MICAIAH (Heb. מִיכָיְהוּ; in II Chron. 18:14, Micah, Heb. מִיכָה), son of Imlah, prophet who foretold the death of *Ahab (I Kings 22:7–28). Before embarking on the campaign of Ramoth-Gilead, Ahab and his ally *Jehosaphat king of Judah consulted prophets who unanimously prophesied: "Go up; for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king" (22:6; cf. 22:12). When Micaiah was called, he at first expressed the view of the other prophets, but only in an ironic mockery, and when the king adjured him to speak "nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord," he described two visions he had had: one, of the Israelites scattered over the hills like sheep without a shepherd, which the Lord explained to mean, "these have no master, let every one of them return to his house in peace"; and one, of a meeting of the heavenly council at which it was decided that Ahab should be lured to his death in battle at Ramoth-Gilead by a spirit of falsehood in the mouths of his prophets. Micaiah, who firmly repeated the prediction that the king would not return home alive, was then imprisoned for the duration of the campaign.
It appears that Micaiah was known as a prophet even before this, and the king of Israel says of him "I detest him, for he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil" (22:8). It thus appears that Micaiah was not one of the court prophets, who as a rule acquiesced and encouraged the king. However, he did not bear animosity toward the king and tried, in his prophecy, to prevent his death and the defeat of Israel. His personality was distinguished by prophetic independence and a firm, uncompromising stand not only against the king and his ministers but against all the 400 prophets gathered in the king's court, who in his opinion were not merely false prophets, but became messengers of falsehood through a divine temptation. He was not a rebuking prophet and was not eager to prophesy as were the messenger-prophets. Nor is there any proof that he was one of the prophets who advised the people, like Elisha. His prophecy was similar to that of the classical prophets in his obdurate and unusual stand and his readiness to suffer and be tortured for the sake of truth.
From a political point of view, too, Micaiah differed from the other prophets who in their extreme nationalism were violently anti-Aramean and urged the king to fight against Aram without compromise (I Kings 20:22).
In the Aggadah
In the Aggadah, Micaiah is identified with the anonymous prophet who "came near unto Ahab" and foretold the destruction of the Aramean army (I Kings 20:13; SOR 20, p. 52). Later, when he predicted the death of Ahab in battle, the false prophet Zedekiah b. Chenaanah challenged his prophecy, claiming that Elijah had previously prophesied that the dogs would lick Ahab's blood in the field of Naboth, and he would not therefore be slain on a battlefield three days' journey from there. However, both prophecies were fulfilled. Ahab fell in Ramoth-Gilead, but his blood was licked by the dogs in Samaria, when they washed the slain king's chariot there (I Kings 22:28; Jos., Ant. 8:15, 4).
J.A. Montgomery, The Book of Kings (ICC, 1951), 335–41; B. Oppenheimer, in: Sefer Urbach (1955), 89–93. IN THE AGGADAH: Ginzberg, Legends, index; for further bibliography see *Prophecy.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.