2 Chronicles 20:5
And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
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(5) And Jehoshaphat stood.—Comp. 2Chronicles 6:12-13.

Judah and Jerusalem.—So 2Chronicles 20:27. Jerusalem is thus mentioned side by side with the country, as being by far the most important part of it. (See also the headings of Isaiah 1, 2)

Before the new court.—This name, “the New Court,” only occurs here. It probably designates the “Great” (2Chronicles 4:9) or outer court of the Temple, in which the people assembled. Jehoshaphat stood facing the people, in front of the entrance to the Court of the Priests. Perhaps the court was called New, as having been recently repaired or enlarged. Syr. and Arab., “before the new gate.”

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.The new court - In Solomon's Temple there were two courts. One of these had probably been renovated by Jehoshaphat or by his father, Asa 2 Chronicles 15:8, and was known as "the new court." 5-13. Jehoshaphat stood … in the house of the Lord, before the new court—that is, the great or outer court (2Ch 4:9) called the new court, probably from having been at that time enlarged or beautified. In the house of the Lord, largely so called, i.e. in one of the courts of the temple, even in the court of the people, and upon that brazen scaffold which Solomon had erected for such a purpose, 2 Chronicles 6:13.

Before the new court, i.e. besides and before the priests’ court; for there were but two courts belonging to the temple, as is noted 2 Kings 21:5 23:12. And Jehoshaphat stood in the one, which must be that of the people; and before the other, which therefore can be no other than that of the priests’, which is called the new court, because it had been lately renewed when the altar was renewed, 2 Chronicles 15:8, as the command of love is called a new command, John 13:34 1Jo 2:8, because it was so solemnly renewed, and revived, and reinforced by Christ. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord,.... In the temple, in the court of the people, where the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem were assembled, in the midst of which he stood very probably on the brasen scaffold erected by Solomon, 2 Chronicles 6:13,

before the new court: which must be the court of the priests, for he stood in the great court, or court of the people, and before this, which might be so called, because renewed or repaired when the altar was by Asa, 2 Chronicles 15:8. Dr. Lightfoot (t) thinks it was the court of the women; but it is a question whether there was any such court in the first temple; or that the great court was then divided into two, one for the men, the other for the women.

(t) Prospect of the Temple, ch 18. p. 1090.

And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
5. stood] Rather, rose up.

before the new court] The Temple of Solomon seems to have differed in respect of its courts from the Second Temple; and it is difficult to tell of what court the Chronicler is thinking in this passage. The Heb. word for “court” here is ḥâçer, but in 2 Chronicles 4:9 (see note there) the “court (ḥâççr) of the priests” is distinguished from a court called the “great court” (Heb. “great Azârâh”). Perhaps the Chronicler means here “the ḥâççr of the priests” for Jehoshaphat stands not in but before it. Solomon’s great prayer was offered according to the Chronicler (2 Chronicles 6:13) in “the court” (Heb. Azârâh).

5–13 (no parallel in Kings). The Prayer of Jehoshaphat

This prayer should be compared with Solomon’s (2 Chronicles 6:14 ff.).Verse 5. - The new court (see 2 Chronicles 4:9; 2 Chronicles 15:8). 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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