Micaiah

MICAIAH (mī-kā'ya, Heb. mîkhāyāhû, Who is like Jehovah?). 1. A true prophet of God, residing at Samaria, the capital of the northern tribes of Israel c. 900 b.c., in the last days of Ahab king of Israel and of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. Jehoshaphat, though a man of God, made the mistake of associating with Ahab, the worst of all the kings of Israel. (Contrast 2Chr.17.3-2Chr.17.6 with 1Kgs.16.30-1Kgs.16.33.) Ahab took advantage of Jehoshaphat’s visit by asking his assistance in taking Ramoth Gilead from the Syrians, whose king Ben-Hadad I had taken it from Ahab’s father Omri. Jehoshaphat, letting his courtesy overcome his good judgment, consented, asking only that the prophets be consulted. Four hundred of Ahab’s false prophets said, “Go, for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand” 1Kgs.22.6 (see 1Kgs.22.1-1Kgs.22.53; 2Chr.18.1-2Chr.18.34).

When Jehoshaphat showed his distrust in the prophets and asked if there was not a prophet of the Lord also, Ahab replied, “There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah” (1Kgs.22.8). A messenger was sent to bring Micaiah, who was told to prophesy favorably, but Micaiah replied that he could speak only what God would give him. After replying frivolously to Ahab’s question, the king demanded the truth, and Micaiah told him how the hosts of heaven had planned to ruin Ahab by putting a false spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. Micaiah, after being insulted by the false prophet Zedekiah, was sent back to the city to be imprisoned and fed only bread and water until the king returned to deal with him. Micaiah boldly told Ahab that if he returned at all, he, Micaiah, was a false prophet. Since Ahab partly believed this prophecy, he contrived a clever trick to get Jehoshaphat killed in his place. With a show of generosity he proposed that Jehoshaphat wear his kingly robes in the battle, but Ahab would disguise himself like a common soldier. The outcome was that Jehoshaphat cried out and escaped, but a Syrian drew his bow at random and the arrow killed Ahab.

2. Father of Acbor, whom King Josiah sent with others to Huldah the prophetess to inquire about the prophecy that had been read to him (2Kgs.22.12-2Kgs.22.14); “Abdon son of Micah” in 2Chr.34.20.

3. A daughter of Uriel of Gibeah (2Chr.13.2, jb, kjv, mlb, nasb, rsv; Maacah neb, niv), who had married Tamar, daughter of Absalom. She was the wife of King Rehoboam of Judah and the mother of Abijah, the next king. The name is given as Maacah in 1Kgs.15.2.

4. A prince of Judah whom Jehoshaphat sent to teach the people (2Chr.17.7).

5. An ancestor of a priest in Nehemiah’s time (Neh.12.35).

6. A priest in Nehemiah’s time (Neh.12.41).

7. Grandson of Shaphan the scribe in Josiah’s day who brought the book of the Law of the Lord to the king (Jer.36.11-Jer.36.13).——ABF



The figure usually associated with this name is the prophet Micaiah, the son of Imlah in 1 Kings 22:8-26 (2 Chron 18:7-25). This man performed a deed which took great courage and unwavering faith in the Lord as God. Ahab and his idolatrous wife Jezebel were determined to suppress those who called for the worship of the Lord only. On this occasion Ahab sought to regain control of the frontier city Ramoth-gilead from his old enemy Benhadad, the Aramean. He sought and needed the assistance of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. On the occasion of a formal state visit Ahab put the question bluntly to the Judean king, and was given an affirmative answer with the condition that they inquire of the Lord His will in the matter (1 Kings 22:4, 5). The king of Israel obligingly gathered four hundred prophets, presumably prophets of the Lord (Yahweh) and asked, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead or shall I forbear?” They all gave this wicked man the answer he wanted to hear, “Go up; for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” One of them even acted out the victory with a set of iron horns (v. 11). Jehoshaphat sensed their perfidy and asked for a true prophet of the Lord. Reluctantly he was told of Micaiah and informed by Ahab, “But I hate him; for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.”

As he was summoned Micaiah was warned to conform, but like Luther at Worms he said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak” (v. 14).

When questioned this true prophet began by giving an affirmative answer in obvious contempt (v. 15). Ahab sensed that he was being mocked and called for the truth, whence Micaiah painted two word pictures in unmistakable clarity. The first showed Israel as a scattered flock without a shepherd, and the second depicted the council of heaven with the Lord seated on His throne and before all the host of heaven, one of whom volunteered to become a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets. The picture is similar to Job 1 and 2 where Satan (the Accuser) stands before the Lord, and presses for permission to attack Job. The prophecy had such forcefulness that the same false prophet who had demonstrated with iron horns, Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, smote Micaiah on the cheek and accused him of being the false one. Jehoshaphat, a good but weak man, said nothing; but Ahab had had enough and might well have taken the bold prophet’s life if Jehoshaphat had not been present. Instead he returned Micaiah to prison to be fed on bread and water. As Micaiah was led away he drove his darts of truth in deeper by warning that if Ahab came back from the battle alive then the Lord had not spoken by him (v. 28).

Although Ahab had rejected Micaiah’s words by declaring he would come again in peace (v. 27), yet the words so lingered in his mind that he disguised himself as he went into battle. The Scripture makes clear that wholly by the Lord these words were fulfilled. The Arameans could not find Ahab to kill him, but an archer simply shot an unaimed arrow into the air and when it descended it hit Ahab in a small unprotected spot between his scale armor and breastplate. The king fell mortally wounded and Micaiah’s prophecy was vindicated (cf. Deut 18:22).

Bibliography

J. Bright, A History of Israel (1959), 225-227; E. J. Young, My Servants the Prophets (1961), 136-142.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

mi-ka’-ya, mi-ki’-a (mikhayahu, "who is like Yah?"; Meichaias): A frequently occurring Old Testament name occasionally contracted to MICA or MICAH (which see). In the King James Version it is usually spelled "Michaiah."

(1) The mother of Abijah (2Ch 13:2, the King James Version "Michaiah"). The parallel passage (1Ki 15:2; compare 2Ch 11:20) indicates that Michaiah here is a corruption of MAACAH (which see) (so the Septuagint).

(2) The father of Achbor (2Ki 22:12, the King James Version "Michaiah").

See Micah, (5).

(3) A prince of Judah sent by Jehoshaphat to teach in the cities of Judah (2Ch 17:7, the King James Version "Michaiah").

(4) The son of Zaccur, a priestly processionist at the derivation of the wall (Ne 12:35, the King James Version, "Michaiah").

(5) A priestly processionist at the dedication of the wall (Ne 12:41; wanting in the Septuagint (Septuagint)).

(6) The canonical prophet.

See nodetitle, (7), and special article.

(7) The son of Imlah, the chief character of an important episode near the end of the reign of Ahab (1Ki 22:4-28 parallel 2Ch 18:3-27). In the Hebrew, his name appears once in the contracted form "Micah" (2Ch 18:14). Ahab had suggested to his victor, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, that they should undertake a joint campaign against Ramoth-gilead. Jehoshaphat politely acquiesced, but asked that the mind of Yahweh should first be ascertained. Ahab forthwith summoned the official prophets to the number of 400, into the royal presence. Obsequious to their master, they, both by oracular utterance and by the symbolic action of their leader, Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah, gave the king a favorable answer. Their ready chorus of assent seems to have made Jehoshaphat suspicious, for he pleaded that further guidance be sought. Micaiah, for whom Ahab, then, with evident reluctance, sent, at first simply repeated the favorable response of the 400; but adjured by the king to speak the whole truth, he dropped his ironical tone, and in sad earnest described a vision of disaster. Ahab endeavored to lessen the effect of this oracle by pettishly complaining that Micaiah was always to him a prophet of evil. The latter thereupon related an impressive vision of the heavenly court, whence he had seen a lying spirit dispatched by Yahweh to the prophets in order to bring about Ahab’s delusion and downfall. In answer to a rude challenge from Zedekiah, who acted as spokesman for the 400, Micaiah confidently appealed to the issue for proof of the truth of his prediction, and was promptly commuted to prison by the king.

The narrative is exceedingly vivid and of the utmost interest to students of Issraelite prophecy. Several of its details have given rise to discussion, and the questions: How far were the prophet’s visions objective? How far did he admit the inspiration of his opponents? Is the Divine action described consistent with the holy character of Yahweh? have occasioned difficulty to many. But their difficulty arises largely either because of their Christian viewpoint, or because of their hard and mechanical theory of prophetic inspiration. Micaiah’s position was a delicate one. Foreboding or foreseeing disaster, he did his best to avert it. This he could do only by weaning the king from the influence of the 400 time-serving prophets. He sought to gain his end; first, by an ironical acquiescence in their favorable answer; then, by a short oracle forecasting disaster especially to Ahab; and, these means having failed, by discrediting in the most solemn manner the courtly prophets opposed to him. Thus regarded, his vision contains no admission of their equal inspiration; rather is it an emphatic declaration that these men were uttering falsehood in Yahweh’s name, thereby endangering their country’s safety and their king’s life. Their obsequious time-service made them fit forerunners of the false prophets denounced by Jeremiah (Jer 23:9-40) and by Ezekiel (Eze 13:1-15). The frank anthropomorphism of the vision need be no stumbling-block if allowed to drop into its proper place as the literary device of a prophet intensely conscious of his own inspiration and as whole-heartedly patriotic as those opposed to him.

The record ends very abruptly, giving no account of Micaiah’s vindication when at length the course of events brought about the fulfillment of his prediction. The closing words, "Hear, ye peoples, all of you" (1Ki 22:28 parallel 2Ch 18:27), a quotation of Mic 1:2, are an evident interpolation by some late scribe who confused the son of Imlah with the contemporary of Isaiah.

For fuller treatment see EB, HDB, and commentaries on Kings and Chronicles.

John A. Lees