2 Chronicles 20:3
And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
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(3) And Jehoshaphat.And he was afraid (scil., at the news). And Jehoshaphat set his face, &c. Literally, put his face—a phrase used in Daniel 9:3 (comp. 2Kings 12:18), and implying resolved, determined.

To seek the Lord.—The Hebrew construction is that of 2Chronicles 15:13 (le is here a sign of the accusative).

Proclaimed a fast.—An act of national self-humiliation, implying an admission of guilt, and intended to evoke the Divine pity and succour. (Comp. Judges 20:26; Joel 2:12-17; 1Samuel 7:6; Ezra 8:21.)

2 Chronicles 20:3. Jehoshaphat feared — Partly from human frailty, and partly from the remembrance of his own guilt, and the wrath of God denounced against him for it, 2 Chronicles 19:2. And set himself to seek the Lord — The phrase denotes his settled resolution, seriousness, and earnestness in it, and the preparing and fixing of his heart for it. And proclaimed a fast — Partly in token of his humiliation and penitence for his sins, and partly to render himself and his people more fervent in their prayers. 20:1-13 In all dangers, public or personal, our first business should be to seek help from God. Hence the advantage of days for national fasting and prayer. From the first to the last of our seeking the Lord, we must approach him with humiliation for our sins, trusting only in his mercy and power. Jehoshaphat acknowledges the sovereign dominion of the Divine Providence. Lord, exert it on our behalf. Whom should we seek to, whom should we trust to for relief, but the God we have chosen and served. Those that use what they have for God, may comfortably hope he will secure it to them. Every true believer is a son of Abraham, a friend of God; with such the everlasting covenant is established, to such every promise belongs. We are assured of God's love, by his dwelling in human nature in the person of the Saviour. Jehoshaphat mentions the temple, as a token of God's favourable presence. He pleads the injustice of his enemies. We may well appeal to God against those that render us evil for good. Though he had a great army, he said, We have no might without thee; we rely upon thee.General fasts had been previously observed by the Israelites (e. g. Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6); but we do not hear of any fast having been "proclaimed" by authority before this. 3, 4. Jehoshaphat … proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah—Alarmed by the intelligence and conscious of his total inability to repel this host of invaders, Jehoshaphat felt his only refuge was at the horns of the altar. He resolved to employ the aid of his God, and, in conformity with this resolution, he summoned all his subjects to observe a solemn fast at the sanctuary. It was customary with the Hebrew kings to proclaim fasts in perilous circumstances, either in a city, a district, or throughout the entire kingdom, according to the greatness of the emergency. On this occasion, it was a universal fast, which extended to infants (2Ch 20:13; see also Joe 2:15, 16; Jon 3:7). Jehoshaphat feared; partly from human frailty, and partly from the remembrance of his own guilt, and the wrath of God denounced against him for it, 2 Chronicles 19:2.

Set himself to seek the Lord: the phrase notes his settled resolution, seriousness, and earnestness in it, and the preparing and fixing his heart for it.

Proclaimed a fast; partly in token of his humiliation and penitence for his sins, and partly to make himself and his people more fervent in their prayers. And Jehoshaphat feared,.... Exceedingly, as the Targum adds, not merely because of the number of his enemies, for he had forces enough to go forth against them, see 2 Chronicles 17:14, but chiefly because the Lord had told him that wrath was upon him from him, 2 Chronicles 19:2 and he might fear that this was the time for the execution of it:

and set himself to seek the Lord; by prayer and supplication, with all seriousness, fervour, and constancy:

and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah; a day of humiliation and mourning for sin before the Lord; when they were ordered to abstain from bodily food and labour, that they might be fit and more at leisure for spiritual exercises.

And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself {c} to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

(c) This declares what the fear of the godly is, which is the prick to stir them to prayer and to depend on the Lord, while it moves the wicked either to seek after worldly means and policies or else to fall into despair.

3. set himself to seek the Lord] Render, set his face to seek unto the LORD.

proclaimed a fast] A fast involved the assembling of the people; 1 Kings 21:9; 1 Kings 21:12; Jeremiah 36:6; Jeremiah 36:9; Joel 2:15. Special fasts were proclaimed for war, famine, or any other calamity or serious event.Verse 3. - Proclaimed a fast. This is the first recorded occasion of a general fast by royal proclamation, and of individual fasting it is remarkable that there is no record before the time and the act of Moses (as e.g. Exodus 34:28); after which, for individual fasting, come occasions like those of David (2 Samuel 12:16) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:8); for general fasting, occasions like those of Joshua 7:6; Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6; and for partial fasting, by semi-royal authority, that "proclaimed" by Jezebel (1 Kings 21:9, 12). Besides this, Jehoshaphat established at Jerusalem a supreme tribunal for the decision of difficult cases, which the judges of the individual cities could not decide. 2 Chronicles 19:8. "Moreover, in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set certain of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chiefs of the fathers'-houses of Israel, for the judgment of the Lord, and for controversies (לריב)." From this clause Berth. correctly draws the conclusion, that as in Jerusalem, so also in the fenced cities (2 Chronicles 19:5), it was Levites, priests, and heads of the fathers'-houses who were made judges. This conclusion is not inconsistent with the fact that David appointed 6000 of the Levites to be shoterim and judges; for it does not follow from that that none but Levites were appointed judges, but only that the Levites were to perform an essential part in the administration of the law. The foundation of the judicial body in Israel was the appointment of judges chosen from the elders of the people (Exodus 18:21.; Deuteronomy 1:15.) by Moses, at Jethro's instigation, and under the divine sanction, David had no intention, by his appointment of some thousands of Levites to be officials (writers) and judges, to set aside the Mosaic arrangement; on the contrary, he thereby gave it the expansion which the advanced development of the kingdom required. For the simple relationships of the Mosaic time, the appointment of elders to be judges might have been sufficient; but when in the course of time, especially after the introduction of the kingship, the social and political relations became more complicated, it is probable that the need of appointing men with special skill in law, to co-operate with the judges chosen from among the elders, in order that justice might be administered in a right way, and in a manner corresponding to the law, made itself increasingly felt; that consequently David had felt himself called upon to appoint a greater number of Levites to this office, and that from that time forward the courts in the larger cities were composed of Levites and elders. The supreme court which Jehoshaphat set up in Jerusalem was established on a similar basis. For יהוה למשׁפּט we have in 2 Chronicles 19:11 דּבר־יהוה לכל, i.e., for all matters connected with religion and the worship and instead of קריב we have המּלך דּבר לכל, for every matter of the king, i.e., for all civil causes. The last clause, 2 Chronicles 19:8, ירוּשׁלים ויּשׁבוּ, cannot signify that the men called to this supreme tribunal went to Jerusalem to dwell there thenceforth (Ramb., etc.), or that the suitors went thither; for שׁוּב does not denote to betake oneself to a place, but to return, which cannot be said of the persons above named, since it is not said that they had left Jerusalem. With Kimchi and others, we must refer the words to the previous statement in 2 Chronicles 19:4, וגו בּעם ויּצא, and understand them as a supplementary statement, that Jehoshaphat and those who had gone forth with him among the people returned to Jerusalem, which would have come in more fittingly at the close of 2 Chronicles 19:7, and is to be rendered: "when they had returned to Jerusalem." The bringing in of this remark at so late a stage of the narrative, only after the establishment of the supreme tribunal has been mentioned, is explained by supposing that the historian was induced by the essential connection between the institution of the supreme court and the arrangement of the judicatories in the provincial cities, to leave out of consideration the order of time in describing the arrangements made by Jehoshaphat.
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