Melachim 1:14

And Ahab said, "With whom?" And he said, "Thus said the Lord, 'With the youths of the governors of the provinces.' " And he said: "Who will commandeer the battle?" And he said, "You."
Who will commandeer the war?: Who will array [the battle] to command it.

You: You go forth first and so you shall kill him. [According to Shem Ephraim, the reading is:] And you shall not wait, and you shall array [the battle].

And he counted the youths of the governors of the provinces, and they were two hundred thirty-two, and afterwards he counted all the people, all the children of Israel, seven thousand. טווַיִּפְקֹ֗ד אֶֽת־נַעֲרֵי֙ שָׂרֵ֣י הַמְּדִינ֔וֹת וַיִּהְי֕וּ מָאתַ֖יִם שְׁנַ֣יִם וּשְׁלשִׁ֑ים וְאַחֲרֵיהֶ֗ם פָּקַ֧ד אֶת־ ידוַיֹּ֚אמֶר אַחְאָב֙ בְּמִ֔י וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ כֹּֽה־אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֔ה בְּנַעֲרֵ֖י שָׂרֵ֣י הַמְּדִינ֑וֹת וַיֹּ֛אמֶר מִֽי־יֶאְסֹ֥ר הַמִּלְחָמָ֖ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אָֽתָּה:

So who exactly were the "youth of the governors"?


Radak writes they were students who had been sent to the capital city to be educated and trained.

Rash writes Ahab kept sons of regional leaders in the palace as hostages to assure their parents would not rebel.

Eliyahu Rabbah says they were the sons of gentile rulers who were subservient to Ahab, and the youngsters were hostages to ensure the loyalty of their parents. In Samaria they became introduced to Judaism and became God-fearing people. The miracle would occur in their merit.

Artscroll (which translates the above) writes they were hardly qualified soldiers and their appearance on the battlefield would be considered ludicrous or, even worse, a cruel use of children doomed to be cannon fodder. Their victory would be an undeniable miracle.

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