Jumping Jehoshaphat!By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Aram and Israel had peace for three years. King Yehoshafat (Jehoshaphat) of Judah was visiting Ahab when Ahab mentioned that Ben-Hadad had not returned the city of Ramot Gilad. (Remember his promise in chapter 20 to return all the captured cities?) He asked Yehoshafat if he would join him in battle against Aram. Yehoshafat said, “Let’s check with a prophet first.” Ahab called his prophets of Baal and they all said Israel would be victorious.
“Um…maybe there’s an actual prophet of G-d we could ask?” asked Yehoshafat.
“Well, there’s one,” replied Ahab, “Michayahu, but I hate him because he always prophesies evil about me!”
They sent for Michayahu. Meanwhile, another prophet had made iron horns and was saying that Ahab would gore Aram. Michayahu was told by the messenger who got him that all the other prophets had predicted good things; Michayahu replied that he would only say what G-d told him.
When Michayahu arrived, Ahab asked whether he should attack Aram. “Well, good luck with that!” said Michayahu. “Come on, out with it!” prompted Ahab. “Fine,” said Michayahu, “You asked for it. I see Israel scattering like sheep without a shepherd. They have no leader and they all run home to safety.” (This means that their leader – Ahab – would be killed.)
“What did I tell you?” Ahab asked Yehoshafat. “He always predicts bad things about me!”
Michayahu continued. “I see G-d on His throne asking who will lure Ahab to his doom in Ramot Gilad. The spirit of Naboth stepped forward and volunteered to do so, by placing a false prophecy in the mouths of all these men.”
Tzidkiyahu, who had made the iron horns, struck Michayahu and asked, “You think your prophecy is better than mine?” Michayahu replied, “You’ll find out when you have to go into hiding because your prophecy was wrong!”
Ahab had Michayahu arrested. “Lock him up and feed him nothing but bread and water until I return,” Ahab ordered. “If you return, then G-d didn’t speak through me,” replied Michayahu.
So Ahab and Yehoshafat led their armies to battle against Aram in Ramot Gilad. Ahab’s idea was to disguise himself and fight among the troops. Yehoshafat remained in his royal robes. Meanwhile, the king of Aram was commanding his charioteers to focus all their attention on Ahab. Since Yehoshafat was the only one wearing royal robes, they initially assumed he was Ahab, but when they realized he wasn’t, they withdrew from him. An archer of Aram randomly fired and hit Ahab between the plates of his armor. Wounded, Ahab was removed from the battlefield. He was propped up in a chariot and ultimately died of his wounds. His blood pooled in the bottom of the chariot.
When his army realized he had died, they dispersed. The chariot in which Ahab had died was washed out and – you guessed it! – dogs lapped up the blood, as Elijah had predicted (in chapter 21).
Let’s talk about Yehoshafat, king of Judah: Yehoshafat reigned 25 years. He was righteous, like his father Asa, although he didn’t stop the Jews from offering sacrifices on private altars. Yehoshafat was the king of Judah who made peace with Israel. He drove out religious cults that used prostitutes that had remained from his father’s day. Yehoshafat built ships to bring gold, but they were never used because they got wrecked. Achaziah, who succeeded Ahab, suggested that his sailors travel with Yehoshafat’s, but Yehoshafat declined. Yehoshafat was succeeded by his son Yehoram.
Achaziah reigned for two years, but he was just as rotten as his parents, Ahab and Jezebel. He worshipped Baal and angered G-d. His story continues in II Kings.