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1 Kings 22:1-40 English Standard Version (ESV)

Ahab and the False Prophets

22 For three years Syria and Israel continued without war. But in the third year Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. And the king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, and we keep quiet and do not take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?” And he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”

And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.” Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire?” And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.” 10 Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11 And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’” 12 And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”

Micaiah Prophesies Against Ahab

13 And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” 14 But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak.” 15 And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” And he answered him, “Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 16 But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” 17 And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’” 18 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” 19 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; 20 and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ 23 Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.”

24 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, “How did the Spirit of the Lord go from me to speak to you?” 25 And Micaiah said, “Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself.” 26 And the king of Israel said, “Seize Micaiah, and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king's son, 27 and say, ‘Thus says the king, “Put this fellow in prison and feed him meager rations of bread and water, until I come in peace.”’” 28 And Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, all you peoples!”

Ahab Killed in Battle

29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. 30 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. 31 Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, “Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the king of Israel.” 32 And when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is surely the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him. And Jehoshaphat cried out. 33 And when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. 34 But a certain man drew his bow at random[a] and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” 35 And the battle continued that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died. And the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot. 36 And about sunset a cry went through the army, “Every man to his city, and every man to his country!”

37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria. And they buried the king in Samaria. 38 And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the Lord that he had spoken. 39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab and all that he did, and the ivory house that he built and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 40 So Ahab slept with his fathers, and Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Kings 22:34 Hebrew in his innocence
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

1 Kings 22:1-40 The Message (MSG)

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.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

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