Ahab Dies in Battle
1 There was no war between Syria and Israel for three years.tn Heb “and they lived three years without war between Aram and Israel.”
2 In the third year King Jehoshaphat of Judah came down to visittn The word “visit” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. the king of Israel.
3 The king of Israel said to his servants, “Surely you recognize that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us, though we are hesitant to reclaim it from the king of Syria.”tn Heb “Do you know that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us, and we hesitate to take it from the hand of the king of Aram?” The rhetorical question expects the answer, “Of course, you must know!”
4 Then he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to attack Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I will support you; my army and horses are at your disposal.”tn Heb “Like me, like you; like my people, like your people; like my horses; like your horses.”
5 Then Jehoshaphat added,tn Heb “and Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel.” “First seek an oracle from the Lord.”tn Heb “the word of the Lord.” Jehoshaphat is requesting a prophetic oracle revealing the Lord’s will in the matter and their prospects for success. For examples of such oracles, see 2 Sam 5:19, 23-24.
6 So the king of Israel assembled about four hundred prophets and asked them, “Should I attack Ramoth Gilead or not?”tn Heb “Should I go against Ramoth Gilead for war or should I refrain?” They said, “Attack! The sovereign onetn Though Jehoshaphat requested an oracle from “the Lord” (יְהוָה, Yahweh), they stop short of actually using this name and substitute the title אֲדֹנָי (’adonai, “lord; master”). This ambiguity may explain in part Jehoshaphat’s hesitancy and caution (vv. 7-8). He seems to doubt that the four hundred are genuine prophets of the Lord. will hand it over to the king.”
7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the Lord still here, that we may ask him?”
8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can seek the Lord’s will.tn Heb “to seek the Lord from him.” But I despisetn Or “hate.” him because he does not prophesy prosperity for me, but disaster. His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.tn The words “his name is” are supplied for stylistic reasons. Jehoshaphat said, “The king should not say such things.”
9 The king of Israel summoned an official and said, “Quickly bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”
10 Now the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were sitting on their respective thrones,tn Heb “were sitting, a man on his throne.” dressed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria.map For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1. All the prophets were prophesying before them.
11 Zedekiah son of Kenaanah made iron horns and said, “This is what the Lord says, ‘With these you will gore Syria until they are destroyed.’”
12 All the prophets were prophesying the same, saying, “Attack Ramoth Gilead! You will succeed; the Lord will hand it over to the king.”
13 Now the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the prophets are in complete agreement that the king will succeed.tn Heb “the words of the prophets are [with] one mouth good for the king.” Your words must agree with theirs; you must predict success.”tn Heb “let your words be like the word of each of them and speak good.”
14 But Micaiah said, “As certainly as the Lord lives, I will say what the Lord tells me to say.”
15 When he came before the king, the king asked him, “Micaiah, should we attack Ramoth Gilead or not?” He answered him, “Attack! You will succeed; the Lord will hand it over to the king.”sn “Attack! You will succeed; the Lord will hand it over to the king.” One does not expect Micaiah, having just vowed to speak only what the Lord tells him, to agree with the other prophets and give the king an inaccurate prophecy. Micaiah’s actions became understandable later, when it is revealed that the Lord desires to deceive the king and lead him to his demise. The Lord even dispatches a lying spirit to deceive Ahab’s prophets. Micaiah can lie to the king because he realizes this lie is from the Lord. It is important to note that in v. 14 Micaiah only vows to speak the word of the Lord; he does not necessarily say he will tell the truth. In this case the Lord’s word itself is deceptive. Only when the king adjures him to tell the truth (v. 16), does Micaiah do so.
16 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you solemnly promise intn Or “swear an oath by.” the name of the Lord to tell me only the truth?”
17 Micaiahtn Heb “he”; the referent (Micaiah) has been specified in the translation for clarity. said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep that have no shepherd. Then the Lord said, ‘They have no master. They should go home in peace.’”
18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you he does not prophesy prosperity for me, but disaster?”
19 Micaiahtn Heb “he”; the referent (Micaiah) has been specified in the translation for clarity. said, “That being the case, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the heavenly assembly standing on his right and on his left.
20 The Lord said, ‘Who will deceive Ahab, so he will attack Ramoth Gilead and dietn Heb “and fall.” there?’ One said this and another that.
21 Then a spirittn Heb “the spirit.” The significance of the article prefixed to רוּחַ (ruakh) is uncertain, but it could contain a clue as to this spirit’s identity, especially when interpreted in light of v. 24. It is certainly possible, and probably even likely, that the article is used in a generic or dramatic sense and should be translated, “a spirit.” In the latter case it would show that this spirit was vivid and definite in the mind of Micaiah the storyteller. However, if one insists that the article indicates a well-known or universally known spirit, the following context provides a likely referent. Verse 24 tells how Zedekiah slapped Micaiah in the face and then asked sarcastically, “Which way did the spirit from the Lord (רוּחַ־יְהוָה, [ruakh-Yahweh], Heb “the spirit of the Lord”) go when he went from me to speak to you?” When the phrase “the spirit of the Lord” refers to the divine spirit (rather than the divine breath or mind, Isa 40:7, 13) elsewhere, the spirit energizes an individual or group for special tasks or moves one to prophesy. This raises the possibility that the deceiving spirit of vv. 20-23 is the same as the divine spirit mentioned by Zedekiah in v. 24. This would explain why the article is used on רוּחַ; he can be called “the spirit” because he is the well-known spirit who energizes the prophets. stepped forward and stood before the Lord. He said, ‘I will deceive him.’ The Lord asked him, ‘How?’
22 He replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.’ The Lordtn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity. said, ‘Deceive and overpower him.tn The Hebrew text has two imperfects connected by וְגַם (vÿgam). These verbs could be translated as specific futures, “you will deceive and also you will prevail,” in which case the Lord is assuring the spirit of success on his mission. However, in a commissioning context (note the following imperatives) such as this, it is more likely that the imperfects are injunctive, in which case one could translate, “Deceive, and also overpower.” Go out and do as you have proposed.’
23 So now, look, the Lord has placed a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours; but the Lord has decreed disaster for you.”
24 Zedekiah son of Kenaanah approached, hit Micaiah on the jaw, and said, “Which way did the Lord’s spirit go when he went from me to speak to you?”
25 Micaiah replied, “Look, you will see in the day when you go into an inner room to hide.”
26 Then the king of Israel said, “Take Micaiah and return him to Amon the city official and Joash the king’s son.
27 Say, ‘This is what the king says, “Put this man in prison. Give him only a little bread and watertn Heb “the bread of affliction and the water of affliction.” until I safely return.”’”tn Heb “come in peace.” So also in v. 28.
28 Micaiah said, “If you really do safely return, then the Lord has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Take note,tn Heb “Listen.” all you people.”
29 The king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah attacked Ramoth Gilead.
30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and then entertn The Hebrew verbal forms could be imperatives (“Disguise yourself and enter”), but this would make no sense in light of the immediately following context. The forms are better interpreted as infinitives absolute functioning as cohortatives. See IBHS 594 §35.5.2a. Some prefer to emend the forms to imperfects. into the battle; but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and then entered into the battle.
31 Now the king of Syria had ordered his thirty-two chariot commanders, “Do not fight common soldiers or high-ranking officers;tn Heb “small or great.” fight only the king of Israel.”
32 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “He must be the king of Israel.” So they turned and attacked him, but Jehoshaphat cried out.
33 When the chariot commanders realized he was not the king of Israel, they turned away from him.
34 Now an archer shot an arrow at random,tn Heb “now a man drew a bow in his innocence” (i.e., with no specific target in mind, or at least without realizing his target was the king of Israel). and it struck the king of Israel between the plates of his armor. The kingtn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity. ordered his charioteer, “Turn around and take me from the battle line,tn Heb “camp.” because I’m wounded.”
35 While the battle raged throughout the day, the king stood propped up in his chariot opposite the Syrians. He died in the evening; the blood from the wound ran down into the bottom of the chariot.
36 As the sun was setting, a cry went through the camp, “Each one should return to his city and to his homeland.”
37 So the king died and was taken to Samaria, where they buried him.tn Heb “and the king died and he came to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria.”
38 They washed off the chariot at the pool of Samaria (this was where the prostitutes bathed);tn Heb “now the prostitutes bathed.” dogs licked his blood, just as the Lord had said would happen.tn Heb “according to the word of the Lord which he spoke.”
39 The rest of the events of Ahab’s reign, including a record of his accomplishments and how he built a luxurious palace and various cities, are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Israel.tn Heb “As for the rest of the acts of Ahab and all that he did, and the house of ivory which he built and all the cities which he built, are they not written on the scroll of the events of the days of the kings of Israel?”
40 Ahab passed away.tn Heb “lay down with his fathers.” His son Ahaziah replaced him as king.
Jehoshaphat’s Reign over Judah
41 In the fourth year of King Ahab’s reign over Israel, Asa’s son Jehoshaphat became king over Judah.
42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king and he reigned for twenty-five years in Jerusalem.map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. His mother was Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi.
43 He followed in his father Asa’s footsteps and was careful to do what the Lord approved.tn Heb “he walked in all the way of Asa his father and did not turn from it, doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.” (22:44)sn Beginning with 22:43b, the verse numbers through 22:53 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), because 22:43b in the English Bible = 22:44 in the Hebrew text. The remaining verses in the chapter differ by one, with 22:44-53 ET = 22:45-54 HT. However, the high places were not eliminated; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense on the high places.
44 (22:45) Jehoshaphat was also at peace with the king of Israel.
45 The rest of the events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, including his successes and military exploits, are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Judah.tn Heb “As for the rest of the events of Jehoshaphat, and his strength that he demonstrated and how he fought, are they not written on the scroll of the events of the days of the kings of Judah?”
46 He removed from the land any male cultic prostitutes who had managed to survive the reign of his father Asa.tn Heb “and the rest of the male cultic prostitutes who were left in the days of Asa his father, he burned from the land.” Some understand the verb בִּעֵר (bi’er) to mean “sweep away” here rather than “burn.” See the note at 1 Kgs 14:10.sn Despite Asa’s opposition to these male cultic prostitutes (see 1 Kgs 15:12) some of them had managed to remain in the land. Jehoshaphat finished what his father had started.
47 There was no king in Edom at this time; a governor ruled.
48 Jehoshaphat built a fleet of large merchant shipstn Heb “a fleet of Tarshish [ships].” This probably refers to large ships either made in or capable of traveling to the distant western port of Tarshish. to travel to Ophir for gold, but they never made the voyage because they were shipwrecked in Ezion Geber.
49 Then Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my sailors join yours in the fleet,”tn Heb “Let my servants go with your servants in the fleet.” but Jehoshaphat refused.
50 Jehoshaphat passed awaytn Heb “lay down with his fathers.” and was buried with his ancestors in the city of his ancestortn Heb “with his fathers in the city of his father.” David. His son Jehoram replaced him as king.
Ahaziah’s Reign over Israel
51 In the seventeenth year of King Jehoshaphat’s reign over Judah, Ahab’s son Ahaziah became king over Israel in Samaria.map For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1. He ruled for two years over Israel.
52 He did evil in the sight oftn Heb “in the eyes of.” the Lord and followed in the footstepstn Or “way.” of his father and mother; like Jeroboam son of Nebat, he encouraged Israel to sin.tn Heb “and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam son of Nebat who made Israel sin.”
53 He worshiped and bowed down to Baal,tn Heb “he served Baal and bowed down to him.” angering the Lord God of Israel just as his father had done.tn Heb “according to all which his father had done.”