Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 20

At Aphek, Israel’s army is too small

1 Kings 20:26-27

The name Aphek means a strong place or a castle. So, it became the name of several different places in Israel. These were often the places where armies fought battles (1 Samuel 4:1; 1 Samuel 29:1; 2 Kings 13:17).

So, it is not clear in which of these places Aram’s army gathered to fight against Israel. However it is clear that this was not at Samaria, Israel’s capital city, as in the previous year. Samaria is in the hills; Aram’s army wanted to fight this battle on a plain – in other words, on level ground (20:23).

In other ways, this battle was similar to the previous battle. Aram’s army was again a vast army, with many horses and good military equipment. Israel’s army was small. On the previous occasion, it had just 7000 men. It cannot have been much larger now. Our author compares it to a couple of groups of goats that had gathered together, perhaps for food. He also describes how the camp of Aram’s army spread out across a great area of land.

So, everything was ready for the battle on level ground that Aram’s army wanted. It was clear that, without special help from God, Israel’s army would lose this battle. However, they had no particular reason to expect any help from God. Israel’s people had not been loyal to God and its king, Ahab, hated the true God.

Next part: God will show that he rules all places (1 Kings 20:28)


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