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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 17

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-9

Good Jehoshaphat, Verses 1-9

While Ahab was doing wickedly in the northern kingdom of Israel. Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa, was reigning in the southern kingdom of Judah. In contrast to Ahab, Jehoshaphat was accomplishing good things which gained him favor with the Lord. There is in Jehoshaphat, however, somewhat of a paradox. While he evidences faith in some deeds, he seems anxious in others. Though he lived for the Lord and usually served Him he often joined company in evil enterprises which got him into trouble. All in all, though, he was the best king the southern kingdom had had to that time.

Jehoshaphat seems to have started out by relying on physical strength. He feared Israel and Ahab and prepared to defend his kingdom against them by refortifying the walled cities of Judah and garrisoning troops in them. These defensive measures included the occupied cities of Ephraim which had been in the possession of the kings of Judah since Asa took them from Baasha, when he hired the king of Syria to attack the northern kingdom, instead of calling on the Lord (2 Chronicles 16:1 ff).

But the Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he put Him first in his life, as David his great forefather had done. He rejected the Baal gods so prominently worshipped in the northern kingdom, and followed the commandments of the Lord. For this the Lord established him as the revered king of Judah, and the people brought rich presents to him, making him wealthy and honorable. All this lifted up his heart in the Lord. In this Jehoshaphat illustrates how the Lord’s people may display proper pride. It must be in the Lord and not in self (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).

King Jehoshaphat destroyed the altars of the high places and cut down the groves of prostitution throughout Judah. When he was in his third year as king he instituted a unique project. It was a missionary and evangelistic endeavor, a kind of traveling Bible school. It was composed of sixteen men; five princes, nine Levites, and two priests. They were to travel throughout Judah and teach the people the law of the Lord as found in the books of Moses. These teachers went into all the cities of Judah carrying out the king’s instructions. The princes were doubtless pious elders of the land, concerned for its spiritual condition. In them would be vested the civil authority of the king in the venture. The nine Levites were the teachers of the word. This was to have been a large part of their responsibility under the law, and is what all -of them should have been doing in their cities. The two priests must have represented the authority of the law, as mediators for the people toward the Lord. The zeal of Jehoshaphat toward his own people should have grown until such missionary work reached into all the world (Psalms 48:10).

Verses 10-19

Jehoshaphat’s Power, Verses 10-19

The Lord continued to reward Jehoshaphat with peace. He gained the respect of all the nations around Judah, because the Lord put His fear in their hearts. The Philistines and the Arabians were tributary to him. The Philistines’ tribute included silver, but the Arabians’ tribute consisted chiefly of animals, since their wealth was chiefly in herds and flocks. They were mainly nomadic people of the desert oases. They paid the tribute with seventy-seven hundred rams and seventy-seven hundred male goats. These animals would have furnished a great deal of meat for the people of Judah, or may perhaps have been used in com­merce with other nations. Jehoshaphat grew ever more prestigious and great. He constructed castles and store cities to contain his wealth. He carried on commercial enterprises with all the cities of Judah.

Jehoshaphat used his wealth to build a great army, with well-trained captains at their heads. It consisted of five companies, three composed of men of Judah and two composed of men of Benjamin. The contin­gents of Judah numbered 300,000 under Adnah; 280,000 under Jeho­hanan; 200,000 under Amasiah. The Benjamite contingents numbered 200,000 under Eliada, and 180,000 under Jehozabad. Altogether the armed forces numbered 1,160,000 men, said to be in addition to those already garrisoned in the fenced cities. It would have required a lot of rams and goats to feed this many men.

Nothing more is known of any of these captains of the army except what is recorded here. It is said that Amasiah, who commanded the third Judahite contingent, willingly offered himself to the Lord. This means he willingly supported King Jehoshaphat in his religious reformation. God desires willing service (Psalms 110:3). Eliada’s command was over the famed bowmen of the tribe of Benjamin. All of them stood ready, prepared for war (1 Peter 3:15).

There are lessons to be found in this brief chapter: 1) the Lord will heap His blessings on those who walk in His way; 2) those who have the truth should use their means to let others know it also; 3) willingness and readiness should characterize every disciple of Christ.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 17". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-chronicles-17.html. 1985.
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