Matthew Poole's Commentary
And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel.Ahab, intending war against the Syrians, is advised by Jehoshaphat first to ask counsel of God: Ahab’s prophets advise him to it, especially Zedekiah, 1 Kings 22:1-12, Micaiah, a prophet of the Lord, dissuadeth him from it; and is put in prison by Ahab, 1 Kings 22:13-28. Ahab goeth to the battle; is slain; the dogs lick his blood; and Ahaziah succeedeth him, 1 Kings 22:29-40. Jehoshaphat’s good reign over Judah: his acts and death: Jehoram succeedeth him, 1 Kings 22:41-50. Ahaziah’ s evil reign, 1 Kings 22:51-53.
They continued; the Syrians and Israelites, designed in the following words. Three years; computed from the last war and league wherewith it was concluded; because both Ahab and Benhadad were so weakened and broken by the late wars, that they needed and desired peace to recruit themselves, and repair their former losses.
And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel.Having now, as he supposed, made a firm peace with Ahab by the alliance contracted between Jehoram his son, and Athaliah, Ahab’s daughter; of which see 2 Kings 8:18 2 Chronicles 18:1.
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?Is ours, i.e. belongeth to us by right, both by God’s donation, and designation of it for a city of refuge, Joshua 21:38, and by our last agreement with Ben-hadad, 1 Kings 20:31, which he refuseth to deliver up to us upon our demand.
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.I will heartily and effectually join with thee, and my forces shall be at thy service, as much as thy own.
And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day.By some prophet; that we may know the mind of God in it, and what success we may expect. This was the practice of the godly. See Judges 1:1 20:28 1 Samuel 23:2.
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.The prophets doubtless were his own false prophets, or the priests of Baal; probably those very four hundred men whom Jezebel preserved from that great slaughter, 1Ki 18, who yet gave in their answer in the name of Jehovah, not of Baal; either in compliance with Jehoshaphat; or rather, by Ahab’s direction, that good Jehoshaphat might be deceived by them into a good opinion of the war.
And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might inquire of him?Besides these, who may seem to be such by your opinion, and their own profession; but I desire further satisfaction from some other prophet.
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.There is yet one, to wit, in this place, for whom I can speedily send; for there were also other prophets elsewhere in the kingdom, as Elijah, Elisha, and others; but these were not at hand for the present occasion.
Micaiah; not one of the twelve prophets, who lived about one hundred and fifty years after this time, but another of that name.
He doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil; he is always a messenger of evil tidings; which was true, but no sufficient reason why he should hate him, because Micaiah was purely God’s instrument in all his messages; and whatsoever evil he threatened, Ahab himself was the cause and procurer of it.
Let not the king say so; do not presage evil to our enterprise: let us neither hate his person, nor despise his message; but first hear it, and then do as we see cause.
Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Hasten hither Micaiah the son of Imlah.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Their robes; their royal robes, and ensigns of majesty.
In a void place; in the place of judicature, which was in or nigh the gate of the city, and in the front of some void place, where either people stood to hear and see justice administered, or soldiers were placed for the defence of the city in time of war.
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.Horns of iron; fit emblems of the power and victory of these two kings. The devil is God’s ape, and the false prophets sometimes imitating the true, who when they declared God’s mind by words, did also oftentimes confirm it by sensible signs. See Isaiah 20:2 Jeremiah 27:2.
Thus saith the Lord, Heb. Jehovah; whose name he pretends, to gain the more credit and countenance to his words. See Poole "1 Kings 21:7".
And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the king's hand.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.This he designs, not out of any love to Micaiah, (whom he persuades to debauch his conscience,) but merely out of a desire to gratify his king’s humour.
And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak.What answer God shall put into my mind and mouth; which, it seems, was not yet done.
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.He answered him; not seriously, but ironically, using the very words of the false prophets, in way of derision; as appears, first, From his omission of that solemn preface,
Thus saith the Lord, or, This is the word of the Lord, which the prophets generally used, and which himself useth when he comes to his serious answer, 1 Kings 21:19.
Secondly, From Ahab’s reply, 1 Kings 21:16, which shows that he suspected Micaiah’s sincerity in that answer, and gathered by his gesture or manner of speaking that he spake only mimically, as representing and traducing the false prophets for their answer. See the like ironical passages Genesis 3:22 Judges 10:14 1 Kings 18:27 Ecclesiastes 11:9 Ezekiel 20:39 Amos 4:4,5; all which expressions are not used to lead men into mistakes, but to bring them to the sight of their sin and duty, which may be done sometimes most efficaciously in this way. So Micaiah’s meaning is plainly this, Because thou dost not seek to know the truth, but only to please thyself, go to the battle, as all thy prophets advise thee, and expect the success which they promise thee, and try the truth of their prediction by thy own costly experience.
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?How many times shall I adjure thee? I adjure thee again and again, that thou give over this mockery, and seriously tell me the mind of God in this matter.
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.I saw; in the spirit, or in a vision.
Upon the hills; upon the mountains of Gilead, nigh Ramoth; either where they lay encamped by Ahab’s order, or to which they fled from the enemy, esteeming that the safest place. See Matthew 24:16.
As sheep that have not a shepherd; as people who have lost their king. See Numbers 27:17 Isaiah 40:11 44:28 Ezekiel 34:23.
Every man to his house in peace; discharged from the war; which was fulfilled, 1 Kings 22:36.
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?Now thou seest my words verified, and this man showing his hatred by this malignant and treasonable prophecy, and how little heed is to be given to his words: which crafty insinuation seems to have had too great an influence upon good Jehoshaphat; otherwise he would never have gone to the battle.
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.Because thou givest credit to thy false prophets, and distrustest my words, as if they were but the suggestions of my own fancy, and hatred of thy person, I will give thee a distinct and true account of the whole matter, in God’s name and presence.
I saw the Lord, by the eyes of my mind; for he could not see the Lord with bodily eyes.
The host of heaven, i.e. the angels, who are oft called God’s host or hosts, because of their great number, excellent order, and constant readiness to attend upon God, and to execute his commands. See Genesis 2:1 Psalm 103:21 148:2. These angels were both good and bad; the one possibly on his right, the other on his left hand. Nor is it strange that the devils are called the host of heaven, if you consider, first, That their original seat was in heaven, and men in Scripture are oft called by the name of the place from whence they came. Secondly, That the name of heaven is oft given to all that part of the world which is above the earth, and among the rest to the air, as Genesis 1:20 7:11 8:2 27:28 Deu 4:11 11:11, where the devil’s residence and dominion lies, Ephesians 2:2; and that both Michael and his angels, and the dragon and his angels, are said to be and to wage war in heaven, Revelation 12:7, i.e. either the air, or the church. And this place is not to be understood as if Micaiah had seen with his bodily eyes the Lord and his angels sitting in the third heaven; but that he saw a representation of the Divine presence in the air, attended with good and bad angels.
Standing by him, in the posture of ministers, to receive and execute his commands.
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.This is not to be grossly understood, as if God did ask and take counsel from his creatures, or were at a loss to find out an expedient to accomplish his own will; did consider several ways, and then close with that which upon debate appeared to be best; all which it is ridiculous to imagine concerning a God of perfect and infinite knowledge; but only to bring down Divine things to our shallow capacities, and to express the various means which God hath to execute his own designs.
And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.An evil spirit came out of the knot or company of them, standing possibly on the left hand, and presented himself before the throne, as having something to say to the Lord.
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.I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets; I will inspire a lie into the minds and mouths of his prophets.
Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: I will give them up into thy hands, and blind their minds, and leave them to their own ignorance and wickedness, which will certainly lead them into dreadful mistakes.
Go forth, and do so: this is not a command, but only a permission; which is oft expressed in the imperative mood; as 1 Samuel 16:10 Matthew 8:22 John 13:27. I will not hinder thee from tempting them, nor give them grace to withstand their temptation; whereby thou mayest be assured of success.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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?Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah; the chief of the false prophets, who was much in the king’s favour, upon which he now presumed.
Smote Micaiah on the cheek, in way of contempt and scorn, Job 16:10 Jeremiah 20:2 Lamentations 3:30 Mark 14:65.
Which way went the Spirit of the Lord, i.e. in what manner went it? Forasmuch as I and my brethren have consulted the Lord, and answered in his name, and have the same Spirit which thou pretendest to have, and not a lying spirit, as thou dost falsely and maliciously affirm, how is it possible that the same Spirit should tell us one thing, and thee the quite contrary?
And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.Out of a just fear and expectation of the deserved punishment of a false prophet, and of the great author and abettor of this pernicious war, and of Ahab’s destruction.
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;Carry him back, to wit, into prison; where it seems he was before shut up; for so the Lord’s prophets were used by Ahab. And some think he was the deliverer of that unwelcome message, 1 Kings 20:41,42.
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.i. e. With a very coarse and sparing diet, whereby he may be only supported to endure his torment. See Deu 16:3 2 Chronicles 18:26 Isaiah 30:20.
Until I come in peace; until I return in triumph, which I doubt not I shall do in spite of all his malicious suggestions to the contrary, and then I shall call him to an account for all his lies and impudence.
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.The Lord hath not spoken by me; I acknowledge myself to be an impostor, and to deserve death.
He said, i.e. Micaiah, the person last named, being assured of the truth of his prophecy, calls all the people to be witnesses of it.
So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead.Jehoshaphat, though a good man, yet was easily deceived in this matter; partly because Micaiah was a person unknown to him, and both he and the other prophets pretending to give their answer in the name of the Lord, it seemed hard to him to determine the controversy, which only the event could decide; and therefore it is no wonder if he was overborne by the vast disproportion of four hundred prophets to one, and by his relation, and obligation, and affection to Ahab: and partly because the war was just and lawful, to recover his own rights, which the Syrian king unjustly detained from him.
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.I will disguise myself, i.e. put off my imperial habit, that the Syrians may not know me, and direct their main force against me; which they will assuredly endeavour, as knowing that this war proceedeth from me, and is likely to die with me; and then thou shalt see that this man is a false prophet, and I shall have the success which I desire and expect, notwithstanding all his presages.
Thy robes; thy royal robes; which thou mayest do without any danger, because thou art not the object either of the Syrians’ rage, or of this false prophecy.
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.His thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots; and the men that fought from them, or with them, i.e. his whole army. Possibly the chariots and the whole army were distributed into thirty-two several parts, and each captain ruled those chariots and soldiers attending upon them, which fell to his share.
Save only with the king of Israel: this he ordered either in policy, truly supposing this to be the best way to put an end to the war; or with design to take him prisoner, that thereby he might wipe out the stain of his own captivity, and recover the honour and advantage which then he lost; or rather by the power and providence of God, which disposeth the hearts of kings as he pleaseth, and inclined them to this course, that they might, though ignorantly, accomplish his word and counsel.
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.They turned aside; they drew their forces from their several quarters towards Jehoshaphat.
Jehoshaphat cried out to the Lord for help, 2 Chronicles 18:31.
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.When the captains perceived that it was not the king of Israel; which they easily perceived, either by the words uttered to God or them, or by the difference of his shape and countenance from that of Ahab, which probably many of them very well knew.
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.At a venture, Heb. in simplicity, i.e. ignorantly, without care, or choice, or any design, or thought of reaching Ahab. Or, according to his perfection, i.e. with his perfect or utmost strength; which is mentioned as the reason why it pierced through the joints of his armour.
Between the joints of the harness; where the several parts of his armour are joined together; which possibly were not then joined with so much art and closeness as now they are.
Out of the host; out of the midst of the host, where the heat of the battle was, into a safer part of the army. See 1 Kings 22:35.
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.The battle increased, i.e. grew hot and violent.
Was stayed up; was supported by cordials, or by his servants, that by his presence he might encourage his soldiers to fight more courageously, and that he might see the event of the battle.
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.There went a proclamation; probably by Jehoshaphat’s order, with the consent of the chief captains of Israel; and possibly with the permission of the king of Syria, upon notice of Ahab’s death, which was the only thing at which he aimed, 1 Kings 22:31.
Every man to his own country: the king is dead, and the battle ended; and therefore every man hath liberty to return to his own house and private occasions.
So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.The dogs licked up his blood, together with the water wherewith it was mixed.
According unto the word of the Lord; of which See Poole "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?The ivory house, Heb. the house of the tooth or teeth, to wit, of elephants: see 1 Kings 10:18. Not that it was made wholly of solid ivory, but because the other materials were covered, or intermixed, or adorned with ivory. Compare Amos 3:15.
So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.Who reigned twenty-two years; therefore he reigned about eighteen years with Ahab.
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.He reigned twenty and five years; part by himself and partly with his sons, whom he took into the fellowship of his kingdom; of which see more on 2 Kings 1:17.
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.He walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he took the same care for the government of his kingdom, and especially for the reformation of religion, that Asa did; of whom see 1 Kings 15:11.
The high places were not taken away.
Object. It is said he did take them away, 2 Chronicles 17:6.
Answ. He took away those which were erected to idols; of which he seems to speak there, because the high places are there joined with groves, which were generally erected to idols, and not to the true God, as will appear to any one that shall compare all the scriptures where groves are mentioned; but he could not take away those which were erected to the true God, of which this; place manifestly speaks; as also that parallel place 1 Kings 15:14, where See Poole "1 Kings 15:14". Or he took them away, but not fully; or not in the very beginning of his reign.
And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.With Ahab first, and then with his son. This is noted as a blemish in his government, 2 Chronicles 19:2, and proved of most mischievous consequence to Jehoshaphat’s posterity; as we shall see, 2Ki 9 2Ki 10.
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?Whence the most memorable passages were translated into that canonical book of the Chronicles.
And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land.The sodomites; of whom see Deu 23:17 1 Kings 14:24 15:12.
There was then no king in Edom: a deputy was king.Sent and set over them by the kings of Judah, from the time of David, 2 Samuel 8:14, until the days of Jehoram, 2 Chronicles 21:8.
Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Eziongeber.See 2 Chronicles 20:36. Or, there were to Jehoshaphat ten ships; the ellipsis of the verb substantive, and of the prefix lamed, being frequent in the Hebrew language. Some render the words, he made ten ships; so joining both texts together, and out of both completing the sense.
Of Tharshish; either,
1. Of the sea, as this word is thought sometimes to be used. Or rather,
2. To go to Tharshish, (as it is expressed, 2 Chronicles 20:36) and thence to Ophir, as it here follows. See more on 1 Kings 10:22.
To Ophir; of which see 1 Kings 9:28.
Ezion-geber was in Edom, and consequently in Jehoshaphat’s territories.
Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not.Object. It is said that he did join with Ahaziah herein, 2 Chronicles 20:35,36.
Answ. That was before this time, and before the ships were broken; for the breaking of the ships, mentioned here, 1 Kings 22:48, is noted to be the effect of his sin, in joining with Ahaziah, and of the prophecy consequent upon it, 2 Chronicles 20:37. And good Jehoshaphat being warned and chastised by God for this sin, would not be persuaded to repeat it; whereby he showed the sincerity of his repentance.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.By comparing this verse with 1 Kings 22:41, it appears that Ahaziah was made king by his father, and reigned in conjunction with him, a year or two before Ahab’s death, and as long after it; even as Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat was made king by his father in his lifetime, as we shall see hereafter; which possibly was done in compliance with Ahab’s desire upon marriage of his daughter to Jehoshaphat’s son; and it may be Ahab, to induce and encourage him to do so, gave him an example of it, and made his son his partner in the kingdom.
Reigned two years; either after his father’s death; or one before it, and another after it.
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:Which clause seems here added, to show how little the authority and example of parents or ancestors is to be valued where it is opposed to the will and word of God.
For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.No text from Poole on this verse.