When king Ahab sent for Micaiah to prophesy about the battle against Syria he gave a solemn promise that he will only speak what the Lord told him.Then Micaiah went on to prophecy victory against the syrians

1 Kings 22:15 (KJV)

15 Then he came to the king; and the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall we refrain?” And he answered him, “Go and prosper, for the LORD will deliver it into the hand of the king!”

But after being proded further Micaiah prophesies a negative outcome for Israel

1 Kings 22:19-23 (KJV)

19 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. 20 And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ 22 The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’ 23 Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.”

Was Micaiah's initial prophecy meant to be an irony?

  • The Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king does not specify which king. Eventually, all kingdoms will be delivered into the hand of The King of kings. So it was no lie, in the mouth of the prophet. But the Lord had sent a delusion to Ahab and the prophet told him that if he returned in peace the Lord had not spoken by him. I Kings 22:28. And Ahab did not return in peace and the dogs licked up his blood as had been prophesied of him I Kings 22:38.
    – Nigel J
    May 20, 2018 at 10:30
  • @NigelJ,did God also put a lying spirit in Micaiah May 20, 2018 at 12:06
  • What lie did he tell ?
    – Nigel J
    May 20, 2018 at 12:54
  • Go & prosper for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king May 20, 2018 at 13:30
  • 'Prosper' is tsalach Strong 6743 which can be rendered 'advance' or 'push'. It does not assume success. And, again, which 'king' is in view ? Into the hand of which 'king' is the prophet promising deliverance ?
    – Nigel J
    May 20, 2018 at 15:12

1 Answer 1


Here is the scene I see depicted in 1 Kings 22.

  • Jehoshaphat asks Ahab to inquire of the LORD יְהוָ֔ה (Yahweh) concerning Ramoth-gilead. (v. 5)

  • Ahab gathers some 400 prophets and asks THEM whether or not he should go to war against Ramoth-gilead (v. 6). Note that Ahab doesn't ask, "What is the LORD's word concerning Ramoth-gilead?"

  • The prophets reply, "Go up; for the Lord אֲדֹנָ֣י (Adonai) shall deliver into the hand of the king" (v. 6). Note here that "it" is italicized in the KJV, which means the translators have added it to the Hebrew. To me, leaving it out makes the prophets' reply somewhat generic as to what will be delivered into the hand of the king, which was likely intentional.

  • Not satisfied with this, Jehoshaphat asks, "Is there not here a prophet of the LORD יְהוָ֔ה (Yahweh) besides..." (v. 7)

  • Ahab replies, there is Micaiah, but that he hates him.

  • Jehoshaphat insists, and Ahab sends for Micaiah. (v. 9)

  • While he is waiting for Micaiah, Ahab sets up thrones in an empty place in the gate of the city, and dresses up in his kingly robes to watch the prophets led by Zedekiah, putting on a performance for Jehoshaphat (and for Micaiah, who would have entered through the gate coming into the city. (vv. 10-12)

    This is definitely theatrical because Ahab had already gotten the prophets' answer in verse 6. Notice too, that the prophets have changed from "Adonai", which they had said at first, to "the LORD" -- adapting their words to meet the needs of Jehoshaphat.

  • When Micaiah arrives the messenger who was sent to get him points to the spectacle taking place ("Behold now ...) and invites him to speak "good" as had all the prophets. (v. 13)

  • Micaiah says, "As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak." (v.14) Take note that having said this, Micaiah wasn't bound to say "only" what the LORD had given to him for Ahab, but was free to express his own feelings on the circus that was happening before him.

  • Micaiah approaches Ahab, is questioned concerning Ramoth-gilead, and gives the same reply as the other prophets (v. 15). Note here that Ahab doesn't ask Micaiah, "What is the LORD's word concerning Ramoth-gilead, shall we go to battle, or shall we forbear?", but rather he asks Micaiah himself what he should do. Micaiah is now free to tell Ahab what the messenger had told him to say. Of course, Micaiah can't do this without clearly indicating that his answer was not sincere.

  • Ahab reacts in anger, "How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD?" (v. 16) This reaction indicates that Micaiah's words must have been delivered with a clear tone of sarcasm, because Ahab knew immediately that Micaiah was not being sincere.

  • Micaiah goes on to deliver the LORD's message to Ahab. (vv. 17-23)


It seems apparent to me that Micaiah's words in verse 15 are clearly sarcastic, given Ahab's immediate anger and recognition that Micaiah was not being serious. Micaiah's first response was not a prophecy, but a reflection of his personal disdain for the farcical nature of what Ahab had called him in to witness, which of course he was free to do.

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