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 Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Prophets . . . four hundred.—These were clearly not avowed prophets of Baal, or the Asherah (“groves”), as is obvious from the context and from their words in 1Kings 22:12. But Jehoshaphat’s discontent makes it equally clear that they were not in his view true prophets of Jehovah. Probably they were devoted, like the old prophet of Bethel, to the service of the idolatry of Jeroboam.

1 Kings 22:6. The king of Israel gathered the prophets together — Doubtless his own false prophets, such as he had set up by rewards and promises, and who accordingly knew how to suit his humour, and flatter his vanity, and who yet gave in their answer in the name of Jehovah; either in compliance with Jehoshaphat, or by Ahab’s direction, that Jehoshaphat might be deceived by them into a good opinion of the war.22:1-14 The same easiness of temper, which betrays some godly persons into friendship with the declared enemies of religion, renders it very dangerous to them. They will be drawn to wink at and countenance such conduct and conversation as they ought to protest against with abhorrence. Whithersoever a good man goes, he ought to take his religion with him, and not be ashamed to own it when he is with those who have no regard for it. Jehoshaphat had not left behind him, at Jerusalem, his affection and reverence for the word of the Lord, but avowed it, and endeavoured to bring it into Ahab's court. And Ahab's prophets, to please Jehoshaphat, made use of the name of Jehovah: to please Ahab, they said, Go up. But the false prophets cannot so mimic the true, but that he who has spiritual senses exercised, can discern the fallacy. One faithful prophet of the Lord was worth them all. Wordly men have in all ages been alike absurd in their views of religion. They would have the preacher fit his doctrine to the fashion of the times, and the taste of the hearers, and yet to add. Thus saith the Lord, to words that men would put into their mouths. They are ready to cry out against a man as rude and foolish, who scruples thus to try to secure his own interests, and to deceive others.The prophets - i. e., In all probability the prophets attached to the worship of the calves; not real prophets of Yahweh. This seems evident both from Jehoshaphat's dissatisfaction 1 Kings 22:7, and from the strong antagonism apparent between the true Yahweh-prophet Micaiah, and these self-styled "prophets of the Lord" 1 Kings 22:22-25.

The Lord shall deliver it - In the Hebrew the word here used for "Lord" is אדני 'ǎdonāy. Later (i. e., in 1 Kings 22:11-12) Lord or יהוה yehovâh is used. It would seem as if the idolatrous prophets shrank from employing the latter title until they found that Jehoshaphat insisted on learning the will of Yahweh in the matter.

3-8. Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours—a Levitical and free town on the north border of Gad (De 4:43; Jos 21:38), on the site of the present Salt Lake, in the province of Belka. It lay within the territories of the Israelitish monarch, and was unjustly alienated; but whether it was one of the cities usurped by the first Ben-hadad, which his son had promised to restore, or was retained for some other reasons, the sacred historian has not mentioned. In the expedition which Ahab meditated for the recovery of this town, the aid of Jehoshaphat was asked and promised (see 2Ch 18:3). Previous to declaring hostilities, it was customary to consult the prophets (see on [325]1Sa 28:8); and Jehoshaphat having expressed a strong desire to know the Lord's will concerning this war, Ahab assembled four hundred of his prophets. These could not be either the prophets of Baal or of Ashteroth (1Ki 18:19), but seem (1Ki 22:12) to have been false prophets, who conformed to the symbolic calf-worship of Jehovah. Being the creatures of Ahab, they unanimously predicted a prosperous issue to the war. But dissatisfied with them, Jehoshaphat inquired if there was any true prophet of the Lord. Ahab agreed, with great reluctance, to allow Micaiah to be summoned. He was the only true prophet then to be found residing in Samaria, and he had to be brought out of prison (1Ki 22:26), into which, according to Josephus, he had been cast on account of his rebuke to Ahab for sparing the king of Syria. The prophets doubtless were his own false prophets, or the priests of Baal; probably those very four hundred men whom Jezebel preserved from that great slaughter, 1Ki 18, who yet gave in their answer in the name of Jehovah, not of Baal; either in compliance with Jehoshaphat; or rather, by Ahab’s direction, that good Jehoshaphat might be deceived by them into a good opinion of the war. Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men,.... False prophets, as the Targum and Arabic version; and they are called Ahab's prophets, and not the Lord's, 1 Kings 22:23 perhaps these were the prophets of the groves, that ate at Jezebel's table, and were preserved when the prophets of Baal were destroyed, since the number agrees with them, see 1 Kings 18:19.

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.

Then the king of Israel gathered the {f} prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.

(f) Meaning the false prophets, who were liars and served for money whom Jezebel had assembled and kept after the death of those whom Elijah slew.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. gathered the prophets together, about four hundred] These cannot have been the prophets of Baal, for their ringleader, Zedekiah, in 1 Kings 22:11, begins his speech, ‘Thus saith Jehovah,’ and in 1 Kings 22:24 speaks of ‘the spirit of Jehovah’ as being with him. But they were not true adherents of the Lord, otherwise Jehoshaphat would certainly have been content with their words. He went on with the project of the expedition even after Micaiah’s prophetic warning; he never would have sought for more satisfaction, had he heard four hundred true prophets of Jehovah say, ‘the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.’ These men were therefore the prophets who served in the worship of the calves. They would use Jehovah’s name, just as constantly as the men who had not forsaken His commandment, and throughout the whole of Israel this number of them could no doubt be readily gathered, and these, though not his Baal-priests, Ahab would bring before Jehoshaphat.

Go up] The land of Gilead was all mountainous.

the Lord shall deliver it] It is remarkable that in this first form of answer, the word for “Lord” is Adonai, not the word which we represent by Jehovah, and which is generally rendered Lord. In the repetition, in 1 Kings 22:12, Jehovah is used, and of course in Micaiah’s speech. This word ‘Adonai’ is what the Jews use now instead of pronouncing the sacred name, but their reason could not have weighed with Ahab’s priests in Israel. In the parallel place in Chronicles ‘God’, Elohim, is used in the first answer, and ‘Jehovah’ in the others.Verse 6. - Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets [Called by Micaiah "his prophets" (ver. 22), and "thy prophets" (ver. 23)] together, about four hundred men [From the number (cf. 1 Kings 18:19) it has been concluded that these were "the prophets of the groves," i.e., of Astarte, who escaped the massacre of the Baal prophets (1 Kings 18:40). Others have supposed that they were prophets of Baal. But both these suppositions are negatived

(1) by the fact that Jehoshaphat asks Ahab to "inquire at the word of Jehovah," and

(2) that these prophets profess to speak in the name and by the Spirit of Jehovah (vers. 11, 12, 24). Moreover

(3) Ahab would hardly have insulted Jehoshaphat by bringing the prophets of Baal or Astarte before him (Waterland in Wordsworth). And yet that they were not true prophets of the Lord, or of the" sons of the prophets," appears

(1) from ver. 7, where Jehoshaphat asks for a "prophet of the Lord;" and

(2) from ver. 20 sqq., where Micaiah disclaims them, and is found in direct opposition to them. The only conclusion open to us, consequently - and it is now generally adopted - is that they were the priests of the high places of Bethel and Dan, the successors of those whom Jeroboam had introduced into the priestly office. It need cause us no surprise to find these priests here described as "prophets" (cf. Jeremiah 22:13; Ezekiel 13:1), and as claiming prophetic gifts, for the priests of Baal bore the same name (1 Kings 18:19, 22, etc.), and apparently pretended to similar powers. "No ancient people considered any cultus complete without a class of men through whom the god might be questioned" (Bahr). The existence of so large a number of prophets of the calves proves that the inroads of idolatry had by no means destroyed the calf worship. If its priests were so many, its worshippers cannot have been few], and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramoth-Gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord [אֲדֹנָי It is very significant that at first they hesitate to use the ineffable name. It was probably this circumstance excited Jehoshaphat's suspicions. It has been said that the reason why he was dissatisfied with this answer is unexplained; but when we remember how careful the true prophet was to speak in the name of Jehovah (1 Kings 14:7; 1 Kings 17:1, 14; 1 Kings 20:13, 14, 28), we can hardly doubt that it was their mention of "Adonai "occasioned his misgivings. The chronicler gives the word as Elohim] shall deliver it [LXX. διδοὺς δώσει, shall surely give it] into the hand of the king. This terrible threat made such an impression upon Ahab, that he felt deep remorse, and for a time at least was sincerely penitent. Rending the clothes, putting on the mourning garment of hair (שׂק), and fasting, are frequently mentioned as external signs of humiliation before God or of deep mourning on account of sin. יהלּך אט, he walked about lightly (slowly), like one in deep trouble. This repentance was neither hypocritical, nor purely external; but it was sincere even if it was not lasting and produced no real conversion. For the Lord Himself acknowledge it to be humiliation before Him (1 Kings 21:29), and said to Elijah, that because of it He would not bring the threatened calamity upon Ahab's house in his own lifetime, but only in the days of his son. אבי for אביא, as in 1 Kings 21:21.
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