1-3They enjoyed three years of peace—no fighting between Aram and Israel. In the third year, Jehoshaphat king of Judah had a meeting with the king of Israel. Israel’s king remarked to his aides, “Do you realize that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us, and we’re sitting around on our hands instead of taking it back from the king of Aram?”
4-5He turned to Jehoshaphat and said, “Will you join me in fighting for Ramoth Gilead?”
Jehoshaphat said, “You bet. I’m with you all the way—my troops are your troops, my horses are your horses.” He then continued, “But before you do anything, ask God for guidance.”
6The king of Israel got the prophets together—all four hundred of them—and put the question to them: “Should I attack Ramoth Gilead? Or should I hold back?”
“Go for it,” they said. “God will hand it over to the king.”
7But Jehoshaphat dragged his heels: “Is there still another prophet of God around here we can consult?”
8The king of Israel told Jehoshaphat, “As a matter of fact, there is still one such man. But I hate him. He never preaches anything good to me, only doom, doom, doom—Micaiah son of Imlah.”
“The king shouldn’t talk about a prophet like that,” said Jehoshaphat.
9So the king of Israel ordered one of his men, “On the double! Get Micaiah son of Imlah.”
10-12Meanwhile, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat were seated on their thrones, dressed in their royal robes, resplendent in front of the Samaria city gates. All the prophets were staging a prophecy-performance for their benefit. Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had even made a set of iron horns, and brandishing them called out, “God’s word! With these horns you’ll gore Aram until there’s nothing left of him!” All the prophets chimed in, “Yes! Go for Ramoth Gilead! An easy victory! God’s gift to the king!”
13The messenger who went to get Micaiah said, “The prophets have all said Yes to the king. Make it unanimous—vote Yes!”
14But Micaiah said, “As surely as God lives, what God says, I’ll say.”
15With Micaiah before him, the king asked him, “So Micaiah—do we attack Ramoth Gilead, or do we hold back?”
“Go ahead,” he said. “An easy victory. God’s gift to the king.”
16“Not so fast,” said the king. “How many times have I made you promise under oath to tell me the truth and nothing but the truth?”
17“All right,” said Micaiah, “since you insist.
I saw all of Israel scattered over the hills,
sheep with no shepherd.
Then God spoke: ‘These poor people
have no one to tell them what to do.
Let them go home and do
the best they can for themselves.’”
18Then the king of Israel turned to Jehoshaphat, “See! What did I tell you? He never has a good word for me from God, only doom.”
19-23Micaiah kept on: “I’m not done yet; listen to God’s word:
I saw God enthroned,
and all the angel armies of heaven
Standing at attention
ranged on his right and his left.
And God said, ‘How can we seduce Ahab
into attacking Ramoth Gilead?’
Some said this,
and some said that.
Then a bold angel stepped out,
stood before God, and said,
‘I’ll seduce him.’
‘And how will you do it?’ said God.
‘Easy,’ said the angel,
‘I’ll get all the prophets to lie.’
‘That should do it,’ said God.
‘On your way—seduce him!’
“And that’s what has happened. God filled the mouths of your puppet prophets with seductive lies. God has pronounced your doom.”
24Just then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah came up and punched Micaiah in the nose, saying, “Since when did the Spirit of God leave me and take up with you?”
25Micaiah said, “You’ll know soon enough; you’ll know it when you’re frantically and futilely looking for a place to hide.”
26-27The king of Israel had heard enough: “Get Micaiah out of here! Turn him over to Amon the city magistrate and to Joash the king’s son with this message, ‘King’s orders: Lock him up in jail; keep him on bread and water until I’m back in one piece.’”
28Micaiah said, “If you ever get back in one piece, I’m no prophet of God.”
He added,“When it happens, O people, remember where you heard it!”
29-30The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah attacked Ramoth Gilead. The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Wear my kingly robe; I’m going into battle disguised.” So the king of Israel entered the battle in disguise.
31Meanwhile, the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders (there were thirty-two of them): “Don’t bother with anyone, whether small or great; go after the king of Israel and him only.”
32-33When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat they said, “There he is! The king of Israel!” and took after him. Jehoshaphat yelled out, and the chariot commanders realized they had the wrong man—it wasn’t the king of Israel after all. They let him go.
34Just then someone, without aiming, shot an arrow randomly into the crowd and hit the king of Israel in the chink of his armor. The king told his charioteer, “Turn back! Get me out of here—I’m wounded.”
35-37All day the fighting continued, hot and heavy. Propped up in his chariot, the king watched from the sidelines. He died that evening. Blood from his wound pooled in the chariot. As the sun went down, shouts reverberated through the ranks, “Abandon camp! Head for home! The king is dead!”
37-38The king was brought to Samaria and there they buried him. They washed down the chariot at the pool of Samaria where the town whores bathed, and the dogs lapped up the blood, just as God’s word had said.
39-40The rest of Ahab’s life—everything he did, the ivory palace he built, the towns he founded, and the defense system he built up—is all written up in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. He was buried in the family cemetery and his son Ahaziah was the next king.
Jehoshaphat of Judah
41-44Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king and he ruled for twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. He continued the kind of life characteristic of his father Asa—no detours, no dead ends—pleasing God with his life. But he failed to get rid of the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines. People continued to pray and worship at these idolatrous shrines. And he kept on good terms with the king of Israel.
45-46The rest of Jehoshaphat’s life, his achievements and his battles, is all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Also, he got rid of the sacred prostitutes left over from the days of his father Asa.
47Edom was kingless during his reign; a deputy was in charge.
48-49Jehoshaphat built ocean-going ships to sail to Ophir for gold. But they never made it; they shipwrecked at Ezion Geber. During that time Ahaziah son of Ahab proposed a joint shipping venture, but Jehoshaphat wouldn’t go in with him.
50Then Jehoshaphat died and was buried in the family cemetery in the City of David his ancestor. Jehoram his son was the next king.
Ahaziah of Israel
51-53Ahaziah son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. He ruled Israel for two years. As far as God was concerned, he lived an evil life, reproducing the bad life of his father and mother, repeating the pattern set down by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin. Worshiping at the Baal shrines, he made God, the God of Israel, angry, oh, so angry. If anything, he was worse than his father.