posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:01 PM
The united kingdom of David and Solomon was strong enough to dominate the area on the eastern side of Jordan, and apparently a large stretch of
When the kingdom divided, the northern kingdom of Israel inherited the eastern territories, but found itself hard-pressed to defend them.
The desert peoples were always causing trouble, especially the Ammonites and the Moabites.
“Thus says the Lord; For three transgressions of the Ammonites and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have ripped up women
with child in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border” (Amos ch1 v13).
“For three transgressions of Moab and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because he burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom” (Amos
Damascus was part of this eastern region.
A story about the foundation of the kingdom in Damascus is told in 1 Kings. An adversary of Solomon, called Rezon, “gathered men about him and
became leader of a marauding band… and they went to Damascus and dwelt there, and made him king in Damascus” (1 Kings ch11 v23).
Their wars with Israel seem to have begun when Asa, king of Judah, sent gold and silver to Ben-Hadad, king of Damascus, to win him over to an
alliance. When Ben-Hadad invaded Dan and Naphtali, that had the desired effect of pulling Israel’s attention away from the frontier with Judah (ch15
We also read of wars in the reign of Ahab.
Ben-hadad had gathered his armies together and was besieging Samaria.
“And behold a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said ‘Thus says the Lord; Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I shall give
it into your hand this day; and you shall know that I am the Lord’”
Ahab asked for more detail; “By whom?”
“By the servants of the governors of the districts”.
“Who shall begin the battle?
So Ahab fought the battle according to these directions, and of course he won.
“Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said ‘Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do; for in the spring
the king of Syria will come up against you’” (ch20 vv13-22)
Ben-hadad certainly did come back in the spring, following a different strategy.
He took the advice of his servants, who told him that Israel’s God was a mountain god, whose help would be useless in the plains.
Then “a man of God” came near to the king of Israel and told him that the Lord was going to prove the Syrians wrong by giving the great multitude
into his hands again (v28).
The result of the battle was another victory for Israel.
Ben-hadad surrendered himself to the king, who spared his life (making the same mistake that Saul had made in the case of Agag).
And “a certain man of the sons of the prophets” acted out a “thou art the man” scene. He disguised himself as a wounded soldier, and told the
king that he was about to be penalised because he had been told to guard a prisoner, and he had allowed the prisoner to escape. The king declared that
the penalty was right, and should stand.
Then the man quickly tore off his disguise, and the king recognised him as “one of the prophets”.
He then announced from the Lord “Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go
for his life and your people for his people” (vv35-43).
Three years later, the king received a state visit from Jehoshaphat, king of Judah (ch22)
Ahab invited the other king to take part in a campaign against the Syrians in order to recover Ramoth-Gilead.
Jehoshaphat was willing, but said “Inquire first for the word of the Lord”.
Therefore the king of Israel gathered four hundred prophets together, and formally asked them the question; “Shall I go up to battle against
Ramoth-Gilead, or shall I forebear?”
They were all telling him “Go up; for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king”.
The star of the show was Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, who made himself horns of iron, declaring “Thus says the Lord; With these you shall push the
Syrians until they are destroyed”. We must imagine him putting on these horns and demonstrating the act of “pushing” (vv11-12)
But Micaiah gave a completely different answer; “I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd”. His prophecy was
vindicated by the shattering defeat which Israel suffered.
In the reign of Jehoram, the prophet Elisha was active in protecting his country against the Syrians.
Every time the king of Syria made plans to push his army to some location in Israel, Elisha knew what those plans were and gave a warning to his own
The Syrian king thought there must be a spy among the servants in his court, but they told him how Elisha knew the very words that he spoke in his
So a Syrian army was sent to Dothan for the purpose of seizing the prophet.
At Elisha’s request, however, the Lord struck them with a kind of blindness, so that Elisha was able to lead them all straight into Samaria.
The king of Israel was as excited as a child at Christmas;
“My father, shall I slay them? Shall I slay them?”
But Elisha told him to feed them well and let them go home (ch6 vv8-23).
The next invasion from Ben-hadad was more dangerous.
He besieged the city of Samaria, which was reduced to famine conditions.
But Elisha promised the king that food would be available in plenty the next day, and his promise was kept when the Syrian army was frightened
The good news was brought back to Samaria when hungry lepers ventured up to the Syrian camp (observing philosophically “If they kill us, we shall
but die”) and found it empty.
In a time of peace, Elisha visited Damascus. He told Hazael, the future king of Syria, that Ben-Hadad would die, and then gazed upon Hazael,
“I weep because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel; you will set on fire their fortresses, and you will slay their young men
with the sword, and dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child” (2 Kings ch8 vv7-15).
We are told a little later that Hazael began to defeat Israel extensively, conquering most of the lands east of the Jordan (ch15 vv32-33).
“For three transgressions of Damascus and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing-sledges of
So I will send a fire upon the house of Hazael, and it shall devour the strongholds of Ben-Hahad” (Amos ch1 vv3-4).
Elisha gave one final prophecy on his deathbed, where the king Joash was in attendance.
The prophet told the king to take a bow and arrows.
He helped the king to shoot an arrow out of the window, and declared this to be a sign of “The lord’s arrow of victory over Syria”.
Then he told the king to strike the arrows on the ground.
The king stopped after striking three times, making Elisha cross. It meant that the king would only defeat the Syrians three times, which would fall
short of removing the Syrian threat.