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The reign of Jehoshaphat (17:1-20:37)
Jehoshaphat carried on the reform that Asa began, by destroying all the Baal shrines that remained in Judah (17:1-6; cf. 15:17). Positively, he educated the people in the law of God by forming an official group of instructors whom he sent around Judah’s towns and villages. The group consisted of civil leaders, priests and Levites (7-9). He also fortified Judah’s defences and enlarged its army, so that neighbouring countries feared to attack it (10-19).
Judah’s army was so strong that Ahab of Israel sought and obtained Jehoshaphat’s help in a war against Syria (Aram) (18:1-34; see notes on 1 Kings 22:1-40). A prophet rebuked Jehoshaphat for this, as Ahab was a worshipper of Baal and therefore an enemy of God (19:1-3).
Jehoshaphat reformed and reorganized Judah’s judicial system to eliminate injustice, guarantee fair treatment for all, and ensure that standard procedures were followed throughout the land. He set up courts and appointed judges in all the chief cities of Judah, with the main court and the chief judges in Jerusalem. The courts and the officials were divided into two kinds. Some dealt with religious matters and were under the control of the chief priest. Others dealt with civil matters and were under the control of the chief governor (4-11). This arrangement was a further indication to the Chronicler that David’s dynasty governed according to the Levitical code (cf. Deuteronomy 16:18-20; Deuteronomy 17:8-12).
Some time later, a combined army of various nations from the south and east set out to attack Judah (20:1-2). The Chronicler notes that Jehoshaphat and his people not only cried to God for help, but they did so by gathering at the temple in Jerusalem. That was the place of prayer for God’s people in times of crisis (3-12; cf. 6:24-25). As a result God answered their prayer. He assured them through a prophet (who was also a Levite) that the enemy would be defeated without Judah’s army having to do anything (13-17).
The priests and Levites, being very active in Judah, led the people in songs of praise even before the victory was won (18-23). After the people had plundered the defeated army, the Levitical singers led them to the temple to praise God for the victory (24-30).
Earlier, Jehoshaphat had done wrong when he formed a military partnership with Ahab (see 18:3; 19:2). Later, he did wrong again when he formed a commercial partnership with Ahab’s son Ahaziah. God sent a disaster to remind Jehoshaphat that he was not to cooperate with Israel’s Baal-worshipping kings (31-37; see notes on 1 Kings 22:41-50). (The Chronicler omits the other references to Ahaziah’s short rule in 1 Kings 22:51-53.)
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 19". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany