Melachim 1/Kings 1-Chapter 22: The war between Aram and Israel and the legacy of Achav and Yehoshafat

Chapter 22: The war between Aram and Israel and the legacy of Achav and Yehoshafat

1.      The state of affairs between Aram and Israel:

  • For three years [after Ben Hadad was sent off[1]] there were no wars between Aram and Israel.
  • The Kings of Judah and Israel decide to join forces to fight Aram: During the third year, Yehoshafat, the king of Yehuda came to Achav, the king of Israel. The king of Israel then said to his servants: “Do you know that Ramot Gilad is ours, and we are being lazy against taking it back from the king of Aram!” Achav then asked Yehoshafat if he will you go with him in battle to retake Ramot Gilad. Yehoshafat replied to Achav, “I am as you are, my people are like your people, and my horses are like your horses.”

2.      They consult with the prophets as to whether they should go to war against Aram:

  • 400 prophets are consulted and affirm that they should go to war: Yehoshafat asked Achav, the king of Israel, to inquire from the prophets of God as to whether they should go to war. So, Achav gathered about four hundred prophets, and asked them for a prophetic answer as to whether he should go to battle over Ramot Gilad, or whether he should abstain? The prophets answered him that he should go being that God will help him be victorious, as Hashem will deliver the enemy into the hands of the king.
  • Michiyahu the prophet is summoned to be consulted with: [Yehoshafat was not satisfied with the above answer of the 400 prophets being that there is a tradition that by true prophecies, two prophets do not prophesize in the same wording and therefore[2],] Yehoshafat inquired if there is any other prophet of Hashem from whom they may receive a prophetic answer from. Achav replied to Yehoshafat that indeed there remains one more prophet of God from whom we can inquire, although, “I hate him being that in the past he has not prophesized good things about me, and has only told me bad [as in the past he had prophesized to Achav that he would be killed and his people decimated[3]].” This prophet is Michiyahu the son of Yimla. Yehoshafat replied to Achav saying that the king should not speak in this manner [as it is important that the truth be heard and that an accurate prophecy be said]. The king of Israel [accepted the argument of Yehoshafat and] summoned one of his ministers to immediately bring Michiyahu the son of Yimla before their presence.
  • The prophecy of Tzidkiyahu and the other prophets who foretold victory: At that time, Achav, the king of Israel, and Yehoshafat, the king of Yehuda, were seated on their respective thrones, and were dressed in their kingly attire in a threshing-floor at the entrance of the gate of Shomron, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. Tzidkiyahu, the son of Kenaanah, [who was a prophet of the Baal[4]] made for himself iron horns, and said, “So says Hashem: With these horns you shall gore Aram until you eradicate them.” All the other prophets were also prophesying saying that they should go up in battle against Ramot Gilad and be victorious, as Hashem will deliver them into the king’s hand.

3.      The prophecy of Michiyahu:

  • Michiyahu is pressured to prophesize in the affirmative regarding the war: The messenger who had gone to summon Michiyahu, spoke to him and told him that all the other prophets had unanimously affirmed that they should go to war as the king desires. “Now, please let your prophecy be likened to theirs, and speak favorably of the potential battle.” Michiyahu, however, replied that so long as Hashem lives, he will only prophesize that which Hashem told him to speak.
  • Michiyahu falsely encourages the king to go to war: Michiyahu arrived to the king, and the king said to him, “Michiyahu, shall we go to Ramot Gilad to wage war or shall we refrain? Michiyahu said to him [as a personal blessing and not a prophecy[5]], “Go up to battle and be victorious, and may Hashem deliver the enemy into the king’s hand.” However, the king did not accept this and said to Michiyahu, “How many times must I tell you that you should only tell me the truth, as was said to you by Hashem?”
  • Michiyahu prophesizes the truth, that God does not want them to go to war: Michiyahu then said, “I saw the Jewish people scattered over the mountains like sheep who have no shepherd, and God then came to me and said that these have no master and that they should each return to their homes in peace.” Achav, the king of Israel, then said to Yehoshafat, “Did I not tell you that this prophet does not prophesy good tidings concerning me, and only says bad things [and hence he said his prophecy because he hates me and not because it is truly the word of God[6]]?” In response to the claim of Achav, Michiyahu stated his prophecy in greater detail: “Listen to the word of Hashem. I saw G-d seated on His throne, and all the kings of the world were standing by Him on His right and left side. Hashem then asked the Kings as to who is willing to entice Achav to go to war over Ramot Gilad so that Achav can fall in battle. Each king answered in a different manner. Then the spirit [of Navos[7]] came forward and stood before Hashem and said that he is willing to entice him and when Hashem asked him as to how he will do so he said that he will place a false divine inspiration on the mouth of all his prophets. Hashem responded to the spirit that he may go forth and entice them and he will be successful.” Michiyahu then concluded his prophecy by saying: “Now you can see that God has placed a spirit of falsehood in the mouth of all your prophets, and that in truth God has spoken that evil will come upon you [if you go to this battle].”
  • A confrontation between Tzidkiyahu and Michiyahu: Tzidkiyahu, the son of Kenaanah then approached Michiyahu and struck him on the cheek, saying sarcastically, “When exactly did the spirit of God pass from me for Him to go speak to you?” Michiyahu, however retained his position and replied to Tzidkiyahu that [on the day of battle[8]] he will see that the prophecy that he said is indeed correct, and as a result he [i.e. Tzidkiyahu] will run away into an inner room in hiding [after realizing that he gave a false prophecy].
  • Michiyahu is imprisoned for his prophecy: In retribution for the negative prophecy given by Michiyahu, Achav, the king of Israel, instructed to have Michiyahu taken into custody by Amon, the mayor of the city, and to Yoash the king’s son. The king instructed them to have Michiyahu placed in prison, and fed a scant amount of bread and a meager amount of water until he [i.e. Achav] returns in peace [from the war]. Michiyahu then replied to Achav that if he will return in peace from the war then it is a sign that Hashem in truth did not speak to him, and that he is indeed a false prophet. Michiyahu made his prophecy known to all of the nation.

4.      The Kings of Judah and Israel go to war against Aram:

  • Achav, the king of Israel and Yehoshafat, the king of Yehuda, went up to Ramot Gilad [to wage war against Aram].
  • The Kings disguise themselves: Achav, the king of Israel, said to Yehoshafat, “I will disguise myself when I into the battle [and wear a regular soldiers clothing so they do not recognize that I’m the king of Israel and chase me, their prime enemy[9]]. However, you should wear your kingly garments [as you are not considered their prime enemy and they will not chase after you[10]].” And so it was that Achav, the king of Israel, disguised himself and went into battle.
  • The strategy of Aram: The king of Aram commanded the thirty-two officers of his chariots that they should not waste their time waging battle against anyone, whether he is high or low ranked, and focus only on attacking Achav the king of Israel.

5.      Achav is injured in battle and dies of his injuries:

  • Yehoshafat is mistaken for Achav and nearly attacked: When the officers of Aram saw Yehoshafat they mistakenly thought that he must be the king of Israel. However when they turned to attack him, Yehoshafat let out a loud cry [to Hashem[11], from which they recognized that it was not him[12]]. When the officers saw that he was not the king of Israel, they stopped going after him [and continued their search for Achav].
  • Achav is hit by a bow and dies of his injuries: Now, there was a certain man [i.e. Naaman[13]] who innocently shot his arrow [without intent of hitting anyone[14]] and it incidentally struck Achav the king of Israel between the scales and the armor of his protective gear. After getting struck, Achav instructed his chariot rider to carry him back to the camp as he has become sick.
  • The battle intensified on that day and the king remained standing in the chariot against the Arameans [in order to encourage his men to continue the battle[15]]. Achav died from his injuries that evening and the blood of his wounds flowed in the chariot.

6.      The men of Israel retreat:

  • A proclamation [of retreat] passed through the camp as the sun went down [and the news of the king’s death was spread[16]] and everyone was told to return back to his city and country.

7.      Achav is buried:

  • His location of burial: Achav, the king [of Israel] died and was brought to Shomron, where he was buried.
  • The dogs eat his blood: The chariot [in which Achav rode and bled in] was washed by the pool of Shomron [in the same area that Navos was murdered[17]], and the dogs licked Achav’s blood, and the harlots washed their bodies in his blood by the river as Hashem had spoken.
  • His legacy: The remaining occurrences with Achav, and all that he accomplished and the ivory palace which he built, and all the cities that he built, are all written of in the book of Chronicles of the kings of Israel.
  • His successor Achazyahu: Achav laid to rest with his forefathers, and Achazyahu his son reigned after him.

8.      The reign and legacy of Yehoshafat:

  • His years of reign: Yehoshafat, the son of Asa, reigned over Yehuda in the fourth year of reign of Achav the king of Israel. Yehoshafat was thirty-five years old when he became king and he reigned in Jerusalem for twenty-five years.
  • His mother: Yehoshafat’s mother’s name was Azuvah, the daughter of Shilchi.
  • His righteousness: Yehoshafat followed in all the ways of his father Asa. He did not veer from his ways and performed that which was proper in the eyes of Hashem.
  • His complacency to evil: However, Yehoshafat did not eradicate the Bamos of worship and allowed the people to continue sacrificing and bringing offerings on the Bamos [as although the sacrifices were for the sake of God, ever since the temple was built it became forbidden to bring sacrifices anywhere other than the temple[18]].
  • Making peace with the kingdom of Israel: Yehoshafat made peace with the king of Israel.
  • His Chronicles: The remaining acts of Yehoshafat and his heroic deeds and the wars that he fought, are written in the Chronicles of the kings of Yehuda.
  • His purge of the harlots: Yehoshafat purged from the land all the prostitutes that remained from the days of Asa his father.
  • The ruler of Edom: [From the times of Dovid until the days of Yehoshafat[19]] there was no king in Edom, as the governor was the king.
  • The ships which he built for excavating gold: Yehoshafat made ships of Tarshish to sail to Ophir to bring gold, although in the end the ships did not go, as they were broken at Etzion-Gaver. At that time, Achazyahu the son of Achav offered Yehoshafat that his servants go with the servants of Yehoshafat on the ships, but Yehoshafat declined the offer [and hence the ships never set sail].
  • His death and burial: Yehoshafat was laid to rest with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of his ancestor David.
  • His successor: Yehoram, the son of Yehoshafat, reigned after him.

9.      The reign of Achazyahu the son of Achav:

  • Achazyahu, the son of Achav, reigned over Israel in the Shomron in the seventeenth year of reign of Yehoshafat, the king of Yehuda, and he ruled over Israel for two years.
  • His evil ways: Achazyahu performed evil in the eyes of Hashem and he went in the path of his father [Achav] and mother [Izevel], and in the path of Yeravam the son of Nevat, who had caused Israel to sin. He worshipped the Baal, and bowed to him, and he angered Hashem, the God of Israel, as did his father.

[1] Rashi 22:1

[2] Rashi 22:7; Sanhedrin 89a

[3] See end of chapter 20; Sanhedrin 89b; Metzudos Dovid 20:35; Ralbag 22:8

[4] Metzudos Dovid 22:11

[5] Rashi and Metzudos Dovid 22:15

[6] Metzudos Dovid 22:18

[7] Rashi 22:21; Sanhedrin 89a

[8] Metzudos Dovid 22:25

[9] Rashi 22:30

[10] Rashi 22:30

[11] Rashi 22:32

[12] Radak 22:32

[13] Rashi third 22:34

[14] See Ralbag and Rashi and Metzudos Dovid 22:34

[15] Rashi 22:35

[16] Metzudos Dovid 22:36

[17] Rashi 22:38

[18] Metzudos Dovid 22:44

[19] Rashi 22:48

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