because he humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house; this was not a pardon, only a reprieve; the sentence pronounced on him and his family was not taken off, nor countermanded, only the execution of it prolonged; it is promised that the destruction of his family should not be in his lifetime, but after his death, in his son's days, otherwise he himself died a violent death, and the dogs licked his blood, as were foretold; however, this may be an encouragement to those who are truly humbled for their sins, and really repent of them, that they shall receive forgiveness at the hand of God, since he showed so much regard to an outward humiliation and repentance.
(i) Bereshit Rabba in Abarbinel in loc. (k) Pirke Eliezer, c. 43. (l) Mensal. Colloqu. c. 32. p. 360.
INTRODUCTION TO 1 Kings 22
This chapter relates, that after three years' peace with the king of Syria, Ahab was inclined to go to war with him, to take Ramothgilead out of his hands; and he drew in Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to join him in it, 1 Kings 22:1, but before they went into it, they took advice, Ahab of his four hundred prophets, which Jehoshaphat not being satisfied with, a true prophet of the Lord, Micahah, was sent for, 1 Kings 22:5 who, when he came, jeered Ahab with what his prophets had said to him; intimated that he should be killed, and explained it to him how he came to be deceived by his prophets, 1 Kings 22:15 upon which he was smitten on the cheek by Zedekiah, one of the false prophets, and imprisoned by the order of Ahab, 1 Kings 22:24, after which the two kings went to the battle, and Jehoshaphat was in great danger of his life; but Ahab was wounded, and died, 1 Kings 22:29, and the chapter is concluded with an account of the reign of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, 1 Kings 22:41, and of Ahaziah king of Israel, 1 Kings 22:51.
that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel; to Ahab, from Jerusalem to Samaria, reckoned thirty two miles (m); either to make peace with him, and put an end to the wars which subsisted between Israel and Judah since the division of the kingdom, 1 Kings 22:44 or to contract an affinity with him, by marrying his son to a daughter of Ahab, 2 Kings 8:18 or rather after peace was made, and that strengthened by the marriage; and so he went merely to pay a visit, as he judged he might then with great safety; and he and all his retinue were entertained by Ahab in a very sumptuous and liberal manner, 2 Chronicles 18:1.
(m) Bunting's Travels, &c. p. 178. near 40, Rainold. Praelect. 31. col. 266.
know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours a city of refuge beyond Jordan, in the tribe of Gad, and so of course must belong to the kingdom of Israel, of which see Joshua 20:8.
and we be still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria?) neither demand it, nor take any measures to oblige him to deliver it up; representing it as a great omission, and as a piece of negligence and slothfulness, or cowardice.
(n) "et dixerat", Junius & Tremellius.
and Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses; meaning, that he and his soldiers, foot and horse, were at his service.
and said unto them, shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? which would you advise to? signifying he should take their advice:
and they said, go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king: which words are very ambiguous, like the oracles of the Heathens; for they do not express who or what should be delivered up, for the word it is a supplement, nor to what king the delivery should be made; whether the Syrians, and the place they held should be given up to king Ahab, which they would have understood; or whether the Israelites should be delivered up to king Benhadad; so that, whichever had been the case, the credit of their prophecy would be secured. They used the word "Lord", and not Baal, in complaisance to Jehoshaphat, and perhaps as directed by Ahab.
but I hate him, for he doth not prophesy of good concerning me, but evil; who is thought to be the same that was several times with him when engaged in the war with the king of Syria, 1 Kings 20:13 and each time, excepting the last, he brought him good tidings; but because, in his last message, he told him, that, since he had let Benhadad go, his life should go for his life, and his people for his people, for that he hated him:
and Jehoshaphat said, let not the king say so; which was very modestly, though perhaps too gently, said; suggesting that the prophets of the Lord should be heard, respected, and honoured, let their message be as it would, since they spake not of their own mind and will, but what they were moved unto by the Spirit of God.
and said, hasten hither Micaiah the son of Imlah; who, as it seems from 1 Kings 22:26 was in prison, where perhaps Ahab had cast him for his last prophecy to him, and where he had lain ever since; and this gives a reason why he could so readily send for him, knowing where he was.
having put on their robes; their royal robes, which they wore when they appeared in pomp and grandeur:
in a void place in the entrance of the gate of Samaria; where courts of judicature were held, and there was an open void space for the people to assemble in to hear; the word has the signification of a corn floor, and the Jews suppose they and their attendants sat in a semicircle like the half of a corn floor, after the same manner in which they say the sanhedrim at Jerusalem sat (o):
and all the prophets prophesied before them; concerning this affair of going to Ramothgilead.
(o) T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 5. 1. Vid. Kimchium in loc.
and he saith, thus saith the Lord; imitating the true prophets: with these shall thou push the Syrians until thou hast consumed them: Abarbinel thinks he had in view the blessing of Joseph by Moses, Deuteronomy 33:17 where he is compared to a bullock with horns; and these said to be the ten thousands of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manasseh; and Ahab being of the tribe of Joseph, and ruling in Ephraim and Manasseh, the prophet chose to make use of this emblem for his encouragement.
for the Lord shall deliver it into the king's hand; see Gill on 1 Kings 22:6.
behold, now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth; they are unanimous that he shall prosper in his undertaking against the Syrians:
let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good; which, as an ignorant man, he might advise to from good will to the prophet, that he might not be branded with singularity, and a spirit of contradiction, and that he might have the favour of the king, and be released from prison, pitying his miserable condition in which he found him.
(p) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 15. sect. 4.
what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak; truly and faithfully, keeping nothing back, nor adding anything, whether it be good or evil, pleasing or displeasing; it looks as if as yet he had no instruction from the Lord what to say, and yet the vision he later declares seems to have been had by him before, 1 Kings 22:17.
and the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go up against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? the same question in the same words that was put to the other prophets, 1 Kings 22:6, only there he uses the singular number, here the plural, including Jehoshaphat with him:
and he answered him, go, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king; he answered not in the name of the Lord, saying, "thus saith the Lord", nor did he speak his own sense and in his own words, nor seriously, but by way of derision; he took up the words of the prophets, and bantered them; it is as if he should say, the prophets bid you go, and tell you that you shall "prosper", and that the city will be delivered into the king's hand; do as they direct you, and see what the issue will be, no doubt it will be good, since they are all agreed; but he delivered the above words with such gestures, and such a tone, and with a contemptuous smile in his countenance, which showed that he spoke not seriously, but sarcastically; and this the king plainly discovered, as appears by what follows.
that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the Lord? for he observed he did not speak in the name of the Lord before, and what he said was not in a serious but ludicrous manner, and not to be regarded as truth.
I saw all Israel scattered on the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd; the armies of Israel routed, dispersed, and fleeing, some one way and some another, on the mountains of Gilead near Ramoth, weak and helpless, not knowing where to go for safety, having none to direct them; and this was either now instantly represented to his mind, or what had been before in a dream or vision:
and the Lord said, these have no master; these sheep have no shepherd this army hath no general,
Israel has lost its king: let them return every man to his house in peace, very few slain, Jarchi thinks Ahab only, see 1 Kings 22:31 that part of the threatening, 1 Kings 20:42 was now to he accomplished, "thy life shall go for his life", but the other part, "and thy people for his people", was to be deferred to another time.
did not I tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil? intimating that this proceeded from spite and malice, from ill will to him and hatred of him, and was not from the Lord, and therefore not to be regarded; he had told him three years ago his life should go for letting Benhadad go; but it had not proved true, and no more would this; and Jehoshaphat being an easy man, and too credulous, believed what Ahab said of the character of this prophet, or otherwise it is not to be accounted for that he should go with him to war after such a declaration made.
I saw the Lord sitting on his throne; so it was represented to his mind, as if he had seen with his bodily eyes the divine Being in a glorious form, as a king sitting on his throne, to do justice and judgment; as Ahab and Jehoshaphat were now sitting on their thrones, only as a far greater King, even the King of kings, and in a more splendid manner:
and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left the ministering angels ready to do his will.
and one said on this manner, and another said on that manner; not that there was such an altercation among them; it only signifies, that there are various ways and means, by which the purposes and decrees of God may be and are brought about.
and stood before the Lord presented himself before him, as Satan did, Job 1:6,
and said, l will persuade him; or prevail upon him; evil spirits love to be employed in doing harm to men, they go about seeking whom they may devour. This could not be the spirit of Naboth, as the Jews say (q), seeking revenge on Ahab; that was in a state of happiness, could not move from thence, and be capable of sinning.
(q) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 89. 1. & 102. 2. Targum in 2 Chronicles 18.20.
and he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets; put them on encouraging Ahab to go up, and promising him success, as he had in former battles with the king of Syria, and which might both encourage them to give forth such a prediction, and him to believe it to be true; this proposal was quite agreeable to the character of the devil, as the father of lies:
and he said, thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also; not only make use of this artifice to persuade, but succeed also; the Lord knew that what he should suggest to the prophets, and they should deliver to Ahab, would be agreeable to his inclination, nor would he do anything in the course of his providence to hinder its taking effect:
go forth, and do so; which was giving leave to try his skill in the art of persuasion, in which he knew he would succeed, and bring on the righteous judgment of God upon Ahab; with this compare John 13:27.
and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee: he had decreed it in himself, declared it by Micaiah his prophet, and suffered all those steps to be taken by Satan and the false prophets, to bring him to it.
and smote Micaiah on the cheek; in contempt of him, and to show his indignation at what he said; this he did in open court, before two kings; one he believed would favour and screen him in this lawless action, and the other, out of his own jurisdiction, had not courage and presence of mind to resent it:
and said, which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee? hereby boasting that he had the Spirit of the Lord, and was directed by him in what he said, and still remained with him, and could not possibly go to Micaiah, and suggest the very reverse; and therefore pertly asks him which way the spirit went, intimating that it was impossible he could steer a course contrary to himself.
take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city: the chief magistrate under the king; a sort of sheriff, who had the care of malefactors, and of all committed to prison, from whom he was received by the messenger, and now sent back to him:
and to Joash the king's son; who might be over his household, as sometimes the king's son was, 2 Chronicles 26:21 or might be viceroy while the king was without the city, and at the gate of it, and about to go to war.
and feed him with bread of affliction, and with water of affliction; with bad bread and foul water, and but little of either; just enough to keep alive, and to continue starving:
until I come in peace; which he seemed confident of, and intimates that then he would punish him more severely, even with death, as a false prophet.
and, he said, hearken, O people, everyone of you; he called aloud unto them to observe what he had predicted, and mark the issue of it, and to bear testimony for him, or against him, as things should be.
(r) Travels, &c. p. 178.
but put thou on thy robes; his royal robes, or rather keep them on, that he might appear to be the chief commander of the army. There seems to be a good deal of insincerity and treachery in this conduct of Ahab's, whatever honour he might pretend to Jehoshaphat, or safety he might promise him in such a situation; his view seems to be to save himself at the hazard of the life of Jehoshaphat, especially if the Septuagint version could be established, "and put on my clothes"; which is natural enough, but would have been too barefaced:
and the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle; as if he had been a common soldier.
saying, fight neither with small nor great; of those that belonged to Jehoshaphat:
save only with the king of Israel; and his men; for it can hardly be thought that his orders were to fight with none, nor kill any in the battle but Ahab personally; though it is very probable he might give them directions to aim at him chiefly, knowing that, if he was killed or taken, his army would flee or surrender; and he might be desirous of getting him into his hands, as he had been in his; and the rather his spite was against him, as he was the mover of the war.
that they said, surely it is the king of Israel; for they might not know the persons either of Ahab or him, but judged by his habit:
and they turned aside to fight against him; pressed upon him with all their force, either to take him or slay him:
and Jehoshaphat cried out; with a loud voice, either to the captains to let them know who he was, or to his men to come to his assistance, or rather to God to help and deliver him; since it is said in 2 Chronicles 18:31 that the Lord helped him, and moved or inclined the hearts of the captains to depart from him, as it follows here.
that they turned back from pursuing him; for upon so great a force coming upon him he could not withstand, he fled.
and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: of which the pieces of armour on him were joined together, the higher and lower parts of it, the breastplate, and what covered the belly; and though these were joined as close as they were capable of joining them in those times, yet the arrow, guided by divine Providence, found its way into his body:
wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, turn thine hand; or hands, with which he held the reins, and turn the horses on one side:
and carry me out of the host; where the battle was hottest, to a place more remote and private, that he might have the wound examined, and the blood stopped, and return again, as it seems he did:
for I am wounded; or rather "I am sick" (s), or ill, as the Targum; somewhat out of order, and therefore chose to retire a little while; not caring it should be known that he was smitten and wounded, lest his soldiers should be disheartened.
(s) "aegrotare factus sum", Vatablus; "aegrotus factus sum", Junius & Tremellius.
and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians: the Targum is,
"he strengthened himself, and stood;''
he exerted himself to the uttermost, and stood as long as he could, or could be supported, fighting against the Syrians, to animate his army, and that the Syrians might not have any notion of his being wounded:
and died at even: in his chariot:
and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot; or "bosom" (t) of it, the hollow part of it.
(t) "ad sinum", Montanus; "in sinum", Vatablus.
saying, every man to his city, and every man to his own country; the order was to cease fighting, and make the best of their way as fast as they could to their own homes, since their shepherd and master was dead, which fulfilled the vision of Micaiah, 1 Kings 22:17. It seems to have been a drawn battle, at least there is no account of the advantage on either side.
and they buried the king in Samaria; where his father Omri was buried, 1 Kings 16:28.
and the dogs licked up his blood; mixed with the water of the pool; the Septuagint adds, "the swine", which is not probable, such creatures not being bred in the land of Israel:
and they washed his armour; his coat of mail, through the joints of which the blood issued, and ran upon it. The word is sometimes used for whores, and is so translated here in the Greek version, and by Munster and Castalio; and both Ben Gersom and Abarbinel say, that women, who were harlots, washed here in his blood, mixed with water; and so Josephus (u) writes, that afterwards it was a custom for whores to wash in this pool; though some say (w) two whores were painted on Ahab's chariot, by the order of Jezebel, to inflame his lust, and these were what were washed; but the word signifies armour, or rather ornaments, clothes, jewels, &c.
and now all this was according to the word of the Lord which he spake; both by Elijah, that as the dogs licked the blood of Naboth, so they should his, as they now did, though not in the same place; nor was it necessary to fulfil the prophecy; see Gill on 1 Kings 21:19, though some have thought (x) that his blood, mixed with the water of the pool of Samaria, was carried in a stream down to Jezreel, and there licked by the dogs, where Naboth's was; but chiefly what was spoken by Micaiah is here respected, that thus Ahab fell at Ramothgilead, as he had prophesied, 1 Kings 22:17 and his life went for the life of Benhadad, as he had before declared, 1 Kings 20:42.
(u) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 15. sect. 6. (w) See Jarchi & Kimchi in loc. (x) Kimchi in loc.
and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? in which the acts of his predecessors were recorded, see 1 Kings 14:19 not the Scripture book of Chronicles, for there none of these things are related.
and his mother's name was Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi; but of what family they were is not said.
he turned not aside from doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord; in his moral conversation, religious worship, and civil government:
nevertheless, the high places were not taken away, for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places; he took away the high places and groves for idolatrous worship, 2 Chronicles 17:6, but not the high places in which sacrifices were offered to the Lord, which ought to have been, especially since the temple was built; and those in the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were altogether inexcusable, being near to the temple, and under no restraint, as those of the ten tribes were; but the people were fond of them, because of their antiquity, and it was difficult for religious princes to remove them, if inclined.
even to go to Ophir for gold; as Solomon did; of which place see 1 Kings 9:28,
but they went not, for the ships were broken at Eziongeber; the port where they were built: as soon as they were launched, or sailed, they were broken to pieces against the rocks near the harbour, which stood up like a man's backbone, whence the port had its name; See Gill on 1 Kings 9:26, and if this was Calzem, as there observed, near to it was a dangerous place for ships, and where many were lost, and is supposed to be the place where Pharaoh and his host were drowned (y); the reason of this shipwreck was, because Jehoshaphat joined himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, for which he was reproved by the prophet Eliezer, and this was his punishment, 2 Chronicles 20:35.
(y) Vid. Geograph. Nub. Climat. 3. par. 3. in fine.
let my servants go with thy servants in the ships; since he was refused a part in the ships themselves, he desires leave to send men aboard them to traffic for him abroad:
but Jehoshaphat would not; having been reproved by a prophet of the Lord, and had suffered the loss of his ships by joining with him already.
and Jehoram his son reigned in his stead; who was now thirty two years of age, and he reigned ten years.
and reigned two years over Israel; not complete, as appears from 2 Kings 3:1.
and walked in the way of his father; his father Ahab, who worshipped Baal:
and in the way of his mother; his mother Jezebel, who was still living, and served Baal and Astarte, the deities of her country:
and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat; who set up and worshipped the golden calves:
who made Israel to sin; by the worship of the same, into which he drew them by his example and authority.