Micaiah The Prophet

INTRODUCTION: We know very little about Micaiah the son of Imlah, but he is clearly identified as a prophet of God with his brief story recorded in 1 Kings chapter 22 and in a parallel passage in 2 Chronicles chapter 18. Micaiah was in Samaria during the reign of King Ahab in Israel and of King Jehoshaphat in Judah. Elijah was alive during the period described, but there is no indication of any contact between Elijah and Micaiah. Micaiah is called the son of Imlah, with no other information given about Imlah anywhere in scripture.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the American Standard Version.


A - BRIEF NOTES ABOUT ISRAEL DIVIDING INTO A NORTHERN AND A SOUTHERN KINGDOM

1 Kings, chapter 12 through chapter 21 provide the text which is summarized by highlights in the comments section below, with a focus on the succession of kings, and the variable relationship between the two kingdoms.,/p>

COMMENTS: After King Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became king, but ten of the twelve tribes were separated from Judah to be called Israel, and Jeroboam reigned over them as the northern kingdom for twenty-two years. Both kingdoms became idolatrous and there was war between them throughout the reign of Jeroboam, including the three years when Abijam, Rehoboam's son reigned in Judah. Asa became king when his father Abijam died, and he reigned forty-one years. Asa did much to bring Judah back to worship of the LORD, but conflict with Israel continued. Nadab the son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel for two years until he was killed by Baasha who then reigned for 24 years, and in the latter portion of his reign Baasha elevated the conflict with Judah. During that time Asa sent treasures to King Ben-hadad at Damascus who then made war against King Baasha in took part of northern Israel. This was an effective method to cause Baasha to stop building up Ramah against Judah.

The northern kingdom entered a period of leadership turmoil. In the 26th year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah, but one of his captains named Zimri killed him in the 27th year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead. However, Zimri lasted only seven days because when word reached the troops who were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, they appointed their captain Omri to be their king, and the subsequent siege of Tirzah resulted in Zimri dying in the palace fire that he had started. There was a division in Israel with half of the people wanting Omri to be king, and half wanting another man named Tibni the son of Ginath to be king. The division apparently lasted a few years until Tibni died, and in the 31st year of Asa the king in Judah, Omri became king in Israel and he reigned 12 years. After his first 6 years Omri moved from Tirzah and made Samaria the capital of Israel. In the 38th year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel in Samaria and he reigned 22 years. There were some prophets of Jehovah in both kingdoms during the reigns of the various kings, but there was no return to the worship of Jehovah in Israel.

At the end of 41 years as king, Asa died and his son Jehoshaphat became king in Jerusalem. Jehoshaphat began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. Jehoshaphat was 35 years old when he became king, and he followed the good practices of his father as he reigned for 25 years. There is no description of armed conflict between Judah and Israel during the reign of Omri or of his son Ahab. After 3 years of famine in Israel brought by Jehovah, Elijah made a challenge on mount Carmel for the 450 prophets of Baal, and the 400 prophets of the Asherah that ate at Jezebel's table. When Jehovah answered Elijah in a miraculous way, all of the people there obeyed Elijah and killed the 850 false prophets, but Elijah had to flee because Jezebel threatened his life.

In the last 5 years or so of Ahab's reign, Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together; and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and fought against it. An unnamed prophet told Ahab that Jehovah would deliver the victory to him, and a year later when the Syrians returned they would again be defeated so Ahab would know that Jehovah had done it. But after the victory in the second year, Ahab released Ben-hadad who had been captured, and the prophet spoke of the consequence. Thus says Jehovah, Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.


B - AHAB ASKED JEHOSHAPHAT TO HELP HIM RETAKE RAMOTH-GILEAD

2 Chronicles 18 "1 Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance; and he joined affinity with Ahab. 2 And 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 were with him, and moved him to go up [with him] to Ramoth-gilead."

1 Kings 22 "1 And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel. 2 And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3 And the king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth-gilead is ours, and we are still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria? 4 And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle to Ramoth-gilead? And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses. 5 And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire first, I pray thee, for the word of Jehovah. 6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king. 7 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of Jehovah besides, that we may inquire of him? 8 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, there is yet one man by whom we may inquire of Jehovah, Micaiah the son of Imlah: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. 9 Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Fetch quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah."

COMMENTS: The brief passage from 2 Chronicles adds a little flavor to the meeting between Jehoshaphat and Ahab. Jehoshaphat already had many riches and there was a good relationship between the two kings, but Ahab held quite a feast for the whole company who were with Jehoshaphat. Ahab wanted to persuade Jehoshaphat to join forces with him. Ahab had been marvelously successful in battle against superior forces of Syria for two successive years, but he did not acknowledge that Jehovah had made those victories possible. In fact, he allowed his pride to lead him to release Ben-hadad when he should have taken his life. Then after three years of no war with Syria, he boasted to his servants that Ramoth-gilead belonged to Israel and they should take it out of the hand of the king of Syria. When Ahab asked if Jehoshaphat would join him, he readily replied that they could act together, but first he wanted them to inquire for the word of Jehovah. Ahab called together about 400 prophets and asked if he should go up against Ramoth-gilead. they said he should go up for the Lord would deliver it into his hand. The Hebrew term those prophets used was Adonay which can refer to the true God, but also even to a man who is a lord and master.

Jehoshaphat seemingly did not accept the words of all of those prophets, for he asked if there was a prophet of Jehovah, and he used the distinct name of the true and living God. It is interesting that when Ahab said there is one man named Micaiah by whom we may inquire of Jehovah, he also used that distinct name for God. Ahab had preferred as many as 400 prophets to tell him what he wanted to hear, and he said he hated Micaiah because he did not prophesy good concerning him, but only evil. When Jehoshaphat said king Ahab should not say so, Ahab sent an officer to bring Micaiah to them. We have no record in scripture of any previous times when Micaiah was named as one who gave a prophecy to Ahab. Apparently Ahab was not deterred from using large groups of false prophets even after 850 of them had died on mount Carmel after Jehovah had shown his power through the challenge presented there by Elijah some years earlier.


C - A MESSENGER WAS SENT TO BRING MICAIAH BEFORE THE KINGS

1 Kings 22 "10 Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting each on his throne, arrayed in their robes, in an open place at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11 And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron, and said, Thus saith Jehovah, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until they be consumed. 12 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramoth-gilead, and prosper; for Jehovah will deliver it into the hand of the king. 13 And the messenger that went to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets [declare] good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak thou good. 14 And Micaiah said, As Jehovah liveth, what Jehovah saith unto me, that will I speak."

COMMENTS: Ahab and Jehoshaphat each sat upon his own throne, and they were dressed in the splendor of their royal robes. they were in an open area at the entrance to the gate of Samaria, and the 400 prophets were still making their show that Ahab would be victorious in taking Ramoth-gilead. One of them named Zedekiah made iron horns and claimed that Jehovah said Ahab would push the Syrians until they were consumed. The other prophets agreed with Zedekiah and they also now used the name Jehovah, saying he would deliver Ramoth-gilead to Ahab. The messenger who went to call Micaiah told him that all of the prophets gave a good report to Ahab, and he urged Micaiah to agree with them. This was going to be a very intimidating setting for Micaiah to enter, but he told the messenger that as Jehovah lives, what Jehovah said to him was what he would speak. The name Jehovah means "the existing one" and Micaiah feared the eternal, living God more than he feared man.


D - AHAB HAS A SURPRISING RESPONSE TO MICAIAH'S ANSWER

1 Kings 22 "15 And when he was come to the king, the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go up and prosper; and Jehovah will deliver it into the hand of the king. 16 And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou speak unto me nothing but the truth in the name of Jehovah? 17 And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and Jehovah said, These have no master; let them return every man to his house in peace. 18 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?"

COMMENTS: When Micaiah arrived Ahab asked him directly if they should go to Ramoth-gilead to battle or should they hold back. When Micaiah told him to go, and Jehovah would deliver it into his hand, it is odd that Ahab asked how many times he must call Micaiah to an oath to speak unto him nothing but the truth in the name of Jehovah. Though he hated him, he seemed to believe that Micaiah was truly a prophet of Jehovah, and he had apparently not in the past accepted from him any answer that simply catered to what he would like to hear. We do not know whether there was something in Micaiah's voice or demeanor that indicated a sarcastic withholding of the truth. Upon the prompting, Micaiah said he had seen all Israel scattered upon the mountains, and that Jehovah had said They have no master; let every man return to his house in peace. Ahab remarked to Jehoshaphat that this was now as he had said, that Micaiah never prophesied good about him.


E - MICAIAH BOLDLY DISCREDITED ALL OF THE FALSE PROPHETS

1 Kings 22 "19 And [Micaiah] said, Therefore hear thou the word of Jehovah: I saw Jehovah sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. 20 And Jehovah said, Who shall entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said on this manner; and another said on that manner. 21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before Jehovah, and said, I will entice him. 22 And Jehovah said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt entice him, and shalt prevail also: go forth, and do so. 23 Now therefore, behold, Jehovah hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets; and Jehovah hath spoken evil concerning thee. 24 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of Jehovah from me to speak unto thee? 25 And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see on that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself."

COMMENTS: Micaiah continued to speak as he stood before both kings and all of the false prophets. He told them to hear the words of Jehovah as he described that he had seen Jehovah sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing by him. For Micaiah that vision must have been far more important to him than being in the presence of two kings on their thrones with all the great host of men who stood before them. Micaiah said Jehovah sent a lying spirit into the mouth of all of Ahab's prophets to entice him, so he would go up and die at Ramoth-gilead. Then The false prophet Zedekiah went over to Micaiah, slapped him on the cheek, and mocked him by asking which way the spirit of Jehovah went from him to speak to Micaiah. Without any specific details, Micaiah told Zedekiah he would see on the day when he would go into an inner room to hide himself.


F - MICAIAH SPOKE THE TRUTH WITHOUT REGARD FOR HIMSELF

1 Kings 22 "26 And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son; 27 and 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 come in peace. 28 And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, Jehovah hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hear, ye peoples, all of you. 29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead."

COMMENTS: King Ahab ordered that Micaiah be taken into Samaria to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son. He was to be put into prison and fed a minimum of bread and water to denote a condition of affliction until Ahab returned in peace. Even this did not intimidate Micaiah as he spoke boldly to all the people as he told them that if Ahab returned at all, Jehovah had not spoken by him. It is such an interesting point in this narrative to consider that Jehoshaphat seemed to realize that the 400 prophets were not guided by Jehovah in their words, and Ahab had even called Micaiah by an oath to speak only what he heard from Jehovah: yet both kings ignored the warning Micaiah had given and they planned to go up to Ramoth-gilead to a battle that would result in the death of Ahab.


G - results for king Ahab, king JEHOSHAPHAT , Micaiah, and ZEDEKIAH

1 Kings 22 "30 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and go into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle. 31 Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty and two captains of his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel. 32 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely it is the king of Israel; and they turned aside to fight against him: and Jehoshaphat cried out. 33 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him. 34 And a certain man drew his bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the armor: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thy hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am sore wounded. 35 And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even; and the blood ran out of the wound into the bottom of the chariot. 36 And there went a cry throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his country. 37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria. 38 And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood (now the harlots washed themselves [there]); according unto the word of Jehovah which he spake."

2 Chronicles 18 :31 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they turned about to fight against him: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and Jehovah helped him; and God moved them [to depart] from him. 32 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him."

2 Chronicles 19 "1 And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem. 2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the wicked, and love them that hate Jehovah? for this thing wrath is upon thee from before Jehovah. 3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast put away the Asheroth out of the land, and hast set thy heart to seek God."

COMMENTS: Perhaps Ahab was concerned by the words of Micaiah for he wanted to disguise himself while Jehoshaphat wore the clothing that would identify him as a king, and Jehoshaphat agreed. The king of Syria had commanded all 32 captains of his chariots to go specifically after King Ahab. King Jehoshaphat was mistaken to be the king of Israel and he was under hot pursuit until he cried out. The captains stopped their pursuit when they realized he was not Ahab. The passage from 2 Chronicles gives evidence that Jehovah provided the protection for Jehoshaphat. One of the Syrians aimed his bow at random and the arrow went between the joints of King Ahab's armor wounding him seriously, and later he died while still in his chariot. The disguise for King Ahab did not deter fulfillment of the word of Jehovah. Then about sundown, a ringing cry spread through the ranks for every man to return to his own city and country. Ahab was brought back to Samaria and buried, and they washed the blood from his chariot at the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood according to the word of Jehovah which he had spoken.

Jehoshaphat escaped unharmed from the battle, and the last passage above from 2 Chronicles provides a little more detail about him indicating mercy and forgiveness from Jehovah. There is no further information anywhere in scripture about Micaiah, whether he remained in prison at Samaria or was released. There is no more mention at all about Zedekiah, so we cannot know what happened when he went to hide in an inner room, but it is likely from the tenor of Micaiah's comment that he had an unpleasant consequence sometime after their confrontation.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Micaiah remained in Israel even though the people there and their kings rejected worship of you, LORD God. I believe that because of your long suffering and willingness to forgive, that you kept some of your prophets in the midst of those who had abandoned their connection to the temple in Jerusalem. They strayed greatly as they chose their own mode of worship, even to the point of following the false gods of other nations. The true prophets stood firmly on your Word when they were in the place of confrontation with leaders such as Ahab. Over the centuries down to our present day, your written Word has been the foundation for those who will take a firm stand when their faith in you is challenged. I thank you also, LORD, as I see in this story that Ahab had hardened his heart to the point of no return though he had various opportunities to repent. It is also interesting to have the account of Jehoshaphat who sought guidance from the word given by one of your prophets, but then allowed his friendship with Ahab to override the warning he should have heeded. His agreement assured that Ahab followed through to the conflict against the Syrians. the manner in which Ahab died, even though in disguise, shows that human effort cannot turn the Word of the LORD aside. May I allow my reflections on these points to strengthen my trust in your Word, so I will be more apt to follow your will when I might otherwise allow myself to be carried off course. The majority opinion, even of 400 men, has little significance when it is not in line with your perfect will. I thank you, LORD, for those times in the past when I have taken the wrong course like Jehoshaphat, but your mercy and grace protected me far more than my actions deserved. Give me a heart similar to Micaiah so the pictures formed in my mind through your Word will give me the same type of courage as did the vision you gave Micaiah about the outcome of the battle at Ramoth-gilead. Amen, and amen!

Published 30 November 2014