1 Kings 22:21
22:21 Then a spirit21 stepped forward and stood before the Lord. He said, ‘I will deceive him.’ The Lord asked him, ‘How?’
tn Heb “the spirit.” The significance of the article prefixed to רוּחַ (ruakh) is uncertain, but it could contain a clue as to this spirit’s identity, especially when interpreted in light of v. 24. It is certainly possible, and probably even likely, that the article is used in a generic or dramatic sense and should be translated, “a spirit.” In the latter case it would show that this spirit was vivid and definite in the mind of Micaiah the storyteller. However, if one insists that the article indicates a well-known or universally known spirit, the following context provides a likely referent. Verse 24 tells how Zedekiah slapped Micaiah in the face and then asked sarcastically, “Which way did the spirit from the Lord (רוּחַ־יְהוָה, [ruakh-Yahweh], Heb “the spirit of the Lord”) go when he went from me to speak to you?” When the phrase “the spirit of the Lord” refers to the divine spirit (rather than the divine breath or mind, Isa 40:7, 13) elsewhere, the spirit energizes an individual or group for special tasks or moves one to prophesy. This raises the possibility that the deceiving spirit of vv. 20–23 is the same as the divine spirit mentioned by Zedekiah in v. 24. This would explain why the article is used on רוּחַ; he can be called “the spirit” because he is the well-known spirit who energizes the prophets.