2 Chronicles 17:19
These waited on the king, beside those whom the king put in the fenced cities throughout all Judah.
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(19) These waited on the king.—Rather, these are they that ministered unto the king, viz., the five generals above named.

Beside those whom the king put in the fenced cities—i.e., the commandants of the fortresses of the kingdom (2Chronicles 11:11; 2Chronicles 11:23). These latter, as well as the generals of the forces, are called the king’s “ministers” (mĕshārĕthîm)—a word which is not used of service in the field, but implies their presence at court (“in Jerusalem,” 2Chronicles 17:13, as the royal staff).

According to the above list, the army of Jehoshaphat was organised in five grand divisions, corresponding perhaps to five territorial divisions of the southern kingdom. The totals are the largest assigned to the two tribes anywhere in the Old Testament; viz., Judah 780,000, and Benjamin 380,000; in all, 1,160,000. At David’s census Judah had 500,000 warriors (2Samuel 24:9); and Israel 800,000. Again, in 2Chronicles 14:8, Asa’s army consists of 300,000 men of Judah and 280,000 Benjaminites: clearly such an increase as our text indicates is unaccountable. At the same time, it is equally clear that the present numbers are not fortuitous results of clerical errors, for they follow each other in the order of relative strength: Judah, 300,000, 280,000, 200,000; Benjamin, 200,000, 180,000; and they are evidently not independent of the estimates of 2Chronicles 14:8 above quoted.

In the absence of adequate data for modifying these certainly startling figures, it is well to bear in mind that we need not understand by them an army which ever actually mustered in the field or on parade, but simply an estimate of the total male population liable to be called out for the national defence; although, even upon that understanding, the total appears to be at least three times too great, considering the small extent of the country.

2 Chronicles 17:19. These waited on the king — These above-mentioned were the trained bands, or auxiliaries; whose chief officers waited on the king to receive his commands, and to raise and bring in all, or part of their forces, to the service of the king, as need required. A vast number for so small a compass of ground to furnish out and maintain. But we may consider, that God had promised to make the seed of Abraham like the sand of the sea for number; that there had now been a long peace; that many were come to them from the kingdom of Israel; and that Jehoshaphat was under a special blessing of God. They were doubtless dispersed all the country over, every one residing on his own land; only they were ready at call, whenever there was occasion. 17:1-19 Jehoshaphat promotes religion in Judah, His prosperity. - Jehoshaphat found his people generally very ignorant, and therefore endeavoured to have them well taught. The public teaching of the word of God forms, in all ages, the great method of promoting the power of godliness. Thereby the understanding is informed, the conscience is awakened and directed. We have a particular account of Jehoshaphat's prosperity. But it was not his formidable army that restrained the neighbouring nations from attempting any thing against Israel, but the fear of God which fell upon them, when Jehoshaphat reformed his country, and set up a preaching ministry in it. The ordinances of God are more the strength and safety of a kingdom, than soldiers and weapons of war. The Bible requires use to notice the hand of God in every event, yet this is little regarded. But let all employ the talents they have: be faithful, even in that which is little. Set up the worship of God in your houses. The charge of a family is important. Why should you not instruct them as Jehoshaphat did his subjects, in the book of the law of the Lord. But be consistent. Do not recommend one thing, and practise another. Begin with yourselves. Seek to the Lord God of Israel, then call upon children and servants to follow your example.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.

(3) they are professedly a statement, not of the whole military force, but of the force maintained at Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 17:13; compare 2 Chronicles 17:19).

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.

14. these are the numbers—The warriors were arranged in the army according to their fathers houses. The army of Jehoshaphat, commanded by five great generals and consisting of five unequal divisions, comprised one million one hundred and sixty thousand men, without including those who garrisoned the fortresses. No monarch, since the time of Solomon, equalled Jehoshaphat in the extent of his revenue, in the strength of his fortifications, and in the number of his troops. These above mentioned were the trained bands or auxiliaries; whose chief officers waited upon the king to receive his commands, and to raise and bring in all or part of their forces to the service of the king and kingdom, as need required. These waited on the king,.... Not this vast number of men at one time, but in course, as David's military men waited on him, 1 Chronicles 27:1 or each of these captains, with a proper number of men under them detached from the body; and they were all ready to obey the king's orders whenever he should have occasion for them:

besides those whom the king put into the fenced cities throughout Judah; and all together, the militia of the kingdom was very numerous and formidable.

These {g} waited on the king, beside those whom the king put in the fenced cities throughout all Judah.

(g) That is, they were at his ordinary guard.

19. These waited] R.V. These were they that waited. Cp. 1 Chronicles 27:1, that served the king (the same Heb. verb is used).Verse 19. - These waited; Hebrew, הַמְשָׁרְתִים, plur. piel part. of שָׁרַת. The verse states that this enormous fivefold army, with its five princes (counting, in our corrupt text, one million one hundred and sixty thousand), was the king's Jerusalem standing army, while other separate regiments or bands of troops were spread through all Judah, where they might be most needed for defence.

וגו רבּה וּמלעכה is rightly translated by Luther, "und hatte viel Vorraths" (and had much store). מלעכה denotes here, as in Exodus 22:7-10, property, that which has been gained by work or business. The signification, much work, opera magna (Vulg., Cler., etc.), as also Bertheau's translation, "the works for equipping and provisioning the fortresses," correspond neither to the context nor to the parallel (synonymous) second member of the verse. The work and trouble necessary to equip the cities of Judah does not correspond to "the valiant warriors in Jerusalem;" the only parallel is the goods and property which were in these cities, the provision of victuals and war material there stored up.
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