1 Kings 22:18-22
22:18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you he does not prophesy prosperity for me, but disaster?”
22:19 Micaiah 1 said, “That being the case, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the heavenly assembly standing on his right and on his left.
22:20 The Lord said, ‘Who will deceive Ahab, so he will attack Ramoth Gilead and die 2 there?’ One said this and another that.
22:21 Then a spirit 3 stepped forward and stood before the Lord. He said, ‘I will deceive him.’ The Lord asked him, ‘How?’
22:22 He replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.’ The Lord 4 said, ‘Deceive and overpower him. 5 Go out and do as you have proposed.’
1 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Micaiah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
2 tn Heb “and fall.”
3 tn Heb “the spirit.” The significance of the article prefixed to רוּחַ (ruakh) is uncertain, but it could contain a clue as to this spirit’s identity, especially when interpreted in light of v. 24. It is certainly possible, and probably even likely, that the article is used in a generic or dramatic sense and should be translated, “a spirit.” In the latter case it would show that this spirit was vivid and definite in the mind of Micaiah the storyteller. However, if one insists that the article indicates a well-known or universally known spirit, the following context provides a likely referent. Verse 24 tells how Zedekiah slapped Micaiah in the face and then asked sarcastically, “Which way did the spirit from the Lord (רוּחַ־יְהוָה, [ruakh-Yahweh], Heb “the spirit of the Lord”) go when he went from me to speak to you?” When the phrase “the spirit of the Lord” refers to the divine spirit (rather than the divine breath or mind, Isa 40:7, 13) elsewhere, the spirit energizes an individual or group for special tasks or moves one to prophesy. This raises the possibility that the deceiving spirit of vv. 20-23 is the same as the divine spirit mentioned by Zedekiah in v. 24. This would explain why the article is used on רוּחַ; he can be called “the spirit” because he is the well-known spirit who energizes the prophets.
4 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
5 tn The Hebrew text has two imperfects connected by וְגַם (vÿgam). These verbs could be translated as specific futures, “you will deceive and also you will prevail,” in which case the Lord is assuring the spirit of success on his mission. However, in a commissioning context (note the following imperatives) such as this, it is more likely that the imperfects are injunctive, in which case one could translate, “Deceive, and also overpower.”