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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

2 Chronicles 18

 

 

Introduction

XVIII.

JEHOSHAPHAT MAKES AFFINITY WITH AHAB, AND TAKES PART IN THE SYRIAN WAR AT RAMOTH-GLLEAD.

Comp. 1 Kings 22:2-35. Only the introduction of the narrative (2 Chronicles 18:1-2) differs from that of Kings—a change necessitated by the fact that the chronicler is writing the history, not of Ahab, but of Jehoshaphat.


Verse 1

(1) Now Jehoshaphat had.—And Jehoshaphat got.

Riches and honour in abundance.—Repeated from 2 Chronicles 17:5.

And joined affinity with Ahab.—He married his son Jehoram to Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (2 Chronicles 21:6; 1 Kings 18:8). The high degree of prosperity to which the king of Judah had attained is indicated by the fact that so powerful a monarch as Ahab entered into such an intimate connection with him. (The vav of the second clause is not adversative, as Zöckler asserts, but rather consecutive.)


Verse 2

(2) And after certain years.—See margin. 1 Kings 22:2 has: “And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat went down,” &c.—a date which is relative to the three years’ truce between Syria and Israel mentioned in the preceding verse. From 1 Kings 22:51 of the same chapter we learn that this visit took place in the sixteenth or seventeenth year of the reign of Jehoshaphat. The marriage of Jehoram and Athaliah preceded the visit by eight or nine years. (Syriac and Arabic, “and after two years.”)

And Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance.—This royal hospitality is here represented as part of a deliberate plan for obtaining the co-operation of Jehoshaphat in the projected campaign.

Persuaded him.—Incited, pricked him on (Judges 1:12); especially to evil; 1 Chronicles 21:1, Deuteronomy 13:7. In 1 Kings 22:3, Ahab broaches the subject of the expedition to his court.

To go up . . . to.—To make an expedition against a town or country (Isaiah 7:1; Isaiah 7:6; 1 Kings 15:17). Comp. Isaiah 8:7-8.


Verse 3

(3) And Ahab king of Israel.—This verse is essentially the same as 1 Kings 22:4. From this point the two narratives practically coincide. (See the Notes on 1 Kings 22)

To Ramoth-gilead—i.e., Ramoth of, or in, Gilead. Ramoth (“heights”), or Ramath or Ramah (“height”), was a common name in such a hilly country as Palestine. Kings adds, to the war.

And my people . . . in the war—The symmetry of this part of the verse has been disregarded by the chronicler, in order to make Jehoshaphat express an apparently more definite assent to Ahab’s request. (Comp. Kings: “My people as thy people, my horses as thy horses” (kamônî kamôka, kĕ‘ammî kĕ‘ammbka, kĕsûsai kĕsûseika). The Syriac reads: “And my horses as thy horses; and I will go with thee to the war.” Similarly the Arabic: “My horsemen as thy horsemen.”


Verse 4

(4) And Jehoshaphat.—So exactly 1 Kings 22:5.

Enquire . . . at the word.—Seek the word.


Verse 5

(5) Therefore.—And.

Of prophets.—Rather, the prophets.

Four hundred.—Kings, “About four hundred.” Also’ Adonai (“the Lord”), instead of ha’elôhîm (“the [true] God”); and “I go against” for “we go to,” where the former is obviously more appropriate.


Verse 6

(6) But—And. So 1 Kings 22:7, literally.


Verse 7

(7) He never prophesied good unto me, but always evil.—Literally, He is not prophesying to me for good, but all his days for evil. Kings: “He prophesieth not to me good but evil.” The chronicler has aggravated the idea of opposition, by adding “all his days;” i.e., throughout his prophetic career. (Comp. Homer, Iliad, i. 106.)

Micaiah.—Heb., Mîkâyĕhû, which presupposes an older Mîkăyăhû (“Who like Iahu?”). Iahu is in all probability the oldest form of the Divine Name, Iah being an abridgment of it. Syriac and Arabic, “Micah”—the form in 2 Chronicles 18:14 (Heb.).

Imla.—He is full, or, he filleth; etymologically right.

Let not the king say so.—Jehoshaphat hears in the words a presentiment of evil, and deprecates the omen.


Verse 8

(8) Called for one of his officers.—Literally, Called to a eunuch. (See on 1 Chronicles 28:1.)

Micaiah—Hebrew text, Mîkâhû, a contracted form. The Hebrew margin substitutes the usual spelling.


Verse 9

(9) And the king of Israel . . . sat either of them on his throne.—Rather, Now the king of Israel . . . were sitting each on his throne.

Clothed in their robes.—The pronoun, which is indispensable if this be the meaning, is wanting in the Hebrew. The Syriac has probably preserved the original reading: “Clothed in raiment spotted white and black.” (Vid. infr.)

And they sat.—Were sitting. Explanatory addition by chronicler.

A void place.—A threshingfloor. LXX., ἐν τῷ εὐρυχώρῳ, “in the open ground;” Vulg., “in a threshing. floor.” The word is probably corrupt, and may have originated out of bĕruddîm, “spotted,” i.e., perhaps embroidered; an epithet of robes.

Prophesied.—Were prophesying. “Vaticina-bantur,” Vulg.


Verse 10

(10) Push.—Butt (Daniel 8:4). Figuratively, as here, Deuteronomy 33:17.

Until they be consumed.—Unto destroying them.


Verse 11

(11) Prophesied.—Nibbĕ’îm, “were prophesying.” Vulg., “prophetabant.” In 2 Chronicles 18:9 the synonym mith-nabbe’îm was used, which also signifies “mad, raving” Jeremiah 29:26). The root meaning of this word is probably visible in the Assyrian nabû, “to call, proclaim,” so that the nâbî, or prophet, was the προφήτης or spokesman of God, the herald of heaven to earth. (Comp. the name of the god Nebo, Nabi’um, who answers in the Babylonian Pantheon to the Greek Hermes.)

And prosper—i.e., and thou shalt prosper. So LXX., καὶ εὐοδωθήσῃ. Vuig., “prosperaberis.” (Comp. “This do, and live;” and Genesis 20:7, “he shall pray for thee, and live thou!”)

For.—And.


Verse 12

(12) The words of the prophets . . . one assent.—See margin, and comp. Joshua 9:2, “they assembled . . . to fight against Israel, one mouth “—i.e., with one consent.)

Probably instead of dibhrê, “words,” we should read dibbĕrû, “they said,” a far slighter change in Hebrew writing than in English: “Behold the prophets have with one mouth spoken good unto (or, of) the king.” So LXX.

Like one of their’s.—Literally, like one of them. Kings, like the word of one of them.


Verse 13

(13) Even.—Nay, but whatsoever my God shall say.

My God.—Kings, Jehovah.


Verse 14

(14) Shall I forbear.—Kings, shall we forbear. (See Note on 2 Chronicles 18:5.)

And he said, Go ye up . . . and they shall be delivered.—Kings repeats the words of 2 Chronicles 18:11, “Go thou up, and prosper thou, and the Lord,” &c. The chronicler has substituted a reply, which states quite definitely that they (i.e., the Syrians) shall be delivered into the hands of the allied sovereigns. In 2 Chronicles 18:11 the object of the verb “deliver” was not expressed. This rather reminds us of the Delphic oracle: “If Crœsus pass the Halys, a mighty empire will be overthrown,” though the words of Zedekiah in the preceding verse are plain enough.


Verse 15

(15) And the king said.—1 Kings 22:16 literatim.

I adjure thee.—Compare the words of the high priest to Christ (Matthew 26:63).


Verse 16

(16) Upon the mountains.—Kings, “unto the mountains.”

As sheep.—Like the flock, both of sheep and goats.


Verse 17

(17) But evil.—So Kings. Heb., here as margin. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 18:7.)


Verse 18

(18) Again.—And.

Therefore.—LXX., not so, as if the Hebrew were lô’kçn instead of laken. Vulg. excellently, “at ille: idcirco ait audite verbum domini.”

Hear ye.—Kings, hear thou.

Standing on his right hand.—Literally, were standing. Kings, And all the host of heaven was standing by him, on his right hand and on his left. The chronicler has abridged.


Verse 19

(19) And one spake, saying.—Literally, and one said (i.e., it was spoken), this one saying thus, and that one saying thus. The text is certainly right.

After this manner.—Kâhhâh. Kings, bĕkhôh. Kings has, and this one said in this wise, and that one was saying in that wise.


Verse 20

(20) Then there came out a spirit.—Rather, And the spirit came forth. LXX., καὶ ἐξῆλθεν τὸ πνεῦμα.


Verse 21

(21) And be.—Become (wĕhâyîthî lĕ). Kings omits the particle.

A lying spirit.—A spirit of falsehood. (Comp. Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 19:14; Ezekiel 14:9 : “And the prophet, if he be deceived, and speak a word, it is I, Jehovah, who have deceived that prophet.” The verb “deceive” is that which is rendered “entice” here and in 2 Chronicles 18:19, pittah. LXX., ἀπατήσεις (See also 2 Thessalonians 2:11.)


Verse 22

(22) Now therefore.—And now.

Of these.—Kings, of all these. So some Hebrew MSS., Vulg., Syriac, Arabic, and one MS. of LXX.


Verse 23

(23) Then.—And.

And smote.—Way-yak, a correction of way-yakkèh (Kings), such as the chronicler often makes.

which way.—Literally, where is the way the spirit of Jehovah passed. Kings, where passed the spirit, &c.

Unto thee.—With thee.


Verse 24

(24) Thou shalt see.—Thou art to see, or, destined to see, on that day when thou shalt enter a chamber in a chamber to hide thyself (lĕhçchâbçh”, correctly. Kings, lĕhçchâbçh). Zedekiah’s further history is not recorded—an indication, as Ewald justly observes, that the original narrative contained much more than the present extract from it.


Verse 25

(25) Take ye . . . carry him.—Kings, Take thou . . . carry thou, addressed to some single officer.

Governor.—Sar, “prefect.” LXX., ἄρχοντα. Syriact shallit.

Carry back—i.e., convey back. Literally, make him return.


Verse 26

(26) Bread of affliction, and with water of affliction.—In the Hebrew the second word (làhats) is not a genitive but an accusative, “bread with stint,” “water with stint.” Literally, squeezing. Vulg., “panis modicum et aquae pauxillum.” Syriac, “bread (enough) to keep life, and water (enough) to keep life.” (Comp. Isaiah 30:20.)

Until I return.—A correction of until I come (Kings).


Verse 27

(27) And Micaiah said.—Literally as 1 Kings 22:28.

If thou certainly return.—“If thou dost return.”

And he said—i.e., Micaiah said, turning to the crowd of bystanders, and making them witnesses to his prediction.

Hearken, all ye people.—Rather, Hearken ye, O peoples all! Literally, all of them. The book of the prophet Micah opens with these very words (Micah 1:2). Hitzig thinks they were taken from that passage, and Nöldeke, that they “must be and denote an abbreviation of the entire book.” (!) Thenius, on the other hand, justly argues that the whole section before us bears indubitable marks of historical truth, and is probably an extract from the history of Jehoshaphat written by Jehu the son of Hanani (2 Chronicles 20:34).


Verse 29

(29) I will disguise myself, and will go.—Literally, disguising myself and entering! A hurried exclamatory mode of speaking.

They went.—Kings, he (Ahab) went into the battle. So some Hebrew MSS., LXX., Syriac, Vulg., Arabic, and Targum.


Verse 30

(30) That were with him.—Kings adds, “thirty and two,” referring to what is related in 1 Kings 20:16; 1 Kings 20:24, a matter which the chronicler has not noticed. The Syriac and Arabic supply the number here.

With small or great.—So Kings. Our text is literally, with the small or the great.

They compassed about him.—Or, came round against him. Kings, wrongly, “turned aside against him.” In Hebrew the difference turns on half a letter.

But Jehoshaphat cried out.—Probably to bring his followers to the rescue. (1 Kings 22:32 ends with these words.)

And the Lord helped him; and God moved (literally, incited, “persuaded,” 2 Chronicles 18:1) them . . . from him.—Drove them away from him. This addition is evidently from the pen of the chronicler himself. It appears that he understood the verb “cried out” in the sense of a cry to God for help, a sense which it often bears, e.g., Psalms 22:6.

How God “drove them off” is explained in the next verse. The captains discovered their mistake and retired.

This perfectly natural event is regarded by the chronicler as providential, and rightly so. Hebrew faith “knows nothing of an order of the world which can be separated even in thought from the constant personal activity of Jehovah.”


Verse 33

(33) Drew a bow.—With the bow.

At a venture.—See margin, and comp. 2 Samuel 15:11, where a similar phrase occurs, which Gesenius interprets “without thought of evil design.” The LXX. εὐστόχως, “with good aim,” is a bad guess. Syriac, “innocently straight before him.” But the explanation of Rashi seems best: “without knowing why he chose that particular man to shoot at.”

And smote.—See on 2 Chronicles 18:23.

Between the joints of the harness.—Or, breastplate. So Syriac, “between the division of his mail”; the LXX. has “in the midst of the lungs and breast:; Vulgate, “between the neck and shoulders”; both mere guesses.

That thou mayst carry (literally, bring) me out.—Kings, and bring me out.


Verse 34

(34) Increased.—Literally, went up, grew. (Comp. Genesis 40:10; Amos 7, the growth of grass.)

Howbeit the king of Israel stayed himself up in his chariot.—Literally, and the king of Israel was (or, continued) holding himself up in the chariot, facing Aram, until the evening. 1 Kings 22:35 reads: was held up in the chariot, &c, and he died in the evening. The reading of Chronicles is preferable, the sense being that Ahab bravely bore up against the pain of his wound, in order not to discourage his own side by retiring from the field. The rest of the narrative which tells of the return of the army and the washing of Ahab’s chariot at the pool of Samaria (1 Kings 22:36-38) is omitted here, because Jehoshaphat was not concerned in it, and perhaps because the chronicler had a true perception of the real climax of this vivid story of the olden time.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 18:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-chronicles-18.html. 1905.

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