Friday, June 9th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Pett's Commentary on the Bible Pett's Commentary
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 Kings 22". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ pet/ 1-kings-22.html. 2013.
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 Kings 22". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/
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Ahab And Jehoshaphat Unite To Regain Ramoth-gilead For Israel And Ahab Learns From A Prophet Of YHWH That They Will Be Successful But That He Will Die In The Attempt (1 Kings 22:1-29 ).
Ahab’s life has been one of continual contact with prophets of YHWH as YHWH has sought to win him back to true obedience. Indeed that is the only reason why it has been portrayed in such detail, for the prophetic author’s concern has been to demonstrate that the final fall of both Israel and Judah occurred in spite of all YHWH’s attempts to prevent it. And now Ahab’s life will end with a description of one final conflict with a prophet of YHWH, a conflict which illustrates the fact that Ahab’s previous repentance had only been temporary, and that he had soon fallen back into his old ways.
Uniting with Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, Ahab planned to regain Ramoth-gilead from the Aramaeans, and to that end prophets were called on to prophesy what would happen when they made the attempt. His own prophets prophesied complete success. But Jehoshaphat then asked for a genuine prophet of YHWH to be consulted, and this prophet, Micaiah, declared that while the project would be successful, Ahab would die in the attempt. Ahab was not, however, to be dissuaded, for in contrast to this one negative voice about four hundred prophets viewed the situation favourably, and so he had Micaiah put in prison in order that when he returned safely he could punish him as a false prophet. Micaiah’s reply was simply that if he did return in peace then it would be true that YHWH had not spoken though him. But he had no doubt as to what would happen.
a And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel, and it came about in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. And the king of Israel said to his servants, “You know that Ramoth-gilead is ours, and we are still, and do not take it out of the hand of the king of Aram (Syria)?” And he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle to Ramoth-gilead?” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses” (1 Kings 22:1-4).
b And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Enquire first, I pray you, for the word of YWHW” (1 Kings 22:5).
c Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king” (1 Kings 22:6).
d But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here a prophet of YHWH besides, that we may enquire of him?” And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may enquire of YHWH, Micaiah the son of Imlah. But I hate him, for he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, “Fetch quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah” (1 Kings 22:8-9).
e And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting each on his throne, arrayed in their robes, in an open place at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them (1 Kings 22:10).
f And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron, and said, “Thus says YHWH, with these you will push the Aramaeans (Syrians), until they are consumed.” And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead, and prosper, for YHWH will deliver it into the hand of the king” (1 Kings 22:11-12).
g And the messenger who went to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, “Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one mouth, let your word, I pray you, be like the word of one of them, and do you speak good” And Micaiah said, “As YHWH lives, what YHWH says to me, that will I speak” (1 Kings 22:13-14).
h And when he was come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we forbear?” And he answered him, “Go up and prosper, and YHWH will deliver it into the hand of the king” (1 Kings 22:15).
g And the king said to him, “How many times shall I adjure you that you speak nothing to me but the truth in the name of YHWH?” (1 Kings 22:16).
f And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep which have no shepherd. And YHWH said, These have no master. Let them return every man to his house in peace.” And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” (1 Kings 22:17-18).
e And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear you the word of YHWH. I saw YHWH sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left”. And YHWH said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.” And there came forth a spirit, and stood before YHWH, and said, “I will entice him. And YHWH said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You will entice him, and will also prevail. Go forth, and do so’ ” (1 Kings 22:19-22).
d “Now therefore, behold, YHWH has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets, and YHWH has spoken evil concerning you” (1 Kings 22:23).
c Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, “Which way went the Spirit of YHWH from me to speak to you?” And Micaiah said, “Behold, you will see on that day, when you shall go into an inner chamber to hide yourself” (1 Kings 22:24-25).
b And the king of Israel said, “Take Micaiah, and carry him back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king’s son,, and say, ‘Thus says the king, put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with food of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace. ’ ” And Micaiah said, “If you return at all in peace, YHWH has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, you peoples, all of you” (1 Kings 22:26-28). ’
a So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead (1 Kings 22:29).
Note that in ‘a’ the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat plan to go up against Ramoth Gilead, and in the parallel they do so. In ‘b’ Jehoshaphat asks for the word of YHWH, and in the parallel Ahab has the prophet who brings it put in prison because he does not like what he says. In ‘c’ the king’s false prophets prophesy success for the king, and in the parallel, having been challenged by Micaiah, the false prophet Zedekiah smites him for claiming that it is he who has the Spirit rather than Zedekiah and the false prophets. In ‘d’ Jehoshaphat enquires if there is no prophet of YHWH to speak to them, but Ahab complains that he only speaks evil concerning him, and in the parallel Micaiah says that YHWH has spoken evil concerning him. In ‘e’ the kings sit on their thrones at the gates of the city with all the false prophets gathered around them and in the parallel YHWH is pictured by Micaiah as sitting on His throne with the host of Heaven gathered around Him, and listening to a spirit who will put lies in the mouths of the prophets. In ‘f’ the false prophets vividly portray Ahab’s coming victory, and in the parallel the true prophet vividly portrays his death. In ‘g’ the king’s messenger adjures Micaiah to speak fair words to the king, and in the parallel the king adjures him to speak the truth to him. Centrally in ‘h’ Micaiah forecasts victory, which is partly true, (apart from the small matter of the death of Ahab).
1 Kings 22:1
‘ And they continued three years without war between Aram (Syria) and Israel.’
For three years after the previous encounter there had been no war between Aram and Israel. Indeed, as we have seen above, they had collaborated together in order to see off Shalmaneser III of Assyria. But now Ahab saw the opportunity to obtain back from the Aramaeans control of Ramoth-gilead, an Israelite city in Transjordan. Its return may well have been part of the previous treaty when Ben-hadad had been defeated and had had to yield. But if so it had never been actioned.
1 Kings 22:2
‘ And it came about in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel.’
The visit of Jehoshaphat to Israel may have been simply a ceremonial one, or it may have been to do with trading arrangements. Or it may even have been with the venture that follows in mind. Whichever way it was he was clearly invited to the council meeting which Ahab held with a view to his plan to regain Ramoth-gilead.
1 Kings 22:3
‘ And the king of Israel said to his servants, “You know that Ramoth-gilead is ours, and we are still, and do not take it out of the hand of the king of Aram (Syria)?”
The result of the council meeting is briefly summed up in these words emphasising the fact that Israel had been negligent in not arranging for the deliverance of Ramoth-gilead out of the hands of the king of Aram earlier. In view of what follows we must assume that the council agreed that the attempt should be made.
1 Kings 22:4
‘ And he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle to Ramoth-gilead?” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” ’
Ahab then turned to Jehoshaphat and asked him if Judah would help them in their venture. This request confirms that Jehoshaphat was not seen as a vassal, but as an ally. Jehoshaphat’s reply was that what he had was at Ahab’s disposal, both of men and of horses.
1 Kings 22:5
‘ And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Enquire first, I pray you, for the word of YWHW.” ’
It was a normal process for any kingdom in those days to consult its gods prior to engaging in an invasion, and accordingly Jehoshaphat requested that YHWH his God be consulted in order to receive a confirmatory ‘word of YHWH’. Jehoshaphat was a true worshipper of YHWH.
1 Kings 22:6
‘ Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king.” ’
Accordingly the king of Israel gathered together around four hundred prophets and asked them whether they should go against Ramoth-gilead. From their reply (‘Lord’ not YHWH) it is clear that these were mainly not prophets of YHWH. They were probably mainly prophets of Baal or Asherah, which have already been mentioned as consisting of such numbers (1 Kings 18:19), those slaughtered by Elijah having been replaced. Others of them (like Zedekiah) may have been prophets from the syncretistic sanctuaries at Bethel and Dan, half Yahwist and half Baalist. They were, however, all agreed that he should go ahead because ‘the Lord’ would deliver it into their hands. It was the common practise among such prophets to say what would please the king. But they saw their prophecies as doing more than this. The belief was that their ‘inspired words’ would help to bring about what was predicted. They considered that the more they ‘prophesied’ the more the chance of success.
1 Kings 22:7
‘ But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here a prophet of YHWH besides, that we may enquire of him?” ’
Jehoshaphat easily detected that these were not true prophets of YHWH and was not satisfied with what they said. That may have been due to their methods being contrary to all his experience of prophets of YHWH. He thus asked if there were not a genuine prophet of YHWH of whom they could enquire.
1 Kings 22:8
‘ And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may enquire of YHWH, Micaiah the son of Imlah. But I hate him, for he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” ’
Ahab then admitted that there was a prophet of YHWH named Micaiah, the son of Imlah who could be consulted. But he pointed out that he did not like him because he never prophesied good concerning him, only evil. At this Jehoshaphat demurred. He did not like the implication that lay behind Ahab’s charge. It is, however, confirmation of the fact that Ahab’s repentance had not lasted long.
We may ask why Ahab did not call Elijah. The simple explanation would be that he had no idea where he was, but knew that he was not at present within call. In view of the situation it had to be someone accessible, while Elijah was no doubt out fulfilling his responsibility to take God’s word to the people, and to encourage true Yahwists. The result would be that Ahab would have been at a loss where to find him. As we know, when he does appear, it was always suddenly and unexpectedly. But Ahab had cause to know that Micaiah was around, bravely fulfilling a ministry in Samaria in the face of Jezebel’s hostility and the evident danger that that could have resulted in at any time. Samaria was not a good place for prophets of YHWH to be. It was the religious centre of all that directly opposed YHWH.
1 Kings 22:9
‘ Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, “Fetch quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.” ’
The king of Israel accordingly called one of his officers, and commanded him to bring Micaiah the son of Imlah into his presence immediately.
1 Kings 22:10
‘ Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting each on his throne, arrayed in their robes, in an open place at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them.’
Meanwhile Ahab and Jehoshaphat were each seated in state on their thrones, arrayed in their royal robes, in the open space at the entrance of the gate in Samaria, while before them were gathered the large group of prophets brought together by Ahab who were ‘prophesying’. This was the sight that would meet Micaiah when he arrived.
Cities in those days tended to be unplanned, with buildings springing up everywhere, but it was always the practise to leave a large space in front of the gate for gatherings, judicial hearings and meetings of the town elders.
“In an open place.” The word can mean literally ‘in a threshingfloor’. However, the word may well have come to signify any open space, or it may even be that there was a large royal threshingfloor at the gates of Samaria which could be use for such a purpose as this. The word is used at Ugarit of a similar ‘open place’.
This description of the kings sitting ‘in state’ with the prophets surrounding them is the basis on which Micaiah will build up his own prophecy when he speaks of YHWH as seated on His throne surrounded by the ‘host of Heaven on his right hand and on His left’ (compare ‘YHWH’s host’ in Joshua 5:14-15; ‘God’s host’ in Genesis 32:2). Micaiah thus drew his picture of YHWH and His host from the royal splendour that he saw before him. It was not intended to be taken as a literal vision.
1 Kings 22:11
‘ And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron, and said, “Thus says YHWH, with these you will push the Aramaeans (Syrians), until they are consumed.” ’
While they were awaiting Micaiah, the other prophets continued prophesying, no doubt continuing in an ecstatic state, and one of them, Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, made horns of iron and, no doubt flourishing them effectively, said to Ahab, “Thus says YHWH, with these you will push the Aramaeans (Syrians), until they are consumed.” It was a typical example of an acted out prophecy in terms of prophetic symbolism. The horn was a symbol of strength and power.
1 Kings 22:12
‘ And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, “Thus says YHWH, with these you will push the Aramaeans (Syrians), until they are consumed.” ’
All the prophets then chimed in and confirmed, “Thus says YHWH, with these you will push the Aramaeans (Syrians), until they are consumed.” The citing of the name of YHWH (instead of ‘Lord’) indicated that they had all gathered that Jehoshaphat wanted to know what YHWH had to say about the matter, and were duly obliging him.
1 Kings 22:13
‘ And the messenger who went to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, “Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one mouth, let your word, I pray you, be like the word of one of them, and do you speak good.” ’
Meanwhile the officer who had been sent to bring Micaiah, and clearly had sympathy with him, informed him of the ‘good’ things that the other prophets had unanimously declared to the king, and begged him for his own sake to do similarly.
1 Kings 22:14
‘ And Micaiah said, “As YHWH lives, what YHWH says to me, that will I speak.” ’
Micaiah’s reply was simple, “As YHWH lives, what YHWH says to me, that will I speak.” He wanted it known that he would not prophesy anything other than what YHWH declared. He would speak the truth, and the full truth.
This was the difference between true prophecy and false prophecy. False prophecy was an attempt to make the gods do what the prophet wanted. True prophecy conveyed the mind of YHWH.
1 Kings 22:15
‘ And when he was come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we forbear?” And he answered him, “Go up and prosper, and YHWH will deliver it into the hand of the king.” ’
When Micaiah came into the presence of the king, the king then asked him, whether in his view and in YHWH’s view they should go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or should forbear. Micaiah’s reply was that he should go up, for the cause would prosper, and YHWH would deliver Ramoth-gilead into his hand. We may assume from this prophecy that this was in fact what was achieved by the military action. What Micaiah had not, however, delivered was the punch line, and Ahab apparently knew it.
1 Kings 22:16
‘ And the king said to him, “How many times shall I adjure you that you speak nothing to me but the truth in the name of YHWH?” ’
The king was suspicious about Micaiah’s reply. He clearly felt that something was missing in the reply. Perhaps Micaiah had made it clear by his tone. So he adjured Micaiah to tell him the whole truth and hide nothing from him. What he wanted was ‘the truth in the Name of YHWH’, confirmation of YHWH would therefore bring about.
1 Kings 22:17
‘ And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep which have no shepherd. And YHWH said, These have no master. Let them return every man to his house in peace.”
Micaiah then added to his previous prophecy what he had previously omitted. It was basically that in gaining their success Ahab himself would be killed, leaving Israel without a shepherd. He presented the prophecy in vivid form, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep which have no shepherd.” The idea of kings being shepherds to their people was a common one for kings in the Ancient Near East. Then he added what YHWH had said, “These (people) have no master. Let them return every man to his house in peace.” As a result of Ahab’s death peace would result and the war would be over. All would be able to return home in peace and security.
1 Kings 22:18
‘ And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” ’
Ahab was not sufficiently committed to YHWH to accept Micaiah’s words as the truth, and rather saw it as what he might have expected from a man like Micaiah. (He probably thought that he was being deliberately vindictive). So turning to Jehoshaphat he said, ‘Did I not tell you that he would not prophecy good concerning me, but evil?’ His pagan view was probably that Micaiah was trying to bring about his death by prophesying it. (He was, however, sufficiently impressed to make an attempt later to prevent any disaster happening to him).
1 Kings 22:19
‘ And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear you the word of YHWH. I saw YHWH sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.” ’
Micaiah then continued his prophecy. Looking at the splendid scene before him of the kings sitting in state on their thrones, with the prophets gathered around, he used it as a picture of the heavenly court. His description is not to be taken literally. As he looked at them he pictured YHWH as similarly seated on a throne with the host of Heaven around Him, and with lying spirits appearing before Him. As he looked at the false prophets jabbering away it brought to his mind a picture of lying spirits.
The Reign Of Ahab King Of Israel c. 872-851 BC (1 Kings 16:29 to 1 Kings 22:40 ).
The reigns of the previous seven kings of Judah and Israel have been covered in a short space (1 Kings 15:1 to 1 Kings 16:28). The reign of Ahab will now take up almost the whole of the remainder of 1 Kings (from 1 Kings 16:29 to 1 Kings 22:40). This, however, was not due to the importance of Ahab politically, but occurs because he was in continual conflict with the prophets of YHWH. It was these conflicts which were considered important by the prophetic writer. His initial prolonged encounter was with Elijah the prophet (chapters 17-19, 21), he had dealings with an unnamed prophet (chapter 20) and he had dealings with Jehoshaphat, a righteous king of Judah, who caused him to have dealings with Micaiah, a third prophet. He was thus of note because of YHWH’s dealings with him, and especially because his wife Jezebel, sought to establish Baalism in the face of the efforts of Elijah and the other prophets to maintain the truth of pure Yahwism. It is describing a conflict for the soul of Israel.
The whole section can be summarised as follows:
a 1). Initial summary of the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 16:29-34).
b 2). WARNING OF FAMINE. Elijah Warns Of The Coming Famine Which Duly Occurs. The First Flight Of Elijah (1 Kings 17:1 to 1 Kings 18:2 a).
A. Elijah flees and is fed by ravens indicating YHWH’s control of the living creation in the midst of famine (1 Kings 17:2-7).
B. Elijah is sustained by the miraculous provision of meal and oil indicating YHWH’s control over the inanimate creation in the midst of famine (1 Kings 17:8-16). |
C. Elijah raises the dead son of the widow to life indicating YHWH’s control over life and death in the midst of famine and death (1 Kings 17:17-24).
c 3). AHAB’S FIRST REPENTANCE. The Contest on Mount Carmel between the prophets of Baal and Elijah indicating YHWH’s power over storm and lightning (purportedly Baal’s forte) (1 Kings 18:2-40). This leads to Ahab’s first change of heart (although not repentance).
d 4). Elijah flees from Jezebel and meets God at Horeb leading on to the command to anoint of Hazael, Jehu and Elisha as symbols of YHWH’s judgment and mercy on Israel through war, assassination and ministry (1 Kings 19:1-21).
d 5). Two wars with Benhadad of Aram (Syria) before each of which a prophet of YHWH promises that YHWH will give him victory, and which results in YHWH’s final declaration of judgment on Ahab through a third prophet for failing to execute the captured king who had been ‘devoted to YHWH’ (1 Kings 20:1-43).
c 6). AHAB’S SECOND REPENTANCE Naboth is falsely accused and murdered in order that Ahab might take possession of his vineyard, an incident that brings home how YHWH’s covenant is being torn to shreds and results in Elijah’s sentence of judgment on Ahab’s house, which is delayed (but only delayed) because of his repentance (1 Kings 21:1-28).
b 7). WARNING OF DEATH. Micaiah warns Ahab of his coming death. War over Ramoth-gilead results in Ahab’s death as warned by Micaiah the prophet of YHWH and the humiliation of his blood by contact with scavenger dogs and common prostitutes (1 Kings 22:1-38).
a 8). Ahab’s Obituary (1 Kings 22:39-40).
“ And YHWH said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.”
What Micaiah was trying to give here was an explanation of the prophesying of the false prophets, and he did it in striking picture terms. His aim, in other words, was to give an explanation of the ‘inspired’ prophets that he saw before him in terms that all would understand and not forget. He was not really suggesting that YHWH actually behaved like this, or that these lying spirits actually appeared before YHWH. Indeed he wanted the people to realise that it was these prophets who were possessed by lying spirits and were thus not actually conveying YHWH’s will at all. But trouble was that many of the people thought that they were. So Micaiah wanted them to recognise that what these prophets were speaking was lies.
1 Kings 22:21
‘ And there came forth a spirit, and stood before YHWH, and said, “I will entice him.” ’
Here, Micaiah was saying, is the real source of the prophecies of the false prophets, a ‘spirit of prophecy’ which sought to entice men into catastrophe, and granted permission to do so by YHWH. In a sense it could be seen as coming from YHWH because nothing could happen without YHWH’s say-so. He was sovereign over all. Compare how even Satan could be described as a ‘son of the Elohim’ in Job chapters 1 & 2. He too was permitted some rein by God (although always on a tight rein).
“ And YHWH said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You will entice him, and will also prevail. Go forth, and do so.’ ”
Micaiah had far too high a view of God to actually believe that YHWH needed help and guidance from a spirit of any kind. This is a folksy explanation of false prophecy based on what he saw before him. (It was king Ahab on his throne who was inviting the advice of lying spirits). What was true was that God was allowing these men to prophesy falsely. Did the people really believe that these false prophets had contact with YHWH? Well if so, let them consider that it has simply led them astray into falsehood. History is full of examples of men who outwardly ‘prayed’ and ostensibly ‘sought God’s will’ and then openly committed glaring sins and crimes, and were continually steeped in lies. As in this case God resisted it by raising up true prophets who reveal the truth.
“ Now therefore, behold, YHWH has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets, and YHWH has spoken evil concerning you.”
Micaiah then explained the meaning of his parable. He very much saw God as the ‘first cause’ of everything, simply because He was sovereign over all things. He thus knew that in the end everything that happened was ‘God’s doing’. But the point was that that was because He had created man and was allowing him to live out what he was. He was allowing man’s behaviour within His sovereign purpose, not instigating it.
“God has spoken evil concerning you.” That is, through the false prophets He has allowed them to hear lies about the future (but has combated it by sending His true prophet).
1 Kings 22:24
‘ Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, “Which way went the Spirit of YHWH from me to speak to you?” ’
Infuriated at Micaiah’s suggestion that he was not a true prophet Zedekiah came near and struck Micaiah across the cheek. This was a regular way of indicating that such a person was not to be listened to and had spoken lies. (Compare how Jesus was struck across the cheek when replying to the High Priest - John 18:22). Then he called on Micaiah to justify his statement. Did he not realise that all, as they had watched, had been able to see that he, Zedekiah, had been ‘filled with the spirit of YHWH’ by his very behaviour and actions. Let Micaiah then explain how that spirit had passed on from him to Micaiah. There was nothing about Micaiah’s behaviour which indicated possession by such a spirit.
1 Kings 22:25
‘ And Micaiah said, “Behold, you will see on that day, when you shall go into an inner chamber to hide yourself.” ’
Micaiah’s reply was simple. The true evidence of the spirit of prophecy was that what was prophesied came about (Deuteronomy 18:22). Thus when Zedekiah had to go to his inner room in order to hide himself because of his shame at the failure of his own prophecy, (and knew that Micaiah had spoken truly) he would know the answer to his own question.
1 Kings 22:26
‘ And the king of Israel said, “Take Micaiah, and carry him back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king’s son,”
Ahab recognised that what Micaiah was saying would destroy the morale of the army and immediately commanded that he be held in custody. He was to be put in the charge of Amon the governor of the city, and of Joash the king’s son until Ahab arrived back safely. Ahab would have had a good number of sons by his many wives, all having their own royal duties to fulfil in different areas of government. Joash was clearly the son, possibly of a concubine, appointed to be seen as responsible for the safe custody of state prisoners.
“ And say, ‘Thus says the king, put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with food of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace.’ ”
The king’s command was that ‘this fellow’ be fed and watered sparsely until Ahab safely returned in full health. Then, his prophecy having proved false, he could be dealt with accordingly.
1 Kings 22:28
‘ And Micaiah said, “If you return at all in peace, YHWH has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, you peoples, all of you.” ’
Micaiah had full confidence in the word that he had received from YHWH and was quite content to await its fulfilment. Indeed he declared quite blatantly, ‘If you do return in full health and wellbeing then it will be true that YHWH has not spoken by me.’
But he did not want to leave the people in doubt about the truth of his message, and so he turned to them and told them to take note of what had been said. “Hear, you peoples, all of you.” His words were carefully preserved and we find the idea behind them used by Micah in structuring his own prophecy (compare Micah 1:2).
1 Kings 22:29
‘ So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead.’
All having been concluded Ahab and Jehoshaphat, along with the armies of Israel and Judah, then went up to Ramoth-gilead over the Jordan. Ahab did not believe that what Micaiah had said would come about. Surely four hundred prophets could not be wrong?
The Failure Of The Subterfuge To Prevent The Fulfilment Of Micaiah’s Prophecy (1 Kings 22:30-34 ).
With what Micaiah had prophesied in mind Ahab was determined to demonstrate that he was wrong. Both he and Jehoshaphat had heard the prophecy, and he thus suggested to Jehoshaphat that in the light of it he should go into the battle disguised, while Jehoshaphat led the attack in full royal armour. Jehoshaphat, who probably believed Micaiah’s prophecy would understand that this was not because of cowardice. It was because Ahab was seeking to change the pattern of life hoping thereby to overturn ‘fate’.
It was always policy to seek to slay the opposing king, because thereby the battle would be ended quickly, the king’s will no longer being relevant. It was, however, never a simple thing to accomplish, as he went into battle surrounded by his elite bodyguard, and was in a well protected chariot, amid other chariots. And by diverting the attention to Jehoshaphat the risk would be even more minimised. There would have seemed to him little reason why he should not come out unscathed, especially as by altering the usual pattern, there was hope that the prophecy, made on the basis of that pattern, might be disrupted. After all, it was four hundred prophets to one! And four hundred were supporting his safety.
a And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself, and go into the battle, but you put on your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle (1 Kings 22:30).
b Now the king of Aram (Syria) had commanded the thirty and two captains of his chariots, saying, “Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel” (1 Kings 22:31).
c And it came about, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, “Surely it is the king of Israel,” and they turned aside to fight against him, and Jehoshaphat cried out (1 Kings 22:32).
b And it came about, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him (1 Kings 22:33).
a And a certain man drew his bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the armour, which was the reason why he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn your hand, and carry me out of the host, for I am sore wounded” (1 Kings 22:34).
Note that in ‘a’ the king of Israel carried out his subterfuge, and in the parallel the subterfuge failed and he was fatally wounded. In ‘b’ the king of Aram’s command was to concentrate on slaying the king of Israel, and in the parallel as soon as they discovered that the man that they were attacking was not the king of Israel they turned their attention elsewhere. Centrally in ‘c’ the chariot captains concentrated on Jehoshaphat, thinking that he was the king of Israel, until his war cry revealed him not to be so.
1 Kings 22:30
‘ And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself, and go into the battle, but you put on your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle.’
Both parties knew the reason for Ahab’s decision. It was simply an act of common sense. While royal leadership needed to be visible, that visibility could be provided by Jehoshaphat. (A king would always be a target and they would not be aware that he was to be an unusually special target) Meanwhile Ahab in his disguise would be recognised by his men while being ‘invisible’ to the opposition, and would thereby hopefully upset the prophecy. In Mesopotamia it was believed that if a king abstained from wearing his royal robes he could divert evil activities on certain days of ill omen. Perhaps Ahab, steeped in paganism, held a similar view).
1 Kings 22:31
‘ Now the king of Aram (Syria) had commanded the thirty and two captains of his chariots, saying, “Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel.” ’
Meanwhile the strategy of the king of Aram was that all his chariot captains should avoid general conflict as much as possible and concentrate on attacking the king of Israel in person. The hope was that by working together they could break though the bodyguard surrounding the king until the opportunity arose for them to attack him in person.
It is probably not a coincidence that the king of Aram had previously had thirty two ‘rulers’ (1 Kings 20:1), and now had thirty two captains of chariots. Each ruler possibly had his chariot arm. Or it may be that ‘thirty two’ was the Aramaean basis for organising and dividing their forces. Either way the thought is that Ahab had wrongfully spared the thirty two captured rulers, and now thirty two chariot captains were set to kill him. He was reaping what he had sown.
1 Kings 22:32
‘ And it came about, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, “Surely it is the king of Israel,” and they turned aside to fight against him, and Jehoshaphat cried out.’
Thus when the captains saw Jehoshaphat clothed in royal armour and with banners flying, riding in his chariot at the head of the charge, they assumed that it was the king of Israel, and they all converged on the royal party with a view to killing him.
Meanwhile, elated by the battle Jehoshaphat rallied his men by crying out his war cry, which would be something like, ‘YHWH for Jehoshaphat and Judah’. This was both a prayer for YHWH’s assistance, and a rallying cry (which the Chronicler tells us that YHWH heard).
1 Kings 22:33
‘ And it came about, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.’
Once the chariot captains heard his war cry they realised immediately that this could not be the king of Israel, and baffled in their objective turned their attentions elsewhere. The king of Judah was not considered to be of sufficient importance to take up their expertise.
1 Kings 22:34
‘ And a certain man drew his bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the armour, which was the reason why he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn your hand, and carry me out of the host, for I am sore wounded.” ’
One of the Aramaean archers, however, fired his arrow ‘at a venture’ (literally ‘in his simplicity, i.e. at random, not aiming at any particular target, but hoping that it would hit someone. Little did he realise what he would accomplish). His arrow struck Ahab at the point where pieces of his armour met. All armour had such weak points so as to retain flexibility. The arrow caused a deep wound, so much so that Ahab commanded his chariot driver to turn about and take him out of the heat of battle because he was sore wounded. All his attempts to defeat YHWH’s prophecy had failed.
The Battle For Ramoth-gilead And The Death Of Ahab (1 Kings 22:30-38 )
The prophetic author is not really interested in the details of the battle. His concern is with the failure of the subterfuge which sought to prevent the fulfilment of Micaiah’s prophecy, and with the subsequent death of Ahab and his ‘ritual’ disgracing. For while the king’s body was no doubt being buried with all honours, as a hero of the battlefield, YHWH was revealing his true worth by arranging for his blood, his very life source, to be licked up by scavenger dogs and mingled with the dirt washed from common prostitutes. It was a picture of YHWH’s view of him.
The description of the battle is split into two sections.
The Failure Of The Subterfuge To Prevent The Fulfilment Of Micaiah’s Prophecy (1 Kings 22:30-34).
The Death Of Ahab And YHWH’s Arrangements For The Disposal Of His Blood (1 Kings 22:35-38).
The Death Of Ahab And YHWH’s Arrangements For The Disposal Of His Blood (1 Kings 22:35-38 ).
To his credit Ahab recognised that his absence from the battlefield would be a blow to his army’s morale, and having had his wound patched up, returned in his chariot into the fray, having in some way been provided with some means of support because of his weakness due to loss of blood. The battle continued to get ever more severe, but he was losing blood fairly rapidly and having fought until eventide he died, and his blood as he was dying, continually ran from his wound into the bottom of the chariot. It would have been a gory sight.
It is quite possible that through his bravery Ahab enabled his forces to gain the victory. But once the news got around at sunset that Ahab was dead, the people left the site of the battle (it was after all Ahab’s battle), and returned to their own homes. (The prophetic author was only interested in the fact that Ahab had died as YHWH had prophesied, not in the course of the battle, but in view of Micaiah’s earlier prophecy we can assume that he intended it to be seen that Israel did succeed in their object).
And while Ahab was no doubt buried with honours the writer makes clear what happened to his blood. It was dishonoured by being licked up by the scavenger dogs and by being washed away in the dirty water in which common prostitutes had washed themselves. Given the importance of the blood to YHWH (all blood had to be offered up to YHWH) this was an indication of Ahab’s total rejection by YHWH. He was being declared to be ‘unclean’.
a And the battle increased that day, and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Aramaeans (Syrians), and died at eventide, and the blood ran out of the wound into the bottom of the chariot (1 Kings 22:35).
b And there went a cry throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, “Every man to his city, and every man to his country.” (1 Kings 22:36).
a So the king died, and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria. And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood (now the common prostitutes washed themselves there), in accordance with the word of YHWH which he spoke (1 Kings 22:37-38).
Note that in ‘a’ Ahab’s blood flowed into his chariot, and in the parallel that blood was licked up by scavenger dogs and washed away in waters made ‘unclean’ by common prostitutes. Centrally in ‘b’ the people returned home in a state of peace and wellbeing. YHWH had granted them His blessing even while he worked out His judgment on Ahab.
1 Kings 22:35
‘ And the battle increased that day, and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Aramaeans (Syrians), and died at eventide, and the blood ran out of the wound into the bottom of the chariot.’
With Ahab wounded the battle hotted up, and to his credit Ahab recognised that without his presence to encourage them (if they had thought that he was dead they would have withdrawn from the battle) his forces would have been hamstrung. So he had himself patched up, and returned to the battle in his chariot held upright by supports provided because he was weak through loss of blood, and he continued playing a part in the battle all day (he would have had an expert spearman with him in his chariot).
But the blood continued to seep out from his bandaged wound, and as the battle approached its end at eventide he died, with his blood staining the chariot.
1 Kings 22:36
‘ And there went a cry throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, “Every man to his city, and every man to his country.” ’
Once the news of his death reached the people at sunset, the battle probably having been won (so Micaiah’s prophecy), they recognised that in accordance with custom, with the planner and organiser of the invasion slain, the invasion was to be seen as over until there was a new king to determine the next action. Accordingly the army (which was not a professional army) disbursed back to their own homes. After all they had only fought because commanded to do so by the king, and now he was dead, it relieved them of their responsibility. They could now get back to seeing to their fields and cattle. The professional soldiers, and the men of Judah, could see to any necessary clearing up.
1 Kings 22:37
‘ So the king died, and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria.’
Meanwhile the king died, and his body was brought back to Samaria, and was buried with honour in Samaria. All seemed well, at least from that point of view.
1 Kings 22:38
‘ And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood (now the common prostitutes washed themselves there), in accordance with the word of YHWH which he spoke.’
But he was not honoured by YHWH. YHWH’s view of Ahab was revealed by what happened to his blood. This had stained the bottom of the chariot. The chariot was thus taken to the pool of Samaria, probably a catchment area outside the walls, where it was washed, while the scavenger dogs gathered round to lick Ahab’s blood. While not a literal fulfilment of the prophecy which had stated that this would happen in Jezreel because of the treatment of Naboth (a prophecy (1 Kings 21:19) that had been specifically transferred to his son because of Ahab’s repentance (1 Kings 21:29), and would be fulfilled in 2 Kings 9:25-26), it was a partial fulfilment which brought disgrace on Ahab as well. This would be seen as an indication that his repentance, which had earned the delay, had proved not to be lasting, and thus he shared in the punishment. The remainder of his blood was washed away into the pool where the common prostitutes bathed themselves. There was thus a double disgrace. (Compare how dogs and prostitutes were both paralleled as unclean in Deuteronomy 23:18).
In Leviticus 17:11-14 we are told that, ‘the life of the flesh is in the blood’ which was why what happened to the blood was considered to be so important. So for this to happen to Ahab’s blood was a severe judgment on him.
Ahab’s Obituary (1 Kings 22:39-40 ).
Ahab’s experiences with the prophets now end with the usual final summary. Anyone interested in his achievements and his secular history could consult the court annals of Israel which had clearly been preserved and brought to Judah. The author was only marginally interested in them.
1 Kings 22:39
‘ Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he built, and all the cities which he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?’
The ivory house would be built of stone, but with ivory inlaid in the royal furniture and decorations with Phoenician, Egyptian and local motifs. Such houses are known to have been popular amongst great kings (e.g. Nimrud), and were seen as very prestigious. See Amos 3:15 for his view of them. Ahab is also credited with fortifying many cites. He would no doubt have completed Samaria when his father Omri died, and we also know from excavations of his building work at Megiddo and Hazor. Jericho was also rebuilt in his time (1 Kings 16:34). No doubt more information awaits.
1 Kings 22:40
‘ So Ahab slept with his fathers, and Ahaziah his son reigned instead of him.’
That Ahab ‘slept with his fathers’ indicated that he had not been assassinated. His son Ahaziah, third in the dynasty of Omri, (a record in Israel), succeeded him.
The Reign Of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah c. 870-848 BC (1 Kings 22:41-50 ).
We have already come across Jehoshaphat with regard to his alliance with Ahab against the Aramaeans (1 Kings 22:1-38), although that incident was mainly connected with the conflict between Ahab and Micaiah the prophet. (We will also learn more about him as a result of his alliance with Jehoram of Israel against Moab - 1 Kings 3:1-27). What follows now briefly summarises Jehoshaphat’s whole reign. As far as the prophetic author was concerned his life was satisfactory to YHWH, and that was what mattered. The placement of this summary of the reign of Jehoshaphat in this position follows the pattern of the whole book in that his reign began during the reign of Ahab, king of Israel, who has already previously been dealt with (and thus it also began before the reign of Ahab’s successor)
Like Asa his father, Jehoshaphat ‘did what was right in the eyes of YHWH’, although similarly failing to do away with all the unofficial high places, and he did also remove the cult prostitutes out of the land, as his father had done. It is further stressed that he made peace with the king of Israel, the first king of Judah officially to do so since the division of the kingdoms, although we should note that there is no indication of war between Omri and Asa. This was approved of because God’s purpose was always that His people should be one in heart and spirit (hence the Central Sanctuary). One enterprise in which he did, however, fail, was in an attempt to re-establish trading connections with Ophir in partnership with Ahaziah, king of Israel. In the author’s view this venture was clearly disapproved of by God. As we have seen continually throughout the book he frowned on attempts to build up great wealth, and always notes with quiet satisfaction the emptying of the treasury, seeing it as YHWH’s chastening of His people. He had recognised what the process of amassing wealth had done to Solomon’s kingdom, and he disapproved of it. Because of the methods used, and the attitude resulting from it, it had been the main cause for the division of the kingdom.
a And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 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 (1 Kings 22:41-42).
b And he walked in all the way of Asa his father. He turned not aside from it, doing what was right in the eyes of YHWH. However, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places (1 Kings 22:43).
c And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel (1 Kings 22:44).
d Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he showed, and how he warred, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And the remnant of the sodomites, who remained in the days of his father Asa, he put away out of the land (1 Kings 22:45-46).
c And there was no king in Edom, a deputy was king (1 Kings 22:47).
b Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold, but they did not go, for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber. Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.” But Jehoshaphat would not (1 Kings 22:48-49).
a And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father. And Jehoram his son reigned instead of him (1 Kings 22:50).
Note that in ‘a’ we have details of the commencement of the reign, and in the parallel details of its cessation. In ‘b’ we are told what he did which was on the whole right in the eyes of YHWH of which the prophetic writer approved, and in the parallel we are told of an enterprise of which the prophetic author appears to have disapproved. In ‘c’ we are told of his relations with Israel, and in the parallel of his relations with Edom. Centrally in ‘d’ we are referred for details of his history to the official annals of the kings of Judah, and also learn of his removal of cult prostitutes from the land.
1 Kings 22:41
‘ And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.’
In accordance with the usual pattern, Jehoshaphat’s reign follows that of the king of Israel who was still alive when he became king, which was Ahab. Asa had reigned for thirty eight years when Ahab came to the throne (1 Kings 16:29), and reigned in full for forty one years (1 Kings 15:10), which might have made us expect here to read of ‘the third year of Ahab’. The difference between three and four years can, however, be explained in terms of part years counted (or not counted) as whole years. The prophetic author took the figures that he found in his sources and did not attempt to reconcile them. Those figures sometimes differed because of different methods of reckoning years in Israel and Judah (e.g. at this time Israel included the part year of accession as a full year when reckoning the length of a reign, Judah excluded it. Both methods were in use among other nations).
1 Kings 22:42
‘ 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 began to reign when he was thirty five years old, and reigned ‘in Jerusalem’, the city which YHWH chose out of all the tribes of Israel to put His Name there (1 Kings 14:21), because it was the wish of David His servant, who introduced the Ark which bore the Name of YHWH (2 Samuel 6:2 onwards) into Jerusalem his own city. Jehoshaphat was thus the next ‘lamp’ of the house of David (1 Kings 15:4). He reigned there for twenty five years, which probably included four years of co-regency with Asa. As was usual with the kings of Judah his mother’s name is given, demonstrating that he was a true ‘son of David’. The queen mother appears to have held a high position in Judah.
1 Kings 22:43
‘ And he walked in all the way of Asa his father. He turned not aside from it, doing what was right in the eyes of YHWH. However, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.’
Like his father, but like few kings after him, Jehoshaphat did what was right in the eyes of YHWH. In all his ways he did not turn aside from doing what was right in the eyes of YHWH. He was continually pleasing to YHWH. The only blot on his reign in this regard was that the illegitimate high places at which the people had become used to sacrificing and offering incense were not all taken away, with the result that in some parts they continued to be used for syncretistic worship, mixing up YHWH with Baal and Asherah, to YHWH’s disadvantage.
There was now the Temple and there were legitimate high places (such as formerly on Mount Carmel - 1 Kings 18:32) where the worship was kept pure by the priests and prophets, but along with these there were many syncretised high places, which were ancient local sanctuaries, often also containing a Baal pillar and an Asherah pole/image, where the worship became a mixture of Yahwism and Baalism. These did not retain the purity of worship of the Temple and the legitimate high places, and would in fact later lead the people of Judah into grosser sin. But Jehoshaphat’s position was complicated, as we might have expected when considering such a complicated situation. And it would appear from 2 Chronicles 17:6; 2 Chronicles 19:3-4 that he did make an effort to remove those which had become too obviously syncretistic, and came to his attention. What was lacking was a full-scale purge. (Note in contrast 2 Chronicles 20:33 which repeats what is said here).
1 Kings 22:44
‘ And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.’
Jehoshaphat was also the first king to officially establish peace with Israel. This was mentioned because it was always YHWH’s desire that His people be one in spirit. That had been the reason for the Central Sanctuary among diverse tribes from the beginning. But the author makes no mention here of his marrying of his son Jehoram to the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel as a ‘treaty wife’ (see 1 Kings 8:18; 2 Chronicles 18:1; 2 Chronicles 21:6). The prophetic author appears to have approved of the idea of peace, but like the Chronicler he did not approve of the marriage, especially in view of its results (1 Kings 8:18).
1 Kings 22:45
‘ Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he showed, and how he warred, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?’
As usual the author glides over secular affairs in dealing with the king’s reign, and we are referred for them to the official annals of the Kings of Judah for details of his wars and of his might (some of which, however, we can find in 2 Chronicles 17-10. Also in 1 Kings 22:1-38; 2 Kings 3:1-27). They were of no concern to the prophetic author whose concern was with what pleased or displeased YHWH. We do in fact learn more about them in the narratives in respect of the kings of Israel, which are dealt with in more detail simply because of their interplay with the prophets of YHWH, something which the writer did consider to be of importance, for it demonstrated that YHWH had given Israel every chance, and why they therefore doubly merited what finally came to them.
There is a reminder to us here that much of what we spend our lives in building up is an irrelevance to God. His concern is whether we have walked in His ways and done what is pleasing in His sight. Some labour for earthly honours, but we are to ensure that we seek the honour that comes from God alone.
Note on The Other Activities Of Jehoshaphat.
The Chronicler gives us a great deal of further information about Jehoshaphat, which the prophetic author of Kings was not interested in, for Jehoshaphat was a capable and vigorous ruler as well as being a godly one.
1). He established garrisons, both throughout Judah (2 Chronicles 17:2; 2 Chronicles 17:14-19), and in the parts of Israel that his father had retaken (2 Chronicles 17:2).
2). He totally reorganised the judicial system in the land seeking to make it fair for all (2 Chronicles 19:5-7).
3). He despatched teachers throughout Judah to teach the Law of YHWH to the people (2 Chronicles 17:7-9).
4). He built up the wealth of Judah (2 Chronicles 17:12-13).
5). He was successful beyond the borders of Judah, and received tribute from some of the Philistines and from some Arabians (2 Chronicles 17:11).
6). And all this as well as assisting Ahab in his venture at Ramoth-gilead (1 Kings 22:1-38; 2 Chronicles 18:0), and Jehoram of Israel against Moab (2 Kings 3:1-27).
End of note.
1 Kings 22:46
‘ And the remnant of the sodomites, who remained in the days of his father Asa, he put away out of the land.’
One thing that did please YHWH was that he removed the remnants of the cult prostitutes out of the land, something which his father had attempted to do, without fully succeeding. (It was not always easy as they would go into hiding and the people would often be supporting them).
1 Kings 22:47
‘ And there was no king in Edom, a deputy was king.’
It would also appear that Edom was now back under the control of Judah, with Jehoshaphat’s deputy ruling there (compare 2 Kings 3:7-9). We have not been told anything about Edom since the days of Hadad (1 Kings 11:14-22). But as we saw previously Hadad had probably only established himself in the mountainous part of Edom, and we do not know what happened after Solomon died. It is quite possible that the trade routes had remained under the control of the kings of Judah, although subject to attack, and it may have been the nuisance of these attacks which made Jehoshaphat retake control of Edom as a whole.
1 Kings 22:48-49
‘ Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold, but they did not go, for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber. Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.” But Jehoshaphat would not.’
Another feature of Jehoshaphat’s reign, only possible because of his control of Edom, was an abortive attempt to re-commence trading with Ophir (compare 1 Kings 9:26-28). But it proved ill-fated and the ‘ships of Tarshish’ (large merchantmen) which he built were destroyed in a storm while still at Ezion-geber. He appears to have seen that as YHWH’s will and therefore to have resisted any further attempts to persuade him. The fact that the author tells us about this would suggest that he also saw in their destruction the hand of YHWH, and approved of Jehoshaphat’s subsequent decision. He knew that such building up of wealth was partly what had led Solomon astray, and the author always indicates with cynical approval the times when Judah was despoiled of its wealth (e.g. 1 Kings 14:26; 1 Kings 15:18).
1 Kings 22:50
‘ And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father. And Jehoram his son reigned instead of him.’
Jehoshaphat died peacefully and was not assassinated (he ‘slept with his fathers’) and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his ‘father’. Jehoram his son then reigned instead of him. The house of David continued.
A Summary Of Ahaziah’s Life (1 Kings 22:51 - 2 Kings 1:1 ).
1 Kings 22:51
‘ Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned two years over Israel.’
Ahaziah began reigning over Israel in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat, and he reigned for ‘two years’, that is, for part of his accession year, and the part year in which he ceased to reign.
1 Kings 22:52
‘ And he did what was evil in the sight of YHWH, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, by which he made Israel to sin.’
Like all his predecessors he did what was evil in the sight of YHWH. He walked in the way of both Ahab and Jezebel, (note that the latter is stressed in that the mother is not usually mentioned in statements such as this), with all their evil ways. He also continued to follow the false religious practises instituted by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, leading the people astray with him.
1 Kings 22:53
‘ And he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger YHWH, the God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.’
And like Ahab had done he worshipped Baal and served him in all his evil and distorted sexual practises, provoking YHWH to anger (antipathy against sin).