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1 Kings 22:13-28

Context
22:13 Now the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the prophets are in complete agreement that the king will succeed. 1  Your words must agree with theirs; you must predict success.” 2  22:14 But Micaiah said, “As certainly as the Lord lives, I will say what the Lord tells me to say.”

22:15 When he came before the king, the king asked him, “Micaiah, should we attack Ramoth Gilead or not?” He answered him, “Attack! You will succeed; the Lord will hand it over to the king.” 3  22:16 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you solemnly promise in 4  the name of the Lord to tell me only the truth?” 22:17 Micaiah 5  said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep that have no shepherd. Then the Lord said, ‘They have no master. They should go home in peace.’” 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 6  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 7  there?’ One said this and another that. 22:21 Then a spirit 8  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 9  said, ‘Deceive and overpower him. 10  Go out and do as you have proposed.’ 22:23 So now, look, the Lord has placed a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours; but the Lord has decreed disaster for you.” 22:24 Zedekiah son of Kenaanah approached, hit Micaiah on the jaw, and said, “Which way did the Lord’s spirit go when he went from me to speak to you?” 22:25 Micaiah replied, “Look, you will see in the day when you go into an inner room to hide.” 22:26 Then the king of Israel said, “Take Micaiah and return him to Amon the city official and Joash the king’s son. 22:27 Say, ‘This is what the king says, “Put this man in prison. Give him only a little bread and water 11  until I safely return.”’” 12  22:28 Micaiah said, “If you really do safely return, then the Lord has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Take note, 13  all you people.”

1 tn Heb “the words of the prophets are [with] one mouth good for the king.”

2 tn Heb “let your words be like the word of each of them and speak good.”

3 sn “Attack! You will succeed; the Lord will hand it over to the king.” One does not expect Micaiah, having just vowed to speak only what the Lord tells him, to agree with the other prophets and give the king an inaccurate prophecy. Micaiah’s actions became understandable later, when it is revealed that the Lord desires to deceive the king and lead him to his demise. The Lord even dispatches a lying spirit to deceive Ahab’s prophets. Micaiah can lie to the king because he realizes this lie is from the Lord. It is important to note that in v. 14 Micaiah only vows to speak the word of the Lord; he does not necessarily say he will tell the truth. In this case the Lord’s word itself is deceptive. Only when the king adjures him to tell the truth (v. 16), does Micaiah do so.

4 tn Or “swear an oath by.”

5 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Micaiah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

6 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Micaiah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Heb “and fall.”

8 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.

9 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 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.”

11 tn Heb “the bread of affliction and the water of affliction.”

12 tn Heb “come in peace.” So also in v. 28.

13 tn Heb “Listen.”



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