Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Israel, from the time when Benadad and Achab had made a league, chap. xx. 34.
Josaphat. It is wonderful that a prince of so great piety, should be on terms of such strict friendship with a most wicked king. God did not approve of it; and the event was unfortunate, 2 Paralipomenon xx. 37. Achab received the king of Juda with extraordinary magnificence, 2 Paralipomenon xviii. 2. It is thought that (Calmet) the latter had married his daughter, (Grotius) or rather (Haydock) he had taken Athalia for his son Joram, 2 Paralipomenon xviii. 1. (Tirinus) (Menochius)
Syria. Benadad had not restored it; either because he no longer regarded his treaty, or because the city had not been taken by his father. (Calmet)
One, in concord, (Haydock) and ready to march against the same enemy. --- Lord. This was rather late, if (Menochius) the army was already receiving its pay under the walls of Samaria. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] viii. 15.) --- God ought to have been consulted at first. (Menochius)
Men, probably the prophets of the groves, who had not gone to Carmel, chap. xviii. 19, 22. (Calmet) --- The recent slaughter had not deterred others from imitating the example of the false prophets. (Haydock)
Lord. Josaphat knew that these four hundred were addicted to idol worship, (Haydock) and suspected that they only flattered their king. (Josephus)
One man. Perhaps Micheas alone resided at Samaria. Elias and his disciples were in the country. Josephus and some others think, (Calmet) that the son of Jemla had been cast into prison for what he had said to Achab, when he had dismissed the king of Syria, chap. xx. 43. (Haydock) --- Not so. Good advice should be followed, though it be not pleasant. (Menochius) --- Josaphat justly suspected the schismatical false prophets. (Worthington)
Eunuch. Hebrew saris, denotes also "a servant;" or Achab might have purchased this stranger.
Court, or barn floor. They were in or near cities, that they might be so protected from the incursions of enemies, who strove to set the corn on fire, 1 Kings xxiii. 1., and Judges xv. 5.
Push, "with the horn," (Greek: keratiseis; Septuagint) and throw into the air, (Menochius) like a bull. (Calmet) --- Nothing shall withstand thy power. The actions of Sedecias were of the same import as his words. (Haydock) --- See Jeremias xxvii. 2., and xxviii. 10. --- Such horns were shewn to Zacharias; (i. 18.) as false prophets often do, like the true ones. (Worthington)
Go up, &c. This was spoken ironically, and by way of jesting at the flattering speeches of the false prophets: and so the king understood it, as appears by his adjuring Micheas, in the following verse, to tell him the truth in the name of the Lord. (Challoner) --- Micheas had only repeated their words, and by his accent and gestures (Du Hamel) might easily explain his meaning. (Haydock) --- Similar examples of irony may be seen, chap. xviii. 27., and Genesis iii. 22. (Calmet) --- The prophet might also pray for success. But the king begged for a positive answer. (Worthington)
No shepherd....no master, clearly intimated (Menochius) that the king should perish in the battle. Paralipomenon reads: These have no masters. (Haydock)
He, Micheas, added, (Menochius) not fearing the king's displeasure, who seemed to regard his former denunciation as an effect of his ill-will. Hence he explains his vision more at large. God often conforms to our ideas, and even prejudices. The people were then accustomed to look upon him as a king, environed with his army of good and evil spirits; the one at his right-hand, to execute his designs of mercy, and the other at his left, to execute his judgments. Job (i. 6, 12.) speaks in the like manner. We know that God stands in need of no counsellors; (Romans xi. 34.) and that the angels of satan have no place in heaven, Isaias xiv. 12., Apocalypse xii. 9., and Jude 6.
The Lord said, &c. God standeth not in need of any counsellor; nor are we suppose, that things pass in heaven in the manner here described: but this representation was made to the prophet, to be delivered by min in a manner adopted to the common ways and notions of men. (Challoner) (St. Gregory, Mor. ii. 21., &c.) (Worthington) --- God did not enable the king to discern the falsehood. (Bellarmine ii. 13. Grat. Amis.)
Go forth, and do so. This was not a command, but a permission; for God never ordaineth lies, though he often permitteth the lying spirit to deceive those who love not the truth, 2 Thessalonians ii. 10. And in this sense it is said in the following verse, the Lord hath given a lying spirit in the mouth of all thy prophets. (Challoner) --- What is translated in the imperative, denotes frequently what will come to pass, though it be displeasing to God. (Calmet) --- He permits it, therefore, only by not exerting his power to prevent the execution. (Haydock) --- The devils can do nothing without such a permission. Achab deserved to be deceived by the false prophets, as he would not hearken to a true one. (St. Augustine, contra Jul. v. 4., and q. 53. inter. 83.)
Cheek. Josephus says he had told the king, that if his hand did not wither, like that of Jeroboam, he might conclude that Micheas was a false prophet; particularly as his prediction was at variance with that of Elias; who had asserted that Achab should die at Jezrahel, while Micheas seemed to condemn him to death at Ramoth. But these circumstances are by no means certain, though they be adopted by the author of the Scholastic History, by Lyranus, &c. (Calmet) --- If Sedecias had the assurance to make such a declaration, God was not obliged to work a miracle to prevent the king's mistake; and Micheas had never said that Achab should die at Ramoth. (Haydock) --- Hath. In 2 Paralipomenon xviii. 23, it is expressed, Which way went the spirit of the Lord from me to speak to thee? If he could have proved that he had ever possessed the spirit, he might have spoken with some confidence; though sin may easily banish him. Thus Catholics may ask the pretended reformers, who boast of the spirit, how He came to abandon the Church with which all agree He once resided, to establish a contrary one? The spirit of God cannot be at variance with himself, nor reveal contradictory things. (Haydock)
Go into a chamber, &c. This happened when he heard the king was slain, and justly apprehended that he should be punished for his false prophecy; (Challoner) though this be nowhere recorded, (Calmet) except in Josephus. (Worthington) --- He probably escaped death. (Salien)
Distress, both "in small quantity," (Paralipomenon) and very bad. (Grotius) (Tirinus) (Isaias xxx. 20.) --- Peace, when I will punish thee, as an impostor. (Menochius) --- How grating must this have been to the good king Josaphat; and still he does not abandon the company of such infatuated people! (Ver. 29.) (Haydock)
Thy own. Septuagint, "I will disguise myself, and go into the battle; and do thou put on my garment." Hence the Syrians mistook Josaphat for Achab, (ver. 32.; Calmet) as "it had been agreed between them, that he should wear the robes of Achab, to elude more easily the prediction of Micheas." (Josephus, [Antiquities?] viii. 15.) --- Vain and impious attempt! Providence found him out, though unadorned. (Haydock) --- Achab might pretend thus to honour the king of Juda! (Menochius) and perhaps he had been apprized of the order given to the Syrians, to single him out, ver. 31. What could prompt such an order, cannot be easily ascertained. Benadad might with to revenge himself, for being brought out as a prisoner to Achab; or he might be informed of the prediction of Micheas.
Captains of, or mounted "on chariots." There would hardly be so many general officers over the chariots alone. The same number of kings had been in a former engagement, and they had been replaced by these captains, chap. xx. 24. (Calmet) --- Only. Not that the Syrians were to avoid hurting any body else, as they could not thus come at the king; (Salien) and we find one shot an arrow at the army of Israel; (ver. 34.; Haydock) but the main onset was to be directed against Achab, either to kill or to take him prisoner. (Menochius)
Cried out. Paralipomenon add, to the Lord, and he helped him, and turned them away from him. The Jews (in Seder. Olam xvii.) acknowledge the same thing; and thus it was known that Josaphat was not the king of Israel, who would rather have invoked Baal. (Menochius) --- Perhaps he also declared the truth, and who he was, when he saw the Syrians surround him, crying, This is the king of Israel! (2 Paralipomenon xviii. 31.) (Tirinus)
Stomach. Paralipomenon, between the neck and the shoulders. The arrow went in at the lungs, and came out at the shoulders, as it was shot from a lower ground. (Menochius) --- Some explain the Hebrew, "between the joints and the coat of mail." Protestants, "joints of the harness." Septuagint, "between the lungs and the thorax." (Haydock) --- Syriac, "between the juncture of the coat of mail," where it is connected with the armour of the thighs. (Grotius) --- God directed the random shot. (Salien) (Worthington) --- Hand. It was deemed unbecoming for the king to touch the reins. (Diodorus, Sic. xvii.; Brisson iii. p. 383.)
Evening. Achab had only retired to the hinder ranks, while Josaphat, by his valour, maintained the day, till the death of the former put an end to the war.
Of Samaria. Josephus says, of Jezara, (Jezrahel) conformably to the prediction. But God had relented in that particular, on Achab's repentance; (Calmet; Chap. xxi. 24, 29.) unless it regarded his son Joram. (Haydock) (Salien) --- Reins. Hebrew zonoth, may also signify "arms," (Munster) and "harlots." (Septuagint) Some suspect that such were painted on the chariot. Josephus intimates, with the Septuagint, that "harlots bathed in the blood," (Antiquities viii. 15.) which would tend to the greater contempt of Achab. (Menochius) --- Spoken, respecting dogs licking up Achab's blood. No mention had been made of the chariot. God was thus pleased to shew how easily he could have executed the sentence in all its rigour.
Of ivory. The palace was greatly adorned with it, (see Amos iii. 15., and Psalm xliv. 9.; Calmet) like the palace of Solomon, chap. x. 18. Pliny (xvi. 43.) speaks of bedsteads and vehicles of ivory, in the same sense. (Tirinus)
He took not away, &c. He left some of the high places, viz., those in which they worshipped the true God: but took away all others, 2 Paralipomenon xvii. 6; (Challoner) and even those also, before the end of his reign; (Calmet) as they were contrary to the law. (Menochius) --- Others think that the passage in Paralipomenon is incorrect; ula being substituted for vaud. He took away the high places, (chap. xix. 3.) and the groves. (Grotius) (Capell.) --- We know that such remained in the days of Joas; and Josaphat in not ranked among the irreproachable kings, Ecclesiasticus xlix. 5. (Calmet) --- He attempted perhaps to remove those places, but was prevented by the people. (Menochius) See chap. xv. 14.
Israel. The five subsequent verses are omitted in the Roman Septuagint.
Effeminate. Men addicted to unnatural lust, chap. xiv. 24., and xv. 12.
Edom. Hebrew and Chaldean, "but a deputy king," or viceroy; (Tirinus) so that the kings of Juda might equip fleets at Asiongaber, as the country of Idumea was subject to them ever since the time of David, 2 Paralipomenon viii. 17. Under Ochozias, the son of Josaphat, the kings of Edom became independent, 4 Kings viii. 20. (Calmet) --- Hitherto they had paid tribute. (Menochius)
Made. Hebrew incorrectly reads hasar, "ten," instead of hasa, "made;" (Calmet) which the Protestants follow, "made ships of Tharshish, to go to Ophir." (Haydock) See chap. iv. 26., and 28.
Would not. He had been reprehended before for admitting such a partner: and therefore would have no more to do with him. (Challoner) --- They had formerly joined in equipping such a fleet, (2 Paralipomenon xx. 36., and 37.; Calmet) and it had been dashed to pieces in the very port. (Haydock)
Years, not complete; as the first is comprized in the reign of Achab, and the last in that of Joram, 4 Kings iii. 1. (Usher, the year of the world 3108.) --- Yet, his very short reign was memorable for many disasters; the revolt of the dependant king of Moad, the ruin of his navy, &c., that he might thus be reclaimed from his evil ways. (Salien, the year before Christ 915.) --- Houbigant allows this king two full years; and rejects the notion of his being associated by his father, as he does on other similar occasion, where the Scripture is silent. He makes Ochozias commence in the 19th, and end in the 22d of Josaphat, and not in the second of Joram, 4 Kings i. 17. The Hebrew and Greek copies vary. (Haydock)