New Defender's Study Bible Notes
20:1 Ben-hadad. There were three Syrian kings named Ben-Hadad, all of whom appear in the Biblical narratives (e.g., I Kings 15:18; II Kings 13:24). It seems to have been used by Jeremiah as a general name for all the Syrian kings (Jeremiah 49:27).
20:9 I may not do. Ahab was willing to surrender his wives (perhaps he was not all that fond of Jezebel!), his children and his gold to Ben-Hadad, but not his personal possessions.
20:11 putteth it off. This was apparently a proverbial expression (like “don’t count your chickens before they are hatched”). Despite his moral failings, Ahab did occasionally exhibit kingly qualities. He would not accept the terms of unconditional surrender that the Syrians were demanding.
20:16 drinking himself drunk. The arrogance of Ben-Hadad and his confederate kings celebrating their assumed victory by a drunken orgy at noon led to a great victory by the Israelites.
20:23 gods of the hills. The religion of the Syrians was a typical form of evolutionary pantheism, personifying natural forces and systems as gods and goddesses, who were actually demonic spirits supposedly controlling those natural phenomena. Such “gods” were no match for the true God of creation who had made them in the first place.
20:28 ye shall know. Skeptics have long repeated this ancient blasphemy of the Syrians—namely, that Jehovah was merely a tribal “god” of the Hebrews. The fact is, however, that He is the God of all creation, and He will not allow those who ridicule or belittle Him to continue such blasphemies forever.
20:32 he is my brother. Ahab’s overly-generous treatment of Ben-Hadad and the Syrians may have been because of the ancestral relationship of the Aramaeans and Israelites. In any case, it was unwise, for it enabled the Syrians to recover and later again attack Israel. God had told Ahab to execute Ben-Hadad, but he did not (I Kings 20:42). As a result, God pronounced—through a prophet—that Ahab would himself be destroyed.