2 Chronicles 18: Jehoshaphat with Ahab
Notes: We have said that 2 Chronicles is mostly about
the kings of Judah but here Ahab, a particularly bad king of Israel,
is included, but only because Jehoshaphat of Judah has allowed
himself to be linked to him by marriage. Perhaps the best we can
say about Jehoshaphat is that he has good will towards Ahab, even
if he fails to realise how opposed to God Ahab is. For this reason,
Jehoshaphat [father of Jehoram who married Athaliah, thought to
be the daughter of Ahab – see 21:6] went to visit his son's father-in-law,
and finds himself drawn into a potential battle to regain for
Ahab the renegade city of Ramoth Gilead. In the encounter between
the two kings, we see the apostasy of Ahab who has a large number
of prophets of Baal, and the godliness of Jehoshaphat who wants
to hear from a prophet of Jehovah. We will leave further comment
to the end of the chapter.]
1: v.1-27: Micaiah prophesies against Ahab
An unwise alliance
Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honour, and he allied himself
with Ahab [7th kings of Israel]
Jehoshaphat visits Ahab in Samaria
years later he went down to see Ahab in Samaria. Ahab slaughtered
many sheep and cattle for him and the people with him and urged
him to attack Ramoth Gilead.
Ahab asks Jehoshaphat for help against this breakaway city
king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah, ‘Will you go with
me against Ramoth Gilead?' [a
city east of the Jordan that had broken away from Israel]
replied, ‘I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will
join you in the war.'
Jehoshaphat wisely suggests seeking God's counsel
Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, ‘First seek the counsel
of the Lord
Ahab turns to his false prophets
the king of Israel brought together the prophets – four hundred
men – and asked them, ‘Shall we go to war against Ramoth
Gilead, or shall I not?'
they answered, ‘for God will give it into the king's hand.'
Jehoshaphat is unhappy about this and asks for a prophet from
Jehoshaphat asked, ‘Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord
we can enquire of?'
Ahab begrudgingly speaks of Micaiah
king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one prophet
through whom we can enquire of the Lord
, but I hate
him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always
bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.'
king should not say such a thing,' Jehoshaphat replied.
Micaiah is brought before the two kings
the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, ‘Bring
Micaiah son of Imlah at once.'
in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king
of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing-floor
by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets
prophesying before them.
The false prophets had prophesied victory
Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns, and he declared,
‘This is what the Lord
these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.”'
the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. ‘Attack Ramoth
Gilead and be victorious,' they said, ‘for the Lord
it into the king's hand.'
The false prophets tell Micaiah to agree with them
messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, ‘Look, the
other prophets without exception are predicting success for the
king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favourably.'
Micaiah said, ‘As surely as the Lord
lives, I can
tell him only what my God says.'
Micaiah clearly derides Ahab with his answer
he arrived, the king asked him, ‘Micaiah, shall we go to war against
Ramoth Gilead, or shall I not?'
and be victorious,' he answered, ‘for they will be given into
king said to him, ‘How many times must I make you swear to tell
me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord
Micaiah speaks the truth; Ahab is upset
Micaiah answered, ‘I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like
sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord
people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.”'
king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Didn't I tell you that he
never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?'
The prophet speaks of a vision of a lying spirit being sent
continued, ‘Therefore hear the word of the Lord
: I saw the
sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing
on his right and on his left.
said, “Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth
Gilead and going to his death there?”
suggested this, and another that.
a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord
“I will entice him.”
what means?” the Lord
will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,”
will succeed in enticing him,” said the Lord
. “Go and do
now the Lord
has put a
deceiving spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The
has decreed disaster for you.'
The prophet is abused and sent to prison, but he sticks to his
Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face.
‘Which way did the spirit from the Lord
go when he
went from me to speak to you?' he asked.
replied, ‘You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner
king of Israel then ordered, ‘Take Micaiah and send him back to
Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king's son,
say, “This is what the king says: put this fellow in prison and
give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.”'
declared, ‘If you ever return safely, the Lord
has not spoken
through me.' Then he added, ‘Mark my words, all you people!'
2: v.28-34: Ahab is killed at Ramoth Gilead
When the two kings go to battle, Ahab goes in disguise
the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth
king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘I will enter the battle in
disguise, but you wear your royal robes.' So the king of Israel
disguised himself and went into battle.
Aram's intention had been to kill Ahab and mistook Jehoshaphat
the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders, ‘Do not fight
with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.'
the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, ‘This is
the king of Israel.' So they turned to attack him, but Jehoshaphat
cried out, and the Lord
God drew them away from him,
when the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel,
they stopped pursuing him.
Despite all this, Ahab is mortally wounded by a stray arrow
someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between
the breastplate and the scale armour. The king told the chariot
driver, ‘Wheel round and get me out of the fighting. I've been
day long the battle raged, and the king of Israel propped himself
up in his chariot facing the Arameans until evening. Then at sunset
Notes: The incident above, raises a number of issues.
God's prophet declares the will of God – that Ahab will die in
the battle, for his rebellion against God. Ahab's false prophets
of Baal ‘prophesied' victory which was a lie and Ahab either chooses
to believe this lie, or feels he cannot lose face before his prophets,
and so goes into battle despite the warning. Just in case Micaiah's
word is right, Ahab seeks to hide himself to avoid being killed
[which for a while puts Jehoshaphat at risk] but nevertheless
a ‘random' arrow hits him, eventually killing him. God's will
is fulfilled despite Ahab's attempts to thwart Him.
challenge to our understanding comes in the vision that Micaiah
has of heaven [somewhat similar to that found in Job 1 & 2]
where fallen angels [spirits v.20] in God's presence are allowed
a role in the court of heaven. One offers to act in a lying capacity
to deceive the prophets of Baal – and thus they are deceived and
declare lies to Ahab. What we see is God allowing such spirits
to deceive those who are already in rebellion against God – even
in the face of Him having the truth declared by His prophet. The
reader needs to pray for understanding to see the complexity and
reality of such a situation. There are other indicators in scripture
that God uses Satan and his minions to fulfil His will, even as
we see He allowed deception to lead astray the religious authorities
to crucify His Son [see Acts 2:23] to fulfil the bigger plan of