This taunt by King Ben-hadad of Syria (1 Kings 20:10) and the reply of his enemy-King Ahab of Israel (1 King 20:11)-are good examples of ancient psychological warfare. Opposing armies often used such tactics. They attempted to gain the upper hand even before they drew their swords by intimidating the other side with taunts and threats.

Ben-hadad declared that his army would reduce the city of Samaria, Israel’s capital city, to rubble so effectively that his warriors would not be able to pick up handfuls of dust to carry away as souvenirs.

Ahab replied, in effect, “Words don’t win battles. Let’s see if you are still boasting like this when the battle is over.”

1 KINGS 20:10-11 – Ben-hadad. . . said [to King Ahab of Israel]. The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me. And the king of Israel [Ahab] answered. . . Let not him that girdeth [puts, NIV] on his harness [armor, NIV] boast himself as he that putteth it off.

Leave a Reply