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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
Jehoshaphat joins affinity with Ahab, king of Israel, 2 Chronicles 18:1, 2 Chronicles 18:2; who invites him to assist him in the war against the Syrians, to which Jehoshaphat agrees, 2 Chronicles 18:3. They consult the prophets concerning the success of the war; and all, except Micaiah, promise Ahab victory, 2 Chronicles 18:4-17. Micaiah relates his vision concerning the lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's prophets, 2 Chronicles 18:18-22. Zedekiah, a false prophet, opposes Micaiah; and Micaiah is put in prison, 2 Chronicles 18:23-27. Both the kings go against the Syrians; the confederate armies are defeated, and the king of Israel slain, 2 Chronicles 18:28-31.
1Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab.
Jehoshaphat had riches and honor - The preceding chapter gives ample proof of this.
Joined affinity with Ahab - Took his daughter Athalia to be wife to his son Joram.
2And after certain years he went down to Ahab to Samaria. And Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, and for the people that he had with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramothgilead.
3And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt thou go with me to Ramothgilead? And he answered him, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war.
To Ramoth-gilead - This place belonged to the Israelites, and was now held by the king of Syria.
The whole of this chapter is circumstantially explained in the notes on 1 Kings 22:1-53.
4And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day.
5Therefore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king's hand.
6But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might inquire of him?
7And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, by whom we may inquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.
8And the king of Israel called for one of his officers, and said, Fetch quickly Micaiah the son of Imla.
9And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah sat either of them on his throne, clothed in their robes, and they sat in a void place at the entering in of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them.
The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat - "Ahab consulted false prophets; but Jehoshaphat sought instruction from the presence of the Lord, and prayed at the entering in of Samaria; and before these all the false prophets prophesied lies." - Targum.
10And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made him horns of iron, and said, Thus saith the LORD, With these thou shalt push Syria until they be consumed.
11And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
12And the messenger that went to call Micaiah spake to him, saying, Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one assent; let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and speak thou good.
13And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak.
14And when he was come to the king, the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And he said, Go ye up, and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand.
15And the king said to him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou say nothing but the truth to me in the name of the LORD?
16Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.
17And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil?
18Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD; I saw the LORD sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.
19And the LORD said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner.
20Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith?
Then there came out a spirit - The Targum gives a strange gloss here: "Then the spirit of Naboth of Jezreel came out from the abode of the righteous, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will deceive him. And the Lord said, By what means? To which he answered, I will be a spirit of false prophecy in the mouth of his prophets. And the Lord said, Thou mayest then. But although the power of deceiving them is given unto thee, nevertheless it will not be lawful for thee to sit among the righteous; for whosoever shall speak falsely cannot have a mansion among the righteous. Therefore go forth from me, and do as thou hast said." - Targum.
21And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so.
22Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee.
23Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah upon the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee?
24And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see on that day when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.
25Then the king of Israel said, Take ye Micaiah, and carry him back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son;
26And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I return in peace.
27And Micaiah said, If thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the LORD spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, all ye people.
28So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead.
29And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and will go to the battle; but put thou on thy robes. So the king of Israel disguised himself; and they went to the battle.
I will disguise myself - See the note on 1 Kings 22:30.
30Now the king of Syria had commanded the captains of the chariots that were with him, saying, Fight ye not with small or great, save only with the king of Israel.
31And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.
But Jehoshaphat cried out - "Jehoshaphat cried, and the Word of the Lord brought him assistance." - Targum.
32For it came to pass, that, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back again from pursuing him.
33And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: therefore he said to his chariot man, Turn thine hand, that thou mayest carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.
A certain man drew a bow - The Targum tells us who it was. "Now, Naaman, the captain of the host of the great king of Syria, drew a bow against him, (that the prophecy of Elijah the Tishbite, and of Micaiah the son of Imla, might be fulfilled), and smote the king of Israel between the heart and the caul of the liver, through the place where the coat of mail is joined." See the note on 2 Kings 5:1 for this tradition.
34And the battle increased that day: howbeit the king of Israel stayed himself up in his chariot against the Syrians until the even: and about the time of the sun going down he died.
Stayed himself up - against the Syrians - There was a great deal of true personal courage and patriotism in this last act of the king of Israel: he well knew that if his troops found that he was mortally wounded, they would immediately give way, and the battle would not only be lost, but the slaughter would be great in the pursuit; therefore he stayed himself up till the evening, when the termination of the day must necessarily bring the battle to a close: and when this was done, the Israelites found that their king was slain, and so they left the field of battle to their foes. Thus Israel had a great loss, and the Syrians had got a great deliverance. Had it not been for this accident, the Syrians had probably been defeated. See on 1 Kings 22:36 (note).
In the notes referred to above, the quibbling predictions of false prophets and lying oracles are mentioned, and several instances given; and the whole account of the lying spirit going forth from the Lord to deceive Ahab, particularly considered. See especially the notes as above on 2 Chronicles 18:19 (note), 2 Chronicles 18:23-24 (note).
The reader should never forget a truth so very frequently occurring in the Bible, that God is repeatedly represented as doing what, in the course of his providence, he only permits to be done.