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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 3

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-8

The Campaign Undertaken

v. 1. Now Jehoram, the son of Ahab, began to reign ever Israel in Samaria the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, who had evidently made his son Jehoram coregent the year before, 2 Kings 1:17, and reigned twelve years.

v. 2. And he wrought evil in the sight of the Lord, but not like his father and like his mother, Jezebel, the idolater and tyrant; for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made, 1 Kings 16:3 l. 32. His object was evidently to make the worship of the golden calves the only national religion.

v. 3. Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom No matter what the original intention of the calf-statues had been, their worship had degenerated to the lowest form of idolatry.

v. 4. And Mesha, king of Moab, was a sheepmaster, his well-watered country being particularly fitted for purposes of pasturage and his own wealth consisting largely of flocks, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, these probably being delivered alive for food, and an hundred thousand rams with the wool, the fleeces alone being included in the tribute in this case. The payment was a very considerable one, even for a wealthy country.

v. 5. But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel, as noted above, 2 Kings 1:1.

v. 6. And King Jehoram went out of Samaria the same time and numbered all Israel, he mustered all his forces for the purpose of overthrowing the rebellion of Moab.

v. 7. And he went and sent to Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, saying, The king of Moab hath rebelled against me, a fact which endangered the welfare of Judah as well; wilt thou go with me against Moab to battle? And he said, agreeing to the alliance, I will go up; I am as thou art, my people as thy people, and my horses as thy horses, 1 Kings 22:4, thus pledging himself and all his resources for the assistance of Israel.

v. 8. And he, Jehoram, said, Which way shall we go up? They could either cross the Jordan and move against the country from the north, or march down on the western side of the Dead Sea and attack from the east and south. And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom. On this side the Moabites had no strong fortifications, the attacking army would not be exposed to a possible assault by the Syrians, and the two kings might count on the help of the Edomites. As our Lord also advises, it is always a safe matter to count the cost before attempting any serious matter.

Verses 9-20

The Miracle in the Wilderness

v. 9. So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom, the governor under the overlordship of Judah being given the title of king by courtesy, 1 Kings 22:48; and they fetched a compass of seven days' journey, marching down near the western shore of the Dead Sea. And there was no water for the host and for the cattle that followed them, used as provisions for the army. They had ventured too far from their water supply.

v. 10. And the king of Israel, immediately abandoning himself to despair, said, Alas, that the Lord hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab! Being without faith in Jehovah, he saw nothing but death and destruction before his eyes.

v. 11. But Jehoshaphat, having confidence in the Lord, said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord that we may enquire of the Lord by him? Cf 1 Kings 22:7. He wanted the advice of a true prophet, of one in the service of Jehovah. 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, namely, in the capacity of servant and disciple.

v. 12. And Jehoshaphat, who had heard of this new prophet, said, The word of the Lord is with him, he is a genuine prophet. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him, from the elevation on which their tents were placed to the valley where Elisha remained with the host.

v. 13. And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, taking this opportunity to reprove him and to work a wholesome sorrow for his sins in his heart, What have I to do with thee? What business could they have together, since Jehoram was addicted to idolatry? Get thee to the prophets of thy father and to the prophets of thy mother; for he still permitted the priests of Baal to continue in his land. And the king of Israel, with at least some show of humility, said unto him, Nay; for the Lord hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab. So his appeal for help was based upon the fact that the lives and armies of three kings were at stake.

v. 14. And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts, Jehovah Sabaoth, the mighty Ruler of the heavenly armies, 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, he would have ignored both him and his request.

v. 15. But now bring me a minstrel, a harp-player, his intention being by means of the soothing influence of music to withdraw his mind from the outer world and prepare for any Revelation which the Lord might give him. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him, he became a mouthpiece of Jehovah.

v. 16. And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches, with cisterns for holding an abundance of water.

v. 17. For thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain, there would be no rainstorm in or near their camp; yet that valley shall be filled with water that ye may drink, both ye and your cattle and your beasts, the former being the animals intended for food, the latter those bearing burdens.

v. 18. And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord, it was a small matter to Jehovah to supply the army with drinking-water; He will deliver the Moabites also into your hand, granting them a glorious victory over the enemy.

v. 19. And ye shall smite every fenced city, those with strong fortifications, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, even the fruit-trees not being excepted in this case, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones, by so covering it with stones that it would no longer be fit for cultivation.

v. 20. And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat-offering was offered, at the time of the morning sacrifice, shortly after sunrise, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water. The Lord had sent a heavy rain or a cloudburst in the hills of Edom during the night, and the water now came rushing down the canyons into the valley where the combined armies were encamped. It was a miracle of God's mercy, one of whose objects was to turn the hearts of all the men to Him.

Verses 21-27

The Defeat of Moab

v. 21. And when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, this had taken place in the course of the seven days while the attacking army was approaching, they gathered all that were able to put on armor, summoning all those that were able to gird themselves, that is, to bear arms, and upward, not only the very young, but also all the older men, and stood in the border, drawn up in battle-line along the boundary of their country.

v. 22. And they rose up early in the morning, on the day when the Lord sent down the water from the mountains of Edom, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood, from the reflection of the sun's red light;

v. 23. and they said, This is blood, a conclusion by no means far-fetched, for they knew that there was no water in the desert; the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another, their well-known jealousy having reached such a height of disagreement that a bloody carnage had resulted. Now, therefore, Moab, to the spoil! They broke ranks and rushed forward as a disorganized mob.

v. 24. And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, who were utterly taken by surprise when the enemy met them with arms ready for the attack, so that they fled before them. But they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country; for the Israelites and their allies pursued the fleeing Moabites across the boundary.

v. 25. And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone and filled it, rendering it unfit for bearing grain; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees; only in Kir-haraseth left they the stones thereof, the capital city, the most important fortification of the country, they besieged last; howbeit, the slingers went about it and smote it, picking off the men of the garrison as they showed themselves upon the walls.

v. 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, expert swordsmen, to break through even unto the king of Edom, believing that this part of the attacking army was the weakest; but they could not.

v. 27. Then he, the king of Moab, took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, the heir apparent to the throne, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall, sacrificing him to the Moabite war-god Chemosh in full sight of the besieging army. And there was great indignation against Israel, their army was filled with disgust and indignation at this deed; and they departed from him, not wishing to remain any longer in that country, horrified at seeing this human sacrifice, and returned to their own land. Thus all believers should abhor the abominations of the idolatrous world and flee from their temptations.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/2-kings-3.html. 1921-23.
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