2 Chronicles 20
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.
1. other beside the Ammonites] Render, some of the Meunim (2 Chronicles 26:7; 1 Chronicles 4:41, R.V.). In all three places LXX. has Μειναῖοι (Μιναῖοι). They were an Arabian people whose name seems to be preserved in that of Ma‘în, a village (south-east of Petra) on the pilgrim route between Damascus and Mecca. Bädeker, p. 144. The Minaeans have been supposed to be a very ancient people, but the only dated inscription coming from them with which we are acquainted belongs to the reign of one of the Ptolemies and cannot be earlier than circ. 300 b.c.

Ch. 2 Chronicles 20:1-4 (no parallel in Kings). The Invasion of the Moabites and their Allies

For a discussion of the historical probabilities of the following account see Introduction, § 8, and G. A. Smith, Hist. Geography, pp. 272, 3.

Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.
2. on this side Syria] R.V. from Syria (so LXX.). The text is corrupt, and the words are either a gloss on from beyond the sea or a corruption of the original reading. From Edom is an easy correction.

which is En-gedi] R.V. (the same is En-gedi). Cp. G. A. Smith, Hist. Geography as quoted above, and Bädeker p. 140. En-gedi is on the west coast of the Dead Sea at a point where a rugged pass leads up into the hill-country of Judah.

Hazazon-tamar] Genesis 14:7. The name seems to describe the place as stony and as containing palm-trees. It is in fact an oasis.

And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
3. set himself to seek the Lord] Render, set his face to seek unto the LORD.

proclaimed a fast] A fast involved the assembling of the people; 1 Kings 21:9; 1 Kings 21:12; Jeremiah 36:6; Jeremiah 36:9; Joel 2:15. Special fasts were proclaimed for war, famine, or any other calamity or serious event.

And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
4. to ask help] R.V. to seek help.

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.).

And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
6. O Lord God] R.V. O LORD, the God; cp. 2 Chronicles 21:10; 2 Chronicles 21:12.

art not thou God] cp. Joshua 2:11.

rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen?] R.V. art not thou ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Cp. Psalm 22:28.

is there not power] R.V. is power. Cp. 2 Chronicles 14:11 (Asa’s prayer).

Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?
7. Art not thou our God, who didst drive out] R.V. Didst not thou, O our God, drive out. Cp. Deuteronomy 9:5.

thy friend] Cp. Isaiah 41:8.

And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,
If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.
9. If, when evil cometh] R.V. If evil come.

as the sword, judgment] Omit as and render with R.V. mg. the sword of judgement (cp. Ezekiel 14:17).

we stand before this house, and in thy presence] R.V. we will stand before this house, and before thee.

then thou wilt hear and help] R.V. and thou wilt hear and save.

And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;
10. mount Seir] Here and in 2 Chronicles 20:23 in the enumeration of the allied peoples “Mount Seir” takes the place of the “Meunim” of 2 Chronicles 20:1, yet no doubt the same contingent is meant. Mount Seir was indeed part of the territory of the Edomites, and the Meunim (Minaeans) were Arabians, but the two peoples were cognate and moreover were neighbours, so that Minaean invaders would probably bring along with them Edomite kinsmen in passing through Mount Seir. Mount Seir extended from the south of the Dead Sea to the head of the Gulf of Akaba.

whom thou wouldest not etc.] Cp. Deuteronomy 2:4-5; Deuteronomy 2:9; Deuteronomy 2:19; see also Numbers 20:14-21.

but they turned] R.V. but they turned aside.

Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.
11. thy possession] A “possession” means that which one takes possession of by the sword. Canaan is God’s “possession” because it was conquered by His arm (Psalm 44:3).

O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
12. our eyes are upon thee] Cp. 2 Chronicles 14:11.

And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
13. their little ones … and their children] Cp. 2 Chronicles 31:18, “their little ones … and their sons and their daughters.” “Little ones” (Heb. ṭaph) seems always to mean quite small children.

Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;
14–19 (no parallel in Kings). The Prophecy of Jahaziel

14. Jahaziel] Nothing is known of him beyond that which is recorded of him in this chapter. His name is significant (“God giveth visions”).

And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.
15. the battle is not yours, but God’s] Jahaziel gives a special turn to the general troth, “The battle is the Lord’s” (David to Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:47).

To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.
16. the cliff of Ziz] R.V. the ascent of Ziz. The exact positions of this and of the “brook” and of the “wilderness” mentioned in this ver. are unknown, but probably the invaders followed not the direct road from En-gedi to Beth-lehem, but one a little to the left of this.

the brook] R.V. the valley (Heb. naḥal) strictly “ravine” or “water-course.”

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.
17. see the salvation] Cp. Exodus 14:13.

will be with you] R.V. is with you; cp. 2 Chronicles 15:2.

And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.
18. fell] R.V. fell down.

And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.
19. the Korhites] R.V. the Korahites. The Korahites were a branch of the Kohathites (1 Chronicles 6:22 [7 Heb.], 37, 38 [22, 23 Heb.]); the Chronicler simply defines his first statement; those who stood up to praise were Kohathites by clan, Korahites by family.

a loud voice on high] R.V. an exceeding loud voice.

And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
20–25 (no parallel in Kings). The Deliverance

20. Tekoa] The modern Teḳu‘a, a ruin on a hill 2790 feet above the sea, about six miles south of Beth-lehem. It was an ancient place; 2 Chronicles 11:6; 1 Chronicles 2:24; 2 Samuel 14:2; Amos 1:1. The “wilderness of Tekoa” means that part of the “wilderness of Judah” which was near Tekoa.

Believe … so shall you be established] Heb. ha’amînû … tç’âmçnû. Cp. Isaiah 7:9, “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” In both places there is a play on the words In the Heb.; “believe” and “be established” representing two voices of the same verb.

And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.
21. consulted] R.V. taken counsel.

singers unto the Lord, and that should praise] R.V. them that should sing unto the LORD, and praise. Cp. the preliminaries of the Battle of the Standard fought between the Scots and English in 1138.

the beauty of holiness] Cp. 1 Chronicles 16:29 (note).

before the army] Contrast Joshua 6:7; Joshua 6:9 (the armed men precede the ark).

Praise] R.V. Give thanks; cp. 1 Chronicles 16:41.

And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
22. the Lord set ambushments] R.V. the LORD set liers in wait. All that is meant by this is that the Lord suggested to Jehoshaphat the plan of setting an ambush; cp. Joshua 8:2 (where it is said that the Lord suggested the same plan to Joshua). Jehoshaphat himself marched with the bulk of his forces, but the flower of the Judæan army was probably disposed in ambush. G. A. Smith (Hist. Geography, p. 272) points out that the country between En-gedi and Tekoa is well suited for attack by surprise.

For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.
23. For the children of Ammon] Render, And the children of Ammon. The sudden attack of the ambushed Judæans created a panic and a suspicion of treachery among the allies; so at Gideon’s surprise of Midian every man turned his sword against his fellow (Jdg 7:22).

utterly to slay] Lit. to devote; cp. Leviticus 27:28-29.

And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.
24. toward the watch tower] R.V. to the watch-tower. This tower may have been one of the castles mentioned in 2 Chronicles 17:12.

unto the multitude] R.V. upon the multitude.

and none escaped] R.V. and there were none that escaped.

And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.
25. to take away the spoil] R.V. to take the spoil.

they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies] The Heb. text is faulty. LXX. εὗρον κτήνη πολλὰ καὶ ἀποσκευὴν καὶ σκῦλα, i.e. “they found much cattle and property and spoils.”

in gathering] R.V. in taking.

And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.
26–30 (no parallel in Kings). The Sequel of the Deliverance

26. valley of Berachah] A wâdi Bereikût south of Tekoa is mentioned by Robinson. It is probable that also the “valley of Jehoshaphat” mentioned by Joel (3. [4. Heb.] 2) is to be identified with the scene of Jehoshaphat’s deliverance.

Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.
27. with joy] Rather, with rejoicing; cp. 2 Chronicles 20:28. LXX., ἐν εὐφροσύνῃ μεγάλῃ.

And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD.
And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel.
29. was on all] Rather, came upon all; cp. 2 Chronicles 14:14; 2 Chronicles 17:10.

the kingdoms of those countries] R.V. the kingdoms of the countries (a characteristic phrase with the Chronicler; cp. 2 Chronicles 12:8; 2 Chronicles 17:10 and 1 Chronicles 29:30).

So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.
And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.
31. reigned over Judah] In Kings, began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. The Chronicler will not date the accession of a southern king by the year of an ungodly northern king.

31–34 (= 1 Kings 22:41-45). The Summary of Jehoshaphat’s Reign

There are several variations of text between Kings and Chron. here; and in particular the Chronicler omits the statement that Jehoshaphat made peace with Israel.

And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD.
32. departed not] R.V. turned not aside.

in the sight] R.V. in the eyes.

Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.
33. the high places] Cp. 2 Chronicles 15:17, note.

for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts] R.V. neither as yet had the people set their hearts; cp. 2 Chronicles 12:14. In Kings it is said particularly that the people sacrificed and burnt incense at the high places.

Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.
34. in the book of Jehu] R.V. in the history of Jehu.

Jehu] See 2 Chronicles 19:2 (note).

who is mentioned] R.V. which is inserted. Chronicles of particular reigns were joined together to form one continuous Chronicle.

And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:
35. who did very wickedly] R.V. the same did very wickedly.

35–37 (cp. 1 Kings 22:48-49). The Destruction of Jehoshaphat’s Fleet

The Chronicler gives an account of this incident quite different from that given in Kings. According to the latter it seems that Jehoshaphat’s fleet was wrecked through the inexperience of his mariners, and that he rejected the offer of the king of Israel to lend the services of more experienced seamen. In Chron. the loss of the ships is ascribed through the mouth of a prophet to Divine displeasure caused by Jehoshaphat’s association with Ahaziah. The accounts may be partly reconciled by the supposition that Jehoshaphat accepted the aid of the king of Israel in building but not in navigating the ships. The Chronicler here follows his habit of looking upon great public calamities as the direct punishment of particular sins.

And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongeber.
36. ships to go to Tarshish] In Kings, ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir: cp. 2 Chronicles 9:21 (= 1 Kings 10:22), note. In both passages the reading of Kings, “ships (or ‘navy’) of Tarshish,” i.e. large sea-going ships (cp. Psalm 48:7) is to be preferred, because (1) Ezion-geber was a port for vessels sailing eastward, while Tarshish was in the west, (2) gold, the object of the voyage (cp. 1 Kings 22:48), came from Ophir (2 Chronicles 8:18; 1 Kings 9:28; 1 Kings 10:11; Psalm 45:9).

Tarshish] Cp. 1 Chronicles 1:7 (note).

Ezion-geber] Cp. 2 Chronicles 8:17 (note).

Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.
37. Mareshah] Cp. 2 Chronicles 11:8 (note); 2 Chronicles 14:10.

hath broken] R.V. hath destroyed. The same Heb. word is used 1 Chronicles 13:11 (“had broken forth,” R.V.); 2 Chronicles 14:11 (“hath broken forth,” R.V. mg.).

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