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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 22

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel.

They continued three years without war between Syria and Israel. The disastrous defeat of Ben-hadad had exhausted the resources of his country. But, that his hereditary enmity remained unsubdued, was manifest by his breach of faith concerning the treaty by which he has engaged to restore all the cities which his father had seized (1 Kings 20:34).

Verse 2

And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel.

Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. It was singular that a friendly league between the sovereigns of Israel and Judah should, for the first time, have been formed by princes of such opposite characters-the one pious, the other wicked. Neither this league, nor the matrimonial alliance by which the union of the royal families was more closely cemented, met the Lord's approval (2 Chronicles 19:2). It led, however, to a visit by Jehoshaphat, whose reception in Samaria was distinguished by the most splendid hospitality (2 Chronicles 18:2). The opportunity of this visit was taken advantage of to push an object on which Ahab's heart was much set.

Verse 3

And the king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, and we be still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria?

Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours - the site of the present Salt Lake, in the province of Belka. It lay within the territories of the Israelitish monarch, and was unjustly alienated; but whether it was one of the cities usurped by the first Ben-hadad, which his son had promised to restore, or was retained for some other reasons, the sacred historian has not mentioned. In the expedition which Ahab meditated for the recovery of this town, the aid of Jehoshaphat was asked, and promised (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 18:3). Previous to declaring hostilities, it was customary to consult the prophets (see the notes at 1 Samuel 28:1-25); and Jehoshaphat having expressed a strong desire to know the Lord's will concerning this war, Ahab assembled 400 of his prophets. These could not be either the prophets of Baal nor of Asherah (1 Kings 18:19), but seem (1 Kings 22:12) to have been false prophets, who conformed to the symbolic calf-worship Yahweh. Being the creatures of Ahab, they unanimously predicted a prosperous issue to the war. But, dissatisfied with them, Jehoshaphat inquired if there was any true prophet of the Lord. Ahab agreed, with great reluctance, to allow Micaiah to be summoned. He was the only true prophet then to be found residing in Samaria, and he had to be brought out of prison (1 Kings 22:26), into which, according to Josephus, he had been cast, on account of his rebuke to Ahab for sparing the king of Syria.

Verses 4-7

And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle to Ramoth-gilead? And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 8

And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.

Micaiah the son of Imlah. He is not to be confounded with the prophet whose writings form part of the sacred canon, and who flourished one hundred years after.

Verse 9

Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Hasten hither Micaiah the son of Imlah.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 10

And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat each on his throne, having put on their robes, in a void place in the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them.

A void place, [ bªgoren (H1637)] - a spacious level area; a threshing-floor, formed at the gate of Samaria (cf. 2 Chronicles 18:9). It must have been a very large area, when two kings could hold their courts in it, with 400 false prophets and a vast multitude of people (2 Kings 7:1), and a market be held (2 Kings 23:8).

Verse 11

And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the LORD, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them.

Zedekiah ... made him horns of iron. Small projections, of the size and form of our candle extinguishers (worn in many parts of the East as military ornaments), were worn by the Syrians of that time, and probably by the Israelite warriors also. This false prophet, who made himself "horns of iron," meant by that symbol to show that the king of Israel should have irresistible power. A horn of iron signifies an oppressive government. In short, Zedekiah, by assuming two horns, impersonated two heroes; and, pretending to be a prophet, wished in this manner to represent the kings of Israel and Judah in a military triumph. It was a symbolic action, to impart greater force to his language (see the notes at Deuteronomy 33:17); but 'it was little, more than a flourish with a spontoon' (Calmet, 'Fragments'). It is curious that the modern dervishes carry about them the horn of a he goat or a wild ox as a defensive weapon.

Verses 12-13

And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramoth-gilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the king's hand.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 14

And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak.

What the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak. On the way, the messenger who conducted him to the royal presence, informed him of the tenor of the prophecies already given, and recommended him to agree with the rest-no doubt, from the kindly motives of seeing him released from imprisonment. But Micaiah, inflexibly faithful to his divine mission as a prophet, announced his purpose to proclaim honestly whatever God should bid him. On being asked by the king, "Shall, we go against Ramoth-gilead, or shall we forbear?" the prophet gave precisely the same answer as the previous oracles that had been consulted; but it must have been given in a sarcastic tone, and in ironical mockery of their way of speaking. Being solemnly urged to give a serious and truthful answer, Micaiah then declared the visionary scene the Spirit had revealed to him - "I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd." The purport of this was, that the army of Israel would be defeated and dispersed, that Ahab would fall in the battle, and the people return without either being pursued or destroyed by the enemy.

Verses 15-17

So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 18

And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?

Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil? Since Ahab was disposed to trace this unwelcome truth to personal enmity, Micaiah proceeded, fearlessly, to tell the incensed monarch, in full detail, what had been revealed to him. The Hebrew prophets, borrowing their symbolic pictures from earthly scenes, described God in heaven as a king in his kingdom. And as earthly princes do nothing of importance without asking the advice of their counselors, Cod is represented as consulting about the fate of Ahab. This prophetic language must not be interpreted literally, and the command must be viewed as only a permission to the lying spirit (Romans 11:34). With regard to the idea of Satan, the tempter or lying spirit, conveyed by this passage, there is an advancement from the age of Job, who is assumed to have lived in patriarchal times. In the book of Job, he exerts his influence no further than the external relations of the patriarch (Job 2:1-13); and even in Numbers 22:22, he makes only a physical resistance to the journey of Balaam. [In the time of the Psalmist the angels were considered partly protecting (Psalms 91:11-12) and partly deceiving or baneful spirits (Psalms 35:5-6).] While here he extends his power to the mind and character. A spirit comes forward in order to mislead Ahab into a course of action contrary to the declared will of God. Indeed, the sentiments current among the Jews on this subject during the whole period from the earliest date of their history down to the Babylonian captivity were uncertain and fluctuating; and it was not until the time of Zechariah (Zechariah 3:1-2) that there was a decided opposition recognized as established between the good and the bad spirits or angels, (see an excellent article, 'Biblical Review,' 2:)

Verses 19-23

And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 24

But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee?

Zedekiah ... smote Micaiah on the cheek. The insolence of this man, the leader of the false prophets, seems to have been provoked by jealousy at Micaiah's assumed monopoly of the spirit of inspiration. Whether it were with the palm of the hand, the usual way, or with a sandal, scarcely less common, this mode of smiting is both severe and ignominious.

Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee? [ mee'itiy (H853), from me.] According to the present text, Zedekiah claims to have spoken by the Divine Spirit, and he insinuates that if Micaiah, who gave a directly opposite judgment, had also received it, the Spirit must have passed from the one to the other, and he sarcastically asked what way He went. [But Micaiah had not assumed that Zedekiah and his associates had anything more than a lying spirit in them; and hence, it has been suggested that a long chireq (-iy) has, in the course of transcription, been substituted for a long cholem (-ow), so that the reading should be mee'itow (H854). Which way went the Spirit of God from him? The Septuagint omits the words. Poiou pneuma Kuriou to laleesan en soi?-What kind of Spirit of the Lord (was it) that has spoken in you?] The calm reply of the Lord's prophet consisted in announcing the fate of the false prophets who suffered as the advisers of the disastrous expedition. Had this story been a myth, or a fictitious narrative framed for the purpose of guarding the mind against inlets to error and deception, no contrast could have been drawn more striking than this assembly of ministers of religion. On the one hand we see numbers, venerableness of character (at least in the popular opinion), unanimity of sentiment, consummate assurance, and court favour. On the other side, we see none but Micaiah-singular in his opinions, modest in his declarations, perhaps mean and low in his appearance, and unsupported by anything but conscious integrity. How instructive is the event! This man, though despised and hated, laid open the truth; while they, with all these favourable appearances, became convicted of the most shameful adulation and falsehood.

Verse 25

And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 26

And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son;

Take Micaiah ...

Verse 27

And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace.

Put this fellow in the prison. Ahab, under the impulse of vehement resentment, remands the prophet until his return.

Bread of affliction ... water of affliction - i:e., the poorest prison fare. Micaiah submitted, but reiterated aloud, in the presence of all the bystanders, that the issue of the war would be fatal to Ahab.

Verse 28

And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the LORD hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 29

So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead.

Went up to Hamoth-gilead. The king of Israel, hoping to evade the force of Micaiah's prophecy by a secret stratagem, used the greatest precaution against being discovered, by assuming the uniform of a subaltern, while he ungenerously advised Jehoshaphat to fight in his royal attire, and thus expose himself to the dangers which Ahab wished to avoid. The Syrian king, with a view either to put the speediest end to the war, or perhaps to wipe out the stain of his own humiliation (1 Kings 20:31), had given special instructions to his 32 generals to single out Ahab, and to take or kill him, as the author of the war. The officers, naturally misled by the royally accoutred appearance of the king of Judah, at first directed their assault on Jehoshaphat, but becoming aware of their mistake, desisted. Ahab was wounded by a random arrow, and died at sunset.

Verses 30-33

And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 34

And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.

And a certain man drew a bow at a venture. There is no evidence that this archer was one of the captains who had received special instructions from their Syrian master to search for Ahab. He is called simply 'a man,' for "certain" is a supplement introduced by our translators: it is equivalent to 'one drew a bow,' and that person, too, did it without any particular aim. "At a venture" [ lªtumow (H8537)] - in his simplicity; i:e., without any hostile or destructive purpose. [The Septuagint, in opposition to the Hebrew text, renders the word by: eustochoos, with a good aim.]

And smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness [ beeyn (H996) hadªbaaqiym (H1694) uwbeeyn (H996) hashiryaan (H8302)] - between the openings and between the coat of mail; i:e., between the joints of the harness (as it is called in our version); i:e., armour. Some, less likely, render, the armpits (cf. Jeremiah 38:12). [Septuagint, ana meson tou pneumonos kai ana meson tou thoorakos, through the thorax and the lungs.] Dr. Meyric, an authority on ancient armour, remarks on this incident as follows: 'Beneath the breastplate were belts, plated with brass or other metal, and the uttermost of them was bound upon the bottom of the tunic, which connected the pectoral with the belts, and all of them together formed a tolerably perfect armour for the front of the whole body. These belts were generally two, one above the other, and appear similar to those that are represented in ancient Greek sculpture, though in some degree higher up.

This mode of arming perfectly explains the passage in Scripture where Ahab is said to have been smitten with an arrow between the openings or joints, that is, of the belts, and between the thorax or pectoral. The pectoral of the Egyptians was made of linen; and perhaps anciently that of the Jews was the same. In later times they seem to have been covered with plates of metal, and in the New Testament we meet with the words "breastplates of iron" (Revelation 9:9). The military sagum, or cloak, is called in our translation a habergeon, but the original is of doubtful signification, and occurs only twice. But of whatever kind the garment may have been, it had an aperture at the upper part, through which the head passed when it was put on the body. Strutt conjectures that it was the tunic upon which the thorax was put, and had the same relation to the thorax that the ephod had to the sacred pectoral or breastplate.' The corpse was conveyed to Samaria; and as the chariot which brought it was being washed in a pool near the city, from the blood that had profusely oozed from the wound, the dogs, in conformity with Elijah's prophecy, came and licked it.

Verses 35-38

And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 39

Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he made, and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

The rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he made. Ivory came into great use among the Hebrews in the reign of Solomon (1 Kings 10:18; 1 Kings 10:22), through the Indian commerce he commenced. The Assyrians had long before applied it extensively in the decoration of their houses ('Nineveh and its Remains,' 2:, p. 420), and borrowing this style from the past became a favourite fashion among the later Hebrews, to use it in ornamenting their furniture, and even in the construction of palaces (Psalms 45:8; Amos 3:15; Amos 6:4: cf. Homer, 'Odyssey,' 4:, 72; Lucan, 'Pharsalia,' 10:, 119; Horace, b. 2:, ode 18:, 1). Ahab was succeeded by his son Ahaziah.

Verses 40-41

So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 42

Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.

Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to reign, [ YªhowshaapaaT (H3092), whom Yahweh judgeth] - (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 20:31.)

Verses 43-47

And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the LORD: nevertheless the high places were not taken away; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 48

Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Eziongeber.

Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish, [ `aasaah (H6213) 'ªniyowt (H591)] - Jehoshaphat had ten ships. [The Septuagint, Vatican, omits 1 Kings 22:47-48; Alexandrine, from which our translators have borrowed, reading `aasaah (H6213) for 'aasaar, renders, kai ho basileus Ioosafat epoieesen neeas tou poreutheenai, and king Jehoshaphat ships to go (see the notes at "Tharshish," 1 Kings 10:22: cf. 2 Chronicles 8:17-18).]

But they went not; for the ships were broken. It appears that Jehoshaphat was desirous of reviving the trading voyages of Solomon's days, and as the record bears that they were to debark from the same port, it is probable that he contemplated the same circuitous route (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 20:36-37).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-kings-22.html. 1871-8.
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