He sent messengers into Samaria to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, Thus says Ben-hadad:
Your silver and your gold are mine; your wives and your children, even the fairest, also are mine.
And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to what you say, I am yours, and all that I have.
The messengers came again and said, Thus says Ben-hadad: Although I have sent to you, saying, You shall deliver to me your silver, your gold, your wives, and your children--
Yet I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants; and all the desire of your eyes they shall lay hands upon and take it away.
Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, Notice now and see how this man is seeking our destruction. He sent to me for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold, and I did not refuse him.
And all the elders and all the people said to him, Do not heed him or consent.
So he said to Ben-hadad's messengers, Tell my lord the king, All you first sent for to your servant I will do, but this thing I cannot do. And the messengers left; then they brought him word again.
Ben-hadad sent to him and said, May the gods do so to me, and more also, if the rubbish of Samaria shall be enough for each one of all the people who are at my feet and follow me to get a handful.
The king of Israel answered, Tell him: Let not him who girds on his harness boast as he who puts it off.
When Ben-hadad heard this message as he and the kings were drinking in the booths, he said to his servants, Set the army in array. And they set themselves in array against .
Then a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and said, Thus says the Lord: Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know and realize that I am the Lord.
Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus says the Lord: By the young men of the governors of the districts. Then Ahab said, Who shall order the battle? And he answered, You.
Ahab numbered the attendants of the governors of the districts, and they were 232. After them he numbered all the people of Israel, 7,000.
And they went out at noon. But Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings who helped him.
The servants of the governors of the districts went out first; and Ben-hadad sent out, and they told him, saying, There are men come out of Samaria.
And he said, Whether they have come out for peace or for war, take them alive.
So these of the governors of the districts went out of , and the army followed them.
And each one killed his man; the Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them. Ben-hadad king of Syria escaped on a horse with the horsemen.
The king of Israel went out and smote the horses and chariots and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.
The prophet came to the king of Israel and said to him, Go, fortify yourself and become strong and give attention to what you must do, for at the first of next year the king of Syria will return against you.
And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, Israel's gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.
And do this thing: Remove the kings, each from his place, and put governors in their stead.
And muster yourself an army like the army you have lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot. And we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. And he heeded their speech and did so.
And at the return of the year, Ben-hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel.
The Israelites were counted and, all present, went against them. The Israelites encamped before the enemy like two little flocks of lost kids , but the Syrians filled the country.
A man of God came and said to the king of Israel, Thus says the Lord: Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills but He is not God of the valleys, therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hands, and you shall know and recognize by experience that I am the Lord.
They encamped opposite each other seven days. Then the battle was joined; and the Israelites slew of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day.
But the rest fled to the city of Aphek, and the wall fell upon 27,000 men who were left. Ben-hadad fled into the city and from chamber to chamber.
His servants said to him, We have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Let us put sackcloth on our loins and ropes about our necks, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life.
So they girded sackcloth on their loins and put ropes on their necks, and came to the king of Israel and said, Your servant Ben-hadad says, I pray you, let me live. And King said, Is he yet alive? He is my brother.
Now the men took it as an omen and they hastily took it up and said, Yes, your brother Ben-hadad. Then the king said, Go, bring him. Then Ben-hadad came forth to him, and the victorious king caused him to come up into the chariot.
Ben-hadad said, The cities which my father took from your father I will restore; and you may maintain bazaars of your own in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria. Then, said Ahab, I will send you away on these terms. So he made a covenant with him and sent him away.
And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his neighbor, At the command of the Lord, strike me, I pray you. And the man refused to strike him.
Then said he to him, Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have left me a lion will slay you. And as soon as he departed from him, a lion found him and killed him.
Then found another man and said, Strike me, I pray you. And the man struck him, so that in striking, he wounded him.
So the prophet departed and waited for King Ahab by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face.
And as the king passed by, the cried out to him, Your servant went out into the midst of the battle, and behold, a man turned aside and brought a man to me and said, Keep this man. If for any reason he is missing, then your life shall be required for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.
But while your servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said to him, Such is your own verdict; you yourself have decided it.
The man hastily removed the ashes from his face, and Ahab king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets.
And he said to the king, Thus says the Lord: Because you have let go out of your hand the man I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.
And King of Israel went to his house resentful and sullen, and came to Samaria.
Summary: Given a man to keep, he had lost the man. And he had lost him because he was too busy to keep him. Evidently the servant considered that an excuse. Had he been idle, then indeed the loss of the man would have been an unpardonable offence.