The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Third Book of Kings
The peace between Syria and Israel lasted three years.
In the third year, during a visit from king Josaphat, of Juda,
the king of Israel said to his courtiers, Here is Ramoth-Galaad, a city (as you all know) that belongs to us; and yet we leave it in the king of Syria’s hands!
Then he turned to Josaphat and asked, Shall I have thy aid in attacking Ramoth-Galaad?
Why, said he, thou and I are at one; my army, my horses, they are all thine. But Josaphat would have Achab consult the Lord first.
So Achab sent for his prophets, some four hundred in number, and asked whether he should attack Ramoth-Galaad or let it be? Go to the attack, they said; the Lord means to make the king’s grace master of it.
But still Josaphat asked whether there was no prophet of the Lord to be found, so that they could make enquiry through him.✻
Why yes, the king of Israel told him, there is one man through whom we might ask for the Lord’s counsel, Michaeas the son of Jemla, yet is he no friend of mine; still he will be prophesying that ill fortune is to befall me, never good. Nay, my lord king, said Josaphat, think better of it.
So Achab summoned one of his chamberlains, and bade him fetch Michaeas the son of Jemla with all speed.
There sat the king of Israel and Josaphat king of Juda, each on his throne, in all their royal state, in an open space by the gate of Samaria; and there in their presence all the prophets said their say.
One of them, Sedecias the son of Chanaana, had provided himself with a pair of horns fashioned in iron; With these, he said, thou shalt toss Syria about, till thou hast made an end of it.
And all the prophets had the same word for him; Go and attack Ramoth-Galaad, they told him, and a blessing on thy journey! The Lord means to make the king’s grace master of it.
So the messenger who went to summon Michaeas told him, Here are all the prophets bidding the king good speed, like one man; do thou join thy voice to theirs, and prophesy good fortune.
Nay, said Michaeas, as the Lord is a living God, the word I speak shall be the word he gives me.
So he came into the king’s presence, and when he was asked whether it were better to attack Ramoth-Galaad, or to let it be, he answered, Go to the attack, and a blessing on thy journey! The Lord means to make the king’s grace master of it.✻
What! cried Achab, must I never cease adjuring thee in the Lord’s name to tell me only the truth?
Listen then, said he; I had a vision of all Israel as sheep, that strayed because they had no shepherd, and the Lord’s word came, They have no master now; let them disperse to their home in peace.
(It is as I told thee, Achab said to Josaphat; still he prophesies ill fortune, never good.)
Then Michaeas went on, Here is a message to thee from the Lord. I had a vision of the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the host of heaven waiting on his pleasure, to right and left.
And the Lord said, Who is to beguile Achab, king of Israel, so that he will march to Ramoth-Galaad, and there meet his fall? One said this, one that;
till at last a spirit came forward and stood in the Lord’s presence, offering to beguile Achab. And how wilt thou beguile him? the Lord asked.
I will go abroad, said he, and on the lips of all his prophets I will make myself an influence to deceive. Deceive them thou shalt, the Lord said, and have thy way with them; go abroad, then, and carry out thy errand.
And now, see what a lying influence the Lord has spread among these prophets of thine! For indeed the Lord has determined on thy ruin.
At that, Sedecias son of Chanaana went up and gave Michaeas a blow on the cheek; Has the spirit of the Lord passed me by, he asked, and spoken to none but thee?✻
And Michaeas only answered, Thou shalt live to see the day when thou must needs take refuge in an inner room, to hide there.✻
Then the king of Israel said, Take Michaeas hence, and put him in the charge of Amon, the city governor, and of Joas, son of Amelech.
And give them this royal command of mine, that they are to imprison him, and give him scant allowance of food and drink till I come back safe and sound.
Come thou back safe and sound, Michaeas said, and mine was no message from the Lord. Witness my words, all you that stand here!
So the king of Israel, and Josaphat king of Juda, marched out to attack Ramoth-Galaad.
And Achab would have Josaphat go to battle in full armour and all his royal array, while he himself went to battle in disguise.
Meanwhile, to all the thirty-two commanders who now marshalled his chariots, the king of Syria had given the same orders: Press for no other mark, high or low, but the king of Israel himself.
And these, upon sight of Josaphat, supposed that they had the king of Israel here; it was against him, then, that they directed their onslaught;
but when he cried aloud, they knew that this was not the king of Israel, and so let him be.
It was an archer who bent his bow and let fly a shaft at haphazard that gave Achab a chance wound; it fell between lungs and gullet, and Achab bade his charioteer wheel about, and carry him away from the fight, so grievous his wound was.
All that day the battle raged, and still the king of Israel stood upright in his chariot, facing the Syrians, and did not die till evening, though the blood from his wound flowed ever into the body of his chariot.
Then, before sunset, a herald raised a cry all through the ranks, bidding every man return to his own region and city.
So the king died, and was carried back to Samaria, where they buried him;
and there the dogs licked his blood, for they washed his chariot and his chariot-reins in the pool at Samaria; and so the threat which the Lord had uttered was fulfilled.✻
What else Achab did, all his history, and the record of the ivory palace he raised and the cities he built, is to be found in the Annals of the kings of Israel.
Achab, then, was laid to rest with his fathers, and the throne passed to his son Ochozias.
This Josaphat, son of Asa, had become king of Juda in the fourth year of Achab;
he was thirty-five years old when he came to the throne, and his reign in Jerusalem lasted twenty-five years. His mother’s name was Azuba, daughter of Salai.
He followed the example of his father Asa, and never swerved aside from the Lord’s will;
though indeed he did not abolish the hill-shrines; men still offered sacrifice and incense on the mountain-tops.
With the king of Israel, he lived on terms of peace.
What else Josaphat did, the record of his high exploits and of the battles he fought, is to be found in the Annals of the kings of Juda.
He it was that rid the land of all the shrine-prostitutes his father Asa had left.
Since there was no king in Edom at this time to bar his way,
Josaphat would build a fleet in the southern sea to sail out and fetch gold from Ophir, but sail they might not, for they were all wrecked, there at Asion-Gaber.
(Achab’s son Ochozias had requested at this time that mariners from his own country might sail with Josaphat’s, but Josaphat would not consent.)
So Josaphat was laid to rest with his fathers, with the Keep of his ancestor David for his resting-place, and the throne passed to his son Joram.
Ochozias, son of Achab, was crowned king of Israel at Samaria in the seventeenth year of Josaphat, and his reign over Israel lasted two years.
He defied the Lord’s will, following the example of his own father and mother, and of Jeroboam, that taught Israel to sin.
To Baal’s service he gave himself and Baal’s worship, and earned, as his father had earned, the displeasure of the Lord God of Israel.
The Holy Bible