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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

2 Chronicles 17

 

 

Verses 1-37

d. Jehoshaphat: the Prophets Michah Son of Imlah and Jehu Son of Hanani.—Ch17–20

α. Jehoshaphat’s Measures for the external and Internal Defence of his Kingdom: 2 Chronicles 17:1-9

2 Chronicles 17:1.And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel 2 And he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and placed garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim, which 3 Asa his father had taken. And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat; for he walked in the former ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim 4 But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in His commandments, 5and not after the doing of Israel. And the Lord stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought presents to Jehoshaphat; and he had riches and honour in abundance 6 And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord; and, moreover, he took away the high places and Asherim out of 7 Judah. And in the third year of his reign he sent his princes, Benhail,[FN1] and Obadiah, and Zechariah, and Nethaneel, and Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah 8 And with them the Levites, Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth,[FN2] and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tobit -adonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests 9 And they taught in Judah, and had with them the book of the law of the Lord, and went round all the cities of Judah, and taught among the people.

β. The Effects of these Measures: Jehoshaphat’s increasing Power: 2 Chronicles 17:10-19

10And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that 11 were around Judah, and they warred not with Jehoshaphat. And some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and silver in abundance; the Arabs also brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and 12 seven thousand and seven hundred Hebrews -goats. And Jehoshaphat became ever greater to the highest degree; and he built in Judah castles and cities with stores 13 And he had much store in the cities of Judah: and men of war, 14mighty men of valour, in Jerusalem. And this was the muster of them after their father-houses: of Judah, the captains of thousands: Adnah the chief, 15and with him mighty men of valour three hundred thousand. And at his hand Jehohanan the chief, and with him two hundred and eighty thousand 16 And at his hand Amasiah son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself unto the Lord; and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valour 17 And of Benjamin: Eliada, a mighty man of valour, and with him, armed with bow 18 and shield, two hundred thousand. And at his hand Jehozabad, and with 19 him a hundred and eighty thousand equipped for the war. These were they who ministered to the king, besides those whom the king had placed in the fenced cities in all Judah.

γ. Jehoshaphat’s Affinity with Ahab, and the War against Ramoth-gilead: 2 Chronicles 18

2 Chronicles 18:1 And Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined 2 affinity with Ahab. And in the course of years he went down to Ahab to Samaria: and Ahab killed for him, and the people that were with him, sheep and oxen in abundance; and he persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth-gilead 3 And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt thou go with me to Ramoth-gilead? And he said to him, I am as thou, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war 4 And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Ask now this day the 5 word of the Lord. And the king of Israel gathered the prophets, four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; and God will give it into the hand 6 of the king. And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we may ask of him? 7And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one Prayer of Manasseh, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he never prophesied good to me, but always evil: that is Michah son of Imlah: and Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.

8And the king of Israel called a chamberlain, and said, Fetch quickly Michah[FN3] son of Imlah 9 And the king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat king of Judah, sat each on his throne, clothed in robes, and they sat in a floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them 10 And Zedekiah son of Chenaanah made him iron horns, and said, Thus saith the Lord, With these thou shalt push Syria, until they are consumed 11 And all the prophets prophesied Song of Solomon, and said, Go up to Ramoth-gilead, and prosper; and the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.

12And the messenger that went to call Michah spake to him, saying, Behold, the words of the prophets are with one mouth good for the king: let now thy 13 word then be as one of them, and speak thou good. And Michah said, As 14 the Lord liveth, what my God saith, that will I speak. And he came to the king; and the king said unto him, Michah, Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And he said, Go ye up, and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand 15 And the king said to him, How many times shall I adjure thee, that thou speak nothing to me but truth in the 16 name of the Lord? And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master; let them return every man to his house in peace 17 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good to me, but evil?

18And he said, Therefore hear ye the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting upon His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right 19 hand and on His left. And the Lord said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said[FN4] this, 20and another said that. And the spirit came forth, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will entice him: and the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? 21And he said, I will go forth, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets: and He said, Thou shalt entice, and shaft also prevail: go forth, and do Song of Solomon 22And now, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy 23 prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil against thee. And Zedekiah son of Chenaanah drew near, and smote Michah on the cheek, and said, Which way 24 went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak with thee? And Michah said, Behold, thou shalt see on that day when thou goest from chamber to chamber 25 to hide thyself. And the king of Israel said, Take ye Michah, and carry him 26 back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king’s son. And say ye, Thus saith the king, Put him in the prison, and let him eat bread of trouble, 27and water of trouble, until I return in peace. And Michah said, If thou return at all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me: and he said, Hear, all ye people.

28And the king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat king of Judah, went up to Ramoth-gilead 29 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Disguised I will go into the battle; but thou put on thy robes: and the king of Israel disguised 30 himself, and they went into the battle. And the king of Syria had commanded the captains of his chariots, saying, Fight ye not with small or great, but only with the king of Israel 31 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, This is the king of Israel; and they compassed about him to fight; and Jehoshaphat cried out, 32and the Lord helped him, and God turned them away from him. And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king 33 of Israel, that they turned from after him. And a man drew a bow in his simplicity, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: and he said to the charioteer, Turn thy hand,[FN5] and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded 34 And the battle went up in that day, and the king of Israel was standing in the chariot against Syria until the evening; and he died at the time of the sun setting.

δ. Judgment of Jehu the Prophet on the Covenant of Jehoshaphat with Ahab: 2 Chronicles 19:1-3

2 Chronicles 19:1.And Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned home in peace to Jerusalem 2 And Jehu son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Must we help the wicked, and shouldst thou love them that 3 hate the Lord? and for this is wrath upon thee from the Lord. Yet good things are found with thee; for thou hast destroyed the Asherim out of the land, and thou hast directed thy heart to seek God.

ε. Jehoshaphat’s further Reforms of Worship and Law: 2 Chronicles 19:4-11

4And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again among the people, from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back to the 5 Lord God of their fathers. And he appointed judges in the land, in all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city 6 And said to the judges: See what ye do; for ye judge not for Prayer of Manasseh, but for the Lord; and He is with you in judgment 7 And now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do ye; for with the Lord our God is neither iniquity, nor respect of persons, 8nor taking of gift.—And also in Jerusalem Jehoshaphat appointed of the Levites and priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment 9 of the Lord, and for pleading; and they returned to Jerusalem. And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the Lord, with 10 truth and a perfect heart. And in[FN6] every plea that cometh before you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall advise them, that they trespass not against the Lord, so that wrath come upon you and your brethren: thus shall ye do, and not trespass.[FN7] 11And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you for every matter of the Lord; and Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for every matter of the king; and the Levites are officers before you: take courage, and do ye, and the Lord will be with the good.

ζ. Jehoshaphat’s Victory over the Moabites, Ammonites, and other Nations of the East: 2 Chronicles 20:1-30

Ch20. .And 1 it came to pass after this, that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, and with them of the Meunites,[FN8] came against Jehoshaphat to battle 2 And they came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh against thee a great multitude from beyond the sea, from Syria; and, behold, they are at 3 Hazezon-tamar, that is Engedi. And Jehoshaphat was afraid,[FN9] and set his 4 face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast over all Judah. And the Jews assembled to seek the Lord: even from all the cities of Judah came they to seek the Lord 5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, 6in the house of the Lord, before the new court. And said, Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou God in heaven, and ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? and in thy hand are strength and might, and none is with Thee 7 to withstand Thee. Hast not Thou, our God, driven out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and given it to the seed of Abraham Thy friend for ever? 8And they dwelt therein, and built Thee a sanctuary therein 9 for Thy name, saying: If evil come upon us, sword, judgment, or pestilence or famine, we shall stand before this house, and before Thee—for Thy name is in this house—and shall cry unto Thee out of our affliction: then Thou wilt hear and help 10 And now, behold, the sons of Ammon, and Moab, and mount Seir, whom thou wouldst not let Israel invade, when they came out of the 11 land of Egypt, but they departed from them, and destroyed them not. And, behold, they requite us by coming to cast us out of Thy possession which 12 Thou hast given us. Our God, wilt Thou not judge them? for in us is no might against this great multitude that cometh against us; and we know not what we shall do: but our eyes are upon Thee 13 And all Judah stood before the Lord, and their little ones, their wives, and their sons.

14And upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation 15 And he said, Attend ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat; Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed before this great multitude; 16for the battle is not yours, but God’s. To-morrow go ye down against them: behold, they go up by the hill of Haziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the valley, before the wilderness of Jeruel 17 Ye shall not have to fight here: step forth, stand ye, and see the help of the Lord who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear ye not, nor be dismayed; to-morrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you 18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his face to the ground; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, to worship the Lord 19 And the Levites of the sons of Kohath, and of the Korhites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with an exceeding loud voice.

20And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, Hear ye me, Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and ye shall be established; believe in His prophets, and ye shall prosper 21 And he advised the people, and appointed men singing unto the Lord, and praising in holy beauty, when they go out before the armed men, and saying, 22Give thanks to the Lord; for His mercy endureth for ever. And at the time when they began with song and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the sons of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and 23 they were smitten. And the sons of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, to cut off and destroy them; and when they had ended with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24And Judah came to the watch-tower in the wilderness, and looked to the multitude; and, behold, they lay as corpses on the earth, and none escaped 25 And Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, and they found with them in abundance, goods and corpses,[FN10] and costly vessels; and they stripped off for themselves more than they could carry; and they were three days taking the spoil, for it was great 26 And on the fourth day they assembled in the valley of blessing; for there they blessed the Lord: therefore they 27 called the name of the place the valley of blessing unto this day. And they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, to return to Jerusalem with gladness; for the Lord had made them glad over their enemies 28 And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries, and harps, and trumpets, unto the house of the Lord 29 And the fear of God was upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord fought against 30 the enemies of Israel. And the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet; for his God gave him rest round about.

η. End of the Reign of Jehoshaphat: 2 Chronicles 20:31-37

31And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem and his mother’s name was Azubah, daughter of Shilhi 32 And he walked in the way of his father Asa, and departed not from it, so that he did that 33 which was right in the sight of the Lord. Only the high places were not taken away, and the people had not yet directed their heart to the God of their fathers.

34And the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the words of Jehu son of Hanani, which are inserted in the book of the kings of Israel.

35And afterwards Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah 36 king of Israel: he was wicked in his doing. And he allied himself with him, 37to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made ships in Ezion-geber. And Eliezer, son of Dodavah[FN11] of Mareshah, prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast allied thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy work: and the ships were wrecked, and were not able to go to Tarshish.

EXEGETICAL

Besides the report in 2 Chronicles18 of the unsuccessful campaign of Jehoshaphat and Ahab against Ramoth-gilead, agreeing almost literally with 1 Kings 22:2-35 and the closing section 2 Chronicles 20:30-37, which coincides partly in matter and partly in form with 1 Kings 22:41-51, the Chronist presents in this enlarged history of the reign of Jehoshaphat only original matter, serving to supplement the books of Kings, and that on the basis of those “words” or records of Jehu ben Hanani, which he himself names as his source in 2 Chronicles 20:34.

1. Jehoshaphat’s Measures for the Internal and External Defence of the Kingdom: 2 Chronicles 17:1-9.—Strengthened himself against Israel, endeavoured to defend and secure himself against attack on the side of Israel (comp. 2 Chronicles 1:1). This was obviously in the first part of his reign, before he formed affinity with Ahab ( 2 Chronicles 18:1), and so long as the recollection of Baasha’s attack on his predecessor Asa operated.

2 Chronicles 17:2. Placed garrisons in the land;נְצִיבִים, military posts, as 1 Chronicles 9:16. On b, comp. 2 Chronicles 15:8.

2 Chronicles 17:3. For he walked in the former ways of his father David, not in the later ways of David, which were characterized by his crimes regarding Uriah and Bathsheba, by the foolish step of numbering the people, etc.—Sought not unto Baalim.לְhere and in the following verse is nota accusativi, after the later usage. The Baalim (comp. Judges 2:11) comprise all kinds of idolatry, even that finer kind, consisting in the worship of Jehovah under certain animal forms, which is designated in the following verse as the “doing of Israel” that was avoided by Jehoshaphat.

2 Chronicles 17:5. And the Lord stablished the kingdom in his hand; comp. 2 Kings 14:5. On the following מִנְחָה, “gift” (= נְדָבוֹת, Psalm 110:3), comp 2 Chronicles 17:11, where the term denotes the tribute of a subject people. On “riches and honour in abundance,” see 2 Chronicles 18:1, also 1 Chronicles 29:28; 2 Chronicles 1:12.

2 Chronicles 17:6 ff. The Internal Defence of the Kingdom by the Extirpation of Idolatry and the Instruction of the People in the Law.—And his heart was lifted up. in the ways of the Lord, showed a heightened courage to proceed in a godly walk; גָּבַהּ לֵב here, otherwise than in 2 Chronicles 26:16, 2 Chronicles 32:25, etc, not in the bad sense of an ungodly pride, but sensu bono. The following “and moreover” (וְעוֹד) points back to 2 Chronicles 17:3. For the “high places” and Asherim, comp. on 2 Chronicles 14:2.

2 Chronicles 17:7. And in the third year of his reign; according to Hitzig’s not improbable conjecture (Geschichte, pp9 ff, 198 f.), a jubilee year, and indeed the year912 b.C. The five princes, nine Levites, and two priests named in the following verse are otherwise unknown.

2 Chronicles 17:9. And they taught in Judah, on the basis of the presently named “book of the law of the Lord,” the religious and civil enactments of which, on the occasion of this solemn ecclesiastical visitation of Jehoshaphat (Starke and other ancients), were brought to the recollection and impressed anew on the attention of the Jews. This mention of the book of the law under Jehoshaphat, almost300 years before Josiah’s renewed inculcation and vindication of its authority, is of no small apologetic importance. It shows that, if not the whole Pentateuch in its present form, yet a work already approaching to its present compass, was already extant in the tenth century b.C. (comp. also on 2 Chronicles 15:13). And indeed the concrete, detailed, and definite nature of the present notice leaves no doubt of this, that not merely the Chronist living after the exile, but his much older voucher, contemporary with the recorded fact (probably Jehu ben Hanani), bears this testimony to the existence of the Torah at so early a date.

2. The Effects of these Measures: Jehoshaphat’s increasing Power: 2 Chronicles 17:10-19.—And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands (almost literally Song of Solomon, 2 Chronicles 20:29; comp. also 2 Chronicles 14:13; 2 Chronicles 12:8, etc.). Rightly Rambach observes: Erat hoc prœmium pietatis Josaphati, quod vicini satisque potentes hostes non auderent adversus ipsum hiscere. On the contrary, Berth. perverts the theocratic causal nexus set forth clearly enough by the writer, when he remarks on this passage: “Jehoshaphat had time to attend to the instruction of his people, because the neighbouring nations did not then venture to make war on Judah.”

2 Chronicles 17:11. And some of the Philistines brought. מִן־פְּלִשְׁתִּים is subject (with partitive מִן).—And silver in abundance, literally, “and silver a load”; comp. 2 Chronicles 20:25. Falsely the Vulg, which assigns to the term מַשָּׂא, “load,” the meaning “tribute” (vectigal).—The Arabs also (עַרְבִים = עַרְבִיאִים; see 2 Chronicles 21:16, 2 Chronicles 22:1), the Beduin tribes of north-western Arabia, perhaps those whom Asa had subdued by the victory over Zerah (comp. 2 Chronicles 14:14.).

2 Chronicles 17:12. And Jehoshaphat became ever greater. The construction according to Ew. § 280, b; עַד־לְמַעְלָה, as in 2 Chronicles 16:12.—And he built in Judah castles.בִּירָנִיּוֹת, plur. of בִּירָנִית (= בִּירָה) a Syrian form occurring only here and 2 Chronicles 27:4. “Cities with stores,” as 2 Chronicles 8:4.

2 Chronicles 17:13. And he had much store. So rightly Luther, Starke, Keil, Kamph, etc. Of the same signification is מְלָאכָה, Exodus 22:7-10. Otherwise (Vulg. opera magna, Clericus, Berth, Neteler, etc.): “much labour, great preparations,” to which, however, b does not suit; comp. also 2 Chronicles 11:11.

2 Chronicles 17:14. And this was the muster of them, the result of the muster, or also their “order”; comp 1 Chron24:49.—Of Judah, the captains of thousands, leaders, field-marshals. The following statement of the three Jewish divisions of the army under Adnah, Jehohanan, and Amasiah, and of the two divisions of Benjamin under Eliada and Jehozabad ( 2 Chronicles 17:15-18), is certainly historical, if we only mark the concrete form, bearing the stamp of direct historical truth, of the notice concerning Amasiah: “who willingly offered himself unto the Lord,” and also the circumstance that the kind of armour worn by the Benjamites agrees with earlier statements (comp. 1 Chronicles 8:40; 2 Chronicles 14:7). But the exceedingly high Numbers, which give for Judah alone780,000, for Benjamin380,000, and thus for both tribes together the total of1,160,000 warriors, form no inconsiderable difficulty; comp. the Evangelical and Ethical Reflections.

2 Chronicles 17:19. These were they who ministered to the king.אֵלֶּה, “these,” refers to the five generals or commanders, not to the thousands of warriors. Likewise the following clause: “whom the king had placed in the fenced cities in all Judah,” refers to other officers besides those five, not to other troops besides those already enumerated.

3. Jehoshaphat’s Affinity with Ahab: the Campaign against Ramoth-gilead: 2 Chronicles 18 Comp. 1 Kings 22:2-35, and Bähr on this passage. Here are only the statements peculiar to the Chronist to be expounded.—And Jehoshaphat . . . joined affinity with Ahab, in this way, that he gave his son Joram in marriage to Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel; see 2 Chronicles 21:6.[FN12] This affinity, which occasioned the subsequent visit of Jehoshaphat to Ahab, and the participation in his unfortunate campaign, is here clearly mentioned as something mischievous, attended with destructive effects, as the first link of a chain of misfortunes (comp. 2 Chronicles 19:2); the וְ before יִתְחַתֵּן has accordingly, as it were, an adversative force, and the verse expresses this thought: “Although Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, yet he was so foolish as to make affinity with Ahab.” Comp. S. Schmidt, Josaphatus, cetera dives et gloriosus, infelicem adfinitatem cum Achabo, rege Israeli-tarum, contrahit, etc. See, for the rest, Evangelical and Ethical Reflections.

2 Chronicles 18:2. And in the course of years, nine years, as the comparison of 1 Kings 22:2; 1 Kings 22:41 with 2 Kings 8:26 shows; the affinity of Jehoshaphat with Ahab by the marriage of Joram and Athaliah must, according to these passages, have fallen in the eighth, and the death of Ahab, in the campaign against Ramoth, in the seventeenth, year of Jehoshaphat’s reign.—And he persuaded him, partly by the great banquets and hospitalities which he prepared in his honour (comp. הֵסִית, “entice, tempt,” in such places as Judges 1:14; Job 2:3; Deuteronomy 11:7, etc.). In 1 Kings 12:3, instead of this persuasive influence on Jehoshaphat, is set forth rather the political motive of Ahab to begin the war against the Syrians in Ramoth-gilead; our author is silent on this, because on principle he does not wish to recount anything of the deeds or enterprises of the northern king.

2 Chronicles 18:5. Gathered the prophets, four hundred men. 1Kings: “about400 men,” which is the more correct, as the number is obviously a round one.—Shall we go; in 1 Kings: “Shall I go,” in harmony with the following אִם אֶחְדָּל, “or shall I forbear.” Inversely in 1 Kings ( 2 Chronicles 18:14) both verbs are plural.

2 Chronicles 18:7. Prophesied . . . always evil, literally, all his days (כָּל־יָמָיו), a phrase emphasizing the opposition, which is wanting in 1 Kings.

2 Chronicles 18:9. And they sat in a floor. The וְיוֹשְׁבִים, superfluous on account of the preceding יוֹשְׁבִים, is wanting in 1 Kings.

2 Chronicles 18:14. And they shall be delivered into your hand. Instead of this very definite prediction (which is certainly ironical), the parallel text in 1 Kings has, more indefinitely: “And the Lord shall deliver it into the king’s hand.”

2 Chronicles 18:19. See the Crit. Notes.

2 Chronicles 18:23. Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me? Instead of this circumstantial אֵי זֶה הַדֶּרֶךְ (comp. 1 Kings 13:1; 2 Kings 3:8), 1 Kings 22:24 has the simpler and shorter אֵי זֶה.

2 Chronicles 18:26. Let him eat bread of trouble, and water of trouble. Possible is also the translation proposed by Kamph. with reference to Psalm 60:5 : “Let him eat as bread of trouble,” etc.

2 Chronicles 18:30. And the king of Syria had commanded the captains of his chariots. In 1 Kings the number of these captains (thirty-two) is also given, by reference to the earlier war, 1 Kings 20:24.

2 Chronicles 18:31. And the Lord helped him, and God turned them away from him. This religious reflective remark is wanting in 1 Kings 22:32, but is by no means a hindrance to the connection, as Berth, thinks, but rather a very seasonable enunciation of that which, to the writer, necessarily formed the point and force of the whole narrative.

2 Chronicles 18:34. And the king of Israel was standing in the chariot. Instead of the partic. Hiph.מַֽעֲמִיד “holding himself upright,” 1 Kings 22:35 has, less distinctly, the Hoph.מָֽעֲמָד “held upright.” The close of the whole narrative, containing accounts of the return of the defeated army, and the more particular circumstances of the death of Ahab ( 1 Kings 22:36-39), is omitted by our author, because it belongs properly to a history of the northern kingdom.

4. The Prophet Jehu’s Judgment on the Covenant with Ahab: 2 Chronicles 19:1-3.—And Jehoshaphat . . . returned home in peace to Jerusalem, so that the prophecy of Michah ( 2 Chronicles 18:16) was fulfilled in him.

2 Chronicles 19:2. And Jehu the son of Hanani . . . went out to meet him: the same prophet who, 1 Kings 16:1, had acted under Baasha in the northern kingdom; perhaps a son of that Hanani whom Asa in wrath had ordered into prison ( 2 Chronicles 16:7 ff.).—Must we help the wicked, and shouldst thou love them that hate the Lord? The construction is as in 1 Chronicles 5:1; 1 Chronicles 9:25 (לְ with the infin.). It is to be supposed that the words are spoken in earnest indignation, but they turn with their displeasure rather against the idolatrous tyrant Ahab than against Jehoshaphat, who only for a season walked by his side.—And for this is wrath upon thee from the Lord; camp. 1 Chronicles 27:24, and with קֶצֶף מִלִּפְנֵי יְהוָֹה the simpler קֶצֶף יְהוָֹה, 2 Chronicles 32:26. The words point prophetically to the soon after occurring dangerous invasion of the Ammonites, Moabites, and Meunites, and also to the unfortunate sea-voyage from Ezion-geber, 2 Chronicles 20 :

2 Chronicles 19:3. Yet good things are found with thee, things worthy of praise; comp. 2 Chronicles 12:12; 1 Kings 14:13. For b (where the fem. הָֽאֲשֵׁרוֹת appears instead of the usual plur. masc.), comp. 2 Chronicles 17:4 f, 2 Chronicles 12:14.

5. Jehoshaphat’s further Reforms of Worship and Law: 2 Chronicles 19:4-11.—And he went out again among the people, literally, “and he turned and went.” Reference is made to the former going out, 2 Chronicles 17:7 ff. The following statement of the south and north boundary of the kingdom of Judah; “from Beersheba to Mount Ephraim,” is copied after the similar formula: “from Dan to Beersheba,” which refers to the whole land of Israel; comp. Judges 20:1; 2 Samuel 3:10; 2 Samuel 17:11; 1 Kings 5:5.—And brought them back to the Lord, “made them return”; comp. 2 Chronicles 24:19.

2 Chronicles 19:5. City by city, or “in every city” (וָעִיר לְעִיר; comp. 1 Chronicles 26:29), according to he legal precept, Deuteronomy 16:18.

2 Chronicles 19:6. Not for Prayer of Manasseh, but for the Lord, in God’s name, and according to His holy will, as Θεοῦ διάκονοι, Romans 13:4; comp. also Proverbs 16:11.—And he is with you in the judgment, in the judicial decision, in passing sentence; comp. Deuteronomy 17:9, also 2 Chronicles 1:17; Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:7, etc. The supplying of יְהוָֹה as subject to וְעִמָּכֶם is indispensable, as the failure of all attempts to explain it without this supplement, for example, that of the Vulg. (et quodcunque judicaveritis, in vos redundabit), shows.

2 Chronicles 19:7. And now let the fear of the Lord be upon you in a preserving way, that ye may beware of judging unjustly. For the phrase, comp. 2 Chronicles 17:10.—Take heed, and do ye, do it in a heedful, conscientious way, cum diligentia cuncta facite (Vulg.). On the following words, comp. Deuteronomy 10:17; Deuteronomy 16:19; Psalm 89:7; Acts 10:34.

2 Chronicles 19:8-11. The Supreme Tribunal instituted by Jehoshaphat in Jerusalem,—an institution resting on Exodus 18:19; Exodus 18:26, Deuteronomy 17:8-13; comp. Keil, Bibl. Archœol. ii250 ff.—And also in Jerusalem, not merely in the various fenced cities ( 2 Chronicles 19:5), where judges of inferior instance were appointed. That besides Levites and priests, laymen, “of the chiefs of the fathers of Israel,” tribe-chiefs out of the rest of the people, are named as appointed by Jehoshaphat to be Judges, involves no contradiction of 1 Chronicles 23:4; 1 Chronicles 26:29, according to which David had appointed6000 Levites as “judges and officers” (שׁטרים); for that these Levites should exclusively administer the law was not there asserted.—For the judgment of the Lord, and for pleading. Synonymous with לְמִשְׁפַּט יְהוָֹה stands, 2 Chronicles 19:11, לְכֹל דְּבַר יְהוָֹה, “for every matter of the Lord”; and synonymous with לָרִיב that passage gives לְכֹל דְּבַר הַמֶּלֶךְ “for every matter of the king or the state”; so that the sense of the whole is: “for all matters relating to religion or polity.” As examples of the former, Berth. well adduces disputes concerning the release of the first-born, dues to the temple, the clean and the unclean, etc.—And they returned to Jerusalem; Jehoshaphat and the commission accompanying him returned from their journey through the country and the fenced cities of Judah to Jerusalem; comp. 2 Chronicles 19:4. As this statement would have been more suitable before 2 Chronicles 19:8, and as any reference of it to others than Jehoshaphat and his companions (for example, to the Levites, priests, and chiefs nominated for the new supreme court, as Rambach, Starke, and others think) is inadmissible, the change proposed by Kamph. of וַיָּשֻׁבוּ into וַיֵּשְׁבוּ “and they dwelt in Jerusalem” (the supreme judges just nominated), appears not inappropriate.

2 Chronicles 19:9. Thus shall ye do, as is fully stated in 2 Chronicles 19:10. On בְּלֵב שָׁלֵם, “with undivided heart,” comp. 2 Chronicles 15:17, 2 Chronicles 16:9; 1 Kings 8:61.

2 Chronicles 19:10. And in every plea.בָּל־רִיב stands before as cas. absol.; the וְ before is explicative; comp. Grit. Note. As “brethren who dwell in their cities” those are designated who bring appeals from the country or the smaller cities of Judah and Benjamin before the supreme court at Jerusalem, and demand its higher decision; comp. Deuteronomy 17:8.—Between blood and blood, in criminal cases which involve murder and homicide (comp. Exodus 21:12 ff.). The following phrase: “between law and commandment, statutes and judgments,” applies to a dispute concerning the import or application of certain laws, or a doubt according to what legal enactment the case in point is to be decided (comp. Deuteronomy 17:8).—Ye shall advise them, by imparting instruction concerning the decisions of the law, admonish (הִזְהִיר, as in Exodus 18:20; Ecclesiastes 12:12), that they may not err by the theoretical or practical abuse of the law, and thereby bring guilt (אָשָׁם) upon the whole people.

2 Chronicles 19:11. And, behold, Amariah the chief priest, scarcely different from the fifth high priest after Zadok, mentioned 1 Chron5:37 (see on the passage). The “ruler of the house of Judah,” Zebadiah son of Ishmael, is not otherwise known.—And the Levites are officers before you,שֹׁטְרִים, in 1 Chronicles 23:4; 1 Chronicles 26:29.—The Lord will be with the good; וִיהִי is here a future, scarcely an optative: “the Lord be with the good.” Comp. besides, 2 Chronicles 20:17. The good are the judges who discharge their office fitly and well.

6. Jehoshaphat’s Victory over the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites: 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.—And it came to pass after this, after the events related in 2 Chronicles 18:19, which fall perhaps six or seven years before the death of Jehoshaphat, and of which the death of Ahab almost certainly falls in the year897 b.C. A still more exact date for the present war results from the monument of victory of the Moabitish King Mesha, discovered three years ago, which must have been erected very soon after Ahab’s death, and shortly before the outbreak of the present war, and therefore about896 b.C. See Schlottmann, “Der Moabiterkönig Mesa,” Stud. u. Krit. 1871, p587 ff, especially p610 ff.; and comp. beneath, Evangelical and Ethical Reflections, No4.—And with them of the Meunites.מֵהָעַמּוֹנִים can scarcely mean, as many of the ancients, and even Hengst. (Gesch. d. Reiches Gottes. ii2, 211), think, nations beyond the Ammonites; for even if מִן, according to 1 Samuel 20:22; 1 Samuel 20:37, could have the sense “beyond or remote from,” yet 2 Chronicles 20:10; 2 Chronicles 20:22 f. point distinctly to a people inhabiting mount Seir. Accordingly we must read, as ἐκ τῶν Μιναίων of the Sept. indicates (comp. 1 Chronicles 4:41), rather מֵהַמְּעוּנִים, and think of the Meunites (Meinites, 1 Chronicles 4:41, Kethib) inhabiting the city Maon (מָעוֹן) near Petra as their capital. If in the following verse (with Calmet, Keil, and others) מֵאֱדֹם were read instead of the difficult מֵאֲרָם, every scruple against this assumption (proposed by Hiller, Onomast. p285, and supported by nearly all the moderns) must vanish. But even without this further emendation, it possesses a high degree of probability; for, according to Josephus, Antiq.ix1, 2, they were Arabs, and probably inhabitants of Arabia Petræa, who, in alliance with the Ammonites and Moabites, undertook the expedition against Jehoshaphat; and in 2 Chronicles 26:7 Meunites are named along with Philistines and Arabs as a southern tribe subdued in war by Uzziah.

2 Chronicles 20:2. From beyond the sea, from Syria. For מֵאֲרָם must apparently be read מֵאֱלם, “from Edom or Idumæa” for only this determination of the starting-point agrees with מֵעֵבֶר לְיָם, “beyond the sea” (the Dead Sea); and the Syr. seems to have read מֵאֱדֹם, while the remaining old versions certainly confirm the Masoretic text. If we adhere to it, “Aram” or Syria must at all events be taken in a very wide sense (= North Arabia); comp. Hengst. as quoted.—And, behold, they are at Hazezon-tamar, that is Engedi (comp. Genesis 14:1; Joshua 15:62; Song of Solomon 1:14; Robinson, Pal. ii439 f.), where Ain Jidy now lies, at the middle of the west shore of the Dead Sea, about fifteen hours from Jerusalem. The army of the allied foes had, it appears, reached this place through a marsh surrounding the south end of the Dead Sea, or by crossing the south ford of this sea (between the eastern peninsula Lisan and the opposite point of the west shore, not far from the valley Engedi; comp. Hoffmann, Blicke in die früheste Gesch. des Gelobten Landes, 226 f.).

2 Chronicles 20:3-13. Jehoshaphat and the People seek the Help of the Lord.—And Jehoshaphat … set his face, שׂוּם פָּנִים = נָתַן פָּנִים; comp. Jeremiah 42:15; Daniel 9:8. On the “proclaiming of a fast over all Judah,” comp. Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6; Joel 2:15.

2 Chronicles 20:5. Before the new court, the outer or great court (see 2 Chronicles 6:9), that might have been built or repaired in Asa’s or Jehoshaphat’s time, and therefore is here called new. The place before this court, from which Jehoshaphat offered his prayer, was perhaps at the entrance of the inner or priest’s court.

2 Chronicles 20:6. Lord God of our fathers. Jehoshaphat thus addresses God, to remind him of his former benefits to his people, to which is then annexed a reference to his absolute omnipotence; comp. Psalm 115:3, and on “None is with Thee, to withstand Thee,” Psalm 94:16; 1 Chronicles 29:12; 2 Chronicles 14:10, and like passages.

2 Chronicles 20:7. Comp. Exodus 23:20 ff.; Joshua 23:9; Joshua 24:12; also Genesis 13:15 f, 2 Chronicles 15:18.

2 Chronicles 20:9. If evil come upon us, sword, judgment (שְׁפוֹט only here in this sense), or pestilence, etc. The cases enumerated in Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple ( 2 Chronicles 6:22-39) are here summarily recapitulated.

2 Chronicles 20:10. The sons of Ammon and Moab . . whom Thou wouldst not let Israel invade, from whom our ancestors in the time of Moses and Joshua peacefully withdrew, without attacking them; comp. Numbers 20:14 ff.; Deuteronomy 2:4; Deuteronomy 2:9; Deuteronomy 2:19; Deuteronomy 2:29; Judges 11:17 f.

2 Chronicles 20:11. And behold = “yea, behold.”—Possession which Thou hast given us, “made us possess,” הוֹרִישׁ, as in Judges 11:24; Ezra 9:12.

2 Chronicles 20:12. For in us is no might against this great multitude, “before, in the face of this great multitude”; comp. 2 Chronicles 14:9, etc. For the following expression of confidence: “our eyes are upon Thee,” comp. Psalm 25:15; Psalm 123:2; Psalm 141:8. On 2 Chronicles 20:13 (“and their little ones”), comp. Jonah 3:5.

2 Chronicles 20:14-17. God’s Answer by the Prophet Jahaziel.—And upon Jahaziel … the Levite of the sons of Asaph. The ancestor in the fifth degree of this Jahaziel is said to be Mattaniah, possibly the same son of Asaph who is called, 1 Chronicles 25:2; 1 Chronicles 25:12, Nethaniah (as מ and נ in the formation of nom.propr. are often interchanged). An identity with Mattaniah the son of Heman, 1 Chronicles 25:4; 1 Chronicles 25:16, is not to be thought of.

2 Chronicles 20:15. The battle is not yours, but God’s; comp. 1 Samuel 17:47; Nehemiah 4:14; also Matthew 10:20.

2 Chronicles 20:16. Behold, they go up by the hill of Haziz, perhaps the Wady el Hasasah on the north border of the wilderness of the same name, which stretches from the Dead Sea to Tekoa, and no doubt corresponds to the here-named “wilderness of Jeruel.” With this reference to El Hasasah corresponds the rendering of the name הַצִּיץ by ’Ασσεῖς in the Sept, whereas certainly Josephus renders the name by ἀνάβασις λεγομένη ἐξοχῆς (Antiq. ix1, 2), and thus conceives it as if it were צִיץ (ἐξοχήwith the article; were this view, the necessity of which is by no means established (comp. Ew. Gesch. 2d edit. iii. p475), confirmed, the hill of Ziz would have to be identified with the steep pass over Ain Jidy (Robinson, ii438, 446).

2 Chronicles 20:17. Ye shall not have to fight here. בָּזֹאת, in this conflict with so great a multitude of foes; comp. 2 Chronicles 20:15.

2 Chronicles 20:18-19. Thanksgiving of Jehoshaphat and the People for the encouraging Promise by the Prophet.—And the Levites of the sons of Kohath and of the Korhites. The second וְ before מִן־בְּנֵי הַקָּרְחִים may be only explicative, as the Korhites descended from Kohath, 1 Chronicles 6:18; 1 Chronicles 6:22.

2 Chronicles 20:20-23. The divine promise is fulfilled by an unexpected self-destruction of the foemen.—And as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood up, probably in the gate by which the warriors went forth (the valley or dung-gate, at all events one of those facing the south). On the words: “believe, and ye shall be established,” comp. Isaiah 7:9; Isaiah 28:16; Deuteronomy 1:32.

2 Chronicles 20:21. And he advised the people, busied himself as a sound adviser (יוֹעֵץ), by exhorting to confidence in God; in a similar sense stands יִוָּעֵץ אֶל in 2 Kings 6:8.—And appointed men singing unto the Lord (לְ in ליהוה as nota genitivi), and praising in holy beauty: לְהַדְרַת־ק‏׳‏‏‍‍, otherwise בְּהַדְרַת־ק׳, 1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalm 29:2; Psalm 110:3.

2 Chronicles 20:22. And at the time . . . the Lord set an ambush.מְאָֽרְבִים signifies insidiatores, insidiœ (Vulg.), as in Judges 9:25. By these waylayers .cannot be meant angels sent by God (Piscat. and other ancients, Ew, Kamph, Berth.—doubtful H. Schultz, Theol. des A. T. ii322); for such an interference of supernatural powers, good or evil, must have been clearly indicated (as in 2 Kings 6:17; 2 Kings 19:35). As little can the מארבים be waylaying Jews, because the Jews, according to 2 Chronicles 20:15; 2 Chronicles 20:17; 2 Chronicles 20:24, were merely spectators of the bloody encounter between their opponents. The waylaying without doubt was done by a part of the confederates themselves, probably some of the Meunites, the inhabitants of mount Seir, who, being eager for booty, had laid the crafty ambush, on whose sudden assault the Ammonites and Moabites must have regarded their Meunite allies as traitors, and thereupon opened the wild game of the self-slaughter of their army. Thus in the main, by comparison with the partly similar event in Judges 7:22 ff, J. H. Mich, Cler, Calm, etc, and recently Keil and Hengst. (Gesch. des R. G. ii2, 213 f.), the latter of whom appears inclined to find in מארבים an allusion to the name Arabs (“the predatory swarms,” he thinks, of the tribes of Arabia Petræa and Deserta might have joined the Idumæans), and to lay down a hypothesis similar to that of K. H. Sack (Theol. Aufsatze, Gotha1871), who wishes to make Arabs (עֲרָבִים) also of the ravens (עֹרְבִים) of Elijah, 1 Kings 17:6. Comp. also Schlottmann, p611, who endeavours to make out the fanaticism of the Ammonites and Moabites, as heathenish polytheistic opponents of the monotheistic Edomites, to be one of the causes of the massacre, but overlooks the fact that the Edomites had properly no part in the affair.

2 Chronicles 20:23. And when they had ended with the inhabitants of mount Seir, had completely massacred them in the affray that arose; comp. Daniel 11:44. On the words: “they helped to destroy one another,” comp, for the substantive מַשְׁחִית22:4; Ezekiel 5:16; Daniel 10:8.

2 Chronicles 20:24-30. The Impression of the Event on the Jews and their Neighbours.—And Judah came to the watch-tower in the wilderness, to an elevated point, a rising ground not far from Tekoa, whence the wilderness of Jeruel ( 2 Chronicles 20:16) might be surveyed.—And none escaped: so at least it appeared. The statement is to be understood as ideal, and not strictly real.

2 Chronicles 20:25. And they found with them in abundance, goods and corpses, and costly vessels. Intermediate between רְכוּשׁ, “goods,” and כְּלֵי חֲמֻדוֹת, “costly vessels” (comp. Daniel 11:38), are named “corpses,” obviously very surprising. The reading בְּגָדִים, garments, should therefore at once receive the preference; comp. Judges 8:25 f.—And they stripped off for themselves more than they could carry, literally “to nothing of carrying”: comp. Numbers 4:24.

2 Chronicles 20:26. And on the fourth day they assembled in the valley of blessing. This “vale of blessing” (Emek-berachah) must be sought near the field of battle. It is evidently the present Wady Bereikut, west of Tekoa, near the road leading from Jerusalem to Hebron, in which pretty broad and open valley the ruins of a place of the name of Bereikut are still preserved (Robinson, Phys. Geogr. p106); comp. the Caphar Baruka of Jerome in the Vita S. Paulœ, with its outlook on the Dead Sea. It is inadmissible, with Thenius and Hitzig (on Joel 4:2, 12, and Gesch. p199), to make this valley of blessing the same with the Kidron or the valley of Jehoshaphat. For though Joel 4:11 f. names the site of the present battle “the valley of Jehoshaphat,” it does not follow from this poetico-prophetical designation that he had in view the upper valley of Kidron afterwards so called, which bears this name first in Eusebius, but nowhere in the sacred Scriptures of the Old and New Testament (see Berth. on this passage).

2 Chronicles 20:27. For the Lord had made them glad over their enemies; comp. Ezra 6:22; Nehemiah 12:43.

2 Chronicles 20:29. And the fear of God was upon all the kingdoms of the countries bordering on Judah. On the “fear of God,” comp. 2 Chronicles 17:10; on the last words, 2 Chronicles 15:15, 2 Chronicles 14:4.

7. End of the Reign of Jehoshaphat: 2 Chronicles 20:31-37. Comp. 1 Kings 22:41-51, a section which there forms the whole account of the reign of Jehoshaphat, but is therefore amplified with some notices that are wanting here—1. With the statement that “Jehoshaphat had peace with the king of Israel,” 1 Kings 22:45 (which appeared superfluous here on account of 1 Kings 18:1 ff.); 2. With a passing reference to Jehoshaphat’s might and great deeds, 1 Kings 22:46 (which is wanting here in the corresponding 2 Chronicles 20:34, because the most important of these great deeds have been here recorded at length in 1 Kings17-20); 3. With a remark on the removal of the rest of the Sodomites out of the land, 1 Kings 22:47 (which is wanting here, because in the time of Asa, 16, no notice is taken of these Sodomites who are mentioned in 1 Kings 15:12); 4. With the notice that Edom had no king, but only a deputy, ver48 (which is here omitted as unimportant). To these enlargements, as exhibited in the account in 1 Kings compared with our own, are added some partly formal, partly material, deviations, which are set forth in the sequel.

2 Chronicles 20:33. The people had not yet directed their heart. For this 1 Kings 22:44 has: “the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places” (comp. 2 Kings 12:4; 2 Kings 14:4; 2 Kings 15:4, etc.).

2 Chronicles 20:34. The rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat . . . are written in the words of Jehu son of Hanani. Comp. on this citation, for which in 1 Kings we find merely “the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Judah,” Introd. § 5, No2.

2 Chronicles 20:35. And afterwards Jehoshaphat allied himself with Ahaziah: he (Ahaziah, not Jehoshaphat, as Berth, thinks) was wicked in his doing. This introduction, containing an unfavourable judgment on the covenant with Ahaziah (similar to that pronounced on the affinity with Ahab, xviii1), to the narrative of the unfortunate sea-voyage from Ezion-geber, is wanting in 1 Kings. The אַֽחֲרֵי־כֵן points only in general to the time after the victory over the Ammonites, Moabites, and Meunites. The date of the present undertaking follows more exactly from this, that Ahaziah came to the throne in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat, 897 or896, and reigned two years, that Isaiah, till about894 b.C.

2 Chronicles 20:36. To make ships to go to Tarshish. On the contrary, 1 Kings 22:49 has: “Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold.” The easiest solution of this difference is the assumption of an error on the part of the Chronist, who made out of the ships of Tarshish ships going to Tarshish; comp. Introd. § 6, p25. But if we must rather harmonize the two accounts, we must assume either—a. a Tarshish in the direction of Ophir, and thus to the east or south-east, different from the Spanish Tarsis-Tartessus (with. Seetzen and others; comp. excursus on 2 Chronicles8, No1), or b. that the confederates had designed both a voyage to Ophir in the east and a voyage to Tarsis in the west, for the latter of which either a circumnavigation of Africa round the Cape of Good Hope or a crossing of Lower Egypt by the canal of Seti (between the Sin. Heroopolitanus and the Nile) must have been contemplated.

2 Chronicles 20:37. And Eliezer son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied, a prophet only named here and known by the present utterance. On the name Dodavahu, see Crit. Note; for Mareshah, on 1 Chronicles 11:8.—Were not able to go to Tarshish. עָצַר, as 2 Chronicles 13:20, 2 Chronicles 14:10, and elsewhere. On the repeated invitation of Ahaziah to Jehoshaphat to prosecute the undertaking, when it failed at first through this mishap and Jehoshaphat’s refusal, our author says nothing; otherwise 1 Kings 22:50.

Evangelical And Ethical Reflections, Homiletic And Apologetic Observations, On Ch17–20

1. The history of Jehoshaphat, as our author relates it, certainly exceeds that which is recorded of him in the book of Kings in the richness and multiplicity of its details. But it furnishes no exhaustive or complete picture of that which Jehoshaphat did in war and peace during the twenty-five years of his reign (915–891), as is manifest from this, that the campaign against Mesha of Moab, undertaken in conjunction with Joram of Israel ( 2 Kings 3), that fell probably in one of the later years of his reign (at least after the erection of the monument of Mesha, as Schlottmann has shown, Stud. u. Krit. 1871, p 614 ff.), is altogether omitted. But with the completeness, a simple, well-grounded homogeneous form is wanting in the present description. The varied sources used gleam forth throughout; the accounts of war and peace alternate without internal organic connection; the whole by no means bears the character of a narrative produced at a single casting (comp. Berth, p350). Yet a certain plan and an overruling simple principle cannot be unobserved in the present sketch. It is obviously the aim of the author to draw in the reign of Jehoshaphat the picture of a government richly blessed of God, and internally, as well as externally, powerful from the good old times of the yet unimpaired theocracy. The fundamental thought which seems to bind the narrative together he expresses in the twice repeated sentence, that “a terror of God came over all the kingdoms of the countries,” with which he accompanies first the rule of Jehoshaphat as prince of peace ( 2 Chronicles 17:10), and next the great discomfiture of the confederate nations, Moab, Ammon, and Edom ( 2 Chronicles 20:29). It is the possession of a power far-ruling, spreading’ on all sides great fear and awe, solid, and resting on purely theocratic sentiment and organic development of the inner powers of the theocratic constitution, not on tyranny and conquest, which our author finds to admire and celebrate in Jehoshaphat. Hence he industriously sets forth, along with his orthodox reform of religion, and his endeavours to raise as high as possible the defensive and military power of the Jewish state ( 2 Chronicles 17:2; 2 Chronicles 17:14 ff.), that also which was undertaken by him for the upholding of the administration of justice, in particular the institution of a supreme court of judicature at Jerusalem ( 2 Chronicles 19:8-11). He therefore relates of his military undertakings chiefly those which were either accompanied with decisive consequences, or in which at least God’s protective power and gracious help were realized to him on account of his theocratic inclination; thus, of the two wars which, according to 1 Kings 22:2 ff, 2 Kings 3:1 ff, he undertook as confederate of the northern kingdom, the former, that issued more fortunately for him (that against the Syrians in Ramoth-gilead, 18), is described at full length, and with all the characteristic traits found in the source common to him and the author of the book of Kings; whereas he makes no mention of the second, waged along with Joram against Mesha of Moab, probably on account of its less favourable or at least nearly barren issue.[FN13] Finally, on account of the wish to depict in Jehoshaphat the representative of the Jewish state developed to its full power before the captivity, he expressly places him on a par with David his “father” (forefather); he makes him therefore enjoy the favour and help of Jehovah, because he walked in “the former ways of David,” that Isaiah, he worshipped God, in the main at least, and irrespective of the worship still tolerated here and there on the high places, in a theocratically pure and lawful way ( 2 Chronicles 17:3). With Song of Solomon, of whom Jehoshaphat likewise reminds us as a prince of peace, as a wise and circumspect father of his country, and as an upholder of the administration of justice, he does not compare him, probably because, first, a characteristic element of the reign of Song of Solomon, its great pomp and splendid wealth, appears to have been wanting in the kingdom of Jehoshaphat, and secondly, notwithstanding his endeavours after peace, his reign had taken a far less peaceful course than that of the great Shelomoh (peaceful).

2. Jehoshaphat is the glorious, pious, and mighty David of the southern kingdom: to this result points the whole narrative of our author. From this point of view also will the prodigious numbers be estimated which he gives in describing the disposable forces of Judah and Benjamin under his reign. The there mentioned780,000 Jews and380,000 Benjamites can scarcely be accepted as literally true. Their near approach to the numbers resulting from the census taken by David ( 1 Chronicles 21:5) seems intended to convey the idea that the kingdom of Judah alone had under Jehoshaphat, the alter David, attained a strength which almost matched the power of the twelve still united tribes under the first David (1,100,000 Israelites and470,000 Jews), that Judah by itself alone had now developed a number and power which surpassed that of the northern tribes at that earlier period. If this be the meaning of those Numbers, the less objection needs be made to their surprising magnitude; their ideal character is also plain from the whole connection; and there is as little need to have recourse to the assumption of some error in the transcribing of the numbers or numeral letters,—an expedient, besides, which seems scarcely admissible, on account of the proportionality of the numbers in the several divisions of the troops, as to that of legendary extravagance or arbitrary fiction, whether it be that of the Chronist or of his older voucher (perhaps the prophet Jehu, 2 Chronicles 20:34).[FN14]

3. How far, therefore, the author was from imparting to the here and there ideally-coloured picture which he drew of the great heroic king the form of a panegyric legend or a fabulous eulogium; how true, on the contrary, lie remained to his office as a historian,—is shown by the circumstance that here also, as in the case of David, Asa, etc,. he adds the shade to the light, and by no means passes over in silence a series of less favourable traits of the administration of Jehoshaphat. Especially his affinity with Ahab, the idolatrous king of Israel, is duly set forth as a fatal deviation from the path of theocratic purity and strictness (comp. Ezra 9:1 ff; Ezra 10:1 ff.; Nehemiah 9:2; Nehemiah 13:23 ff.) to the slippery ground of international friendship or affinity with idolatrous neighbours (comp. Solomon’s Egyptian spouse, 2 Chronicles 8:11 f.). On account of this step, and the consequent often going hand in hand with Israel in warlike expeditions, the king had repeatedly to undergo censure by the mouth of God-inspired prophets, first by the stout Jehu ben Hanani, who directly charged him with helping the wicked, and loving them that hate the Lord ( 2 Chronicles 19:2), afterwards by Eliezer ben Dodavah, who places the failure of the voyage from Ezion-geber under the character of a divine correction for drawing in one yoke with the unbelieving ( 2 Chronicles 20:37). On the part of two other prophets, indeed, who are introduced in our section, he encounters no such rebuke: Michah son of Imlah treats him when standing out beside Ahab in the favourable light of a relatively theocratic prince, with mild forbearance, and favours him with the promise of a “return in peace” from the defeat and dispersion of the sheep of the house of Israel ( 2 Chronicles 18:16); and so what the Levite Jahaziel says, before setting out to the war with the eastern nations, includes nothing but admonitions to take courage, and promises of deliverance by the strong hand of the Lord ( 2 Chronicles 20:14-17). But certainly the critical situations to which these prophetic words refer are in and of themselves sufficiently serious and menacing: they are crises introduced by the fault of the king, by his inconsiderate entering into ungodly alliances and relations, feeble preludes of that which the unhappy marriage of his son with the daughter of Jezebel should afterwards bring down in heavy judgments on his house and people. On this account, in the dangerous posture of affairs introduced in this way, along with solemn rebuke, comforting encouragement was in place; the certainly guilty king, deserving of punishment, but not in the same degree as the sovereigns of Israel, was yet one with whom, as the rough Jehu acknowledged, “good things were found” ( 2 Chronicles 19:3). He deserved along with reproving instruction also strengthening encouragement, that he might continue to walk in the ways of his fathers David and Asa ( 2 Chronicles 17:3, 2 Chronicles 20:32). He was worthy to be aroused to abide in the path of theocratic righteousness, that at least under his rule the inevitable evil effects of that affinity with an idolatrous house might be restrained as far as possible, and the people retained in that moderate state of piety and morality which is indicated ( 2 Chronicles 20:33) by the sentence: “the people had not yet directed their heart to the God of their fathers.” What he himself says and does, also, in conformity with such encouraging and strengthening words of the prophets, bears the stamp of true repentance, humble acknowledgement of his guilt, and firm continuance in the path of tighteousness. As the reproof of Jehu appears to have wrought in him the counter-part of that which Asa had once done on the occasion of a similar announcement from Hanani his father (Comp. 2 Chronicles 19:4 ff.), so his address in the campaign against the eastern nations to the people, or rather in the name of the people to the Lord ( 2 Chronicles 20:6-11), vies with the following prophetic utterance of Jahaziel in realizing firm confidence in God and triumphant faith. It Isaiah, however, a confidence in God resting on the ground of penitent and believing confession of sin which he here expresses; it is a truly penitent and believing resignation to the divine grace working all in all, an essentially evangelical experience of salvation, whence his subsequent admonition to his warriors: “Believe, and ye shall be established” ( 2 Chronicles 20:20), springs, a monitory and prophetic word, in which he himself becomes a prophet, a prophetic type, and a presumptive prophetic source, from which the greatest of the Old Testament seers for a century and a half afterwards, in all probability, drew their almost literally coinciding words (see on this passage). At all events, the assumption that Isaiah, the seer of Davidic princely blood, consciously rested on this believing word of a royal ancestor, that might have been early celebrated on account of the divine blessing attending it, is a good deal more natural than either the assertion of an only accidental dependence of the similar phrases, or than the easy expedient of a thoughtless hyper-criticism, according to which the Chronist made his royal hero speak after the manner of Isaiah, or use a play of words borrowed from this prophet.

4. It Isaiah, before all, the antique, thoroughly fresh, and concrete characteristic, foreign likewise to the tone of mythical legend or arbitrary invention in the sources, as they lie clearly discernible at the ground of our author’ narrative, which must be set forth in an apologetic respect, and maintained with all emphasis against such doubts as that above indicated, with respect to the originality of Jehoshaphat’s address, 2 Chronicles 20:20; or as Gramberg’s and Credner’s conjecture (expressed on Joel 4:11), that the whole narrative 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 is nothing but a free, half-poetical remodelling of the short statement in 2 Kings 3:23 f. With regard to the character of our chapter, as supported throughout by definite historical traditions and solid sources, Movers and Bertheau have already made striking remarks; comp. the latter, p349 ff.: “1. In the accounts of Jehoshaphat’s institutions, which were designed to spread the knowledge of the law and secure to his people an orderly administration of justice, the many details and names (among others, that of the high priest Amariah, 2 Chronicles 19:11, who was also in other accounts a contemporary of Jehoshaphat) are a sure proof of this, that our historian found exact statements in his sources, if he also elaborated the historical material in his own way2. This applies also to the reports of the defensive preparations and the division of the army, 2 Chronicles 17:15 to 2 Chronicles 19:3. In the remarkable narrative of the battle in which the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites destroyed one another ( 2 Chronicles 20:1-30), we discern, indeed, throughout the mode of thought and style peculiar to our author, but we discover also very distinct historical recollections: the localities are exactly described, 2 Chronicles 20:16-20; the designation ‘new court’ is found only in 2 Chronicles 20:5 (it must be taken from a source in which the new building was mentioned); the series of the forefathers of Jahaziel, 2 Chronicles 20:14, is a proof that he had already drawn the attention of the older writers to him, who were in a position to give an account of his forefathers. This battle of extermination was before the mind of the prophet Joel when he called the place of the divine decision ‘the valley of Jehoshaphat’ (comp. on 2 Chronicles 20:26).… The statement in 2 Kings 3:23 refers to a quite different situation; and as it might have presented the starting-point and the historical ground for the reports in 2 Chronicles20, it is not to be overlooked4. Finally, our author must have found reports of the action of the prophets Jehu ( 2 Chronicles 19:2 f.) and Eliezer ( 2 Chronicles 20:37), since he tells of the contents of their speeches in their own words. The brief report also in 1 Kings 22:41-51 seems to point to the contents of several narratives of Chronicles: 1 Kings 22:47 refers to the extirpation of idolatry ( 2 Chronicles 17:3-6); 1 Kings 22:46 speaks of the military force of Jehoshaphat, of which 2 Chronicles 17:2; 2 Chronicles 17:10-19 treats more fully,” and so forth. To the arguments for its authenticity here set forth, mostly taken from the internal value of the sources of our section, with which are to be compared the apologetic discussions of Kleinert (Das Deuteronomium, etc, p141) respecting the law reform of Jehoshaphat in its relation to Deuteronomy 17, is to be added a weighty, if only indirect and extra-biblical, testimony—the recently- discovered inscription of Mesha king of Moab, a highly-important monumental document for the history of one of the neighbouring states of the kingdom of Jehoshaphat, which serves to confirm, at least in general, the historical relations as our section represents them, and, especially in a chronological respect, in so far as it proceeds most probably from the time between the campaign described in 2 Chronicles18 and that in 2 Chronicles20, fits well into the series of events here described; comp. Schlottmann, as quoted, especially p 621 ff.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - For בֶּן־חַיִלִ the Sept. (and Syr.) appears to have read בְּנֵי חַיִל; for they translate appellatively, υἱοὺς τῶν δυνάτων. But the word is certainly a proper name; comp. בֶּן־חֶסֶת, 1 Kings 4:10, and similar names.

FN#2 - The Kethib; שְׁמָרִימוֹת is a mere mistake for שְׁמִירָמוֹת, the Keri.

FN#3 - Kethib: מִיבָהוּ. Keri: מִיבָיָהוּ.

FN#4 - The redundant אֹמֵר after וַיֹּאמֶר זֶה is perhaps inserted by a mistake of the tramscriber, and therefore, according to 1 Kings 22:20, to be erased.

FN#5 - Kethib: יָדֶיךָ. Keri: ידְךָ.

FN#6 - וְ before כָּל־רִיב is wanting in the Sept. and Vulg, but if taken explicatively it involves no difficulty.

FN#7 - Kethib: תֶּאְשָׁמוּ. Keri: תֶּ‍ֽאֱשָׁמוּ.

FN#8 - Instead of מֵהָעַמּוֹנִים is undoubtedly to be read מֵהַמְּעוּנִים, as the ἐκ τῶν Μιναίων of the Sept. shows.

FN#9 - Kethib: וַיִּרָא. Keri: וַיִּירָא.

FN#10 - Instead of פְּנָרִים, four mss. in Kennic. and three in de Rossi, likewise some old editions (Complut, Brix, Bomberg. a. 1518, 21, Münst.), read בְּנָדִים; so also the Vulg. (vestes), and apparently also the Sept, as well as several recent expositors, Dathe, Berth, and Kamph.

FN#11 - For דּוֹדָוָהוּ the Sept. has Δωδία, after which Berth, without sufficient reason, would write דּוֹדִיָּהוּ. Comp. rather such names as Hodaviah, Joshaviah.

FN#12 - There also concerning Hitzig’s hypothesis (founded on 2 Kings 8:26 and 2 Chronicles 22:2), that Athaliah was not the daughter, but the sister, of Ahab.

FN#13 - The passage 2 Kings 3:27 b imports in any case an issue of the war with Moab not quite favourable to Joram and Jehoshaphat even though we understand the expression: “and there was great indignation concerning Israel,” only of the displeasure and abhorrence of the human sacrifice offered by the king of Moab, and the consequent retreat from the country of the enemy (as also Bähr on the passage]. But the question Isaiah, whether Schlottmann (p618 f.) is not right in thinking of a divinely sent calamity, such as a plague, by which the united army of Israel and Judah was forced to a speedy retreat under heavy losses. In this case the Chronist would have had so much the more ground for the omission of this record.

FN#14 - Moreover, that which Neteler adduces (p212 f.) in support of their numbers in their literal sense deserves attention1. The tribe of Simeon at this time belonged to the tribe of Judah ( 2 Chronicles 19:4?), by which the number of warriors of the latter, amounting to almost800,000 men, is

explained; 2. The Philistines (?) and the Edomites, who were tributary to Judah, may have been compelled to add their contingent to his force; 3. If we reckon the auxiliary troops of Simeon, Philistia, and Edom at200,000 men, of the remaining600,000 Jewish troops, on an average, 20,000 men were due to each of the120 cities which belonged to the tribe ( Joshua 15), which does not seem unnaturally high, as numerous villages belonged to each of these cities; 4. An increase of130,000 men fit to bear arms since the census of David, in a period of three generations, is nothing wonderful, especially with the accession of many from the other tribes to the southern kingdom, if we consider the extraordinary fertility of the land, the small means of subsistence required in the south, and the industrial productivity of the Jews at that time. A somewhat satisfactory account would thus be furnished with regard to the780,000 Jewish troops. But how stands it with the380,000 warriors whom the small rocky and mountainous territory of Benjamin had to produce ?

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 17:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/2-chronicles-17.html. 1857-84.

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