2 Chronicles 16
Asa’s last years
In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah.
Asa then took the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and of his own palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. ‘Let there be a treaty between me and you,’ he said, ‘as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so that he will withdraw from me.’
Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. They conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Maim[a] and all the store cities of Naphtali. When Baasha heard this, he stopped building Ramah and abandoned his work. Then King Asa brought all the men of Judah, and they carried away from Ramah the stones and timber Baasha had been using. With them he built up Geba and Mizpah.
At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: ‘Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. Were not the Cushites[b] and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen[c]? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.’
Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.
The events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the doctors. Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his ancestors. They buried him in the tomb that he had cut out for himself in the City of David. They laid him on a bier covered with spices and various blended perfumes, and they made a huge fire in his honour.
- 2 Chronicles 16:4 Also known as Abel Beth Maakah
- 2 Chronicles 16:8 That is, people from the upper Nile region
- 2 Chronicles 16:8 Or charioteers
2 Chronicles 17
Jehoshaphat king of Judah
Jehoshaphat his son succeeded him as king and strengthened himself against Israel. He stationed troops in all the fortified cities of Judah and put garrisons in Judah and in the towns of Ephraim that his father Asa had captured.
The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honour. His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.
In the third year of his reign he sent his officials Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah to teach in the towns of Judah. With them were certain Levites – Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tob-Adonijah – and the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went round to all the towns of Judah and taught the people.
The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not go to war against Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines brought Jehoshaphat gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought him flocks: seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred goats.
Jehoshaphat became more and more powerful; he built forts and store cities in Judah and had large supplies in the towns of Judah. He also kept experienced fighting men in Jerusalem. Their enrolment by families was as follows:
from Judah, commanders of units of 1,000:
Adnah the commander, with 300,000 fighting men;
next, Jehohanan the commander, with 280,000;
next, Amasiah son of Zikri, who volunteered himself for the service of the Lord, with 200,000.
Eliada, a valiant soldier, with 200,000 men armed with bows and shields;
next, Jehozabad, with 180,000 men armed for battle.
These were the men who served the king, besides those he stationed in the fortified cities throughout Judah.
2 Chronicles 18:1-27
Micaiah prophesies against Ahab
Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honour, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage. Some years later he went down to see Ahab in Samaria. Ahab slaughtered many sheep and cattle for him and the people with him and urged him to attack Ramoth Gilead. Ahab king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah, ‘Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?’
Jehoshaphat replied, ‘I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war.’ But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, ‘First seek the counsel of the Lord.’
So the king of Israel brought together the prophets – four hundred men – and asked them, ‘Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I not?’
‘Go,’ they answered, ‘for God will give it into the king’s hand.’
But Jehoshaphat asked, ‘Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can enquire of?’
The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one prophet through whom we can enquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.’
‘The king should not say such a thing,’ Jehoshaphat replied.
So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, ‘Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.’
Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing-floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns, and he declared, ‘This is what the Lord says: “With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.”’
All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. ‘Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,’ they said, ‘for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.’
The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, ‘Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favourably.’
But Micaiah said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what my God says.’
When he arrived, the king asked him, ‘Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I not?’
‘Attack and be victorious,’ he answered, ‘for they will be given into your hand.’
The king said to him, ‘How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?’
Then Micaiah answered, ‘I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, “These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.”’
The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?’
Micaiah continued, ‘Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing on his right and on his left. And the Lord said, “Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?”
‘One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, “I will entice him.”
‘“By what means?” the Lord asked.
‘“I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,” he said.
‘“You will succeed in enticing him,” said the Lord. “Go and do it.”
‘So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.’
Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. ‘Which way did the spirit from[a] the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you?’ he asked.
Micaiah replied, ‘You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room.’
The king of Israel then ordered, ‘Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king’s son, and say, “This is what the king says: put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.”’
Micaiah declared, ‘If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me.’ Then he added, ‘Mark my words, all you people!’
- 2 Chronicles 18:23 Or Spirit of