Matthew Poole's Commentary
And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.Jehoshaphat, reproved by the prophet Jehu, visiteth his kingdom, 2 Chronicles 19:1-4. His instructions to the judges, 2 Chronicles 19:5-7; to the priests and Levites, 2 Chronicles 19:8-11.
Safe, being miraculously delivered from eminent danger, as was related, 2 Chronicles 18:31,32.
And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.Jehu the son of Hanani the seer; of whom see 1 Kings 16:1.
Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? was this agreeable to thy duty and love which thou professest to God and godliness, that thou hast entered into so strict an alliance and friendship with wicked Ahab, my sworn enemy, and given such assistance to him?
Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord; therefore God is angry with thee, and will chastise thee for this miscarriage: which he did, partly, by stirring up the Moabites and others to invade him, 2 Chronicles 20; partly, by permitting his eldest son Jehoram to kill all his brethren, 2 Chronicles 21:4; and principally, by bringing that sore and almost general destruction upon his grandchildren by Jehu, 2 Kings 9:27 10:13,14, which was the proper fruit of his alliance with Ahab.
Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.There are good things found in thee, i.e. good works proceeding from an honest heart; which God more regards than this particular error; and therefore though he will chasten thee, yet he will not utterly destroy thee. Or, directed or set thy heart, i.e. thou hast sought and served God with all thy heart, and not feignedly, as many others do. And this work of preparing or directing his heart is here ascribed to Jehoshaphat, as elsewhere it is attributed to God, Proverbs 16:1 Philippians 2:13, because it is man’s action, but performed by God’s grace, preventing, enabling, and inclining him to it.
And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the LORD God of their fathers.He went out again; once he went by his officers, 2 Chronicles 17:7, &c., now he went in his own person.
From Beer-sheba to Mount Ephraim, i.e. through his whole kingdom, whereof these were the two bounds.
Brought them back unto the Lord; such of them as had revolted from God to idols, he reclaimed by his good counsel and example, and by the instructions of the Levites and priests, whom doubtless now he carried with him, as he sent them before with his officers of state.
And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city,In every city, for itself and the country adjacent, that justice might be administered with the most ease and convenience to the people, and they might not all be forced to go up to Jerusalem.
And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment.You represent God’s person, to whom judgement belongeth, and you have your commission and power from God, and not from man only; and your administration of justice is not only for man’s good, but also for God’s honour and service.
Who is with you; both to observe your carriage, and to defend you against all those enemies whom the impartial exercise of justice may provoke.
Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.And therefore you who are in God’s stead, and do his work, and must give an account to him, must imitate God here. Of
respect of persons, see Deu 10:17 Job 34:19 Acts 10:4.
No taking of gifts; so as to pervert judgment for them, by comparing this with Exodus 23:8 Deu 16:19 Proverbs 17:23.
Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the LORD, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem.The chief of the fathers of Israel; who were not priests and Levites, but such persons of other tribes as were most eminent for their dignity, ability, and integrity. But whether these persons made up one court, called the Sanhedrim, by which all causes ecclesiastical and civil were decided; or there were two distinct courts, the one ecclesiastical, consisting of the priests and Levites; the other civil, consisting of the chief of the fathers of Israel; belongs to another place to determine, and requires more words than the nature of this work can permit.
For the judgment of the Lord, i.e. for sacred matters concerning the laws, and worship, and service of God.
For controversies; for matters of difference between man and man.
When they returned to Jerusalem, i.e. when Jehoshaphat and his company were returned to Jerusalem, then he made this order concerning establishing judges there. But so this last clause may seem superfluous and tautological, being more than implied in the beginning of the verse. Or rather,
when they, i. e. the causes and controversies last mentioned, shall return, or be returned, to Jerusalem, i.e. when the causes shall be so difficult that the judges ordained in every city cannot determine them; or, when your brethren that dwell in every city shall come to you, as it is expressed, 2 Chronicles 19:10, appealing from their city courts, to the great court or council at Jerusalem; of which See Poole "Exodus 18:26"; See Poole "Deu 1:17"; See Poole "Deu 17:8". As for the phrase, not only persons, but things, are said to return, or be returned, as blood, 1 Kings 2:33, and clouds, Ecclesiastes 12:2, and reproach, Hosea 12:14. If it be further objected, that these causes were never brought to Jerusalem before, and therefore cannot be properly said to be returned thither; that may be answered both from the usage of our law, wherein such causes are said to be returned to Westminster, which never were there before; and from the use of Scripture, wherein sinners are commonly said to return to the Lord, though they had never been with the Lord in that sense before, but were estranged from God even from the womb till the time of their conversion. And the dust, i.e. man’s body, is said to return to the earth, Ecclesiastes 12:7, though it was never there before.
And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.Passing such sentences with your months, as your own minds and consciences, upon the hearing of the parties, shall judge to be just, and not acting against your own consciences for carnal motives, as corrupt judges do.
And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the LORD, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass.Between blood and blood; of which See Poole "Deu 17:8".
Between law and commandment, statutes and judgments; when any debates or differences shall arise about the meaning of any of God’s laws, one party possibly putting this, and the other a quite differing sense upon the same place, or one alleging one place, and the offer another place, which may seem to clash with it.
Ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the Lord; ye shall not only give a righteous sentence for what is past, but ye shall admonish the offender, and others, to take better heed to themselves and their ways for the future.
This do, and ye shall not trespass; so you shall not bring guilt and wrath upon yourselves and others, which otherwise you will certainly do.
And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king's matters: also the Levites shall be officers before you. Deal courageously, and the LORD shall be with the good.Is over you; shall be your president to direct and assist you.
In all matters of the Lord; in spiritual or ecclesiastical matters.
The ruler of the house of Judah; either,
1. The prince, or chief ruler, under the king, of the tribe of Judah, which is called
the house of Judah, 2 Samuel 2:4,7,10 1 Kings 12:21,23 1 Chronicles 28:4 Jeremiah 13:11 Ezekiel 4:6. Or,
2. The ruler of the king’s house, which also seems to be called the house of Judah, 2 Chronicles 22:10, and more fitly the king’s house of Judah, Jeremiah 22:6. And who so fit to manage the king’s matters as the ruler of the king’s house?
For all the king’s matters; for civil causes or controversies which might arise either between the king and his people, or between subject and subject, which may be called the king’s matters, because it was a principal part of his office to see them justly decided.
The Levites shall be officers before you; they shall be at your command to see your just sentences executed; which work was fitly committed to the Levites, as persons who might add their instructions to the corrections, and might work the guilty to an acknowledgment of their fault, and a submission to their punishment. And so this is an argument to encourage the judges to proceed courageously and vigorously in their work, because they had the Levites to stand by them and assist them.
The Lord shall be with the good, i. e. shall protect and bless good judges in their doing of good and just things.