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[371] Now when Benhadad heard this, he had indignation, and sent ambassadors to Ahab the third time, and threatened that his army would raise a bank higher than those walls, in confidence of whose strength he despised him, and that by only each man of his army taking a handful of earth; hereby making a show of the great number of his army, and aiming to affright him. Ahab answered, that he ought not to vaunt himself when he had only put on his armor, but when he should have conquered his enemies in the battle. So the ambassadors came back, and found the king at supper with his thirty-two kings, and informed him of Ahab's answer; who then immediately gave order for proceeding thus: To make lines round the city, and raise a bulwark, and to prosecute the siege all manner of ways. Now, as this was doing, Ahab was in a great agony, and all his people with him; but he took courage, and was freed from his fears, upon a certain prophet coming to him, and saying to him, that God had promised to subdue so many ten thousands of his enemies under him. And when he inquired by whose means the victory was to be obtained, be said," By the sons of the princes; but under thy conduct as their leader, by reason of their unskilfulness [in war]." Upon which he called for the sons of the princes, and found them to be two hundred and thirty-two persons. So when he was informed that the king of Syria had betaken himself to feasting and repose, he opened the gates, and sent out the princes' sons. Now when the sentinels told Benhadad of it, he sent some to meet them, and commanded them, that if these men were come out for fighting, they should bind them, and bring them to him; and that if they came out peaceably, they should do the same. Now Ahab had another army ready within the walls, but the sons of the princes fell upon the out-guard, and slew many of them, and pursued the rest of them to the camp; and when the king of Israel saw that these had the upper hand, he sent out all the rest of his army, which, falling suddenly upon the Syrians, beat them, for they did not think they would have come out; on which account it was that they assaulted them when they were naked 1 and drunk, insomuch that they left all their armor behind them when they fled out of the camp, and the king himself escaped with difficulty, by fleeing away on horseback. But Ahab went a great way in pursuit of the Syrians; and when he had spoiled their camp, which contained a great deal of wealth, and moreover a large quantity of gold and silver, he took Benhadad's chariots and horses, and returned to the city; but as the prophet told him he ought to have his army ready, because the Syrian king would make another expedition against him the next year, Ahab was busy in making provision for it accordingly.

1 Mr. Reland notes here very truly, that the word naked does not always signify entirely naked, but sometimes without men's usual armor, without heir usual robes or upper garments; as when Virgil bids the husbandman plough naked, and sow naked; when Josephus says (Antiq. B. IV. ch. 3. sect. 2) that God had given the Jews the security of armor when they were naked; and when he here says that Ahab fell on the Syrians when they were naked and drunk; when (Antiq. B. XI. ch. 5. sect. 8) he says that Nehemiah commanded those Jews that were building the walls of Jerusalem to take care to have their armor on upon occasion, that the enemy might not fall upon them naked. I may add, that the case seems to be the same in the Scripture, when it says that Saul lay down naked among the prophets, 1 Samuel 19:24; when it says that Isaiah walked naked and barefoot, Isaiah 20:2, 3; and when it says that Peter, before he girt his fisher's coat to him, was naked, John 21:7. What is said of David also gives light to this, who was reproached by Michal for "dancing before the ark, and uncovering himself in the eyes of his handmaids, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself," 2 Samuel 6:14, 20; yet it is there expressly said (ver. 14) that "David was girded with a linen ephod," i.e. he had laid aside his robes of state, and put on the sacerdotal, Levitical, or sacred garments, proper for such a solemnity.

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