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Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

The Arrow That Killed a King

I Kings xxii: 1 to 40.

dropcap image FTER the two victories which King Ahab gained over the Syrians (see Story 79), there was peace between Syria and Israel for three years. But in the third year the Syrians became strong once more, and they seized a city of Israel on the east of Jordan, called Ramoth-gilead. At that time there was peace and friendship between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah; and Ahab, the king of Israel, sent to Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, saying, "Do you know that Ramoth-gilead is ours, and yet we have done nothing to take it out of the hands of the king of Syria? Will you go up with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?" And King Jehoshaphat sent word to the king of Israel, "I am with you, and my people are with your people, and my horses with your horses."

So the king of Israel and the king of Judah gathered their armies for war against the Syrians, and King Jehoshaphat came to Samaria to meet King Ahab. Jehoshaphat was a good man, and a worshipper of the Lord. He said to Ahab, "Let us ask the prophets to give us the word of the Lord before we go to battle."

Then the king of Israel called together his prophets, four hundred men, not prophets of the Lord, but false prophets of the idols, and he asked them, "Shall I go up to battle at Ramoth-gilead, or shall I remain at home?" And the prophets of the idols said, with one voice, "Go up; for the Lord will give Ramoth-gilead to you."

But Jehoshaphat was not satisfied with the words of these men. He asked, "Is there not here a prophet of the Lord of whom we can ask the Lord's will?"

"There is one prophet," answered Ahab; "his name is Micaiah, the son of Imlah; but I hate him; for he never prophesies any good about me, but always evil."

"Let not the king say that," said Jehoshaphat. "Let us hear what Micaiah will speak."

Then King Ahab sent one of his officers to bring the prophet Micaiah. And the officer said to Micaiah, "All the prophets have spoken good to the king; now, I pray you, let your words be like theirs, and do you speak good also."

And Micaiah said, "As the Lord lives, what the Lord say to me, that I will speak, and nothing else."

The king of Israel and the king of Judah were seated together in their royal robes, at an open place in front of the gate of Samaria. And King Ahab said to Micaiah, "Micaiah, speak to me nothing but the truth, in the name of the Lord."

Then Micaiah said, "I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd; and the Lord said, 'These have no master; let every man go back to his own house.' "

Then the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Did I not tell you that Micaiah would prophesy about me no good, but only evil?"

For Ahab knew that the words of Micaiah meant that he would be slain in the battle.

And Micaiah went on and said, "Hear thou the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing around him, on his right hand and on his left. And the Lord said, 'Who will go and deceive Ahab, so that he will go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one spirit came forth and said, 'I will go, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all Ahab's prophets.' And the Lord said to the spirit, 'Go and deceive him.' Now, therefore, the Lord has let all these false prophets deceive you; and the Lord has spoken evil against you."

Then the king of Israel said to his guards, "Take Micaiah, and lead him to the governor of the city, and say, 'Put this fellow in prison, and let him have nothing to eat but dry bread and water until I come again in peace.' "

And Micaiah said, "If you return at all in peace, then the Lord has not spoken by me. Hear my words, all ye people."

So the kings of Israel and Judah led their armies across the river Jordan and up the mountains on the east, to battle at Ramoth-gilead. Ahab felt afraid after the prophecy of Micaiah, and he said to Jehoshaphat, "I will dress as a common soldier before going into the battle; but do you wear your royal robes."

Now the king of Syria had given word to all his captains to look out especially for the king of Israel, and to fight him, and kill him, even if they should kill no other man. When they saw Jehoshaphat in his kingly garments standing in his chariot, they thought that he was King Ahab, and they turned all battle toward him. But Jehoshaphat cried out, and then they found that he was not the king of Israel, and they left him. In the battle one soldier of the Syrians drew his bow, and shot an arrow, not knowing that he was aiming at the king of Israel. The arrow struck King Ahab just between his breastplate and his lower armor. He was badly wounded, but they held him up in his chariot, so that the men might not see him fall; and his blood was running out of the wound upon the floor of the chariot, until the sun set, when Ahab died. And the cry went through all the host of Israel, "Every man to his city, and every man to his country."

And then all knew that the king of Israel was dead. They brought his body to Samaria, and buried him there. And at the pool of Samaria they washed the king's chariot and his armor. And there the wild dogs of the city licked up Ahab's blood, according to the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

Thus died King Ahab, the son of Omri. He was not a bad man at heart, but he was weak in the hands of his wife, Jezebel, who led him and his kingdom into wickedness in the sight of the Lord.