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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 20

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Second Chronicles Chapter 20

2 Chronicles 20:1 "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."

In the last lesson, we read of a peace that prevailed in Judah. The Ammonites and the Moabites had come against Jehoshaphat at the opening of this lesson.

2 Chronicles 20:2 "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 Hazazon-tamar, which [is] En-gedi."

Hazazon-tamar means the dividing of the palms. This was actually a group of people attacking Judah from the area of the Dead Sea. This was not Syria, however. It appears, that Jehoshaphat was facing a war where he would, probably, be out-numbered.

2 Chronicles 20:3 "And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah."

2 Chronicles 20:4 "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."

Jehoshaphat had taught them well. They knew their strength was not in the flesh of man, but in the power of Almighty God. God honors a fast of this nature.

2 Chronicles 20:5 "And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,"

It is very interesting, to me, that this prayer was sent heavenward by Jehoshaphat. He was king, not high priest. He was sincere in the prayer that follows.

2 Chronicles 20:6 "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?"

The answer to this is yes. God is over all the earth, the heavens, under the earth, and above the earth. No army could destroy them, except the LORD allowed it. God rules over everything.

2 Chronicles 20:7 "[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?"

Again, the answer is yes. He is that God. He gave this land to His family to inhabit forever, as long as they obeyed His commandments.

2 Chronicles 20:8 "And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,"

2 Chronicles 20:9 "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."

Solomon, indeed, had built the temple in Jerusalem for the LORD that his father David had wanted to build. When Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple, he asked for a promise from God, and God granted the request to all generations. God loves to be reminded of His Word. He had promised, if they prayed toward this temple, He would hear and answer their prayer. 2 Chronicles 20:10 "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;"

2 Chronicles 20:11 "Behold, [I say, how] they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit."

God had stopped the children of Israel from destroying the very people, that were trying to destroy Judah and Jerusalem now. Jehoshaphat wanted to know if God stopped them then, so that these people could cast them out of their possession now.

2 Chronicles 20:12 "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."

Jehoshaphat knew that he would not be able to win this war with so vast an army against him, unless the LORD, Himself, won the war for them. He says, that he had placed himself and all of the people of Judah into the hands of God. Whatever happened would be as a result of God’s action on their behalf.

2 Chronicles 20:13 "And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children."

This was such a serious matter that even the wives and children were in attendance. The entire families were praying before the LORD.

2 Chronicles 20:14 "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;"

This is an explanation that Jahaziel was of the Levitical lineage. He was in the temple, and the Spirit of the LORD descended upon him. The message was from God. The prayer was directly seeking an answer from God. The beautiful thing was that God used one of His own creation to bring the message through.

2 Chronicles 20:15 "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."

This had to be a tremendous relief to Jehoshaphat and to the people in attendance. This battle was God’s. This was not a fear not, God will be with you. It was a statement that the battle was God’s. They must not fear, only trust God.

2 Chronicles 20:16 "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."

This was just explaining that they would not fight down in the valley, but would, in fact, fight on an elevated area near the Dead Sea. This was a totally desolate area with no trees to hide behind. The army of Judah would be at a higher place, and they would look down upon their enemy.

2 Chronicles 20:17 "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."

The following is a very similar statement that Moses said at the Red Sea. Exodus 14:13 "And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever." Both of these are beautiful statements that the LORD would fight for them. They had nothing to fear.

2 Chronicles 20:18 "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."

They believed that God, Himself, would save them and fell before Him in perfect adoration. This was an act of thanksgiving to God.

2 Chronicles 20:19 "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 verse 18, we saw the king and his people adoring the LORD. Now, we see those who ministered gave high praise to the LORD for His answer to these people.

2 Chronicles 20:20 "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."

We could add to this, that they went out rejoicing knowing that the victory was theirs. They were instructed once, again, by Jehoshaphat to not fear, but believe in the LORD God.

2 Chronicles 20:21 "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."

The singers wore their garments they wore when they sang worship in the temple. This army was led by praise and worship. The singers were the front 261 lines. These were songs of high praise. They were praising their God for His Holiness.

2 Chronicles 20:22 "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."

I believe these who ambushed were actually angels God had sent to fight for Judah. I believe this army of God attacked these enemies of Judah, and killed them.

2 Chronicles 20:23 "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."

There was such confusion in these battles, that they turned against each other. The Moabites and the Ammonites fought each other, until no one was left.

2 Chronicles 20:24 "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."

The army of Judah had not even gotten to the battlefield. These dead bodies were fallen, because of the angels the LORD. The ones the angels killed, plus the ones that turned on each other and killed each other were these dead bodies.

2 Chronicles 20:25 "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."

Notice, the battle was already won, when Jehoshaphat and his men got to the battlefront. All they had to do was gather up the riches this defeated army had left. There was so much of it, that it took three days to gather it up.

2 Chronicles 20:26 "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."

"Berachah" means valley of blessing. The army of Judah gathered in this valley, and prised God for His greatness.

2 Chronicles 20:27 "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."

This war, they had feared so much, had turned into a beautiful blessing from God. Their joy was in the LORD.

2 Chronicles 20:28 "And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD."

It appears, the singers and musicians led them in high praise all the way back to Jerusalem. The trumpets were blowing in victory, so all the land would know they had won.

2 Chronicles 20:29 "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."

2 Chronicles 20:30 "So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about."

All of the countries in the near vicinity had heard what the LORD had done to the Ammonites and the Moabites. They now knew that the LORD fought for Judah. They were not afraid of Jehoshaphat, but they were afraid of his God. They would not dare attack him, for fear his God would defeat them, as he had the Ammonites and the Moabites. There was peace in the land, because the people depended upon God.

2 Chronicles 20:31 "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."

We find that Jehoshaphat reigned from his 35th year, until he was 60.

2 Chronicles 20:32 "And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD."

2 Chronicles 20:33 "Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers."

Jehoshaphat had been even more devoted to God than Asa had been. They were both righteous kings in the sight of the LORD. Jehoshaphat’s only errors were the fact that he was friends with Ahab, and not tearing down the high places. He sought the LORD with all his heart, and the LORD blessed him mightily.

2 Chronicles 20:34 "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."

This book of Jehu is not in the Bible. We may safely assume it was a book of records that someone kept from a more civil standpoint. Hanani was a seer of Judah during the time of Asa. Jehu was a prophet, who first appeared to denounce Baasha. He, also, appeared to Jehoshaphat to tell him of God’s displeasure about his alliance with Ahab.

2 Chronicles 20:35 "And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:"

2 Chronicles 20:36 "And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Ezion-gaber."

Jehoshaphat went into a commercial venture with Ahaziah. God showed his disapproval by sinking the ships they had made.

2 Chronicles 20:37 "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."

God settled this alliance, before it got off the ground. The prophet that brought the reason for the destruction of the ships is not mentioned elsewhere. Jehoshaphat dissolved partnership immediately.

2 Chronicles 20 Questions

1. Who sent their armies against Jehoshaphat?

2. In 2 Chronicles 20:2, where had they come to?

3. When Jehoshaphat heard of the oncoming army, what did he do?

4. Jehoshaphat and his people believed their strength came from whom?

5. Who prayed to God for them?

6. How did his prayer begin?

7. What were some of the things that Jehoshaphat reminded God of that were things done to honor Him?

8. What had God promised Solomon about the prayers of the people?

9. Why had Judah not already destroyed Ammon and Moab?

10. What plea did Jehoshaphat make to God in 2 Chronicles 20:12?

11. Who came to the temple to pray, besides the men?

12. Who did the Spirit come upon and he spoke?

13. What message did God have for His people?

14. Who did this battle belong to?

15. Where would Jehoshaphat find them?

16. 2 Chronicles 20:17 is similar to what verse in Exodus?

17. What effect did this beautiful promise from God have on Jehoshaphat?

18. Who stood up to praise in 2 Chronicles 20:19?

19. In 2 Chronicles 20:20, Jehoshaphat encouraged his people to do what?

20. The singers would sing of whom?

21. What happened, when they began to sing?

22. What happened to the enemies of Judah?

23. Who does the author believe actually were the ambushers?

24. What did the Ammonites and Moabites do, in the confusion?

25. What did the troops of Judah find, when they came to the watch tower?

26. What was left for Jehoshaphat and his men to do?

27. Where did they assemble on the fourth day?

28. What does "Berachah" mean?

29. How did they return to Jerusalem?

30. Why was there no more war for Jehoshaphat?

31. How old was Jehoshaphat, when he stopped reigning?

32. How was Jehoshaphat like Asa?

33. What were the only errors mentioned of Jehoshaphat?

Verses 1-4

2Ch 20:1-4

2 Chronicles 20:1-4

GOD DELIVERED JEHOSHAPHAT AND ISRAEL FROM AN INVASION;

A COALITION OF ENEMIES CAME AGAINST ISRAEL

"And it came to pass after this, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them some of the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. Then there came some and told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea from Syria; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamor, (the same is Engedi), And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek Jehovah; and he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to seek help of Jehovah: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek Jehovah."

The great significance of this is found in the faith of all the people of Judah who joined their king in the fervent plea for the help of the Lord.

"And with some of the Ammonites" (2 Chronicles 20:1). This is an accurate rendition of the Hebrew as attested by the marginal reference; but it sounds awkward, so the RSV has changed it to read, Some of the Meunites; but based upon a various reading, which has "certain of the Ammonites," this writer views the change in the RSV to be unnecessary. The meaning is clear enough as it is. "The whole strength of the Moabites was mobilized, but only certain of the Ammonites." Later in the chapter, it is revealed that the Edomites (those of Mount Seir) were also a part of this coalition against Israel.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 20:1. Moab and Ammon were the sons of Lot. Their descendants formed two of the noted nations of Biblical history. Because of their near relation to Abraham, God would not permit the Israelites to attack them as they did the other people. This favor was abused by them at times, and we now read of a threat of war coming from them.

2 Chronicles 20:2. The Dead Sea is the place meant. The Moabites and Ammonites were east of that body of water. This side Syria is a very indefinite term as locating the people then threatening war on Judah. Syria was a term applying sometimes to a large territory northward of Palestine. This side Syria would thus mean that the invading people were from a territory east of the Dead Sea and south of Syria. At the time of this notice to Jehoshaphat, the invaders had reached Engedi, a town on the west shore.

2 Chronicles 20:3. Jehoshaphat feared, which means he realized the danger confronting him. In times of great peril the true servants of God will seek for his help. It is necessary to manifest the proper frame of mind before the Lord will be entreated. Fasting was not generally commanded, but it was approved when done voluntarily. In the great distress of their situation, Jehoshaphat called upon the whole nation to observe a season of fasting; but the service in the homes was not enough as we shall soon see.

2 Chronicles 20:4. There are certain acts of worship that can be done privately or in the home, and others that are done collectively. In the Christian Dispensation the latter can be done only at the place of the regular meetings of the church. Under the Jewish Dispensation they had to be done at Jerusalem. So we read of the Jews leaving their places of residence and coming to seek the Lord, which brought them to the place where he had recorded his name, and that was in the temple.

Verses 5-13

2Ch 20:5-13

2 Chronicles 20:5-13

JEHOSHAPHAT LEADS THE WHOLE NATION IN PRAYER

"And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of Jehovah before the new court; and he said, O Jehovah, the God of our fathers, art thou God in heaven? and art not thou ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? and in thy hand is power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee. Didst not thou, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and give it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If evil come upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house, and before thee (for thy name is in this house), and cry unto thee in our affliction, and thou wilt hear and save. And now, behold, the children of Moab and Ammon and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned aside from them, and destroyed them not; behold, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. 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. And all Judah stood before Jehovah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children."

Although Jehoshaphat did not quote verbatim from Solomon’s dedicatory prayer, some of the thought here clearly reflects the sentiments Solomon expressed in that prayer. This was not Jehoshaphat’s prayer alone, but a great assembly from all Judah were silent participants in it. The king was leading prayer for all of them.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 20:5. Judah and Jerusalem. This Judah, though an extended territory, had to be represented at Jerusalem in order to have a lawful assembly. The new court was a part of the temple where the public was allowed to be. It was called new with reference to its being more recently built than the one around the tabernacle built by Moses.

2 Chronicles 20:6. The question form of this language is a reverent way of making a positive expression, acknowledging these great things -of God. Rulest . . . kingdoms . . . heathen. This great truth is not generally realized. Nebuchadnezzar had to learn of it by a humiliating experience. (Daniel 4.)

2 Chronicles 20:7. God does not have to be reminded of his promises to get him to perform them. The mentioning of them in a prayer is done by way of expressing one’s faith in the Lord; also to show the logic of the faith as to its basis. God had driven out the heathen in order to fulfill the promise made to Abraham, so it would be reasonable to expect him to repel these heathen invaders now threatening the descendants of Abraham. Friend is from AHEB and Strong defines it, "to have affection for." Abraham loved God and showed his affection for him by doing what he was commanded without hesitation.

2 Chronicles 20:8-9. The sentiments of this verse were uttered by Solomon in his prayer at the dedication of the temple. (1 Kings 8.) The evil anticipated by the "wise monarch" was about to come on the nation and Jehoshaphat made his appeal according to that prayer. The principal basis for expecting the favor of God at this prayer is the fact that thy name is in this house.

2 Chronicles 20:10. The reference to Mount Heir means that some Edomites had joined in with these others to invade Judah. The three groups were near of kin to Abraham and were spared when the Israelites were on the march from Egypt.

2 Chronicles 20:11. Behold how they reward us. This is a brief way of saying these people were rewarding evil for good; not showing due appreciation.

2 Chronicles 20:12-13. In a state of complete despair, the congregation waited for some promise of relief from God. They realized that no human might, however great, could meet the forces of all these intruders. It must have been a solemn and pitiable sight, the husbands and wives, and the children cringing near their parents, longing and begging for some kind of assurance from God.

Verses 14-19

2Ch 20:14-19

2 Chronicles 20:14-19

THE PROPHETIC ANSWER TO JEHOSHAPHAT’S PRAYER

"Then upon Jehaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite, of the sons of Asaph, came the spirit of Jehovah in the midst of the assembly; and he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat: Thus saith Jehovah unto to you, Fear not ye, neither be dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the ascent of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the valley, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of Jehovah with you, O Judah and Jerusalem; fear not, nor be dismayed: tomorrow go out against them; for Jehovah is with you. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before Jehovah, worshipping Jehovah. And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites and the children of the Korahites, stood up to praise Jehovah the God of Israel, with an exceeding loud voice."

Here we have the picture of a worshipping, praying Israel as the background of a most remarkable deliverance of God’s people from the ravages of a hostile invasion. There cannot be any doubt that many such deliverances of God’s people were similarly preceded by this same kind of a spiritual awakening of God’s people, and by their most fervent prayers and supplications.

There was one exceedingly unfortunate result of these many divine deliverances of Israel. Long after the nation as a whole had lost all faith in God and were indulging themselves in the most shameful immoralities, when they were threatened, as here, they pleaded for God’s deliverance; and the frequency of those rescues led eventually to a conviction in Israel that, regardless of their gross sins and immoralities, God would always rescue them, solely upon the basis of who they were, namely, the seed of Abraham the friend of God.

Even after Israel rejected the Messiah, God’s Only Begotten Son, and during the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, the last High Priest, comforted and encouraged the people with his declaration that they had nothing to fear, "Because," he said, "The Messiah has not yet come." They truly believed that no matter what they did, God would still bless them at the expense of the whole Gentile world, whom they hated, supposing that when the Messiah came he would either kill all the Gentiles or subject them to Jewish rule, as in the days of their beloved Solomon.

The events of this chapter reveal that, at this time, there still remained an effective reservoir of faith among the Chosen People.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 20:14. Following the general practice, God called upon one of his servants to give a message to the people. The line of names mentioned was to show the connection between this man and the tribe of Levi. That tribe furnished the priests, and the priests were expected to give knowledge to the people according to Leviticus 10:11, Deuteronomy 17:9, Malachi 2:7. Not that Jahaziel was a priest, but he came of the priestly tribe, and it would be fitting to use him for the special occasion of information.

2 Chronicles 20:15-16. Not only did Jahaziel assure the people of relief, but that the battle would be a supernatural one; was really not to be their battle. All of this is understandable when we recall that God would not permit the Israelites before to attack the descendants of Abraham. Now that it is necessary to oppose them, the Lord will take a hand so that the procedure will be consistent with the former restrictions.

2 Chronicles 20:17. Stand ye still and see, etc., was used the most literally that the famous saying was ever used. About all the people will need to do on their part will be of a ceremonial or religious nature. It is true they were told that on the next day they would go out against the enemy. But it would not be to engage physically in the battle. They were to be there for the exercises just mentioned, and to see the great and unusual salvation the Lord will perform for them.

2 Chronicles 20:18. This verse gives us one clear meaning of "worship" as used in the Bible. The king and his people are said to have prostrated their bodies with faces toward the ground. In doing this they are said to be worshiping. The New Testament recognizes also a wide range of meaning for this word, from the complete subjection to all the requirements of the Lord, down to the mere act of respect toward another.

2 Chronicles 20:19. Levi had three sons of whom Kohath was one. Of the family of Kohath one son was Korah, and these Korhites came from him. They were an important branch of the singers in the temple service, hence are mentioned in this connection here. They sang with a loud voice on high because the nation was assembled in great numbers, and the singing was to be heard by the people.

Verses 20-23

2Ch 20:20-23

2 Chronicles 20:20-23

THE ENEMIES OF ISRAEL DESTROY EACH OTHER

"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 Jehovah your God, and so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed them that should sing unto Jehovah, and give praise in holy array, as they went out before the army, and say, Give thanks unto Jehovah; for his lovingkindness endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, Jehovah set liers-in-wait against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, that were come up against Judah; and they were smitten. 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."

What happened here reminds one of the victory of Gideon over the Midianites in Judges 7, in which the invading forces destroyed themselves.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 20:20. In obedience to the instructions of 2 Chronicles 20:17, the people left the temple the next day to go toward the vicinity of the invading host. On the way the king made an encouraging speech to them; that they should have faith in the word of God that had been given to them by the prophet. Believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. The popular doctrine of "faith only" is not justified here. They had been already told that the battle would be fought by the Lord, not them. Now then, all that was left for them to do as far as the actual fighting was concerned, was to believe.

2 Chronicles 20:21. Consulted with the people does not mean that Jehoshaphat "divided his authority" with them. Moffatt renders it, "after his counsel to the nation." This counsel included the instruction that the singers were to carry on their services while they were marching to the scene of their triumph.

2 Chronicles 20:22. An ambushment is a group of men lying in an unseen place, and ready to make an unexpected attack. We shall see in the next verse that this ambushment consisted of some men of the Ammonites and Moabites, detached from the main body of the soldiers, to strike from their lurking place against their own people.

2 Chronicles 20:23. These soldiers of Ammon and Moab first attacked the Edomites who were in the general army. When that unit was destroyed they turned on each other with their weapons until they had committed military suicide. This fulfilled the prediction of the prophet that was made in verses 15-17.

Verses 24-30

2Ch 20:24-30

2 Chronicles 20:24-30

GOD’S PEOPLE HAVE ONLY TO RECOVER THE SPOIL LEFT BY THE FALLEN ARMIES

"And when Judah came to the watch-tower of the wilderness, they looked upon the multitude; and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and there were none that escaped. And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take the spoil of them, they found them in abundance both riches, and dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Beracah; for there they blessed Jehovah: therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Beracah unto this day. Then they returned every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the fore-front of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for Jehovah had made them to rejoice over their enemies. And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of Jehovah. And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of the countries, when they heard that Jehovah fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet; for his God gave him rest round about."

"On the main road between Hebron and Jerusalem, near Tekoa, there is even today a valley that bears a form of the ancient name Beracah," the same being a very strong evidence of the historicity of this event.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 20:24. Watch tower comes from a single Hebrew word, MITSPEH, and Strong defines it, "an observatory, especially for military purposes." The people of Judah marching toward the enemy arrived at this watch tower, and from that post they saw the condition that had come about by the actions described in the preceding verse. They could then realize what the prophet meant in the prediction recorded in verses 15-17.

2 Chronicles 20:25. The people with Jehoshaphat saw that they had no soldiers to light since they were all dead. It was customary under the rules of war to take possession of the valuables found on the bodies of the enemy army, and also the other personal property among them, such as the cattle and other things of value. The amount of all this spoil was so great that it took three days to collect what they were able to take with them, and even then they had to leave some of it.

2 Chronicles 20:26. Nearby was a valley that was suitable for an orderly assembly. To this place Jehoshaphat brought the people for a season of praise to God for the victory that had been given them. They blessed the Lord, which means they praised him as the source of the great blessings just bestowed upon them. This valley probably had no special name before this time, but the occasion which brought about the gathering suggested a name that would be appropriate. The word Berachah means "blessing," hence the valley received the name given it here.

2 Chronicles 20:27. After the services in the valley, Jehoshaphat led the people back to the capital city. Judah and Jerusalem are named in this way because the last word names the capital of the Kingdom of Judah. The meeting in the valley took place the day after they had completed the taking of the spoil. It was fitting to gather at the regularly established headquarters for a more official season of religious services.

2 Chronicles 20:28. A psaltery was a stringed instrument of music to accompany the voice. A harp was the national instrument of the Hebrews. According to Josephus it had ten strings, and was played upon with a plectrum, an attachment worn by the finger. A trumpet (called also a cornet) was a loud-sounding instrument, made of the horn of a ram. The first two were stringed instruments while the third was a kind to be played with the mouth. These were made by David according to 2 Chronicles 7:6. The joy of the people for their relief from the threatened war caused them to come to the headquarters to engage in a praise. service, and these instruments were used with it.

2 Chronicles 20:29-30. The providential victory of Judah over their enemies had its effect on other peoples. It caused them to fear God in the sense of being afraid to undertake any warlike action against the people of God.

Verses 31-34

2Ch 20:31-34

2 Chronicles 20:31-34

A SUMMARY OF THE REIGN OF JEHOSHAPHAT

"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. And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah. Howbeit the high places were not taken away; neither as yet had the people set their hearts unto the God of their fathers. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the history of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is inserted in the book of the kings of Israel."

The last line here indicates that everything the Chronicler has written was taken from the authentic records of the Jewish people. (See our introduction to Chronicles for a list of those records which are quoted in Chronicles.)

Although, in the general sense, Jehoshaphat did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, there were nevertheless some failures on his part. His failure to remove the high places (which had been removed, of course, but had been rebuilt by the people, again and a again), and his alliance with Ahaziah (mentioned in the final paragraph here) were two examples. A third, which we should mention, was his choice of a wife for his son and heir Jehoram. Jehoshaphat evidently hoped to promote peace between Israel and Judah by arranging for the marriage of Jehoram to the daughter of Jezebel and Ahab. This might not have been considered a sin by some, but it was an unqualified disaster, nevertheless; and it resulted in great sorrows for God’s people.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 20:31-32. This is a general statement of the reign of Jehoshaphat, including the events that we have already learned about. Giving his mother’s name was because most of the men in those days had a plurality of wives, and we are to be informed which of the wives was the mother of the man being considered.

2 Chronicles 20:33. Jehoshaphat was one of the good kings, but, adhering to the rule of the inspired writers, the weak points were not overlooked; one of those was the retaining of the high places. The reader may see the explanation of these places in the comments at 1 Kings 3:2. They were not just what should have been used, yet not as bad as some other things. Had not prepared their hearts, etc., means they were not fully adapted to the service of the Lord, so a degree of leniency was shown.

2 Chronicles 20:34. Not all of the speakers and writers in the olden days contributed writings that were placed in the Bible. That does not mean that there is any weakness in the Book which God handed down to us. Not all of the things that were done by Jesus were recorded in the writings of the New Testament. (John 20:30-31; John 21:25.) If any person in the days of the Israelites dominion wished further details on the subject, he was referred to these extra writings. And to show the reliable character of such writings, a reference was made to the favorable mention of them in the other places. Jehu has been named in a favorable manner in 1 Kings 16:1.

Verses 35-37

2Ch 20:35-37

2 Chronicles 20:35-37

JEHOSHAPHAT REJECTS PARTNERSHIP WITH AHAZIAH

"And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah the king of Israel; the same did very wickedly: and he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish; and they made ships in Ezion-geber. Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, Jehovah hath destroyed thy works. And the ships were broken, so they were not able to go to Tarshish."

1 Kings 22:49-50 is parallel with these three verses. The account in Kings speaks of Ahaziah’s attempt to continue as a partner with Jehoshaphat in that ship-building venture; but it is to the great credit of Jehoshaphat that, acting upon the warning of the prophet, he refused to allow it.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 20:35-37. See the comments at 2 Chronicles 20:33. Among the weak points in the life of Jehoshaphat were the things mentioned in this paragraph. He was too friendly with these unworthy persons; however, the Lord did not charge him with the wicked things they did. He was made to suffer some disappointment in his plans, also to receive a reprimand from the prophet; such was the punishment he received for his errors.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/2-chronicles-20.html.
 
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