And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel.
Jehoshaphat ascended the throne in the fourth year of Ahab 1 Kings 22:41, probably after that monarch had contracted his alliance with the royal family of Sidon, and before he was engaged in war with Syria. It was thus not unnatural that Jehoshaphat should begin his reign by strengthening himself against a possible attack on the part of his northern neighbor.
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;
The first ways of his father David - The Septuagint and several Hebrew manuscripts omit "David," which has probably crept in from the margin, for David's "first ways" are nowhere else contrasted with his later ways. The real meaning of the writer is, that Jehoshaphat followed the example set by his father Asa in his earlier years 2 Chronicles 14:1-15; 15.
Baalim - On the plural form, see 1 Kings 18:18 note.
But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.
The doings of Israel - i. e. the especially idolatrous doings of the time - the introduction and establishment of the worship of Baal and the groves.
Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance.
Presents - i. e. "free-will offerings," in addition to the regular taxes. See 1 Samuel 10:27.
And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.
His heart was lifted up - This expression generally occurs in a bad sense Deuteronomy 8:14; 2 Chronicles 26:16; Psalm 131:1; Proverbs 18:12; but here it must be taken differently. The margin "was encouraged" expresses fairly the true meaning. He first began by setting an example of faithfulness to Yahweh. He then proceeded to use his best endeavors to extirpate idolatry.
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.
The princes were not sent as teachers themselves, but had the duty committed to them of seeing that the people were taught. The actual teachers were the priests and Levites of 2 Chronicles 17:8.
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.
There is no reasonable doubt that this "book of the law" was the Pentateuch - nearly, if not quite, in the shape in which we now have it. Copies of the whole Law were, no doubt, scarce; and therefore Jehoshaphat's commission took care to carry a copy with them.
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.
Some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents - i. e. "some of the Philistines were among his tributaries." Compare 2 Samuel 8:2; 1 Kings 4:21.
Tribute silver - Or, "much silver" - literally "silver of burthen."
The Arabians - The Arab tribes who bordered Judaea to the south and the southeast paid Jehoshaphat a fixed tribute in kind. Compare 2 Kings 3:4 note.
And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store.
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.
The captains of thousands; Adnah the chief - literally, "princes of thousands, Adnah the prince." The writer does not mean that Adnah (or Johohanan, 2 Chronicles 17:15) was in any way superior to the other "princes," but only that he was one of them.
Three hundred thousand - This number. and those which follow in 2 Chronicles 17:15-18, have been with good reason regarded as corrupt by most critics. For:
(1) They imply a minimum population of 1,480 to the square mile, which is more than three times greater than that of any country in the known world (circa 1880's).
(2) they produce a total just double that of the next largest estimate of the military force of Judah, the 580, 000 of 2 Chronicles 14:8.
It is probable that the original numbers have been lost, and that the loss was suppplied by a scribe, who took 2 Chronicles 14:8 as his basis.
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.