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Verses 1-53

Ahab and Micaiah. Ahab’s Death at Ramoth-gllead. Reign of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah

1. Three years] probably calculated from the peace described in 1 Kings 20:34.

2. Jehoshaphat.. came down] The earlier hostility between Judah and Israel (see 1 Kings 15:16-24) had by this time given place not only to peace but to friendship, which had been cemented (as appears from 2 Kings 8:18) by a marriage between Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram and Ahab’s daughter Athaliah. It is possible that the change in the relations of the two countries had been brought about by success on the part of the northern kingdom, and that Judah had become a vassal of its neighbour: at any rate, both on this occasion and on a later one (2 Kings 3:7.), the king of Judah is found aiding the king of Israel in a war which only promoted the interests of the latter. The cessation of hostilities between the two kingdoms was in many ways a benefit to both; but for Judah the connexion with Israel was attended by serious drawbacks, for besides having to furnish assistance in war, it became infected with the Baal worship introduced by Ahab. Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahab is explicitly condemned in 2 Chronicles 19:2.

3. Ramoth in Gilead] situated a little N. of the Jabbok (the modern es Salt). The city had perhaps been amongst those which had been taken from Omri by Benhadad I, king of Syria, and which his son, Benhadad II, had agreed to restore (1 Kings 20:34).

5. Enquire... of the Lord] Jehoshaphat’s piety led him to seek the divine guidance before starting on the proposed expedition.

To day] better, ’first of all’: cp. 1 Kings 1:51 Genesis 25:31; (RM).

6. The prophets] These must have been prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 22:5, 1 Kings 22:11), so that though the worship of the Lord (Jehovah) had ceased to be predominant in Israel, it was far from being extinguished, and the prophets had probably recovered some of their influence after the repentance of Ahab recorded in 1 Kings 21:27; But though the 400 were doubtless prophets of the true God, they were presumably in sympathy with the prevalent calf-worship, and escaped persecution by tolerating Baal worship.

7. A prophet of the Lord besides] i.e. is there not another prophet of the Lord beside these, one who dissociated himself from the prophets alluded to in note on 1 Kings 22:6.

8. He doth not.. good] cp. on 1 Kings 20:35.

10. In the entrance of the gate] the usual place for popular assemblages (cp. 2 Samuel 19:8) and the dispensing of justice (2 Samuel 15:2).

11. Made him.. iron] For symbolic acts employed by prophets see on 1 Kings 11:31. Horns were natural emblems for weapons of offence (Deuteronomy 23:17).

15. Go, and prosper] Micaiah, as the king saw, was not speaking seriously, but repeated in mockery the words of the 400 prophets (1 Kings 22:6), which had doubtless been reported to him (1 Kings 22:13).

19. I saw the Lord] For similar prophetic visions see Isaiah 6; Ezekiel 1. The host of heaven] i.e. angelic spirits (cp. Psalms 103:20-21) constituting the court of heaven in attendance upon its king.

21. There came forth a spirit] In several passages in the OT. infatuation is ascribed to the influence of an evil spirit from the Lord (see Judges 9:23; 1 Samuel 16:14; 1 Samuel 19:9), though the personal nature of such a spirit is not generally so clearly implied as here. The lying spirit is regarded as one of God’s ministers, occasioning harm, indeed, but in subordination to the divine purposes: cp. Job 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:11. The doctrine of an evil spirit antagonistic to God is not developed in the OT.

24. From me.. to thee] Zedekiah claimed to be inspired by the Lord (1 Kings 22:11), And therefore challenged micaiah to explain how he, likewise professing to speak in the name of the Lord, could utter a prophecy of such different tenor.

25. To hide thyself] when the news arrived of Israel’s defeat.

26. The king’s son] He was obviously placed in a position of authority. The sons of Jehoshaphat similarly had charge of ’fenced cities’ (2 Chronicles 21:3).

27. Bread of affliction] i.e. prison fare.

29. Jehoshaphat.. went up] Jehoshaphat had consented to Ahab’s proposal before seeking counsel of the Lord, and in spite of Micaiah’s warning found himself committed to the expedition.

30. I will disguise myself] Ahab’s action implies that Micaiah’s words had made some impression upon him, though not sufficient to make him desist from his purpose. Put thou on thy robes] cp. 2 Samuel 1:10.

31. Thirty and two captains] cp. 1 Kings 20:24. The command given to them is, of course, not to be understood literally.

32. Cried out] Something in his cry, which was perhaps a prayer to the Lord (cp. 2 Chronicles 18:31), revealed that he was not the king of Israel.

34. At a venture] Not without a definite aim, but in ignorance that his mark was the king of Israel (RM ’in his simplicity’).

39. The ivory house, etc.] For the use of ivory in building see Amos 3:15; Psalms 45:8. Though Ahab by his alliance with Zidon had corrupted the religion of the nation, he must have augmented its material prosperity.

41. And Jehoshaphat, etc.] This account of Jehoshaphat’s reign follows on 1 Kings 15:24.

45. The rest of the acts, etc.] see 2 Chronicles 17-20, which records (in addition to what is here related) the institution of a body of Levites to visit the various cities of Judah to teach the people the Law, the establishment of courts of justice both in Jerusalem and in the fenced cities, and the providential deliverance of the king and his army from a great host of Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites.

47. A deputy was king] The royal house of Edom, which had recovered power in the time of Solomon, had been overthrown, and a viceroy, appointed by the king of Judah, now ruled the country. The subjugation of the Edomites probably followed upon the disaster sustained by them and their allies as described in 2 Chronicles 20.

48. Ships of Tharshish.. Ophir] The ships that sailed to Ophir (in Arabia or E. Africa, see on 1 Kings 9:28) were similar to those which traded to Tartessus or Tarsus (in the Mediterranean).

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