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Go to Bible: 1 Kings 22
“they sat peacefully.” For three years Syria and Israel were at peace. The Hebrew text has the word “sat” (or “dwelt”) with the idea of it being a time of some peace; the idea being that when a country is not at war the people can sit and rest and take care of domestic necessities.
“there was no war between Syria and Israel.” Most scholars feel that this time was when Israel and Syria put aside their differences and fought against Assyria. Ahab is mentioned in the chronicles of Shalmaneser III, when he fought Syria and Israel.a That chronicle is the most ancient text mentioning a king of Israel by name.
Apparently, it was during this time of peace that Jehoshaphat and Ahab made a marriage alliance (2 Chron. 18:1), but that marriage alliance is not mentioned in Kings.
“Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, came down.” The Bible does not give a reason why king Jehoshaphat of Judah would visit the wicked king Ahab. However, there is one very likely possibility. The annals of king Shalmaneser III of Assyria show that Ahab participated in a war that a coalition of 12 kings, including both Ahab of Israel and Ben-hadad of Syria, fought against Assyria at Qarqar on the Orontes River. Although the Assyrian records claim the victory, that is almost certainly not the case since the Assyrians withdrew. The northern victory over Assyria would give Jehoshaphat a reason to visit Ahab because stopping Assyria would have been in his interest too. If Assyria took Israel, Judah would be attacked next, which is actually what happened, but later on in history (2 Kings 17-18).
Jehosaphat was reproved for joining this coalition (cp. 2 Chron. 19:1-3).
“the king of Israel.” This is Ahab (cp. 1 Kings 22:20).(top)
“his servants.” In this context, Ahab’s “servants” were his high officials, particularly the commanders in his army (see commentary on 2 Sam. 11:1).
“Ramoth Gilead is ours.” Ramoth Gilead was technically given back to Israel in the treaty of 1 Kings 20:34, but the Syrians never actually returned it. Now Ahab would have to fight for it, and was killed in the battle.(top)
“I am as you are.” This is the kind of answer we would expect from someone in a marriage alliance (2 Chron. 18:1). This is almost certainly political maneuvering because Jehoshaphat likely thought that in the future he would need Israel’s help against Syria or Assyria.(top)
“first.” The Hebrew is “today,” thus, “Please, today, seek the word of Yahweh.” The kings were not going to war that day, so the idea of “today” is before we go to war, or “first,” and many versions go with that translation.(top)
“the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about 400 men.” These prophets claimed to speak for Yahweh even though they were not prophets of Yahweh (cp. 1 Kings 22:11, 12, 24). The chapter never says these were prophets of Baal, even though they likely were, because they lived in the kingdom of Ahab and Jezebel.
“Go up.” Ramoth-gilead was in the Transjordan and up on the heights of Gilead on the way to Bashan.
“Lord.” The prophets do not use the word “Yahweh,” but the more generic word “Adonai.”(top)
“another prophet of Yahweh.” Jehoshaphat does not challenge the claim of the false prophets to be prophets of Yahweh, even though he likely suspected they were not true prophets of Yahweh. Instead, he asked if there was another prophet of Yahweh who could ask Yahweh about the wisdom of going to war at Ramoth-gilead.(top)
|1Ki 22:8||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:9||- (top)|
“at the entrance of the gate of Samaria.” The iron age gate of Samaria has not been found. There is a large Hellenistic gate and it is possible that it was built where the earlier city gate was.(top)
|1Ki 22:11||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:12||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:13||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:14||- (top)|
“Go up and succeed.” This is irony. The prophet Micaiah is mocking the false prophets who had been saying that (1 Kings 22:6, 12). What he really knew from God is in 1 Kings 22:17, which was a prophecy that the king would be killed in the battle (to understand that clearly, we have to know that culturally the king was referred to as the “shepherd” of the people, so for the people to have no shepherd meant the king had been killed; see commentary on Jer. 2:8). Micaiah’s prophecy came true, and Ahab was killed by an archer (1 Kings 22:34-35).
Verses like 1 Kings 22:15 require careful reading and an understanding of the context and the culture. The context reveals the irony to us because we cannot hear Micaiah’s tone of voice when he spoke. However, Ahab and Jehoshaphat did hear his voice and perhaps other gestures as well and immediately knew he was mocking the false prophets (1 Kings 22:16). Culturally, prophets did occasionally use irony to make their point emphatic (cp. Amos 4:4).(top)
|1Ki 22:16||- (top)|
“lord.” The Hebrew is literally “lords,” which is a grammatical plural, in this case, the idiom of the “plural of emphasis,” here used when speaking of the king. The king (singular) is the “shepherd” (singular) of the previous phrase.(top)
|1Ki 22:18||- (top)|
“all the army of heaven standing by him.” This scene in 1 Kings 22 depicts a large meeting of God’s spirit beings. The word “army” is translated from the Hebrew word tsaba’ (#06635 צָבָא) and it refers to an “army” or an “organized army.” Tsaba’ is used of an “army of angels” and also of other groups that are organized because an army is very organized, hence it is used to refer to the stars which are organized, and other large organized groups that are not necessarily a military army but are organized, and that is the case here—God’s assembly is an organized meeting.
In many cases, however, tsaba’, the “army,” does refer to, or emphasize, the military aspect of some group. In fact, God’s angelic “army” is, like the rest of His creation, in a war against evil. The world is a war zone. Ever since the fall of the Devil and his rebellion against God, Good and Evil have been at war. This verse in 1 Kings shows God in front of a huge assembly of spirit beings. God also has an intimate divine council with whom He works to govern His creation.
One thing worth noting is that God’s army of spirit beings is standing by God, they are not being dispatched to help Ahab and Jehosaphat. As we know from the record, Ahab died fighting at Ramoth-gilead. Ahab had been against God for many years, and now he ignores God’s prophet and follows the advice of his false prophets which resulted in his death.
[For more on God’s divine council, see commentary on Genesis 1:26. For more on the larger assemblies that God holds with His spirit beings, see commentary on Job 1:6.](top)
|1Ki 22:20||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:21||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:22||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:23||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:24||- (top)|
“that day.” In this context, “that day” is the day of battle.(top)
|1Ki 22:26||- (top)|
“the prison.” The Hebrew is more literally, “the house of confining.”
“only a little bread and water.” The Hebrew is literally, “the bread of oppression and the water of oppression,” which refers to meager amounts of bread and water, such as one would have if they were afflicted by a famine or a siege. In other words, do not give Micaiah much to eat.(top)
“return, yes, return.” Micaiah emphasizes that Ahab will not return from this battle by using the figure of speech polyptoton, in which the verb is repeated twice but in a different case, in this case, an infinitive paired with an imperfect (for more on polyptoton, see commentary on Gen. 2:16).(top)
“went up.” The subject is plural but the verb is singular, this happens occasionally in Hebrew (see commentary on Gen. 48:16).(top)
“I will disguise myself and go into the battle.” See commentary on 2 Chronicles 18:29.(top)
|1Ki 22:31||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:32||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:33||- (top)|
“badly wounded.” The word “badly” is not in the Hebrew text but is expressed in the verb translated “wounded,” because that is a word that means “sick” or “diseased,” and is not the normal word for wounded or hurt.(top)
“to the bottom of the chariot.” There was so much blood from the wound that Ahab’s clothing did not absorb it all and it ran down to the bottom of the chariot.(top)
|1Ki 22:36||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:37||- (top)|
“the pool of Samaria.” When Samaria was excavated, a large pool (16 feet by 33 feet) was discovered inside the northwest corner of the wall by the palace. However, there is no way to say with certainty that that pool is the one being referred to in 1 Kings 22:38, but it could be. No other pool has been found. Today the pool is filled in and would only be noticed if one knew where to look.
“the prostitutes washed in it.” The Septuagint adds “in it,” but we are not told whether the “it” refers to the pool or the blood. However, it likely refers to the blood. It does not make much sense to define the pool by saying that it was the pool the prostitutes bathed in, because that pool would have had many uses given that it was in the capital city of Israel. It makes more sense that along with the dogs licking up Ahaz’s blood, the prostitutes bathed in it in some kind of act of superstition connected with the blood of the king.
“that he had spoken.” The referent could be Yahweh or Elijah. Elijah spoke the prophecy in 1 Kings 21:19.
“the ivory house that he built.” The house was not built of ivory but was decorated with so much ivory that it was called “the ivory house.”(top)
|1Ki 22:40||- (top)|
“in the fourth year of Ahab.” Ahab reigned 22 years (1 Kings 16:29), so Asa was king of Judah for most of Ahab’s reign.(top)
|1Ki 22:42||- (top)|
“the local shrines.” The Hebrew word “shrines” is bamot, which referred to a place that was leveled and built up and on which were placed various idols and objects of worship. Many of the towns had such shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).(top)
“the king of Israel.” This would be Ahab for the first 18 years of Jehoshaphat’s reign. He is reproved by the prophet for it (2 Chron. 19:1-3).(top)
|1Ki 22:45||- (top)|
“male cult prostitutes.” The noun is masculine, but there is a possibility it is including both male and female cult prostitutes.(top)
“Now there was no king in Edom.” This is likely because Judah was ruling over Edom and would not allow it to have a king, but Jehoshaphat appointed a governor to reign over it.(top)
“at Ezion-geber.” Ezion-geber is most likely Eilat and Aquaba.(top)
|1Ki 22:49||- (top)|
|1Ki 22:50||- (top)|
“he reigned two years over Israel.” The northern kingdom of Israel used a non-accession counting system for their kings in which any part of a year was counted as a year (in contrast to the southern kingdom of Judah, which used an accession-year counting system, in which any part of the first year of a kings reign was not counted because it was counted as part of the final year of the previous king). Ahaziah reigned at least six months in his first year but likely only several months in his “second” year, making his total reign perhaps even less than 12 months, although it could have been a few more months than that.(top)
|1Ki 22:52||- (top)|
“worshiped.” The Hebrew verb is shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), and it is the same Hebrew word as “bow down.” The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body to the earth. Shachah is translated as both “bow down” and “worship;” traditionally “worship” if God is involved and “bow down” if people are involved, but the verb and action are the same, the act of bowing down is the worship.
[For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20.](top)