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Monday, May 27th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 3

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Second Kings Chapter 3

2 Kings 3:1 "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."

2 Kings 3:2 " 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."

Jehoram was the last of the line of Ahab. All of the kings of Israel were evil, and he was no exception. He was not as evil as some of the others, however. He did not do away with the golden calves, but he did stop the worship of Baal, by destroying the image of Baal. It was, probably, the terrible end that came to Ahab and Ahaziah, that caused him to tear the image of Baal down.

2 Kings 3:3 "Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom."

This is speaking of the calf worship. It is strange, but they tried to worship God and these calves all at the same time. It appears, the reason they kept the calf at Bethel, and the calf at Dan, was to keep the people from going to Jerusalem, and worshipping at the temple. ]

2 Kings 3:4 "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."

Now, we see the reason for the revolt of Moab. The tribute Moab paid was excessive.

2 Kings 3:5 "But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel."

Moab did not fight Israel for their independence, until after Ahab was dead, because Ahab was a very strong opponent. He was, also, very cruel, and might have wiped their people out, to get their animals and other wealth.

2 Kings 3:6 "And king Jehoram went out of Samaria the same time, and numbered all Israel."

This numbering was, possibly, taking stock, to see how many military they could muster in case of war. Numbering the people without God’s permission was forbidden.

2 Kings 3:7 "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."

Jehoshaphat had made an agreement with Ahab, when he was still alive. Jehoshaphat would help them, because of this earlier agreement, and because Moab was their mutual enemy.

2 Kings 3:8 "And he said, Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom."

One of the main reasons that Jehoshaphat chose this direction, was because Edom was a dependency of Judah, and would let them pass with no conflict. Edom was an enemy of Moab, themselves, and some of their troops might join them in the battle. Going by Edom was not the shortest route, but was, probably, the safest.

2 Kings 3:9 "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."

In the last lesson, we mentioned the fact that Edom did not have a king. They were ruled by a deputy that Jehoshaphat had set up. It is interesting, here, that they have gained enough strength that they now, have a king. It is, also, interesting that they join the battle with Moab led by their king. Israel’s troops will be in the front lines, because this battle is really theirs. Judah will back them up, and then, the troops of Edom will back up Judah. This was such a tremendous amount of troops, you can see it would be easy to run out of water. This means they were travelling 7 days, to get to the area of the battle.

2 Kings 3:10 "And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!"

The fear of the king of Israel, is because of what happened to Ahab and Ahaziah. He realizes that it was not God, who sent them to this war, but their own desire. He fears the LORD will be angry with them and destroy Israel, Judah, and Edom.

2 Kings 3:11 "But Jehoshaphat said, [Is there] not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may inquire 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."

Notice, it is Jehoshaphat who calls for the prophet of God. It appears, that everyone knew of the miracles Elijah had done. They did not, however, know much about Elisha, except that he served Elijah.

2 Kings 3:12 "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."

Jehoshaphat knew that this man of God would be the one they needed to see. Jehoshaphat, a man who did right in God’s sight, was in very bad company with these two evil kings.

2 Kings 3:13 "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."

Elisha first reprimands Jehoram for his evil ways. He reminds him that his father, Ahab, and his mother, Jezebel, had brought the worship of Baal into the land. Even though Jehoram had torn down the statue of Baal, he was still an evil king in the sight of the LORD. Notice, that Jehoram says, it was the LORD who brought these three together. He is afraid the LORD will destroy them, as he did Ahab and Ahaziah.

2 Kings 3:14 "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."

The only thing Jehoshaphat did that was displeasing to the LORD, was the times he made alliance with the evil kings. It appears, the LORD forgave him for that, because he was righteous in God’s sight. Elisha would not have even answered the kings of Israel and Edom, but will speak to Jehoshaphat.

2 Kings 3:15 "But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him."

Music definitely has a place in worship. The beautiful spiritual songs in the church prepare our hearts to receive the message God has for His people. This is the reason for the minstrel here. Elisha will listen to the soft music, and get his mind off the world. The music will have a calming influence. Elisha would close out the world, and listen to the Word the LORD speaks through him.

2 Kings 3:16 "And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Make this valley full of ditches."

We remember, they were out of water. These ditches would hold water for them.

2 Kings 3:17 "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."

We are not told where the water comes from, but we can assume that the water flows into these ditches from another spot. It may rain heavy in another place, and flow the water into the ditches. It is not important how the ditches are filled with water. It is a miracle from God.

2 Kings 3:18 "And this is [but] a light thing in the sight of the LORD: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand."

Elisha explains that filling these ditches with water is a minor miracle. The great miracle that will take place here, will be the Moabite defeat by the Lord. He will deliver the Moabites into their hands.

2 Kings 3:19 "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."

This is not a commandment to do these things, but rather prophetically speaking of what they would do. The Moabites were not living for God. This is speaking of a total destruction of the land, which would have to be rebuilt.

2 Kings 3:20 "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."

The early morning was the time of the morning sacrifice. It appears, there had been heavy rain in Edom, and the water flowed into the ditches from there.

2 Kings 3:21 "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."

It seemed, that the Moabites had gathered all the men of the land who were old enough to fight, and gave them armour. They quickly covered the border, where the enemy was coming from.

2 Kings 3:22 "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:"

2 Kings 3:23 "And they said, This [is] blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil."

It appears, these ditches did more than supply water to them. The ditches, possibly, had red clay at the bottom, and the water on it caused it to appear to be blood. It could, also, have been a sunrise of redness that caused the water to look red. They knew that Israel had broken away from Judah, and they thought some of the rivalry between them had sprung up in battle. They want to believe these three kings and their men had turned on each other. They want it so badly, they had convinced themselves that is what happened.

2 Kings 3:24 "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."

The Moabites had run in on Israel expecting to take a spoil, and instead, the Israelites killed many, and the others retreated. The Israelites did not stop the battle, when the Moabites ran. They followed them into their land to destroy them.

2 Kings 3:25 "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 Kir-haraseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about [it], and smote it."

We see the prophecy of Elisha fulfilled here. They went through the land destroying everything in sight. The good trees are trees, that are useful to the people living there. They could even be speaking of fruit trees. Kir-haraseth was a fortress, and could not be broken down without the heavier rams and such. This is, possibly, why it was not immediately torn down. The battering rams and the catapults, which threw large stones at them, tore it down.

2 Kings 3:26 "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."

The king saw that they were all about to die. The king takes his strongest and bravest men, who had, probably, been his personal guard, and tried to break through into the ranks of Edom, but they could not.

2 Kings 3:27 "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."

In Moab, the eldest son of the ruler, who died, would take the throne. The rule over the land was handed down from father to son. Human sacrifice was offered by the heathen people, who surrounded Israel and Judah. The sacrifice was of his eldest son, because he was the most precious to him. This human sacrifice would have been an abomination to God. It would, also, have been revolting to the Israelites and those of Judah. It was certainly revolting to the people of Moab. This drastic step so shocked everyone, that the war ended. Israel, Judah, and Edom went home.

2 Kings 3 Questions

1. Who became king of Israel at the death of Ahaziah?

2. How many years did he reign?

3. How was his evil reign different from that of Ahab and Jezebel?

4. What was the sin of Jeroboam mentioned in 2 Kings 3:3?

5. Why had they kept the golden calf at Bethel and at Dan?

6. Who was king of Moab at this time?

7. How did they make their living?

8. When did Moab revolt against Israel?

9. What did Jehoram do to prepare for war?

10. Who did he send to for help?

11. Was he willing to help him against Moab?

12. Why was Jehoshaphat willing to help fight Moab?

13. Who chose the direction of attack?

14. Why did he choose this way, since it was not the shortest?

15. What suddenly comes to the king of Israel about the LORD?

16. Who asks if there is a prophet to consult?

17. Who did one of the servants recommend?

18. How did Jehoshaphat show confidence in the prophet?

19. Who did Elisha tell the king of Israel he should inquire of?

20. Who was the only reason Elisha would speak to them?

21. Who did Elisha ask for?

22. What is the benefit of soft spiritual music in church?

23. What did Elisha tell them to do?

24. What would the LORD do for them in this battle?

25. In verse 19, what did Elisha tell them they would do?

26. When did the water come into the ditches?

27. Who fought for Moab?

28. When the Moabites saw the ditches of water, what did they believe they were?

29. Who attacked first?

30. What did the armies of Israel, Judah, and Edom do, that fulfilled the prophecy of Elisha?

31. What did the king of Moab try to do with 700 of his choicest men?

32. What terrible thing did he do, when his plan of attack failed?

33. What effect did this have on everyone?

Verses 1-3

2Ki 3:1-3

Introduction

THE "THREE KINGS" AT WAR AGAINST MOAB

The Moabite Stone (discovered in 1868) has a parallel account of events in this chapter from the viewpoint of Mesha (2 Kings 3:4), the Moabite king who authored the inscription on that stone. Dentan said of this stone that, "It is one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time (it may be seen in the Louvre in Paris) and provides interesting confirmation of the situation presupposed by this chapter." This writer prefers the viewpoint that this chapter confirms what is written on the Moabite Stone!

We have cited examples of monuments with false inscriptions (as on Robert Fulton’s Tomb on Wall Street in New York City); and the critical dictum that any pagan inscription is a preferable record to the Holy Bible is merely another false axiom of critics!

As a matter of truth, the Moabite Stone is a magnificent account of the war discussed in this chapter, in full agreement with what the inspired author has written here.

2 Kings 3:1-3

JEHORAM; KING OF ISRAEL; AFTER HIS BROTHER AHAZIAH

"Now Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, but not like his father, and like his mother; for he put away the pillar of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom."

The critical allegation that this paragraph is merely, "A Deuteronomic appraisal, and that the successive kings of Israel were judged by the Deuteronomic standard of the single sanctuary (in Jerusalem),"[2] is unacceptable in the light of truth. The implication of such an opinion is that the provision of Jerusalem as the single, one and only, acceptable sanctuary for the Chosen People came, not from Moses via the direct revelation of God, but that it resulted from a very long crusade of certain hard-headed priests who finally succeeded in making it so.

That implication is false. All Israel was aware of God’s Divine instructions regarding the uniqueness of His sanctuary, and it was that knowledge that compelled the kings of Northern Israel to persist in their unbelievably hard-headed preference of paganism as the most practical device for retaining their independence. Once all Israel had been allowed to return three times each year to Jerusalem in the great national festivals Divinely ordained for Israel, the northern kingdom could not have continued very long.

The theory of "a Deuteronomic" campaign, lasting through the history of Northern Israel, to make Jerusalem the only sanctuary is nothing but a fairy tale. It had been "the only sanctuary" ever since the days of David, and even prior to that, there was never more than one sanctuary at a time. The efforts of Northern Israel to change that were founded upon absolutely nothing except the vain-glorious ambition of their evil, unbelieving, and conceited rulers.

"He put away the pillar of Baal" (2 Kings 3:2). Yes, he put it away, but he did not destroy it, nor did he get rid of the illegitimate sanctuaries at Dan and Bethel, since they were the king-pins of his stability on the throne. "He did not succeed in exterminating the worship of Baal. It not only continued but appears to have been carried on in the most shameless manner (2 Kings 10:18 ff), at which we should not be surprised, because his mother Jezebel, that fanatical worshipper of Baal, was living throughout the whole twelve years of his reign."

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 3:1. It is important that the reader avoid confusion over the switching back and forth of the accounts con• cerning the kingdom of Judah and Israel. Read the comments at 1 Kings 12:17 frequently. Also remember that the Bible is not always chronological in its historical reports in other parts; much less would it be in this place, where two rival, but related kingdoms, are being reported simultaneously. Jehoram’s reign was mentioned in 2 Kings 1:17 and then dropped to give us accounts of the two great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, whose lives were so closely woven together for a time.

2 Kings 3:2-3. The Bible gives credit where it is due. Jehoram was the son of Ahab and Jezebel, who were exceptionally wicked people. This son was not as bad as they, and had corrected a part of their evil work by removing the image of Baal. He was bad enough, however, and followed the example of Jeroboam, the first king of Israel.

Verses 4-8

2Ki 3:4-8

2 Kings 3:4-8

ISRAEL; JUDAH; AND EDOM GO TO WAR AGAINST MOAB

"Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep-master; and he rendered unto the king of Israel the wool of a hundred thousand lambs, and of a hundred thousand rams. But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. And king Jehoram went out of Samaria at that time, and mustered all Israel. 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, my horses as thy horses. And he said, Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way of the wilderness of Edom."

The obvious reason why Jehoram desired that alliance with Jehoshaphat was that Edom, at that time, was subject to Jehoshaphat and that such an arrangement would allow him to attack Moab through Edom’s territory. The desirability of that was urgent because Moab had strongly fortified the cities that lay along the more direct route.

"Mesha the king of Moab was a sheep-master" (2 Kings 3:4). The word sheep-master occurs nowhere else in the Bible except in Amos 1:1.

"He rendered unto the king of Israel the wool of a hundred thousand, ..." (2 Kings 3:4). The RSV adds the word "annually" here, despite the fact of its not being in the Hebrew, but this is probably correct, because Keil agreed that the usage of this terminology throughout the O.T. indicates annual tribute.

Calkins labeled such an annual tribute as "excessive," but Keil stated that, "Such an annual tribute would not have been exorbitant, because the land of the Moabites abounded in excellent pasture and was especially adapted to the rearing of flocks."

"I am as thou art, ..." (2 Kings 3:7). Jehoshaphat’s ready compliance with Jehoram’s request is surprising, "Because his similar response to a like invitation from Ahab had resulted in his receiving the rebuke of God’s prophet (2 Chronicles 19:2). Jehoram’s removing that pillar of Baal might have influenced him."

So the kings went to war against Moab, but a drought had removed their projected water supply!

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 3:4-5. The revolt of Moab was barely mentioned at 2 Kings 1:1 but is resumed here. The particular act that signified the break was the withholding of tribute. The king of Moab had been rendering or delivering to Israel 100,000 each of lambs and rams per year. That tribute was stopped which amounted to a declaration of war.

2 Kings 3:6. One word in the definition of the original for lumbered is "muster." Jehoram was preparing for war with Moab, and went out to get his soldiers together.

2 Kings 3:7. It is highly probable that Jehoram knew of the alliance that was formed between Jehoshaphat and Ahab, father of Ahaziah and Jehoram, in the war with Syria. That encouraged him to ask for a similar alliance with him for the war with Moab. He was not disappointed, and the answer was the same as that given to Ahab. See 1 Kings 22:4.

2 Kings 3:8. After agreeing to the alliance, Jehoshaphat asked Jehoram his advice as to the proper route in the approach to Moab. The reply was that they go by the wilderness of Edom. That land was south of Moab, while these Israelite kings were north and west. That made it necessary for them to take a roundabout route. The object for the move is not stated, but from the facts of the next verse, Jehoram must have had reason to expect some favor. from Edom.

Verses 9-12

2Ki 3:9-12

2 Kings 3:9-12

WHEN DISASTER THREATENED; THE KINGS WENT TO ELISHA

"So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom; and they made a circuit of seven days’ journey: and there was no water for the host, nor for the beasts that followed them. And the king of Israel said, Alas! for Jehovah hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab. But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of Jehovah, that we may inquire of Jehovah by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah. And Jehoshaphat said, The word of Jehovah is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him."

"They made a circuit of seven days’ journey" (2 Kings 3:9). Their route of attack against Moab was down the western shore of the Dead Sea, around the southern end of that sea and through the territory of Edom toward Moab. When they came to the border of Moab, which was the Wady es-Ahsy they fully expected plenty of water from the perennial stream, but an extended drought in Edom had dried it up, and the whole host of the three kings was threatened with death by thirst! It was a crisis of unbelievable magnitude.

"Jehovah hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab" (2 Kings 3:10). This statement by the king of Israel was that of an unbeliever. Any threatening disaster he was ready to attribute to Israel’s true God, but, fortunately, Jehoshaphat was a man of greater faith.

"Is there not here a prophet of Jehovah?" (2 Kings 3:11). It is remarkable that Jehoram was ignorant of Elisha’s presence in the host, but one of his servants told him that the prophet was among them. Having learned this, Jehoshaphat at once stated that the word of Jehovah was with Elisha, and the three kings decided to consult him.

"And they went down to him" (2 Kings 3:12). Jehoram might have thought of sending for Elisha, but the three kings were in dire straits and decided to humble themselves and go to the prophet rather than demanding that the prophet come to them. After all, when terrible death threatens, many an erstwhile unbeliever turns in meekness and humility to God who alone determines the issues of life and death.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 3:9. Sure enough, the king of Edom joined as an ally of Jehoram and Jehoshaphat. Compass of seven days means the route they chose was out of the way to the extent that it took seven days longer. It also took them into a territory where there was no drinking water.

2 Kings 3:10. Jehoram became uneasy and feared that perhaps the situation was brought about by the Lord; if so, it was in order to entrap them with the Moabites.

2 Kings 3:11. After the law of Moses was completed and left with God’s people, it was regarded as all the Lord wanted in the way of statute law, or formal enactment. That is why we have the words "and he added no more" in Deuteronomy 5:22. As time went on, it was necessary to have the services of inspired men in interpreting that law to show its proper application, also to give specific information in emergencies. For such purposes God used the priests (Leviticus 10:8-11; Deuteronomy 17:9-10; Malachi 2:7) and the prophets. See Hebrews 1:1. Jehoshaphat had good reason, therefore, to call for a prophet of the Lord. He was told of an available one by the name of Elisha. Poured water on the hands of Elijah. This fact is not mentioned in any other place, and is doubtless merely a reference to his ministrations to the head prophet over him. Moffatt’s translation is, "who used to be servant to Elijah."

2 Kings 3:12. Jehoshaphat recognized Elisha as an inspired prophet, and the three kings went to confer with him.

Verses 13-17

2Ki 3:13-17

2 Kings 3:13-17

ELISHA PROPHESIED GOD’S PROVISION OF ABUNDANT WATER

"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 Jehovah hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab. And Elisha said, As Jehovah 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. But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, that when the minstrel played, that the hand of Jehovah came upon him. And he said, Thus saith Jehovah, Make this valley full of trenches. For thus saith Jehovah, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, and ye shall drink both ye and your cattle and your beasts."

The first two verses here reveal the complete rejection of the king of Israel by the prophet, for he declared flatly that, if he had not been accompanied by the king of Judah the prophet would not even have looked at him.

"Make this valley full of trenches" (2 Kings 3:16). The different rendition here by the RSV is probably correct, based upon the fact that God did NOT need any help to supply plenty of water for that host with all their animals. That rendition is, "Thus saith the Lord, I will make this dry stream-bed full of pools." We strongly prefer the RSV here, because it frustrates the erroneous interpretation of some writers that, "In this wady it is still possible to obtain water by digging for it!" The water that filled that valley did not come from the army’s digging wells all that night! No indeed, the text flatly declares that, "There came water by the way of Edom (2 Kings 3:20)" That can mean only that there was a cloudburst in the highlands of Edom where that wady originated, and that by the following morning the whole area was flooded!

"Ye shall not see wind, neither ... rain, yet this valley shall be filled with water" (2 Kings 3:17). This prophecy of Elisha meant that the wind and rain normally to be expected together (in that area) would NOT be seen. Why? It would occur at a great distance from the host, and none of them would even be aware of it. It should be noted that Elisha did not say that there would not be rain, but that they would not see it!

"Ye shall drink ... ye and your cattle and your beasts" (2 Kings 3:17). "The cattle (Hebrew = flocks and herds) is a reference to their food supply, and beasts refers to the luggage animals."

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 3:13. What have I to do with thee is the same as saying, "What are you coming to me for?" Prophets of thy father means the prophets whom Ahab and Jezebel relied on when they wanted advice to their liking; they were the idolatrous ones. Jehoram still believed the Lord had brought about the alliance of these three kings for the purpose of some punishment. But it was Jehoshaphat who insisted on their advising with the prophet before venturing on their military enterprise.

2 Kings 3:14. Jehoshaphat was a good king, and his presence caused Elisha to respect the group of kings standing in his presence.

2 Kings 3:15. The minstrel was a musician. Just why Elisha wished the services of this person we do not know. It was in line, however, with the practice of the prophets and other miracle workers in the Biblical times. It gives a concrete exhibition of the fact mentioned by Paul in Hebrews 1:1 that, not only did God speak to the fathers by the prophets, but he did so "at sundry times and in divers manners."

2 Kings 3:16-17. Ditches is from a word that means pools. God proposed to bring a flow of water into the valley, and the pools would store up and save the precious liquid after the general spread had served its purpose, and had flowed away. This was to be a miraculous supply of water, and not brought by ordinary weather conditions.

Verses 18-20

2Ki 3:18-20

2 Kings 3:18-20

ELISHA ALSO PROPHESIED THE DEFEAT OF THE MOABITES

"And this is but a light thing in the sight of Jehovah: he will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. And ye shall smite every fortified city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all fountains of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones. And it came to pass, in the morning, about the time of offering the oblation, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water."

Some writers take the "scorched earth" policy of this war against Moab as being in direct violation of Deuteronomy 20:19-20, which forbade Israel to cut down the fruit trees of conquered enemies, but the allegation is false. As Rawlinson explained:

"That prohibition in Deuteronomy is limited to cases where the conquest of the country attacked, and its occupation by the conquerors is anticipated. The words are, `When thou shalt besiege a city ... thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: FOR THOU MAYEST EAT OF THEM.’"

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 3:18-19. Light thing means that it is unimportant compared with the other miracle they will receive. Managing an army of men would be a mightier feat than bringing forth a supply of water. Fenced city means a walled or fortified city. Choice city means a city very desirable from standpoints other than being walled. To mar the fields with stones means to strew it with them so they cannot be cultivated.

2 Kings 3:20. Meat offering. The first word is not in the original as a separate word. The expression as a whole refers to the regular time of morning sacrifice which was nine o’clock. The miraculous supply came from the direction of the land of Edom, until the country had the appearance of a lake.

Verses 21-25

2Ki 3:21-25

2 Kings 3:21-25

THE DEFEAT OF THE MOABITES BY THE COALITION

"Now when the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered themselves together, all that were able to put on armor, and upward, and stood on the border. And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water over against them as red as blood: and they said, This is blood; the kings are surely destroyed, and they have smitten each man his fellow: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil. And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they went forward into the land, smiting the Moabites. And they beat down their cities; and on every good piece of land they cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the fountains of water, and felled all the good trees, until in Kir-hareseth only they left the stones thereof howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it."

This paragraph states merely that the victory over Moab was granted, even as the prophet had said and that the Israelites ruthlessly carried out their ancient equivalent of the "scorched earth" invasion. However, it was not in the will of God that Moab should again become tributary to Israel; and accordingly, there came an abrupt end of this destructive campaign, leaving Moab independent of Israel.

E.M. Zerr:

Verse 21. About this time the Moabites awoke to their danger, and gathered all their fighting men for battle.

2 Kings 3:22-23. This body of water was between the allies and the Moabites. From the angle where the latter looked in the direction of the water, it was made to look like blood. This could be aptly called a miraculous camouflage, for the Lord certainly caused it to occur to deceive the Moabites. They concluded the enemies were slain and that their blood was causing the red which they saw. With the enemy slain, nothing was to hinder them from taking the spoil, so they thought, and thus announced it.

2 Kings 3:24. The camp of the allies, which was in charge of the Israelites, was kept quiet. The soldiers were lying low, looking for the Moabites to come on with no expectation of meeting any resistance. All of this was an effective maneuver, doubtless inspired by the Lord as his means of causing fulfillment of the promise in verses 18, 19. The allies sprang to the attack and overcame the Moabites. They were put to flight and chased even to their own country with great slaughter.

2 Kings 3:25. Only in Kir-hareseth. The first word is not in the original. The R. V. words it, "until in Kir-hareseth," etc. The verse means they made exception of this city in their general destruction with the large stones. But it was not to escape entirely, for the men with the slings encompassed the city and smote the people.

Verses 26-27

2Ki 3:26-27

2 Kings 3:26-27

THE GREAT INDIGNATION THAT CAME AGAINST ISRAEL

"And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew the sword, to break through unto the king of Edom; but they could not. 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 wrath against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land."

The best explanation of what happened here is perhaps that of Honeycutt. "The scene of the king sacrificing his oldest son on the wall, the one destined to succeed him as king, so moved and excited the Moabites that they fell upon the coalition and defeated it." It is certainly ridiculous to suppose, as Mesha reported it on the Moabite Stone, that his pagan god Chemosh defeated Israel.

"He took seven hundred men ... to break through to the king of Edom" (2 Kings 3:26). In this maneuver, Mesha, the king of Moab, evidently supposed that the king of Edom, a vassal of Jehoshaphat, might actually change sides and help him, or at least be a less enthusiastic fighter than others of the coalition. Montgomery called this passage a contradiction of the fact of Edom being a part of the coalition. However, he merely misunderstood the thinking of Mesha.

"And there was great wrath against Israel" (2 Kings 3:27). The source of this wrath is NOT stated, and scholars have different views of its origin. Keil believed that, "The Israelites brought upon themselves the wrath of God by occasioning the offering of an abominable human sacrifice." Adam Clarke agreed with that view, writing that, "The Lord was displeased with Israel for driving things to such an extremity." Jackson declared that, "The great wrath that came upon Israel was from the god of Moab who accepted the human sacrifice of his worshippers."

We cannot agree with either of these opinions. God would hardly have been angry with Israel for carrying out the same kind of victorious destruction of Moab that God’s prophet had prophesied, as Keil thought. Nor is it possible to suppose that a nonentity like Chemosh, the Moabite’s pagan god, could either have "accepted" or "rejected" anything. However, in this case, it must be admitted that the defeat of Israel following Mesha’s appeal to Chemosh by the sacrifice of his son and heir gave that pagan ruler ample excuse for attributing the victory to his pagan god. In this connection, the words of Dentan are helpful:

"It may seem strange that our Bible would contain a story that can be interpreted as teaching the efficacy of human sacrifice, even such a sacrifice to a heathen god, Chemosh of the Moabites; but this is another striking bit of evidence of basic honesty."

If there had been any such person as that mythical Deuteronomist so sternly jealous of the honor of the One True God and his unique sanctuary in Jerusalem, why would he have allowed anything like this to appear in the Bible? The existence of it proves that no such person existed!

Another possible explanation of Israel’s repulse here is that of LaSor:

"It is possible that the Israelites believed that human sacrifice was efficacious to Chemosh in his own land, because the popular beliefs of the Israelites were often in opposition to revealed truth, as spoken by the prophets." If that was the case, it is easy to see how there might have ensued a general panic following the sacrifice of Mesha’s son.

It appears, therefore, that the great wrath that came upon Israel was that of the Moabites who were aroused to a frantic frenzy by their kings abominable sacrifice of his son. At any rate, the campaign ended then and there.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 3:26. This kind of maneuver is called a storm attack. It sometimes obtains an entrance through the enemy’s lines when all other means fail. The attack was a failure in this case and the Moabites were forced to retire.

2 Kings 3:27. This human sacrifice was not with sincere devotion to the idolatrous god of the Moabites, for in that case it would have been done at some proper shrine of the gods. It was done upon the wall, in sight of the Israelites. That created such a sentimental protest among them that the leaders were forced to leave the scene

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Kings 3". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/2-kings-3.html.
 
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