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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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THE DEATH OF AHAB

[195] FOR three years there was peace between Ahab and Benhadad. But because Benhadad had not given up Ramoth, one of the cities which Benhadad's father had conquered from the Israelites, Ahab determined to make war upon him. Jehoshaphat was at this time king of Jerusalem. He had married Ahab's daughter, and was friendly to him; therefore Ahab asked him to join in an expedition against the Syrians. Jehoshaphat was a good man, who feared the Lord. He told Ahab first to inquire of the prophets of God whether He would bless the expedition.

Ahab called together the false prophets of Baal and asked them if he would be victorious if he went against Benhadad.

The prophets answered that he would defeat the king of Syria as he had defeated him before.

But Jehoshaphat would not believe these men, and he said, "Is there not a prophet of the true God in this country whom we may consult?"

Ahab answered, "There is one named Micaiah, but I hate him, for he hath prophesied that I shall be defeated and slain by the king of Syria. On which account I have thrown him into prison, where he now is."

Jehoshaphat said, "Bring him forth."

Micaiah was brought into the presence of the kings. And being questioned as to the future, he answered,—

"God hath shown me the children of Israel dispersed and [196] fleeing away from the Syrians, as a flock of sheep is dispersed when their shepherd is slain. And I interpret this to mean that the Israelites shall flee alive to their homes, and only their king shall perish."

But one of the false prophets, whose name was Zedekiah, besought Ahab not to listen to Micaiah. "For Elijah," he said, "was a greater prophet than Micaiah, and Elijah predicted that the blood of the king would be licked up by dogs near the city of Jezreel in Israel. Therefore Micaiah speaks falsely when he says thou wilt be slain in Syria. And if thou wantest a further sign that he is no true prophet, I will smite him, and let him then wither up my hand as the hand of Jeroboam was once withered up by the prophet Jadon."

Then Zedekiah smote Micaiah, and because no evil consequences followed to Zedekiah, Ahab took courage and led his army against the Syrians, and Jehoshaphat went with him. The king of Syria brought out his army to oppose him, and made his camp not far from Ramoth.

Ahab and Jehoshaphat had agreed that, in order to prevent the prophecy of Micaiah from being fulfilled, Ahab should dress himself as a common soldier, and give his robes and his armor to Jehoshaphat, so that the enemy should mistake Jehoshaphat for Ahab. This was done accordingly. Before the battle commenced, Benhadad had told his soldiers to kill no one but Ahab. When they saw Jehoshaphat dressed in the royal robes, they all rushed at him, but when they came closer they recognized that it was not Ahab, and fell back again. But a man in Benhadad's army shot an arrow into the air, not knowing where it would land or whom it would hit, and the Lord made it strike Ahab and pierce through his armour. Then Ahab knew that he was wounded unto death, and he told the driver of his chariot to carry him out of the host a little way. And he made some of his servants hold him up in his chariot and let him see the battle and give orders to the soldiers, for he did not want any one to know he was dying. [197] But towards sunset he fell down dead, and the Israelites all fled to their own homes.

The body of Ahab was carried to Samaria to be buried. But as the driver stopped by a fountain near the city of Jezreel to wash his chariot, which was full of blood, the dogs came out and licked up the blood of Ahab, as Elijah had prophesied that they would. The prophecy of Micaiah was also fulfilled, for Ahab had died at Ramoth.

Ahab was succeeded in the kingdom of Israel by his son Ahaziah.


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