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2 Chronicles 18


(LXX versing)
Jehoshaphat Allies With Ahab Micaiah Warns Ahab Jehoshaphat's Ill-fated Alliance with Ahab The Prophet Micaiah Warns Ahab His Alliance with Ahab and the Intervention of the Prophet
18:1-3 18:1-3 18:1-3 18:1-3a 18:1-3
18:3b-4 The Spurious Prophets Predict Success
18:4-7 18:4-5 18:4-11 18:4-8
18:6-11 18:6
Ahab's False Prophets Assure Victory 18:7
18:8-11 18:8
18:9-11 18:9-11
Micaiah Brings Word From God The Prophet Micaiah Predicts Defeat
18:12-13 18:12-17 18:12-13 18:12 18:12-16
18:14-17 18:14a
18:17 18:17-22
18:18-22 18:18-22 18:18-22 18:18-21
18:23-27 18:23-27 18:23-27 18:23 18:23-27
Ahab's Defeat and Death Ahab Dies in Battle The Death of Ahab The Battle
18:28-34 18:28-19:3 18:28-34 18:28-29 28:28-32

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


1Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor; and he allied himself by marriage with Ahab. 2Some years later he went down to visit Ahab at Samaria. And Ahab slaughtered many sheep and oxen for him and the people who were with him, and induced him to go up against Ramoth-gilead. 3Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, "Will you go with me against Ramoth-gilead?" And he said to him, "I am as you are, and my people as your people, and we will be with you in the battle."

18:1 This is a repeat of 2 Chr. 17:5. Jehoshaphat had no reason to enter an alliance with Israel.

"he allied himself by marriage with Ahab" There was no need to do this. Jehoshaphat made an alliance with a Ba'al worshiping king (cf. 1 Kings 17-19; 2 Chr. 19:2). This alliance would have involved religious liturgy and actions.

It was Jehoshaphat's son Joram who married Athaliah, Ahab's daughter.

18:2 "Some years later" The MT has "at the end of years." Characteristically bad things happened in the later part of the Judean king's reign. See parallel account in 1 Kgs. 22:2-40.

"he went down" There are two possibilities.

  1. literal ‒ Jerusalem was higher than Samaria
  2. theological ‒ everywhere is down from the city of YHWH

"slaughtered many sheep and oxen" The implication is a peace offering, in which the meat was shared, but the text does not say this. It may just have been a banquet (see note at 2 Chr. 18:9).

The purpose of the meal was to get Judah to go to war with Israel to capture Ramoth-gilead (cf. 2 Chr. 18:3).

NASB, NRSV, NJB  "induced"
NKJV, TEV, JPSOA  "persuaded"
REB  "incited"
LXX  "deceived"
Peshitta  "advised"

This VERB (BDB 694, KB 749, Hiphil IMPERFECT with waw, cf. 2 Chr. 18:31) usually has a negative sense (i.e., Deut. 13:6; 1 Sam. 26:19; 2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Kgs. 21:25; 2 Kgs. 18:32; 1 Chr. 21:1; 2 Chr. 18:2; 32:11,15). It is also used in this chapter in a more neutral sense in v. 31 (i.e., diverted).

4Moreover, Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "Please inquire first for the word of the Lord." 5Then the king of Israel assembled the prophets, four hundred men, and said to them, "Shall we go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I refrain?" And they said, "Go up, for God will give it into the hand of the king." 6But Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not yet a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of him?" 7The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me but always evil. He is Micaiah, son of Imla." But Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say so."

18:4 The Chronicler presents Jehoshaphat in a positive, spiritual way (i.e., he wanted confirmation from YHWH).

18:5 These 400 prophets may be linked to those who opposed Elijah at Mount Carmel (cf. 1 Kings 18).

"Go up, for God will give it into the hand of the king" "Go" is a Qal IMPERATIVE (BDB 748, KB 828), while "give" is a Qal IMPERFECT (BDB 678, KB 733) used in a JUSSIVE sense (cf. 2 Chr. 18:11).

They claimed to know the will of God but they simply spoke what they thought the king wanted to hear (cf. v. 14). They were sincere (cf. v. 23) but they were not guided by YHWH.

"Hand" is an idiom for power and control.


18:6 One wonders if there is a theological distinction between Elohim (God) in 2 Chr. 18:5 and "YHWH" in v. 6. However, Micaiah calls YHWH by Eloah in v. 13 (i.e., the SINGULAR of Elohim). For some reason the prophetic word of 400 northern prophets did not convince Jehoshaphat.


18:7 Ahab's view of Micaiah is very clear (i.e., "I hate him"). Obviously he had prophesied to Ahab many times before. YHWH had revealed His will to this northern pagan king. Micaiah's message had always been rejected by Ahab.

"Let not the king say so" This is a Qal IMPERFECT (BDB 55, KB 65) used in a JUSSIVE sense.

8Then the king of Israel called an officer and said, "Bring quickly Micaiah, Imla's son." 9Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting each on his throne, arrayed in their robes, and they were sitting at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 10Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made horns of iron for himself and said, "Thus says the Lord, 'With these you shall gore the Arameans until they are consumed.'" 11All the prophets were prophesying thus, saying, "Go up to Ramoth-gilead and succeed, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king."

18:8 "officer" This (BDB 710) literally means "eunuch" or "castrated person." Originally it referred to servants of the harem or court, but it came to mean "government official" (i.e., Potiphar is called by this term but he is married, Genesis 39; see NIDOTTE, vol. 3, pp. 288-294).

NASB, NKJV, NRSV, TEV, JPSOA  "at the threshing floor"
NJB  "in an open space"
REV, Peshitta  "at the entrance"
LXX  "in the wide space"
AB, p. 104  "a plaza"

KB 203 says the basic root refers to "threshing," but the implication of the NOUN is a large open space outside, but close to, the gate of the city. This huge amount of slaughtered animals is not connected to the cultic center of Samaria, nor the two golden calves at Dan or Bethel. This was a fellowship event, not a worship event.

18:10 This use of physical items to accentuate the prophet's message is like

  1. Jeremiah
    1. made a wooden yoke ‒ Jer. 27:2; 28:10
    2. made an iron yoke ‒ Jer. 28:13-14
  2. Ezekiel
    1. ate a scroll ‒ Ezekiel 3
    2. seized Jerusalem using a brick ‒ Ezekiel 4
    3. cut his hair and divided it into three groups ‒ Ezekiel 5
    4. made a chain ‒ Ezek. 7:23
    5. dug through the wall of his house ‒ Ezekiel 8 (also 12:4)
    6. prepared bandages ‒ Ezek. 12:3

12Then the messenger who went to summon Micaiah spoke to him saying, "Behold, the words of the prophets are uniformly favorable to the king. So please let your word be like one of them and speak favorably." 13But Micaiah said, "As the Lord lives, what my God says, that I will speak."

18:12 Ahab's messenger (cf. 2 Chr. 18:8) encourages Micaiah to speak like all the other 400 prophets have spoken (i.e., favorably of the attack). He does this but in a sarcastic way in v. 14.

18:13 "As the Lord lives" This is a word play on the covenant name for Israel's Deity, YHWH, which is a form of the verb "to be" (cf. Exod. 3:14-16). He is the ever-living, only-living God.


14When he came to the king, the king said to him, "Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I refrain?" He said, "Go up and succeed, for they will be given into your hand." 15Then the king said to him, "How many times must I adjure you to speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?" 16So he said,
 "I saw all Israel
 Scattered on the mountains,
 Like sheep which have no shepherd;
 And the Lord said,
 'These have no master.
 Let each of them return to his house in peace.'"
17Then the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?"

18:14 This is the exact message of 2 Chr. 18:11, which parallels the IMPERATIVE of v. 5.

18:15 Ahab must have been accustomed to Micaiah's sarcasm.

18:16 In poetic form Micaiah predicts the death of Ahab in the battle. Perhaps that is why he spoke v. 14!

18Micaiah said, "Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right and on His left. 19The Lord said, 'Who will entice Ahab king of Israel to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one said this while another said that. 20Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, 'I will entice him.' And the Lord said to him, 'How?' 21He said, 'I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' Then He said, 'You are to entice him and prevail also. Go and do so.' 22Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of these your prophets, for the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you."

18:18-22 This is either

  1. a glimpse into the "heavenly council" (i.e., YHWH and His angels, cf. Job 1-2; Isa. 6:8; Dan. 7:9-10; also note Ps. 103:21; 148:2)
  2. a literary dialogue or dramatic vision to communicate the future. I am attracted to this one because it bothers me that YHWH put a "deceiving spirit" in the mouth of prophets, even fake prophets. He is the unchanging "holy one" (cf. Ps. 102:26-27; Mal. 3:6; James 1:17). YHWH's character is crucial. See Hard Sayings of the Bible, pp. 230-231.

18:18 "sitting on His throne" YHWH does not have a throne. This is ANE imagery for power and reign. YHWH symbolically dwelt between the wings of the cherubim over the ark in the Holy of Holies. YHWH does not have a physical body.


"all the host of heaven" The term may refer

  1. in military contexts to the heavenly armies of angels (i.e., Lord of Hosts, i.e., Josh 6:15)
  2. in contexts related to astral deities who they thought controlled human lives (cf. Deut. 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kgs. 17:16; 2 Chr. 33:3,5; Jer. 8:2; 19:13; Ezek. 8:16; Zeph. 1:5)
  3. simply to the lights in the sky (i.e., sun, moon, stars, comets, cf. Isa. 34:4; 40:26; 45:12)
  4. here, to the servant angels of the heavenly council


"standing on His right and on His left" The "standing" is in contrast to YHWH sitting. They are servants.

The "right. . .left" is an idiom for the numerous angelic servants (cf. Deut. 33:2; Ps. 68:17; Dan. 7:10; Heb. 12:22; Jude v. 14; Rev. 5:11).

NASB, NRSV, NJB, JPSOA, REV, Peshitta  "entice"
NKJV  "persuade"
TEV, LXX  "deceive"

Although this is a different VERB (BDB 834, KB 984, Piel IMPERFECT) from 2 Chr. 18:2, "induced"/"deceived," it is semantically parallel of deception and trying to affect another's will (cf. Ps. 78:6; Jer. 20:7; Ezek. 14:9). This VERB occurs in 2 Chr. 18:19,20,21 (note 1 Kgs. 22:20,21,22).

18:20 "a spirit came forward" Here and in 1 Kgs. 22:21, the MT has the DEFINITE ARTICLE "the Spirit." One wonders if this is meant to denote Satan. He was one of the angels present before YHWH (cf. Job 1-2; Zechariah 3).

We hear similar imagery in 1 Sam. 16:14-15, where "an evil spirit from YHWH" replaces the "holy spirit," which goes to David. There is so much about the angelic realm that humans do not know (i.e., Daniel 10)!

YHWH used evil to accomplish His purposes, as He did in relation to the Messiah.



23Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, "How did the Spirit of the Lord pass from me to speak to you?" 24Micaiah said, "Behold, you will see on that day when you enter an inner room to hide yourself." 25Then the king of Israel said, "Take Micaiah and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king's son; 26and say, 'Thus says the king, "Put this man in prison and feed him sparingly with bread and water until I return safely."'" 27Micaiah said, "If you indeed return safely, the Lord has not spoken by me." And he said, "Listen, all you people."

18:23 This court prophet of Ahab truly thought he represented deity. There are many self-deceived false prophets. "The Spirit of the Lord" represents the true Spirit of prophecy.

How does one know/recognize a false prophet? I have included my notes from Deut. 18:20-22:

Deut. 18:20-22 God's speaker will be known by (1) speaking in YHWH's name, not the names of other gods (cf. v. 20); (2) the accuracy of his statements (cf. v. 22); and (3) Deut. 13:1-2 must also be taken into account because God's dealing with Israel was based on their spiritual response.
  One wonders how contemporary hearers are to judge a prophet if their prediction is beyond their lifetime. Also, what about conditional prophecy that depends on the repentant faith response of the people of that day to which it is addressed (i.e., Jonah)?
  The evaluation of those who claim to speak for God is not easy. Here are some criteria:

  1. content of message
  2. lifestyle of the messenger
  3. correlation of the message with other Bible passages

    False prophets, false teachers, are often very dynamic, educated, logical, and winsome people. In our day the marks of a false speaker might be:

  1. an emphasis on money
  2. a sexual license
  3. a claim to exclusive access to God
    (see A General Introduction to the Bible by Norman Geisler and William Nix, pp. 241-242)
    Helpful Books on the Reality of an Evil Spiritual Realm
  1. Christian Counseling and the Occult by Kurt Kouch
  2. Demons in the World Today by Merrill F. Unger
  3. Principalities and Powers by John Warwich Montgomery
  4. Demons, Demons, Demons by John Newport
  5. Biblical Demonology by Merrill F. Unger
  6. Three Crucial Questions About Spiritual Warfare by Clinton E. Arnold

18:24 Zedakiah, the leader of the false prophets, would hide from Ahab's courtiers and family when it was obvious his prophecies were false!

18:27 "If indeed you return safely" This is an emphatic grammatical construction (i.e., an INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and an IMPERFECT VERB from the same root, BDB 956, KB 1427).

"Listen, all you people" These are the exact words that start the book of Micah (which is a contraction for Micaiah) in Mic. 1:2. There is no historical link between these two prophets except their names.

28So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up against Ramoth-gilead. 29The 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 they went into battle. 30Now the king of Aram had commanded the captains of his chariots, saying, "Do not fight with small or great, but with the king of Israel alone." 31So when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, "It is the king of Israel," and they turned aside to fight against him. But Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him, and God diverted them from him. 32When the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. 33A certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel in a joint of the armor. So he said to the driver of the chariot, "Turn around and take me out of the fight, for I am severely wounded." 34The battle raged that day, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot in front of the Arameans until the evening; and at sunset he died.

18:29 In light of Micaiah's words, King Ahab disguised himself but encouraged Jehoshaphat to wear his kingly armament and ride in his special chariot (i.e., let him be targeted).

"I will disguise myself and go into battle." This phrase has two INFINITIVE ABSOLUTES used as COHORTATIVE VERBS. His plan will not succeed. A "random" arrow, shot by a common soldier, fulfills Micaiah's prophecy (2 Chr. 18:33)!

"but you put on your robes" This IMPERATIVE (BDB 527, KB 519, Qal ) clearly shows

  1. Ahab's superior position in the alliance
  2. Ahab's plan to use Jehoshaphat as "bait"
  3. Ahab's fear of Micaiah's prophecy

18:30 The king of Syria had directed his commanders to identify the king of Israel and attack him directly.

18:31 At first they glance Jehoshaphat was Ahab. Notice the power of God (v. 31) and human volition (v. 32) work together to accomplish YHWH's prophecy (compare vv. 2,31 and vv. 19,20,21; two VERBS, one concept).

"Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him" This is a central theological theme of Chronicles, which obviously spoke clearly to the small post-exilic Judah. Covenant obedience and faith secure YHWH's action.

"Lord. . .God" There is a play between YHWH and Elohim throughout the chapter. Sometimes a contrast (vv. 5-6) or a parallel, as here.


18:33 A random arrow fulfills YHWH's prediction and judgment of the Ba'al worshiping Ahab.

18:33b-34 These verses are difficult to coordinate.

  1. turn around and take me out of the fight
  2. the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot in front of the Syrians until evening (1 Kgs. 22:35 and the LXX have "he had to be propped up," Hophal PARTICIPLE)

The king was the figurative head of the army; when he went down the battle was over (cf. 1 Kgs. 22:36).

18:36 "he died" The death of Ahab helps set an ANE chronology because it happened in the same year as the battle of Qarqar (i.e., 853 b.c.). Ahab was one of twelve kings who tried to stop the advance of the Assyrian Empire under Shalmaneser II, but was defeated. Possibly this defeat is why Ahab of Israel thought he could defeat Ben-hadad of Syria.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. Why would Jehoshaphat want to make an alliance with Ahab?
  2. Was inquiring of God before a battle common in the ANE?
  3. What is the symbolism of the iron horns in 2 Chr. 18:10?
  4. Explain the oath of using "as the Lord lives."
  5. What is the heavenly council?
  6. Does YHWH put a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's prophets? What "spirit" is it?
  7. What does 2 Chr. 18:29 say about the alliance between Israel and Judah?
  8. Why is 2 Chr. 18:31 so theologically significant to the Chronicler?
  9. Why are 2 Chr. 18:33 and 34 confusing?

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