Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
INVASION OF THE MOABITES, AMMONITES, AND MAONITES. THEIR MARVELLOUS OVERTHROW—(2Chronicles 20:1-30).
The chronicler only has preserved an historic account of this great deliverance. But certain of the Psalms have been with much probability supposed to commemorate it. The contents of Psalms 46-48 harmonise well with this assumption; and they are referred by their titles to “the sons of Korah,” a fact which corresponds with the statement of 2Chronicles 20:19 that certain of the Korahite Levites sang praises to Jehovah on occasion of the prophecy of Jahaziel. Further, Jahaziel himself was an Asaphite Levite, and it is noteworthy that Psalms 83, which is a prayer against a hostile confederacy of Edom, Amnion, Moab, and other races, is headed “A Psalm of Asaph.” It may have been composed by the prophet whose name is only recorded in this chapter.
It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.(1) It came to pass after this also.—Rather, And it came to pass afterwards, i.e., after the battle of Ramoth-Gilead, and Jehoshaphat’s reformation of law and religion.
And the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites.—This is an attempt to get a reasonable sense out of a corrupted text. What the Heb. says is: And the sons of Ammon, and with them some of the Ammonites. So the Vulg., “et filii Ammon et cum eis de Ammonitis.” Transpose a single Hebrew letter, and there results the intelligible reading: And the sons of Ammon, and with them the Maonites (Heb., Me’ûnîm. See on 1Chronicles 4:41-42.) The Maonites are mentioned again (2Chronicles 26:7) in company with Arabs. They appear to have been a tribe, whose chief seat was Maon, on the eastern slopes of the chain of Mount Seir, after which they are called “sons,” or “inhabitants of Mount Seir” in 2Chronicles 20:10; 2Chronicles 20:22-23. Accordingly Josephus (Ant. ix. 1, § 2) calls them a multitude of Arabs. [The LXX. reads: “And with them some of the Minaioi,” a name which possibly represents the me’înîm of the Heb. text of 1Chronicles 4:41. Syriac, “and with them men of war;” Arabic, “brave men.” Perhaps the expression rendered and with them—we’immahèm—is a relic of an original reading, and the Maonites; and the some of the Ammonites (mēhā’ammônîm) which follows, is merely a gloss on an obscure name by some transcriber].
Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.(2) Then there came some that told.—And they (i.e., messengers; Vulg., “nuntii”) came and told.
The Sea.—The Dead Sea, east of which lay the territories of Ammon and Moab; while to the south of it, not far from Petra, was Maon.
On this side Syria.—Heb., from Aram; and so LXX. and Vulg. But Edom is probably the true reading—a name often confused with Aram. As the invaders marched round the southern end of the Dead Sea, they were naturally described as coming from Edom. The Syr. and Arab. have: from the other side of the Red Sea.
Hazazon-tamar.—See Genesis 14:7.
Engedi (Ain-jidy), midway on the western coast of the Dead Sea (see 1Samuel 23:29), about thirty-six miles from Jerusalem. The Syr. and Arab, have Jericho for Hazazon-tamar (? meadow of palms). Jericho was also called “city of palms.”
And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.(3) And Jehoshaphat.—And he was afraid (scil., at the news). And Jehoshaphat set his face, &c. Literally, put his face—a phrase used in Daniel 9:3 (comp. 2Kings 12:18), and implying resolved, determined.
To seek the Lord.—The Hebrew construction is that of 2Chronicles 15:13 (le is here a sign of the accusative).
And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.(4) To ask.—Literally, to seek (baqqēsh, a synonym of dārash. 2Chronicles 20:2) from Jehovah; scil., help, which Authorised Version rightly supplies.
Even out of all the cities of Judah.—Emphasising the fact that the gathering in the Temple represented the whole nation. Syriac and Arabic, “and even from the distant cities.”
And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,(5) And Jehoshaphat stood.—Comp. 2Chronicles 6:12-13.
Judah and Jerusalem.—So 2Chronicles 20:27. Jerusalem is thus mentioned side by side with the country, as being by far the most important part of it. (See also the headings of Isaiah 1, 2)
Before the new court.—This name, “the New Court,” only occurs here. It probably designates the “Great” (2Chronicles 4:9) or outer court of the Temple, in which the people assembled. Jehoshaphat stood facing the people, in front of the entrance to the Court of the Priests. Perhaps the court was called New, as having been recently repaired or enlarged. Syr. and Arab., “before the new gate.”
And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?(6) Art not thou God in heaven.—So Psalm 115:2-3. Jehovah, the Worship of Israel, is no limited local or tribal deity, but God over all. (Comp. also the first clause of the Lord’s Prayer.)
And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms?—Comp. 1Chronicles 29:12 (David’s prayer), “and Thou reignest (rulest) over all; and in Thine hand is power and might.” This and next sentence should be rendered affirmatively, as in that place. (Comp. also Psalm 47:8 : “God reigneth over the heathen.”)
So that none is able to withstand thee.—Vulg., “nec quisquam tibi potest resistere;” LXX., καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν πρὸς σὲ ἀντιστῆναι. Literally, and there is none against thee to stand up. For this construction, comp. Psalm 94:16 : “Who will stand up for me with (i.e., against) workers of wickedness. (Comp. also Psalm 2:2; and the last words of Asa’s Prayer, 2Chronicles 14:11.) Syr. and Arab., “and I am standing and praying before thee.”
Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?(7) Art not thou our God?—Didst not Thou, our God, drive out, &c. (Comp. Joshua 23:5; Joshua 23:9; Deuteronomy 4:38; Deuteronomy 11:23; and for the form of appeal, Isa. Ii. 9, 10. Comp. also Psalm 47:3-4.)
For ever.—Genesis 17:8, “for an everlasting possession.”
Thy friend.—Or, lover. So Isaiah 41:8, “seed of Abraham, my friend.” This title of Abraham is mentioned again by St. James (James 2:23). Hebron, the patriarch’s burial-place, is at this day known to the Muslim world as el-Khalil, “the Friend.”
And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,(8) And have built thee a sanctuary therein.—And built thee therein a sanctuary for thy name. “A sanctuary for thy name” is a single expression. (Comp. 2Chronicles 6:5-8, “that my name might be there.”) The name of Jehovah designates all that He is to Israel; His revealed character.
If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.(9) If when evil cometh upon us.—A summary of part of Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication (2Chronicles 6:24-30). The reference to this prayer implies a confidence that it had been accepted in heaven, as the sign that followed it indicated (2Chronicles 7:1-3). Syriac, “When the sanctuary is amongst us, there will not come upon us evil, nor sword, nor judgment, &c., and we will come and stand before this house, and before Thee, because Thy name is invoked in this house; and we will come and pray before Thee in this house and thou wilt hearken to the voice of our prayer, and deliver us.” The Hebrew seems to say, “If there come upon us evil—sword (judgment), and pestilence and famine—we will stand (i.e., come forward) before this house, and before Thee, for Thy name is in this house, and we will cry unto Thee out of our distress, and Thou shalt (or that Thou mayest) hear and save.” The word rendered “judgment” (shĕphōt) is not used as a noun anywhere else; and, lacking a conjunction, it spoils the symmetry of the sentence. It is probably an ancient gloss. All the versions have it; and the Vulg. renders, “sword of judgment.” (Comp. the Syriac in 2Chronicles 20:12, infra.)
And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;(10) And (the children of) mount Seir.—The Maonites are here so called apparently, and thus identified as an Edomite people. (See on 2Chronicles 20:1.)
Whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade.—See the respective prohibitions (Deuteronomy 2:4; Deuteronomy 2:9; Deuteronomy 2:19.) Comp. also (Numbers 20:14-21) the king of Edom’s refusal of a passage through his territory (Judges 11:15, seq.) These tribes were recognised as the kindred of Israel, as being sons of Esau and sons of Lot. (The Syriac has “mount Gebel,” i.e., Gebāl, the name of a tribe living in the northern part of mount Seir, Psalm 73:8.)
Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.(11) Behold, I say, how they reward us.—Literally, and behold they are requiting us by coming, &c. (Comp. Psalm 83:4-9.)
Cast.—Drive out (Genesis 3:24).
Thy possession.—The Promised Land is so called nowhere else in the Old Testament.
Thou hast given us to inherit.—Made us possess. (Comp. Judges 11:24.)
O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.(12) Wilt thou not judge them?—Exercise judgment in them, i.e., upon them (here only.) LXX., οὐ κρινεῖς ἐν αὐτοῖς.
This great company.—Multitude (2Chronicles 14:11) Syriac, “for there is not in us might to stand before them: bring the sword of Thy judgment against them.”
Neither know we.—And for our part we know not what to do.
But our eyes are upon thee.—For our eyes are towards thee (‘al=’el). We neither know nor deliberate upon a suitable plan of resistance, for our whole thought is centred upon Thee and Thine omnipotence. For the metaphor, comp. Psalm 25:15, “Mine eyes are ever toward (‘el) Jehovah,” and Psalm 123:2; Psalm 141:8.
And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.(13) Stood.—Were standing.
Before the Lord—i.e., praying with their king. (Comp. the apparent reference to this assembly in Psalm 48:9. “We thought upon Thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of Thy Temple.”
Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;(14) Then upon.—Literally, and Jahaziel . . . there fell upon him the spirit, &c, as in 2Chronicles 15:1, “The spirit of courage from the Lord.” This Levitical musician is not mentioned elsewhere. His pedigree is traced back for five generations to Mattaniah, which should probably be Nethaniah, a “son of Asaph,” who was contemporary with David (1Chronicles 25:2; 1Chronicles 25:12).
And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.(15) Hearken ye.—So Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 51:4, &c.
Great multitude—i.e., “great company” (2Chronicles 20:12)
The battle is not your’s, but God’s.—Comp. David’s words to Goliath, “The battle is Jehovah’s” (1Samuel 17:47); and the Divine title Jehovah Sabaoth, i.e., Jehovah, the leader of the hosts of Israel. “It was on the battle-field that Jehovah’s presence was most clearly realised.”—Prof. Robertson Smith. (Comp. also Psalm 46:2; Psalm 46:7; Psalm 46:9.)
To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.(16) Against them.—Or, unto them.
They come up by the cliff of Ziz.—They are about ascending by the ascent of Hazziz. Vulg., “ascensuri enim sunt per clivum,” &c.
The brook.—The wâdy, ravine, or water-course.
The wilderness of Jeruel.—The name is unknown, but comparing 2Chronicles 20:2; 2Chronicles 20:16; 2Chronicles 20:20, it appears that the great stretch of waste, now called el Husâsah, from a wady on the north side of it, is intended. The “ascent of Hazziz” would be a pass or mountain path, leading up from Engedi to this desert table-land. (With the name Hazziz, comp. Hakkoz. Perhaps Husâsah preserves a trace of it. The LXX. has Ασαεῖς Syriac and Arabic, “the ascent of dawn,” omitting “Jeruel.”)
Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.(17) Ye shall not need to fight.—It is not for you to fight. (Comp. 1Chronicles 5:1; 1Chronicles 15:2.)
In this.—Herein, in this instance. (Comp. for the phrase, 2Chronicles 19:2.)
Set yourselves (i.e., “withstand,” 2Chronicles 20:6).—Station yourselves, take your stand. Here the next verb, stand ye still, seems added as an explanation, and is, perhaps, a marginal gloss. “Fear not: take your stand, and see the salvation of the Lord,” was the command of Moses to Israel at the Red Sea, just before the Great Deliverance (Exodus 14:13). (Comp. also the words of Psalm 46:8, “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.”)
The Lord with you.—Some explain the connection thus: “The Lord (who is) with you.” Iahveh ‘immdkhem may, perhaps, be compared with ‘immānû êl, “with us God” (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8); it will then be a Divine title, suited to the present emergency. But, more probably, the stop should be at the Lord; and with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! is an elliptic expression, meaning “He is, or will be with you,” &c, as in 2Chronicles 19:6. (Comp. the refrain of Psalms 46, “The Lord of hosts is with us! The God of Jacob is our refuge.”)
And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.(18) Bowed his head.—The king “bowed, face earthward,” and the people prostrated themselves upon their faces, both “to do worship to Jehovah.” (Comp. Leviticus 9:24; Joshua 5:14; 1Chronicles 21:16; Exodus 34:8.)
And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.(19) And the Levites.—The Levites are the first to rise up, in order to break forth into a hymn of thanksgiving.
Of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites.—Sons of the Kohathites specifies the clan, and sons of the Korhites the house of the musicians who rose up on this occasion. The Korhites were the leading division of Kohath (1Chronicles 6:22). And is explanatory; even, namely some of the sons of Korah. The “sons of Korah” were a guild of Levitical minstrels of the first rank. (Comp. the headings of many psalms, e.g., 44-49, connecting them with their authorship.)
To praise the Lord God of Israel.—1Chronicles 16:14 (hallel).
And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.(20) Went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa.—Part of the wilderness of Jeruel (2Chronicles 20:16). Tekoa (Thekua) is about ten miles south of Jerusalem, and commands a view over the table-land of el Husâsoh.
Jehoshaphat stood.—Or, came forward. The king probably stood in the gate at Jerusalem.
Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established.—An affirmative way of putting the words of Isaiah to Ahaz: “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established” (Isaiah 7:9).
Believe his prophets.—Believe in, as before, i.e., put confidence in their advice and leading.
So shall ye prosper.—And prosper ye. (Comp. 2Chronicles 18:11.)
And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.(21) And when he had consulted with.—Or, advised, given counsel to, warned. (Comp. 2Kings 6:8.) Vulg., “deditque consilium populo, et statuit cantores domini.”
And to say.—And saying.
Praise the Lord.—Give thanks unto Jehovah The refrain of the singers. (See on 1Chronicles 16:34; 1Chronicles 16:41; 2Chronicles 5:13; 2Chronicles 7:3.) The band of Levitical minstrels were to march before the army (halûq, the armed host; Joshua 6:7).
And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.(22) And when they began.—Literally, And at the. time when they began with shouting and praise. (Comp. Deuteronomy 16:9, to begin with.) They had now reached the neighbourhood of the enemy; and their joyful pæan was the signal for a Divine interposition. (Comp. Joshua 6:16; Joshua 6:20, and Psalm 46:6.)
The Lord set ambushments.—Jehovah placed liers in wait (Judges 9:25). (nāthan here is equivalent in meaning to sām there.)
Come against.—Come into, i.e., invade (2Chronicles 20:10).
They were smitten.—Right, according to the ordinary usage. (See 1Chronicles 19:16; 1Chronicles 19:19, “put to the worse.”) This statement anticipates what follows. The ancient translators felt a difficulty here, as is evident from their versions. Thus the LXX. has, “The Lord made the sons of Ammon to war upon Moab and Mount Seir, who came out against Judah; and they were routed.” The Vulg., “The Lord turned their ambushment against themselves, viz., that of the sons of Amnion and Moab and Mount Seir, who had gone forth to fight against Judah, and they were smitten.”
The Syriac (and Arabic) travesty 2Chronicles 20:21 and the first clause of 2Chronicles 20:22 thus: “And he stood in the middle of the people, and said, Come, let us give thanks unto the Lord, and let us laud the splendour of his holiness, when he goeth out before our hosts, and maketh war for us with our foes: and be saying, Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, and his goodness endureth for ever. The hills began praising, and the mountains began rejoicing.”They then continue as in 2Chronicles 20:24, omitting “The Lord set ambushments . . . they were smitten.”
The self-destruction of the allied hordes was undoubtedly providential, but it need not have been miraculous. How was it brought about? The answer depends on the meaning of the term “liers in wait.” Were angels meant, as some have thought (Ewald’s böser Geister), a more appropriate and less ambiguous term would have been employed to express their agency. Nor is it likely that a Judean ambuscade is thus obscurely mentioned without any further reference or explanation: indeed it is evident from 2Chronicles 20:15; 2Chronicles 20:17; 2Chronicles 20:24, that the part of the Judeans was that of mere spectators of an accomplished fact. Nor, finally, must we suppose that “the waylaying was done by a section of the confederates themselves, probably certain of the Maonites.”
The truth appears to be that some portion of the unwieldy and straggling host was suddenly attacked by a lurking band of Bedawi freebooters. In the providence of God the partial confusion which thus originated speedily became a universal panic. The Ammonites and Moabites instantly suspected their less civilised allies, the Maonites, of treachery, and fell upon them in a frenzy of revenge; after which, maddened by slaughter and mutual suspicion, and the memory of ancient feuds, they turned their reeking swords against each other, and the strife only ended with the self-annihilation of the allies. The occurrence is thus to some extent parallel with the self-destruction of the Midianite hordes, when thrown into confusion by the stratagem of Gideon (Judges 7:22).
The marvellous result, marvellously predicted, was brought to pass by a perfectly natural sequence of events, just as was Elisha’s prophecy of plenty to famine-stricken Samaria, though at the time when it was uttered fulfilment seemed impossible, unless the Lord were to “make windows in heaven,” and pour down supplies from thence by a visible miracle. In neither case was the course of events foreseen by the prophet, but only their issue. (See 2 Kings 7)
For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.(23) Stood up against.—‘Amad ‘al, a late usage. (So 1Chronicles 21:1.)
Utterly to slay.—To exterminate (hacharîm), devote to destruction.
And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.(24) And when Judah came.—Now Judah had come; by the time the slaughter was complete.
They looked.—And they looked.
Behold, they were dead bodies.—Comp. 2Kings 19:35.
None escaped.—No survivors were anywhere visible. Vulg., “Porro Juda cum venisset ad speculam quae respicit solitudinem vidit procul . . . nec superesse quemquam qui necem potuisset evadere.”
And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.(25) When.—Omit.
They found.—And found.
Among them in abundance both riches.—Instead of bāhèm, “among them,” the LXX. reads bĕhēmâh, “cattle,” which seems preferable. “And found cattle in abundance and substance” (rĕkûsh, movable goods of all sorts, including flocks and herds; Genesis 12:5).
With the dead bodies.—And corpses, which they stripped of their ornaments and clothing. But bĕgādîm, “clothes,” not pĕgārhn, “corpses,” should be read with some MSS., and apparently the Vulg., “inter cadavera . . . vestes quoque.” The Syriac has, “and they found among them a very great spoil and property, and bridles, and horses, and vessels of desire;” the Arabic, “and he found an immense booty, and herds and splendid garments.” The LXX. has τκῦλα, “spoils.”
Precious jewels.—Literally, vessels of desirable things, i.e.,costly articles; a phrase only met with hero: LXX., well, σκεύη ἐπιθυμητὰ.
Which they stripped off for themselves.—Or, and they spoiled them, i.e., the enemy. (Comp. Exodus 3:22; LXX., e ἐσκύλευσαν ἑαυτοῖς.)
More than they could carry away.—Literally, until there was no loading or carrying.
Gathering—i.e., taking away (bôzĕzîm, “plundering”). Comp. Judges 8:24-26 (the spoils of Midian). The amount of the spoil is explained by the circumstance that the invaders had intended to effect a permanent settlement in Judah, and so brought all their goods with them (2Chronicles 20:11). (Comp. Psalm 83:12.) The invasion was thus similar in character to the migrations of the barbarian hordes, which broke repeatedly over the declining Roman empire, though of course it was on a much smaller scale. Its repulse, however, has proved not less momentous in the history of mankind, than that of the Persians at Marathon, or of the Saracens at Roncesvalles. The greatness of the overthrow may be inferred from the fact that the prophet Joel makes it a type of the coming judgment of Israel’s enemies in the “Valley of Jehoshaphat”—a prophetic designation which alludes at once to the catastrophe recorded here, and to the truth that “Jehovah is judge” of all the earth (Joel 3:2; Joel 3:12; Joel 3:14).
And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.(26) Valley of Berachah—i.e., blessing. The place is still called Wady Beraikut, a wide, open valley west of Tekoa, near the road from Hebron to Jerusalem. St. Jerome speaks of a Caphar Barucha, “village of blessing,” in the same neighbourhood.
Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.(27) Then.—And.
Every man.—All the men (collective).
In the forefront of them.—At their head. LXX., ἡγούμενος αὐτῶν.
To go again . . . with joy.—They returned, as they came, in festal procession.
And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD.(28) With psalteries.—So Vulg. Rather, with harps, guitars, and clarions. (Comp. Psalm 47:5-6, which may be supposed to commemorate this procession to the Temple.)
And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel.(29) And the fear of God was.—And a divine dread fell upon all the kingdoms of the countries (scil.) around Judah. (See 2Chronicles 17:10, and Psalm 48:7, “Fear took hold upon them there, and pain as of a woman in travail.”)
The Lord fought.—Joshua 10:14; Joshua 10:42; Psalm 46:6. That Jehovah had fought for His people was evident from the catastrophe which had befallen their enemies. The warfare of the Divine Being was seen not apart from, but in a course of events, which, however natural, was almost as marvellous as a visible intervention of angelic hosts.
So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.(30) So the realm of Jehoshaphat.—The same is said of Asa’s kingdom (2Chronicles 14:5-6; 2Chronicles 15:15). (Comp. the similar notices in Judges of the rest which followed upon the overthrow of a national enemy, e.g., Judges 3:30.)
And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.CONCLUDING NOTICES. END OF THE REIGN
(2Ch 20:31 -2Ch_21:1).
Comp. 1Kings 22:41-50. A brief section, which constitutes the whole account of the reign of Jehoshaphat in the older narrative.
(31) And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah.—Kings adds: “In the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.” With this omission, our verse coincides with 1Kings 22:41-42.
And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD.(32) And he walked in the way.—Kings: “All the way.”
From it.—Here the pronoun is fern., in Kings masc., as in 2Chronicles 17:3 supra.
Doing.—So as to do.
Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.(33) For . . . hearts.—And the people had not yet directed their heart. This language is the chronicler’s own (see 2Chronicles 12:14; 2Chronicles 19:3), and is substituted for the statement, “The people were still wont to sacrifice and burn incense on the high places” (Kings). They had not yet accepted the principle of the one Temple.
(33) Howbeit the high places were not taken away.—This is no contradiction of 2Chronicles 17:6, “And further (or again), he took away the high places.” There the holy places of heathenism, here those of the illegal worship of Jehovah, appear to be meant.
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.(34) Now the rest of the acts.—1Kings 22:45 : “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he shewed, and how he warred, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? “The expression how he warred hints at his victory over the three allies. “As to the historical foundation of this victory there can be no doubt, after what has been noted by Hitzig on Joel, Einleit. u. 4, 2; and by Ewald, Gesch. Isr. iii. 510, ff.” (Thenius).
In the book (story).—Literally, words.
Who is mentioned.—Which is inscribed (hā’alāh, see 1Kings 9:21; 2Chronicles 8:8), or entered, in the book, &c. So the Syriac, “which is written in the book of the kings of Israel.” “The words of Jehu the son of Hanani is the title of a prophetic monograph here referred to as incorporated in the “Book of the Kings of Israel.”
And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:(35) And after this.—The chronicler has omitted the notice that “Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel” (1Kings 22:44), and now he omits two other short verses of the parallel account, viz., 1Kings 22:46-47 : “And the remnant of the sodomites, which had remained in the days of his father Asa, he consumed out of the land. There was then no king in Edom: a deputy was king.” The former omission is perfectly natural, as the Qĕdēshîm were not mentioned in Asa’s reign (comp. 1Kings 15:12); and the latter is probably due to the fact that it was the religious aspect, and not the political antecedents, of Jehoshaphat s conduct that most interested the chronicler. Hence also the didactic tone of the following verses as compared with 1Kings 22:48-49. The expression, “after this,” can only mean after the overthrow of the three nations (2Chronicles 20:1-30). As Ahaziah began to reign in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat, and reigned two years (1Kings 22:51), the league between them was formed in the seventeenth or eighteenth year of the king of Judah.
Join himself (‘ethchabbar).—An Aramaism (here only). This verse is peculiar to the chronicle.
Who did very wickedly.—He (viz., Ahaziah, the pronoun is emphatic) did very wickedly. The implied thought is: And, therefore, Jehoshaphat’s alliance was wrong. (Comp. 2Chronicles 19:2.)
And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongeber.(36) And he joined himself with him.—Literally, and he joined him with himself, an expression only occurring here.
To make ships to go to Tarshish.—In 1Kings 22:48-49, we read: “Jehoshaphat made ships (i.e., a fleet) of Tarshish, to go to Ophir for gold; and it went not; for the ships were broken (i.e., wrecked) in Ezion-geber. Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships; and Jehoshaphat consented not.” There is no mention of a previous alliance and partnership in the ship-building with Ahaziah. Moreover, the expression of our text, “ships to go to Tarshish,” appears to be an erroneous paraphrase of “ships of Tarshish,” or “Tarshish-men,” as we might say; a phrase which really means, vessels built for long sea-voyages. According to Kings, the ships were built “to go to Ophir for gold;” in other words, to renew Solomon’s traffic with India from the port on the Red Sea.
And they made the ships in Ezion-gaber.—The Edomite port at the head of the Gulf of Akaba. If Tarshish means the Phoenician Tartessus in Spain, the fleet could only go thither by doubling the Cape, or crossing the Isthmus of Suez. Therefore some have supposed another Tarshish somewhere in the Persian Gulf or on the north-west coast of India. (See on 2Chronicles 9:21.)
Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.(37) Then.—And.
Eliezer the son of Dodavah.—A prophet who is otherwise unknown.
Dodavah.—Heb. Dôdāvāhû. (Comp. Hôdavyāhû. 1Chronicles 3:24; LXX., Δωδία, as if the Heb. were Dôdîyāh; Vulg., “Dodau.”
Mareshah.—See 2Chronicles 11:8.
Because thou hast joined thyself.—Comp. Jehu the son of Hanani’s similar rebuke of Jenoshaphat for his alliance with Ahab (2Chronicles 19:2).
The Lord hath broken.—Shattered (parac). (Comp. 2Chronicles 24:7.) The perfect is prophetic, i.e., will certainly shatter.
And the ships were broken.—Wrecked by a gale. (Comp. Psalm 48:7 : “With the east wind Thou breakest ships of Tarshish.”)
After this misadventure, Ahaziah proposed another joint expedition; but the king of Judah declined. (See on 2Chronicles 20:36.)