1 Kings 22

CHAPTER XXII

Jehoshaphat King of Judah, and Ahab King of Israel, unite

against the Syrians, in order to recover Ramoth-gilead, 1-4.

They inquire of false prophets, who promise them success.

Micaiah, a true prophet, foretells the disasters of the war,

5-17.

A lying spirit in the mouths of Ahab's prophets persuades Ahab

to go up against Ramoth, 18-29.

The confederate armies are routed, and the king of Israel

slain, 30-36.

Death and burial of Ahab, 37-40.

Character of Jehoshaphat, 41-47.

He makes a fleet in order to go to Ophir for gold, which is

wrecked at Ezion-geber, 48.

His death, 49.

He is succeeded by his son Jehoram, 50.

Ahaziah succeeds his father Ahab, and reigns wickedly, 51, 52.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXII

Verse 1. Three years without war] That is, from the time that

Ahab made the covenant with Ben-hadad, mentioned 1Ki 20:34. And

probably in that treaty it was stipulated that Ramoth-gilead

should be restored to Israel; which not being done, Ahab formed a

confederacy with Judah, and determined to take it by force.

Verse 4. Wilt thou go with me] We find that there was a good

understanding between Jehoshaphat and Ahab, which no doubt was the

consequence of a matrimonial alliance between the son of the

former, Jehoram, and the daughter of the latter, Athaliah; see

2Ch 18:1; 2Ki 8:18. This coalition did not please God, and

Jehoshaphat is severely reproved for it by Jehu the seer,

2Ch 19:1-3.

Verse 6. About four hundred men] These were probably the

prophets of Asherah or Venus, maintained by Jezebel, who were

not present at the contention on Mount Carmel. See 1Ki 18:19, &c.

Verse 8. Micaiah the son of Imlah] The Jews suppose that it was

this prophet who reproved Ahab for dismissing Ben-hadad,

1Ki 20:35, &c. And that it was because of the judgments with

which he had threatened him, that Ahab hated him: I hate him, for

he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.

Verse 9. The king of Israel called an officer] saris,

literally a eunuch; probably a foreigner, for it was not lawful to

disgrace an Israelite by reducing him to such a state.

Verse 11. Zedekiah-made him horns of iron] This was in imitation

of that sort of prophecy which instructed by significative

actions. This was frequent among the prophets of the Lord.

Verse 13. The words of the prophets declare good] What notion

could these men have of prophecy, when they supposed it was in the

power of the prophet to model the prediction as he pleased, and

have the result accordingly?

Verse 15. Go, and prosper] This was a strong irony; as if he had

said, All your prophets have predicted success; you wish me to

speak as they speak: Go, and prosper; for the Lord will deliver it

into the hand of the king. These were the precise words of the

false prophets, (see 1Ki 22:6, 12,) and were spoken by Micaiah in

such a tone and manner as at once showed to Ahab that he did not

believe them; hence the king adjures him, 1Ki 22:16, that he

would speak to him nothing but truth; and on this the prophet

immediately relates to him the prophetic vision which pointed out

the disasters which ensued.

It is worthy of remark that this prophecy of the king's prophets

is couched in the same ambiguous terms by which the false prophets

in the heathen world endeavoured to maintain their credit, while

they deluded their votaries. The reader will observe that the word

it is not in the original: The Lord will deliver IT into the hand

of the king; and the words are so artfully constructed that they

may be interpreted for or against; so that, be the event whatever

it might, the juggling prophet could save his credit by saying he

meant what had happened. Thus then the prophecy might have been

understood: The Lord will deliver (Ramoth-gilead) into the king's

(Ahab's) hand; or, The Lord will deliver (Israel) into the king's

hand; i.e., into the hand of the king of Syria. And Micaiah

repeats these words of uncertainty in order to ridicule them and

expose their fallacy.

The following oracles among the heathens were of this same

dubious nature, in order that the priests' credit might be

saved, let the event turn out as it might. Thus the Delphic oracle

spoke to Croesus words which are capable of a double meaning, and

which he understood to his own destruction:-

Croesus, Halym penetrans, magnam subvertet opum vim,

Which says, in effect:-

"If you march against Cyrus, he will either overthrow you, or

you will overthrow him."

He trusted in the latter, the former took place. He was deluded,

and yet the oracle maintained its credit. So in the following:-

Aio te, AEacida, Romanos vincere posse

Ibis redibis nunquam in bello peribis.

Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, understood by this that he should

conquer the Romans, against whom he was then making war; but the

oracle could be thus translated: "The Romans shall overcome thee."

He trusted in the former, made unsuccessful war, and was overcome;

and yet the juggling priest saved his credit. The latter line is

capable of two opposite meanings:-

"Thou shalt go, thou shalt return, thou shalt never perish in

war."

Or,

"Thou shalt go, thou shalt never return, thou shalt perish in

war."

When prophecies and oracles were not delivered in this dubious

way, they were generally couched in such intricate and dark terms

that the assistance of the oracle was necessary to explain the

oracle, and then it was ignotum per ignotius, a dark saying

paraphrased by one yet more obscure.

Verse 17. These have no master] Here the prophet foretells the

defeat of Israel, and the death of the king; they were as sheep

that had not a shepherd, people that had no master, the political

shepherd and master (Ahab) shall fall in battle.

Verse 19. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne] This is a mere

parable, and only tells in figurative language, what was in the

womb of providence, the events which were shortly to take place,

the agents employed in them, and the permission on the part of God

for these agents to act. Micaiah did not choose to say before this

angry and impious king, "Thy prophets are all liars; and the

devil, the father of lies, dwells in them;" but he represents the

whole by this parable, and says the same truths in language as

forcible, but less offensive.

Verse 22. Go forth, and do so.] This is no more than, "God has

permitted the spirit of lying to influence the whole of thy

prophets; and he now, by my mouth, apprises thee of this, that

thou mayest not go and fall at Ramoth-gilead." Never was a man

more circumstantially and fairly warned; he had counsels from the

God of truth, and counsels from the spirit of falsity; he

obstinately forsook the former and followed the latter. He was

shown by this parable how every thing was going on, and that all

was under the control and direction of God, and that still it was

possible for him to make that God his friend whom by his continual

transgressions he had made his enemy; but he would not: his blood

was therefore upon his own head.

Verse 23. The Lord hath put a lying spirit] He hath permitted or

suffered a lying spirit to influence thy prophets. Is it requisite

again to remind the reader that the Scriptures repeatedly

represent God as doing what, in the course of his providence, he

only permits or suffers to be done? Nothing can be done in heaven,

in earth, or hell, but either by his immediate energy or

permission. This is the reason why the Scripture speaks as

above.

Verse 24. Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me] This is

an expression of as great insolence as the act was of brutal

aggression. "Did the Spirit of the Lord, who rests solely upon me,

condescend to inspire thee? Was it at this ear [where he smote

him] that it entered, in order to hold communion with thee?"

Josephus tells an idle rabbinical tale about this business, which

is as unworthy of repetition as it is of credit. See his Antiq. of

the Jews, book viii., c. 10.

Verse 25. When thou shalt go into an inner chamber] It is

probable that this refers to some Divine judgment which fell upon

this deceiver. Hearing of the tragical result of the battle, he no

doubt went into a secret place to hide himself from the resentment

of Jezebel, and the Israelitish courtiers, and there it is

probable he perished; but how, when, or where, is not mentioned.

Verse 27. Feed him with bread of affliction.] Deprive him of all

the conveniences and comforts of life; treat him severely; just

keep him alive, that he may see my triumph.

Verse 30. I will disguise myself] Probably he had heard of the

orders given by Ben-hadad to his thirty-two captains, to fight

with the king of Israel only; that is, to make their most powerful

attack where he commanded, in order to take him prisoner, that he

might lead him captive whose captive he formerly was; and

therefore he disguised himself that he might not be known.

But put thou on thy robes.] What is meant by this? He could not

mean, "Appear as the king of Judah, for they will not molest thee,

as the matter of contention lies between them and me;" this is

Jarchi's turn. For if Jehoshaphat aided Ahab, is it to be

supposed that the Syrians would spare him in battle? A general in

the civil wars of England, when he had brought his army in sight

of their foes, thus addressed them: "Yonder are your enemies; if

you do not kill them, they will kill you." So it might be said in

the case of Jehoshaphat and the Syrians.

The Septuagint gives the clause a different and more

intelligible turn: "I will cover (conceal) myself, and enter into

the battle; καισυενδυσαιτονιματισμονμου, but put thou on MY

robes." And does it not appear that he did put on Ahab's robes?

And was it not this that caused the Syrians to mistake him for the

king of Israel? 1Ki 22:32.

Verse 34. Drew a bow at a venture] It is supposed that he shot,

as the archers in general did, not aiming at any person in

particular.

The word lethummo, which we translate in his simplicity,

has been variously understood; in his integrity, his uprightness;

in his perfection; i.e., to the utmost of his skill and strength.

This is most probably the meaning; and may imply both aim and

power, having his butt full in view. In cases where the archers

wished to do the greatest execution, they bent their bows, and

pulled till the subtending string drew back the arrow up to its

head. This they could not do always, because it required their

whole strength; and they could not put forth their utmost effort

each time and continue to discharge many shots. Our old national

ballad of the Chevy-chace mentions the slaying of Sir Hugh

Montgomery, who had slain Earl Percy, in nearly the same way that

Ahab appears to have been shot:-

"And thus did both these nobles die,

Whose courage none could stain:

An English archer then perceived

His noble lord was slain,

Who had a bow bent in his hand

Made of a trusty tree;

An arrow, of a cloth-yard long,

Up to the head drew he;

Against Sir Hugh Montgomery then

So right his shaft he set,

The gray goose wing that was thereon

In his heart's blood was wet."

Between the joints of the harness] "Between the cuirass and the

lower part of the helmet;" and then the arrow must pass through

the neck, just above the breast: or "between the cuirass and the

cuissarts;" and then the arrow must pass through the abdomen, or

just where the armour of the thighs joins to that which covers the

breast and belly.

The Vulgate has Inter pulmonem et stomachum; "Between the lungs

and the stomach;" consequently, in the region of the heart.

Verse 35. The king was stayed up] He did not wish his misfortune

should be known, lest his troops should be discouraged.

Verse 36. Every man to his city] It appears that the Israelites

and Jews maintained the fight the whole of the day; but when at

evening the king died, and this was known, there was a

proclamation made, probably with the consent of both Syrians and

Israelites, that the war was over. Ahab being dead, his subjects

did not choose to contend for Ramoth-gilead; so the Israelites

went to their own cities, and the Syrians to their own country.

Verse 38. The dogs licked up his blood] Some of the rabbins

think that this was in the very place where Naboth was stoned; see

on 1Ki 21:19. The

Septuagint translates this verse strangely: "And the swine and

the dogs licked his blood, and the whores bathed themselves in his

blood, according to the word of the Lord." It is certain that the

Hebrew words, hazzonoth rachatsu, "washed his armour,"

might be translated as the Septuagint have done; "and the whores

(or public women) washed," &c. And so the rabbins seem to have

understood the words; but then they suppose that Jezebel had made

him two images of prostitutes, which he had with him in the

chariot. It is not worth inquiring into the use for which they say

these images were made. See Kimchi and Jarchi.

Verse 39. Ivory house] A royal palace which he built in Samaria,

decorated with ivory, and hence called the ivory house. Amos the

prophet speaks against this luxury, Am 3:15.

Verse 43. The high places were not taken away] In 2Ch 17:6, it

is expressly said, that he did take away the high places. Allowing

that the text is right in 2 Chron., the two places may be easily

reconciled. There were two kinds of high places in the land: 1.

Those used for idolatrous purposes. 2. Those that were consecrated

to God, and were used before the temple was built. The former he

did take away; the latter he did not. But some think the parallel

place in 2Ch 17:6 is corrupted, and that, instead of

veod hesir, "and moreover he took away," we should read,

velo hesir, "and he did NOT take away."

Verse 46. The remnant of the sodomites] of the consecrated

persons; or it may rather apply here to the system of pollution,

effeminacy, and debauch. He destroyed the thing itself; the

abominations of Priapus, and the rites of Venus, Baal, and

Ashtaroth. No more of that impure worship was to be found in

Judea.

Verse 47. There was no king in Edom] It is plain that the

compiler of this book lived after the days of Jehoshaphat, in

whose time the Edomites revolted; see 2Ki 8:22. David had

conquered the Edomites, and they continued to be governed by

deputies, appointed by the kings of Judah, till they recovered

their liberty, as above. This note is introduced by the writer to

account for Jehoshaphat's building ships at Ezion-geber, which was

in the territory of the Edomites, and which showed them to be at

that time under the Jewish yoke.

Verse 48. Ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold] In the

parallel place (2Ch 20:36) it is said that Jehoshaphat joined

himself to Ahaziah, to make ships to go to Tharshish; and they

made the ships in Ezion-geber. Concerning these places, and the

voyage thither, see the notes on 1Ki 9:26-28; 10:11, 22. Some

translate, instead of ships of Tharshish, ships of burden. See

Houbigant, who expresses himself doubtful as to the meaning of

the word.

Verse 49. But Jehoshaphat would not.] It appears from the above

cited place in Chronicles that Jehoshaphat did join in making and

sending ships to Tharshish, and it is possible that what is here

said is spoken of a second expedition, in which Jehoshaphat would

not join Ahaziah. But instead of velo abah, "he would

not," perhaps we should read velo abah, "he consented to

him;" two words pronounced exactly in the same way, and differing

but in one letter, viz., an aleph for a vau. This

reading, however, is not supported by any MS. or version; but the

emendation seems just; for there are several places in these

historical books in which there are mistakes of transcribers which

nothing but violent criticism can restore, and to this it is

dangerous to resort, but in cases of the last necessity. Critics

have recommended the 48th and 49th verses to be read thus:

"Jehoshaphat had built ships of burden at Ezion-geber, to go to

Ophir for gold. 49. And Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, had said to

Jehoshaphat, Let my servants, I pray thee, go with thy servants in

the ships: to which Jehoshaphat consented. But the ships went not

thither; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber." This is

Houbigant's translation, who contends that "the words of the

48th verse, but they went not, should be placed at the end of the

49th verse, for who can believe that the sacred writer should

first relate that the ships were broken, and then that Ahaziah

requested of Jehoshaphat that his servants might embark with the

servants of Jehoshaphat?" This bold critic, who understood the

Hebrew language better than any man in Europe, has, by happy

conjectures, since verified by the testimony of MSS., removed the

blots of many careless transcribers from the sacred volume.

Copyright information for Clarke