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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 20

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

It came to pass after this also, [that] the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them [other] beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.

It came to pass after this also. — After Jehoshaphat’s great care to reform and set all to right throughout his kingdom, 2 Chronicles 19:4-11 for his further trial, and exercise of his faith, these enemies - moved with envy, doubtless, at his growing greatness, and stirred up by the Syrians, against whom he had taken part with Ahab lately - were turned loose upon him. The best are not to account it strange when they "fall into divers temptations"; but to consider of this golden chapter, wherein ( res multae et magnae continentur, saith Lavater) are contained many great matters; neither is there any chapter in this whole book whereout we may learn more.

And with them other beside the Ammonites, — viz., The Syrians, 2 Chronicles 20:2 and the Edomites. 2 Chronicles 20:10 The Amalekites, say some of the Hebrews; as others the Hamenins.

Came against Jehoshaphat to battle. — Not once giving him warning by their heralds or otherwise, Id fuit contra ius gentium. It was be done against the law of the nations. but thinking to surprise him, though he was never unprovided. See 2 Chronicles 17:17-18 .

Verse 2

Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they [be] in Hazazontamar, which [is] Engedi.

From beyond the sea. — The Dead Sea, which ran between Judea and Syria; and about this sea was their rendezvous.

Which is Engedi. — See Joshua 15:62 . Here were the gardens of balsam, saith Zeigler, and the woods of palm trees.

Verse 3

And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

Ver. 3 And Jehoshaphat feared … and proclaimed a fast. — When the Turks fast it is a sure sign that they are in a bodily fear: they also cast dust upon their heads, and their hands up towards heaven, when they are about to enter battle. Turk. Hist., 157. But Jehoshaphat’s fear was not only natural, of the enemy, but reverential, of God; and his fast not a moral but a religious abstinence, that he might thereby amerce the flesh, afflict the soul, and pray with more edge and earnestness.

Verse 4

And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask [help] of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.

To ask help of the Lord. — Armed they came on this errand. Ora et labora. Admota manu invocanda est Minerva, said the heathens. Pray and put forth yourselves at once. The late renowned Gustavus, king of Sweden, would pray on shipboard, ashore, in the field, in the midst of the battle; as if prayer alone were the surest piece of his whole armour.

Verse 5

And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,

Before the new court.Omnes docti ignorant quodnam fuerit atrium illud novum, saith Vatablus. It is generally taken for the priest’s court newly repaired, as the altar had been. 2 Chronicles 15:8

Verse 6

And said, O LORD God of our fathers, [art] not thou God in heaven? and rulest [not] thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand [is there not] power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?

Art not thou God in heaven? … — The choice of fit attributes, whereby to represent God to the soul in prayer, doth notably help faith and cause fervency.

Verse 7

[Art] not thou our God, [who] didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?

Art not thou our God? — God’s might and his mercy are faith’s Jachin and Boaz, whereon it resteth.

And gavest it to the seed of Abraham. — So that we are thy tenants, thy vassals; and wilt not thou see to us? Sure thou wilt.

Verse 8

And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,

And have built thee a sanctuary therein. — This is to be God’s faithful remembrancer, as Isaiah 62:6 , marg.

Verse 9

If, [when] evil cometh upon us, [as] the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name [is] in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.

If when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, … — Which is called "evil" by a specialty. "I make peace, and create evil," i.e., war. Isaiah 45:7 It is here further called a judgment by a specialty.

For thy name is in this house. — And shall it be a mere name? wilt not thou afford us the true signs and effects of thy presence?

Verse 10

And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;

Whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade.Deuteronomy 2:5 ; Deuteronomy 2:9 ; Deuteronomy 2:19 Numbers 20:21 . So that they are thine and our beneficiaries; but ungrateful ones.

Verse 11

Behold, [I say, how] they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.

Behold, I say, how they reward us. — See the indignity of the fact, and avenge it. To render evil for evil is brutish; but evil for good is devilish.

Verse 12

O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes [are] upon thee.

For we have no might against this great company. — Pray we the same; at the hour of death especially, when beset with legions of evil spirits.

But our eyes are toward thee. — Our hope is, that where human help faileth divine help will appear, as Philo the Jew said, when cast out by Caligula the emperor.

Verse 13

And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.

And all Judah stood before the Lord.Ex singulis familiis omnes All from each family. John 3:5

With their little ones, their wives, and their children. — To move pity, to excite devotion, and to offer a holy violence to the Almighty. Haec enim vis grata est Deo, saith Tertullian. Such a violence is well pleasing to God.

Verse 14

Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;

Came the Spirit of the Lord. — He was suddenly overcome by a prophetic inspiration, and moved by the Holy Ghost to utter it.

Verse 15

And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle [is] not yours, but God’s.

And thou king Jehoshaphat.Regem post plebem nominat, he nameth the king after the people; yet is not he displeased. The Pope of Rome taketh it for an affront to be named after the greatest kings and emperors. His flatterers tell him that he is the sun, and the emperor the moon, in the Church’s firmament.

Verse 16

To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.

Ver 16. Behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz — Which is said to be between the wilderness of Tekoah and the wilderness of Jeruel. Ziz signifieth a flower; it signifieth also, saith the Gloss, a caldron or pot; because in this place the enemies were cut in pieces, and made as meat for the pot.

Verse 17

Ye shall not [need] to fight in this [battle]: set yourselves, stand ye [still], and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD [will be] with you.

Set yourselves, stand ye still. — The soldier’s motto is, Nec fugere nec sequi: Neither flee nor follow. the true Christian’s is, Nec temere, nec timide. Neither rashly nor fearful. So here, neither fly upon your enemies, nor flee from them.

Verse 18

And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with [his] face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.

And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground.Incurvasit sese in nares versus terram. - Vat. He made very low obeisance. Among the Jews at this day, the gesture of adoration in their synagogues is the bowing forward of their bodies; for kneeling they use none, as neither do the Greeks. Sandys’s Relat. of West. Religion.

Verse 19

And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.

Stood up to praise the Lord. — So sure they were of the victory, that even before they had it they sang an επινοκιον , a triumphant song. As to God, so to true faith, all things are present, all things are possible.

Verse 20

And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.

Believe in the Lord … so shall ye be established. — When faith is driven to work alone without sense, then God thinks it lieth upon his credit to show mercy. See Isaiah 7:9 Hebrews 6:12 Isaiah 28:16 .

Verse 21

And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy [endureth] for ever.

And when he had consulted with the people. — This gained him much respect amongst them; for he knew that it was no hunting invitis canibus, unwilling dogs, unless the hounds were willing, as the proverb is.

He appointed singers unto the Lord. — See on 2 Chronicles 20:19 . Faith lodgeth a certainty in the soul, believing God upon his bare word; and that against sense in things invisible, and against mason in things incredible.

And that should praise the beauty of holiness. — This is a description of God, saith Junius; of heaven, saith Vatablus; of the ark, say others. Psalms 29:2 ; Psalms 96:9

Verse 22

And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.

And when they began to sing and to praise. — So at the siege of Mountabon, the people of God using daily humiliation as their service would permit, did sing a psalm after and immediately before their sallying forth. With which practice the enemy coming acquainted, ever upon the singing of the psalm, after which they expected a sally, they would so quake and tremble, crying, "They come, they come," as though the wrath of God and the rage of all the creatures had been breaking out upon them.

The Lord set ambushments.Furor hostibus a Deo immissus ut in se invicem efferati saevire non desisterent, donec mutuis caedibus sese prostravissent. The wrath of God wrought their ruin, as by an ambush, unexpectedly and irresistibly. Some understand this ambush of the holy angels, sent suddenly in upon them to slay them; whereupon they mistaking the matter, and supposing it had been their own companions, flew upon them, and so sheathed their swords in one another’s bowels.

Verse 23

For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy [them]: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.

Every one helped to destroy one another. — Like so many Terrigenae fratres. "Who would not fear thee, O King of nations!"

Verse 24

And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they [were] dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.

And none escaped.Ne ignifer quidem reliquus est factus, ut in Proverbio est. See the like history in Judges 7:22-25 , and learn how we may be freed from our spiritual enemies - viz., not by our own might and merits, but by faith in Christ, who hath made us more than conquerors, Romans 8:37 that is, triumphers. 2 Corinthians 2:14

Verse 25

And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.

Both riches. — The Hebrew Recush sounds like it. It signifieth substance, or gathered goods; for it hath the name of getting and gathering.

And precious jewels.Vasa desideriorum, gold rings, precious stones, chains of pearl, … Pharaoh’s horses had golden trappings. Song of Solomon 1:8 And the Midianitish camels had chains of gold about their necks. Judges 8:26

Verse 26

And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.

And on the fourth day. — Whilst the mercy was yet fresh. We must hasten our praises: no part of the thank offering might be kept until the third day.

For there they blessed the Lord. — So did our Edward III after the victory at Poictiers, where he took the French king, A.D. 1356. Polydor Virgil telleth us, Lib. xix. that speedy order was taken that eight days together should be spent in giving God the thanks and glory. The like was done by our Richard I when he had beaten the king of France at Givors, A.D. 1195. Hoveden. But especially by our Henry V after his victory at Agincourt. He gave strict orders, saith the chronicler, Daniel. that no ballad or song should be made or sung, more than of thanksgiving to the Lord alone. That victorious king of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus, as he prayed much and often, on shipboard, on shore, in the field, in the midst of battle, so he was no less careful to glorify God the giver of victory: as making him not his refuge only, but his recompense also. Speed.

Therefore the name of the place was called Berachah,i.e., Blessing: so to perpetuate to posterity the memory of that great mercy. There are that think this valley is the same with that called the valley of Jehoshaphat, Joel 3:2 ; Joel 3:12 and that there Christ shall sit in judgment.

Verse 27

Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.

And Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them. — Heb., In the head of them. Isid. Among the Romans no man was to ride in triumph, unless he had overcome fifty thousand enemies, or except he had got five victories; and then the conqueror in his triumphant chariot rode to the capitol, where in all humility he presented a palm to Jupiter, whereby he acknowledged it was his power whereby the enemy was vanquished. Liv., lib. vi. dec. 3. Good Jehoshaphat is here riding in triumph to Jerusalem, there to acknowledge, that not Jupiter, but Jehovah had made them to rejoice over their enemies.

Verse 28

And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD.

Unto the house of the Lord. — Not to tippling houses and wine taverns, Non recta in aenopolia se contulerunt. - Lavat. as now-a-days the manner of some is.

Verse 29

And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of [those] countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel.

And the fear of God, … — The Lord cast a great terror into their minds, and so restrained them.

Verse 30

So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.

For his God gave him rest. — "It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble his: and to them who are troubled, rest," if not afore, yet at least "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven," … 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7

Verse 31

And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: [he was] thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name [was] Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.

Ver. 31-33. See Trapp on " 1 Kings 22:41 " See Trapp on " 1 Kings 22:42 " See Trapp on " 1 Kings 22:43 "

Verse 33

Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.

For as yet the people had not prepared their hearts. — They could not find in their hearts, though Jehoshaphat had been at much pains with them, 2 Chronicles 19:4 to part with their accustomed sacrificing in those high places; nor could the king yet bring them to it. That tyrant of three letters, Mos , or custom, is very prevalent everywhere. The people called Hircani had an absurd custom of casting their dead to be devoured by dogs, which were kept for the purpose at the public charge, and called grave dogs. Cicero. And whenas king Nicanor would have broke them of that barbarous custom, he hardly escaped the loss of his kingdom and life together. Nicronym.

Verse 34

Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they [are] written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who [is] mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.

Who is mentioned, — viz., 1 Kings 16:5 . Others render it, Who was commanded to register the same in the books of the kings of Israel, of part whereof they conceived him to have been the penman.

Verse 35

And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:

Did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself. — So he fell once and again into the same sin. See 1 Kings 22:44 .

Verse 36

And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongeber.

And he joined himself. — See 1 Kings 22:48-49 .

Verse 37

Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.

And the ships were broken. — By tempest likely; and perhaps lying at anchor in the harbour; as it befell Charles V’s navy before the walls of Algiers, besieged by him by sea and by land, and well-nigh taken.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/2-chronicles-20.html. 1865-1868.
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