2 Chronicles 20:4
And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) To ask.—Literally, to seek (baqqēsh, a synonym of dārash. 2Chronicles 20:2) from Jehovah; scil., help, which Authorised Version rightly supplies.

Even out of all the cities of Judah.—Emphasising the fact that the gathering in the Temple represented the whole nation. Syriac and Arabic, “and even from the distant cities.”

2 Chronicles 20:4-5. Judah gathered themselves together — The people readily assembled, out of all the cities of Judah, in the court of the temple, to join in fasting and prayer to the Lord for help in this time of great danger and distress. And Jehoshaphat stood in the house of the Lord — Largely so called, that is, in the court of the people, upon that brazen scaffold which Solomon had erected. Before the new court — Before the priest’s court; which is called the new court, because it had lately been renewed when the altar was renewed.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). No text from Poole on this verse. And Judah gathered themselves together to ask help of the Lord,.... To implore his assistance against their enemies, and his protection of them; and they met not in their several cities, but at Jerusalem, as appears by what follows:

even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord; at the temple, where was the ark, the symbol of his presence.

And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. to ask help] R.V. to seek help.Verse 4. - This verse expresses the response of all the kingdom to the proclamation of Jehoshaphat. To the members of the superior tribunal also, Jehoshaphat gave orders to exercise their office in the fear of the Lord, with fidelity and with upright heart (שׁלם בּלבב, corde s. animo integro, cf. 2 Chronicles 15:17; 2 Chronicles 16:9). תעשׂוּן כּה, thus shall ye do; what they are to do being stated only in 2 Chronicles 19:10. The w before כּל־ריב is explicative, namely, and is omitted by the lxx and Vulg. as superfluous. "Every cause which comes to you from your brethren who dwell in their cities" (and bring causes before the superior court in the following cases): between blood and blood (בּין with ל following, as in Genesis 1:6, etc.), i.e., in criminal cases of murder and manslaughter, and between law and between command, statutes, and judgments, i.e., in cases where the matter concerns the interpretation and application of the law, and its individual commands, statutes, and judgments, to particular crimes; wherever, in short, there is any doubt by what particular provision of the law the case in hand should be decided. With והזהרתּם the apodosis commences, but it is an anacolouthon. Instead of "ye shall give them instruction therein," we have, "ye shall teach them (those who bring the cause before you), that they incur not guilt, and an anger (i.e., God's anger and punishment) come upon you and your brethren" (cf. 2 Chronicles 19:2). הזהיר, properly to illuminate, metaphorically to teach, with the additional idea of exhortation or warning. The word is taken from Exodus 18:20, and there is construed c. accus. pers. et rei. This construction is here also the underlying one, since the object which precedes in the absolute is to be taken as accus.: thus, and as regards every cause, ye shall teach them concerning it. After the enumeration of the matters falling within the jurisdiction of this court, תעשׂוּן כּה is repeated, and this precept is then pressed home upon the judges by the words, "that ye incur not guilt." Thereafter (in 2 Chronicles 19:11) Jehoshaphat nominates the spiritual and civil presidents of this tribunal: for spiritual causes the high priest Amariah, who is not the same as the Amariah mentioned after Zadok as the fifth high priest (1 Chronicles 6:11); in civil causes Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the prince of the house of Judah, i.e., tribal prince of Judah. These shall be עליכם over you, i.e., presidents of the judges; and שׁטרים, writers, shall the Levites be לפניכם, before you, i.e., as your assistants and servants. Jehoshaphat concludes the nomination of the judicial staff with the encouraging words, "Be strong (courageous) and do," i.e., go to work with good heart, "and the Lord be with the good," i.e., with him who discharges the duties of his office well.

The establishment of this superior court was in form, indeed, the commencement of a new institution; but in reality it was only the expansion or firmer organization of a court of final appeal already provided by Moses, the duties of which had been until then performed partly by the high priest, partly by the existing civil heads of the people (the judges and kings). When Moses, at Horeb, set judges over the people, he commanded them to bring to him the matters which were too difficult for them to decide, that he might settle them according to decisions obtained of God (Exodus 18:26 and Exodus 18:19). At a later time he ordained (Deuteronomy 17:8.) that for the future the judges in the various districts and cities should bring the more difficult cases to the Levitic priests and the judge at the place where the central sanctuary was, and let them be decided by them. In thus arranging, he presupposes that Israel would have at all times not only a high priest who might ascertain the will of God by means of the Urim and Thummim, but also a supreme director of its civil affairs at the place of the central sanctuary, who, in common with the priests, i.e., the high priest, would give decisions in cases of final appeal (see the commentary on Deuteronomy 17:8-13). On the basis of these Mosaic arrangements, Jehoshaphat set up a supreme court in Jerusalem, with the high priest and a lay president at its head, for the decision of causes which up till that time the king, either alone with the cooperation of the high priest, had decided. For further information as to this supreme court, see in my bibl. Archol. ii. S. 250f.

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