And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel.
Verse 1. - And they continued [rather, zested. Heb. sate, dwelt. Cf. Judges 5:17. The LXX. has ἐκάθισε, sing.] three years without war [The Hebrew explains the "rested" - there was not war, etc. See Ewald, 286 g. The three years (not full years, as the next verse shows) are to be counted from the second defeat of Ben-hadad; the history, that is to say, is resumed from 1 Kings 20:34-43. Rawlinson conjectures that it was during this period that the Assyrian invasion, under Shalmaneser II., took place. The Black Obelisk tells us that Ahab of Jezreel joined a league of kings, of whom Ben-hadad was one, against the Assyrians, furnishing a force of 10,000 footmen and 2000 chariots; see "Hist. Illust." pp. 113, 114. The common danger might well compel a cessation of hostilities] between Syria and Israel.
And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel.
Verse 2. - And it came to pass in the third year [Of the peace; not after the death of Naboth, as Stanley], that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down [The journey to Jerusalem being invariably described as a "going up," one from Jerusalem to the provinces would naturally be spoken of as a "going down"] to the king of Israel. [For aught that appears, this was the first time that the monarchs of the sister kingdoms had met, except in battle, since the disruption, though the marriage of Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, with Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, had taken place some years before this date (2 Chronicles 18:1, 2). It is probable that it was the growing power of Syria had led to this affinity and alliance.]
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?
Verse 3. - And the king of Israel said unto his servants [During the visit. It seems likely that Jehoshaphat went down to Samaria by Ahab's invitation, and that the latter then had this campaign in view. The chronicler says that Ahab "incited," or "stirred him up" (same word as in 1 Kings 21:25) to go with him to battle. Ahab was unable to contend single-handed, and without Divine assistance - which he could not now look for - against Syria; and saw no means of compelling the execution of the treaty which Ben-hadad had made with him (1 Kings 20:34), and which he appears to have shamelessly broken, except by the help of Jehoshaphat, whose military organizetion at this time must have been great, and, indeed, complete (2 Chronicles 17:10-19). It is in favour of this view that Ahab entertained him and his large retinue with such profuse hospitality. The chronicler, who dwells on the number of sheep and oxen slain for the feast, intimates that it was this generous reception "persuaded" Jehoshaphat to join in the war], Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead [Generally, as below (vers. 4, 6, etc.), "Ramoth-Gilead," i.e., of Gilead. See note on 1 Kings 4:13. This "great frontier fortress was, in the hands of Syria, even after many reverses, a constant menace against Israel" (Stanley)] is ours [i.e., it was one of the cities which Ben-hadad had promised to restore (1 Kings 20:34). This shows that, as we might expect from a man of Ben-hadad's overbearing yet pusillanimous character, he had not kept good faith. Though so long a time had elapsed, it was still in his hands], and we be still [חָשָׁה is onomatopoetic, like our "hush." Marg. rightly, silent from taking it. The word conveys very expressively that they had been afraid of making any movement to assert their rights, lest they should attract the attention and anger of their powerful and incensed neighbour], and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria? [It is hardly likely that Ahab could have forgotten the warning of 1 Kings 20:42. It is probable that Ben-hadad's flagrant disregard of his treaty engagements determined him to run all risks, especially if he could secure the help of the then powerful king of Judah.]
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.
Verse 4. - And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle to Ramoth-Gilead? [It is probable this question was asked with some misgivings. Such an alliance was altogether new, and Ahab might well wonder how the idea would strike a pious prince like Jehoshaphat. That the latter ought to have refused his help, we know from 2 Chronicles 19:2.] And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art [Heb. as I as thou], my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses. [From the ready and unreserved way in which he at once engages in this war, we may safely conclude that he, too, had reason to fear the power of Syria. Probably Ben-hadad, when he besieged Samaria (1 Kings 20:1), had formed the idea of reducing the whole of Palestine to subjection. And Jehoshaphat would remember that Ramoth-Gilead, where the Syrian king was still entrenched, was but forty miles distant from Jerusalem. Bahr holds that horses are specially mentioned "because they formed an essential part of the military power" (Psalm 33:16, 17; Proverbs 21:31). It is true that in a campaign against the Syrians they would be especially useful (see on 1 Kings 20:1.); but they receive no mention at the hands of the chronicler, who reads instead of this last clause, "And we (or I) will be with thee in the war."]
And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day.
Verse 5. - And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at [This word is redundant] the word of the Lord today. [כַּיום hardly conveys that "he asks to have the prophets called in at once," "lest Ahab should consent in word and put off the inquiry in act" (Rawlinson); but rather means, "at this crisis," "under these circumstances." This request agrees well with what we learn elsewhere as to Jehoshaphat's piety (2 Chronicles 17:4-9; 2 Chronicles 19:5-7, etc.) And, remembering how Ahab's late victories had been foretold by a prophet, and had been won by the help of Jehovah, Jehoshaphat might well suppose that his new ally would be eager to know the word of the Lord.]
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.
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.
And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might inquire of him?
Verse 7. - And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord [Heb. Jehovah] besides [i.e., in addition to these soi-disant prophets. He hardly likes to say bluntly that he cannot regard them as inspired, but at the same time hints clearly that he cannot be satisfied as to their mission and authority], that we might inquire of him?
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.
Verse 8. - And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man [Cf. 1 Kings 18:22], Micaiah [The name ( = Who is like Jehovah?) is as appropriate to the man who bore it as Elijah's name was to him (1 Kings 17:1; cf. 18:39). But it is not an uncommon name in the Old Testament - it is borne by eight different persons. Compare Michael, "Who is like God?"] the son of Imiah [The chronicler writes the name Imla, יִמְלָא], by whom we may inquire of the Lord [Ahab evidently had wished Jehoshaphat to understand that the prophets already consulted were prophets of Jehovah, as no doubt they claimed to be. One of them bore a name in which the sacred Jah formed a part]: but I hate [שְׂנֵאתִי (cf. odi), have learned to hate] him [Ahab had good reasons for not caring to consult a man whom he had put into prison (see ver. 26, and compare Matthew 14:3), because of his reproofs or unwelcome predictions. Josephus, and Jewish writers generally, identify Micaiah with the nameless prophet of 1 Kings 21:42]; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil [The chronicler adds כָּל־יָמָיו; i.e., persistently, throughout his whole career. Ahab insinuates that Micaiah is actuated by personal dislike. The commentators refer to Homer. I1. 4, 106-108.] And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. [He does not mean that the prophet cannot say just what he will, but suggests that Ahab is prejudiced against him. Perhaps he suspected that there might be a very different reason for Micaiah's sinister predictions.]
Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Hasten hither Micaiah the son of Imlah.
Verse 9. - Then the king of Israel caned an officer [Heb. one eunuch. So the LXX., εὐνοῦχον ἕνα. So that Samuel's forebodings have been realized (1 Samuel 8:15, marg.) Probably, like Ebed Melech, the Ethiopian (Jeremiah 38:7), he was a foreigner; possibly a prisoner of war (Herod. 3:49; 6:32). Deuteronomy 23:1 suggests that even such a king as Ahab would hardly inflict this humiliation upon an Israelite. From 1 Chronicles 28:1, Hebrews, we gather that even David's court had its eunuchs, and we may be sure that Solomon's enormous harem could not be maintained without them. In later days we find them prominent in the history, and occupying important positions under the king (2 Kings 8:6; 2 Kings 9:32; 2 Kings 23:11; 2 Kings 25:19; Jeremiah 29:2; Jeremiah 34:19; Jeremiah 52:25, etc. Cf. Genesis 37:36)], and said, Hasten hither Micaiah the son of.
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.
Verse 10. - And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat each on his throne ["Oriental kings had portable thrones, which they took with them upon their journeys" (Herod. 7:212. Layard, "Nineveh and Babylon," p. 150) Rawlinson], having put on their robes [As a council of state was to be held, the kings put on their official vestments. בְּגָדִים simply means "coverings," "clothes," but that the special royal dress is here intended is clear, as Bahr observes, from Leviticus 21:10. This gathering of prophets and counsellors seems to have followed the banquet. When Jehoshaphat expressed his readiness to go to war, Ahab appears to have forthwith convened this assembly, in order that the matter might be put in train at once. Ewald says a review of the troops was designed, but of this the text knows nothing] in a void place [Heb. a threshing-floor. See note on 1 Kings 21:1. The "floor" implies not only a vacant space, but an exalted position. Ordinarily, it would not be enclosed within the city walls, nor does it appear that this floor was] in the entrance [The Hebrew has no preposition; simply פֶּתַח which would be more correctly rendered "at the entrance." The town gate was the great place of concourse (2 Kings 7:1). Here, too, justice was dispensed. See Ruth 4:1; 2 Samuel 15:2; 2 Samuel 19:8; Psalm 69:12; Psalm 127:5; Deuteronomy 21:19; Genesis 19:1; Genesis 23:10; Amos 5:12, 15, etc.] of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them. [They continued their prophesyings even whilst Micah was being summoned. Or the reference may be to the prophesyings of ver. 6.
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.
Verse 11. - And Zedekiah [This name = "Justice of Jehovah," is one of the proofs that these cannot have been prophets of Baal, as Stanley and others suppose] the son of Chenaanah [ = "Canaanitess." But we gather from 1 Chronicles 7:10 that this, like Shelomith, was a man's name. The Benjamite there mentioned may be identical with the father (or ancestor) of Zedekiah] made him [Rawlinson would translate, had made him," He says that the horns must have "been made previously, in expectation of some such occasion as that now afforded him." But it is quite conceivable that during the prophesyings, which clearly lasted some time, the idea occurred to Zedekiah, and it would not take long to put it into execution] horns of Iron [Thenius understands that these were iron spikes held on the forehead. But the reference is clearly to the horns of a bullock, and the appropriateness of the prophetic act is only manifest when we remember that Ephraim is compared to a bullock (Deuteronomy 33:17), and more, that Moses spake beforehand of the strength of his horns, and predicted that with them he should "push the people together to the ends of the earth." Not only, that is to say, was the horn a familiar Oriental symbol of power (1 Samuel 2:1, 10; 2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 89:24; Psalm 92:10; Daniel 7:21; Daniel 8:8, etc.), but it was identified in a peculiar manner with the powerful tribe of Ephraim; in ether words, with the kingdom of Israel This symbolical act was not necessarily an imitation of the action of Ahijah (1 Kings 11:30). Such acted parables were not uncommon among the prophets (2 Kings 13:15; Isaiah 20:2; Jeremiah 13:1; Jeremiah 19:10; Jeremiah 32:9 sqq.; Ezekiel 4:5; Acts 21:11)]: and he said, Thus saith the Lord [Heb. Jehovah. He now uses the sacred name; no doubt because of Jehoshaphat's demand, ver. 7], With these shalt thou push [the word of Deuteronomy 33:17] the Syrians, until thou have consumed then.
And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the king's hand.
Verse 12. - And all the prophets prophesied [Heb. were prophesying] so, saying, Go up to Ramoth-Gilead, and prosper [a Hebraism for "thou wilt prosper." Gesenius, Gram. § 127. 2, cites parallels in Genesis 42:18; Proverbs 20:13; Psalm 37:27; Job 22:21; Isaiah 8:9; Isaiah 29:9, and reminds us that in the Latin divide et impera we have the same idiom]: for the Lord tall speak in His name now, hoping thus to satisfy the king of Judah] shall deliver it into the king's hand.
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.
Verse 13. - And the messenger that was gone [or went] to call Micaiah, spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth [Heb. one mouth good to the king. The messenger may possibly have had instructions to seek to conciliate Micaiah. In any case he thinks it well to tell him of the unanimity of the prophets. His testimony, he suggests, will surely agree with theirs]: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good of the [Heb. speak good.]
And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak.
Verse 14. - And Micaiah said, As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak. [We are forcibly reminded of the answer of Balaam, Numbers 22:18, 38. And we may see not only in the suggestion of this messenger, but also in Ahab's belief (ver. 8), that Micaiah could prophesy at pleasure, a striking correspondence with the ideas of Balak (ib. 5:6, 17). Instead of regarding the prophet as being merely the mouthpiece of Deity, he was believed in that age to have a supernatural influence with God, and to be entrusted with magical powers to shape the future, as well as to foretell it.]
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.
Verse 15. - So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramoth-Gilead to battle, or shall we forbear? [Same words as in ver. 6. There is an apparent studied fairness in this repetition. It is as if Ahab said, "Despite his prejudice against me, I will not attempt to influence his mind. I only deal with him as with the rest."] And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. [As Ahab's inquiry is the echo of the question of ver. 6, so is Micaiah's response identical with the answer of the prophets. He simply echoes their words, of which, perhaps, he has been informed by the eunuch. There was an exquisite propriety in this. The question was insincere; the reply was ironical (cf. 1 Kings 18:27). Ahab is answered "according to the multitude of his idols" (Ezekiel 14:4). He wishes to be deceived, and he is deceived. No doubt Micaiah's mocking tone showed that his words were ironical; but Ahab's hollow tone had already proved to Micaiah that he was insincere; that he did not care to know the will of the Lord, and wanted prophets who would speak to him smooth things and prophesy deceits (Isaiah 30:10).]
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?
Verse 16. - 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? [Rawlinson concludes from these words that "this mocking manner was familiar to Micaiah, who had used it in some former dealing with the Israelite monarch." But we must remember that Ahab's words were really addressed to Jehoshaphat. He is so manifestly playing a part, that we need not assume that he is strictly truthful. His great desire evidently is to discredit Micah's predictions, which he clearly perceives, from the bitter and ironical tone of the latter, will be adverse to him.]
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.
Verse 17. - And he said [We may imagine how entire was the change of tone. He now speaks with profound seriousness. Thenius sees in the peculiarity and originality of this vision a proof of the historical truth of this history. "We feel that we are gradually drawing nearer to the times of the later prophets. It is a vision which might rank amongst those of Isaiah or Ezekiel" (Stanley)], 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. [The last words are illustrated by the command of ver. 31; compare ver. 36. We may also picture the effect these words would have on the assembly at the city gate. For, however much they might be inclined to discredit Micaiah's words, and however much the reckless, unreasoning war spirit might possess them, there were none who did not understand that this vision portended the dispersion of the Israelite army and the death of its leader. King and people had been constantly represented under the figure of shepherd and sheep, and notably by Moses himself, who had used these very words, "sheep without a shepherd" (Numbers 27:17; cf. Psalm 78:70, 71; Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 23:1, 2; Ezekiel 34, passim. It is observable that Micaiah's vision, like Zedekiah's parable, borrows the language of the Pentateuch. Coincidences of this remote character are the most powerful proofs that the Pentateuch was then written.]
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?
Verse 18. - And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would [Heb. say to thee, He will, etc.] prophesy no good concerning me but evil? [It is clear that Ahab had understood perfectly the purport of Micaiah's words. He now appeals to them as a proof of the latter's malice.]
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.
Verse 19. - And he said, Hear thou [in 2 Chronicles 18:18, Hear ye] therefore [The LXX. has οὐχ οὕτως, whence it would almost appear that they had the text לא כֵּן before them (Bahr). But לָכֵן is every way to be preferred. It is emphatic by position, and the meaning is, "Since you will have it that my words are prompted by malice, hear the message I have for you," etc.] the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord [It is not implied (Wordsworth) that he had any direct and objective vision of God, such as Moses (Exodus 34:5), Elijah, or St. Stephen. He here declares what he may have seen in dream or trance. (Cf. Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:2; Isaiah 6:1; Ezekiel 1:1.) It was a real but inner vision (Keil). In its interpretation the caution of Peter Martyr is carefully to be borne in mind; Omnia haec dicuntur ἀνθρωποπαθῶς] sitting on his throne [It was natural for some of the commentators to see in these words a reference to the two kings then sitting in their royal apparel, each upon his throne. But it is very doubtful whether any such thought was present in the mind of the speaker, who, imply relates a vision of the past], and all the host of heaven [The celestial powers, cherubim, angels, archangels, who surround the Lord of glory. That there can be no reference to the sun, moon, and stars, notwithstanding that these are called "the host of heaven" in Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3, is clear from the next words. The expression is to be explained by Genesis 32:1, 2] standing by him [עָלָיו; for the meaning, see Genesis 18:8] on his right hand and on his left. [The resemblance of this vision to that of Isaiah (1 Kings 6:1-8) must not be overlooked.]
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.
Verse 20. - And the Lord said, Who shall persuade [Same word in Exodus 22:16, Hebrews; Judges 14:15; Judges 16:5; Proverbs 1:10, etc.; in all of which instances it is translated "entice." Compare with this question that of Isaiah 6:8.] Ahab, that he may go up and fan at Ramoth-Gilead? [The meaning is that Ahab's death in battle had been decreed in the counsels of God, and that the Divine Wisdom had devised means for accomplishing His purpose.] And one said on this manner, and another said [Heb. saying] on that manner. [Bahr again quotes from Peter Martyr: "Innuit varies providentiae Dei modos, quibus decreta sua ad exitum perducit, and adds that in this vision "inner and spiritual processes are regarded as real phenomena, nay, even as persons."]
And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.
Verse 21. - And there came forth a spirit [Heb. the spirit. By some, especially of the earlier commentators, understood of the evil spirit. But the view now generally adopted (Thenius, Keil, Bahr) is that "the spirit of prophecy" is meant, "the power which, going forth from God and taking possession of a man, makes him a prophet (1 Samuel 10:6, 10; 1 Samuel 19:20, 23). The נָביא is the אִישׁ הָרוּחַ (Hosea 9:7)" Bahr. This power is here personified], and stood before the Lord, and said, I [emphatic in the Hebrew] will persuade [or entice] him.
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.
Verse 22. - And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? [Heb. By what?] And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit [Heb. a spirit of a lie. Cf. Zechariah 13:2; 1 John 4:6] in the mouth of all his prophets. [His prophets, not God's. Cf. 2 Kings 3:13.] And he said, Thou shalt persuade him. and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
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.
Verse 23. - Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth Of all these thy [Cf. ὁ; οῖκος ὑμῶν, Matthew 23:38] prophets [This statement, especially to those who have taken the narrative literally, and who have seen in "the spirit" either one of the angels of God, or Satan himself, has presented almost insuperable difficulties. The main difficulty lies in the fact that the Almighty and All Holy is here made to give His sanction to deceit and lying, for the purpose of tempting Ahab to his death. We have precisely the same difficulty, though, if possible, more directly expressed in Ezekiel 14:9: "If the prophet be deceived... I the Lord have deceived that prophet." Cf. Jeremiah 20:7; 1 Samuel 16:15. But this difficulty vanishes if we remember that this is euthropopathic language, and is merely meant to convey that God had "taken the house of Israel in their own heart," because they were "estranged from Him through their idols" (Ezekiel 14:5). Ahab wished to be guided by false prophets, and the justice of God decreed that he should be guided by them to his ruin. Sin is punished by sin. "God proves His holiness most of all by this, that He punishes evil by evil, and destroys it by itself" (Bahr). Ahab had chosen lying instead of truth: by lying - according to the lex talionis - he should be destroyed. The difficulty, in fact, is that of the permission of evil in the world; of the use of existent evil by God to accomplish His purposes of good], and the Lord [not I alone, ver. 18] hath spoken [i.e., decreed] evil concerning thee.
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?
Verse 24. - But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah [Rawlinson holds that he was a sort of coryphaeus of the false prophets. It is more probable that, having put himself forward on a former occasion (ver. 11), he now feels specially aggrieved at Micaiah's blunt assertion, that he and the rest have been possessed by a spirit of lies] went near, and smote Micaiah [A thoroughly natural touch. But the whole narrative has every mark of naturalness and veracity. It is easy to see how enraged Zedekiah would be at the slight cast upon his prophetic powers. Apparently this gross indignity elicited no protest or word of displeasure from either of the kings. Micaiah, like Elijah, was left alone], on the cheek [cf. Job 16:10; Lamentations 3:30; Luke 6:29; and above all Matthew 26:67; Luke 22:64; Acts 23:2. Herein Micaiah had "the fellowship of sufferings" (Philippians 3:10) with our blessed Lord. Rawlinson thinks that his hands would be bound, but this is extremely improbable. In that case Ahab could hardly have asked him to prophesy (ver. 15), or if he did, Jehoshaphat would know beforehand what to expect], and said, Which way [Heb. What, or where. The chronicler supplies "way," thereby bringing the expression into unison with 1 Kings 13:12; 2 Kings 3:8; Job 38:24] went [Heb. passed, crossed, עָבַר] the Spirit of the Lord [These words are important, as showing that the speaker had not identified "the spirit" of ver. 21 with the evil spirit: Job 1:6 sqq.] from me to speak unto thee? [It is pretty clear from these words, in connexion with ver. 23, that Zedekiah had been conscious of an inspiration, of a spirit not his own, which impelled him to speak and act as he did. We must not attach too much import-ante to a taunting and passionate speech, but its meaning appears to be: I have spoken in the name and by the spirit of Jehovah. Thou claimest to have done the same. How is it that the Spirit of God speaks one thing by me, another by thee? Thou hast seen (ver. 19) the secret counsels of Heaven. Tell us, then, which way, etc.
And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.
Verse 25. - And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see [Keil understands, "that the Spirit of the Lord had departed from thee." But the meaning rather appears to be, "Thou shalt see which was a true prophet." He does not answer the insolent question, but says," Thou wilt alter thy mind in the day," etc. With this may be compared our Lord's words, Matthew 26:64. He also manifests our Lord's spirit (1 Peter 2:22 sqq.) "as if the Great Example had already appeared before him" (Bahr)] in that day when thou shalt go into an inner chamber [see note on 1 Kings 20:30] to hide thyself. [When was this prediction fulfilled? Probably when the news of the defeat reached Samaria, or on the day after Ahab's death. Jezebel would almost certainly take summary vengeance upon the false prophets who were responsible for her husband's death and the reverses of the army. Or if she did not, the prophets had good reason to fear that she would, and would hide accordingly.
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;
Verse 26. - And the king of Israel said, Take [Sing. Take thou. This command was probably addressed to the eunuch mentioned in ver. 9] Micaiah and carry him back [Heb. make him return. This shows clearly that he had come from prison] unto Amon the governor [שַׂר chief; same word in 1 Kings 4:2; 1 Kings 11:24; 1 Kings 16:9; Genesis 37:36; Genesis 40:9, 22, etc. The "chief of the city" is also mentioned 2 Kings 23:8; cf. Nehemiah 11:9] of the city [who would naturally have charge of the town prison. Probably the prison was in his house. Cf. Genesis 40:3; Jeremiah 37:20], and to Joash the king's son. [Thenius supposes that this prince had been entrusted to Amon for his military education, and refers to 2 Kings 10:1. But in that case he would hardly have been mentioned as associated with him in the charge of so important a prisoner. Whoever Joash was, he was a man in authority. It is curious that we find another prophet, Jeremiah, put into the prison of Malchiah, the son of the king (A.V. the son of Hammelech; same expression as here), Jeremiah 38:6; cf. 36:26. Some have seen in this designation a name of office, and Bahr thinks that "Joash was not probably a son of Ahab, but a prince of the blood." But when we remember what a number of sons Ahab had (2 Kings 10:1), no valid reason can be assigned why Joash should not have been one of them. He may have been billeted upon Amon, and yet associated with him in the government of the city.]
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.
Verse 27. - And say [Heb. thou shalt say], Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison [Heb. house of the prison. Bahr thinks that Micaiah had formerly been in arrest under Amon's charge, and now was to be committed to the prison proper. But more probably the words mean, "put him in the prison again." His superadded punishment was to be in the shape of prison diet. It is probable that it was owing to the presence of Jehoshaphat that Micaiah escaped with no severer sentence], and feed him with bread of affliction [or oppression, לָחַץ pressit; cf. Exodus 3:9; Numbers 22:25; 2 Kings 6:32], and with water of affliction [Josephus (Ant. 8:15. 4) relates that after Micaiah's prediction the king was in great suspense and fear, until Zedekiah deliberately smote him, in order to show that he was powerless to avenge an injury as the man of God did (1 Kings 13:4), and therefore no true prophet. This may be an "empty Rabbinical tradition" (Bahr), but we may be sure that Ahab did not hear Micaiah's words unmoved. He had had such convincing proofs of the foresight and powers of the Lord's prophets that he may well have trembled, even as he put on a bold front, and sent Micaiah back to the prison house], until I come in peace. [This looks like an effort to encourage himself and those around him. But it almost betrays his misgivings. He would have them think he had no fears.
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.
Verse 28. - And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people [Rather, O nations. Audite, populi crones, Vulgate. He appeals, so to speak, to the world], every one of you. [It is a curious circumstance that these same words are found at the beginning of the prophecy of Micah (1 Kings 1:2). The coincidence may be purely accidental, or the words may have been borrowed by the prophet, not, indeed, from our historian, but from some record, the substance of which is embodied in this history. Micah lived about a century and a half after Micaiah; about a century before the Book of Kings was given to the world.
So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead.
Verse 29. - So the king of Israel and Jehoshapat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-Gilead to battle. ["By the very network of evil counsel which he has woven for himself is the king of Israel led to his ruin" (Stanley). We can hardly doubt that Jehoshaphat at least would have been well content to abandon the expedition. After the solicitude he had manifested for the sanction of one of the prophets of Jehovah, and after that the one who had been consulted had predicted the defeat of the army, the king of Judah must have had re,my misgivings. But it is not difficult to understand why, notwithstanding his fears, he did not draw back. For, in the first place, he had committed himself to the war by the rash and positive promise of ver. 4. In the next place, he was Ahab's guest, and had been sumptuously entertained by him, and it would therefore require some moral courage to extricate himself from the toils in which he was entangled. Moreover he would have subjected himself to the imputation of cowardice had he deserted his ally because of a prophecy which threatened the latter with death. The people around him, again, including perhaps his own retinue, were possessed with the spirit of battle, and treated the prophecy of Micaiah with contempt, and it would be difficult for him to swim alone against the current. It is probable, too, that he discounted the portentous words of Micaiah on account of the long. standing quarrel between him and Ahab. And, finally, we must remember that his own interests were threatened by Syria, and he may well have feared trouble from that quarter in case this war were abandoned. Rawlinson suggests that he may have conceived a personal affection for Ahab; but 2 Chronicles 19:2 affords but slender ground for this conclusion.]
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.
Verse 30. - And the king of Israel said unto Jehoahaphat [At Ramoth-Gilead, on the eve of the battle], I will disguise himself." [same word 1 Kings 20:38] and enter [The margin," when he was to disguise himself," etc., is quite mistaken. The Hebrew has two infinitives; lit., to disguise oneself and enter; a construction which is frequently employed to indicate an absolute command. Cf. Genesis 17:10; Exodus 20:8; Isaiah 14:31; and see Ewald, 828 c. "The infinitive absolute is the plainest and simplest form of the voluntative for exclamations" (Bahr). It agrees well with the excitement under which Ahab was doubtless labouring] into the battle. [It is not necessary to suppose with Ewald, Rawlinson, el., that he had heard of Ben-hadad's command to his captain, (ver. 81). It is hardly likely that such intelligence could be brought by spies, and there would be no deserters from the Syrian army to that of the Jews. It is enough to remember that Micaiah's words, "these have no master," could not fail to awaken come alarm in his bosom, especially when connected with the prophecy of 1 Kings 20:42. He will not betray his fear by keeping out of the fray - which, indeed, he could not do without abdicating one of the principal functions of the king (1 Samuel 8:20), and without exposing himself to the charge of cowardice; but under the circumstances he thinks it imprudent to take the lead of the army, as kings were wont to do (2 Samuel 1:10), in his royal robes. He hopes by his disguise to escape all clanger]: but put thou on thy robes [LXX. τὸν ἱματισμόν μου. "My robed" "We can neither imagine Ahab's asking nor Jehoshaphat's consenting to such a procedure. Jehoshaphat had his own royal robes with him, as appears from ver. 10" (Rawlinson). If this LXX. interpretation could be maintained it would lend some colour to the supposition, otherwise destitute of basis, that Ahab by this arrangement was plotting the death of Jehoshaphat in order that he might incorporate Judah into his own kingdom. It is clear, however, that Ahab then had other work on his hands, and it is doubtful whether even he was capable of such a pitch of villainy. What he means is, either
(1) that the Syrians have a personal enmity against himself (ver. 81), whereas they could have none against the king of Judah; or
(2) that Jehoshaphat's life had not been threatened as his own had. "These words וְאַתָּה לְּבשׁ are not to be taken as a command, but simply in this sense: Thou canst put on thy royal dress, since there is no necessity for thee to take any such precautions as I have to take" (Keil). Do they not rather mean that Jehoshaphat should be the recognized leader of the army in which Ahab would serve in a more private capacity?] And the king of Israel disguised himself and went into the battle.
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.
Verse 31. - But the king of Syria commanded [rather, had commanded. These words are of the nature of a parenthesis. "Now the king," etc. צִוָּה is so rendered in 2 Chronicles 18:30] his thirty and two captains [mentioned in 1 Kings 20:24. It does not follow, however (Wordsworth), that these very men had been spared by Ahab] that had rule over his chariots [Heb. chariotry. Another indication that the chariots were regarded as the most important arm of the Syrian service], saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel. [This Orientalism, translated into Western ideas, means, "Direct your weapons against the king." What Ahab had done to provoke such resentment is not quite clear. Rawlinson supposes that Ben-hadad's "defeat and captivity were still rankling in his mind, and he wished to retaliate on Ahab the humiliation which he considered himself to have suffered." But it is impossible to see in Ahab's generous conduct towards him a sufficient reason for the fierce hatred which these words disclose. It is much more probable that some affront had subsequently been offered to the Syrian monarch, possibly in the shape of the reproaches which Ahab may have addressed to him on account of his retention of Ramoth-Gilead, and the gross violation of the treaty of 1 Kings 20:34. It is also possible that he hoped that the death of Ahab would terminate the war (Bahr).]
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.
Verse 32. - And it came to pass when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely [אַך, not only (Bahr, Keil), but certainly; cf. Genesis 44:28; Judges 3:24; 2 Kings 24:3] it [Heb. he] is the king of Israel. And they turned aside [Cf. 1 Kings 20:39, same word. The Hebrew inserts עָלָיו. The chronicler reads יָסֹבוּ they surrounded him, instead of יָסֻרוּ; and the LXX. has ἐκύκλωσεν, in both places. But the Syrians can hardly have actually closed round the king, and the alteration might easily be made in the course of transcription] to fight against him [according to their instructions]: and Jehoshaphat cried out. [This cry has been very variously interpreted. According to some, it was his own name that he ejaculated, which is possible, if the command of ver. 31 was known in the allied army. According to others, it was the battle cry of Judah, which, it is said, would be familiar to the Syrians, and which would rally his own soldiers round him. The Vulgate, no doubt influenced by the words of 2 Chronicles 18:31, "And the Lord helped him, and God moved them to depart from him," interprets, clamavit ad Dominum. That it was a cry for Divine help is the most probable, because it is almost an instinct, especially with a pious soul like Jehoshaphat, to cry to God in the moment of danger. That he had doubts as to whether the course he was pursuing was pleasing to God, would make him all the more ready to cry aloud for mercy the moment he found himself in peril. But it may have been merely a cry of terror. It must be carefully observed that the Scripture does not say that it was this cry led to his being recognized and spared.]
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.
Verse 33. - And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots perceived [in what way we are not told. But Ahab would be known to some of them, ch. 20:81] that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him
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.
Verse 34. - And a certain man [Heb. a man. It was natural for some of the Rabbins to identify this archer with Naaman - the tradition is found in Josephus. But it is directly contrary to the spirit of the narrative to attempt to identify him. As it was a chance arrow, so it was by an unknown archer] drew a bow at a venture [Heb. in his simplicity, i.e., with no intention of shooting Ahab: not knowing what he was doing. That this is the meaning is clear from the use of the words in 2 Samuel 15:11], and smote the king of Israel between the Joints of the harness [The marg., joints and the breastplate, comes nearer the Hebrew. But it is clear that the rendering joints, notwithstanding that it has the support of Gesenius and others, is a mistaken one. "In the joints" we can understand, but "between the joints and the coat of mail," gives no sense. It is obvious that הַדְּבָקִים like הַשִּׁרְיָן following, must signify, some portion of the armour, and the meaning of the verb דָבַק adhaesit, leads us to conclude that "the hanging skirt of parallel metal plates - hence the plural" - (Bahr) is intended. The coat of mail only covered the breast and ribs. To this a fringe of movable plates of steel was attached or fastened, hence called דְבָקִים. So Luther, Zwischen den Panzer und Hengel. One is reminded here of the Parthian arrow which wrung from Julian the Apostate the dying confession, "Thou hast conquered, O Galilean." Cf. Psalm 7:13, 14]: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand [or, according to the Chethib, hands. The charioteers of Palestine, like those of Egypt and Assyria, or those of modern Russia, held a rein in each hand. Same expression 2 Kings 9:23. The meaning is "turn round"] and carry me Out of the host; for I am wounded, [Heb. made sick. The king probably felt his wound to be mortal, as a wound in such a part, the abdomen (cf. 2 Samuel 2:23; 2 Samuel 3:27; 2 Samuel 20:10), would be Vulgate, graviter vulneratus sum. How far an arrow in such a place could penetrate, we may gather from 2 Kings 9:24; cf. Job 16:13. And he was seemingly anxious that the army should not know it, lest would soon discover it if he remained with the host; he can fight no longer; his wound needs attention; hence this command. It is quite possible that the charioteer, in the din and confusion of battle, may not have observed that his master was wounded. The arrow had not struck any part of the armour.]
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.
Verse 35. - And the battle increased [Heb. went up. Marg. ascended. The tide of warfare rose higher and higher. Both Keil and Bahr think that the image is taken from a swelling river and cite Isaiah 8:7. The object of this verse is to explain how it was that the king's request was not complied with] that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot [Heb. made to stand. LXX. ἠν ἐστηκώς. He was supported in his chariot by some of his servants, and maintained in an erect posture. Chariots were destitute of seats. According to Thenius and Keil, he maintained himself erect, by his own strength. But the word is passive] against the Syrians [Heb. in the face of the Syrians. נֹכַח coram. His back was not turned to them, as he had desired. The idea that he was in any way fighting against the Syrians is altogether foreign to the text. It is at first sight somewhat difficult to reconcile this statement with the direction given to the charioteer in the preceding verse, and some have been led, though without sufficient warrant, to conclude that Ahab left the field, had he wound bound up, and then returned to take his part in the battle. But the explanation is very simple. As the battle increased, it became impossible to comply with the king's desire. So thick was the fight that retreat was impossible. Hence the wounded king, who would otherwise have sunk down to the bottom of the chariot, had to be "stayed up in the presence of the Syrians." This circumstance may also account for the fact that he died at even. Had it been possible to remove him and staunch his wounds, he might have lingered for some time. As it was, he bled to death. It is not clear, therefore, that "his death was kingly" (Kitto), or that we must concede to Ahab "the credit of right princely fortitude on this occasion" (Rawlinson). He would have left the host could he have done so. It was his set-rants propped up the dying man in his chariot, to encourage the army. What a picture for an artist - the king with the pallor of death spreading over his face, the anxious faces of the attendants, the pool of blood, the sun sinking to the horizon, etc.], and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound [Heb. the blood of the wound poured] into the midst [Heb. bosom; LXX. κόλπον, the hollow part, or "well." The same word is used of the concave part of the altar] of the chariot.
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.
Verse 36. - And there went a proclamation throughout the host [Heb. And the shouting passed over in the camp. Gesenius will have it that רִנָּה must mean a "joyful cry," and would see the cause of joy in the cessation of hostilities and the permission to return home] about the going down of the sun [According to the chronicler (1 Kings 18:34), it was at sunset that the king died. It seems natural, therefore, to connect this shout with his death. But the approach of night would of itself put an end to the battle. It does not appear that Israel had been utterly defeated, or had suffered great loss. But "they had no master"], saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country [or land].
So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria.
Verse 37. - So the king died [The LXX. makes this to be a part of the proclamation ἕκαστος εἰς τὴν... γῆν ὅτι τέθνηκεν ὁ βασιλεύς, which involves a very slight change in the Hebrew text, כי מת המל instead of וימת המל and gives a better sense. It has already been stated that the king died. Such repetitions however are common in Hebrew, and this reading has almost the look of an emendation] and was brought [Heb. came. The A.V. is against the grammar. As "came" would be a strange word to use of a dead man, it is highly probable that instead of ויבזא we should read ויבואו with the LXX. καὶ ῆλθον] to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria ["with his father," 1 Kings 16:28].
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.
Verse 38. - And one washed the chariot in [or at; Heb. עַל] the pool of Samaria. [Nearly all Eastern cities had their tanks or pools, often outside the city gate. Jerusalem has several of these, and we read of one at Hebron (2 Samuel 14:12) and Gibeon (2 Samuel 2:13). Cf. Song of Solomon 7:4. The Hebrew word בְּרֵכָה is preserved in the modern Arabic Birkeh]; and the dogs [The LXX. has the swine and the dogs. The mention of swine is hardly likely to have been omitted, had it formed part of the original text] licked up his blood [cf. 1 Kings 21:19, note. According to Josephus, the chariot was washed "in the fountain of Jezreel." The alteration would appear to have been made to avoid the difficulty occasioned by the discrepancy between the statement of the text, and that of 1 Kings 21:19], and they washed his armour [So the Chaldaic and the Syriac. But this translation is now abandoned,
(1) because it is contrary to the usage of the language to make זֹנות the object; and
(2) because that word occurs in the Old Testament only in the sense of harlots (Bahr). The true meaning is that given by the LXX., καὶ αἱ πόρναι ἐλούσαντο. רָחַץdoes not require any object such as "chariot," or "corpse," for it is found in the sense of bathe (intrans.) in Exodus 2:5; Numbers 19:19; Ruth 3:3; 2 Kings 5:10. Bahr reminds us that harlots are elsewhere associated with dogs (Deuteronomy 23:19; Revelation 22:15). This fact is mentioned as a proof of the just judgment of God. Even if these harlots were not prostitutes devoted to the service of the Phoenician deities, whose cultus Ahab had sought to establish in Israel, still the result of his religious policy had been the spread of prostitution. It is a fine example of the lex tolionis. "He which is filthy, let him be filthy still"]; according unto the word of the Lord which he spake [the reference is to 1 Kings 21:19].
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?
Verse 39. - Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he made [So called because it was adorned with ivory. See on ch. 11; and cf. Amos 3:15; Psalm 45:8; Song of Solomon 7:5. Rawlinson cites several passages from Greek and Latin authors to prove that ivory was anciently applied, not only to furniture, but to the doors and walls of houses], and an the cities that he built [Probably Jezreel was one, but we have no information concerning them. The fact that he did build cities, however, is one proof of Ahab's enterprize. He was not weak in all particulars], are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.
Verse 40. - So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah ["Whom Jehovah upholds." The name suggests that, notwithstanding his idolatries, Ahab cannot have completely abandoned the worship of the Lord] his son reigned in his stead. Reign of Jehoshaphat.
And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.
Verse 41. - And Jehoahaphat ["Whom Jehovah judges"] the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. [The historian now resumes for a moment the history of Judah, which has dropped out of notice since 1 Kings 15:24, where the accession of Jehoshaphat was mentioned. His reign, which is here described in the briefest possible way, occupies four chapters (17-20.) of 2 Chronicles]
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.
Verse 42. - Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.
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.
Verse 43. - And he walked in an the ways of Asa his father [Apart from his alliance with the house of Ahab, and the troubles in which it involved him, his reign was alike pious and prosperous. Like Asa's, it was distinguished by internal reforms, and By signal deliverances from foreign enemies]; he turned not aside from it [as Asa was tempted to do in his old age], doing [Heb. to do] that which was right in the eyes of the Lord: nevertheless the high places were not taken away [Heb. departed not, as in 1 Kings 15:14; 2 Chronicles 15:17; 2 Kings 12:4, Hebrew; 2 Kings 14:4, Hebrew But see 2 Chronicles 18:6. The discrepancy is the exact parallel of that between 1 Kings 15:14 and 2 Chronicles 14:3; or between this latter passage and 2 Chronicles 15:17. And the explanation is the same, viz., that an effort was made to remove the high places, which was partially, and only partially, successful]; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places [cf. 1 Kings 3:2].
And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.
Verse 44. - And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel. [One great feature of his reign was this: that the hostility which had lasted, even if it sometimes slumbered, between the two kingdoms for seventy years, from the date of their separation to the time of Asa's death, gave way to peace and even alliance. Judah now recognized the division of the kingdom as an accomplished fact, and no longer treated Israel, even theoretically, as in rebellion. It is probable that the marriage of Jehoram and Athaliah was at once the fruit of, and was intended to cement, this good understanding (2 Chronicles 18:1). It is hardly likely (Bahr) that the peace was the result of the union of the two families. From the analogy of 2 Chronicles 19:2; 2 Chronicles 20:37; cf. 1 Kings 16:31; 2 Kings 3:14, we should conclude that the marriage at any rate was ill advised and displeasing to God. Bahr sees in it a step on the part of Jehoshaphat towards realizing the union of the two kingdoms under the supremacy of Judah. He thinks that we cannot otherwise account for this complete change of front.]
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?
Verse 45. - Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might [as in 1 Kings 15:23; 1 Kings 16:27, etc. It is noticeable that this word is not used of Ahab, notwithstanding his wars and victories] that he showed [see 2 Kings 3:9 sqq.; 2 Chronicles 17:12 sqq. His judicial reforms are hardly referred to here], and how he warred [2 Chronicles 18, 20.], are they not written in the book of he chronicles of the kings of Judah?
And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land.
Verse 46. - And the remnant of the Sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa [It appears hence that Asa's removal of the religious prostitutes (1 Kings 15:12), like that of the high places, had been but partial], he took [Heb. exterminated] out of the land.
There was then no king in Edom: a deputy was king.
Verse 47. - There was then no king in Edom: a deputy [נִצָב, same word as in 1 Kings 4:7. It is implied that this officer was appointed by the king of Judah (Wordsworth)] was king. [This fact is mentioned to show how it was that Jehoshaphat was able to build a fleet at Ezion-Geber, in the territory of Edom (1 Kings 9:26). That country would seem to have regained its independence very soon after Solomon's death (1 Kings 11:14), but would also appear from the text, and from 2 Kings 8:20, 22, to have been again made subject to Judah, probably by Jehoshaphat himself; see 2 Chronicles 17:10, 11.]
Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Eziongeber.
Verse 48. - Jehoshaphat made [The Chethib has עשר ten, obviously a clerical error for עשה made] ships of Tharshish [see note on 1 Kings 10:22] to go to Ophir [In 2 Chronicles 20:36, Tharshish is read for Ophir. Wordsworth holds that two separate fleets are intended, but this is most improbable] for gold [Evidently the great prosperity of his reign had suggested to him the idea of emulating Solomon's naval exploits, and of reviving the commerce of his people with the East]: but they went not [Heb. it went not]: for the ships were broken [Probably they were dashed by a storm against the rocks which "lie in jagged ranges on each side," Stanley] at Ezion-Geber.
Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not.
Verse 49. - Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants In the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not. [But we are told in 2 Chronicles 20:37 that the ships were broken, according to a prophecy of Eliezer, the son of Dodavah, because Jehoshaphat had joined himself with Ahaziah. The explanation is that the fleet had been built by the two kings conjointly, and manned by the subjects of Jehoshaphat exclusively; and that, after the disaster, Ahaziah proposed either to repair the injured vessels, or to construct a second fleet, which should then be partly manned by sailors of the northern kingdom, "men probably accustomed to the sea, perhaps trained at Tyre" (Rawlinson). This proposal was declined by the king of Judah, not so much on account of the "reflection on his subjects' skill contained in it," as because of the prophecy of Eliezer, and the evidently judicial disaster which had befallen the fleet already built.]
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.
Verse 50. - And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoram his son reigned in his stead [2 Chronicles 21.] Reign of Ahaziah.
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.
Verse 51. - 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. [Parts of two years; 2 Kings 3:1; and of 2 Kings 1:17 and 2 Kings 8:16. It is suggested that Jehoram was associated with his father in the government of Judah from the date of the expedition against Ramoth-Gilead, and this is not improbable. But it has been already remarked that these chronological notices appear to have undergone a revision which has sometimes resulted in confusion.]
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:
Verse 52. - And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father [1 Kings 16:30-33; cf. 2 Kings 3:2] and in the way of his mother [The powerful influence of Jezebel, even after Ahab's death, is hinted at here. It was to her that idolatry owed its position in Israel], and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat [the calf worship and idolatry existed side by side], who made Israel to sin.
For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.
Verse 53. - For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger [or vexed] the Lord God of Israel, according to all that his father had done. [The termination of this book at this point could hardly be more arbitrary if it had been made by accident. These verses are closely connected with 2 Kings ch. 1. The division here obscures the connexion between the sin of Ahaziah and the judgments which it provoked.]