This article explains the king of Israel’s seemingly self-defeating rejection of Micaiah’s favorable oracle in 1 Kgs 22:15–16 by surveying a number of other oracular inquiries in the Bible and cuneiform sources and describing two distinct grammatical patterns, the dyadic and the disjunctive. These norms functioned to organize insights and distribute risk between the inquirer and the diviner. I suggest that Micaiah deliberately caused the ritual to fail by returning a response appropriate to a dyadic inquiry, when in fact he was asked to answer a disjunctive inquiry. Setting aside a number of previous explanations, I argue that it was this liturgical dissonance that signaled to the king that the prophet was not telling the truth. The fact that a subtle variation from the expected form of the oracle was sufficient to nullify the oracle suggests that, to a degree previously unappreciated, attending to the precise wording of divinatory exchanges in the Deuteronomistic History offers insight into the nature of the collaboration between inquirers and diviners in the Bible.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.