2 Kings 3:10
And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!
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(10) That.—Omit (, emphatically introducing the assertion).


2 Kings 3:10-11. The king of Israel said, Alas, &c. — He did not cry to God for help, but only bewailed the straits into which they were fallen; which his own guilt made him imagine God had brought to pass for their destruction. Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet — This he should have asked before, when they first undertook the expedition, as he did in a like case, (1 Kings 22:5,) and for that neglect he now suffers; but better late than never: his affliction brings him to the remembrance of his former sin, and present duty. Here is Elisha, who poured water, &c. — Who was his servant: this being one office of a servant: and this office was the more necessary among the Israelites, because of the frequent washings which their law required. Probably it was by a special direction from God that Elisha followed them, unasked, unobserved. Thus does God prevent us with the blessings of his goodness, and provide for those who provide not for themselves.

3:6-19 The king of Israel laments their distress, and the danger they were in. He called these kings together, yet he charges it upon Providence. Thus the foolishness of man perverteth his way, and then his heart fretteth against the Lord, Pr 19:3. It was well that Jehoshaphat inquired of the Lord now, but it had been much better if he had done it before he engaged in this war. Good men sometimes neglect their duty, till necessity and affliction drive them to it. Wicked people often fare the better for the friendship and society of the godly. To try their faith and obedience, Elisha bids them make the valley full of pits to receive water. Those who expect God's blessings, must dig pools for the rain to fill, as in the valley of Baca, and thus make even that a well, Ps 84:6. We need not inquire whence the water came. God is not tied to second causes. They that sincerely seek for the dew of God's grace, shall have it, and by it be made more than conquerors.Seven days' journey - The distance of the route probably followed is not much more than 100 miles. But the difficulties of the way are great; and the army might not be able to move along it at a faster rate than about 15 miles a day.

No water - The kings had probably expected to find sufficient water for both men and baggage animals in the Wady-el-Ahsy, which divides Edom from Moab, and which has a stream that is now regarded as perennial. But it was dried up - quite a possible occurrence with any of the streams of this region.

8-12. Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom—This was a long and circuitous route, by the southern bend of the Dead Sea. Jehoshaphat however preferred it, partly because the part of the Moabite territory at which they would arrive, was the most defenseless; and partly because he would thereby enlist, in the expedition, the forces of the king of Edom. But, in penetrating the deep, rocky valley of Ahsy, which forms the boundary between Edom and Moab, the confederate army was reduced, both man and beast, to the greatest extremities for want of water. They were disappointed by finding the wady of this valley, the brook Zered (De 2:13-18) [Robinson], dry. Jehoram was in despair. But the pious mind of Jehoshaphat inquired for a prophet of the Lord; and, on being informed that Elisha was at hand, the three kings "went down to him"; that is, to his tent, which was either in the camp, or close by it. He had been directed thither by the Spirit of God for this special purpose. They went to him, not only as a mark of respect, but to supplicate for his assistance. So he chargeth his calamity upon God; and not upon himself, whose sins were the true and proper causes of it.

And the king of Israel said, alas!.... Lamenting their sad case, as being desperate; and the rather he was the more concerned, as he was the principal who had drawn the other kings into this affair, though he throws it upon the Lord and his providence:

that the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hands of Moab; into whose hands they must inevitably fall, if they could have no water to refresh them; since they would be so weak as not to be able to stand a battle with them, and be dispersed here and there in search of water, and so fall into their hands. Extreme thirst is intolerable. It is reported (e) of Lysimachus, that he delivered himself and his army into the hands of the enemy for a draught of water. Leo Africanus (f) relates, that in the desert of Azaoad stand two marble pillars, testifying that a rich merchant bought of a carrier of wares a cup of water at the price of 10,000 ducats; but there not being water sufficient neither for the one nor the other, they were both died with thirst.

(e) Plutarch. in Apothegm. (f) Descriptio Africae, l. 1. p. 75.

And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!
10. Alas, that [R.V. for] the Lord hath called] Thus R.V. conforms to the rendering of A.V. in verse 13. The lamentation is caused by what Jehoram thinks will be their fate. And the conjunction, which can be rendered ‘for’ or ‘that’ seems to be here used to express the ground for the lament. Josephus makes Jehoram cry unto God, asking of what evil they had been guilty that He had brought them thither to give them up without a battle into the hand of Moab.

Verse 10. - And the King of Israel said, Alas! that the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab! Jehoram first assumes, without warrant, that the expedition is one which Jehovah has sanctioned, and then complains that it is about to fail utterly. As he had made no attempt to learn God's will on the subject at the mouth of any prophet, he had no ground for surprise or complaint, even had the peril been as great as he supposed. God had not "called the three kings together;" they had come together of their own accord, guided by their own views of earthly policy. Yet God was not about to "deliver them into the hands of Moab," as in strict justice he might have done. He was about to deliver the three kings from their peril. 2 Kings 3:10But however cleverly this plan may have been contrived, when the united army had been marching round for seven days and was passing through the deep rocky valley of the Ahsy,

(Note: The usual route from southern Judaea to the land of the Moabites, which even the Crusaders and more recent travellers took, runs round the Dead Sea up to the mouth of the Wady ed Deraah or Kerak, and then up this wady to Kerak (vid., Rob. ii. p. 231). The allied kings did not take this route however, but went through the Wady el Kurahy or es-Safieh, which opens into the southern end of the Dead Sea, and which is called the Wady el Ahsy farther up in the mountains, by Seetzen (R. ii. pp. 355,356) erroneously the Wady el Hssa (Rob. ii. p. 488), a ravine through which Burckhardt passed with the greatest difficulty (Syrien, ii. p. 673). That they advanced by this route is a necessary inference from the fact, that when they first suffered from want of water they were on the border of the Moabitish territory, of which this very wady forms the boundary (2 Kings 3:21; see Burckh. p. 674, and Rob. Pal. ii. p. 555), and the water came flowing from Edom (2 Kings 3:20). Neither of these circumstances is applicable to the Wady el Kerak. - Still less can we assume, with O. v. Gerlach, that they chose the route through the Arabah that they might approach Moab from the south, as the Israelites under Moses had done. For it would have been impossible for them to reach the border of Moab by this circuitous route. And why should they go so far round, with the way through Edom open to them?)

which divided the territories of Edom and Moab, it was in the greatest danger of perishing from want of water for men and cattle, as the river which flows through this valley, and in which they probably hoped to find a sufficient supply of water, since according to Robinson (Pal. ii. pp. 476 and 488) it is a stream which never fails, was at that time perfectly dry.

In this distress the hearts of the two kings were manifested. - 2 Kings 3:10-12. Joram cried out in his despair: "Woe, that Jehovah has called these three kings, to give them into the hand of Moab!" (כּי, that, serves to give emphasis to the assurance; see Ewald, 330, b.) Jehoshaphat, on the other hand, had confidence in the Lord, and inquired whether there was no prophet there, through whom they could seek counsel of the Lord (as in 1 Kings 22:7); whereupon one of the servants of the Israelitish king answered that Elisha was there, who had poured water upon the hands of Elijah, i.e., had been with him daily as his servant, and therefore could probably obtain and give a revelation from god. Elisha may perhaps have come to the neighbourhood of the army at the instigation of the Spirit of God, because the distress of the kings was to be one means in the hand of the Lord, not only of distinguishing the prophet in the eyes of Joram, but also of pointing Joram to the Lord as the only true God. The three kings, humbled by the calamity, went in person to Elisha, instead of sending for him.

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