they took that word for a good token, and made haste and snatched it (i.e. that word) from him, i.e. from his mouth; they repeated the word again, to try whether the king would own it, or it only dropped casually from him: or made haste to know whether it was from him, i.e. whether he spoke this from his heart, or only in dissimulation or design; for it seemed too good news to be true.

Thy brother Ben-hadad; understand, liveth; for that he inquired after, 1 Kings 8:32. Now the men did diligently observe whether anything would come from him,.... That would be a good omen to them, and encourage them to hope for success; they observed him as diligently by his words and behaviour as soothsayers do when they look out for a lucky sign; for the word is sometimes used of divining (s):

and did hastily catch it; as soon as it was out of his mouth, and laid hold on it to improve it to advantage, being wiser than him:

and they said, thy brother Benhadad; him whom thou callest thy brother; he is thy brother, and is alive; this they caught, and expressed it, to observe whether it was a slip of his tongue, and whether he spoke it heartily, and would abide by it, or whether he would retract it:

then he said, go ye, bring him; meaning from the city to the place where he was:

then Benhadad came forth to him; out of his chamber, upon the report of his servants:

and he caused him to come up into the chariot; to sit and converse with him there.

(s) "augurati sunt", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Vatablus.

Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it: and they said, Thy brother {o} Benhadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Benhadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot.

(o) He is alive.

33. the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it] R.V. the men observed diligently and hasted to catch whether it were his mind. There are several difficulties in this verse. The italics of A.V. being omitted, we have an expression meaning ‘whether from him’. This the R.V. takes as ‘whether it were his mind’, his true intention, to regard Ben-hadad in this friendly way. The first verb is used several times of divination by augury (cf. 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 21:6). Hence the sense of ‘diligent observation’ (see Genesis 44:5, marg. A.V.). Some have taken the word as implying a favourable omen, and so rendered ‘they took it as a good sign’. But this further meaning is no necessary part of the sense. The other verb rendered ‘to catch’ is only found here, and has nothing in Hebrew, or even in the cognate languages, to explain it. The traditional Jewish explanation is ‘they hasted to get him to say clearly’. The LXX. and the Vulg. give the sense of ‘to catch’; the former translating by ἀνελέξαντο, the latter by ‘rapuerunt’. Josephus represents the messengers as taking a pledge (ὅρκους λαβόντες) from Ahab that there should be no harm done to their master. The R.V. seems to have improved a little upon the A. V., and the following words ‘Thy brother Ben-hadad’ shew on what point the Syrians were anxious for confirmation.

into the chariot] The war chariot in which Ahab had come forth to the battle. For the whole proceeding appears to have taken place immediately after the Syrian overthrow.Verse 33. - Now the men did diligently observe whether anything would come from him and did hastily catch it [Heb. and the men augured - תךשׁאנךשׁךד נִחֵשׁ. Cf. Genesis 44:15; Leviticus 19:26; 2 Kings 17:17. LXX. οἰωνίσαντο. Vulgate acceperunt pro omine - and hasted and made him declare whether from him, the meaning of which is sufficiently clear, viz., that the men took Ahab's words,"He is my brother," as a speech of good omen, and immediately laid hold of it, and contrived that the king should be held to it and made to confirm it. The only difficulty is in the word וַיַּחְלְטוּ which is ἄπαξ My. The Talmud, however, interprets it to mean, declare, confirm; in the Kal conjugation and the Hiphil would therefore mean, made him declare. The LXX. and Vulgate, however, have understood it otherwise, taking חָלַט as the equivalent of חָלָץ rapuit. The former has ἀνελέξαντο τὸν λόγον ἐκ τοῦ οτόματος αὐτοῦ, and the latter rapuerunt `. They would seem also to have read instead of הַדָּבָר מ חֲמֵמֶּנוּ (Ewald). The law of dakheet (see Layard, N. and B. pp. 317-319), by which Rawlinson would explain this incident, seems to be rather an usage of the Bedouin than of any civilized nations]: and they said, Thy brother Ben-hadad. Then said he, Go ye, bring him.- Then Ben-hadad came forth to him [out of his hiding-place and out of the city]: and he caused him to come up into the chariot. [A mark of great favour (compare Genesis 41:43), and of reconciliation and concord (cf. 2 Kings 10:15).] The Israelites, mustered and provided for (כּלכּלוּ: supplied with ammunition and provisions), marched to meet them, and encamped before them "like two little separate flocks of goats" (i.e., severed from the great herd of cattle). They had probably encamped upon slopes of the mountains by the plain of Jezreel, where they looked like two miserable flocks of goats in contrast with the Syrians who filled the land.
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