Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab.Jehoshaphat's marriage alliance with Ahab, and his campaign with Ahab against the Syrians at Ramoth in Gilead. - 2 Chronicles 18:1. Jehoshaphat came into connection by marriage with Ahab through his son Joram taking Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab, to wife (2 Chronicles 21:6); an event which did not take place on the visit made by Jehoshaphat to Ahab in his palace at Samaria, and recorded in 2 Chronicles 18:2, but which had preceded that by about nine years. That visit falls in the beginning of the year in which Ahab was mortally wounded at Ramoth, and died, i.e., the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat's reign. But at that time Ahaziah, the son of Joram and Athaliah, was already from eight to nine years old, since thirteen years later he became king at the age of twenty-two; 2 Kings 8:26, cf. with the chronol. table to 1 Kings 12. The marriage connection is mentioned in order to account for Jehoshaphat's visit to Samaria (2 Chronicles 18:2), and his alliance with Ahab in the war against the Syrians; but it is also introduced by a reference to Jehoshaphat's riches and his royal splendour, repeated from 2 Chronicles 17:5. In the opinion of many commentators, this is stated to account for Ahab's willingness to connect his family by marriage with that of Jehoshaphat. This opinion might be tenable were it Ahab's entering upon a marriage connection with Jehoshaphat which is spoken of; but for Jehoshaphat, of whom it is related that he entered into a marriage connection with Ahab, his own great wealth could not be a motive for his action in that matter. If we consider, first, that this marriage connection was very hurtful to the kingdom of Judah and the royal house of David, since Athaliah not only introduced the Phoenician idolatry into the kingdom, but also at the death of Ahaziah extirpated all the royal seed of the house of David, only the infant Joash of all the royal children being saved by the princess, a sister of Ahaziah, who was married to the high priest Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 22:10-12); and, second, that Jehoshaphat was sharply censured by the prophet for his alliance with the criminal Ahab (2 Chronicles 19:2.), and had, moreover, all but forfeited his life in the war (2 Chronicles 18:34.), - we see that the author of the Chronicle can only have regarded the marriage connection between Jehoshaphat and Ahab as a mistake. By introducing this account of it by a second reference to Jehoshaphat's riches and power, he must therefore have intended to hint that Jehoshaphat had no need to enter into this relationship with the idolatrous house of Ahab, but had acted very inconsiderately in doing so. Schmidt has correctly stated the contents of the verse thus: Josaphatus cetera dives et gloriosus infelicem adfinitatem cum Achabo, rege Israelis, contrahit. With which side the proposals for thus connecting the two royal houses originated we are not anywhere informed. Even if the conjecture of Ramb., that Ahab proposed it to Jehoshaphat, be not well founded, yet so much is beyond doubt, namely, that Ahab not only desired the alliance, but also promoted it by every means in his power, since it must have been of great importance to him to gain in Jehoshaphat a strong ally against the hostile pressure of the Syrians. Jehoshaphat probably entered upon the alliance bono animo et spe firmandae inter duo regna pacis (Ramb.), without much thought of the dangers which a connection of this sort with the idolatrous Ahab and with Jezebel might bring upon his kingdom.
And after certain years he went down to Ahab to Samaria. And Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, and for the people that he had with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramothgilead.The campaign undertaken along with Ahab against the Syrians at Ramoth in Gilead, with its origin, course, and results for Ahab, is narrated in 1 Kings in the history of Ahab) in agreement with our narrative, only the introduction to the war being different here. In 1 Kings 22:1-3 it is remarked, in connection with the preceding wars of Ahab with the Syrians, that after there had been no war for three years between Aram and Israel, in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah came up to the king of Israel; and the latter, when he and his servants had determined to snatch away from the Syrians the city Ramoth in Gilead, which belonged to Israel, called upon Jehoshaphat to march with him to the war against Ramoth. In the Chronicle the more exact statement, "in the third year," which is intelligible only in connection with the earlier history of Ahab, is exchanged for the indefinite שׁנים לקץ, "at the end of years;" and mention is made of the festal entertainment which Ahab bestowed upon his guest and his train (עמּו אשׁר העם), to show the pains which Ahab took to induce King Jehoshaphat to take part in the proposed campaign. He killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, ויסיתהוּ ,ecnadn, and enticed, seduced him to go up with him to Ramoth. הסית, to incite, entice to anything (Judges 1:14), frequently to evil; cf. Deuteronomy 13:7, etc. עלה, to advance upon a land or a city in a warlike sense. The account which follows of the preparations for the campaign by inquiring of prophets, and of the war itself, vv. 4-34, is in almost verbal agreement with 1 Kings 22:5-35. Referring to 1 Kings or the commentary on the substance of the narrative, we will here only group together briefly the divergences. Instead of 400 men who were prophets, 2 Chronicles 18:5, in 1 Kings 22:5 we have about 400 men. It is a statement in round numbers, founded not upon exact enumeration, but upon an approximate estimate. Instead of אהדּל אם...הנלך, 2 Chronicles 18:5, in Kings, 1 Kings 22:6, we have אהדּל אם...האלך, both verbs being in the same number; and so too in 2 Chronicles 18:14, where in Kings. 1 Kings 22:15, both verbs stand in the plural, notwithstanding that the answer which follows, והצלח עלה, is addressed to Ahab alone, not to both the kings, while in the Chronicle the answer is given in the plural to both the kings, והצליחוּ עלוּ. in 2 Chronicles 18:7, "he prophesies me nothing good, but all his days (i.e., so long as he has been a prophet) evil," the meaning is intensified by the כּל־ימיו, which is not found in 1 Kings 22:8. In 2 Chronicles 18:9, the ויושׁבים, which is introduced before the בּגרן, "and sitting upon the threshing-floor," is due to difference of style, for it is quite superfluous for the signification. In 2 Chronicles 18:15, the ambiguous words of Micah,' and Jahve will give into the hand of the king" (1 Kings 22:15), are given in a more definite form: "and they (the enemy) shall be given into your hand." In 2 Chronicles 18:19, in the first כּכה אמר זה, the אמר after the preceding ויּאמר is not only superfluous, but improper, and has probably come into the text by a copyist's error. We should therefore read only בּכה זה, corresponding to the כּכה זה of 1 Kings 22:20 : "Then spake one after this manner, and the other spake after another manner." In 2 Chronicles 18:23, the indefinite אי־זה of 1 Kings 22:24, is elucidated by הדּרך זה אי, "is that the manner" (cf. 1 Kings 13:12; 2 Kings 3:8)., and the verb. עבר follows without the relative pronoun, as in the passages cited. In 2 Chronicles 18:30, only הרכב שׂרי of the king are mentioned, without any statement of the number, which is given in 1 Kings 22:31, with a backward reference to the former war (1 Kings 20:24). In 2 Chronicles 18:31, after the words, "and Jehoshaphat cried out," the higher cause of Jehoshaphat's rescue is pointed out in the words, "and Jahve helped him, and God drove them from him," which are not found in 1 Kings 22:32; but by this religious reflection the actual course of the event is in no way altered. Bertheau's remark, therefore, that "the words disturb the clear connection of the events," is quite unwarrantable. Finally, in 2 Chronicles 18:34, מעמיד היה, he was holding his position, i.e., he held himself standing upright, the Hiph. is more expressive than the Hoph. מעמד (1 Kings 22:35), since it expresses more definitely the fact that he held himself upright by his own strength. With Ahab's death, which took place in the evening at the time of the going down of the sun, the author of the Chronicle concludes his account of this war, and proceeds in 2 Chronicles 19:1-11 to narrate the further course of Jehoshaphat's reign. In 1 Kings 22:36-39, the return of the defeated army, and the details as to Ahab's death and burial, are recorded; but these did not fit into the plan of the Chronicle.
And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt thou go with me to Ramothgilead? And he answered him, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we 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.
Therefore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king's hand.
But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might inquire of him?
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, by whom we may inquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.
And the king of Israel called for one of his officers, and said, Fetch quickly Micaiah the son of Imla.
And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah sat either of them on his throne, clothed in their robes, and they sat in a void place at the entering in of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them.
And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made him horns of iron, and said, Thus saith the LORD, With these thou shalt push Syria until they be consumed.
And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
And the messenger that went to call Micaiah spake to him, saying, Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one assent; let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and speak thou good.
And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak.
And when he was come to the king, the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And he said, Go ye up, and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand.
And the king said to him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou say nothing but the truth to me in the name of the LORD?
Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.
And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil?
Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD; I saw the LORD sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.
And the LORD said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner.
Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith?
And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so.
Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee.
Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah upon the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee?
And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see on that day when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.
Then the king of Israel said, Take ye Micaiah, and carry him back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son;
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 return in peace.
And Micaiah said, If thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the LORD spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, all ye people.
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 will go to the battle; but put thou on thy robes. So the king of Israel disguised himself; and they went to the battle.
Now the king of Syria had commanded the captains of the chariots that were with him, saying, Fight ye not with small or great, save only with the king of Israel.
And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.
For it came to pass, that, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back again 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: therefore he said to his chariot man, Turn thine hand, that thou mayest carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.
And the battle increased that day: howbeit the king of Israel stayed himself up in his chariot against the Syrians until the even: and about the time of the sun going down he died.