2Ch 20:1-21. Jehoshaphat,
Invaded by the Moabites, Proclaims a Fast.
1. the children of Moab … Ammon, and with
them other beside the Ammonites—supposed to be rather the
name of a certain people called Mohammonim or Mehunim (2Ch 26:7), who dwelt in Mount Seir—either a
branch of the old Edomite race or a separate tribe who were settled
2. from beyond the sea on this side
Syria—Instead of "Syria," some versions read "Edom," and many
able critics prefer this reading, both because the nomad tribes here
mentioned were far from Syria, and because express mention is made of
Mount Seir, that is, Edom. The meaning then is: this confederate horde
was composed of the different tribes that inhabited the far distant
regions bordering on the northern and eastern coasts of the Red Sea.
Their progress was apparently by the southern point of the Dead Sea, as
far as En-gedi, which, more anciently, was called Hazezon-tamar (Ge 14:7). This is the uniform route taken
by the Arabs in their marauding expeditions at the present day; and in
coming round the southern end of the Dead Sea, they can penetrate along
the low-lying Ghor far north, without letting their movements be known
to the tribes and villages west of the mountain chain [Robinson]. Thus, anciently, the invading horde in
Jehoshaphat's time had marched as far north as En-gedi, before
intelligence of their advance was conveyed to the court. En-gedi is
recognized in the modern Ainjidy and is situated at a point of the
western shore, nearly equidistant from both extremities of the lake
3, 4. Jehoshaphat … proclaimed a fast
throughout all Judah—Alarmed by the intelligence and
conscious of his total inability to repel this host of invaders,
Jehoshaphat felt his only refuge was at the horns of the altar. He
resolved to employ the aid of his God, and, in conformity with this
resolution, he summoned all his subjects to observe a solemn fast at
the sanctuary. It was customary with the Hebrew kings to proclaim fasts
in perilous circumstances, either in a city, a district, or throughout
the entire kingdom, according to the greatness of the emergency. On
this occasion, it was a universal fast, which extended to infants
20:13; see also Joe 2:15,
16; Jon 3:7).
5-13. Jehoshaphat stood … in the house of
the Lord, before the new court—that is, the great or outer
4:9) called the new court,
probably from having been at that time enlarged or beautified.
6-12. And said, O Lord God of our
fathers—This earnest and impressive prayer embraces every
topic and argument which, as king and representative of the chosen
people, he could urge. Then it concludes with an earnest appeal to the
justice of God to protect those who, without provocation, were attacked
and who were unable to defend themselves against overwhelming
14-18. Then upon Jahaziel … came the Spirit
of the Lord—This prophet is not elsewhere mentioned, but his
claim to the inspiration of a prophetic spirit was verified by the calm
and distinct announcement he gave, both of the manner and the
completeness of the deliverance he predicted.
16. they come up by the cliff of
Ziz—This seems to have been nothing else than the present
pass which leads northwards, by an ascent from En-gedi to Jerusalem,
issuing a little below Tekoa. The wilderness of Jeruel was probably the
large flat district adjoining the desert of Tekoa, called El-Husasah,
from a wady on its northern side [Robinson].
18. Jehoshaphat bowed his head … and all
Judah, &c.—This attitude was expressive of reverence to
God and His Word, of confidence in His promise, and thankfulness for so
extraordinary a favor.
19. the Levites … stood up to praise the
Lord—doubtless by the king's command. Their anthem was sung
with such a joyful acclaim as showed that they universally regarded the
victory as already obtained.
20, 21. as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood
… Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of
Jerusalem—probably in the gate of Jerusalem, the place of
general rendezvous; and as the people were on the eve of setting out,
he exhorted them to repose implicit trust in the Lord and His prophet,
not to be timid or desponding at sight of the enemy, but to remain firm
in the confident assurance of a miraculous deliverance, without their
striking a single stroke.
21. he appointed singers … that they should
praise … as they went out before the army—Having
arranged the line of procession, he gave the signal to move forwards.
The Levites led the van with their musical instruments; and singing the
Psalm, the people went on,
not as an army marching against an enemy, but returning in joyful
triumph after a victory.
2Ch 20:22-30. The Overthrow
of His Enemies.
22. when they began to sing and to praise the Lord
set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount
Seir—Some think that this was done by angels in human form,
whose sudden appearance diffused an uncontrollable panic. Others
entertain the more probable opinion that, in the camp of this vast
horde, composed of different tribes, jealousies and animosities had
sprung up, which led to widespread dissensions and fierce feuds, in
which they drew the sword against each other. The consequence was, that
as the mutual strife commenced when the Hebrew procession set out from
Jerusalem, the work of destruction was completed before Jehoshaphat and
his people arrived at the battlefield. Thus easy is it for God to make
the wrath of man to praise Him, to confound the counsels of His enemies
and employ their own passions in defeating the machinations they have
devised for the overthrow of His Church and people.
24-26. when Judah came toward the watchtower in
the wilderness—Most probably the conical hill, Jebel
Fereidis, or Frank Mountain, from the summit of which they obtained the
first view of the scene of slaughter. Jehoshaphat and his people found
the field strewed with dead bodies, so that they had not to fight at
all, but rather to take possession of an immense booty, the collection
of which occupied three days. On the fourth they set out on their
return to Jerusalem in the same order and joyful mood as they came. The
place where they mustered previous to departure was, from their public
thanksgiving service, called, "The Valley of Berachah" ("benediction"),
now Wady Bereikut.
2Ch 20:31-37. His
31. Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah—(See
32. walked in the way of Asa his father, and
departed not from it—He was more steadfast and consistently
religious (compare 2Ch 15:18).
33. the high places were not taken
away—Those on which idolatry was practised were entirely
destroyed (2Ch 17:6);
but those where the people, notwithstanding the erection of the temple,
continued to worship the true God, prudence required to be slowly and
gradually abolished, in deference to popular prejudice.
35-37. after this did Jehoshaphat … join
himself with Ahaziah … to make ships—A combined fleet
was built at Ezion-geber, the destination of which was to voyage to
Tartessus, but it was wrecked. Jehoshaphat's motive for entering into
this partnership was to secure a free passage through Israel, for the
vessels were to be conveyed across the Isthmus of Suez, and to sail to
the west of Europe from one of the ports of Palestine on the
Mediterranean. Eliezer, a prophet, denounced this unholy alliance, and
foretold, as divine judgment, the total wreck of the whole fleet. The
consequence was, that although Jehoshaphat broke off—in obedience
to the divine will—his league with Ahaziah, he formed a new
scheme of a merchant fleet, and Ahaziah wished to be admitted a partner
22:48]. The proposal of the
Israelitish king was respectfully declined [1Ki 22:49]. The destination of this new fleet was
to Ophir, because the Israelitish seaports were not accessible to him
for the Tartessus trade; but the ships, when just off the docks, were
wrecked in the rocky creek of Ezion-geber.