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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Micaiah

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the prevailing form of the name of several persons (one a Levite, 2 Chronicles 13:2), written with considerable diversity in the original and in the ancient translations, as well as the Auth. Vers. (properly, for Heb. Mikayah', מַיכָיָה, who is like Jehovah? 2 Kings 22:12; Sept. Μιχαίας, Vulg. Micha, Auth. Vers. "Michaiah," Nehemiah 12:35, Μιχαία, Michaja, "Michaiah;" Nehemiah 12:41, Μιχαίας, Michaea, "Michaiah;" Jeremiah 26:18, Μιχαίας , Michaeas, "Micah;" paragogically, Heb. Mikah'yehu, מַיכָיְהוּ; Judges 17:1; Judges 17:4, Μιχά, Michas, "Micah;" 1 Kings 22:8-9; 1 Kings 22:13-15; 1 Kings 22:24-26; 1 Kings 22:28, Μιχαίας, Micheas, "Micaiah;" 2 Chronicles 18:7-8; 2 Chronicles 18:12-13; 2 Chronicles 18:23-25; 2 Chronicles 18:27, Μιχαίας , Michaeas, "Micaiah;" Jeremiah 36:11; Jeremiah 36:13, Μιχαίας, Michaeas, "Michaiah;" fully, Heb. Mikaya'hut 2 Chronicles 13:2, Μααχά, Michaja, "Michaiah " 2 Chronicles 17:7, Μιχαίας , Micheas, "Michaiah;" contracted, Heb. Mikah', מַיכָה ; Judges 17:5; Judges 17:8-10; Judges 17:12-13; Judges 18:2-4; Judges 18:13; Judges 18:15; Judges 18:18; Judges 18:22-23; Judges 18:26-27; Judges 18:31, Μιχά, Michas, "Micah;" 1 Chronicles 5:5; 1 Chronicles 8:34-35; 1 Chronicles 9:40-41; 1 Chronicles 23:20, Μιχά, Michas, "Micah;" 1 Chronicles 24:24-25, Μιχά, Micha, "Michah;" 2 Chronicles 18:14, Μιχαίας , Michaeas, "Micaiah;" 2 Chronicles 34:20, Μιχαία, Micha, "Micah;" Jeremiah 26:11 Μιχαίας v.r. Μιχέας and Μηχαίας , Michtas, "Micah" Micah 1:1, Μιχαίας, Michaeas, "Micah;" by Chaldaism, Mika', מַיכָא; 2 Samuel 9:12, and Nehemiah 10:11; Nehemiah 11:17, Μιχά, Μιχά, "Micha;" 1 Chronicles 9:15, Μιχά, Micha, "Micah;" Nehemiah 11:22, Μιχά, Michas, "Micha"). The only person invariably thus called was the son of Imla, and a prophet of Samaria (1 Kings 22:13; 2 Chronicles 18). B.C. 895.

The following abstract of the narrative concerning him is sufficiently copious on certain disputed points. Three years after the great battle with Benhadad, king of Syria, in which the extraordinary number of 100,000 Syrian soldiers is said to have been slain, without reckoning the 27,000 who, it is asserted, were killed by the falling of the wall at Aphek, Ahab proposed to Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, that they should jointly go up to battle against Ramoth-Gilead: which Benhadad was, apparently, bound by treaty to restore to Ahab. Jehoshaphat, whose son Jehoram had married Athaliah, Ahab's daughter, assented in cordial words to the proposal; but suggested that they should first "inquire at the word of Jehovah." Accordingly, Ahab assembled 400 prophets, while, in an open space at the gate of the city of Samaria, he and Jehoshaphat sat in royal robes to meet and consult them. "That these were, however, no true prophets of Jehovah, is evident from their being afterwards emphatically designated Ahab's prophets, in contradistinction to the Lord's (2 Chronicles 18:22-23). It is evident also from the suspicion created in the mind of Jehoshaphat respecting their character by their manner and appearance; for, after they had all spoken, and as having yet to learn the real purpose of heaven, Jehoshaphat asked whether there was not yet a prophet of Jehovah. In consequence of this request Micaiah was mentioned by Ahab, but with the notification that he hated him, for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil' (2 Chronicles 18:8); which, in the circumstances, cannot be regarded otherwise than as a further proof of the essential difference between the actual position of this man and the others who assumed the name of prophets of the Lord."

The prophets unanimously gave a favorable response; and among them, Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah, made horns of iron as a symbol, and announced, from Jehovah. that with those horns Ahab would push the Syrians till he consumed them. For some reason which is unexplained, and can now only be conjectured, Jehoshaphat was dissatisfied with the answer, and asked if there was no other prophet of Jehovah at Samaria? Ahab replied that there was yet one, Micaiah, the son of Imla; but, in words which obviously call to mind a passage in the Iliad (1:106), he added, "I hate him, for he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil." Micaiah was, nevertheless, sent. for; and after an attempt had in vain been made to tamper with him, he first expressed an ironical concurrence with the 400 prophets, and then openly foretold the defeat of Ahab's army and the death of Ahab himself. In opposition to the other prophets, he said that he had seen Jehovah sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him, on his right hand and on his left: that Jehovah said, Who shall persuade Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead; that a spirit (the Heb. has the art. the spirit, as if some special emissary of evil) came forth and said that he would do so; and on being asked, Wherewith? he answered, that he would go forth and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets. Irritated by the account of this vision, Zedekiah struck Micaiah on the cheek, and Ahab ordered Micaiah to be taken to prison, and fed on bread and water, till his return to Samaria. Ahab then went up with his army to Ramoth-Gilead; and in the battle which ensued, Benhadad, who could not have failed to become acquainted with Micaiah's prophecy, uttered so publicly, which had even led to an act of public personal violence on the part of Zedekiah, gave special orders to direct the attack against Ahab, individually. Ahab, on the other hand, requested Jehoshaphat to wear his royal robes, which we know that the king of Judah had brought with him to Samaria (1 Kings 22:10); and then he put himself into disguise for the battle; hoping thus, probably, to baffle the designs of Benhadad and the prediction of Micaiah; but he was, nevertheless, struck and mortally wounded in the combat by a random arrow. We hear nothing further of the prophet. Josephus dwells emphatically on the death of Ahab. as showing the utility of prophecy, and the impossibility of escaping destiny, even when it is revealed beforehand (Ant. 8:15, 6). He says that it steals on human souls, flattering them with cheerful hopes, till it leads them round to the point whence it will gain the mastery over them. This was a theme familiar to the Greeks in many tragic tales, and Josephus uses words in unison with their ideas. (See Euripides, Hippolyt. 1256, and compare Herodot. 7:17; 8:77; 1:91).

From his interest in the story, Josephus relates several details not contained in the Bible, some of which are probable, while others are very unlikely; but for none of which does he give any authority. Thus. he says, Micaiah was already in prison when sent for to prophesy before Ahah and Jehoshaphat, and that it was Micaiah who had predicted death by a lion to the son of a prophet, under the circumstances mentioned in 1 Kings 20:35-36; and had rebuked Ahab after his brilliant victory over the Syrians for not putting Benhadad to death. There is no doubt that these facts would be not only consistent with the narrative in the Bible, but would throw additional light upon it; for the rebuke of Ahab in his hour of triumph, on account of his forbearance, was calculated to excite in him the intensest feeling of displeasure and mortification; and it would at once explain Ahab's hatred of Micaiah, if Micaiah was the prophet by whom the rebuke was given. Nor is it unlikely that Ahab, in his resentment, might have caused Micaiah to be thrown into prison, just as the princes of Judah, about 300 years later, maltreated Jeremiah in the same way (Jeremiah 37:15). But some other statements of Josephus cannot so readily be regarded as probable. Thus he relates that, when Ahab disguised himself, he gave his own royal robes to be worn by Jehoshaphat in the battle of Ramoth-Gilead, an act which would have been so unreasonable and cowardly in Ahab, and would have shown such singular complaisance in Jehoshaphat, that, although supported by the translation in the Septuagint, it cannot be received as true. The fact that some of. the Syrian captains mistook Jehoshaphat for Ahab is fully explained by Jehoshaphat's being the only person in the army of Israel who wore royal robes. Again, Josephus informs us that Zedekiah alleged, as a reason for disregarding Micaiah's prediction, that it was directly at variance with the prophecy of Elijah, that dogs should lick the blood of Ahab, where dogs had licked the blood of Naboth, in the city of Samaria: inasmuch as Ramoth-Gilead, where, according to Micaiah, Ahab was to meet his doom, was distant from Samaria a journey of three days. It is unlikely, however, that Zedekiah would have founded an argument on Elijah's insulting prophecy, even to the meekest of kings who might have been the subject of it; but that, in order to prove himself in the right as against Micaiah, he should have ventured on such an allusion to a person of Ahab's character, is absolutely incredible. (See AHAB).

It only remains to add, that the history of Micaiah offers several points of interest, among which the two following may be specified:

1. Micaiah's vision presents what may be regarded as transitional ideas of one origin of evil actions. In Exodus, Jehovah himself is represented as directly hardening Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 7:3; Exodus 7:13; Exodus 14:4; Exodus 14:17; Exodus 10:20; Exodus 10:27). In the Book of Job, the name of Satan is mentiolled; but he is admitted without rebuke, among the sons of God, into the presence of Jehovah (Job 1:6-12). After the captivity, the idea of Satan, as an independent principle of evil, in direct opposition to goodness, becomes fully established (1 Chronicles 21:1; and compare Wisdom of Solomon 2:24). (See SATAN). Now the ideas presented in the vision of Micaiah are different from each of these three, and occupy a place of their own. They do not go so far as the Book of Job much less so far as the ideas current after the captivity; but they go farther than Exodus.. See Ewald, Poet. Biicher, 3:65. 2. The history of Micaiah is an exemplification in practice of contradictory predictions being made by different prophets. Other striking instances occur in the time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 14:13-14; Jeremiah 28:15-16; Jeremiah 23:16; Jeremiah 23:25; Jeremiah 23:2-6). The only rule bearing on the judgment to be formed under such circumstances seems to have. been a negative one, which would be mainly useful after the event. It is laid down in Deuteronomy 18:21-22, where the question is asked, how the children of Israel were to know the word which Jehovah had not spoken? The solution is, that "if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah has not spoken." (See PROPHET).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Micaiah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/m/micaiah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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