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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
1 Kings 22

 

 

Verse 1

SYRIAN WARS AND AHAB’S DEATH, 1 Kings 22:1-40.

1. Three years without war — Three years from the time of the covenant between Ahab and Ben-hadad. 1 Kings 20:34.


Verse 2

2. Came down — From Jerusalem to Samaria. From every part of the Holy Land Jerusalem was spoken of as up. Compare the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 18. “This visit,” observes Rawlinson, “indicates an entire change in the relations which we have hitherto found subsisting between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. It is probable that the common danger to which the two kingdoms were exposed from the growing power of Syria had induced them to forget their differences, and, remembering their common origin, to join together in a close alliance.”


Verse 3

3. Ramoth in Gilead — Supposed by many, to be identical with the modern es Salt, just south of Mount Gilead, on the east of the Jordan. See note on 1 Kings 4:13. It seems that Ben-hadad had not restored this city to Ahab, and so had failed to meet the conditions of the treaty in which he promised to restore all the cities of Israel which had fallen into his hands 1 Kings 20:34.


Verse 4

4. I am as thou art, my people as thy people — I am in perfect sympathy and affinity with thee; my people and my property are to be treated and used as thine own.


Verse 5

5. Jehoshaphat said — The king of Judah shows a piety superior to that of Ahab. He doubtless knew that Ahab’s former successes against the Syrians were predicted by a prophet of the Lord, (1 Kings 20:13; 1 Kings 12:28;) and he would seek a like encouragement again.


Verse 6

6. About four hundred men — “These four hundred prophets were neither the four hundred prophets of Asherah, (1 Kings 18:19,) who did not appear before Elijah on Carmel, nor the prophets of Baal, as many old expositors thought, for by these Ahab could not inquire at the word of the Lord; but they were the prophets of the calves, that is, prophets of the kingdom of Israel, who complied with the calf worship, and gave themselves out as prophets of Jehovah, worshipped under the symbol of the calves.” — Keil.


Verse 7

7. A prophet of the Lord besides — Jehoshaphat was not satisfied with the four hundred. He would hear Jehovah’s word from another class of prophets; for, while not denying that these were prophets of the Lord, he looked upon them as doubtful characters.


Verse 8

8. I hate him — Some suppose that it was this Micaiah who uttered against Ahab the oracle recorded 1 Kings 20:42. Certain it is that he had spoken concerning Ahab before, and so displeased the king that he had been committed to prison. See 1 Kings 22:26-27.


Verse 9

9. An officer סריס, a eunuch; one who was in constant attendance on the king. The word shows how far Ahab’s court had become modelled after those of the nations around him, for eunuchs were regarded as indispensable to an Oriental sovereign.

Hasten hither Micaiah — This implies that Micaiah was in prison, and could be produced at the king’s order.


Verse 10

10. Each on his throne — Thrones purposely erected for this august occasion near the gates of the city.

Robes — Royal garments.

A void place — Probably the site of an old threshingfloor; a broad, open space, where a vast assembly might gather.


Verse 11

11. Zedekiah — One of the four hundred false prophets.

Made him horns of iron — In order to prophesy by symbol as well as by word.

With these shalt thou push the Syrians — Here was an embodying of the imagery of Deuteronomy 33:17, where of the triumph of Joseph it is said: “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns; with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth.” Not only do Zedekiah’s words and action bear witness to the existence of the Pentateuch at that time, but also show his desire to strengthen his prophecy by embodying in it an old promise to the most prominent tribe in Israel.


Verse 12

12. The Lord shall deliver it into the king’s hand — This announcement was ambiguous, like the heathen oracles, and capable of different explanations, for it did not distinctly designate whether the king of Israel or the king of Syria would be the victor. Micaiah, when called, uttered the same words, (1 Kings 22:15;) and by his manner of voice and look imitated the irony of Elijah at Carmel, (1 Kings 18:27,) as if to suggest to Ahab how misleading and unworthy of Jehovah was such an ambiguous oracle.


Verse 16

16. How many times shall I adjure thee — Here observe how the same words, which in the mouth of the false prophets are by the king regarded as a prophecy of good, in the mouth of Micaiah are regarded as false and of evil omen.


Verse 17

17. As sheep that have not a shepherd — Appropriate simile of a people that have lost their king, and so a prophecy of the fall of Ahab and the dispersion of his army. As Zedekiah had used imagery drawn from the Pentateuch, so does Micaiah also bear witness to that ancient book by using another simile of Moses. Compare Numbers 27:17.


Verse 19

19. I saw the Lord — Here is a vision worthy of Isaiah or Ezekiel.

All the host of heaven standing by him — The prophet drew his imagery from the very scene before him. The kings on their thrones, and the surrounding host assembled at the gate of Samaria, were representative of the King of kings sitting on his throne and surrounded by the host of ministering spirits who do his will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.


Verse 20

20. Who shall persuade Ahab — Here in the light of Divine counsels we see Jehovah giving over an incorrigible sinner to judicial blindness and ruin. Ahab had rejected the truth, and hardened his heart against the force of the most convincing miracles of Divine power, and for this cause God sent him “strong delusion that he should believe a lie.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11.


Verse 21

21. There came forth a spirit — Literally, the spirit; that is, the particular spirit that served as the agent of Divine judgment in this judicial blinding of Ahab’s heart. This spirit was but one of that vast host of evil powers whose ministry so largely affects the children of disobedience. This scene before the throne of the Lord is in perfect keeping with that recorded in Job 1:6-12. it is not merely vision and parable, but, in harmony with other Scriptures, opens to us the knowledge of a vast host of unseen spirits, going to and fro seeking whom they may destroy, (2 Peter 5:8,) yet all held in check, and often, if not always, used by Jehovah himself to execute his wise and holy purposes.


Verse 22

22. Go forth, and do so — Thus the Lord actually sends the lying spirit forth to execute a Divine judgment, just as he sent evil spirits to trouble Saul, (1 Samuel 16:14,) and work the destruction of Abimelech. Judges 9:23. Hence it was something more than a bare permission on the part of God. According to the Scriptures, Jehovah often uses the wicked spirits as agents to accomplish certain Divine judgments, and does not merely permit their work as a matter of simple toleration.


Verse 24

24. Smote Micaiah — This act of insolence was an outburst of rage and malice, prompted by a momentary consciousness that Micaiah’s words were but too true.

Which way went the Spirit — This was an attempt to turn the biting point of Micaiah’s vision against himself. As if he had said: The lying spirit has suddenly gone out from me to speak through thee; how has he effected it so quickly! Which route did he take?


Verse 25

25. Go into an inner chamber — No account of Zedekiah’s subsequent history is recorded, but it has generally been, with much probability, supposed that when Ahab’s friends saw the fatal issue of this war for Ramoth-gilead, they bent their fury against this lying prophet and his associates, and then, too late, Zedekiah painfully recalled the saying of the man of God whom he so maliciously mocked.


Verse 26

26. Carry him back — This expression, together with the following verse, clearly intimates that Micaiah had previously been incarcerated for prophesying contrary to the desires of the king.


Verse 27

27. Bread of affliction — Scanty prison fare, causing pain and sorrow, and ever reminding him of cruelty and want.


Verse 30

30. I will disguise myself — This rendering, which follows the Septuagint, gives the true sense. The Hebrew is literally, to disguise myself and go into battle, as if the words were an exclamation, and thrown in without proper grammatical connexion. Ahab feared the issue of this battle, for Micaiah’s warning words had been to him an evil omen, and he thought by disguising himself to escape personal injury. Possibly, also, spies had informed him of the order of the king of Syria for his men to fight only with the king of Israel.

Put thou on thy robes — Some have imagined that Ahab would have been pleased to have had Jehoshaphat killed in this war that he might seize upon his kingdom and unite it with his own, and therefore counseled him to array himself in his royal robes. As if to favour this thought, the Septuagint has, Put on my apparel. But this is hardly likely, and the sense of the passage more naturally is: Evil is predicted of me, and I will therefore disguise; but this precaution is not necessary for thee, and thou mayest put on thy royal apparel.


Verse 31

31. His thirty and two captains — Whom he had appointed in the room of the thirty-two vassal kings. 1 Kings 20:1; 1 Kings 20:24.

Fight… only with the king of Israel — This is the return which Ahab gets for his kindness in sparing Ben-hadad’s life. 1 Kings 20:32.


Verse 32

32. Jehoshaphat cried out — He called upon God to save him, and probably used in his prayer his own name, or title, or at least some expression by which those Syrian captains learned that he was not the king of Israel. By this means “the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.” 2 Chronicles 18:31.


Verse 34

34. A certain man — Josephus says he was a young nobleman whose name was Naaman; the same, perhaps, who afterwards became a leper and was healed by Elisha. See note on 2 Kings 5:1.

At a venture — This is not a proper rendering. The Hebrew is לתמו, in his innocence; in his simplicity; that is, without any evil intent, and not expecting to strike so sacred a mark as the king. The thought is, not that he shot at random, but that he had no thought that the man at whom he aimed was Ahab.

Between the joints of the harness — Margin, joints and the breastplate. But to speak of smiting between the joints and a part of the armour is strange, and to render joints of the harness or breastplate is not allowable. The word rendered harness is coat of mail, on which see note at 1 Samuel 17:5. The word rendered joints, Bahr explains as a hanging skirt, which protected the lower part of the body, and understands that the arrow penetrated between these two parts of the king’s armour, and entered the lower part of the abdomen.


Verse 35

35. The king was stayed up — Contrary to his first directions to be carried out of the host. The first order was probably partially obeyed; but as the king on retiring saw the battle waxing hotter and hotter, he thought it better for him to stay and witness the fight, and encourage his own troops as far as his disguised presence might serve to do so.

The midst — Or, bosom, of the chariot; the hollow place inside where the warriors stood.


Verse 38

38. Dogs licked up his blood — The blood which all that day had been trickling through his armour and falling down upon the chariot. Thus was partially fulfilled the words of Elijah. 1 Kings 21:19.

And they washed his armour — Rather, and harlots bathed; that is, harlots came and bathed in the water of the pool while it was yet stained with the blood of the fallen king. This fact is recorded to show the unconcern and contempt with which the death of Ahab was regarded even in his own metropolis.


Verse 39

39. The ivory house — Probably his royal palace at Samaria was so ornamented and inwrought with ivory as to be called the ivory house. Of his works no other record now remains.


Verses 41-50

JEHOSHAPHAT’S REIGN, 1 Kings 22:41-50.

The reign of this king of Judah is rapidly passed over in this book, but is more fully detailed in 2 Chronicles chaps. 17-20.


Verse 44

44. Made peace with the king of Israel — His son Jehoram married Ahab’s daughter. 2 Kings 8:18. As we have just seen, Jehoshaphat went up with Ahab to battle against Ramoth-gilead. Blunt finds some undesigned coincidences in this history which serve to confirm its veracity. “Thus, Ahab is succeeded by a son Ahaziah (1 Kings 22:40) on the throne of Israel, and Jehoram is also succeeded by a son Ahaziah (the nephew of the other) on the throne of Judah. 2 Chronicles 22:1. Again, Ahaziah, king of Israel, dies, and he is succeeded by a Jehoram; (2 Kings 1:17; 2 Kings 3:1;) but a Jehoram, the brother-in-law of the former, is at the same moment on the throne of Judah, as his father’s colleague. 2 Kings 1:17. However our patience may be put to the proof in disengaging the thread of Israel and Judah at this point of their annals, we have the satisfaction of feeling that the intricacy of the history at such a moment is a very strong argument for the truth of the history. For though no remark is made upon this identity of names, we at once perceive that it may very naturally be referred to the union which is said to have taken place between the houses.”


Verse 46

46. The sodomites — See note on 1 Kings 14:24. It seems that Asa had not succeeded in removing all. Compare 1 Kings 15:12.


Verse 47

47. No king in Edom — Ever since David subjected the Edomites (2 Samuel 8:13-14) that people had been without a king, and tributary to Israel. In Jehoshaphat’s reign they joined Moab and Ammon against Israel, but were most disastrously defeated by the hand of God. 2 Chronicles 20:10-23.

A deputy was king נצב, a prefect; an officer like one of these twelve (1 Kings 4:7) whom Solomon appointed over the several districts of his kingdom. This officer was sometimes called king. 2 Kings 3:9. “This note is introduced by the writer to account for Jehoshaphat’s building ships at Ezion-geber, which was in the territory of the Edomites, and which showed them to be at that time under the Jewish yoke.” — Clarke.


Verse 48

48. Ships of Tarshish — Ships designed to go to Tarshish, as 2 Chronicles 20:36, explains it. On Tarshish, see note at 1 Kings 10:22, and on Ophir, note on 1 Kings 9:28. Here observe that ships designed to carry on commerce with Tarshish might be built at Ezion-geber, and also might be used to carry on commerce with Ophir. To some it may seem strange that ships designed to go to Tartessus, in Spain, were built on the Red Sea; but if the circumnavigation of Africa was understood in that ancient time, as we have assumed in note on 1 Kings 10:22, then this building of ships at Ezion-geber to go to Tartessus need not seem strange at all. Besides, the former friendly relations between the courts of Jerusalem and Tyre probably no longer existed; and as the Phenicians were masters of the Mediterranean Sea, Jehoshaphat thought his commerce with Tartessus would be safer and easier by way of the Red Sea and the coast of Africa. Keil, however, supposes that this fleet was to be transported from Ezion-geber access the Isthmus of Suez, where Cleopatra afterwards sought to transport her fleet — a supposition hardly probable if the route around Africa were known.

The ships were broken — Probably by a storm, and because the boats were not well-built, and the Jewish sailors had not the proper knowledge of the sea and of the management of ships. In Solomon’s time the Hebrews had the aid of Phenician shipmen both in building and managing their fleets; (1 Kings 9:27;) but now, for want of these, they suffered loss.

Ezion-geber — See note on 1 Kings 9:26.


Verse 49

49. Jehoshaphat would not — From 2 Chronicles 20:36-37, we learn that Ahaziah did join himself with Jehoshaphat in building ships at Ezion-geber; and for allowing this, Jehoshaphat was reproved by the prophet Eliezer, and the ships were wrecked as a Divine judgment for the offence. Accordingly we naturally infer that Jehoshaphat’s attempt to form for himself a navy, as described in the preceding verse, was subsequent to the one spoken of in 2 Chronicles 20:36; and when Ahaziah wished again to join himself with Jehoshaphat in this second attempt, the latter refused. But nevertheless his ship-building proved a failure.


Verse 51

BEGINNING OF AHAZIAH’S REIGN, 1 Kings 22:51-53.

51. Reigned two years — More exactly speaking, one year and part of another. Compare 2 Kings 3:1, and see note on 2 Kings 1:17.

With this account of the beginning of Ahaziah’s reign the next chapter ought to have commenced. It will be seen from these few verses that Ahaziah followed in the footsteps of his wicked father.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 22:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-22.html. 1874-1909.

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