Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel.
2Ch 17:1-6. Jehoshaphat Reigns Well and Prospers.
1. Jehoshaphat … strengthened himself against Israel—The temper and proceedings of the kings of Israel rendered it necessary for him to prepare vigorous measures of defense on the northern frontier of his kingdom. These consisted in filling all the fortresses with their full complement of troops and establishing military stations in various parts of the country, as well as in the cities of Mount Ephraim, which belonged to Jehoshaphat (2Ch 15:8).
And he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim, which Asa his father had taken.
And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;
3-5. he walked in the first ways of his father David—He imitated the piety of his great ancestor in the early part of his reign before he made those unhappy lapses which dishonored his character.
and sought not unto Baalim—a term used for idols generally in contradistinction to the Lord God of his father.
But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.
4. and not after the doings of Israel—He observed with scrupulous fidelity, and employed his royal influence to support the divine institutions as enacted by Moses, abhorring that spurious and unlawful calf-worship that now formed the established religion in Israel. Being thus far removed, alike from gross idolatry and Israelitish apostasy, and adhering zealously to the requirements of the divine law, the blessing of God rested on his government. Ruling in the fear of God, and for the good of his subjects, "the Lord established the kingdom in his hand."
Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance.
5. all Judah brought … presents—This was customary with the people generally at the beginning of a reign (1Sa 10:27), and with the nobles and high functionaries yearly afterwards. They were given in the form of voluntary offerings, to avoid the odious idea of a tax or tribute.
And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.
6. his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord—Full of faith and piety, he possessed zeal and courage to undertake the reformation of manners, to suppress all the works and objects of idolatry (see on 2Ch 20:33), and he held out public encouragement to the pure worship of God.
Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, even to Benhail, and to Obadiah, and to Zechariah, and to Nethaneel, and to Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah.
2Ch 17:7-11. He Sends Levites to Teach in Judah.
7-11. Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, … to teach in the cities of Judah—The ordinary work of teaching devolved on the priests. But extraordinary commissioners were appointed, probably to ascertain whether the work had been done or neglected. This deputation of five princes, assisted by two priests and nine Levites, was to make a circuit of the towns in Judah. It is the first practical measure we read of as being adopted by any of the kings for the religious instruction of the people. Time and unbroken opportunities were afforded for carrying out fully this excellent plan of home education, for the kingdom enjoyed internal tranquillity as well as freedom for foreign wars. It is conformable to the pious style of the sacred historian to trace this profound peace to the "fear of the Lord having fallen on all kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah."
And with them he sent Levites, even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tobadonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests.
And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.
9. the book of the law—that is, either the whole Pentateuch or only the book of Deuteronomy, which contains an abridgment of it.
And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat.
Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats.
11. Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver—either they had been his tributaries, or they were desirous of securing his valuable friendship, and now made a voluntary offer of tribute. Perhaps they were the Philistines who had submitted to the yoke of David (2Sa 8:1; Ps 60:8).
the Arabians—the nomad tribes on the south of the Dead Sea, who, seeking the protection of Jehoshaphat after his conquest of Edom, paid their tribute in the way most suitable to their pastoral habits—the present of so many head of cattle.
And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store.
2Ch 17:12-19. His Greatness, Captains, and Armies.
And he had much business in the cities of Judah: and the men of war, mighty men of valour, were in Jerusalem.
And these are the numbers of them according to the house of their fathers: Of Judah, the captains of thousands; Adnah the chief, and with him mighty men of valour three hundred thousand.
14. these are the numbers—The warriors were arranged in the army according to their fathers houses. The army of Jehoshaphat, commanded by five great generals and consisting of five unequal divisions, comprised one million one hundred and sixty thousand men, without including those who garrisoned the fortresses. No monarch, since the time of Solomon, equalled Jehoshaphat in the extent of his revenue, in the strength of his fortifications, and in the number of his troops.
And next to him was Jehohanan the captain, and with him two hundred and fourscore thousand.
And next him was Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself unto the LORD; and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valour.
And of Benjamin; Eliada a mighty man of valour, and with him armed men with bow and shield two hundred thousand.
And next him was Jehozabad, and with him an hundred and fourscore thousand ready prepared for the war.
These waited on the king, beside those whom the king put in the fenced cities throughout all Judah.