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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 20

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary




The chronicler only has preserved an historic account of this great deliverance. But certain of the Psalms have been with much probability supposed to commemorate it. The contents of Psalms 46-48 harmonise well with this assumption; and they are referred by their titles to “the sons of Korah,” a fact which corresponds with the statement of 2 Chronicles 20:19 that certain of the Korahite Levites sang praises to Jehovah on occasion of the prophecy of Jahaziel. Further, Jahaziel himself was an Asaphite Levite, and it is noteworthy that Psalms 83:0, which is a prayer against a hostile confederacy of Edom, Amnion, Moab, and other races, is headed “A Psalm of Asaph.” It may have been composed by the prophet whose name is only recorded in this chapter.

Verse 1

(1) It came to pass after this also.—Rather, And it came to pass afterwards, i.e., after the battle of Ramoth-Gilead, and Jehoshaphat’s reformation of law and religion.

And the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites.—This is an attempt to get a reasonable sense out of a corrupted text. What the Heb. says is: And the sons of Ammon, and with them some of the Ammonites. So the Vulg., “et filii Ammon et cum eis de Ammonitis.” Transpose a single Hebrew letter, and there results the intelligible reading: And the sons of Ammon, and with them the Maonites (Heb., Me’ûnîm. See on 1 Chronicles 4:41-42.) The Maonites are mentioned again (2 Chronicles 26:7) in company with Arabs. They appear to have been a tribe, whose chief seat was Maon, on the eastern slopes of the chain of Mount Seir, after which they are called “sons,” or “inhabitants of Mount Seir” in 2 Chronicles 20:10; 2 Chronicles 20:22-23. Accordingly Josephus (Ant. ix. 1, § 2) calls them a multitude of Arabs. [The LXX. reads: “And with them some of the Minaioi,” a name which possibly represents the me’înîm of the Heb. text of 1 Chronicles 4:41. Syriac, “and with them men of war;” Arabic, “brave men.” Perhaps the expression rendered and with themwe’immahèm—is a relic of an original reading, and the Maonites; and the some of the Ammonites (mçhâ’ammônîm) which follows, is merely a gloss on an obscure name by some transcriber].

Verse 2

(2) Then there came some that told.And they (i.e., messengers; Vulg., “nuntii”) came and told.

Cometh.Is come.

The Sea.—The Dead Sea, east of which lay the territories of Ammon and Moab; while to the south of it, not far from Petra, was Maon.

On this side Syria.—Heb., from Aram; and so LXX. and Vulg. But Edom is probably the true reading—a name often confused with Aram. As the invaders marched round the southern end of the Dead Sea, they were naturally described as coming from Edom. The Syr. and Arab. have: from the other side of the Red Sea.

Hazazon-tamar.—See Genesis 14:7.

Engedi (Ain-jidy), midway on the western coast of the Dead Sea (see 1 Samuel 23:29), about thirty-six miles from Jerusalem. The Syr. and Arab, have Jericho for Hazazon-tamar (? meadow of palms). Jericho was also called “city of palms.”

Verse 3

(3) And Jehoshaphat.And he was afraid (scil., at the news). And Jehoshaphat set his face, &c. Literally, put his face—a phrase used in Daniel 9:3 (comp. 2 Kings 12:18), and implying resolved, determined.

To seek the Lord.—The Hebrew construction is that of 2 Chronicles 15:13 (le is here a sign of the accusative).

Proclaimed a fast.—An act of national self-humiliation, implying an admission of guilt, and intended to evoke the Divine pity and succour. (Comp. Judges 20:26; Joel 2:12-17; 1 Samuel 7:6; Ezra 8:21.)

Verse 4

(4) To ask.—Literally, to seek (baqqçsh, a synonym of dârash. 2 Chronicles 20:2) from Jehovah; scil., help, which Authorised Version rightly supplies.

Even out of all the cities of Judah.—Emphasising the fact that the gathering in the Temple represented the whole nation. Syriac and Arabic, “and even from the distant cities.”

Verse 5

(5) And Jehoshaphat stood.—Comp. 2 Chronicles 6:12-13.

Judah and Jerusalem.—So 2 Chronicles 20:27. Jerusalem is thus mentioned side by side with the country, as being by far the most important part of it. (See also the headings of Isaiah 1:2)

Before the new court.—This name, “the New Court,” only occurs here. It probably designates the “Great” (2 Chronicles 4:9) or outer court of the Temple, in which the people assembled. Jehoshaphat stood facing the people, in front of the entrance to the Court of the Priests. Perhaps the court was called New, as having been recently repaired or enlarged. Syr. and Arab., “before the new gate.”

Verse 6

(6) Art not thou God in heaven.—So Psalms 115:2-3. Jehovah, the Worship of Israel, is no limited local or tribal deity, but God over all. (Comp. also the first clause of the Lord’s Prayer.)

And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms?—Comp. 1 Chronicles 29:12 (David’s prayer), “and Thou reignest (rulest) over all; and in Thine hand is power and might.” This and next sentence should be rendered affirmatively, as in that place. (Comp. also Psalms 47:8 : “God reigneth over the heathen.”)

So that none is able to withstand thee.—Vulg., “nec quisquam tibi potest resistere;” LXX., καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν πρὸς σὲ�. Literally, and there is none against thee to stand up. For this construction, comp. Psalms 94:16 : “Who will stand up for me with (i.e., against) workers of wickedness. (Comp. also Psalms 2:2; and the last words of Asa’s Prayer, 2 Chronicles 14:11.) Syr. and Arab., “and I am standing and praying before thee.”

Verse 7

(7) Art not thou our God?Didst not Thou, our God, drive out, &c. (Comp. Joshua 23:5; Joshua 23:9; Deuteronomy 4:38; Deuteronomy 11:23; and for the form of appeal, Isa. Ii. 9, 10. Comp. also Psalms 47:3-4.)

And gavest it to the seed of Abraham.—According to the Promise, Genesis 13:15-16; Genesis 15:18.

For ever.Genesis 17:8, “for an everlasting possession.”

Thy friend.—Or, lover. So Isaiah 41:8, “seed of Abraham, my friend.” This title of Abraham is mentioned again by St. James (James 2:23). Hebron, the patriarch’s burial-place, is at this day known to the Muslim world as el-Khalil, “the Friend.”

Verse 8

(8) And have built thee a sanctuary therein.And built thee therein a sanctuary for thy name. A sanctuary for thy name” is a single expression. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 6:5-8, “that my name might be there.”) The name of Jehovah designates all that He is to Israel; His revealed character.

Verse 9

(9) If when evil cometh upon us.—A summary of part of Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication (2 Chronicles 6:24-30). The reference to this prayer implies a confidence that it had been accepted in heaven, as the sign that followed it indicated (2 Chronicles 7:1-3). Syriac, “When the sanctuary is amongst us, there will not come upon us evil, nor sword, nor judgment, &c., and we will come and stand before this house, and before Thee, because Thy name is invoked in this house; and we will come and pray before Thee in this house and thou wilt hearken to the voice of our prayer, and deliver us.” The Hebrew seems to say, “If there come upon us evil—sword (judgment), and pestilence and famine—we will stand (i.e., come forward) before this house, and before Thee, for Thy name is in this house, and we will cry unto Thee out of our distress, and Thou shalt (or that Thou mayest) hear and save.” The word rendered “judgment” (shĕphôt) is not used as a noun anywhere else; and, lacking a conjunction, it spoils the symmetry of the sentence. It is probably an ancient gloss. All the versions have it; and the Vulg. renders, “sword of judgment.” (Comp. the Syriac in 2 Chronicles 20:12, infra.)

Verse 10

(10) And (the children of) mount Seir.—The Maonites are here so called apparently, and thus identified as an Edomite people. (See on 2 Chronicles 20:1.)

Whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade.—See the respective prohibitions (Deuteronomy 2:4; Deuteronomy 2:9; Deuteronomy 2:19.) Comp. also (Numbers 20:14-21) the king of Edom’s refusal of a passage through his territory (Judges 11:15, seq.) These tribes were recognised as the kindred of Israel, as being sons of Esau and sons of Lot. (The Syriac has “mount Gebel,” i.e., Gebâl, the name of a tribe living in the northern part of mount Seir, Psalms 73:8.)

Verse 11

(11) Behold, I say, how they reward us.—Literally, and behold they are requiting us by coming, &c. (Comp. Psalms 83:4-9.)

Cast.—Drive out (Genesis 3:24).

Thy possession.—The Promised Land is so called nowhere else in the Old Testament.

Thou hast given us to inherit.Made us possess. (Comp. Judges 11:24.)

Verse 12

(12) Wilt thou not judge them?Exercise judgment in them, i.e., upon them (here only.) LXX., οὐ κρινεῖς ἐν αὐτοῖς.

This great company.Multitude (2 Chronicles 14:11) Syriac, “for there is not in us might to stand before them: bring the sword of Thy judgment against them.”

Neither know we.And for our part we know not what to do.

But our eyes are upon thee.For our eyes are towards thee (‘al=’el). We neither know nor deliberate upon a suitable plan of resistance, for our whole thought is centred upon Thee and Thine omnipotence. For the metaphor, comp. Psalms 25:15, “Mine eyes are ever toward (‘el) Jehovah,” and Psalms 123:2; Psalms 141:8.

Verse 13

(13) Stood.Were standing.

Before the Lordi.e., praying with their king. (Comp. the apparent reference to this assembly in Psalms 48:9. “We thought upon Thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of Thy Temple.”

Verse 14

(14) Then upon.—Literally, and Jahaziel . . . there fell upon him the spirit, &c, as in 2 Chronicles 15:1, “The spirit of courage from the Lord.” This Levitical musician is not mentioned elsewhere. His pedigree is traced back for five generations to Mattaniah, which should probably be Nethaniah, a “son of Asaph,” who was contemporary with David (1 Chronicles 25:2; 1 Chronicles 25:12).

Verse 15

(15) Hearken ye.—So Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 51:4, &c.

Be not afraid nor dismayed.Isaiah 51:7; Deuteronomy 1:21; Chron. 22:3; 2 Chronicles 20:17, infr.

Great multitude—i.e., “great company” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The battle is not your’s, but God’s.—Comp. David’s words to Goliath, “The battle is Jehovah’s” (1 Samuel 17:47); and the Divine title Jehovah Sabaoth, i.e., Jehovah, the leader of the hosts of Israel. “It was on the battle-field that Jehovah’s presence was most clearly realised.”—Prof. Robertson Smith. (Comp. also Psalms 46:2; Psalms 46:7; Psalms 46:9.)

Verse 16

(16) Against them.—Or, unto them.

They come up by the cliff of Ziz.They are about ascending by the ascent of Hazziz. Vulg., “ascensuri enim sunt per clivum,” &c.

The brook.The wâdy, ravine, or water-course.

The wilderness of Jeruel.—The name is unknown, but comparing 2 Chronicles 20:2; 2 Chronicles 20:16; 2 Chronicles 20:20, it appears that the great stretch of waste, now called el Husâsah, from a wady on the north side of it, is intended. The “ascent of Hazziz” would be a pass or mountain path, leading up from Engedi to this desert table-land. (With the name Hazziz, comp. Hakkoz. Perhaps Husâsah preserves a trace of it. The LXX. has Ασαεῖς Syriac and Arabic, “the ascent of dawn,” omitting “Jeruel.”)

Verse 17

(17) Ye shall not need to fight.It is not for you to fight. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 5:1; 1 Chronicles 15:2.)

In this.Herein, in this instance. (Comp. for the phrase, 2 Chronicles 19:2.)

Set yourselves (i.e., “withstand,” 2 Chronicles 20:6).—Station yourselves, take your stand. Here the next verb, stand ye still, seems added as an explanation, and is, perhaps, a marginal gloss. “Fear not: take your stand, and see the salvation of the Lord,” was the command of Moses to Israel at the Red Sea, just before the Great Deliverance (Exodus 14:13). (Comp. also the words of Psalms 46:8, “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.”)

The Lord with you.—Some explain the connection thus: “The Lord (who is) with you.” Iahveh ‘immdkhem may, perhaps, be compared with ‘immânû êl, “with us God” (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8); it will then be a Divine title, suited to the present emergency. But, more probably, the stop should be at the Lord; and with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! is an elliptic expression, meaning “He is, or will be with you,” &c, as in 2 Chronicles 19:6. (Comp. the refrain of Psalms 46:0, “The Lord of hosts is with us! The God of Jacob is our refuge.”)

Verse 18

(18) Bowed his head.—The king “bowed, face earthward,” and the people prostrated themselves upon their faces, both “to do worship to Jehovah.” (Comp.Leviticus 9:24; Leviticus 9:24; Joshua 5:14; 1 Chronicles 21:16; Exodus 34:8.)

Verse 19

(19) And the Levites.—The Levites are the first to rise up, in order to break forth into a hymn of thanksgiving.

Of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites.Sons of the Kohathites specifies the clan, and sons of the Korhites the house of the musicians who rose up on this occasion. The Korhites were the leading division of Kohath (1 Chronicles 6:22). And is explanatory; even, namely some of the sons of Korah. The “sons of Korah” were a guild of Levitical minstrels of the first rank. (Comp. the headings of many psalms, e.g., 44-49, connecting them with their authorship.)

To praise the Lord God of Israel.1 Chronicles 16:14 (hallel).

Verse 20

(20) Went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa.—Part of the wilderness of Jeruel (2 Chronicles 20:16). Tekoa (Thekua) is about ten miles south of Jerusalem, and commands a view over the table-land of el Husâsoh.

Jehoshaphat stood.—Or, came forward. The king probably stood in the gate at Jerusalem.

Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established.—An affirmative way of putting the words of Isaiah to Ahaz: “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established” (Isaiah 7:9).

Believe his prophets.Believe in, as before, i.e., put confidence in their advice and leading.

So shall ye prosper.And prosper ye. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 18:11.)

Verse 21

(21) And when he had consulted with.—Or, advised, given counsel to, warned. (Comp. 2 Kings 6:8.) Vulg., “deditque consilium populo, et statuit cantores domini.”

And that should praise the beauty of holiness.—Rather, and men praising, in holy apparel. i.e., Levitical vestments (1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalms 29:2).

And to say.And saying.

Praise the Lord.Give thanks unto Jehovah The refrain of the singers. (See on 1 Chronicles 16:34; 1 Chronicles 16:41; 2 Chronicles 5:13; 2 Chronicles 7:3.) The band of Levitical minstrels were to march before the army (halûq, the armed host; Joshua 6:7).

Verse 22

(22) And when they began.—Literally, And at the. time when they began with shouting and praise. (Comp. Deuteronomy 16:9, to begin with.) They had now reached the neighbourhood of the enemy; and their joyful pæan was the signal for a Divine interposition. (Comp. Joshua 6:16; Joshua 6:20, and Psalms 46:6.)

The Lord set ambushments.Jehovah placed liers in wait (Judges 9:25). (nâthan here is equivalent in meaning to sâm there.)

Come against.Come into, i.e., invade (2 Chronicles 20:10).

They were smitten.—Right, according to the ordinary usage. (See 1 Chronicles 19:16; 1 Chronicles 19:19, “put to the worse.”) This statement anticipates what follows. The ancient translators felt a difficulty here, as is evident from their versions. Thus the LXX. has, “The Lord made the sons of Ammon to war upon Moab and Mount Seir, who came out against Judah; and they were routed.” The Vulg., “The Lord turned their ambushment against themselves, viz., that of the sons of Amnion and Moab and Mount Seir, who had gone forth to fight against Judah, and they were smitten.”

The Syriac (and Arabic) travesty 2 Chronicles 20:21 and the first clause of 2 Chronicles 20:22 thus: “And he stood in the middle of the people, and said, Come, let us give thanks unto the Lord, and let us laud the splendour of his holiness, when he goeth out before our hosts, and maketh war for us with our foes: and be saying, Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, and his goodness endureth for ever. The hills began praising, and the mountains began rejoicing.”They then continue as in 2 Chronicles 20:24, omitting “The Lord set ambushments . . . they were smitten.”

The self-destruction of the allied hordes was undoubtedly providential, but it need not have been miraculous. How was it brought about? The answer depends on the meaning of the term “liers in wait.” Were angels meant, as some have thought (Ewald’s böser Geister), a more appropriate and less ambiguous term would have been employed to express their agency. Nor is it likely that a Judean ambuscade is thus obscurely mentioned without any further reference or explanation: indeed it is evident from 2 Chronicles 20:15; 2 Chronicles 20:17; 2 Chronicles 20:24, that the part of the Judeans was that of mere spectators of an accomplished fact. Nor, finally, must we suppose that “the waylaying was done by a section of the confederates themselves, probably certain of the Maonites.”

The truth appears to be that some portion of the unwieldy and straggling host was suddenly attacked by a lurking band of Bedawi freebooters. In the providence of God the partial confusion which thus originated speedily became a universal panic. The Ammonites and Moabites instantly suspected their less civilised allies, the Maonites, of treachery, and fell upon them in a frenzy of revenge; after which, maddened by slaughter and mutual suspicion, and the memory of ancient feuds, they turned their reeking swords against each other, and the strife only ended with the self-annihilation of the allies. The occurrence is thus to some extent parallel with the self-destruction of the Midianite hordes, when thrown into confusion by the stratagem of Gideon (Judges 7:22).

The marvellous result, marvellously predicted, was brought to pass by a perfectly natural sequence of events, just as was Elisha’s prophecy of plenty to famine-stricken Samaria, though at the time when it was uttered fulfilment seemed impossible, unless the Lord were to “make windows in heaven,” and pour down supplies from thence by a visible miracle. In neither case was the course of events foreseen by the prophet, but only their issue. (See 2 Kings 7:0)

Verse 23

(23) Stood up against.—‘Amad ‘al, a late usage. (So 1 Chronicles 21:1.)

Utterly to slay.To exterminate (hacharîm), devote to destruction.

Made an end of.Finished with. (See on 2 Chronicles 20:22, “begin with,” and compare Genesis 44:12.)

Every one helped . . . another.—Literally, they helped, each against (or, in the case of) his fellow, for destruction (mashchîth, 2 Chronicles 22:4; Ezekiel 5:16).

Verse 24

(24) And when Judah came.—Now Judah had come; by the time the slaughter was complete.

Toward the watch tower.The look-out of the desert. A height overlooking the wilderness of Jeruel (2 Chronicles 20:16). The word mizpeh means watch-tower in Isaiah 21:8.

They looked.And they looked.

Behold, they were dead bodies.—Comp. 2 Kings 19:35.

None escaped.—No survivors were anywhere visible. Vulg., “Porro Juda cum venisset ad speculam quae respicit solitudinem vidit procul . . . nec superesse quemquam qui necem potuisset evadere.”

Verse 25

(25) When.—Omit.

They found.And found.

Among them in abundance both riches.—Instead of bâhèm, “among them,” the LXX. reads bĕhçmâh, “cattle,” which seems preferable. “And found cattle in abundance and substance” (rĕkûsh, movable goods of all sorts, including flocks and herds; Genesis 12:5).

With the dead bodies.And corpses, which they stripped of their ornaments and clothing. But bĕgâdîm, “clothes,” not pĕgârhn, “corpses,” should be read with some MSS., and apparently the Vulg., “inter cadavera . . . vestes quoque.” The Syriac has, “and they found among them a very great spoil and property, and bridles, and horses, and vessels of desire;” the Arabic, “and he found an immense booty, and herds and splendid garments.” The LXX. has τκῦλα, “spoils.”

Precious jewels.—Literally, vessels of desirable things, i.e.,costly articles; a phrase only met with hero: LXX., well, σκεύη ἐπιθυμητὰ.

Which they stripped off for themselves.—Or, and they spoiled them, i.e., the enemy. (Comp. Exodus 3:22; LXX., e ἐσκύλευσαν ἑαυτοῖς.)

More than they could carry away.—Literally, until there was no loading or carrying.

Gathering—i.e., taking away (bôzĕzîm, “plundering”). Comp. Judges 8:24-26 (the spoils of Midian). The amount of the spoil is explained by the circumstance that the invaders had intended to effect a permanent settlement in Judah, and so brought all their goods with them (2 Chronicles 20:11). (Comp. Psalms 83:12.) The invasion was thus similar in character to the migrations of the barbarian hordes, which broke repeatedly over the declining Roman empire, though of course it was on a much smaller scale. Its repulse, however, has proved not less momentous in the history of mankind, than that of the Persians at Marathon, or of the Saracens at Roncesvalles. The greatness of the overthrow may be inferred from the fact that the prophet Joel makes it a type of the coming judgment of Israel’s enemies in the “Valley of Jehoshaphat”—a prophetic designation which alludes at once to the catastrophe recorded here, and to the truth that “Jehovah is judge” of all the earth (Joel 3:2; Joel 3:12; Joel 3:14).

Verse 26

(26) Valley of Berachahi.e., blessing. The place is still called Wady Beraikut, a wide, open valley west of Tekoa, near the road from Hebron to Jerusalem. St. Jerome speaks of a Caphar Barucha, “village of blessing,” in the same neighbourhood.

For there . . . unto this day.—A notice after the manner of the ancient historians (Genesis 11:9; Genesis 28:19; Exodus 17:7; 2 Samuel 5:20).

Verse 27

(27) Then.And.

Every man.All the men (collective).

In the forefront of them.At their head. LXX., ἡγούμενος αὐτῶν.

To go again . . . with joy.—They returned, as they came, in festal procession.

The Lord had made them to rejoice.—See the same phrase, Ezra 6:22; Nehemiah 12:43. (Comp. Psalms 30:2.) LXX., well, ἐν εὐφροσύνῃ μεγάλῃ, ὅτι εὔφρανεν αὐτοὺς κύριος�.

Verse 28

(28) With psalteries.—So Vulg. Rather, with harps, guitars, and clarions. (Comp. Psalms 47:5-6, which may be supposed to commemorate this procession to the Temple.)

Verse 29

(29) And the fear of God was.And a divine dread fell upon all the kingdoms of the countries (scil.) around Judah. (See 2 Chronicles 17:10, and Psalms 48:7, “Fear took hold upon them there, and pain as of a woman in travail.”)

The Lord fought.Joshua 10:14; Joshua 10:42; Psalms 46:6. That Jehovah had fought for His people was evident from the catastrophe which had befallen their enemies. The warfare of the Divine Being was seen not apart from, but in a course of events, which, however natural, was almost as marvellous as a visible intervention of angelic hosts.

Verse 30

(30) So the realm of Jehoshaphat.—The same is said of Asa’s kingdom (2 Chronicles 14:5-6; 2 Chronicles 15:15). (Comp. the similar notices in Judges of the rest which followed upon the overthrow of a national enemy, e.g., Judges 3:30.)

Verse 31

(2 Chronicles 20:31 -2 Chronicles 21:1).

Comp. 1 Kings 22:41-50. A brief section, which constitutes the whole account of the reign of Jehoshaphat in the older narrative.

(31) And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah.—Kings adds: “In the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.” With this omission, our verse coincides with 1 Kings 22:41-42.

Verse 32

(32) And he walked in the way.—Kings: “All the way.”

From it.—Here the pronoun is fern., in Kings masc., as in 2 Chronicles 17:3 supra.

Doing.—So as to do.

Verse 33

(33) Howbeit the high places were not taken away.—This is no contradiction of 2 Chronicles 17:6, “And further (or again), he took away the high places.” There the holy places of heathenism, here those of the illegal worship of Jehovah, appear to be meant.

Verse 34

(34) Now the rest of the acts.1 Kings 22:45 : “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he shewed, and how he warred, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? “The expression how he warred hints at his victory over the three allies. “As to the historical foundation of this victory there can be no doubt, after what has been noted by Hitzig on Joel, Einleit. u. 4, 2; and by Ewald, Gesch. Isr. iii. 510, ff.” (Thenius).

In the book (story).—Literally, words.

Who is mentioned.Which is inscribed (hâ’alâh, see 1 Kings 9:21; 2 Chronicles 8:8), or entered, in the book, &c. So the Syriac, “which is written in the book of the kings of Israel.” “The words of Jehu the son of Hanani is the title of a prophetic monograph here referred to as incorporated in the “Book of the Kings of Israel.”

Verse 35

(35) And after this.—The chronicler has omitted the notice that “Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel” (1 Kings 22:44), and now he omits two other short verses of the parallel account, viz., 1 Kings 22:46-47 : “And the remnant of the sodomites, which had remained in the days of his father Asa, he consumed out of the land. There was then no king in Edom: a deputy was king.” The former omission is perfectly natural, as the Qĕdçshîm were not mentioned in Asa’s reign (comp. 1 Kings 15:12); and the latter is probably due to the fact that it was the religious aspect, and not the political antecedents, of Jehoshaphat s conduct that most interested the chronicler. Hence also the didactic tone of the following verses as compared with 1 Kings 22:48-49. The expression, “after this,” can only mean after the overthrow of the three nations (2 Chronicles 20:1-30). As Ahaziah began to reign in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat, and reigned two years (1 Kings 22:51), the league between them was formed in the seventeenth or eighteenth year of the king of Judah.

Join himself (‘ethchabbar).—An Aramaism (here only). This verse is peculiar to the chronicle.

Who did very wickedly.—He (viz., Ahaziah, the pronoun is emphatic) did very wickedly. The implied thought is: And, therefore, Jehoshaphat’s alliance was wrong. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 19:2.)

Verse 36

(36) And he joined himself with him.—Literally, and he joined him with himself, an expression only occurring here.

To make ships to go to Tarshish.—In 1 Kings 22:48-49, we read: “Jehoshaphat made ships (i.e., a fleet) of Tarshish, to go to Ophir for gold; and it went not; for the ships were broken (i.e., wrecked) in Ezion-geber. Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships; and Jehoshaphat consented not.” There is no mention of a previous alliance and partnership in the ship-building with Ahaziah. Moreover, the expression of our text, “ships to go to Tarshish,” appears to be an erroneous paraphrase of “ships of Tarshish,” or “Tarshish-men,” as we might say; a phrase which really means, vessels built for long sea-voyages. According to Kings, the ships were built “to go to Ophir for gold;” in other words, to renew Solomon’s traffic with India from the port on the Red Sea.

And they made the ships in Ezion-gaber.—The Edomite port at the head of the Gulf of Akaba. If Tarshish means the Phoenician Tartessus in Spain, the fleet could only go thither by doubling the Cape, or crossing the Isthmus of Suez. Therefore some have supposed another Tarshish somewhere in the Persian Gulf or on the north-west coast of India. (See on 2 Chronicles 9:21.)

Verse 37

(37) Then.—And.

Eliezer the son of Dodavah.—A prophet who is otherwise unknown.

Dodavah.—Heb. Dôdâvâhû. (Comp. Hôdavyâhû. 1 Chronicles 3:24; LXX., Δωδία, as if the Heb. were Dôdîyâh; Vulg., “Dodau.”

Mareshah.—See 2 Chronicles 11:8.

Because thou hast joined thyself.—Comp. Jehu the son of Hanani’s similar rebuke of Jenoshaphat for his alliance with Ahab (2 Chronicles 19:2).

The Lord hath broken.Shattered (parac). (Comp. 2 Chronicles 24:7.) The perfect is prophetic, i.e., will certainly shatter.

And the ships were broken.Wrecked by a gale. (Comp. Psalms 48:7 : “With the east wind Thou breakest ships of Tarshish.”)

That they were not able.And kept not strength to go (2 Chronicles 13:20; 2 Chronicles 14:10).

After this misadventure, Ahaziah proposed another joint expedition; but the king of Judah declined. (See on 2 Chronicles 20:36.)

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/2-chronicles-20.html. 1905.
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