2 Chronicles 20:22
And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
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(22) And when they began.—Literally, And at the. time when they began with shouting and praise. (Comp. Deuteronomy 16:9, to begin with.) They had now reached the neighbourhood of the enemy; and their joyful pæan was the signal for a Divine interposition. (Comp. Joshua 6:16; Joshua 6:20, and Psalm 46:6.)

The Lord set ambushments.Jehovah placed liers in wait (Judges 9:25). (nāthan here is equivalent in meaning to sām there.)

Come against.Come into, i.e., invade (2Chronicles 20:10).

They were smitten.—Right, according to the ordinary usage. (See 1Chronicles 19:16; 1Chronicles 19:19, “put to the worse.”) This statement anticipates what follows. The ancient translators felt a difficulty here, as is evident from their versions. Thus the LXX. has, “The Lord made the sons of Ammon to war upon Moab and Mount Seir, who came out against Judah; and they were routed.” The Vulg., “The Lord turned their ambushment against themselves, viz., that of the sons of Amnion and Moab and Mount Seir, who had gone forth to fight against Judah, and they were smitten.”

The Syriac (and Arabic) travesty 2Chronicles 20:21 and the first clause of 2Chronicles 20:22 thus: “And he stood in the middle of the people, and said, Come, let us give thanks unto the Lord, and let us laud the splendour of his holiness, when he goeth out before our hosts, and maketh war for us with our foes: and be saying, Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, and his goodness endureth for ever. The hills began praising, and the mountains began rejoicing.”They then continue as in 2Chronicles 20:24, omitting “The Lord set ambushments . . . they were smitten.”

The self-destruction of the allied hordes was undoubtedly providential, but it need not have been miraculous. How was it brought about? The answer depends on the meaning of the term “liers in wait.” Were angels meant, as some have thought (Ewald’s böser Geister), a more appropriate and less ambiguous term would have been employed to express their agency. Nor is it likely that a Judean ambuscade is thus obscurely mentioned without any further reference or explanation: indeed it is evident from 2Chronicles 20:15; 2Chronicles 20:17; 2Chronicles 20:24, that the part of the Judeans was that of mere spectators of an accomplished fact. Nor, finally, must we suppose that “the waylaying was done by a section of the confederates themselves, probably certain of the Maonites.”

The truth appears to be that some portion of the unwieldy and straggling host was suddenly attacked by a lurking band of Bedawi freebooters. In the providence of God the partial confusion which thus originated speedily became a universal panic. The Ammonites and Moabites instantly suspected their less civilised allies, the Maonites, of treachery, and fell upon them in a frenzy of revenge; after which, maddened by slaughter and mutual suspicion, and the memory of ancient feuds, they turned their reeking swords against each other, and the strife only ended with the self-annihilation of the allies. The occurrence is thus to some extent parallel with the self-destruction of the Midianite hordes, when thrown into confusion by the stratagem of Gideon (Judges 7:22).

The marvellous result, marvellously predicted, was brought to pass by a perfectly natural sequence of events, just as was Elisha’s prophecy of plenty to famine-stricken Samaria, though at the time when it was uttered fulfilment seemed impossible, unless the Lord were to “make windows in heaven,” and pour down supplies from thence by a visible miracle. In neither case was the course of events foreseen by the prophet, but only their issue. (See 2 Kings 7)

2 Chronicles 20:22. When they began to sing and to praise — So acceptable are the fervent prayers and praises of God’s people to him, and so terrible to their enemies! The Lord set ambushments — Hebrew, מארבים, mearebim, insidiantes, persons lying in wait, or plotting, and laying snares. The meaning seems to be, as appears from the next verse, that God raised jealousies and animosities among their enemies themselves, which by degrees broke forth, first into secret plots, snares, and ambushments, which one party contrived and laid for another, against which they had conceived some grudge; and then into a general confusion, and open hostilities and outrages, to the destruction of one another throughout the whole army. So vain are all men’s attempts against God, who needs none to destroy his enemies but themselves, and their own mistakes and passions, which he can, when he pleases, arm against them.20:20-30 Jehoshaphat exhorted his troops to firm faith in God. Faith inspires a man with true courage; nor will any thing help more to the establishing of the heart in shaking times, than a firm belief of the power, and mercy, and promise of God. In all our trust in the Lord, and our praises of him, let us especially look at his everlasting mercy to sinners through Jesus Christ. Never was an army so destroyed as that of the enemy. Thus God often makes wicked people destroy one another. And never was a victory celebrated with more solemn thanksgivings.The Lord set ambushments - These liers in wait have been regarded as angels employed by God to confuse the host and cause its destruction, so that the Moabites and Ammonites first united to destroy the Edomites, and then turned upon each other. 2Ch 20:22-30. The Overthrow of His Enemies.

22. when they began to sing and to praise the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—Some think that this was done by angels in human form, whose sudden appearance diffused an uncontrollable panic. Others entertain the more probable opinion that, in the camp of this vast horde, composed of different tribes, jealousies and animosities had sprung up, which led to widespread dissensions and fierce feuds, in which they drew the sword against each other. The consequence was, that as the mutual strife commenced when the Hebrew procession set out from Jerusalem, the work of destruction was completed before Jehoshaphat and his people arrived at the battlefield. Thus easy is it for God to make the wrath of man to praise Him, to confound the counsels of His enemies and employ their own passions in defeating the machinations they have devised for the overthrow of His Church and people.

When they began to sing and to praise; so acceptable are the fervent prayers of God’s people to God, and so terrible to their enemies.

Ambushments, or, liers in wait; either,

1. The holy angels, who appeared in the shape of men, and possibly put on the appearances and visages of Moabites or Ammonites, and in that shape slew the rest, who supposing this slaughter to be done by a part of their own army, fell upon them, and so broke forth into mutual slaughters. Or,

2. God raised jealousies and animosities amongst themselves, which by degrees broke forth first into secret ambushments, which one party laid for another, and then into open hostilities and outrages to their utter destruction. So vain are all men’s attempts against God, who needs none to destroy his enemies but themselves, and their own mistakes and passions, which he can when he pleaseth arm against them. And when they began to sing and to praise,.... They sung more or less all the way they went, from the time they set out, but when they came nearer the enemy, they sung louder and louder:

the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, which came against Judah; some take them to be their own ambushments, which they set for the destruction of Judah; but the Lord turned them against their own confederates, mistaking them for Jews; so the Vulgate Latin version,

"the Lord turned their ambushments against themselves;''or rather these were angels, who appeared in the form of the Edomites, and so fell upon the Ammonites and Moabites:

and they were smitten; by them, many of them were destroyed; hence it follows,

And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and {o} mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.

(o) Meaning, the Idumeans who dwelt in mount Seir.

22. the Lord set ambushments] R.V. the LORD set liers in wait. All that is meant by this is that the Lord suggested to Jehoshaphat the plan of setting an ambush; cp. Joshua 8:2 (where it is said that the Lord suggested the same plan to Joshua). Jehoshaphat himself marched with the bulk of his forces, but the flower of the Judæan army was probably disposed in ambush. G. A. Smith (Hist. Geography, p. 272) points out that the country between En-gedi and Tekoa is well suited for attack by surprise.Verse 22. - Set ambushments. The Hebrew is נָתַן מְאָרְבִים, i.e. "set persons lying in wait," or "in ambush" (piel part. plur. of אָרַב). So Judges 9:25, but kal participle with apparently future equivalent meaning occurs eighteen times in Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Ezra, Jeremiah, and Lamentations. Who the persons were, supernatural or not, or what their mode of operation, is not told, and is not plain. The effects are quite plain - that first the two confederates, Moab and Ammon, thought they saw reason to fall on them "of Mount Seir," and secondly, having this done, to fall on one another to the end of mutual extermination. They were smitten. The marginal, "they smote one another," may be better, but it is not at all necessary, the meaning being that collectively they became the smitten instead of the smiters! "To-morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the height Hazziz; and ye will find them at the end of the valley, before the desert Jeruel." The wilderness Jeruel was, without doubt, the name of a part of the great stretch of flat country, bounded on the south by the Wady el Ghr, and extending from the Dead Sea to the neighbourhood of Tekoa, which is now called el Hasasah, after a wady on its northern side. The whole country along the west side of the Dead Sea, "where it does not consist of mountain ridges or deep valley, is a high table-land, sloping gradually towards the east, wholly waste, merely covered here and there with a few bushes, and without the slightest trace of having ever been cultivated" (Robinson's Pal. sub voce). The name הצּיץ מעלה, ascent or height of Hazziz, has perhaps remained attached to the Wady el Hasasah. lxx have rendered הצּיץ by Ἀσσεῖς; Josephus (Antt. ix. 1. 2) has ἀναβάσεως λεγομένης ἐξοχῆς, in accordance with which Robinson (loc. cit.) takes the way "upwards from Ziz" to be the pass which at present leads from Ain Jidy to the table-land. Yet it is described by him as a "fearful pass,"

(Note: He remarks: "The path winds up in zig-zags, often at the steepest gradient which horses could ascend, and runs partly along projecting walls of rock on the perpendicular face of the cliff, and then down the heaps of dbris, which are almost as steep. When one looks back at this part from below, it seems quite impossible that there could be any pathway; but by skilful windings the path has been carried down without any unconquerable difficulties, so that even loaded camels often go up and down.")

and it can hardly be thought of here, even if the enemy, like the Bedouins now when on their forays, may be supposed to have marched along the shore of the sea, and ascended to the table-land only at Engedi; for the Israelites did not meet the enemy in this ascent, but above upon the table-land. Josephus' translation of הצּיץ by ἐξοχή is also very questionable, for it is not necessary that the ה should be the article (Ew. Gesch. iii. S. 475, der 2Aufl.).

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