1Jehoshaphat succeeded his father Asa as king and strengthened his position against Israel. 2He stationed troops in the fortified cities of Judah, in the Judean countryside, and in the cities which Asa had captured in the territory of Ephraim. 3The LORD blessed Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father's early life and did not worship Baal. 4He served his father's God, obeyed God's commands, and did not act in the way the kings of Israel did. 5The LORD gave Jehoshaphat firm control over the kingdom of Judah, and all the people brought him gifts, so that he became wealthy and highly honoured. 6He took pride in serving the LORD and destroyed all the pagan places of worship and the symbols of the goddess Asherah in Judah.
7In the third year of his reign he sent out the following officials to teach in the cities of Judah: Benhail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah. 8They were accompanied by nine Levites and two priests. The Levites were Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tobadonijah; and the priests were Elishama and Jehoram. 9They took the book of the Law of the LORD and went through all the towns of Judah, teaching it to the people.
10The LORD made all the surrounding kingdoms afraid to go to war against King Jehoshaphat. 11Some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat a large amount of silver and other gifts, and some Arabs brought him 7,700 sheep and 7,700 goats. 12So Jehoshaphat continued to grow more and more powerful. Throughout Judah he built fortifications and cities, 13where supplies were stored in huge amounts.
In Jerusalem he stationed outstanding officers, 14according to their clans. Adnah was the commander of the troops from the clans of Judah, and he had 300,000 soldiers under him. 15Second in rank was Jehohanan, with 280,000 soldiers, 16and third was Amasiah son of Zichri, with 200,000. (Amasiah had volunteered to serve the LORD.) 17The commander of the troops from the clans of Benjamin was Eliada, an outstanding soldier, in command of 200,000 men armed with shields and bows. 18His second in command was Jehozabad with 180,000 men, well equipped for battle. 19These men served the king in Jerusalem, and in addition he stationed other soldiers in the other fortified cities of Judah.
1When King Jehoshaphat of Judah became rich and famous, he arranged a marriage between a member of his family and the family of King Ahab of Israel. 2A number of years later Jehoshaphat went to the city of Samaria to visit Ahab. To honour Jehoshaphat and those with him, Ahab had a large number of sheep and cattle slaughtered for a feast. He tried to persuade Jehoshaphat to join him in attacking the city of Ramoth in Gilead. 3He asked, “Will you go with me to attack Ramoth?”
Jehoshaphat replied, “I am ready when you are, and so is my army. We will join you.” 4Then he added, “But first let's consult the LORD.”
5So Ahab called in the prophets, about 400 of them, and asked them, “Should I go and attack Ramoth, or not?”
“Attack it,” they answered. “God will give you victory.”
6But Jehoshaphat asked, “Isn't there another prophet through whom we can consult the LORD?”
7Ahab answered, “There is one more, Micaiah son of Imlah. But I hate him because he never prophesies anything good for me; it's always something bad.”
“You shouldn't say that!” Jehoshaphat replied.
8So King Ahab called in a court official and told him to go and fetch Micaiah at once.
9The two kings, dressed in their royal robes, were sitting on their thrones at the threshing place just outside the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying in front of them. 10One of them, Zedekiah son of Chenaanah, made iron horns and said to Ahab, “This is what the LORD says, ‘With these you will fight the Syrians and totally defeat them.’ ” 11All the other prophets said the same thing. “March against Ramoth and you will win,” they said. “The LORD will give you victory.”
12Meanwhile, the official who had gone to fetch Micaiah said to him, “All the other prophets have prophesied success for the king, and you had better do the same.”
13But Micaiah answered, “By the living LORD, I will say what my God tells me to!”
14When he appeared before King Ahab, the king asked him, “Micaiah, should King Jehoshaphat and I go and attack Ramoth, or not?”
“Attack!” Micaiah answered. “Of course you'll win. The LORD will give you victory.”
15But Ahab replied, “When you speak to me in the name of the LORD, tell the truth! How many times do I have to tell you that?”
16Micaiah answered, “I can see the army of Israel scattered over the hills like sheep without a shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘These men have no leader; let them go home in peace.’ ”
17Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “I told you that he never prophesies anything good for me; it's always something bad!”
18Micaiah went on: “Now listen to what the LORD says! I saw the LORD sitting on his throne in heaven, with all his angels standing beside him. 19The LORD asked, ‘Who will deceive Ahab so that he will go and get killed at Ramoth?’ Some of the angels said one thing, and others said something else, 20until a spirit stepped forward, approached the LORD, and said, ‘I will deceive him.’ ‘How?’ the LORD asked. 21The spirit replied, ‘I will go and make all Ahab's prophets tell lies.’ The LORD said, ‘Go and deceive him. You will succeed.’ ”
22And Micaiah concluded: “This is what has happened. The LORD has made these prophets of yours lie to you. But he himself has decreed that you will meet with disaster!”
23Then the prophet Zedekiah went up to Micaiah, slapped his face, and asked, “Since when did the LORD's spirit leave me and speak to you?”
24“You will find out when you go into some back room to hide,” Micaiah replied.
25Then King Ahab ordered one of his officers, “Arrest Micaiah and take him to Amon, the governor of the city, and to Prince Joash. 26Tell them to throw him in prison and to put him on bread and water until I return safely.”
27“If you return safely,” Micaiah exclaimed, “then the LORD has not spoken through me!” And he added, “Listen, everyone, to what I have said!”
28Then King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah went to attack the city of Ramoth in Gilead. 29Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself, but you wear your royal garments.” So the king of Israel went into battle in disguise.
30The king of Syria had ordered his chariot commanders to attack no one else except the king of Israel. 31So when they saw King Jehoshaphat, they all thought that he was the king of Israel, and they turned to attack him. But Jehoshaphat gave a shout, and the LORD God rescued him and turned the attack away from him. 32The chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel, so they stopped pursuing him. 33By chance, however, a Syrian soldier shot an arrow which struck King Ahab between the joints of his armour. “I'm wounded!” he cried out to his chariot driver. “Turn round and pull out of the battle!” 34While the battle raged on, King Ahab remained propped up in his chariot, facing the Syrians. At sunset he died.
A Prophet Reprimands Jehoshaphat
1King Jehoshaphat of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem. 2A prophet, Jehu son of Hanani, went to meet the king and said to him, “Do you think it is right to help those who are wicked and to take the side of those who hate the LORD? What you have done has brought the LORD's anger on you. 3But even so, there is some good in you. You have removed all the symbols of the goddess Asherah which people worshipped, and you have tried to follow God's will.”
4Even though King Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, he travelled regularly among the people, from Beersheba in the south to the edge of the hill country of Ephraim in the north, in order to call the people back to the LORD, the God of their ancestors. 5He appointed judges in each of the fortified cities of Judah 6and instructed them: “Be careful in pronouncing judgement; you are not acting on human authority, but on the authority of the LORD, and he is with you when you pass sentence. 7Honour the LORD and act carefully, because the LORD our God does not tolerate fraud or partiality or the taking of bribes.”
8In Jerusalem Jehoshaphat appointed Levites, priests, and some of the leading citizens as judges in cases involving a violation of the Law of the LORD or legal disputes between inhabitants of the city.9He gave them the following instructions: “You must perform your duties in reverence for the LORD, faithfully obeying him in everything you do. 10Whenever your fellow-citizens from any of the cities bring before you a case of homicide or any other violation of a law or commandment, you must instruct them carefully how to conduct themselves during the trial, so that they do not become guilty of sinning against the LORD. Unless you do, you and your fellow-citizens will feel the force of the LORD's anger. But if you do your duty, you will not be guilty. 11Amariah the High Priest will have final authority in all religious cases, and Zebadiah son of Ishmael, governor of Judah, will have final authority in all civil cases. The Levites have the responsibility of seeing that the decisions of the courts are carried out. Be courageous and carry out these instructions, and may the LORD be on the side of the right!”