Ahab’s Defeat by Aram.* 1Three years passed without war between Aram and Israel. 2In the third year, however, King Jehoshaphat of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3The king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you not know that Ramoth-gilead is ours and we are doing nothing to take it from the king of Aram?” 4He asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you come with me to fight against Ramoth-gilead?” Jehoshaphat answered the king of Israel, “You and I are as one, and your people and my people, your horses and my horses as well.”
Prophetic Condemnation. 5Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “Seek the word of the LORD at once.” 6The king of Israel assembled the prophets, about four hundred of them, and asked, “Shall I go to fight against Ramoth-gilead or shall I refrain?” They said, “Attack. The Lord will give it into the power of the king.”* 7But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no other prophet of the LORD here we might consult?” 8The king of Israel answered, “There is one other man through whom we might consult the LORD; but I hate him because he prophesies not good but evil about me. He is Micaiah, son of Imlah.” Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say that.” 9So the king of Israel called an official and said to him, “Get Micaiah, son of Imlah, at once.”
10The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, were seated, each on his throne, clothed in their robes of state in the square at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11a Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah, made himself two horns of iron* and said, “The LORD says, With these you shall gore Aram until you have destroyed them.” 12The other prophets prophesied in a similar vein, saying: “Attack Ramoth-gilead and conquer! The LORD will give it into the power of the king.”
13Meanwhile, the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah said to him, “Look now, the prophets are unanimously predicting good for the king. Let your word be the same as any of theirs; speak a good word.” 14Micaiah said, “As the LORD lives, I shall speak whatever the LORD tells me.”
15When he came to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to fight at Ramoth-gilead, or shall we refrain?” He said, “Attack and conquer! The LORD will give it into the power of the king.” 16But the king answered him, “How many times must I adjure you to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?” 17* So Micaiah said:
“I see all Israel
scattered on the mountains,
like sheep without a shepherd,
And the LORD saying,
These have no master!
Let each of them go back home in peace.”
18The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you, he does not prophesy good about me, but only evil?” 19* Micaiah continued: “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD seated on his throne, with the whole host of heaven standing to his right and to his left. 20The LORD asked: Who will deceive Ahab, so that he will go up and fall on Ramoth-gilead?* And one said this, another that, 21until this spirit came forth and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will deceive him.’ The LORD asked: How? 22He answered, ‘I will go forth and become a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.’ The LORD replied: You shall succeed in deceiving him. Go forth and do this. 23So now, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours; the LORD himself has decreed evil against you.”
24Thereupon Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah, came up and struck Micaiah on the cheek, saying, “Has the spirit of the LORD, then, left me to speak with you?” 25Micaiah said, “You shall find out on the day you go into an inner room to hide.” 26The king of Israel then said, “Seize Micaiah and take him back to Amon, prefect of the city, and to Joash, the king’s son, 27and say, ‘This is the king’s order: Put this man in prison and feed him scanty rations of bread and water until I come back in safety.’” 28b But Micaiah said, “If you return in safety, the LORD has not spoken through me.” (He also said, “Hear, O peoples, all of you.”)*
Ahab at Ramoth-gilead. 29The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, went up to Ramoth-gilead, 30and the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you put on your own robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and entered the battle. 31In the meantime the king of Aram had given his thirty-two chariot commanders the order, “Do not fight with anyone, great or small, except the king of Israel alone.”
32When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they cried out, “There is the king of Israel!” and wheeled to fight him. But Jehoshaphat cried out, 33and the chariot commanders, seeing that he was not the king of Israel, turned away from him. 34But someone drew his bow at random, and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his breastplate. He ordered his charioteer, “Rein about and take me out of the ranks, for I am wounded.”
35c The battle grew fierce during the day, and the king, who was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans, died in the evening. The blood from his wound flowed to the bottom of the chariot. 36At sunset a cry went through the army, “Every man to his city, every man to his land!”
37And so the king died, and came back to Samaria, and they buried him there. 38d When they washed out the chariot at the pool of Samaria, the dogs licked up his blood and prostitutes bathed there, as the LORD had prophesied.
39The rest of the acts of Ahab, with all that he did, including the ivory house he built and all the cities he built, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 40Ahab rested with his ancestors, and his son Ahaziah succeeded him as king.
Reign of Jehoshaphat. 41Jehoshaphat, son of Asa, became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab, king of Israel. 42Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah, daughter of Shilhi.
43He walked in the way of Asa his father unceasingly, doing what was right in the LORD’s sight. 44Nevertheless, the high places did not disappear, and the people still sacrificed on the high places and burned incense there. 45Jehoshaphat also made peace with the king of Israel.
46The rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, with his valor, what he did and how he fought, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah. 47He removed from the land the rest of the pagan priests who had remained in the reign of Asa his father. 48There was no king in Edom, but an appointed regent. 49Jehoshaphat made Tarshish ships to go to Ophir for gold; but in fact the ships did not go, because they were wrecked at Ezion-geber. 50That was the time when Ahaziah, son of Ahab, had said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants accompany your servants in the ships.” But Jehoshaphat would not agree. 51Jehoshaphat rested with his ancestors; he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David his father, and his son Jehoram succeeded him as king.
53He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of his father, his mother, and Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. 54He served Baal and worshiped him, thus provoking the LORD, the God of Israel, just as his father had done.
* [22:1–40] This chapter presents a contrasting parallel to chap. 20, where Ahab enjoyed victories over Aram’s aggression. Here Ahab is the aggressor, but falls in battle against Aram. Like the preceding chapters, it contains a story of Ahab plus an episode of prophetic condemnation. The story ends with the formulaic conclusion to Ahab’s reign (vv. 39–40). Chronicles has a parallel version of this account in 2 Chr 18:1–34. After the story of Ahab’s death come accounts of the reign of Jehoshaphat (paralleled in 2 Chr 20:31–37) and of the beginning of the reign of Ahaziah.
* [22:6] Though Ahab is clearly intended to understand the oracle as prophesying his success, the prophets’ words are ambiguous. “The lord” (not “the LORD,” i.e., the proper name of Israel’s God) who will give victory is unidentified, as is the king to whom it will be given.
* [22:11] The “two” horns probably symbolize the coalition of two kings, Ahab and Jehoshaphat.
* [22:17] Micaiah’s oracle uses the common ancient metaphor of “shepherd” for the king. It means that the Israelite forces will be left leaderless because the king (or perhaps both kings: the word “master” could be singular or plural in Hebrew) will die in battle.
* [22:19–23] Since Ahab’s intention to attack Ramoth-gilead is unshaken, Micaiah reveals God’s plan to trick Ahab to his death, and thus virtually dares Ahab to walk into the trap with his eyes open. The work of the “lying spirit” explains the ambiguities of the prophets’ original oracle in v. 6. Prophets “stand in the council of the Lord” and are privy to its deliberations; cf. Jer 23:22.
* [22:20] Fall on Ramoth-gilead: lit., “heights of Gilead”; even the Lord’s words are double-meaning. God wants Ahab to “fall on” (that is, attack) Ramoth-gilead so that he will “fall on” (that is, die on) Ramoth-gilead.
* [22:28] The last words of the verse are a scribal gloss attributing to Micaiah, son of Imlah, the opening words of the book of a different Micaiah (Micah), the prophet of Moresheth, the sixth of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament canon.
* [22:52] Seventeenth year: so the present Hebrew text. This is consistent with the figures in 2 Kgs 3:1, but together those figures conflict with information in 1 Kgs 22:42 and 2 Kgs 1:17. The problem of the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah has never been convincingly resolved; it is complicated by the fact that the ancient Greek translation sometimes has different lengths of reign and different accession dates. See further note on 2 Kgs 3:1.