In 1 Kings 22, Ahab and Jehoshaphat were trying to decide whether to go up to Ramoth-gilead. The prophets falsely advised them that God would give it into their hands. However, Jehoshaphat requested to hear from a different Prophet, so they heard from Micaiah. From: 1 Kings 22 (starting in v. 15):

15 When he came to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” And he [e]answered him, “Go up and succeed, and the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 16 Then 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?” 17 So 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.’”

That being the case, why did Jehoshaphat go to the battle anyway? And why did he ask for another prophet in the first place - was he suspicious of the other ones? If so, why?

3 Answers 3


Keil & Delitzsch (Commentary on the Old Testament) says:

These 400 prophets are neither the 400 prophets of Asherah who had not appeared upon Carmel when Elijah was there (1Ki 18:19-20), nor prophets of Baal, as some of the earlier commentators supposed, since Ahab could not inquire of them אֶת־דְּבַר יְהֹוָה. On the other hand, they were not “true prophets of Jehovah and disciples of the prophets” (Cler., Then.), but prophets of Jehovah worshipped under the image of an ox, who practised prophesying as a trade without any call from God, and even if they were not in the pay of the idolatrous kings of Israel, were at any rate in their service. For Jehoshaphat did not recognise them as genuine prophets of Jehovah, but inquired whether there was not such a prophet still in existence (1Ki 22:7), that they might inquire the will of the Lord of him (מֵאֹותֹו).

Although the reign of Ahab is infamous for its bold introduction of Baal-worship, we may suppose that by this time the cult is starting to abate while Yahweh-worship is starting to regain its prominence. However, the worship of Yahweh in the northern kingdom of Israel was not homogenous. The people have indulged into idolatry since Jeroboam's establishment of the golden calves at Dan and Bethel (1 Ki 12:25-33). The calves were not symbols of a new religion, but a modified form of Yahwism where Yahweh is worshipped under the image of a calf. In all likelihood, Ahab's prophets belong to this group. There are a select few, however, who are not part of this cult, as is evidenced by their apparent isolation from the larger group and are characterized by their being persecuted (e.g. Elijah and Micaiah).

Jehoshaphat, being from the southern kingdom of a more "orthodox" Yahwism, must have found something strange about either the form or the prophetic behavior of the prophets of Ahab. Although the text does not explicitly state that, it is clear that Jehoshaphat did in fact express his doubts. It may also be suggested that these prophets were naturally disposed to please Ahab by favoring his plan (in invading Ramoth-gilead) considering the fact that the previously marginalized Yahweh community is now being inquired of by the king.

Jehoshaphat, notwithstanding Micaiah's remarkable revelations, still supported Ahab on the expedition. It is possible that Jehoshaphat, like the prophets, was desirous of pleasing Ahab and therefore unwilling to displease him by refraining from joining the battle. This wrong move endangered his life (1 Ki 22:32), and he was afterwards rebuked by a prophet (2 Chro 19:2).


Jehosaphat being a spiritual man wanted to know the will of God, concerning their going to Ramoth Gilead. Ramoth Gilead belonged to Israel by the word of God but Ahab was out of the will of God. The prophet Elijah had previously prophesied evil concerning Ahab. Ahab had wanted to restore back what materially belonged to them but spiritually he was out of order. Even after Elijah's mount Carmel showdown his heart was not turned to the Lord. The majority of the people had rejected spiritual restoration but wanted material blessings, something of the order today. The people had backslidden with a perpetual backlidding. When a people reject a restoration to God and his word the next thing that follows is Judgment. To get the wider picture let us go to Ezekiel 14:9:

Ezekiel 14:9-11

9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

10 And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him;

11 That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord GOD.

The next thing was to bring judgment by sending a spirit of dillusion that they may believe a lie and be damned by it.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-13

9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

The king and people were off the beaten track of the word. The prophets had backslidden. Their spiritual scenario is depicted in Isaiah 30: 8.

Isaiah 30:8-13

8 Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:

9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:

10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:

11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.

12 Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:

13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. Jehosaphat, being a spiritual man, having spiritual discernment had a reason to doubt this group prophecy or revelation. He wanted to here from someone else who did not belong to this ecumenical council of Hebrew prophets under the headship of Zedekiah and under the patronage of Ahab. He wanted to here someone that was independent from this ecclesiastical hierarchy, not necessary popular in the site of the people or the king. There was Michaiah son of Imlah who stood true to the council of the almighty. Micaiah was spiritual enough to know that in ages past, true God sent prophets stood with the word of God rebuking kings, their priests and prophets for getting astray from the word. When the word of the Lord came, by the prophet Micaiah they were prophesying by a spirit of dissilluson, by a lying spirit. When the word of the Lord came by Micaiah the scenario was thus:

1 Kings 22:19-23

19 And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.

20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.

21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.

22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.

23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.

Yet Moses in yonder years had told them to prove all things:

The word of the Lord by the mouth of His servants the prophets had to come to pass. That is the acid test:

Deuteronomy 18:17-22

17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.

18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?

22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

Here is a group of prophets with thus saith the Lord. Here is one prophet with thus saith the Lord, yet their prophecies were contrary to each other. Here was Jehosaphat a righteous king and here was Ahab an unrighteous king leading Israel, a nation laden with sin to some material prosperity. Here was a group of Hebrew prophets one the side of Ahab prophesying good things to Him. Here was another prophet of doom. Here was Jehosaphat a witness. He was to find out the end of all these prophecies. At the end of it all the true word prevailed.


I suspect Jehoshaphat was being driven by his own desires. He WANTED to go to war alongside Ahab, perhaps with an eye toward eventually uniting the divided kingdom. (After all, they were now in-laws.) He wanted God's blessing more than God's guidance. When he did not get the answer he hoped for, he went to war using his own wisdom, not God's.

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