MICAIAH or MICHAIAH. Son of Imlah (1 Kings 22:8). Consulted by Ahab at Jehoshaphat's request when undertaking the joint expedition against Ramoth Gilead, which Benhadad had engaged to restore (1 Kings 20:34). The 400 prophets whom Ahab gathered together to "inquire the word of Jehovah" (1 Kings 22:5) were prophets of Jeroboam's symbolic calf worship of Jehovah not of Baal. (See JEROBOAM.) Jehoshaphat begged for some "prophet of Jehovah besides," unconnected with the calf symbolism forbidden by the second commandment. Ahab mentioned Micaiah, adding "I hate him, for he doth not prophesy good concerning me but evil" (compare 1 Kings 21:20; Jeremiah 36:28).
Ahab had Micaiah already in prison, as 1 Kings 22:26 implies, "carry him back ... prison." Josephus (Ant. 8:15, sec. 6) says that it was Micaiah who predicted ("in the word of Jehovah," Haggai 1:13) death by a lion to the neighbor who would not smite him, and who, disguised with ashes, under the parable of one letting go a prisoner entrusted to him made Ahab in his hour of triumph, when the mortification would be the greater, condemn himself out of his own mouth, to lose his life for letting Benhadad escape (1 Kings 20:35-43). Zedekiah, one of the 400, at the gate of Samaria where the two kings sat in state, symbolically putting horns or iron spikes on his head, foretold the transfer of Ephraim's blessing (Deuteronomy 33:17) to Ahab; "with the horns of the buffalo (or wild ox, reem) he shall push the people."
So all the rest said, "go up and prosper." Micaiah, though prompted to imitate their prophecies of good, would say only what Jehovah said (Numbers 22:38). Ironically and in parody he repeated at first their parrot-like cry, "go and prosper," to show Ahab how easy such prophesying is if worldly interest were one's aim. Then, being adjured in Jehovah's name, Micaiah said "I saw all Israel scattered ... as sheep that have no shepherd (quoted by the Lord Jesus Himself, Matthew 9:36, as it is previously the basis of Ezekiel 34:5; Zechariah 10:2), and Jehovah said, these have no master (Ahab falling), let them return every man to his house." Instead of Moses' blessing on Ephraim awaiting Ahab, as Zedekiah had said, Moses' picture of what Israel would be at his death, "Jehovah's congregation as sheep having no shepherd," if no successor were appointed, would be realized (Numbers 27:17). Ahab, though he had asked Micaiah to speak the truth, attributed it when spoken to Micaiah's ill will.
Micaiah therefore revealed the source unseen of the 400 prophets' falsehood; Jehovah, seen in real vision on His throne amidst His hosts, asked, who shall persuade Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth Gilead? A lying spirit undertook to influence the 400 to Ahab's ruin (Zechariah 13:2; 1 John 4:6). The access of Satan to the heavenly court in Old Testament times appears here and Job 1:6; Job 2:1 (but compare Revelation 12:7-10 as to the New Testament times). God said to the lying spirit, "go forth and do so." It was no invention of fancy, but a supernatural agency under Satan, by God's overruling appointment, which in righteous retribution gives over to a lie those who love not the truth (Judges 9:23; Job 12:16; Ezekiel 14:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
God does not will or tempt to evil (James 1:13); but, as Ahab would not heed the true prophet, gives him over to the false (Romans 1:24-28; Romans 9:17-23; Exodus 7:3; Exodus 7:13; Exodus 14:4; Exodus 14:17; Exodus 10:20; Exodus 10:27). The words "thou shalt persuade and prevail also" show that the human will was left free; God makes one stage in the sinner's downward course the sequel and punishment of the foregoing one; Ahab might have resisted the tempter. Zedekiah, conscious that he had not invented his lying prophecy, smote Micaiah on the cheek, asking "which way went the Spirit of Jehovah from me to speak unto thee? .... Thou shalt see in the day when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide," namely, from the vengeance of those misled by thee to their defeat.
Ahab commanded, "take Micaiah back unto Amon ... in the prison, feed him with bread and water of affliction (in more severe imprisonment than before) until I come in peace." Micaiah replied: "if thou return at all in peace Jehovah hath not spoken by me; hearken, O nations, every one of you"; appealing not only to Israel but to the Gentile world, to which Ahab had conformed, and which may heed, since Israel will not, so as when the event should come to pass to discern the truth of Jehovah (Micah 1:2).
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