Story Eight

THE ARROW THAT KILLED A KING
AFTER the two victories which King Ahab gained over the Sy̆ŕ ĭ-ans̝ there was peace between Sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ and Ĭś̝ ra-el for three years. But in the third year the Sy̆ŕ ĭ-ans̝ became strong once more, and they seized a city of Ĭś̝ ra-el on the Jôŕ dan, called Rā́ moth=ḡĭĺ e-ăd. At that time there was peace and friendship between the kingdoms of Ĭś̝ ra-el and Jū́ dah; and Ā́ hăb, the king of Ĭś̝ ra-el, sent to Jē̇-hŏsh́ a-phăt, the king of Jū́ dah, saying, "Do you know that Rā́ moth=ḡĭĺ e-ăd is ours, and yet we have done nothing to take it out of the hands of the king of Sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ?
Will you go up with me to battle at Rā́ moth=ḡĭĺ e-ăd?" And King Jē-hŏsh́ a-phăt sent word to the king of Ĭś̝ ra-el, "I am with you, and my people are with your people, and my horses with your horses.”
So the king of Ĭś̝ ra-el and the king of Jū́ dah gathered their armies for war against the Sy̆ŕ ĭ-ans̝, and King Jē-hŏsh́ a-phăt came to Sā-mā́ rĭ-ȧ to meet King Ā́ hăb. Jē-hŏsh́ a-phăt was a good man, and a worshipper of the Lord. He said to Ā́ hăb, "Let us ask the prophets to give us the word of the Lord before we go to battle.”
Then the king of Ĭś̝ ra-el 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 Rā́ moth=ḡĭĺ e-ăd, or shall I remain at home?" And the prophets of the idols said, with one voice, "Go up; for the Lord will give Rā́ moth=ḡĭĺ e-ăd to you.”
But Jē-hŏsh́ a-phăt was not satisfied with the works 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 Ā́ hăb; "his name is Mī-cā́ iah, the son of Ĭḿ lah; but I hate him; for he never prophesies any good about me, but always evil.”
"Let not the king say that," said Jē-hŏsh́ a-phăt. "Let us hear what Mī-cā́ iah will speak.”
Then King Ahab sent one of his officers to bring the prophet Mī-cā́ iah. And the officer said to Mī-cā́ iah, "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 Mī-cā́ iah said, "As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak, and nothing else.”
The king of Ĭś̝ ra-el and the king of Jū́ dah were seated together in their royal robes, at an open place in front of the gate of Sā-mā́ rĭ-ȧ. And King Ā́ hăb said to Mī-cā́ iah, "Mī-cā́ iah, speak to me nothing but the truth, in the name of the Lord.”
Then Mī-cā́ iah said, "I saw all Ĭś̝ ra-el 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 Ĭś̝ ra-el said to Jē-hŏsh́ a-phăt, "Did I not tell you that Mī-cā́ iah would prophesy about me no good, but only evil?”
For Ā́ hăb knew that the words of Mī-cā́ iah meant that he would be slain in the battle.
And Mī-cā́ iah 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 Ā́ hăb, so that he will go up and fall at Rā́ moth=ḡĭĺ e-ăd?' And one spirit came forth and said, 'I will go, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all Ā́ hăb'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 Ĭś̝ ra-el said to his guards, "Take Mī-cā́ iah, 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 Mī-cā́ iah 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 Ĭś̝ ra-el and Jū́ dah led their armies across the river Jordan and up the mountains on the east, to battle at Rā́ moth= ḡĭĺ e-ăd. Ahab felt afraid after the prophecy of Mī-cā́ iah, and he said to Jē-hŏsh́ a-phăt, "I will dress as a common soldier before going into the battle; but do you wear your royal robes.”
Now the king of had given word to all his captains to look out especially for the king of Ĭś̝ ra-el, and to fight him, and kill him, even if they should kill no other man. When they saw Jē-hŏsh́ a-phăt in his kingly garments standing in his chariot, they thought that he was King Ā́ hăb, and they turned all the battle toward him. But Jē-hŏsh́ a-phăt cried out, and then they found that he was not the king of Ĭś̝ ra-el, and they left him. In the battle one soldier of the Sy̆ŕ ĭ-ans̝ drew his bow, and shot an arrow, not knowing that he was aiming at the king of Ĭś̝ ra-el. 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 Ĭś̝ ra-el, "Every man to his city, and every man to his country.”
And then all knew that the king of Ĭś̝ ra-el was dead. They brought his body to Sā̇-mā́ rĭ-ȧ, and buried him there. And at the pool of Sā̇-mā́ rĭ-ȧ, they washed the king's chariot and his armor. And there the wild dogs of the city licked up Ā́ hăb's blood, according to the word of the Lord spoken by Ē-lī́ jah.
Thus died King Ā́ hăb, the son of Ŏḿ rĭ. He was not a bad man at heart, but he was weak in the hands of his wife, Jĕż́ e-bĕl, who led him and his kingdom into wickedness in the sight of the Lord.