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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 17

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Second Chronicles Chapter 17

2 Chronicles 17:1 "And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel."

Jehoshaphat {whom Jehovah judges} was a powerful king who took over as king, when he was 35 years old. He was the son of Asa and Azubah. He was, also, spoken of as Josaphat. It appears, he strengthened his people against possible attack from Israel.

2 Chronicles 17:2 "And he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim, which Asa his father had taken."

This appears, that he sent troops and fortifications to these cities to ward off any attack from Israel. In the last lesson, we saw that Asa had begun to do these things at the latter part of his reign.

2 Chronicles 17:3 "And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;"

David was not the father of Jehoshaphat. He was his ancestor. In fact, he was his great-great-great-grandson. He was a man after God’s own heart. David had loved the LORD with all his heart, and that was what was said of Jehoshaphat, here. Asa, his father, had loved the LORD, as well. Israel had some very wicked kings, such as Ahab, during the reign of Jehoshaphat over Judah. Baalim was one of the false gods worshipped in Israel.

2 Chronicles 17:4 "But sought to the [LORD] God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel."

This, of course, is speaking of Asa, who destroyed the idols in Judah.

2 Chronicles 17:5 "Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance."

The gifts were not taxes. These were given, because the people loved and appreciated what Jehoshaphat stood for. When a king served the LORD with all his heart, the people were blessed, as well. We see that God had poured an abundant blessing upon Jehoshaphat.

2 Chronicles 17:6 "And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah."

Asa had begun this work when he was king, but it appears that Jehoshaphat continued the cleansing of the land of all false worship.

2 Chronicles 17:7 "Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, [even] to Ben-hail, and to Obadiah, and to Zechariah, and to Nethaneel, and to Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah."

This is a message to the princes of each of the areas, to see that their people were taught the book of the law. They had drifted away from God’s teachings, much as our land has today. Notice, what would get them back where they needed to be. They must learn God’s Word. We must return to our Bible, also, if we are to be a great nation, again.

2 Chronicles 17:8 "And with them [he sent] Levites, [even] Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests."

The Levites were the chosen ones to bring the people into a spiritual awareness of God and His ways. They were entrusted with the spiritual growth of the people of the land.

2 Chronicles 17:9 "And they taught in Judah, and [had] the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people."

I have said this numerous times, but must say it, again, here. These people of Judah or, even, our people today, cannot do the will of God, until we know what that will is. We cannot know His will, until we know His Word. We must study the Bible, as they had to study the law to know God.

2 Chronicles 17:10 "And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that [were] round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat."

It is thrilling to me to see, that even the worldly people around them feared the power of their God. The worldly people even knew that the knowing of God’s law and doing it would bring tremendous blessings to Judah.

2 Chronicles 17:11 "Also [some] of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats."

These Philistines were, probably, paying tribute. They would not dare come against Jehoshaphat’s God. The Arabians were the same way. They did not necessarily fear Jehoshaphat. They feared Jehoshaphat’s God.

2 Chronicles 17:12 "And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store."

With this type of tribute, it would not take long for the country of Judah to become wealthy. The castles and the cities of store come with great abundance.

2 Chronicles 17:13 "And he had much business in the cities of Judah: and the men of war, mighty men of valour, [were] in Jerusalem."

There was plenty of work for everyone to do with all of the building that was going on. His great strength of his military was to guard the city of God, Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 17:14 "And these [are] the numbers of them according to the house of their fathers: Of Judah, the captains of thousands; Adnah the chief, and with him mighty men of valour three hundred thousand."

This is speaking of 300,000 standing men ready for war. This first captain of thousands was Adnah. He seemed to be like a general in our army. He was the main officer of authority of the troops.

2 Chronicles 17:15 "And next to him [was] Jehohanan the captain, and with him two hundred and fourscore thousand."

This is 280,000 men that Jehohanan captained.

2 Chronicles 17:16 "And next him [was] Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself unto the LORD; and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valour."

It is interesting that this high officer in the army had dedicated his office as a soldier to the LORD. These 200,000 men were favored to have an officer who loved God.

2 Chronicles 17:17 "And of Benjamin; Eliada a mighty man of valour, and with him armed men with bow and shield two hundred thousand."

2 Chronicles 17:18 “And next him [was] Jehozabad, and with him an hundred and fourscore thousand ready prepared for the war.”

The first men mentioned were of Judah. Now, this one was from Benjamin. These 200,000 of Eliada would have been expert in bows. The 180,000 of Jehozabad would have been foot-soldiers.

2 Chronicles 17:19 "These waited on the king, beside [those] whom the king put in the fenced cities throughout all Judah."

It appears, that literally hundreds of thousands of soldiers were stationed in Jerusalem. There were other soldiers dispatched to stop any attack, before it came to Jerusalem. We can see the blessings by seeing the men who were devoted to the security of Jerusalem. These fenced cities away from Jerusalem were like front line fortresses. Jehoshaphat was, indeed, blessed of God, as David had been.

2 Chronicles 17 Questions

1. Who reigned in Asa’s stead?

2. Who did he strengthen himself against?

3. How old was Jehoshaphat, when he began to reign?

4. Who was his mother?

5. Why did he place forces in the fenced cities of Judah?

6. Why was the LORD with Jehoshaphat?

7. What was David to him, really?

8. Who was one of the wicked kings of Israel, that reigned in Israel during the time Jehoshaphat reigned in Judah?

9. Who was one of the false gods of Israel?

10. What did all Judah bring to Jehoshaphat?

11. Did they do this, because it was required?

12. Who is blessed, when the king follows God?

13. 2 Chronicles 17:6 says he did what?

14. Who had begun to do that in his reign?

15. What special thing did he do in the third year of his reign?

16. What had the land done, that we can relate to our land today?

17. What will get them back in good standing with God?

18. What lesson can we take from that?

19. Who did he send to teach them the law?

20. What is the comment the author made on 2 Chronicles 17:9?

21. And the fear of the _________ fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah.

22. What were the Philistine’s gifts, really?

23. What did the Arabians bring to Jehoshaphat?

24. What did Jehoshaphat build during this time?

25. Who was the captain, that was like a general?

26. Whose men were armed with bow and shield?

27. These hundreds of thousands were located in ___________, and others were in the fenced cities.

Verses 1-6

2Ch 17:1-6

2 Chronicles 17:1-6

GOD FAVORS THE REIGN OF JEHOSHAPHAT

IV. JEHOSHAPHAT (873-849 B.C.)

JEHOSHAPHAT SUCCEEDS HIS FATHER, ASA

"And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel. And he placed forces in all the fortified cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim which Asa his father had taken. And Jehovah was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of David his father, and sought not unto the Baalim, but sought to the God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel. Therefore Jehovah established the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat tribute; and he had riches and honor in abundance. And his heart was lifted up in the ways of Jehovah: and furthermore he took away the high places and the Asherim out of Judah."

So far, so good. Jehoshaphat, like some others of the kings of Judah, began very well, receiving as their reward the blessing of the Lord and the prosperity of the people; but his alliance with Ahab (described in 2 Chronicles 18) would cast a dark shadow over what is written here.

"(He) walked not after the doings of Israel" (2 Chronicles 17:4). The contempt in which the author of Chronicles held the Northern Israel appears in a clause like this. The outstanding feature of Chronicles is the omission, wherever possible, of practically the entire history of their kings. This reminds us of the Book of Numbers, in which the whole history of the apostate Israel records only a few events for the whole period. Why? It was because of the fact that what any nation does, after they have rejected God, is of minor importance.

With the apostasy of the Northern Israel and their rejection of God’s choice of the house of David, the history of the redemption of mankind dramatically shifted to what happened in Jerusalem.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 17:1. This verse is a continuation of the preceding chapter. Jehoshaphat was a son of Asa and is classed among the good kings. As there was a state of war between Judah and Israel practically all the time, Jehoshaphat girded himself for the conflict.

2 Chronicles 17:2. Jehoshaphat distributed his soldiers, placing them in the fenced or walled cities. Garrisons were military posts that had soldiers always in them, and the posts were fortified against invasion. The king went outside his own territory and established garrisons in the cities which Asa had captured from the territory known as Mount Ephraim.

2 Chronicles 17:3. The life of David as a whole was good, but the purest part of it was at the beginning. This is why we have the comparison to the first ways David. He is called the father of Jehoshaphat by way of respect for his place in the royal line. David never did serve Baalim; the reference to that subject here is to make a favorable comment on the life of Jehoshaphat, in addition to his following the good ways of David.

2 Chronicles 17:4. Not after the doings of Israel. Without a single exception, the kings of Israel were idolaters. Jehoshaphat was one of the few of Judah who were not.

2 Chronicles 17:5. All...brought ...presents. This signifies that Jehoshaphat had the support of his whole realm, for they were faithful in paying their dues for the maintenance of the kingdom, and for the royal splendor of the king.

2 Chronicles 17:6. Lifted is from an original that has a rather unfavorable meaning primarily. However, it is sometimes used in a good sense, meaning to be exalted in the right way. The connection shows that Jehoshaphat was influenced by the exalted principles manifested by the Lord’s ways. His work against idolatry mentioned in the close of the verse justifies the remarks in the beginning of it.

Verses 7-9

2Ch 17:7-9

2 Chronicles 17:7-9

THE LAW OF JEHOVAH; THE TORAH,

(GENESIS; EXODUS; LEVITICUS; NUMBERS; AND DEUTERONOMY)

WAS TAUGHT BY THE PRINCES TO ALL JUDAH

"Also in the third year of his reign he sent his princes, even Ben-hail, and Obadiah, and Zechariah, and Nethanel, and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah; and with them the Levites, even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Sheminamoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah the Levites; and with them Elishama, and Jehoram the priests. And they taught in Judah HAVING THE BOOK OF THE LAW OF JEHOVAH WITH THEM; and they went about through all the cities of Judah, and taught among the people."

Because of the clause which we have capitalized, this is one of the most important passages in Chronicles. Right here is the reason radical critics have extended themselves so unreasonably in their efforts to discredit Chronicles. Here is dependable, historical proof of the continued existence of the Torah from the days of Moses throughout the history of Israel. As Keil stated it, "The book of the law of Jehovah is the Pentateuch, not merely a collection of Mosaic laws, since in Jehoshaphat’s time the Mosaic Book of the Law (the Pentateuch) had been long in existence." We shall not take the space to repeat the vociferous denials of critics, except to cite one knee-jerk remark that characterizes all of them, "Such action was not taken in Jehoshaphat’s time."[2] What is the basis of such a blatant denial of what God’s Word states as a fact? even giving the very names of the royal princes who did the teaching. THERE IS NONE. No matter what unbelievers say, this chapter IS the historical record of what happened in the reign of Jehoshaphat; and those who live two and one half millenniums afterward have nothing of value by which they may challenge it. Then why do men deny it? The false theories they have invented are here contradicted, forcing them either to give up their false theories, or to deny the Sacred Scriptures that contradict them.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 17:7. Sent to his princes … to teach. The idea is that he sent word to these princes to do the teaching. Obadiah and Zechariah are the same names as two of the minor prophets, but that is a coincidence only. These men were merely some princes or leading men in the service of Jehoshaphat.

2 Chronicles 17:8. The princes named in the preceding verse were outstanding men, but were without any official designation. In addition to them, the king selected some men from the tribe of Levi. A still more special selection was made of the Levites; some of whom were priests. This distinction is explained by the fact that all priests were Levites, but not all Levites could act as priests; only the family of Aaron could.

2 Chronicles 17:9. They taught in Judah means the priests taught. That was according to the system that God designed for the continued instruction of his people. (Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 17:9; Malachi 2:2-7.) This work had been neglected according to the charge made by Azariah in 2 Chronicles 15:3, and Jehoshaphat was trying to correct the defect.

Verses 10-13

2Ch 17:10-13

2 Chronicles 17:10-13

THE PROSPERITY OF JUDAH UNDER JEHOSHAPHAT

"And the fear of Jehovah fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat. And some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and silver for tribute; and the Arabians also brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he-goats. And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah, castles and cities of store. And he had many works in the cities of Judah; and men of war, mighty men of valor in Jerusalem."

All of this peace and prosperity were directly due to the respect which Jehoshaphat had shown to the Law of God and to his efforts to teach that word to all the people. It is no problem that much of the material here is omitted in Kings, because the primary focus there was political; whereas, in Chronicles the focus is upon the spiritual and religious significance of the same history.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 17:10. God had frequently told his people that he would bless them and bring the other nations in subjection to them. Now that the requirements of the law were being carried out under the directions of Jehoshaphat, the Lord caused the kingdoms around them to fear to the extent that they did not undertake any war against him.

2 Chronicles 17:11. The absence of war was not the only indication of the subjection of the kingdoms, for they brought presents and tribute silver. The first was a diplomatic courtesy (explained at Genesis 32:13), and the second was a specific charge of financial support for the kingdom of Judah.

2 Chronicles 17:12. The castles were fortified places to defend the country against invasion of the enemies. The cities of store were the ones equipped for storage of provisions.

2 Chronicles 17:13. Business is from MELAKAH and Strong defines it, "properly deputyship, i. e. ministry." It means that Jehoshaphat had official and military representatives in the cities of his kingdom. He had brave and strong men with him also in Jerusalem.

Verses 14-19

2Ch 17:14-19

2 Chronicles 17:14-19

NUMBERING OF JEHOSHAPHAT’S MIGHTY MEN OF WAR

"And this was the numbering of them according to their fathers’ houses: of Judah, the captains of thousands: Adnah the captain, and with him mighty men of valor three hundred thousand; and next to him Jehohanan the captain, and with him two hundred and fourscore thousand; and next to him Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself unto Jehovah, and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valor. And of Benjamin: Eliada a mighty man of valor, and with him two hundred thousand armed with bow and shield; and next to him Jehozabad, and with him a hundred and fourscore thousand ready prepared for war. These were they that waited on the king, besides those whom the king put in fortified cities throughout all Judah."

This represented a standing army of 1,160,000 men, besides the garrisons in the fortified cities; and this goes a long way to explaining why the Arabians and the Philistines brought tribute to Jehoshaphat. In ancient times, as in our own day, peace frequently depended upon the strength of those who desired it.

We should ignore the screams of "exaggeration" which mark the writings of radical critics. Pagan rulers of that era reported even larger armies than this; and until the critics can prove that those were exaggerated reports, they should let these alone. Besides that, we have already noted that the very word from which thousand is translated is disputed as to its exact meaning.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 17:14-15. This paragraph is interesting mainly in giving a statement of the strength of Jehoshaphat’s defense.

2 Chronicles 17:16. Willingly offered himself is equivalent to our system of "volunteer" service. This man was one of influence and had 200,000 strong and brave men under him, all for the defense of the king of Judah.

2 Chronicles 17:17. The weapons of warfare differed from each other. It would be good strategy to group the men using each class of weapons for the purpose of unified action. This Benjamite was given command over 200,000 men who used the bona and shield. The first was to use against the enemy, the second as a defense from the enemy’s darts.

2 Chronicles 17:18. Ready prepared for war means they were trained and ready for military service upon call. Verse 19. The forementioned men were "in waiting" always at the immediate call of Jehoshaphat. Besides all these, the king had his men stationed in all the fenced or walled cities scattered over his territory.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Chronicles 17". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/2-chronicles-17.html.
 
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