2 Kings 3:5
But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.
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(5) But.And.

When.—So some MSS. The ordinary text has, “about the time of Ahab’s death” (ke for be).

Rebelledi.e., refused payment of the annual tribute.

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.

5. king of Moab rebelled—This is a repetition of 2Ki 1:1, in order to introduce an account of the confederate expedition for crushing this revolt, which had been allowed to continue unchecked during the short reign of Ahaziah. See of this 2 Kings 1:1. It is here repeated to make way for the following story. Ahaziah did not attempt the recovery of Moab, either because he was a man of a low spirit and courage; or because his sickness, or the shortness of his reign, gave not opportunity for it. But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. Who then was Ahaziah; but either through the pusillanimity of his temper, or the sickness that attended him, or the shortness of his reign, he took no steps to the reduction of him, or to oblige him to pay his tribute, which he neglected to do, and is meant by his rebellion. But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.
5. when Ahab was dead] The sickness of Ahaziah had no doubt prevented him from taking any step during his brief reign to suppress the revolt of Moab. It is probable that during Ahaziah’s time all those reconquests, that are mentioned in the Mesha tablet, were made by the Moabites, the king of Israel being able to offer no resistance.The prophet then turned round and cursed the scoffers in the name of the Lord, and there came two bears out of the wood, and tore forty-two boys of them in pieces. The supposed "immorality of cursing," which Thenius still adduces as a disproof of the historical truth of this miracle, even if it were established, would not affect Elisha only, but would fall back upon the Lord God, who executed the curse of His servant in such a manner upon these worthless boys. And there is no need, in order to justify the judicial miracle, to assume that there was a preconcerted plan which had been devised by the chief rulers of the city out of enmity to the prophet of the Lord, so that the children had merely been put forward (O. v. Gerlach). All that is necessary is to admit that the worthless spirit which prevailed in Bethel was openly manifested in the ridicule of the children, and that these boys knew Elisha, and in his person insulted the prophet of the Lord. If this was the case, then Elisha cursed the boys for the purpose of avenging the honour of the Lord, which had been injured in his person; and the Lord caused this curse to be fulfilled, to punish in the children the sins of the parents, and to inspire the whole city with a salutary dread of His holy majesty.

(Note: Augustine, or the author of the Sermo 204 de Tempore (or Sermo 41 de Elisaeo in t. v. of the Opp. August., ed. J. P. Migne, p. 1826), which is attributed to him, gives a similar explanation. "The insolent boys," he says, "are to be supposed to have done this at the instigation of their parents; for they would not have called out if it had displeased their parents." And with regard to the object of the judicial punishment, he says it was inflicted "that the elders might receive a lesson through the smiting of the little ones, and the death of the sons might be a lesson to the parents; and that they might learn to fear the prophet, whom they would not love, notwithstanding the wonders which he performed.")

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