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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

2 Chronicles 20




The narrative in 2 Chronicles 20:31-37, it runs parallel with 1 Kings 22:41-49.

Verse 1

The present Hebrew (and English) text mentions the Ammonites twice over. Hence, some adopt a different reading and translate “the children of Ammon, and with them certain of the Maonites,” etc. Compare 2 Chronicles 20:10, note; Judges 10:12, note; 1 Chronicles 4:41, note.

Verse 2

Translate, “from beyond the sea, from Edom.” The “sea” intended is, of course, the Dead Sea. “Syria” (Aram) is probably a mistake of a copyist for “Edom” (compare 2 Samuel 8:12 note).

On Engedi, see 1 Samuel 23:29 note.

Verse 3

General fasts had been previously observed by the Israelites (e. g. Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6); but we do not hear of any fast having been “proclaimed” by authority before this.

Verse 5

The new court - In Solomon‘s Temple there were two courts. One of these had probably been renovated by Jehoshaphat or by his father, Asa 2 Chronicles 15:8, and was known as “the new court.”

Verses 6-9

Jehoshaphat‘s appeal is threefold:

(1) to God omnipotent 2 Chronicles 20:6;

(2) to “our God;”

(3) the God especially “of this house” the temple.

2 Chronicles 20:7

Abraham thy friend - Historically, this is the first use of this remarkable expression, afterward repeated (marginal references). The ground of the expression is to be found principally in Genesis 18:23-33, where Abraham spoke with God as a man with his friend (compare Exodus 33:11).

2 Chronicles 20:8, 2 Chronicles 20:9

The appeal recalls Solomon‘s prayer (marginal references), which God had formally accepted by sending down fire from heaven to consume the accompanying offering.

Verse 10

The Maonites of 2 Chronicles 20:1 are here, and in 2 Chronicles 20:22-23, called the “children” or inhabitants “of mount Seir.” Hence, we may gather that they were a tribe of Edomites, the inhabitants, probably of a city Maon (now Ma‘an) on the eastern side of the Wady el-Arabah.

Verse 14

“Mattaniah” is thought to be a corrupt reading for “Nethaniah,” who is mentioned among the sons of Asaph in 1 Chronicles 25:2, 1 Chronicles 25:12.

Verses 15-17

The prophet uses words familiar to the people, and connected with several great deliverances (see the marginal references).

2 Chronicles 20:16

By the “cliff (or, rather - as in the margin - ascent) of Ziz,” we must understand the mountain path which leads up from Engedi across the elevated tract still known as El-Husasah, in the direction of Tekoa 2 Chronicles 20:20.

At the end of the brook - Rather, “at the end of the gulley,” or dry torrent-course. No name like Jeruel has been as yet found in this district.

Verse 20

Tekoa (2 Samuel 14:2 note) lay on the borders of the desert which skirts the highlands of Judaea toward the east. The town was built on a hill of a considerable height.

Verse 21

Praise the beauty of holiness - Some render, “in the beauty of holiness” - i. e. in rich apparel and ornaments suitable to a holy occasion. Compare Psalm 29:2.

Verse 22

The Lord set ambushments - These liers in wait have been regarded as angels employed by God to confuse the host and cause its destruction, so that the Moabites and Ammonites first united to destroy the Edomites, and then turned upon each other.

Verse 24

The march of Judah from Jerusalem would take five or six hours. By the time they reached the watch-towers in the wilderness of Jeruel all was over.

Verse 25

Riches with the dead bodies - Several manuscripts give another reading: “riches, and garments.”

Verse 26

The valley of Berachah - Probably, the Wady Bereikut, which lies at a short distance from Tekoa toward the northwest.

Verse 33

The latter clause of this verse helps to reconcile the first clause with the statement that Jehoshaphat “took away the high places” (see 2 Chronicles 15:17 note).

Verse 34

Who is mentioned … - Words which are now generally thought to mean “whose work was inserted into the Book of the Kings.”

Of Israel - “Israel” is probably used here inexactly for “Judah” (compare 2 Chronicles 12:6; 2 Chronicles 21:2, 2 Chronicles 21:4).

Verse 35

After this - Jehoshaphat‘s history had been formally completed 2 Chronicles 20:34. Consequently we can lay no stress on the note of time contained in the words “after this,” which are detached from the context to which they originally referred. On the history 2 Chronicles 20:35-37, see marginal references and notes.


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Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

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