Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel.Ch. 1 Kings 22:1-12. Ahab resolves to recover Ramoth-gilead. Jehoshaphat joins him. Ahab’s prophets promise him victory (2 Chronicles 18:1-11)
1. they continued three years without war] This probably means after the defeat of Benhadad described in chapter 20. It must have been during this interval of peace that Naboth was put to death.
And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel.2. Jehoshaphat … came down to the king of Israel] The writer speaks as though Jerusalem was still regarded as the capital-city of the whole nation. To leave it and go elsewhere was ‘to go down.’
The Chronicler and Josephus connect this visit with the mention of Jehoshaphat’s ‘affinity with’ Ahab. Jehoram, Jehoshaphat’s son had married Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah. And after this event the king of Judah paid his visit to Samaria. The reception is described in Chronicles as a scene of great profusion, and Josephus speaks of troops (στρατὸς) which accompanied Jehoshaphat. Probably the subject of the war against Syria had been discussed before the meeting of the two kings. The Chronicler says ‘Ahab persuaded Jehoshaphat to go up with him to Ramoth-gilead.’
And the king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, and we be still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria?3. Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours] The statement of Josephus (Ant. viii. 15, 3) is very probable, viz. that the father of Ben-hadad had taken Ramoth-gilead, with other cities, from Omri. Ben-hadad had stipulated, when he feared for his life (1 Kings 22:34), to restore these conquests, but apparently had not carried out this part of his covenant. He had found Ahab easy to deal with, and once safe back in Damascus, he thought former promises not very binding.
On Ramoth-gilead, see above, 1 Kings 4:13.
And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle to Ramothgilead? And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses.4. I am as thou art] The marriage between the royal children would no doubt make Jehoshaphat more ready to comply with Ahab’s request. But it was not without danger to Judah also, that the Syrian king should hold a strong position in the land of Gilead.
my horses as thy horses] From this expression it appears that cavalry had now been largely introduced into both kingdoms.
And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day.5. Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord] The persuasion has gained from him a promise, but Jehoshaphat would still find out whether the proposed expedition has the sanction of Jehovah. It is clear from his request that he expected to find a true prophet of Jehovah at hand in Israel. The national apostasy cannot therefore have been complete, even in the dark days of Ahab.
to day] The Hebrew word is the same which is found in Genesis 25:31; Genesis 25:33, where on the margin of R.V. the alternative rendering, ‘first of all,’ is given. This sense is very appropriate both there and here, and will often explain what ‘to day’ in O. Test. diction signifies. Cf. above, 1 Kings 1:51.
Then the king of Israel gathered the 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.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.
And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might inquire of him?7. Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides] The R.V. transposes besides, putting it after here. This brings out more clearly the reason for Jehoshaphat’s inquiry. Besides what he has heard, he would gladly be told what to do by a true prophet of Jehovah. These men and their answer did not quite satisfy him. Josephus says Jehoshaphat understood from their language that they were false prophets.
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.8. There is yet one man] In the R.V. immediately after these words are placed ‘by whom we may inquire of the Lord.’ This order of words, which corresponds more nearly with the Hebrew arrangement, shews that Ahab understood what his guest required, and why he was not satisfied with the prophets that had already come before him. Even Ahab recognized the difference between Micaiah and the rest.
Let not the king say so] i.e. That he hates Micaiah.
Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Hasten hither Micaiah the son of Imlah.9. Hasten hither] R.V. Fetch quickly. This is the rendering in Chronicles, and enables us to dispense with italics.
And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat each on his throne, having put on their robes, in a void place in the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them.10. And [R.V. Now] the king of Israel] The change is justified, as the sentence is not a mere addition to what has gone before but a new feature in the history.
having put on their robes] R.V. arrayed in their robes. The original language indicates a degree of display suited to the meeting of two kings. Moreover the A. V., in connexion with the words immediately following, is open to a misunderstanding. What is described is not what the kings did, but in what state they sat. The LXX. has ἔνοπλοι. Josephus also gives the idea of an armed gathering. He says ‘The two kings having gone out of the city, and having sat down each on his throne, distributed to their own soldiers pay for the campaign (τὸ στρατιωτικόν).’
in a void [R.V. an open] place] The word in the Hebrew is most frequently rendered ‘a threshing-floor.’ This was a large open space in which the oxen could be driven round, to tread out the corn. Such a space is here indicated, where chairs of state could be erected for the two kings, and where the prophets could come about them.
in [R.V. at] the entrance of the gate of Samaria] There appears usually to have been some place set apart near the gate of a city, mostly outside, where important business proceedings, trials, and such matters could be conducted in public and where kings and magistrates could sit and listen to appeals for help or justice. Cf. Genesis 23:10; Genesis 23:18; Joshua 2:7; Joshua 9:2-9; 2 Kings 23:8, &c.
And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the LORD, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them.11. Zedekiah] In 1 Kings 22:24 we see that Zedekiah was the leader of Ahab’s prophets. His action here is one of those symbolical proceedings not uncommon with the prophets. Thus Ahijah significantly rent his garment into twelve pieces (1 Kings 11:30) and gave Jeroboam ten. Zedekiah’s language, addressed to Ahab, is probably an allusion to the blessing of Ephraim in Deuteronomy 33:17. By this time Ephraim had become the representative tribe of the Northern Kingdom, and of him Moses had said ‘his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth.’ By such language not only Ahab, but Jehoshaphat might be encouraged to trust more to the prophecies of success.
until thou have consumed them] R.V. until they be consumed. There is nothing in the original to warrant ‘thou.’
And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the king's hand.12. into the king’s hand] R.V. into the hand of the king. A change made to shew that the words are just the same as in 1 Kings 22:6. The LXX. adds here ‘even the king of Syria.’
And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good.13–28. Micaiah’s prophecy. Ahab, in displeasure, sends him to prison (2 Chronicles 18:12-27)
13. And the messenger that was gone [R.V. went] to call Micaiah] The tradition, which Josephus preserves, that the ‘son of the prophets’ mentioned in 1 Kings 20:35, was Micaiah, and that Ahab put him in prison for his actions at that time (see notes on 1 Kings 20:35; 1 Kings 20:43) has been derived from the circumstance that Micaiah on this occasion was sent to prison, and the king uses the words (1 Kings 22:26) ‘Take Micaiah and carry him back,’ &c. But there is nothing in this account of the message to him which proves that he was in prison when Ahab sent to call him; and ‘Put this fellow in prison’ (1 Kings 22:27) is no evidence that he had been there before, but rather the reverse.
speak that which is good] R.V. speak thou good. This is the A.V. in 2 Chronicles.
And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak.14. what the Lord saith] In 2 Chronicles 18:13 it is ‘what my God saith.’
So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.15. So he came to the king. And the king said] R.V. And when he was come to the king, the king said. Conforming to 2 Chron. where the Hebrew is precisely the same. The change also represents the events in rather more close sequence, as no doubt they happened.
Micaiah, shall we go against [R.V. to] Ramoth-gilead] Another slight variation to make Kings and Chronicles accord, as closely as they do in the original.
Go, [R.V. Go up] and prosper] The words are the same as were used by the other prophets in 1 Kings 22:6. Ahab had however asked his question this time in the plural number, ‘Shall we go?’ and in 2 Chron. Micaiah’s answer is given in accordance therewith ‘Go ye up,’ &c.
It is quite clear from the tone of Ahab’s language in the next verse, that, though Micaiah, in words, repeated what had been said by Ahab’s own prophets, yet by tone and gesture he made it evident that his speech was not in earnest.
And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD?16. How many times shall I adjure thee] It would seem from this that Ahab on former occasions had consulted Micaiah, and been dissatisfied with his answers.
that thou tell me nothing but that which is true] R.V. that thou speak unto me nothing but the truth. This is very nearly the form in 2 Chron. in A.V. The Hebrew is exactly the same. And both are in R.V. made to agree.
And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.17. And he said] Here the LXX. adds οὐχ οὕτως, ‘Not so,’ and there is a similar insertion at the beginning of 1 Kings 22:19, where see note.
I saw all Israel] Here Micaiah in true prophetic tone relates a vision which foretells the utter ruin of the coming expedition.
scattered upon the hills] R.V. mountains. This is A.V. in 2 Chronicles, and the change gives a sense of greater dispersion. But in any case the two places should be alike.
as sheep that have not a [R.V. no] shepherd] Again the rendering in 2 Chronicles is adopted. The language of Micaiah spake in no doubtful tone of the coming death of Ahab. For the simile cf. Numbers 27:17, a passage which may have been in Micaiah’s thoughts.
let them return] The prophet pictures the great disaster as falling specially upon Ahab. When he was slain, there would be no attempt to prevent the escape of his army.
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?18. that he would prophesy no good] R.V. (as in Chronicles) that he would not prophesy good. Of course Ahab was desirous of representing to Jehoshaphat that it was out of ill will that Micaiah spake always evil; and he appears to have weakened the effect of the prophet’s words in some way, or else, after such a solemn portending of disaster, Jehoshaphat would hardly have joined the expedition. It was perhaps with the consciousness of the effect which was being produced on the mind of the king of Judah, that Micaiah proceeds to unfold a further vision shewing how God was allowing Ahab to be led astray to his destruction.
And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.19. And he said] After these words the LXX. adds οὐχ οὕτως οὐκ ἐγώ, ‘Not so, I do not.’ Here we can discern how the insertion was made. The next word in the Hebrew text is לכן= Therefore. This the translators have taken for לא כן = not so, and have put in the οὐκ ἐγὼ to round off the sense. Apparently they must have seen or thought they saw the same reading in 1 Kings 22:17 above, for there they have made a similar insertion.
Hear thou therefore] R.V. Therefore hear thou. Conforming to the order of the Hebrew, and the order in 2 Chronicles.
I saw the Lord] A vision in which Micaiah had been shewn the heavenly council-chamber. Jehovah was sitting as ruler of the universe, and all ministers waiting around to speed at His bidding. These are the ministering spirits of Hebrews 1:14. But they also discharge other ministry, as when the angel of the Lord destroyed David’s people (2 Samuel 24:16) or the army of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35).
And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.20. Who shall persuade [R.V. entice] Ahab] The same change also is made in the two following verses. ‘Entice’ is the rendering in 2 Chronicles, and it represents much better the sense of the verb in the original, which implies flattery and deception; and this it was which was to lead Ahab to his ruin.
And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.21. And there came forth a spirit] The Hebrew has ‘the spirit’ as is noted on the margin of the R.V. It seems therefore to imply some definite power which imparted to prophets their gifts; the prophetic spirit. That God allowed this power to delude Ahab was because of the king’s persistence in evil. God therefore gives him over to it, and causes the prophets whom he has chosen for himself, to the rejection of Micaiah and such as he, to be the instruments of his destruction. Thus when Isaiah is sent to rebellious Israel (Isaiah 6:10) his mission is described as of this nature. God says to him ‘Make the heart of this people fat and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts.’ In this wise and with like effect comes the spirit from God into the mouths of Ahab’s four hundred.
And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.22. and I will be] The R.V. omits ‘I’ here, and later on inserts ‘shalt’ before ‘prevail,’ to accord with 2 Chronicles, the English being thus as exactly alike in the two passages as the Hebrew is.
Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.23. The Lord hath put a lying spirit] These words bear out what has been said on 1 Kings 22:21. It was a messenger from Jehovah which led these prophets astray. We are not to conclude from this that it was an evil spirit, or Satan, as some have suggested. Such spirits are not God’s agents. The spirit which here wrought the evil did but foster the false notions which a long course of previous warnings had had no effect in driving away. Now therefore Ahab is given up to them. God sends him ‘a strong delusion, that he should believe a lie’ (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Cf. Psalm 78:49. ‘He sent messengers of evil (not, evil angels) among them’.
But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee?24. But Zedekiah … went [R.V. came] near] The verb is the same as in 1 Kings 20:13. See note there.
Josephus has a great expansion of the narrative at this point, which leads up to the blow given to Micaiah. He says ‘the king began to ponder on what had been said, but Zedekiah, one of the false prophets, came near and advised him to pay no regard to Micaiah, for he spake no truth. And he brought forward, as a proof of this, what Elijah, who knew the future far better than this man, had prophesied. He prophesied in the city of Jezreel and said that dogs should lick the king’s blood in the field of Naboth, as they had licked that of Naboth who through him had been stoned by the people. It is clear then that this man lies, in contradicting the better prophet and declaring that the king shall die within three days. But ye shall know if he is true and has the power of the divine spirit. For let him, after I have struck him, blast my hand at once, as Jadon (see above on 1 Kings 13:1) withered the right hand of king Jeroboam, when he desired to arrest him. For, said he, you have heard what happened then. Whereupon he struck Micaiah, and when no harm befel him, Ahab took heart and was encouraged to lead his army against the Syrian.’
Which way went the spirit of the Lord] The whole account intimates that Zedekiah conceived himself prompted by the divine spirit and thought that he was telling the truth to Ahab. He was moved by the spirit of prophecy but knew not that God had willed it to be to him a spirit of lies.
The LXX. has rendered ‘what spirit of the Lord was it that has spoken in thee?’
And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.25. Behold, thou shalt see in [R.V. on] that day] The small change harmonizes this passage with 2 Chron. What Micaiah was to see and be convinced of was, that the spirit of God had passed away from him and gone to Micaiah. The events would bring proof with them.
into an inner chamber] See note on 1 Kings 20:3 above.
to hide thyself] When the news of the defeat came Samaria would be terrified, and such as expected the invader to come on, after his victory, would seek the securest places of concealment. The story tells us nothing of the events which followed Ahab’s death, but a man whose words, boastful now, were so belied in a few days would certainly desire to avoid being seen as much as might be.
And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son;26. carry him back unto Amon] As Ahab knew so well how to find Micaiah when he was wanted, it may be that he was already under the charge of Amon, in a sort of libera custodia. But the command in the next verse to put him into prison seems conclusive that he had not been a prisoner before.
Joash the king’s son] We have nothing to guide us in deciding how this man was related to Ahab, or whether he was so at all. His occupation, in conjunction with Amon the governor of the city, as superintendent of the prison-house renders it improbable that he was very closely connected with the reigning family. On the other hand we can hardly think that Joash would have this title if he were of one of the families which had preceded Omri on the throne of Israel. Each new dynasty would probably clear out of the way any who might be likely to lay claim to the throne.
And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace.27. bread of affliction] Prison fare. The expression is found in Isaiah 30:20, of the suffering of Israel in captivity. Hence it indicates the food which would be procurable in a time of siege, or by prisoners in captivity.
And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the LORD hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you.28. Hearken, O people, every one of you] R.V. Hear, ye peoples, all of you. This sentence is omitted by the LXX. as are also the words ‘And he said’ which precede. In consequence it has been thought that they are no part of the original text, but a marginal note of a later time, which some one put down to shew that the Micaiah here spoken of was the same with Micah the author of the prophecy. For that prophecy (Micah 1:2) opens with this same sentence, and beside this, in 2 Chronicles 18:14 the name Micah occurs in the text for Micaiah. No one however thinks that Micah the prophet lived in Ahab’s days. The R.V. however very properly translates in both places by the same English. For it may be that Micah at his opening took up the burden with which the Scripture record of Micaiah closes.
The plural rendered ‘peoples’ is very frequent in the O. Test., and the R.V. has introduced this rendering commonly. It signifies sometimes the various nations of the world at large, but often, as here, the tribes of Israel. Cf. Genesis 49:10; Deuteronomy 32:8, &c.
So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead.
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle.29–40. Battle of Ramoth-gilead. Defeat and death of Ahab (2 Chronicles 18:28-34)
30. I will disguise myself, and enter [R.V. go] into the battle] Another tense of the same verb is translated ‘went’ in this verse, and ‘go’ is the rendering in 2 Chronicles 18:29.
There must have been some mark by which the king of Judah could be distinguished from the king of Israel; something answering to modern blazonry or a coat of arms, or else the action of Ahab would have been one designed to put his brother-king into the greatest possible peril. This we can hardly think he would have wished to do, nor would Jehoshaphat alone have gone to the post of greatest danger. Ahab seems to have been alarmed lest after all there should be some truth in Micaiah’s words. He will therefore clothe himself like an ordinary soldier and let the king of Judah alone appear in kingly robes, for against him the attack would not be particularly directed.
put thou on thy robes] The LXX. has ‘my’ (τὸν ἱματισμὸν μοῦ). But this would have been to expose Jehoshaphat to all the peril which he himself desired to avoid. Josephus says, Ahab meant to falsify (κατασοφίζεσθαι) the predictions of Micaiah.
But the king of Syria commanded his thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel.31. But [R.V. Now] the king of Syria commanded [R.V. had commanded] his thirty and two captains]. The changes are as usual to conform to 2 Chronicles. These thirty-two captains were most likely those who had been chosen to supply the places of the thirty-two kings that were removed in the campaign of three years before (1 Kings 20:24).
that had rule over his chariots] R.V. of his chariots. For one word is rendered twice over, first ‘captains’ and then ‘that had rule.’ The command was given to these officers because they were in the front of the battle, the cavalry taking lead of the infantry.
Fight neither with small nor great] The meaning of the order is, that they should let no engagement with other persons prevent them, any more than they could help, from singling out Ahab and attacking him. It was the single combat of chiefs, but there were 32, any one of whom might attack him. Josephus however says ‘though the battle lasted from day dawn till evening, they slew no one, according to the king’s command, seeking only to destroy Ahab, and not being able to find him.’
And it came to pass, 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.32. when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat] They would recognise from a distance that this was a royal personage, and would naturally suppose that it could be none other than Ahab. On approaching nearer they would probably discern that he was not wearing the armour and insignia of Israel. The LXX. represents them as saying ‘This seems to be the king of Israel,’ as if they were guided by the robes and kingly array.
And they turned aside to fight against him] The LXX. has ‘and they compassed him about &c.’
and Jehoshaphat cried out] Perhaps to his own men to rally round him for defence. It can hardly have been a cry to his assailants to let them know he was not the man they sought. For he could not be acquainted with the orders they had received. We see from the expansion in 2 Chronicles 18:31 ‘But Jehoshaphat cried out and the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him’ that it was understood at that time that the cry was to Jehovah to save him from the danger. The Vulg. has ‘clamavit ad Dominum.’
And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.33. when the captains … perceived that it was not the king of Israel] From this it is plain that the pursuers gathered, by the cry, knowledge that it was Jehoshaphat. A cry of supplication would have been no guide to them, but a shout of ‘Judah to the rescue,’ or some similar word, might make them aware that the king they were approaching was the king of Judah.
And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.34. And a certain man] Josephus has given him a name. ‘A certain youth of the royal family of Adad [i.e. Ben-hadad] whose name was Aman.’ ‘Fate, the inevitable,’ he says, ‘found Ahab out even without his robes.’
drew a bow [R.V. his bow] at a venture] The noun is definite in form in the Hebrew, so that the change is necessary. The word rendered ‘at a venture’ is translated in other places, and on the margin of A.V. and R.V. ‘in his simplicity.’ It is also rendered ‘in his integrity’ (Proverbs 19:1) and ‘in his uprightness’ (Proverbs 28:6). The idea appears to be that the man taking aim at some one, was quite unaware at whom he was shooting. He levelled at some enemy and hit him, not knowing how he had contributed to the victory. ‘At a venture’ must therefore not be taken to mean ‘a shot at random.’ The LXX. εὐστόχως ‘with good aim’ is a conjecture.
between the joints of the harness] The margins of R.V. ‘between the lower armour and the breastplate’ and of A.V. ‘between the joints and the breastplate’ help us to understand what is meant. The former word, rendered ‘joints,’ indicates that part where the breastplate terminated and where the lower armour commenced. A part of the body would there necessarily be less securely protected.
wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot] He would not wish to spread alarm among his soldiers, and so made his retreat without observation.
I am wounded] R.V. sore wounded. The literal rendering ‘made sick’ which is given on the margin of A.V. implies more than an ordinary wound. The translation ‘sore wounded’ is from 2 Chronicles 35:23 (A.V.). Perhaps Ahab employed the word, which might have a certain vagueness, that the charioteer should not spread an alarm. For the driver knew of course who it was whom he was carrying.
And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot.35. the king was stayed up in his chariot] Some attempt was doubtless made to stop the bleeding, and it was thought best that though not in the fight, Ahab should not withdraw from the field. The LXX. says ‘from morning till evening,’ thus giving the impression that the king was wounded at the very beginning of the fight. The Chronicler says ‘he stayed himself up … until the even.’ This would be inferred from our verse. There is nothing to warrant the expression of the LXX.
into the midst [R.V. bottom] of the chariot] As will be seen from the margin of A.V. the literal meaning is ‘bosom.’ The knowledge of how to stop the bleeding of a wound was not great in those days, and Ahab’s wound must have been fatal whatever had been done. At this point we are left by the Chronicler who closes his notice of these events with the death of Ahab. Israel’s history was no subject of concern for him, except where it touched on that of Judah.
And there went a proclamation throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country.36. And there went a proclamation] R.V. a cry. The word is often rendered ‘cry’ and applied both to sorrowful and joyous utterances. Cf. Psalm 17:1; Psalm 30:5. Nowhere else is it rendered ‘proclamation.’ It indicates that word was passed round from troop to troop that some disaster made retreat necessary. The LXX. paraphrases ‘And the herald of the host at the setting of the sun stood and said,’ &c.
every man to his own country] The R.V. omits ‘own’, which has nothing to represent it in the original. The LXX. adds to the cry, ‘for the king is dead.’ But this is merely their version of the first words in 1 Kings 22:37. For they continue, ‘And they came to Samaria,’ &c.
So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria.
And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armour; according unto the word of the LORD which he spake.38. And one [R.V. they] washed the chariot in [R.V. by] the pool of Samaria] The first change substitutes an English for a Hebrew idiom; the second renders more exactly the preposition of the original. It was necessary in the East to provide large reservoirs outside each town that the supplies of water in the rainy season might be kept for times of drought. Many such pools are mentioned in Scripture, and some, for example those at Bethlehem, remain to the present day. To the side of such a tank the royal equipage was brought to be washed. Thus Ahab’s blood came to be licked up by the dogs in the same sort of spot, outside the city walls, as that where Naboth’s blood was licked up near Jezreel.
and the dogs licked, &c.] Here as above in 1 Kings 21:19 the LXX. adds ‘the swine’ to the dogs.
and they washed his armour] R.V. Now the harlots washed themselves there. This change, which is the rendering of the LXX., is no doubt correct. The Hebrew word זנות occurs often in the O. Test. and means nothing else but ‘harlots,’ while the verb in the sentence is not one applied to washing articles that need cleaning but to bathing the body. Cf. Exodus 30:19; Exodus 30:21; Exodus 40:12; Exodus 40:31; Leviticus 16:4; Leviticus 16:24; Leviticus 16:26; Leviticus 16:28, and in Numbers 19:19 another verb is used for ‘wash his clothes’ and the present verb rendered ‘bathe himself,’ and in the verse before us another verb is employed to describe the washing of the chariot.
The R.V. by placing this clause in a parenthesis seems to treat it as a subsidiary feature in the description. This was the place to which they usually came to bathe. Some have however suggested that the women alluded to were those attached (as such persons were) to the temples of Baal and Ashtoreth, and that thus a greater indignity still was offered to this fosterer of idolatrous worship. This interpretation however reads a good deal into the text which is not there. And surely it was indignity enough for the royal blood to be washed into the waters of the harlots’ bath. It should be mentioned that Josephus, and, among the Fathers, Theodoret, support the rendering of R.V. The A.V. is derived from the Chaldee and the Syriac versions.
Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he made, and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?39. the ivory house that he made [R.V. built] The verb is the same as in the next clause. The house was of course not of ivory, but largely adorned with it. That such adornment prevailed in Oriental lands, see Amos 3:15. The family of Ahab were great builders. It was the father of this king who in his short reign built Samaria, and Ahab apparently built several cities, i.e. perhaps restored and beautified them. Omri’s building of Samaria, however, was the founding of a new capital.
So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.40. Ahaziah his son] Ahaziah was the elder son of Ahab, and died subsequently in consequence of a fall (2 Kings 1:17) and was succeeded by his brother Jehoram (2 Kings 3:1).
And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.41–50. Brief notice of the reign of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah (2 Chronicles 20:31-37; 2 Chronicles 21:1)
41. Jehoshaphat the son of Asa] For the events of the twenty-five years of Jehoshaphat’s reign the books of Kings give but a scanty record. His alliance with Jehoram, Ahab’s son, against the king of Moab, is mentioned (2 Kings 2:7, seqq.) and that Jehoram, his son, was made king during his father’s lifetime (2 Kings 8:16). But this is all. Yet clearly Jehoshaphat was a king of much influence. The Chronicler also tells much good concerning him. The Lord was with him (2 Chronicles 17) and he prospered. He sent out Levites with the princes to teach the people in the cities of Judah. His enemies were dismayed by his greatness, for he had famous commanders and mighty armies. He made the improper alliance with Ahab (2 Chronicles 18) but after Ahab’s death, he returned to Jerusalem and appointed and instructed judges and priests and Levites (2 Chronicles 19) to act in the fear of the Lord and with a perfect heart. He was attacked by Moab (2 Chronicles 20) but seeking unto the Lord he gained a great victory, which he celebrated in such way that the place of the celebration was known afterwards as ‘The valley of blessing.’
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.42. He reigned twenty and five years] His son and successor, Jehoram, was made king in conjunction with his father, before Jehoshaphat’s death (2 Kings 9:16). But this could only have been done just at the close of Jehoshaphat’s reign. For it was in the fourth year of Ahab that Jehoshaphat began to reign. Ahab reigned 22 years (1 Kings 16:29). So that 18 years of Jehoshaphat’s reign were over when Ahab died. Ahaziah reigned two years (see 1 Kings 22:51 below) and it was in the 5th year of Joram, the brother and successor of Ahaziah, that Jehoshaphat joined his son with him in the kingdom. So that, unless the years are not complete years, it must have been in the closing years of his father’s reign that Jehoram began his joint reign.
his mother’s name] On the important position occupied by the queen-mother in Oriental kingdoms, see on 1 Kings 2:19. This accounts for the constant mention of her name at each king’s accession.
And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the LORD: nevertheless the high places were not taken away; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places.43. nevertheless [R.V. howbeit] the high places were not taken away] for [om. for R.V.] the people offered [R.V. still sacrificed] and burnt incense yet [om. yet R.V.] in the high places. The changes get rid of the italic for, and put still instead of yet in its proper place in the verse. ‘To sacrifice’ is the constant translation of the verb changed in R.V.
The statement here made is no contradiction, as might at first sight appear, to 2 Chronicles 17:6, ‘he took away the high places and groves [R.V. the Ashêrim] out of Judah.’ The addition of ‘the Ashêrim’ in the latter passage shews that the writer is speaking of the high places which were devoted to the worship of Baal and Astoreth. This worship had spread from Israel into Judah, and it was this which Jehoshaphat swept away, an act which Jehu the prophet specially commends (2 Chronicles 19:3). But the high places which had been from early times set apart for the worship of Jehovah, and which were meant to be put down when the Temple was built, he had not power to abolish. From long custom people clung to them, and having at first been places of acceptable worship, there was great difficulty in proceeding to extremities against those who still chose to worship there.
And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.44. Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel] This is mentioned because up to his time the two kingdoms had been always at war.
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he shewed, and how he warred, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?45. and how he warred] The words are not represented in the LXX. On the wars of Jehoshaphat, see above on 1 Kings 22:41, and the chapters in 2 Chronicles there referred to.
in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah] The Chronicler gives, as the authority for Jehoshaphat’s history, the book of Jehu, the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.
And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land.46. And the remnant, &c.] This passage, down to the end of 1 Kings 22:49, is omitted by the (Vat.) LXX.
which remained in the days of his father] Asa had striven to put them down. See 1 Kings 15:12 above.
he took [R.V. put away] out of the land] ‘To put away’ is by far the most frequent rendering of the verb. See concerning a similar proceeding 2 Kings 23:24.
There was then no king in Edom: a deputy was king.47. There was then [R.V. And there was] no king in Edom] Therefore Jehoshaphat could go through Idumæa to the Red Sea and prepare him a fleet in Ezion-geber. On Ezion-geber and its position in the land of Edom, see above on 1 Kings 9:26.
a deputy was king] What had become of the royal family of Edom, which Hadad (see 1 Kings 11:14 seqq.) appears to have established again, we are nowhere told. Nor is there anything to guide us to a conclusion by whom the deputy was appointed. It may be that Hadad had never gained much power after his return from Egypt, and his successor had not been able to maintain his position. In that case the king of Judah might have claimed the rights which his predecessor had once held, and have set up a governor in Edom. If this were so a passage for the servants of the king of Judah through the land would be a matter of course.
Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Eziongeber.48. ships of Tharshish] See above on 1 Kings 10:22.
Ophir] See 1 Kings 9:28. The Chronicler says the ships were to go to Tarshish (2 Chronicles 20:3-8).
the ships were broken] According to the Chronicler (2 Chronicles 20:35-37) these ships were built in conjunction with Ahaziah, king of Israel. And Eliezer the prophet rebuked Jehoshaphat for this alliance, and said, ‘because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works.’ Thus the breaking of the ships, however it came to pass, by storm or otherwise, was regarded as brought about by divine interposition.
Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not.49. Let my servants go with thy servants] This appears to have been an attempt to engage Jehoshaphat in a second expedition. If there were two expeditions contemplated, one may have been to Ophir, and the other to Tarshish. This would account for what is noticed in the previous verse, that the Chronicler mentions Tarshish as the destination, while here Ophir is spoken of.
And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoram his son reigned in his stead.
Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel.51–53. Ahaziah, king of Israel. His wicked reign (Not in Chronicles)
51. the seventeenth year] The R.V. inserts in before these words, and as the preposition is in the original, there is no ground for excluding it in the English. On the chronology see above on 1 Kings 22:42.
and reigned] R.V. and he reigned. The main division of the verse in the Hebrew precedes these words, and the pronoun repeated makes somewhat of a like division in the translation.
And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, 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, who made Israel to sin:52. did evil [R.V. did that which was evil] As often before.
the way of his mother] i.e. He tried to put down the worship of Jehovah altogether, as Jezebel had done.
who [R.V. wherein he] made Israel to sin] On a similar change, cf. above 1 Kings 16:30.
For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.53. for [R.V. And] he served Baal] This is an additional count in his wickedness, not an explanation of what is contained in the verse before. Hence the change. The LXX., instead of ‘according to all that his fathe
 Lumby, J. R. (1886). The First Book of the Kings, with Introduction and Notes. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges (109–242). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.