Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
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.2 Chronicles 20:26
The word valley is a poem in itself; it is associated with a great deal that is beautiful, comforting, and that gives the soul a sense of security and plentifulness. The Bible is full of valleys, as it is full of wells. You know this beautiful land of the mountain and the stream and the great flood and the green sward and the unexpected garden and the great and terrible wilderness—oh, that world of sand, that foe that mocks the spring, and smites the summer as a woman might be smitten on the cheekbone.
I. What is this valley of Berachah? In some senses I do not care much for it; I know it means the valley of blessing, and that the people, in whom I have not the slightest confidence at all, sang themselves hoarse in the valley of Berachah, because they were fed like oxen that were to be slaughtered. I suspect some things, I have no respect for anthems simply in themselves considered; I must know their history, their meaning, their ultimate purpose. There is a better time for singing than the time of all this commercial aggrandizement and secular comfort. One little song of patience is worth the whole of this blaring noise; a sigh may be vaster in its meaning than an anthem; yet there was a victory; the victory was in some sort divinely guided and secured. There are fruits of war which may be legitimately gathered by those who have won them by strategy or skill or sharp sword; all that may be true, but I do not care for a national anthem that may not be through and through nationally honest.
II. There is another valley mentioned in Numbers 32:9—'the valley of Eshcol'. What valley is that? 'Tis the valley of grapes and summer fruits, all of which we may pluck, because it is the intent of Divine love that we should possess ourselves of such luxuriant vineyards. Do we not suddenly come upon the grapes intellectual, social, educational, spiritual? Is not hunger itself often surprised by unexpected plentifulness? Yet sometimes men cannot believe even in this uncrushed wine of the grape; they will hasten home and say, Do not, we beseech thee, venture in that direction; grapes enough there may be, even to abundance, but we had better remain where we are; can a man live upon grapes? we cannot deny the purple fruit, yea, some of the people have brought large bunches of the grapes to show us what a fruitful land is beyond; but on the whole is it not better to remain where we are? Thus enthusiasm is killed, and all daring, high exploit, and noble endeavour. Ambition may be perverted, but ambition may be one of the forms or aspects of inspiration. We want the true spies that say to us, We have seen a land worth going to; it grows life, it is warm with summer, it is boundless with an illimitable hospitality. Young souls, do not be frightened by the man sitting next you, for he is no man, he is hardly a figure in wax.
III. In Hosea there is a glorious valley—'the valley of Achor' (II.15). What is the meaning of Achor in this connexion? what is its broad significance, without going into the immediate geographical detail? what is the broad spiritual interpretation of Achor? It may be given in two little words, each word a syllable, one of the words a letter: 'a door of hope'. Behold, I have set before thee a door of hope; I have given thee a new beginning, new chances, new opportunities, new mornings; this is not the end, this is the beginning; there is the great wall, go grope in blindness, but with finger-tips that can see; thou wilt in that great blank wall find a door; it is there, I made it, I made it for thee; I know the blankness of the wall, but on my word go thou forth and grope for the door, the Achor that will give thee visions beyond big as horizons, big as firmaments, big as outlined heavens: go forth in the spirit of hope. We are saved by hope. The voice of the Christian religion is a voice of hope. Realize that, and live as if you believed it.
IV. In the book of Isaiah we have a beautiful valley; in chap. 22:1 we read about 'the valley of vision'. That is a large valley, that valley is worth living in. To live with people who have always seen new lights, new possibilities, and new and brighter interpretations than have ever been realized before; that is companionship, that is resurrection. Who cares for these dullards who never see new lights, new companions, and the outlines of new springs and summers in the morning sky?
V. Can Ezekiel be alive and not take his position in this great question of valleys? Ezekiel saw a valley, it was a valley of dry bones. It was an awful valley, a valley of dead men's bones, a valley of death, filled not with the sheeted dead, but with those that had, so to say, been blown to pieces by some great wind of contempt; and the Lord said, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' And the son of man said, 'O Lord God, Thou knowest'. The wisest answer to every Divine inquiry: refer the question back; let Him who propounds the problem solve it.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. III. p. 118.
References.—XX. 26.—R. F. Horton, Lyndhurst Road Pulpit, p. 1. XX. 35-37.—B. D. Johns, Pulpit Notes, p. 138. XXI. 20.—T. Champness, New Coins from Old Gold, p. 128. XXIV. 1-25.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xl. No. 2365. XXIV. 2, 17.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 184. XXIV. 2, 17, 18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xl. No. 2365. XXIV. 4-14.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 191. XXIV. 4, 5, 13.—A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 67. XXIV. 20.—R. F. Horton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxii. 1902, p. 217. XXV. 2.—J. Thain Davidson, The City Youth, p. 253. XXV. 9.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 199. E. Browne, Some Moral Proofs of the Resurrection, p. 114. C. Garrett, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xli. 1892, p. 225. F. E. Clark, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii. 1900, p. 33. XXVI. 16-20.—A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 79.
Preparation and Power
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.
And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
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.
And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
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?
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?
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.
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;
Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.
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.
And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their 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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.
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.
And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:
And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongeber.
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.