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The Threatened Invasion
v. 1. It came to pass after this also, some six or seven years before the death of Jehoshaphat, that the children of Moab and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, namely, the Meunites of Arabia Petraea, all heathen nations east, southeast, and south of the Dead Sea, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.
v. 2. Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria, rather, from Edom beyond the Dead Sea, for their attack would naturally be made from that side; and, behold, they be in Hazazoa-tamar, which is En-gedi, at the middle of the western shore of the Dead Sea, some twenty-five miles from Jerusalem.
v. 3. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, he sought no other avenues of help, but steadfastly looked to the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah, as a sign of deep mourning and penitence over any misdeeds, in order to gain the good will of the Lord in their favor.
v. 4. And Judah gathered themselves together, all the people of the country assembled at Jerusalem for a solemn, universal fast at the Sanctuary of Jehovah, to ask help of the Lord; even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord, for afflictions of every kind tend to drive men to the mercy of Jehovah.
v. 5. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, the great or outer court, which had apparently recently been repaired or enlarged, his position being at the entrance of the inner or priests' court,
v. 6. and said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou God in heaven, the almighty Creator and Preserver, to whom the children of Israel owed all the rich benefits which they then enjoyed? And rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen, making it impossible for them to carry out any evil designs without His permission? And in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand Thee?
v. 7. Art not Thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land, all the heathen nations, before Thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham, Thy friend, for ever? Note the honor included in the word "friend," as applied to any believer.
v. 8. And they dwelt therein, and have built Thee a Sanctuary therein for Thy name, saying,
v. 9. If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house and in Thy presence, as King Solomon had prayed, 1 Kings 8:33-37, (for Thy name is in this house,) and cry unto Thee in our affliction, then Thou wilt hear and help. Jehoshaphat here made use of the proper importunity in his prayer, by reminding the Lord of His promise, 2 Chronicles 7:14-16.
v. 10. And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom Thou wouldest not let Israel invade, for the Lord had expressly ordered that the children of Israel should not disturb these nations, Deuteronomy 3:4 to Deuteronomy 9:19, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and destroyed them not;
v. 11. behold, I say, how they reward us to come to cast us out of Thy possession which Thou hast given us to inherit. The heathen nations were attacking without provocation, their purpose being the conquest of the land.
v. 12. O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? namely, by letting His punitive justice strike them. For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us, neither know we what to do, they were unable to defend themselves against the overwhelming numbers; but our eyes are upon Thee, steadfastly and trustfully looking to God for His almighty assistance.
v. 13. And all Judah stood before the Lord, in seconding the king's prayer, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. That is the proper and effective way of bringing matters to the attention of the Lord, by reminding Him of His promises and declaring one's unwavering trust in His almighty power and mercy alone.
The Miraculous Overthrow of the Enemies
v. 14. Then upon Jehaziel, 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, putting a wonderful prophecy into his mouth;
v. 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; it was He whose honor was at stake, and who would take steps to defend it.
v. 16. Tomorrow go ye down against them; behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz, the ascent of Haziz, the pass which led from the lowlands of the Dead Sea to the valley near Tekoa, southeast of Bethlehem; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel, for to that point this large, flat valley extends.
v. 17. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle, it would be fought and won without their swords and bows; set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem, the deliverance which they would experience. Fear not nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord will be with you.
v. 18. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, in grateful acknowledgment of the announcement made by God through His prophet; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshiping the Lord, joining the king in his act of thanksgiving.
v. 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, in an anthem of praise flowing from the conviction of faith that the victory was even new gained.
v. 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, in an address delivered to the people at some convenient place, probably near the gate of the city from which they set forth, Hear me, O Judah and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord, your God, placing their trust in Him in unwavering faith, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, as the bearers of His messages, so shall ye prosper.
v. 21. And when he had consulted with the people, advised them, exhorted them to confidence in God, he appointed singers unto the Lord, to lead the procession as it was led forth to the valley, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, the holy beauty and glory of Jehovah as the one true God and Savior, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord, for His mercy endureth forever, probably Psalms 136, which sets forth the great deeds of God.
v. 22. And when they began to sing and to praise, in a singular service of worship based upon faith in the victory promised to them, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir which were come against Judah, and they were smitten. It seems that certain divisions of the invading hordes, eager for booty, had determined to waylay any forces that might come along. When these attacked their own confederates, however, the result was a wild self-slaughter of the invading army, every man regarding his neighbor as a traitor and an enemy.
v. 23. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, the Meunites, utterly to slay and destroy them; and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, when practically the entire force of the Meunites was annihilated, everyone helped to destroy another, the wild slaughter continued, because they were all crazed with the lust of blood.
v. 24. And when Judah, the procession which had left Jerusalem in the morning, came toward the watch-tower in the wilderness, on a rise of ground not far from Tekoa, where they could overlook the entire valley, they looked unto the multitude, they watched for the approaching hordes, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth and none escaped, the entire hostile army was exterminated.
v. 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, costly dress-goods and garments, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away, an immense booty, for the nomadic tribes carried all their costly possessions with them. And they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much. Thus the victory came to Jehoshaphat without the use of arms, as a gift of God's goodness, in return for the simple trust which he and the people had placed in Him alone. The same almighty God is the Refuge of His children today.
Summary of Jehoshaphat's Reign
v. 26. And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the Valley of Berachah (blessing, praise); for there they blessed the Lord, in this beautiful little valley west of Tekoa they expressed their gratitude to Jehovah in prayers of praise and thanksgiving; therefore the name of the same place was called the Valley of Berachah unto this day.
v. 27. Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, the entire procession which had left Jerusalem four days before, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, taking the lead in praising, as he had taken the lead in trusting the Lord's promise, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies, and their gladness was expressed in the proper manner, in thanksgiving to Jehovah, who gave the victory.
v. 28. And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets, the usual instruments used for the Temple music, unto the house of the Lord.
v. 29. . And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, they were deterred from undertaking hostilities by their dread of the God of Israel, when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of Israel.
v. 30. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet; for his God gave him rest round about. Peace in the land is ever a gift of God's bountiful goodness.
v. 31. And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah, over the southern kingdom only; 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.
v. 32. And he walked in the way of Asa, his father, in the fear of Jehovah, and departed not from it, being even more consistently faithful to Jehovah than his father, doing that which was right in the sight of the Lord.
v. 33. Howbeit, the high places were not taken away, the altars erected on the hills contrary to the will of God, whether expressly dedicated to idolatry or not; for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.
v. 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, 1 Kings 16:1-7.
v. 35. And after this did Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, join himself with Ahaziah, king of Israel, as he had made a league with his father before him, who did very wickedly.
v. 36. And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, most likely Tartessus in Spain, after Ahazah had overcome the reluctance of Jehoshaphat, 1 Kings 22:49; and they made the ships in Ezion-gaber, the harbor at the head of the Elanitic Gulf.
v. 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, wrecked before they left the harbor, that they were not able to go to Tarshish. God has ways and means to keep men from yielding too much to pride and arrogance and thus losing their trust in Him.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany