2 Kings 3:8
And he said, Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom.
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(8) And he saidi.e., Jehoram said.

Which way.—They might cross the Jordan, and attack the northern frontier of Moab, or they might round the southern end of the Dead Sea, and invade Moab from the side of Edom. The former was the shortest route for both kings. But Moab’s strongest defences were on the north frontier, and the allies would be liable to attacks from the Syrians in Ramoth-gilead (2Kings 8:28). The longer and more difficult southern road may have been chosen partly on these grounds, and partly because Jehoshaphat wished to march as far as might be within his own territory, and to get a contingent from Edom, which was at this time subject to him (1Kings 22:48), and perhaps to hold it in check. Moreover, the Moabites were less likely to be on their guard on the southern border, which was more difficult of access.

And he answered.Saidi.e., Jehoshaphat.

3:6-19 The king of Israel laments their distress, and the danger they were in. He called these kings together, yet he charges it upon Providence. Thus the foolishness of man perverteth his way, and then his heart fretteth against the Lord, Pr 19:3. It was well that Jehoshaphat inquired of the Lord now, but it had been much better if he had done it before he engaged in this war. Good men sometimes neglect their duty, till necessity and affliction drive them to it. Wicked people often fare the better for the friendship and society of the godly. To try their faith and obedience, Elisha bids them make the valley full of pits to receive water. Those who expect God's blessings, must dig pools for the rain to fill, as in the valley of Baca, and thus make even that a well, Ps 84:6. We need not inquire whence the water came. God is not tied to second causes. They that sincerely seek for the dew of God's grace, shall have it, and by it be made more than conquerors.The readiest and most natural "way" was across the Jordan near Jericho into the Arboth-Moab, and then along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea to Moab proper, the tract south of the Arnon. But the way chosen was that which led to the Edomite country, namely, round the southern extremity of the Dead Sea, and across the Arabah, or continuation of the Jordan and Dead Sea valley. Thus would be effected a junction with the forces of Edom, which had resumed its dependence on Judah, though the year before it had been in alliance with Moab 2 Chronicles 20:22; and they would come upon the Moabites unprepared. 8-12. Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom—This was a long and circuitous route, by the southern bend of the Dead Sea. Jehoshaphat however preferred it, partly because the part of the Moabite territory at which they would arrive, was the most defenseless; and partly because he would thereby enlist, in the expedition, the forces of the king of Edom. But, in penetrating the deep, rocky valley of Ahsy, which forms the boundary between Edom and Moab, the confederate army was reduced, both man and beast, to the greatest extremities for want of water. They were disappointed by finding the wady of this valley, the brook Zered (De 2:13-18) [Robinson], dry. Jehoram was in despair. But the pious mind of Jehoshaphat inquired for a prophet of the Lord; and, on being informed that Elisha was at hand, the three kings "went down to him"; that is, to his tent, which was either in the camp, or close by it. He had been directed thither by the Spirit of God for this special purpose. They went to him, not only as a mark of respect, but to supplicate for his assistance. He said; either Jehoshaphat; or rather, Jehoram; for the following answer may seem to be Jehoshaphat’s.

Through the wilderness of Edom; which though it was much the longer way, yet they thought it best; partly to secure the king or viceroy of Edom, of whom they might have some suspicion, from that passage, 2 Chronicles 20:22, and to carry both him and his soldiers along with them into the war, both to get their assistance, and to prevent them from, making a war of diversion against Judah, whilst Jehoshaphat was engaged against Moab; and partly that they might invade Moab on their weakest side, and where they least expected them. God also thus disposed their hearts to make way for the following miracle.

And he said, which way shall we go up.... That is, Jehoram said so to Jehoshaphat, consulting with him which was the best way to take to the land of Moab, whether the shortest way, over Jordan; or some other:

and he answered, the way through the wilderness of Edom; which bordered upon it, and the same through which the Israelites passed; for Kadesh was on the extreme border of Edom, whither they came, Numbers 20:1 and this Jehoshaphat proposed, partly that they might come upon Moab unawares, and attack them where they were weakest, and not on their guard; and partly, to take the king of Edom with them, who was no other than Jehoshaphat's deputy, and so be assisting to them, and prevent him from revolting, which otherwise he might take this opportunity of doing.

And he said, Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom.
8. And he said, Which way shall we go up?] These are the words of Jehoram, who leaves to his ally, the elder monarch, the decision of the line of march. They might have crossed the Jordan to the north of the Dead Sea and so come upon Moab from the north, but they would have had more difficulty then in bringing the king of Edom and his army along with them. The LXX. has ‘Which way shall I go up?’

through the wilderness of Edom] It would seem from 1 Kings 22:47 (see note there) that the Edomite royal family had come to an end, and that Jehoshaphat claimed the rights over that land which had been held in former times by Solomon. Hence the ‘deputy’ spoken of in that passage as ‘king of Edom’ would be one set up and maintained on his throne by the king of Judah. We can see from this how the way through Edom would be easy and would commend itself to Jehoshaphat.

Verse 8. - And he said, Which way shall we go up? Jehoram asked Jehoshaphat's advice as to the plan of campaign. There 'were two ways in which Moab might be approached - the direct one across the Jordan and then southward through the country east of the Dead Sea to the Amen, which was the boundary between Moab and Israel; and a circuitous one through the desert west of the Red Sea, and across the Arabah south of it, then northwards through Northern Edom, to the brook Zered, or Wady-el- Ahsy, which was the boundary between Moab and Edom. If the former route were pursued, Moab would be entered on the north; if the latter, she would be attacked on the south. Jehoshaphat recommended the circuitous route. And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom; probably for two reasons: Edom, though under a native king, was a dependency of Judah (1 Kings 22:47), and on passing through the Edomite country, an Edomite contingent might be added to the invading force; Moab, moreover, was mere likely to be surprised by an attack on this quarter, which was unusual, and from which she would not anticipate danger. 2 Kings 3:8In reply to Joram's question, "By which way shall we advance (against Moab)?" Jehoshaphat decided in favour of "the way through the desert of Edom." There were two ways by which it was possible to enter the land of the Moabites; namely, either by going above the Dead Sea, and crossing the Jordan and the boundary river Arnon, and so entering it from the north, or by going round the southern point of the Dead Sea, and advancing through the northern portion of the mountains of Edom, and thus entering it from the south. The latter way was the longer of the two, and the one attended with the greatest difficulties and dangers, because the army would have to cross mountains which were very difficult to ascend. Nevertheless Jehoshaphat decided in its favour, partly because, if they took the northern route, they would have the Syrians at Ramoth in Gilead to fear, partly also because the Moabites, from their very confidence in the inaccessibility of their southern boundary, would hardly expect any attack from that side, and might therefore, if assailed at that point, be taken off their guard and easily defeated, and probably also from a regard to the king of Edom, whom they could induce to join them with his troops if they took that route, not so much perhaps for the purpose of strengthening their own army as to make sure of his forces, namely, that he would not make a fresh attempt at rebellion by a second invasion of the kingdom of Judah while Jehoshaphat was taking the field against the Moabites.
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