And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And he set.—Appointed, or stationed.
The fenced cities.—As being the chief centres of each district.
City by city.—For every city, according to the Law, Deuteronomy 16:18, “in all thy gates.” (Comp. 1Chronicles 23:4; 1Chronicles 26:29.) The judges would be Levites, and probably also priests and family chiefs, as in the case of Jerusalem (2Chronicles 19:8).2 Chronicles 19:5-6. He set judges in the land, city by city — In every city, for itself and the country adjacent, that justice might be administered with the most ease and convenience to the people, and they might not all be forced to go up to Jerusalem. And said to the judges, Take heed, &c. — Mind your business; take heed of making any mistakes; be afraid of misunderstanding any point of law, or the matter of fact. Judges, of all men, have need to be cautious, because so much depends on their understanding a matter right. For ye judge not for man, but for the Lord — You represent God’s person, to whom judgment belongeth; you have your commission from God, and not from man only; and your administration of justice is not only for man’s good, but also for God’s honour and service. Who is with you in judgment — Both to observe your carriage, and to defend you against all those enemies whom the impartial exercise of justice may provoke.Deuteronomy 16:18; 1 Chronicles 23:4, it is impossible to determine. Probably he found corruption widely spread 2 Chronicles 19:7, and the magistrates in some places tainted with the prevailing idolatry. He therefore made a fresh appointment of judges throughout the whole country; concentrating judicial authority in the hands of a few, or creating superior courts in the chief towns ("fenced cities"), with a right of appeal to such courts from the village judge.
5-7. he set judges in the land—There had been judicial courts established at an early period. But Jehoshaphat was the first king who modified these institutions according to the circumstances of the now fragmentary kingdom of Judah. He fixed local courts in each of the fortified cities, these being the provincial capitals of every district (see on De 16:18).1 Chronicles 26:29. And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)5. and he set judges] Cp. 2 Chronicles 19:11 “also the Levites shall be officers”; and Deuteronomy 16:18 “judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates.”
In the earliest days justice was administered in Israel, as among the Bedouin of to-day, probably by all heads of families and (in difficult cases) by the one head who was distinguished above the rest for impartiality and for knowledge of tribal custom. In later days when Israel was settled in Canaan the “elders of the cities” and the “elders of the priests” exercised the same functions.
Jehoshaphat’s measures were twofold, (1) to establish judges throughout the cities of Judah, (2) to establish (in accordance with Deuteronomy 17:8 ff.) a kind of court of appeal in Jerusalem itself.
As to the first measure no doubt the work consisted in removing evil judges and confirming the good in their office, rather than in appointing judges for the first time. The second measure, however, was probably altogether new; David (2 Samuel 14:4 ff; 2 Samuel 15:3) and Solomon (1 Kings 3:16) had kept judgment in their own hands. The prominent position assigned to the priests as judges is in accordance with Deuteronomy 17:9; Deuteronomy 19:17.Verse 5. - Judges... fenced cities. Jehoshaphat proceeds from direct religious reforms to that which is of importance only second in the life of a nation - reform in the matter of civil administration of justice. The skeleton here given of what should be the character of a judge, and why, harmonizes well with the uniform stress laid in Scripture upon "justice and judgment." It is hard indeed to see, rather impossible, upon what foundation a sure structure of civil growth and stability can be laid, except on that of positive religion. Note the positions and the succinct arguments of vers. 6, 7; and how unequivocally they are based upon faith in a personal God, and upon his revealed character. It can scarcely be that this was the first time of judges being set in the cities of Judah but possibly the meaning intended to be conveyed with emphasis is, that now, looking well round his kingdom, he took care that all the cities should be properly provided with the necessary judges, while of late some had been, and some had not, and some, though they had been officered with judges, had found them not what judges ought to be. The immense majority of the "six thousand" Levite "officers and judges" of David's regulation (1 Chronicles 23:4; 36:29) had, with their superiors, kings and prophets, gone astray. With our present passage may be compared Deuteronomy 16:18-20, where the original enactment of judges and officers is narrated. Fenced cities. Hebrew for "fenced," בְּצֻרות; kal passive part. plur. The word occurs twenty-six times from the Book of Numbers to the Book of the Prophet Zechariah, and is rendered in the Authorized Version "fenced" or "defenced" twenty-two times, "walled" twice, "strong" once, and "mighty" once. The "gates" of the original institution in Deuteronomy are now (probably still the gates of) fenced cities. 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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