2 Kings 3:4
And Mesha king of Moab was a sheep master, and rendered to the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.
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(4) The revolt of Moab, continued from 2Kings 1:1. Ahaziah did not reign two full years, and his accident seems to have prevented any attempt on his part to reduce the Moabites.

Mesha.—The name means “deliverance, salvation,” and occurs on the monument set up by this king, describing his victories and buildings. (See Note on 2Kings 1:1.)

A sheep-master.—Heb., nôqēd (Amos 1:1). In Arabic, naqad means a kind of sheep of superior wool; naqqâd, the owner or shepherd of such sheep. The land of Moab is mountainous, but well watered, and rich in fertile valleys, and thus specially suited for pasture; and the Arabian wilderness lay open to the Moabite shepherds and their flocks.

Rendered.Used to render (waw conversive of the perfect); scil., year by year. This tribute is referred to in Isaiah 16:1.

With the wool.—Rather, in wool (an accusative of limitation). The word rendered “lambs” (kārîm) means lambs fatted for food. The expression “in wool,” therefore, relates only to the rams. Mesha’s annual tribute was paid in kind, and consisted of a hundred thousand fatted lambs and the fleeces of a hundred thousand rams. This was a heavy burden for a country no larger than the county of Huntingdon. (Comp. Mesha’s own allusions to the “oppression” of Moab by Omri and Ahab, 2Kings 1:1, Note.) The LXX. adds, ἐν τῇ ἐπαναστάσει (“in the revolt”); implying that the present rebellion was distinct from that of 2Kings 1:1, and that this tribute was imposed as an indemnity for the former revolt. The addition is probably due to a transcriber.

2 Kings 3:4. Mesha, king of Moab, was a sheep-master — The riches, not only of private men, but also of kings, in ancient times, consisted much in sheep and cattle. And this king of Moab had abundance of them, which imboldened and enabled him to rebel against his sovereign. And rendered to the king of Israel a hundred thousand lambs, &c. — This was a prodigious number, and as they were rendered unshorn, they were the more valuable. But we are to consider that these countries abounded with sheep; insomuch that Solomon offered one hundred and twenty thousand at the dedication of the temple, 2 Chronicles 7:5; and the Reubenites drove from the Hagarenes one hundred and fifty thousand, 1 Chronicles 5:7.3:1-5 Jehoram took warning by God's judgment, and put away the image of Baal, yet he maintained the worship of the calves. Those do not truly repent or reform, who only part with the sins they lose by, but continue to love the sins that they think to gain by.Moab, the region immediately east of the Dead Sea and of the lower Jordan, though in part suited for agriculture, is in the main a great grazing country. Mesha resembled a modern Arab Sheikh, whose wealth is usually estimated by the number of his flocks and herds. His tribute of the wool of 100, 000 lambs was a tribute in kind, the ordinary tribute at this time in the East.

Mesha is the monarch who wrote the inscription on the "Moabite stone" (2 Kings 1:1 note). The points established by the Inscription are:

1. That Moab recovered from the blow dealt by David 2 Samuel 8:2, 2 Samuel 8:12, and became again an independent state in the interval between David's conquest and the accession of Omri;

2. That Omri reconquered the country, and that it then became subject to the northern kingdom, and remained so throughout his reign and that of his son Ahab, and into the reign of Ahab's son and successor, Ahaziah;

3. That the independence was regained by means of a war, in which Mesha took town after town from the Israelites, including in his conquests many of the towns which, at the original occupation of the holy land, had passed into the possession of the Reubenites or the Gadites, as Baal-Meon Numbers 32:38, Kirjathaim Numbers 32:37, Ataroth Numbers 32:34, Nebo Numbers 32:38, Jahaz Joshua 13:18, etc.;

4. That the name of Yahweh was well known to the Moabites as that of the God of the Israelites; and

5. That there was a sanctuary of Yahweh at Nebo, in the Trans-Jordanic territory, where "vessels" were used in His service.

2Ki 3:4, 5. Mesha, King of Moab, Rebels.

4-6. Mesha king of Moab, &c.—As his dominions embraced an extensive pasture country, he paid, as annual tribute, the wool of a hundred thousand lambs and a hundred thousand rams. It is still common in the East to pay custom and taxes in the fruits or natural produce of the land.

A sheep-master; a man of great wealth, (which in those times and places consisted much in cattle,) which enabled and emboldened him to rebel against his sovereign lord. And Mesha king of Moab was a sheep master,.... With which his country abounded; he kept great numbers of them, and shepherds to take care of them; he traded in them, and got great riches by them; his substance chiefly consisted in them:

and rendered unto the king of Israel: either as a present, or as an annual tribute:

an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool; that is, upon them, unshorn, and so the more valuable; and it was usual for tributary nations to pay their tribute to those to whom they were subject in such commodities which they most abounded with; so the Cappadocians, as Strabo (c) relates, used to pay, as a tribute to the Persians, every year, 1500 horses and 2000 mules, and five myriads of sheep, or 50,000; and formerly, Pliny (d) says, the only tribute was from the pastures.

(c) Geograph. l. 11. p. 362. (d) Nat. Hist. l. 18. c. 3.

And {c} Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.

(c) This was done after David had made the Moabites tributaries to his successors.

4. And Mesha king of Moab] This name for the king of Moab occurs in the first line of the Moabite stone. In that inscription the Moabite king mentions his successes against Omri and Omri’s successor and speaks of forty years as the time during which the conflict between Israel and Moab continued. Now Omri reigned six years (1 Kings 16:23) and Ahab’s reign lasted twenty-two years (1 Kings 16:29) while Ahaziah reigned one or two years more. Thus the whole period of forty years would not be covered unless we take in the reign of Jehoram. The Moabite inscription naturally represents only the Moabite successes, but the Scripture narrative shews that the victory over Omri had been followed by a defeat in the days of Ahab.

a sheepmaster] The LXX. transliterates the word writing Νωκήδ. It occurs only here and in Amos 1:1. The other Greek versions and the Targum give the meaning. The Moabite country by its character, valleys with fertile hill-sides and streams of water running through them, was eminently suited for a pastoral people; and from the nature of the tribute imposed it seems likely that all the wealth of the Moabites was in their cattle.

rendered unto the king of Israel] At the division of the kingdoms, Moab would fall to the share of the ten tribes, as it joined on to the south of the tribe of Reuben. Perhaps the tribute at first had not been so heavy as is here described, but had been increased on account of the struggles of Moab to throw off their yoke.

an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool] R.V. the wool of an hundred thousand lambs, and of an hundred thousand rams. There is nothing in the Hebrew for ‘with’. The construction is: ‘he rendered these animals, the wool’. So that it seems best to take the last word as explanatory of what has preceded, and to understand that what the Moabite king gave of these numerous animals was the fleece only. The LXX. understood it so, and gives ἐπὶ πόκων, as we might say fleece-wise. That version however adds in the verse, without any warrant of the original, ἐν τῇ ἐπαναστάσει = in the revolt, as if to explain that this large payment had been made only on one occasion. But this is wholly without evidence, and the Hebrew would lead us to think that the payment was made every year, and this is implied in Isaiah 16:1, ‘Send ye the lamb’, i.e. the tribute of lambs. This being so, it is more likely that the fleeces were sent than the live stock. Indeed there would be little meaning in adding ‘the wool’ if the flocks were to be sent alive. It should be mentioned however that Josephus supports the A.V. saying μνριάδας εἴκοσι προβάτων σὺν τοῖς πόκοις.Verses 4-27. - THE WAR WITH MOAB. The historian goes back to the origin of the war. He had already, in 2 Kings 1:1, mentioned the revolt of Moab at the death of Ahab; but he now recalls his readers' attention to the fact, and to some extent explains it and accounts for it. Moab had been treated oppressively - had been forced to pay an extraordinarily heavy tribute - and was in a certain sense driven into rebellion (vers. 4, 5). Jehoram, when he came to the kingdom, determined to make a great effort to put the rebellion down, and to re-establish the authority of Israel over the revolted people His relations with Jehoshaphat of Israel were so close that he had no difficulty in persuading him to join in the war. He was also able to obtain the alliance of the King of Edom. Thus strengthened, he made no doubt of being successful, and confidently invaded the country (vers. 6-9). The course of the war is then related (vers. 10-27). The judgment of God upon the loose fellows at Bethel. Elisha proceeded from Jericho to Bethel, the chief seat of the idolatrous calf-worship, where there was also a school of the prophets (2 Kings 2:3). On the way thither there came small boys out of the city to meet him, who ridiculed him by calling out, "Come up, bald-head, come," etc. קרח, bald-head (with a bald place at the back of the head), was used as a term of scorn (cf. Isaiah 3:17, Isaiah 3:24); but hardly from a suspicion of leprosy (Winer, Thenius). It was rather as a natural defect, for Elisha, who lived for fifty years after this (2 Kings 13:14), could not have been bald from age at that time.
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