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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 3

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

Achab. Joram succeeded his brother, chap. i. 17.

Verse 2

Baal. This happened after his victory over Moab, ver. 13. (Calmet) --- Salien thinks rather that Josaphat refused to assist him, except he would destroy what had been lately introduced by his parents, as the league with Achab had been blamed. See 2 Paralipomenon xix. 2. The golden calves were of an older standing, and could not be so easily taken from the people. (Menochius) --- Joram was not so wicked as might have been expected. (Calmet)

Verse 4

Nourished. Hebrew noked, a term which the Septuagint leave untranslated, means literally, "marked" with some colour by the master. Aut pecori signum, aut numeros impressit acervo. (Georg. i.)

Sheep, Symmachus, "large cattle." --- Fleeces; is it commonly supposed every year. This mode of tribute was more usual than paying money. The Moabites were chiefly employed in feeding sheep and cattle; so that it is not wonderful that they should have such great numbers. Dejotarus is represented not only as "a noble Tetrarch, but also as a diligent husbandman and herdsman," pecuarius: (Cicero) which last is the idea which some attach to Mesa.

Verse 7

He entered cordially into this war, as he perceived that if Moab succeeded, Edom would follow the same plan. (Menochius)

Verse 8

Edom though more circuitous (Calmet) than to cross over the Jordan at Galgal, as the enemy might this be taken unawares, (Menochius) and fresh recruits might be procured from the tributary king of Edom, ver. 9. (Haydock) Yet the want of water made this road more dangerous.

Verse 11

Elias, a proverbial expression to denote that he waited upon him, though the prophet’s rough manner of living would require but little attendance. So John the Baptist speaks of untying our Saviour’s shoes, Matthew iii. (Calmet) --- Providence had sent Eliseus to attend the army (Haydock) contrary to his custom. (Calmet)

Verse 12

With him. I am content. (Haydock) --- Others read with an interrogation, as if the reputation of Eliseus was not yet established. (Menochius) --- Him; they go to his tent. No one ever supported the character of God’s envoy, or shewed his authority over the most haughty, better than Eliseus. (Calmet)

Verse 13

Mother, whom thou supportest. This is not an order, but a sarcasm (Haydock) which the king deserved. (Calmet) --- Christ said to Judas, what thou dost, do quickly, John xiii. 27. (Haydock) --- With what liberty does the prophet speak to an impious king! shewing himself worthy to succeed Elias, and actuated by the like zeal for God.

Verse 14

Reverence, (erubescerem) "blush at," may imply a degree of censure at Josaphat’s being again found in such bad company, ver. 2. (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "If I did not receive (Calmet) or regard the face." (Haydock)

Verse 15

Minstrel. The priests and Levites, who officiated in the temple, accompanied the army. Eliseus wants no profane music, (Calmet) but, by this request, shews his respect for the true religion, (Haydock) and by sounding forth the divine praises, in some of David’s psalms, wishes to obtain of God the favour which was desired. (Theodoret) (Menochius) --- He had felt some emotion at the sight of Joram, and was sensible that God required a calm. (Calmet) --- He dwells not in a violent wind, &c., 3 Kings xix 11. (Haydock) --- The surprising effects of ancient music to calm the passions are well attested, 1 Kings xvi. 17. By this means St. Francis was raised to the contemplation of heavenly things; and St. Augustine says of himself: "How I wept when I heard thy hymns and canticles, being greatly moved at the delightful harmony of thy church:" suavesonantis Ecclesiæ tuæ vocibus commotus acriter. (Conf. ix. 6. de C. xiv. 24.) --- Upon him, so that he experienced that enthusiasm which shewed that he was actuated by the divine spirit, to speak with all the authority requisite. The pagans strove to imitate the true prophets, but the difference was very evident; no less than the spirit with which they were filled; the former were agitated in a furious manner; the latter were composed and majestic. (Calmet)

Verse 16

Ditches. It was then quite dry; the water which should come in the night, would both refresh the army, and bring on the ruin of the Moabites.

Verse 19

Tree. This was an exception from the general law; (Deuteronomy xx. 19.; Calmet) or it might only regard the land of Chanaan, which the Hebrews should occupy. (Menochius) (Worthington) --- Stones, which had been gathered off into heaps, Isaias v. 1. Persius calls a field thus cleared, Exossatus ager; (Calmet) as if the bones were taken out. (Haydock)

Verse 20

Offered, at sun-rise, Exodus xxix. 38. --- Water, produced miraculously, without any rain being seen; (ver. 17.; Calmet) though it might fall at a distance in Idumea. (Haydock)

Verse 21

Upon them. Hebrew, "and upward," both soldiers and those who were usually exempt from service.

Verse 22

Blood. The clouds have frequently a reddish colour at sun-rise, which would be reflected in the waters: the sand might also be red. As the Moabites knew that no water could be expected there at that season of the year, and as some examples had occurred of people turning their arms one against another in the night, (Judges vii. 11., and 1 Kings xiv. 20.) they concluded that what they saw was blood. (Calmet) --- God had also destined them for slaughter, (Abulensis, q. 21.) and suffered their imagination and judgment to be deluded. (Haydock)

Verse 24

Moab. Hebrew adds, "even in the country."

Verse 25


Brick walls. It was the proper name of the city of the Moabites. In Hebrew, Kir-Charaseth. (Challoner) --- Isaias xv., and xvi. 7. It was also called Ar, or Arcopolis. --- Remained. Hebrew adds, "with the stones unmolested." They laid siege to it. (Haydock) --- Slingers. Grotius would understand those who attended the machines designed to throw stones, &c. But the slingers kept off the enemy, while others undermined the walls. (Calmet)

Verse 26

Edom, hoping that he would favour their escape, or because that part seemed the weakest.

Verse 27

Wall, to Chamos, the idol of Moab; (Menochius) or to Moloc, to appease the wrath of the gods. Horrible blindness! The pagans believed, that the most precious thing ought to be sacrificed in very imminent dangers. (Philo Biblius, following Eusebius, præp. iv. 16.) --- The Phœnicians offered such victims to Saturn. Many devoted themselves to death for the safety of the Roman republic; and some were ready to do so, to preserve the lives of Caligula and Nero, before they had given proof of their evil dispositions. (Seutonius xiv.) --- It s thought that Sennacherib intended to treat his two sons in this manner, if they had not prevented him. (Abulensis, in 4 Kings xix. 37.) --- Some imagine that Mesa sacrificed his son to the God of Israel, in imitation of Abraham; (Josephus; Grotius) others, that he slew the son of the king of Edom, out of revenge. (Kimchi, in Amos ii. 1.) --- The Hebrew is ambiguous. (Amama) --- But interpreters generally believe, that the heir of Mesa fell a victim (Calmet) to his father’s mistaken zeal, or to his desire to make the enemy retire, when they saw him reduced to such a state of desperation. It had, at least, this effect. (Haydock) --- Indignation, at such a cruel action. (Menochius) --- Septuagint, "there was great repentance" and sorrow. The text may also imply, that God was displeased at Israel for pushing the king to such an extremity; or, they became an object of horror to the surrounding nations. (Calmet) --- The first explanation seems the best; as the Israelites thought the king had been sufficiently punished, and therefore retired. They had no reason to suspect that he would have given way to such madness, nor were they to blame for it. (Haydock)

Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/2-kings-3.html. 1859.
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