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1 Kings 16-22 The Message (MSG)

16 1-4 The word of God came to Jehu son of Hanani with this message for Baasha: “I took you from nothing—a complete nobody—and set you up as the leader of my people Israel, but you plodded along in the rut of Jeroboam, making my people Israel sin and making me seethe over their sin. And now the consequences—I will burn Baasha and his regime to cinders, the identical fate of Jeroboam son of Nebat. Baasha’s people who die in the city will be eaten by scavenger dogs; carrion crows will eat the ones who die in the country.”

5-6 The rest of Baasha’s life, the record of his regime, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. Baasha died and was buried with his ancestors in Tirzah. His son Elah was king after him.

That’s the way it was with Baasha: Through the prophet Jehu son of Hanani, God’s word came to him and his regime because of his life of open evil before God and his making God so angry—a chip off the block of Jeroboam, even though God had destroyed him.

Elah of Israel

8-10 In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah son of Baasha began his rule. He was king in Tirzah only two years. One day when he was at the house of Arza the palace manager, drinking himself drunk, Zimri, captain of half his chariot-force, conspired against him. Zimri slipped in, knocked Elah to the ground, and killed him. This happened in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah. Zimri then became the king.

11-13 Zimri had no sooner become king than he killed everyone connected with Baasha, got rid of them all like so many stray dogs—relatives and friends alike. Zimri totally wiped out the family of Baasha, just as God’s word delivered by the prophet Jehu had said—wages for the sins of Baasha and his son Elah; not only for their sins but for dragging Israel into their sins and making the God of Israel angry with their stupid idols.

14 The rest of Elah’s life, what he said and did, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.

Zimri of Israel

15-19 Zimri was king in Tirzah for all of seven days during the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Asa king of Judah. The Israelite army was on maneuvers near the Philistine town of Gibbethon at the time. When they got the report, “Zimri has conspired against the king and killed him,” right there in the camp they made Omri, commander of the army, king. Omri and the army immediately left Gibbethon and attacked Tirzah. When Zimri saw that he was surrounded and as good as dead, he entered the palace citadel, set the place on fire, and died. It was a fit end for his sins, for living a flagrantly evil life before God, walking in the footsteps of Jeroboam, sinning and then dragging Israel into his sins.

20 As for the rest of Zimri’s life, along with his infamous conspiracy, it’s all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.

Omri of Israel

21-22 After that the people of Israel were split right down the middle: Half favored Tibni son of Ginath as king, and half wanted Omri. Eventually the Omri side proved stronger than the Tibni side. Tibni ended up dead and Omri king.

23-24 Omri took over as king of Israel in the thirty-first year of the reign of Asa king of Judah. He ruled for twelve years, the first six in Tirzah. He then bought the hill Samaria from Shemer for 150 pounds of silver. He developed the hill and named the city that he built Samaria, after its original owner Shemer.

25-26 But as far as God was concerned, Omri lived an evil life—set new records in evil. He walked in the footsteps of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who not only sinned but dragged Israel into his sins, making God angry—such an empty-headed, empty-hearted life!

27-28 The rest of Omri’s life, the mark he made on his times, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. Omri died and was buried in Samaria. His son Ahab was the next king after him.

Ahab of Israel

29-33 Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah. Ahab son of Omri was king over Israel for twenty-two years. He ruled from Samaria. Ahab son of Omri did even more open evil before God than anyone yet—a new champion in evil! It wasn’t enough for him to copy the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat; no, he went all out, first by marrying Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and then by serving and worshiping the god Baal. He built a temple for Baal in Samaria, and then furnished it with an altar for Baal. Worse, he went on and built a shrine to the sacred whore Asherah. He made the God of Israel angrier than all the previous kings of Israel put together.

34 It was under Ahab’s rule that Hiel of Bethel refortified Jericho, but at a terrible cost: He ritually sacrificed his firstborn son Abiram at the laying of the foundation, and his youngest son Segub at the setting up of the gates. This is exactly what Joshua son of Nun said would happen.

17 And then this happened: Elijah the Tishbite, from among the settlers of Gilead, confronted Ahab: “As surely as God lives, the God of Israel before whom I stand in obedient service, the next years are going to see a total drought—not a drop of dew or rain unless I say otherwise.”

2-4 God then told Elijah, “Get out of here, and fast. Head east and hide out at the Kerith Ravine on the other side of the Jordan River. You can drink fresh water from the brook; I’ve ordered the ravens to feed you.”

5-6 Elijah obeyed God’s orders. He went and camped in the Kerith canyon on the other side of the Jordan. And sure enough, ravens brought him his meals, both breakfast and supper, and he drank from the brook.

7-9 Eventually the brook dried up because of the drought. Then God spoke to him: “Get up and go to Zarephath in Sidon and live there. I’ve instructed a woman who lives there, a widow, to feed you.”

10-11 So he got up and went to Zarephath. As he came to the entrance of the village he met a woman, a widow, gathering firewood. He asked her, “Please, would you bring me a little water in a jug? I need a drink.” As she went to get it, he called out, “And while you’re at it, would you bring me something to eat?”

12 She said, “I swear, as surely as your God lives, I don’t have so much as a biscuit. I have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a bottle; you found me scratching together just enough firewood to make a last meal for my son and me. After we eat it, we’ll die.”

13-14 Elijah said to her, “Don’t worry about a thing. Go ahead and do what you’ve said. But first make a small biscuit for me and bring it back here. Then go ahead and make a meal from what’s left for you and your son. This is the word of the God of Israel: ‘The jar of flour will not run out and the bottle of oil will not become empty before God sends rain on the land and ends this drought.’”

15-16 And she went right off and did it, did just as Elijah asked. And it turned out as he said—daily food for her and her family. The jar of meal didn’t run out and the bottle of oil didn’t become empty: God’s promise fulfilled to the letter, exactly as Elijah had delivered it!

17 Later on the woman’s son became sick. The sickness took a turn for the worse—and then he stopped breathing.

18 The woman said to Elijah, “Why did you ever show up here in the first place—a holy man barging in, exposing my sins, and killing my son?”

19-20 Elijah said, “Hand me your son.”

He then took him from her bosom, carried him up to the loft where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he prayed, “O God, my God, why have you brought this terrible thing on this widow who has opened her home to me? Why have you killed her son?”

21-23 Three times he stretched himself out full-length on the boy, praying with all his might, “God, my God, put breath back into this boy’s body!” God listened to Elijah’s prayer and put breath back into his body—he was alive! Elijah picked the boy up, carried him downstairs from the loft, and gave him to his mother. “Here’s your son,” said Elijah, “alive!”

24 The woman said to Elijah, “I see it all now—you are a holy man. When you speak, God speaks—a true word!”

18 1-2 A long time passed. Then God’s word came to Elijah. The drought was now in its third year. The message: “Go and present yourself to Ahab; I’m about to make it rain on the country.” Elijah set out to present himself to Ahab. The drought in Samaria at the time was most severe.

3-4 Ahab called for Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. Obadiah feared God—he was very devout. Earlier, when Jezebel had tried to kill off all the prophets of God, Obadiah had hidden away a hundred of them in two caves, fifty in a cave, and then supplied them with food and water.

5-6 Ahab ordered Obadiah, “Go through the country; locate every spring and every stream. Let’s see if we can find enough grass to keep our horses and mules from dying.” So they divided the country between them for the search—Ahab went one way, Obadiah the other.

Obadiah went his way and suddenly there he was—Elijah! Obadiah fell on his knees, bowing in reverence, and exclaimed, “Is it really you—my master Elijah?”

“Yes,” said Elijah, “the real me. Now go and tell your boss, ‘I’ve seen Elijah.’”

9-14 Obadiah said, “But what have I done to deserve this? Ahab will kill me. As surely as your God lives, there isn’t a country or kingdom where my master hasn’t sent out search parties looking for you. And if they said, ‘We can’t find him; we’ve looked high and low,’ he would make that country or kingdom swear that you were not to be found. And now you’re telling me, ‘Go and tell your master Elijah’s found!’ The minute I leave you the Spirit of God will whisk you away to who knows where. Then when I report to Ahab, you’ll have disappeared and Ahab will kill me. And I’ve served God devoutly since I was a boy! Hasn’t anyone told you what I did when Jezebel was out to kill the prophets of God, how I risked my life by hiding a hundred of them, fifty to a cave, and made sure they got food and water? And now you’re telling me to draw attention to myself by announcing to my master, ‘Elijah’s been found.’ Why, he’ll kill me for sure.”

15 Elijah said, “As surely as God-of-the-Angel-Armies lives, and before whom I take my stand, I’ll meet with your master face-to-face this very day.”

16 So Obadiah went straight to Ahab and told him. And Ahab went out to meet Elijah.

17-19 The moment Ahab saw Elijah he said, “So it’s you, old troublemaker!”

“It’s not I who has caused trouble in Israel,” said Elijah, “but you and your government—you’ve dumped God’s ways and commands and run off after the local gods, the Baals. Here’s what I want you to do: Assemble everyone in Israel at Mount Carmel. And make sure that the special pets of Jezebel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of the local gods, the Baals, and the four hundred prophets of the whore goddess Asherah, are there.”

20 So Ahab summoned everyone in Israel, particularly the prophets, to Mount Carmel.

21 Elijah challenged the people: “How long are you going to sit on the fence? If God is the real God, follow him; if it’s Baal, follow him. Make up your minds!”

Nobody said a word; nobody made a move.

22-24 Then Elijah said, “I’m the only prophet of God left in Israel; and there are 450 prophets of Baal. Let the Baal prophets bring up two oxen; let them pick one, butcher it, and lay it out on an altar on firewood—but don’t ignite it. I’ll take the other ox, cut it up, and lay it on the wood. But neither will I light the fire. Then you pray to your gods and I’ll pray to God. The god who answers with fire will prove to be, in fact, God.”

All the people agreed: “A good plan—do it!”

25 Elijah told the Baal prophets, “Choose your ox and prepare it. You go first, you’re the majority. Then pray to your god, but don’t light the fire.”

26 So they took the ox he had given them, prepared it for the altar, then prayed to Baal. They prayed all morning long, “O Baal, answer us!” But nothing happened—not so much as a whisper of breeze. Desperate, they jumped and stomped on the altar they had made.

27-28 By noon, Elijah had started making fun of them, taunting, “Call a little louder—he is a god, after all. Maybe he’s off meditating somewhere or other, or maybe he’s gotten involved in a project, or maybe he’s on vacation. You don’t suppose he’s overslept, do you, and needs to be waked up?” They prayed louder and louder, cutting themselves with swords and knives—a ritual common to them—until they were covered with blood.

29 This went on until well past noon. They used every religious trick and strategy they knew to make something happen on the altar, but nothing happened—not so much as a whisper, not a flicker of response.

30-35 Then Elijah told the people, “Enough of that—it’s my turn. Gather around.” And they gathered. He then put the altar back together for by now it was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes of Jacob, the same Jacob to whom God had said, “From now on your name is Israel.” He built the stones into the altar in honor of God. Then Elijah dug a fairly wide trench around the altar. He laid firewood on the altar, cut up the ox, put it on the wood, and said, “Fill four buckets with water and drench both the ox and the firewood.” Then he said, “Do it again,” and they did it. Then he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. The altar was drenched and the trench was filled with water.

36-37 When it was time for the sacrifice to be offered, Elijah the prophet came up and prayed, “O God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make it known right now that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I’m doing what I’m doing under your orders. Answer me, God; O answer me and reveal to this people that you are God, the true God, and that you are giving these people another chance at repentance.”

38 Immediately the fire of God fell and burned up the offering, the wood, the stones, the dirt, and even the water in the trench.

39 All the people saw it happen and fell on their faces in awed worship, exclaiming, “God is the true God! God is the true God!”

40 Elijah told them, “Grab the Baal prophets! Don’t let one get away!”

They grabbed them. Elijah had them taken down to the Brook Kishon and they massacred the lot.

41 Elijah said to Ahab, “Up on your feet! Eat and drink—celebrate! Rain is on the way; I hear it coming.”

42-43 Ahab did it: got up and ate and drank. Meanwhile, Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bowed deeply in prayer, his face between his knees. Then he said to his young servant, “On your feet now! Look toward the sea.”

He went, looked, and reported back, “I don’t see a thing.”

“Keep looking,” said Elijah, “seven times if necessary.”

44 And sure enough, the seventh time he said, “Oh yes, a cloud! But very small, no bigger than someone’s hand, rising out of the sea.”

“Quickly then, on your way. Tell Ahab, ‘Saddle up and get down from the mountain before the rain stops you.’”

45-46 Things happened fast. The sky grew black with wind-driven clouds, and then a huge cloudburst of rain, with Ahab hightailing it in his chariot for Jezreel. And God strengthened Elijah mightily. Pulling up his robe and tying it around his waist, Elijah ran in front of Ahab’s chariot until they reached Jezreel.

Revenge from Jezebel

19 1-2 Ahab reported to Jezebel everything that Elijah had done, including the massacre of the prophets. Jezebel immediately sent a messenger to Elijah with her threat: “The gods will get you for this and I’ll get even with you! By this time tomorrow you’ll be as dead as any one of those prophets.”

3-5 When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.

Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!”

He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep.

The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.”

8-9 He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep.

Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here?”

10 “I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”

11-12 Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.

13-14 When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” Elijah said it again, “I’ve been working my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”

15-18 God said, “Go back the way you came through the desert to Damascus. When you get there anoint Hazael; make him king over Aram. Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi; make him king over Israel. Finally, anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Anyone who escapes death by Hazael will be killed by Jehu; and anyone who escapes death by Jehu will be killed by Elisha. Meanwhile, I’m preserving for myself seven thousand souls: the knees that haven’t bowed to the god Baal, the mouths that haven’t kissed his image.”

19 Elijah went straight out and found Elisha son of Shaphat in a field where there were twelve pairs of yoked oxen at work plowing; Elisha was in charge of the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak over him.

20 Elisha deserted the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please! Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye—then I’ll follow you.”

“Go ahead,” said Elijah, “but, mind you, don’t forget what I’ve just done to you.”

21 So Elisha left; he took his yoke of oxen and butchered them. He made a fire with the plow and tackle and then boiled the meat—a true farewell meal for the family. Then he left and followed Elijah, becoming his right-hand man.

20 1-3 At about this same time Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his troops. He recruited in addition thirty-two local sheiks, all outfitted with horses and chariots. He set out in force and surrounded Samaria, ready to make war. He sent an envoy into the city to set his terms before Ahab king of Israel: “Ben-Hadad lays claim to your silver and gold, and to the pick of your wives and sons.”

The king of Israel accepted the terms: “As you say, distinguished lord; I and everything I have is yours.”

5-6 But then the envoy returned a second time, saying, “On second thought, I want it all—your silver and gold and all your wives and sons. Hand them over—the whole works. I’ll give you twenty-four hours; then my servants will arrive to search your palace and the houses of your officials and loot them; anything that strikes their fancy, they’ll take.”

The king of Israel called a meeting of all his tribal elders. He said, “Look at this—outrageous! He’s just looking for trouble. He means to clean me out, demanding all my women and children. And after I already agreed to pay him off handsomely!”

The elders, backed by the people, said, “Don’t cave in to him. Don’t give an inch.”

So he sent an envoy to Ben-Hadad, “Tell my distinguished lord, ‘I agreed to the terms you delivered the first time, but this I can’t do—this I won’t do!’”

The envoy went back and delivered the answer.

10 Ben-Hadad shot back his response: “May the gods do their worst to me, and then worse again, if there’ll be anything left of Samaria but rubble.”

11 The king of Israel countered, “Think about it—it’s easier to start a fight than end one.”

12 It happened that when Ben-Hadad heard this retort he was into some heavy drinking, boozing it up with the sheiks in their field shelters. Drunkenly, he ordered his henchmen, “Go after them!” And they attacked the city.

13 Just then a lone prophet approached Ahab king of Israel and said, “God’s word: Have you taken a good look at this mob? Well, look again—I’m turning it over to you this very day. And you’ll know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am God.”

14 Ahab said, “Really? And who is going to make this happen?”

God said, “The young commandos of the regional chiefs.”

“And who,” said Ahab, “will strike the first blow?”

God said, “You.”

15 Ahab looked over the commandos of the regional chiefs; he counted 232. Then he assessed the available troops—7,000.

16-17 At noon they set out after Ben-Hadad who, with his allies, the thirty-two sheiks, was busy at serious drinking in the field shelters. The commandos of the regional chiefs made up the vanguard.

A report was brought to Ben-Hadad: “Men are on their way from Samaria.”

18 He said, “If they’ve come in peace, take them alive as hostages; if they’ve come to fight, the same—take them alive as hostages.”

19-20 The commandos poured out of the city with the full army behind them. They hit hard in hand-to-hand combat. The Arameans scattered from the field, with Israel hard on their heels. But Ben-Hadad king of Aram got away on horseback, along with his cavalry.

21 The king of Israel cut down both horses and chariots—an enormous defeat for Aram.

22 Sometime later the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “On the alert now—build up your army, assess your capabilities, and see what has to be done. Before the year is out, the king of Aram will be back in force.”

23-25 Meanwhile the advisors to the king of Aram said, “Their god is a god of the mountains—we don’t stand a chance against them there. So let’s engage them on the plain where we’ll have the advantage. Here’s the strategy: Remove each sheik from his place of leadership and replace him with a seasoned officer. Then recruit a fighting force equivalent in size to the army that deserted earlier—horse for horse, chariot for chariot. And we’ll fight them on the plain—we’re sure to prove stronger than they are.”

It sounded good to the king; he did what they advised.

26-27 As the new year approached, Ben-Hadad rallied Aram and they went up to Aphek to make war on Israel. The Israelite army prepared to fight and took the field to meet Aram. They moved into battle formation before Aram in two camps, like two flocks of goats. The plain was seething with Arameans.

28 Just then a holy man approached the king of Israel saying, “This is God’s word: Because Aram said, ‘God is a god of the mountains and not a god of the valleys,’ I’ll hand over this huge mob of an army to you. Then you’ll know that I am God.”

29-30 The two armies were poised in a standoff for seven days. On the seventh day fighting broke out. The Israelites killed 100,000 of the Aramean infantry in one day. The rest of the army ran for their lives back to the city, Aphek, only to have the city wall fall on 27,000 of the survivors.

30-31 Ben-Hadad escaped into the city and hid in a closet. Then his advisors told him, “Look, we’ve heard that the kings of Israel play by the rules; let’s dress in old gunnysacks, carry a white flag of truce, and present ourselves to the king of Israel on the chance that he’ll let you live.”

32 So that’s what they did. They dressed in old gunnysacks and carried a white flag, and came to the king of Israel saying, “Your servant Ben-Hadad said, ‘Please let me live.’”

Ahab said, “You mean to tell me that he’s still alive? If he’s alive, he’s my brother.”

33 The men took this as a good sign and concluded that everything was going to be all right: “Ben-Hadad is most certainly your brother!”

The king said, “Go and get him.” They went and brought him back by chariot.

34 Ahab said, “I am prepared to return the cities that my father took from your father. And you can set up your headquarters in Damascus just as my father did in Samaria; I’ll send you home under safe conduct.” Then he made a covenant with him and sent him off.

35 A man who was one of the prophets said to a bystander, “Hit me; wound me. Do it for God’s sake—it’s his command. Hit me; wound me.” But the man wouldn’t do it.

36 So he told him, “Because you wouldn’t obey God’s orders, as soon as you leave me a lion will attack you.” No sooner had the man left his side than a lion met him and attacked.

37 He then found another man and said, “Hit me; wound me.” That man did it—hit him hard in the face, drawing blood.

38-40 Then the prophet went and took a position along the road, with a bandage over his eyes, waiting for the king. It wasn’t long before the king happened by. The man cried out to the king, “Your servant was in the thick of the battle when a man showed up and turned over a prisoner to me, saying, ‘Guard this man with your life; if he turns up missing you’ll pay dearly.’ But I got busy doing one thing after another and the next time I looked he was gone.”

The king of Israel said, “You’ve just pronounced your own verdict.”

41 At that, the man ripped the bandage off his eyes and the king recognized who he was—one of the prophets!

42 The man said to the king, “God’s word: Because you let a man go who was under sentence by God, it’s now your life for his, your people for his.”

43 The king of Israel went home in a sulk. He arrived in Samaria in a very bad mood.

21 1-2 And then, to top it off, came this: Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard in Jezreel that bordered the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. One day Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard so I can use it as a kitchen garden; it’s right next to my house—so convenient. In exchange I’ll give you a far better vineyard, or if you’d prefer I’ll pay you money for it.”

3-4 But Naboth told Ahab, “Not on your life! So help me God, I’d never sell the family farm to you!” Ahab went home in a black mood, sulking over Naboth the Jezreelite’s words, “I’ll never turn over my family inheritance to you.” He went to bed, stuffed his face in his pillow, and refused to eat.

Jezebel his wife came to him. She said, “What’s going on? Why are you so out of sorts and refusing to eat?”

He told her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite. I said, ‘Give me your vineyard—I’ll pay you for it or, if you’d rather, I’ll give you another vineyard in exchange.’ And he said, ‘I’ll never give you my vineyard.’”

Jezebel said, “Is this any way for a king of Israel to act? Aren’t you the boss? On your feet! Eat! Cheer up! I’ll take care of this; I’ll get the vineyard of this Naboth the Jezreelite for you.”

8-10 She wrote letters over Ahab’s signature, stamped them with his official seal, and sent them to the elders in Naboth’s city and to the civic leaders. She wrote “Call for a fast day and put Naboth at the head table. Then seat a couple of stool pigeons across from him who, in front of everybody will say, ‘You! You blasphemed God and the king!’ Then they’ll throw him out and stone him to death.”

11-14 And they did it. The men of the city—the elders and civic leaders—followed Jezebel’s instructions that she wrote in the letters sent to them. They called for a fast day and seated Naboth at the head table. Then they brought in two stool pigeons and seated them opposite Naboth. In front of everybody the two degenerates accused him, “He blasphemed God and the king!” The company threw him out in the street, stoned him mercilessly, and he died.

15 When Jezebel got word that Naboth had been stoned to death, she told Ahab, “Go for it, Ahab—take the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for your own, the vineyard he refused to sell you. Naboth is no more; Naboth is dead.”

16 The minute Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he set out for the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite and claimed it for his own.

17-19 Then God stepped in and spoke to Elijah the Tishbite, “On your feet; go down and confront Ahab of Samaria, king of Israel. You’ll find him in the vineyard of Naboth; he’s gone there to claim it as his own. Say this to him: ‘God’s word: What’s going on here? First murder, then theft?’ Then tell him, ‘God’s verdict: The very spot where the dogs lapped up Naboth’s blood, they’ll lap up your blood—that’s right, your blood.’”

20-22 Ahab answered Elijah, “My enemy! So, you’ve run me down!”

“Yes, I’ve found you out,” said Elijah. “And because you’ve bought into the business of evil, defying God. ‘I will most certainly bring doom upon you, make mincemeat of your descendants, kill off every sorry male wretch who’s even remotely connected with the name Ahab. And I’ll bring down on you the same fate that fell on Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah—you’ve made me that angry by making Israel sin.’”

23-24 As for Jezebel, God said, “Dogs will fight over the flesh of Jezebel all over Jezreel. Anyone tainted by Ahab who dies in the city will be eaten by stray dogs; corpses in the country will be eaten by carrion crows.”

25-26 Ahab, pushed by his wife Jezebel and in open defiance of God, set an all-time record in making big business of evil. He indulged in outrageous obscenities in the world of idols, copying the Amorites whom God had earlier kicked out of Israelite territory.

27 When Ahab heard what Elijah had to say, he ripped his clothes to shreds, dressed in penitential rough burlap, and fasted. He even slept in coarse burlap pajamas. He tiptoed around, quiet as a mouse.

28-29 Then God spoke to Elijah the Tishbite: “Do you see how penitently submissive Ahab has become to me? Because of his repentance I’ll not bring the doom during his lifetime; Ahab’s son, though, will get it.”

22 1-3 They enjoyed three years of peace—no fighting between Aram and Israel. In the third year, Jehoshaphat king of Judah had a meeting with the king of Israel. Israel’s king remarked to his aides, “Do you realize that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us, and we’re sitting around on our hands instead of taking it back from the king of Aram?”

4-5 He turned to Jehoshaphat and said, “Will you join me in fighting for Ramoth Gilead?”

Jehoshaphat said, “You bet. I’m with you all the way—my troops are your troops, my horses are your horses.” He then continued, “But before you do anything, ask God for guidance.”

The king of Israel got the prophets together—all four hundred of them—and put the question to them: “Should I attack Ramoth Gilead? Or should I hold back?”

“Go for it,” they said. “God will hand it over to the king.”

But Jehoshaphat dragged his heels: “Is there still another prophet of God around here we can consult?”

The king of Israel told Jehoshaphat, “As a matter of fact, there is still one such man. But I hate him. He never preaches anything good to me, only doom, doom, doom—Micaiah son of Imlah.”

“The king shouldn’t talk about a prophet like that,” said Jehoshaphat.

So the king of Israel ordered one of his men, “On the double! Get Micaiah son of Imlah.”

10-12 Meanwhile, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat were seated on their thrones, dressed in their royal robes, resplendent in front of the Samaria city gates. All the prophets were staging a prophecy-performance for their benefit. Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had even made a set of iron horns, and brandishing them called out, “God’s word! With these horns you’ll gore Aram until there’s nothing left of him!” All the prophets chimed in, “Yes! Go for Ramoth Gilead! An easy victory! God’s gift to the king!”

13 The messenger who went to get Micaiah said, “The prophets have all said Yes to the king. Make it unanimous—vote Yes!”

14 But Micaiah said, “As surely as God lives, what God says, I’ll say.”

15 With Micaiah before him, the king asked him, “So Micaiah—do we attack Ramoth Gilead, or do we hold back?”

“Go ahead,” he said. “An easy victory. God’s gift to the king.”

16 “Not so fast,” said the king. “How many times have I made you promise under oath to tell me the truth and nothing but the truth?”

17 “All right,” said Micaiah, “since you insist.

I saw all of Israel scattered over the hills,
    sheep with no shepherd.
Then God spoke: ‘These poor people
    have no one to tell them what to do.
Let them go home and do
    the best they can for themselves.’”

18 Then the king of Israel turned to Jehoshaphat, “See! What did I tell you? He never has a good word for me from God, only doom.”

19-23 Micaiah kept on: “I’m not done yet; listen to God’s word:

I saw God enthroned,
    and all the angel armies of heaven
Standing at attention
    ranged on his right and his left.
And God said, ‘How can we seduce Ahab
    into attacking Ramoth Gilead?’
Some said this,
    and some said that.
Then a bold angel stepped out,
    stood before God, and said,
‘I’ll seduce him.’
    ‘And how will you do it?’ said God.
‘Easy,’ said the angel,
    ‘I’ll get all the prophets to lie.’
‘That should do it,’ said God.
    ‘On your way—seduce him!’

“And that’s what has happened. God filled the mouths of your puppet prophets with seductive lies. God has pronounced your doom.”

24 Just then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah came up and punched Micaiah in the nose, saying, “Since when did the Spirit of God leave me and take up with you?”

25 Micaiah said, “You’ll know soon enough; you’ll know it when you’re frantically and futilely looking for a place to hide.”

26-27 The king of Israel had heard enough: “Get Micaiah out of here! Turn him over to Amon the city magistrate and to Joash the king’s son with this message, ‘King’s orders: Lock him up in jail; keep him on bread and water until I’m back in one piece.’”

28 Micaiah said, “If you ever get back in one piece, I’m no prophet of God.”

He added,“When it happens, O people, remember where you heard it!”

29-30 The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah attacked Ramoth Gilead. The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Wear my kingly robe; I’m going into battle disguised.” So the king of Israel entered the battle in disguise.

31 Meanwhile, the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders (there were thirty-two of them): “Don’t bother with anyone, whether small or great; go after the king of Israel and him only.”

32-33 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat they said, “There he is! The king of Israel!” and took after him. Jehoshaphat yelled out, and the chariot commanders realized they had the wrong man—it wasn’t the king of Israel after all. They let him go.

34 Just then someone, without aiming, shot an arrow randomly into the crowd and hit the king of Israel in the chink of his armor. The king told his charioteer, “Turn back! Get me out of here—I’m wounded.”

35-37 All day the fighting continued, hot and heavy. Propped up in his chariot, the king watched from the sidelines. He died that evening. Blood from his wound pooled in the chariot. As the sun went down, shouts reverberated through the ranks, “Abandon camp! Head for home! The king is dead!”

37-38 The king was brought to Samaria and there they buried him. They washed down the chariot at the pool of Samaria where the town whores bathed, and the dogs lapped up the blood, just as God’s word had said.

39-40 The rest of Ahab’s life—everything he did, the ivory palace he built, the towns he founded, and the defense system he built up—is all written up in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. He was buried in the family cemetery and his son Ahaziah was the next king.

Jehoshaphat of Judah

41-44 Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king and he ruled for twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. He continued the kind of life characteristic of his father Asa—no detours, no dead ends—pleasing God with his life. But he failed to get rid of the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines. People continued to pray and worship at these idolatrous shrines. And he kept on good terms with the king of Israel.

45-46 The rest of Jehoshaphat’s life, his achievements and his battles, is all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Also, he got rid of the sacred prostitutes left over from the days of his father Asa.

47 Edom was kingless during his reign; a deputy was in charge.

48-49 Jehoshaphat built ocean-going ships to sail to Ophir for gold. But they never made it; they shipwrecked at Ezion Geber. During that time Ahaziah son of Ahab proposed a joint shipping venture, but Jehoshaphat wouldn’t go in with him.

50 Then Jehoshaphat died and was buried in the family cemetery in the City of David his ancestor. Jehoram his son was the next king.

Ahaziah of Israel

51-53 Ahaziah son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. He ruled Israel for two years. As far as God was concerned, he lived an evil life, reproducing the bad life of his father and mother, repeating the pattern set down by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin. Worshiping at the Baal shrines, he made God, the God of Israel, angry, oh, so angry. If anything, he was worse than his father.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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