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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

2 Chronicles 17

Verse 1

GOD FAVORS THE REIGN OF JEHOSHAPHAT

IV. JEHOSHAPHAT (873-849 B.C.)

JEHOSHAPHAT SUCCEEDS HIS FATHER, ASA

"And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel. And he placed forces in all the fortified cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim which Asa his father had taken. And Jehovah was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of David his father, and sought not unto the Baalim, but sought to the God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel. Therefore Jehovah established the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat tribute; and he had riches and honor in abundance. And his heart was lifted up in the ways of Jehovah: and furthermore he took away the high places and the Asherim out of Judah."

So far, so good. Jehoshaphat, like some others of the kings of Judah, began very well, receiving as their reward the blessing of the Lord and the prosperity of the people; but his alliance with Ahab (described in 2 Chronicles 18) would cast a dark shadow over what is written here.

"(He) walked not after the doings of Israel" (2 Chronicles 17:4). The contempt in which the author of Chronicles held the Northern Israel appears in a clause like this. The outstanding feature of Chronicles is the omission, wherever possible, of practically the entire history of their kings. This reminds us of the Book of Numbers, in which the whole history of the apostate Israel records only a few events for the whole period. Why? It was because of the fact that what any nation does, after they have rejected God, is of minor importance.

With the apostasy of the Northern Israel and their rejection of God's choice of the house of David, the history of the redemption of mankind dramatically shifted to what happened in Jerusalem.

Verse 7

THE LAW OF JEHOVAH; THE TORAH, (GENESIS; EXODUS; LEVITICUS; NUMBERS; AND DEUTERONOMY) WAS TAUGHT BY THE PRINCES TO ALL JUDAH

"Also in the third year of his reign he sent his princes, even Ben-hail, and Obadiah, and Zechariah, and Nethanel, and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah; and with them the Levites, even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Sheminamoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah the Levites; and with them Elishama, and Jehoram the priests. And they taught in Judah HAVING THE BOOK OF THE LAW OF JEHOVAH WITH THEM; and they went about through all the cities of Judah, and taught among the people."

Because of the clause which we have capitalized, this is one of the most important passages in Chronicles. Right here is the reason radical critics have extended themselves so unreasonably in their efforts to discredit Chronicles. Here is dependable, historical proof of the continued existence of the Torah from the days of Moses throughout the history of Israel. As Keil stated it, "The book of the law of Jehovah is the Pentateuch, not merely a collection of Mosaic laws, since in Jehoshaphat's time the Mosaic Book of the Law (the Pentateuch) had been long in existence."[1] We shall not take the space to repeat the vociferous denials of critics, except to cite one knee-jerk remark that characterizes all of them, "Such action was not taken in Jehoshaphat's time."[2] What is the basis of such a blatant denial of what God's Word states as a fact? even giving the very names of the royal princes who did the teaching. THERE IS NONE. No matter what unbelievers say, this chapter IS the historical record of what happened in the reign of Jehoshaphat; and those who live two and one half millenniums afterward have nothing of value by which they may challenge it. Then why do men deny it? The false theories they have invented are here contradicted, forcing them either to give up their false theories, or to deny the Sacred Scriptures that contradict them.

Verse 10

THE PROSPERITY OF JUDAH UNDER JEHOSHAPHAT

"And the fear of Jehovah fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat. And some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and silver for tribute; and the Arabians also brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he-goats. And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah, castles and cities of store. And he had many works in the cities of Judah; and men of war, mighty men of valor in Jerusalem."

All of this peace and prosperity were directly due to the respect which Jehoshaphat had shown to the Law of God and to his efforts to teach that word to all the people. It is no problem that much of the material here is omitted in Kings, because the primary focus there was political; whereas, in Chronicles the focus is upon the spiritual and religious significance of the same history.

Verse 14

NUMBERING OF JEHOSHAPHAT'S MIGHTY MEN OF WAR

"And this was the numbering of them according to their fathers' houses: of Judah, the captains of thousands: Adnah the captain, and with him mighty men of valor three hundred thousand; and next to him Jehohanan the captain, and with him two hundred and fourscore thousand; and next to him Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself unto Jehovah, and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valor. And of Benjamin: Eliada a mighty man of valor, and with him two hundred thousand armed with bow and shield; and next to him Jehozabad, and with him a hundred and fourscore thousand ready prepared for war. These were they that waited on the king, besides those whom the king put in fortified cities throughout all Judah."

This represented a standing army of 1,160,000 men, besides the garrisons in the fortified cities; and this goes a long way to explaining why the Arabians and the Philistines brought tribute to Jehoshaphat. In ancient times, as in our own day, peace frequently depended upon the strength of those who desired it.

We should ignore the screams of "exaggeration"[3] which mark the writings of radical critics. Pagan rulers of that era reported even larger armies than this; and until the critics can prove that those were exaggerated reports, they should let these alone. Besides that, we have already noted that the very word from which thousand is translated is disputed as to its exact meaning.

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 17". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/2-chronicles-17.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.