Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 3

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Now Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years.

In the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat. — But in the second year of Jehoram, 2 Kings 1:17 whom his father Jehoshaphat had made viceroy; but misliking his son’s evil practices, as it is probable, he resumed the sceptre.

Verse 2

And he wrought evil in the sight of the LORD; but not like his father, and like his mother: for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made.

But not like his father, and like his mother. — Not all out so bad; and yet not very much better than they. Optimi putantur si vel leviter mali sint, saith a Popish writer concerning the Popes of Rome, vel minus boni quam caeteri mortales esse solent. They are held very good popes if they be not grossly evil; or if somewhat less good than other men use to be. Think the same of the kings of Israel.

For he put away the image of Baal. — This was somewhat toward a reformation, and he was drawn to it by good Jehoshaphat’s persuasion likely, who hoping to work further with him, was content to be his confederate, as it followeth.

Verse 3

Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.

Nevertheless he cleaved. — This partiality in reformation marreth all. God liketh not that men should plough here, and make a balk there: this is putid hypocrisy.

Verse 4

And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.

And Mesha king of Moab. — Mesha signifieth Salvation, a fit name for a king. But this man might as ill deserve it, as did Antiochus, surnamed Soter, that is, a saviour: not for any great good he did, but because he did not much harm.

With the wool. — It was grown to a proverb among our forefathers, Curia Romana non petit ovem sine lana. Rain., De Idol. Rom., p. 272.

Verse 5

But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.

When Ahab was dead.Elephanti mortuo vel mus insultat. But besides the death of Ahab, Ahaziah his son and successor was weak; and hence this revolt of Moab from him.

Verse 6

And king Jehoram went out of Samaria the same time, and numbered all Israel.

The same time. — That is, So soon as by the death of his brother he came to the kingdom.

Verse 7

And he went and sent to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying, The king of Moab hath rebelled against me: wilt thou go with me against Moab to battle? And he said, I will go up: I [am] as thou [art], my people as thy people, [and] my horses as thy horses.

And he said, I will go up. — See on 2 Kings 3:2 . The Moabites had lately, with other nations, invaded Judah, 2 Chronicles 20:1 and therefore it may be Jehoshaphat hearkened the rather to Jehoram’s motion.

Verse 8

And he said, Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom.

The way through the wilderness of Edom.Imprudens erat hoc responsum et concilium. Jehoshaphat spoke this impoliticly; and no wonder, since he consulted not time enough with God, by his prophets. Jehoshaphat is usually an Epimetheus, a postmaster, an after wit.

Verse 9

So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days’ journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.

Of seven days’ journey. — This was a long while for such an army to be without water; and should have been sooner seen to. Prevision is the best means of prevention. This was a check to Jehoshaphat’s rashness.

Verse 10

And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!

Alas! that the Lord hath called.Vox est admirantis et desperantis, saith Vatablus. He seeketh to lay the blame upon the Lord: though it were himself especially that brought the army into that distress. "The wickedness of a man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord." Proverbs 19:3

Verse 11

But Jehoshaphat said, [Is there] not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of the LORD by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here [is] Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.

Is there not here a prophet of the Lord? — Jehoram in this distress doth only quarrel and complain; but good Jehoshaphat bethinketh himself, though late first, of a prophet. Had this been done time enough, these straits had been avoided; but Nunquam sero, si serio.

Who poured water. — Was his household servant.

Verse 12

And Jehoshaphat said, The word of the LORD is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.

So the king of Israel. — By Jehoshaphat’s persuasion likely, and the present necessity. Either zeal or need will make a prophet honoured. These three kings sent not for Elisha, but went unto him.

Verse 13

And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay: for the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab.

What have I to do with thee? … — See how infinitely the Lord scorneth the addresses and services of ungodly persons. Ezekiel 20:3

Verse 14

And Elisha said, [As] the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.

As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand. — As his servant; and therefore may not fear the face of any mortal wight, be he never so great a king or kaiser.

Surely, were it not that I regard the presence. — So saith the Lord to the world of wicked ones, concerning his saints and servants mixed among them. The scaffold standeth but only for the building’s sake; the hedge for the grain’s sake: when the building is finished, the scaffold is taken down; when the grain is ripe, the hedge is burned; so here.

Verse 15

But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.

But now bring me a minstrel, — Heb., One that striketh with his hand upon a musical instrument. A Levite, likely, he meant, that played and sung some psalm of David. Such a one the prophet here calleth for, to dispel his grief, say some Hebrew doctors, for the loss of Elijah; from whose translation, till the then present occasion, the spirit of prophecy, say the same authors, rested not upon him. To compose his spirits, say some, much moved with indignation at Jehoram; for which purpose also the Pythagoreans, every night when they went to bed, played on an instrument. Quintilian, lib. ix. cap. 4. And Plato in his laws attributeth the same virtue to music. But besides this, the prophet’s mind might hereby be raised up to an expectation of God communicating himself. The way to be filled with the Spirit is to edify ourselves by psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. Hence we sing before sermon, …

Verse 16

And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Make this valley full of ditches.

Make this valley full of ditches, — Heb., Ditches, ditches, sc., to receive the water which shall fall by a miracle. Thus God for the most part, saith Mr Diodate here, first prepareth the vessels which are to receive his grace, which is never limited nor hindered but only by man’s incapacity.

Verse 17

For thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts.

Ye shall not see wind nor rain. — God can relieve his people in the fail of means. Habakkuk 3:17

Verse 18

And this is [but] a light thing in the sight of the LORD: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.

And this is but a light thing. — A great thing it was in itself considered - else Lysimachus would never have parted with his kingdom for a cup of water, to save his life; but behold a greater, and admire the goodness of God to an undeserving people.

Verse 19

And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.

And ye shall smite every fenced city.Omnia anathemati devovebitis. Spoiling Moab shall be utterly spoiled. Isaiah 33:1

And mar every good piece of land, — Heb., Grieve or afflict; Nam lapides sunt quaedam pestes agrorum.

Verse 20

And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat offering was offered, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.

In the morning, when the meat offering was offered. — Which was the hour of public prayer. Acts 3:1 The devotions of all true Jews - all the world over - were in that hour combined. How seasonably doth the wisdom of God pick out that instant wherein he might at once answer both Elisha’s prophecy and his people’s prayers!

That, behold, there came water.Adductae ab angelis, saith A Lapide, brought thither by the angels.

And the country was filled. — Not the ditches only.

Verse 21

And when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered all that were able to put on armour, and upward, and stood in the border.

They gathered all that were able to put on armour. — In Scotland, they have an ancient custom, in cases of importance, to command the fire cross to be carried; that is, two firebrands set in fashion of a cross, and pitched upon the point of a spear, and proclamation is thereupon made that all men over sixteen years of age, and under sixty, shall come into the field against the common enemy. Life of King Edward VI, by Sir J. Heywood,

Verse 22

And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side [as] red as blood:

And the Moabites saw the water … as red as blood. — So they seemed to be, by reason of the sunbeams, which met with the vapours that arose out of the waters, and could not dispel them.

Verse 23

And they said, This [is] blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil.

This is blood. — For water they were confident there could be none.

They have smitten one another. — Here they mused as themselves had used; 2 Chronicles 20:23 for why might not others fall out, and fall foul on one another, as they had done?

Verse 24

And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them: but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in [their] country.

And when they came to the camp of Israel.Ordinibas non servatis et acie non instructa, disranked and disordered. Their misconceit undid them, as it still doth many.

Verse 25

And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees: only in Kirharaseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about [it], and smote it.

Only in Kirhareseth. — The strongest city in Moab. See Isaiah 16:11 .

Left they the stones thereof,i.e., The stone walls, which, being very strong, and, in addition, well manned and defended by the king of Moab, who was fled there with his forces, were not rased and harassed as the rest.

Verse 26

And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew swords, to break through [even] unto the king of Edom: but they could not.

To break through even unto the king of Edom. — Either because that quarter was weakest, or because his rage was most against the Edomites for helping the Israelites against him.

Verse 27

Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him [for] a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to [their own] land.

Then he took his eldest son. — The king of Edom’s eldest son, say some, whom he had taken in the late sally, and now spitefully sacrificed. See on Amos 2:1 . The king of Moab’s own son and heir, say others, whom he took and sacrificed to his god Chemos, or the sun, that with so precious a sacrifice he might prevail with him for help in this extremity. The like was usually done by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, as Diodorus and Q. Curtius report, by an apish and hellish imitation, say some, of Abraham’s offering up his son Isaac. R. Solomon, and cut of him Lyra, tell us that the king of Moab asked his priests how the Iraelites came to be so gracious with God, and so victorious. They answered, that Abraham their father, in obedience unto him, sacrificed his only son, and that Mosha thereupon took and sacrificed this his son upon the wall. And the like is reported of Sennacherib, as I have elsewhere noted.

And there was great indignation,i.e., Great discontent in the other two confederate kings against the king of Israel for his obstinate spleen, the cause of such an abomination.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/2-kings-3.html. 1865-1868.
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