2 Kings 3:9
So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days' journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.
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(9) The king of Edom.—A vassal king appointed by Jehoshaphat (1Kings 22:48).

They fetched a compass.Went round (scil., the Dead Sea) a journey of seven days. The confederates appear to have lost their way among the mountains of Seir. They would, in any case, be greatly delayed by the cattle which it was necessary to take with them for subsistence. It is evident from the context that the distress began after the Edomite contingent had joined.

For the host, and for the cattle that followed them.—The stopping is wrong. It should be, and there was not water for the army and for the cattle which followed them. “Them,” i.e., the kings. (Comp. Judges 5:15.) “The cattle,” i.e., the herds and flocks for the maintenance of the army.

The allies appear to have marched through the deep, rocky glen of El-Ahsy (or El-Qurâhy), between Moab and Edom. They expected to find water there, as is usually the case, even in the dry season; but on this occasion the water failed.

2 Kings 3:9. The king of Edom — Properly speaking, there was no king at this time in Edom, as we read in the last chapter of the foregoing book, 1 Kings 22:47; but the viceroy, under Jehoshaphat, is here called king, that word being often used for any prince or chief ruler. Of seven days’ journey — Because they made a great army, which could move but slowly; and they fetched a greater compass than usual, that they might come upon the backs of the Moabites, where they did not expect them, or for some other advantage which they hoped to reap by it. There was no water for the host — A frequent want in those parts; and now, it seems, increased by the extraordinary heat and dryness of the season. And for the cattle that followed them — Which drew their carriages.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. The king of Edom, i.e. the viceroy under Jehoshaphat, 1 Kings 22:47, here called king; either because he was so called and accounted by his own people, or because that word is sometimes used for any prince or chief ruler. See Deu 33:5 Judges 18:1 21:25 1 Kings 20:1.

They fetched a compass, because they made a great army, which could move but slowly; and they fetched a greater compass than was usual, for some advantage which they expected by it.

There was no water; a frequent want in those hot and desert parts; and now, as it seems, increased by the extraordinary heat and dryness of the season. So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah,.... The way of the wilderness of Edom, proposed by the latter:

and the king of Edom; whom they took with them in their way, who was not properly a king, but a viceroy or deputy, see 1 Kings 22:47.

and they fetched a compass of seven days journey; they went round the Dead Sea, and through the wilderness of Edom, and so to the borders of Moab:

and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them; neither for the soldiers in the army, nor the cattle that drew the carriages, being in a wilderness.

So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the {e} king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days' journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.

(e) Meaning the viceroy, or lieutenant of the king of Judah, 1Ki 22:47.

9. So the king of Israel went] Josephus (Ant. IX. 3. 1) tells how Jehoram and his army were hospitably and magnificently received in Jerusalem before they started on their march.

and the king of Edom] The same author says that along with his own promise of help, Jehoshaphat had pledged himself to compel the king of Edom, his subject, to take part in the expedition. So by going this way the army not only found an uninterrupted line of march but additional forces also.

and they fetcht a compass [R.V. made a circuit] of seven days’ journey] This old English phrase for taking a roundabout road is found here and 2 Samuel 5:23; Acts 28:13. It is not easy to see why they should have gone so long a way about, when the country through which they were passing belonged to one of the allied kings. It might perhaps be necessary for the sake of finding provender. Josephus says that their guides led them wrong, but this is highly improbable. There must have been many persons among the Edomites who were familiar enough with all the ways into the neighbouring country of Moab.

and for the cattle] R.V. beasts. This change is made that there may be uniformity of rendering between this verse and verse 17.Verse 9. - So the King of Israel went - as leader of the expedition, he is placed first - and the King of Judah - the second in importance, therefore placed second - and the King of Edom - the third in importance, therefore placed last. It is to be remarked that, when Edom was last mentioned, she was ruled by a "deputy," who received his appointment from the King of Judah (1 Kings 22:47). Now, apparently, she has her own native "king." The change is, perhaps, to be connected with the temporary revolt of Edom hinted at in 2 Chronicles 20:22. And they fetched a compass of seven days' journey. The distance from Jerusalem, where the forces of Israel and Judah probably united, to the southern borders of Moab by way of Hebron, Malatha, and Thamara, which is the best-watered route, and would probably be the route taken, does not much exceed a hundred miles; but its difficulties are great, and it is quite probable that the march of an army along it would not average more than fifteen miles a day. And there was no water for the host. The confederate army had reached the border of Moab, where they had probably expected to find water in the Wady-el-Ahsy, which is reckoned a perennial stream (Robinson, 'Researches,' vol. it. p. 488); but it was dry at the time. All the streams of these parts fail occasionally, when there has been no rain for a long time. And for the cattle that followed them; rather, .for the beasts that followed them (see the Revised Version). The baggage-animals are intended (see ver. 17). Reign of Joram of Israel. - For the chronological statement in 2 Kings 3:1, see at 2 Kings 1:17. Joram or Jehoram was not so ungodly as his father Ahab and his Mother Jezebel. He had the statue or pillar of Baal, which his father had erected in Samaria, removed; and it was only to the sin of Jeroboam, i.e., the calf-worship, that he adhered. Joram therefore wished to abolish the worship of Baal and elevate the worship of Jehovah, under the image of the calf (ox), into the region of his kingdom once more. For the singular suffix ממּנּה see Ewald, 317, a. He did not succeed, however, in exterminating the worship of Baal. It not only continued in Samaria, but appears to have been carried on again in the most shameless manner (cf. 2 Kings 10:18.); at which we cannot be surprised, since his mother Jezebel, that fanatical worshipper of Baal, was living throughout the whole of his reign (2 Kings 9:30).
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