The First Book of Kings
Chapter Twenty-Two

Ahab and Jehoshaphat Versus Aram


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Ahab and Jehoshaphat Versus Aram

Ahab of Israel and Jehohaphat of Judah versus Aram.
1-Kings ch. 22

(ca. 43 minutes)
Talk includes points not mentioned in the text.

1 Kings 22 (New King James Version)
1-Kings chapter 22
22: 1 Now three years passed without war between Syria and Israel.

Remember that the name  translated as "Syria" in Hebrew is Aram whose territory extended far to the north and east.

22: 2 Then it came to pass, in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went down to visit the king of Israel.
The Commentary Meam Loez points out one goes up when arriving  at Jerusalem and down when leaving it no matter what your actual altitude may be.

Jehoshaphat of Judah and Ahab of Israel had previously been hostile to each other. They had now made peace.  Jehoram (Yehoram), the son of Jehoshaphat, was married to the daughter of Ahab.
Not only that but according to tradition 
Jehoshaphat himself married the daughter of Omri and sister of Ahab.   Jehoshaphat was therefore both brother-in-law of Ahab and father-in-law to the daughter of Ahab.                 

22:3 And the king of Israel said to his servants, Do you know that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, but we hesitate to take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?
In chapter 21 we saw how the King of Aram had promised to restore all territories previously taken from Israel. Three years later he had not done so. Ahab decided to take the lands back by force.

22:4 So he said to Jehoshaphat, Will you go with me to fight at Ramoth Gilead?
Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.

22:5 Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, Please inquire for the word of the LORD today.

22:6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to fight, or shall I refrain?
So they said, Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king.
Who were these 400?
It will be remembered that when Elijah challenged the Prophets of
baal at Mount Carmel there had been  prophets of the Asherah also present (1-Kings 18:19).
# Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebels table # [1-Kings 18:19]. #
Yehudah Kiel (Daat Mikra) quotes from Moshe Ziedel that these Prophets from the Asherah had not been stricken by Elijah and had made themselves over to be regular soothsayers on the borderline between idolatry and what was acceptable.
Malbim also says that there were the same 400.
The Asherah could refer to the worship of the goddess Ashtoreth or to the worship of the Almighty in a pagan manner in sacred groves that are also referred to as Asherah.
At Kuntillet Ajrud, in southern Israel, in the former territory of Simeon are depictions of "Yahweh" with a consort goddess alongside an image of  the Egyptian god Bes.  For Dever, the inscriptions prove that in Israel Yahweh could be closely identified with the cult of Asherah, and in some circles the goddess was actually personified as his consort (1984:31).
An inscription on the spot refers to:
     `Yahweh   of Samaria,' (depicted in the form of a calf) "and his consort
From this inscription we can deduce:
1. Simeon though in the south was probably subservient to the northern kingdom ("Samaria") as hinted at by the Bible and included in the Ten tribes who were exiled by Assyria.
2. The worship of the God of Israel was
paganized and mixed up with pagan notions.
The prophets refer to this and frequently condemn it but do not go into most of the details probably due to respect.
For more on this subject see our commentary to Ezekiel 8:18

The false Prophets that Ahab had assembled said:
They said, "the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king".
The word translated as  "the Lord" here is
Adoni meaning lord or master. Where as the word translated as  "the LORD" below is the Tetragrammaton meaning the Hebrew Name for the Almighty.

22:7 And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?[a]
Jehoshaphat the King of Judah did not accept the false prophets that Ahab has assembled.

22:8 So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.
And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say such things!
Micaiah the son of Imlah was the Prophet who had told Ahab he would be punished for releasing the King of Aram (1-Kings 20:42).  Micaiah at the time was incarcerated or under some form of detention
In the care of the Kings officials as we see later (1-Kings 20:26-27). 
The name
Micaiah means "Who is like the Almighty?".
The name "
Imlah" (pronounced "Yimlah") is of uncertain meaning but may be derived from the root "Malay" i.e. full or fulfill, God will fulfill HIS promises.

22:9 Then the king of Israel called an officer and said, Bring Micaiah the son of Imlah quickly!

"officer" in Hebrew "saris" which can mean eunuch though is sometimes applied to any official. Emasculating males (or even animals) is forbidden by the Torah but the Court of Ahab was full of idolaters.

22:10 The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, having put on their robes, sat each on his throne, at a threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them.

#at a threshing floor # in Hebrew "goren". Daat Mikra points out that this was usually a bare rocky space where the grain could be threshed out and remain clean. The term is also used to denote a circular or semi-circular kind of  open-air auditorium.

22:11 Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made horns of iron for himself; and he said, Thus says the LORD: With these you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed.

22:12 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramoth Gilead and prosper, for the LORD will deliver it into the kings hand.
All the other prophets took their cue from Chenaanah and repeated his message.

22:13 Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Please, let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement.

22:14 And Micaiah said, As the LORD lives, whatever the LORD says to me, that I will speak.

22:15 Then he came to the king; and the king said to him, Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall we refrain?
And he answered him, Go and prosper, for the LORD will deliver it into the hand of the king!
Apparently he made his answer in an openly sarcastic manner as we see from the reaction his words received.

22:16 So the king said to him, How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?

22:17 Then 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 house in peace.
The King of Israel was destined to be killed in this war but the Radak points out that apart from Ahab there were not many other casualties.

22:18 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?

22:19 Then Micaiah said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left.

22:20 And the LORD said, Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead? So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.
22:21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.
Spirit. Hebrew "ruach".
These are matters we no little about.
Below are different explanations:

Yehudah Kiel (Daat Mikra):
# "spirit" (
ruach) a certain angel whose task is to seduce and entice human beings to commit sins and foolish deeds. #

The Sages said: A person does not sin unless a spirit of stupidity enters into him.

Psalm 104:4 Who makes His angels spirits,
         His ministers a flame of fire.

Judges 9:23 God sent a spirit of ill will between
Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,

At the beginning of the Book of Job and in the Book of Zechariah (3:1-2) this spirit is referred to as the "
satan" or adversary.

The Sages said that this spirit was connected to the death of Naboth (1-Kings 21:1-10).
Malbim points out that Ahab (through his wife Jezebel) had been responsible for the death of Naboth by bearing false witness against him.
Now he was being punished by "measure for measure" in that the Spirit was causing his "prophets" to bear false witness in their prophesying for him.

 The Death of Ahab
22:22 The LORD said to him, In what way? So he said, I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.
In those days the Israelites were at both a higher and lower level than we are today. They could reach greater spiritual heights and at a faster pace but they could also fall down spiritually. Many of them had what today would be termed parapsychological powers. The Prophets or so-called prophets that Ahab used in the past had probably often proven themselves.
This time however they were being deliberately mislead from on high.
22:23 Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.

22:24 Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near and struck Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way did the spirit from the LORD go from me to speak to you?

22:25 And Micaiah said, Indeed, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide!

22:26 So the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the kings son;
22:27 and say, Thus says the king: Put this fellow in prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and water of affliction, until I come in peace.

22:28 But Micaiah said, If you ever return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me. And he said, Take heed, all you people!
22:29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead.

22:30 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself and go into battle; but you put on your robes. So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.
The Commentary "Meam Loaz" explains that Jehoshaphat took the Prophecy of Micaiah seriously. He was afraid and admitted it. Ahab was saying that Jehoshaphat need not worry since the prophecy was against him and not against Jehoshaphat. Despoite his fear Ahab went down to battle for the sake of the People of Israel. The Sages actually spoke favorably of Ahab and considered him basically a good person who had been led astray by hius wife Jezebel. Many a husband today unfortunately can probably sympathize with Ahab. Womens Liberation is not a new thing.
Before this last war with Aram there had apparently been a period in which Ahab and the King of Aram had been allied with each other and had even been part of a confederation against Assyria.
An Assyrian inscription describes the Battle of
Qarqar (in Northern Syria) in which Shalmaneser III of Assyria fought against a confederation of 11 Kings in 853 BCE. This may have taken place after Ahab had defeated Ben Hadad and made friends with him and before hostiles were renewed between them. In the Battle of Qarqar the contingent of Ahab had the greatest number of chariots. The force of Ahab numbered 2,000 chariots and 10,000 men.
The King of
Aram is referred to as Hadadezer but assumedly this is another name for Ben Hadad whom Ahab had previously defeated.
Hahadezer was allied with Ahab together with along with the Kings of Hamath, Gue [Cilicia], Musra [an Egyptian colony in Northern Syria], Irqanata, Arwad (on the Syrian Coast), Usannata (in the Jeble region of Lebanon), Shianu (in the Jeble region of Lebanon), King Gindibu of Arabia, King Ba'asa, son of Ruhubi, of the land of Aman (Lebanon).
The force of
Hadadezer was 1,200 chariots, 1,200 horsemen and 20,000 soldiers;

# The Assyrian king claimed a victory, but his immediate return and subsequent expeditions in 849 BC and 846 BC against a similar but unspecified coalition seem to show that he met with no lasting success. #

Whatever the case or whenever they had been on friendly terms this had now ended and the Kings of Aram and Israel were about to war against each other with the King of Judah fighting alongside the forces of Israel.

22:31 Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, saying, Fight with no one small or great, but only with the king of Israel.
This order to focus on the King of Israel was more than a tactical strategy. It was not just a case of aiming for the commander in order to demoralize the troops. It also reflected malicious animosity towards Ahab. The Commentary "Meam Loaz" points out the great ingratitude and cruelty of the King of Aram (Syria). Ahab had spared his life and restored him to the throne despite the fact that the King of Aram had been conducted a war of aggression against Israel.
In Yiddish there is saying, "Why do you hate me so much seeing that I never once did you a favor?"
Evil people despise and resent they who have shown them kindness.

Another point that is perhaps indicated here is that people feel things. Micaiah had prophesied that Ahab would be killed. It could be that the King of Aram sensed it also and gave the order he gave since he realized that Ahab was vulnerable. It was in the air, as if to say.

22:32 So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely it is the king of Israel! Therefore they turned aside to fight against him, and Jehoshaphat cried out.

22:33 And it happened, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.

22:34 Now a certain man drew a bow at random, and struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. So he said to the driver of his chariot, Turn around and take me out of the battle, for I am wounded.

22:35 The battle increased that day; and the king was propped up in his chariot, facing the Syrians, and died at evening. The blood ran out from the wound onto the floor of the chariot.
See what a hero Ahab was in his won way! He had been hit by an arrow and mortally wounded. He did not return from the battle-field to get treatment that may have saved his life. He stayed, propped himself up and kept the battle going.

22:36 Then, as the sun was going down, a shout went throughout the army, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country!

22:37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria. And they buried the king in Samaria.

22:38 Then someone washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood while the harlots bathed,[b] according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken.

# dogs # Hebrew "klavim" . Some modern commentators says that the word "Kelev" meaning "dog" was also used by the Canaanites (of whom the Phoneicians were part) for a male prostitute. It has been suggested that such is the intention here.

22:39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, the ivory house which he built and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
# the ivory house #. This was not a house made of ivory but rather made of wood or stone with ivory carvings inserted in to the wood etc. Samaria was a center of ivory carving. Half-completed carvings from what are considered to have been workshops have been found in the ruins of Samaria. Many ivory carvings were recovered from the excavations of Samaria. In addition archaeological finds in the Assyrian Palaces have given us numerous carvings that originated in Samaria and that the Kings of Assyria were destined to take away as booty.  The motifs were often similar to those found in Egypt and Pheonicia.

Some of the carvings from Samaria may be seen on our web-sites.

Ivory Engravings from the area of Northern Israel

Not only did Ahab have a House of Ivory that he was known for but so apparently did other leading Israelite dignitaries.
Ivory was a precious item in those days as it is today. One of the signs of wealth that Israel benefited from was their access to ivory sources and their working of the material. This is described by Amos who mocks the aristocracy of Samaria:
The Houses of Ivory were to be destroyed by the Assyrians as prophesied by Amos:

Where did the ivory come from?
We know the Phoenicians had bases in East Africa as shown by molecular examination of some of the metals they used.  In addition at that time there may well have existed herds of elephants still extant on the plains of Syria. Not only that but a Phoenician inscription mentions ivory from seal walruses that they must have obtained from the North Sea or Baltic in Northern Europe. 
Ahab had built other cities in Israel.
Ahab was a greater king than we realize.             

22:40 So Ahab rested with his fathers. Then Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.

22:41 Jehoshaphat the son of Asa had become king over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.

22:42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mothers name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.

22:43 And he walked in all the ways of his father Asa. He did not turn aside from them, doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD. Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for the people offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.
#high places# Hebrew "bamot" (singular: "bamah"). The people made offerings to the God of Israel at these high places. After the building of the Temple by Solomon in Jerusalem this practice should have been discontinued. They were not worshipping other gods. They were just worshipping the God of Israel in the wrong way. Only in the reign of King Hezekiah (after the reign of 10 more monarchs) were the "bamot" to be removed (2-Kings 18:4).

22:44 Also Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.
Asa, the father of Jehoshaphat, had been art war with the northern Kingdom of Israel of the Ten Tribes.
Jehoshaphat made peace and as we have seen even came to assist the King of Israel in his war with Aram.

22:45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, the might that he showed, and how he made war, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

22:46 And the rest of the perverted persons,[c] who remained in the days of his father Asa, he banished from the land.
#the perverted persons,[c]# : #[c] Hebrew qadesh, that is, one practicing sodomy and prostitution in religious rituals.#
This comment found in the New King James Version is probably correct.
We would rephrase it to say, the practice of male sodomy and/or female prostitution in religious cults.
This may have been part of the Canaanite Idolatry that some of the people had adopted or it may have been a Canaanite practice that had been carried over into the worship of the God of Israel.
We should not be surprised or even
overduly shocked at this perversion. In our own way we are just as bad, maybe worse. Nowadays there are homosexual churches and synagogues in the USA!

22:47 There was then no king in Edom, only a deputy of the king.
Edom was ruled over by Judah. The port of Ezion-Geber on the Red Sea coast was in the Edomite domain.

22:48 Jehoshaphat made merchant ships to go to Ophir for gold; but they never sailed, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion Geber.
#merchant ships#  This should be "Ships of Tarshish".  Tarshish is Tartessos in Spain.
Tarshish may also represent the Atlantic Ocean area in general.
In Bible Codes the name
IRIN (i.e. Ireland) is connected with the Ships of Tarshish.
Enormous quantities of gold products have been found in Ireland dating from the Bronze Age. It is not known where the gold came from. Due to the large quantity involved it has been assumed that the gold must be from a local source but exactly where is not known.
The US dollar sign actually represents the Straits of Gibraltar and thus
Ships of Solomon had sailed to Tarshish. Jehoshapat (four generations later) of Judah together with Ahaziah, the King of Northern Israel, attempted to send a joint group of Ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold.
[1-Kings 22:48]
We see that the Book of Chronicles is critical of Jehoshapat for co-operating with Ahaziah.
Ophir was probably in east or souther Africa. The very name Africa is derived from the same word root as Ophir which in Hebrew connotes "ash" or "dark".
Ezion-Gaber was clin the region of the present ports of Eilat and Akaba (in Jordan) on the Red Sea coast. The ships would sail via the Red Sea down the east coast of Africa, circumvent the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa from the east, sail up the African west coast, and return to the Mediterranean via the Straits of Gibraltar. The whole journey would take three years.

22:49 Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with your servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not.
After the disaster with the ships Jehoshaphat decided to get out of the partnership while the going was good.
This is an important verse. In the time of Solomon the King of
Tyre had sent Phoenician sailors with the servants of Solomon to make the three-year trip to Tarshish. Ahaziah was suggesting that his own men fulfill the role formerly played by the Phoenicians.

22:50 And Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David his father. Then Jehoram his son reigned in his place.
22:51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel.
22:52 He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin;
22:53 for he served Baal and worshiped him, and provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger, according to all that his father had done.
The so-called Celtic peoples of Gaul, Britain, and Ireland were also destined to worship Baal. Britain was known in Welsh Tradition as the "Honey Isle of Bel". Bel is another name for Baal. The Bible always (or nearly always) present "baal" as the name of a foreign pagan god. In actual fact the People of Israel at the popular level may well have confused Baal with the Almighty. The term "baal" means lord or master but it can also connote husband and as a verb "baal" means the male act of coitus. 

After the Death of Solomon:
The Divided Kingdom

The Divided Kingdom
Source of Map:

1-Kings ch.21
1-Kings Contents
End of the First Book of Kings.
The next book is The Second Book of Kings