2 Chronicles 19:4
And Jehoshaphat dwelled at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back to the LORD God of their fathers.
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(4) And he went out again.—This refers to the former Visitation or Royal Commission for the instruction of the people in the sacred Law (2Chronicles 17:7-9).

From Beer-sheba, the southern, to the hill country of Ephraim, the northern limit of his dominions.

He went out.—Not necessarily in person, but by his accredited representatives.

Brought them back.Made them return (2Chronicles 24:19).

Unto the Lord God of their fathers.—From the worship of the Baals and the illicit cultus of Jehovah. The local worship of the God of Israel “necessarily came into contact with the Canaanite service of Baal, and, apart from the fact that the luxurious festivals of the latter had a natural attraction for the sensuous Semitic nature of the Hebrews, there was a more innocent motive which tended to assimilate the two worships. The offerings and festivals of Jehovah were acts of homage in which the people consecrated to Him the good things of His bestowing. These were no longer the scanty products of pastoral life, but the rich gifts of a land of corn and wine . . . Thus, the religious feasts necessarily assumed a new and more luxurious character, and, rejoicing before Jehovah in the enjoyment of the good things of Canaan, the Israelites naturally imitated the agricultural feasts which the Canaanites celebrated before Baal. It is not, therefore, surprising that we find many indications of a gradual fusion between the two worships; that many of the great Hebrew sanctuaries are demonstrably identical with Canaanite holy places; that the autumn feast, usually known as the Feast of Tabernacles, has a close parallel in the Canaanite Vintage Feast, that Canaanite immorality tainted the worship of Jehovah; and that at length Jehovah Himself, who was addressed by His worshippers by the same general appellation of ‘Baal’ or ‘Lord’ which was the ordinary title of the Canaanite nature-god, was hardly distinguished by the masses who worshipped at the local shrines from the local Baalim of their Canaanite neighbours” (Prof. Robertson Smith, Prophets of Israel, p. 38).

2 Chronicles 19:4. He went out again through the people — He went out before by his officers, (2 Chronicles 17:7,) now he went in his own person. From Beer-sheba to mount Ephraim — That is, through his whole kingdom, whereof these were the two bounds. And brought them back unto the God of their fathers — Such of them as had revolted from God to idols, he reclaimed by his counsel and example, and by the instructions of the Levites and priests whom he carried with him. Many, probably, had revolted to idolatry, when they saw their king so intimate with idolaters. Therefore he thought himself doubly obliged to do all he could to reduce them. If we truly repent of sin, we shall do our utmost to repair the damage we have done to religion, or the souls of others.19:1-11 Jehoshaphat visits his kingdom. - Whenever we return in peace to our houses, we ought to acknowledge God's providence in preserving our going out and coming in. And if we have been kept through more than common dangers, we are, in a special manner, bound to be thankful. Distinguishing mercies lay us under strong obligations. The prophet tells Jehoshaphat he had done very ill in joining Ahab. He took the reproof well. See the effect the reproof had upon him. He strictly searched his own kingdom. By what the prophet said, Jehoshaphat perceived that his former attempts for reformation were well-pleasing to God; therefore he did what was then left undone. It is good when commendations quicken us to our duty. There are diversities of gifts and operations, but all from the same Spirit, and for the public good; and as every one has received the gift, so let him minister the same. Blessed be God for magistrates and ministers, scribes and statesmen, men of books, and men of business. Observe the charge the king gave. They must do all in the fear of the Lord, with a perfect, upright heart. And they must make it their constant care to prevent sin, as an offence to God, and what would bring wrath on the people.Jehoshaphat, while declining to renounce the alliance with Israel (compare the 2 Kings 3:7 note), was careful to show that he had no sympathy with idolatry, and was determined to keep his people, so far as he possibly could, free from it. He therefore personally set about a second reformation, passing through the whole land, from the extreme south to the extreme north 2 Chronicles 13:19. 4. he went out again through the people—This means his reappointing the commissioners of public instruction (2Ch 17:7-9), perhaps with new powers and a larger staff of assistants to overtake every part of the land. The complement of teachers required for that purpose would be easily obtained because the whole tribe of Levites was now concentrated within the kingdom of Judah. He went out again; once he went by his officers, 2 Chronicles 17:7, &c., now he went in his own person.

From Beer-sheba to Mount Ephraim, i.e. through his whole kingdom, whereof these were the two bounds.

Brought them back unto the Lord; such of them as had revolted from God to idols, he reclaimed by his good counsel and example, and by the instructions of the Levites and priests, whom doubtless now he carried with him, as he sent them before with his officers of state. And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem,.... And went out no more to Samaria, nor concerned himself about the affairs of Israel, but attended to his own:

and he went out again through the people; took a tour throughout his dominions now, in his own person, as before by his princes, with the priests and Levites:

from Beersheba to Mount Ephraim; Beersheba was the southern boundary of the land of Judah, and Mount Ephraim lay to the north, and was the northern boundary of it since the division of the kingdom:

and brought them back to the Lord God of their fathers; from idolatry to the pure worship of God, such who had relapsed since the first reformation, or had not been influenced by it.

And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again {b} through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the LORD God of their fathers.

(b) He visited all his country and brought his people from idolatry to the knowledge of the true God.

4–11 (no parallel in Kings). Jehoshaphat’s Home Policy

4. Beer-sheba] Cp. note on 1 Chronicles 4:28.

brought them back] Some further measures against idolatry seem to be meant.Verse 4. - From Beershsba to Mount Ephraim. The length of the good land is not to be quoted, as of old, the undivided "Dan to Beersheba," but Beersheba to Mount Ephraim (2 Chronicles 13:16-19). Jehoshaphat makes another conscientious and vigorous endeavour to reform his own kingdom, to keep it steadfast in the worship of God, and free from idolatry. It is to be noticed that he does not turn away his ear from the rebuke which had been given him, but turns his heart to it. As it does not appear that he broke with Israel and Israel's kings (2 Chronicles 20:35, 37; 2 Kings 3:7, 14, 24), it is possible, especially in view of ver. 37 in our ch. 20, that the severity of the Divine rebuke was understood to apply to the occasions which found Jehoshaphat in alliance with a king notably bad, and for some supposed chance of advantage to himself. This last element of consideration will difference sufficiently the two cases just cited, to wit, the case in which Jehoshaphat joined himself with Azariah, and is sternly "prophesied against," and that in which he helped Jehoram, and through Elisha's intervention gained him the day. The campaign undertaken along with Ahab against the Syrians at Ramoth in Gilead, with its origin, course, and results for Ahab, is narrated in 1 Kings in the history of Ahab) in agreement with our narrative, only the introduction to the war being different here. In 1 Kings 22:1-3 it is remarked, in connection with the preceding wars of Ahab with the Syrians, that after there had been no war for three years between Aram and Israel, in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah came up to the king of Israel; and the latter, when he and his servants had determined to snatch away from the Syrians the city Ramoth in Gilead, which belonged to Israel, called upon Jehoshaphat to march with him to the war against Ramoth. In the Chronicle the more exact statement, "in the third year," which is intelligible only in connection with the earlier history of Ahab, is exchanged for the indefinite שׁנים לקץ, "at the end of years;" and mention is made of the festal entertainment which Ahab bestowed upon his guest and his train (עמּו אשׁר העם), to show the pains which Ahab took to induce King Jehoshaphat to take part in the proposed campaign. He killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, ויסיתהוּ ,ecnadn, and enticed, seduced him to go up with him to Ramoth. הסית, to incite, entice to anything (Judges 1:14), frequently to evil; cf. Deuteronomy 13:7, etc. עלה, to advance upon a land or a city in a warlike sense. The account which follows of the preparations for the campaign by inquiring of prophets, and of the war itself, vv. 4-34, is in almost verbal agreement with 1 Kings 22:5-35. Referring to 1 Kings or the commentary on the substance of the narrative, we will here only group together briefly the divergences. Instead of 400 men who were prophets, 2 Chronicles 18:5, in 1 Kings 22:5 we have about 400 men. It is a statement in round numbers, founded not upon exact enumeration, but upon an approximate estimate. Instead of אהדּל אם...הנלך, 2 Chronicles 18:5, in Kings, 1 Kings 22:6, we have אהדּל אם...האלך, both verbs being in the same number; and so too in 2 Chronicles 18:14, where in Kings. 1 Kings 22:15, both verbs stand in the plural, notwithstanding that the answer which follows, והצלח עלה, is addressed to Ahab alone, not to both the kings, while in the Chronicle the answer is given in the plural to both the kings, והצליחוּ עלוּ. in 2 Chronicles 18:7, "he prophesies me nothing good, but all his days (i.e., so long as he has been a prophet) evil," the meaning is intensified by the כּל־ימיו, which is not found in 1 Kings 22:8. In 2 Chronicles 18:9, the ויושׁבים, which is introduced before the בּגרן, "and sitting upon the threshing-floor," is due to difference of style, for it is quite superfluous for the signification. In 2 Chronicles 18:15, the ambiguous words of Micah,' and Jahve will give into the hand of the king" (1 Kings 22:15), are given in a more definite form: "and they (the enemy) shall be given into your hand." In 2 Chronicles 18:19, in the first כּכה אמר זה, the אמר after the preceding ויּאמר is not only superfluous, but improper, and has probably come into the text by a copyist's error. We should therefore read only בּכה זה, corresponding to the כּכה זה of 1 Kings 22:20 : "Then spake one after this manner, and the other spake after another manner." In 2 Chronicles 18:23, the indefinite אי־זה of 1 Kings 22:24, is elucidated by הדּרך זה אי, "is that the manner" (cf. 1 Kings 13:12; 2 Kings 3:8)., and the verb. עבר follows without the relative pronoun, as in the passages cited. In 2 Chronicles 18:30, only הרכב שׂרי of the king are mentioned, without any statement of the number, which is given in 1 Kings 22:31, with a backward reference to the former war (1 Kings 20:24). In 2 Chronicles 18:31, after the words, "and Jehoshaphat cried out," the higher cause of Jehoshaphat's rescue is pointed out in the words, "and Jahve helped him, and God drove them from him," which are not found in 1 Kings 22:32; but by this religious reflection the actual course of the event is in no way altered. Bertheau's remark, therefore, that "the words disturb the clear connection of the events," is quite unwarrantable. Finally, in 2 Chronicles 18:34, מעמיד היה, he was holding his position, i.e., he held himself standing upright, the Hiph. is more expressive than the Hoph. מעמד (1 Kings 22:35), since it expresses more definitely the fact that he held himself upright by his own strength. With Ahab's death, which took place in the evening at the time of the going down of the sun, the author of the Chronicle concludes his account of this war, and proceeds in 2 Chronicles 19:1-11 to narrate the further course of Jehoshaphat's reign. In 1 Kings 22:36-39, the return of the defeated army, and the details as to Ahab's death and burial, are recorded; but these did not fit into the plan of the Chronicle.
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