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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
2 Kings 3

 

 

Verses 1-27

C. The Reign of Jehoram, and his Expedition against the Moabites

2 Kings 3:1-27

1Now 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 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 3 Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.[FN1] 4And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster,[FN2] and rendered unto the king of Israel a hundred thousand lambs, and a hundred thousand rams, with the wool [the wool of a hundred thousand rams].[FN3] 5But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel 6 And king Jehoram went out of Samaria the same time [at that time], and numbered all Israel 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 8 And he said, Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom 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 10 And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hands of Moab! 11But 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 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 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:[FN4] for the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab 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 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 16 And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make[FN5] this valley full of ditches 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 18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand 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 20 And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat-offering was offered [at the time of offering sacrifice], that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water 21 And when all the Moabites [had] heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they [had] gathered all that were able to put on armour, and upward, and stood in the border [had stationed themselves on the boundary]. 22And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone [rose] upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side [opposite them] as red as blood: 23And they said, This is blood: the kings are surely slain [have fought, to their own destruction],[FN6] and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil 24 And when they came to the camp at Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them: but they went forward smitting[FN7] the Moabites, even in their country 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 [until there were left][FN8] only in Kir-haraseth left they [omit left they] the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it 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 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 [in] Israel: and they departed from him [Mesha], and returned to their own land.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

2 Kings 3:1. Jehoram the son of Ahab, &c. In regard to the chronological statements see notes on 2 Kings 8:16.—In 2 Kings 3:2 the Sept. and Vulg. read מַצְּבֹת for מַצְּבַת, which Thenius wrongly declares to be better. According to 2 Kings 10:26 sq., when the temple of Baal, which had been built by Ahab ( 1 Kings 16:32), was destroyed, in the first place the (wooden) מַצְּבוֹת were burned, and then the (stone or metal) מַצְּבַת הַבָּעַל was broken in pieces. It is clear that this last was the principal statue, and we have to think here of the same or a similar one, which stood before the royal palace, and not in the temple. It is to be noticed that Jehoram only removed and did not destroy it. It is not entirely certain whether he did it immediately after his accession, or after the expedition against Moab.

2 Kings 3:4. Mesha king of Moab, &c. The fruitful and well-watered land of Moab was especially fitted for the pasturage of flocks (Winer, R-W-B. i. s. 99). The wealth of the king seems, as he is himself called נֹקֵד [shepherd or sheep-master], to have consisted in flocks, hence he paid the tribute in these. Michaelis, Maurer, and others, refer צָמֶר [wool], at the end of 2 Kings 3:4, to both lambs and rams, so that Mesha would have had to pay only the wool from both; in that case, however, the rams must certainly have had a different wool from the sheep, which cannot be proved. Ewald and Thenius make it only refer to the אֵילִים, mentioned last before it, so that the sense Isaiah, since כַּר is used especially for a fatted lamb, that the lambs were given alive for food, but that from the rams only the wool or the fleeces were given up. The tribute was, in any case, a very considerable one; but this does not justify the conclusion that it was paid only on every change of government (Clericus). There is no doubt that we have to regard it as a regular annual tribute (cf. Isaiah 16:1). At the division of the kingdom, Judah took Edom and Israel Moab. As early as the time of Ahaziah the Moabites had declared their independence of Israel ( 2 Kings 1:1); as Hebrews, however, soon fell sick, and did not reign for even two full years, it remained for Jehoram to try to resubjugate the rebels, and to retain them in tributary subjection. [In the year1869 a basalt column, three feet high by one and a half feet wide, and one and a half feet thick, was discovered near Dibon, in Moab, on which was an inscription running in the name of Mesha and detailing his Acts, especially the conquests made, and the temples built, by him. It was broken, through the jealousy and suspicion of the Arabs, before it could be removed, or a copy taken of it. Nothing remains but fragments. There are, therefore, several gaps in the inscription as we now possess it. It refers to the oppression of Moab by Israel. Omri is the king mentioned as having afflicted Moab, “because Chemosh was angry with the king [of Moab].” A gap destroys the names of kings of Israel who reigned “for forty years.” The reference which is thus lost would be of the highest value for determining the date of the inscription. It goes on to say that Chemosh became gracious again in the days of Mesha, so that the king gained victories over Israel. Chemosh told him to take Nebo. He took it, and sacrificed seven thousand of its inhabitants to Ashtor-Chemosh, and took the vessels of Jehovah and offered them to Chemosh. The last part of the inscription is so fragmentary as to be hardly intelligible. As usual in such inscriptions, only the king’s victories, and not his defeats, are mentioned. Cf. Art. “Writing;” Smith’s Dict. Bib., Am. ed.—W. G. S.]

2 Kings 3:6. And king Jehoram went out of Samaria the same time, &c. That Isaiah, at the time when he became king, and Mesha refused him the tribute.—He numbered, or mustered, i.e., he brought together, a large army, by a levy of men throughout all Israel who were capable of bearing arms; but he addressed himself to Jehoshaphat at the same time, in order to be so much the more certain of attaining his object, and the latter then entered into an alliance with him. Cf. on 2 Kings 3:7, the remarks on 1 Kings 22:4. The combined army could advance by the “way” ( 2 Kings 3:8) over the Jordan, and then along the eastern side of the Dead Sea, and so fall upon Moab from the north; or it could march down on this side of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, as far as the southern extremity of the latter, and then force its way into Moab from the south through a portion of the land of Edom. Jehoshaphat decided in favor of the latter road, although it was longer and beset with more difficulties than the other, chiefly, we may well believe, because they could then call the king of Edom with his army to their assistance, and make sure that he did not profit by the opportunity and make war upon them himself. Perhaps they also thought that Moab could be more easily surprised from the south. [The fortifications of the Moabites were on their northern boundary. On the south they relied upon the natural obstacles to the advance of a hostile army. On the northern route, moreover, the armies of Israel would have been exposed to an attack from the Syrians, who were in a disposition to seize eagerly upon any such opportunity.—W. G. S.] Edom had at this time no king of its own, but a governor appointed by Jehoshaphat ( 1 Kings 22:48). The seven days’ journey ( 2 Kings 3:9) cannot be understood of the distance from Jerusalem, which is only about sixty miles, for the king of Edom had already joined the two other kings with his army [i.e., it is said that the three kings wandered seven days’ journey, so that the time must be reckoned after their junction; but the king of Edom would not go to Jerusalem to meet them, and then march back again. He joined them at the borders of Edom, a very short distance from the scene of the distress for want of water.—W. G. S.]. More probably “they suffered for seven days from want of water in the desert-region to the south of the Dead Sea” (Ewald). For a more particular description of this region, see Keil on the passage. כִּי in 2 Kings 3:10 is not equivalent to “for;” but it serves either to intensify the assertion: “Alas! for Jehovah,” &c. (Keil, De Wette), or its only use is to introduce the assertion, and it is not to be translated (Luther, Thenius), as in Isaiah 15:1.

2 Kings 3:11. But Jehoshaphat said, &c. Cf. 1 Kings 22:5-7. As in that case, Jehoshaphat desires to hear a prophet of Jehovah, i.e., a true prophet, not a pretended one, a prophet of Ahab. That which Jehoram himself did not know was known by one of his servants, i.e., no doubt one of his chief officers, who was, perhaps, like Obadiah ( 1 Kings 18:3), secretly a friend of the prophet.—Which poured water, &c, i.e., who “was about Elijah daily as his servant, and who is certainly the most reliable prophet since he is gone” (Thenius).—It is clear from the definite declaration of Jehoshaphat ( 2 Kings 3:12), that the reputation of Elisha had extended already to Judah. It is very significant that the three kings did not summon him to them, but themselves went down to him. Probably “the tents of the kings were set upon an eminence so as to overlook the encampment” (Thenius). The inference which Josephus affirms, that the prophet had his tent outside the encampment, and at some distance from it, is not justified by the words.

2 Kings 3:13. And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, &c. The prophet addresses himself to Jehoram because he is the principal person here, through whom the others have been brought into these straits. The question: What have I to do with thee? means: Why dost thou desire to come to me, the prophet of the God whom thou hast abandoned? The prophets of his father were, no doubt, those court-prophets, at whose head Zedekiah once stood ( 1 Kings 22:6; 1 Kings 22:11); the prophets of his mother Jezebel can have been only Baal-prophets ( 1 Kings 18:19). We see from this that Jehoram, although he had removed the statue of Baal, still allowed the priests of Baal to perform their functions, as they had done before, without molestation. This is also clear from 2 Kings 10:19. Jehoram does not mean by the curt expression אַל: it cannot help me to go to the prophets of Baal (Rabbis), but (cf. Ruth 1:13): Do not repel me, I am not alone at stake; shall three kings with their armies perish?—On the words: Before whom I stand, see notes on 1 Kings 17:1; 1 Kings 18:15.—Elisha demands ( 2 Kings 3:15) a “minstrel” or harp-player, certainly not “that he might chant the reply of God to the accompaniment of the harp” (J. D. Michaelis), nor “in order to pronounce his directions with a sufficiently solemn tone” (Knobel). Bleek observes: “The recitations of the prophets were, in early times, very lively, in a lyrical form of composition, and, as is generally the case with respect to the recitation of lyrical poetry, accompanied by music;” the accompaniment in this case, then, was most probably “the mode of prophetic recitation, which was not unusual at the time.” But there is no mention in any other place of any such method, and it is impossible to appeal to 1 Samuel 10:5, according to which an entire band of the prophets came out with drum and flute and harp. That only proves that music was practised in the prophet-communities. It is also certain that Elisha’s master, Elijah, did not cause his recitations or speeches to be accompanied by music. The extraordinary means, which does not occur again in the story of Elisha, presupposes an extraordinary occasion therefor. In ancient times harp-music was often employed as a means of withdrawing the soul from the outer world, and of collecting, quieting, and elevating it. Among the numerous places which Bochart (Hieroz. i244) collected upon this point, it may suffice to quote here only one. Cicero (Tusc. 4.) says that the Pythagoreans were accustomed mentes suas a cogitationum intentione cantu fidibusque ad tranquillitatem tråducere. Cf. also 1 Samuel 16:16, and Clericus’ remarks on the place. Elisha’s dissatisfaction, which he expresses in 2 Kings 3:13-14, although it was natural and just, was, nevertheless, not the disposition of soul which is demanded if one is to hear the voice of God within. The situation, the encampment, and the entire surroundings were unadapted for composure and elevation of soul for we find that the prophets usually received their revelations in retirement and quiet, not in the noise and bustle of the world. In order that he may be brought into the right disposition, may direct his inner self entirely towards the Lord, and may be able to surrender himself to the higher influence, Elisha makes use of the usual means, probably the one which was regularly employed for this purpose in the schools of the prophets, and indeed not without success, for during the playing upon the harp, “the hand of the Lord came upon him.” Cf. notes on 1 Kings 18:46 ( Jeremiah 1:9).

2 Kings 3:17. For thus saith the Lord, &c. According to Thenius we must identify the valley where they were to dig ditches in order to collect the water, which otherwise would have run quickly away, with what is to-day called Wady el Ahsy, which is the natural boundary of Moab on the south ( Isaiah 15:7), and from which several ravines run up into the mountain region of Moab [Robinson2:112, 157]. The prophecy itself, 2 Kings 3:17-19, contains a climax in its two members: The Lord will not only save you out of the present need, but he will also grant you glorious victory over Moab. The words in the 19 th verse are not a command, as 2 Kings 3:16 is: they only declare what will occur. For this reason, in the first place, it is impossible to charge the prophet with commanding what Deuteronomy 20:19 sq. forbids; but, besides that, the place in Deut. refers to the conquest of Canaan, during which no fruit-tree was to be used for palisades or fortifications in sieges. To mar every good piece of land with stones, means to throw so many stones upon it that it would no longer be available for cultivation (Sept.: ἁχρειώσετε).—מִנְחָה ( 2 Kings 3:20) has the same meaning as in 1 Kings 18:29; 1 Kings 18:36. The interpretation which Von Gerlach and Keil give to this statement, that on account of the morning sacrifice offered in the temple at Jerusalem, according to the Law, God turned His favor once more upon the people, goes too far. The statement can scarcely be more than a mere designation of time, i.e., as it became light. Before the exile time was not defined by hours. Nevertheless, a reference may lie in it to the fact that help came just at the moment of time sacred to Jehovah. The express mention that there came water by way of Edom, makes the supposition inadmissible that, in digging the ditches ( 2 Kings 3:16), “the fresh springs bubbled up under the feet of the laborers” (Krummacher), or that we must think of “subterranean cisterns” (Richter). A much more probable explanation is that “a great shower fell at some distance from the Israelitish encampment” (Josephus even asserts: three days’ journey from it), “or a kind of a cloud-burst (water-spout) took place, by which the wady was filled all at once, although the Israelites did not notice the wind, which always arises before a rain-storm, in the Orient, nor see the rain itself” (Keil).

2 Kings 3:21. And when all the Moabites heard, &c. In order to await the attack on their own mountains—that Isaiah, in an excellent position—the Moabites had stationed themselves, with all their military force, on the frontier. The morning sun arising with a red light, caused the water to appear red, besides which the water itself was reddened by the red earth of Edom (Ewald). That they took it for blood was not, as the older interpreters supposed, a mistake which was brought about by God in a miraculous manner, but a perfectly natural error, into which they would fall all the more readily as they knew very well that there was no water in that desert. The supposition also, which they express in the 23 d verse, is not by any means far-fetched, since similar events often occurred ( 2 Chronicles 20:23; Judges 7:22); and they well knew what jealousy existed between Israel and Judah, and the inclination of Edom to throw off the yoke of the latter (Gerlach). This supposition rose to a certainty in their eagerness for booty. The sentence in 2 Kings 3:25 from עַד to חֲרָשֶׂת is “to be joined with the commencement of the verse: ‘and they beat down the cities.’ (What comes between describes the devastation of the land, which also had an influence on the cities.) Accordingly אֲבָנֶיהָ can only be understood in its real sense of actual wall-stones, and not of cliffs or rock, and the suffix on this word-refers to קִיר חֲרָשֶׂת and not to Moab” (Thenius). The city Kir Hareseth is the same which is called Kir Moab, קִיר מוֹאָב ( Isaiah 15:1), and Kir Heres, קִיר חֶרֶשׂ [ Isaiah 16:1; cf. Jeremiah 48:31; Jeremiah 48:36). It was the capital city, “the most important, perhaps the only fortification in the country, built upon a high, steep, chalk-cliff” (Keil), now called Kerak, and provided with a fort [see Robinson, ii66], (Winer, R-W-B., i. s. 658 sq.). The קַלָּעִים are not those who applied siege-engines (Grotius: tormentarii), but slingers, in the common meaning of the word, funditores, who shot at the garrison upon the walls.—Unto the king of Edom, i.e., toward the side where the king was with his subjects, either because this seemed to be the weakest part of the besieging force (Thenius), or because they hoped that they could most easily draw away the Edomite contingent from the allied army (Ewald).

2 Kings 3:27. Then he took his eldest son, &c. Many take these words with the Rabbis, thus: During the sortie against the king of Edom, Mesha captured his son and offered him as a sacrifice. This occasioned such bitterness among the Edomites that they refused to continue the fight, and thereby compelled Israel to give up the war altogether and withdraw. This interpretation is decidedly false. The passage, Amos 2:1, to which reference is made to support it, refers to an entirely different event, which is not known to us more particularly. Amos, who lived, moreover, one hundred years later, there announces to the Moabites the avenging judgment of God, because they had “burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime.” In this case, however, the question is in regard to a son of the king, who was offered as a living sacrifice. The bones of the dead were never burned as a sacrifice, and captive kings or their sons, although they were sometimes executed out of revenge, were never sacrificed to the gods. Even in the darkest heathenism, sacrifice was always an offering of that which was nearest and dearest, and it was considered efficient only in so far as it was such. This is the case especially in respect to the child-offerings of western Asia. It was a custom among the ancients, says Philo, in the Phœnician History (Euseb. Prep. Evang. iv16) ἐν ταῖς μεγάλαις συμφοραῖς τῶν κινδύνων ἀντὶ τῆς πάντων φθορᾶς τὸ ἠγαπημένον τῶν τέκνων τοὺς κρατοῦντας πόλεως ἒθνους εἰς σφαγὴν ἐπιδιδόναι λύτρον τοῖς τιμωροῖς δαίμοσι. So also, in this case, Mesha sacrificed, in order to avert the threatening destruction, his first-born Song of Solomon, who should have succeeded him upon the throne; i.e., the dearest and most precious thing which he had, not to the God of Israel (Josephus and Grotius), but to the Moabitish War-god, Chemosh (cf. on 1 Kings 11:7). (Cf. on human sacrifices, Symbol. des Mos. Cultus, ii. s. 241; Movers, Die Relig. der Phœniz. s. 299, sq.) That the son also, “for his part, willingly yielded himself to death for his fatherland” (Ewald), is not in the text, and is in itself very improbable. The sacrifice was offered upon the wall, in order that the besiegers might see it, and fear the divinity, who might now be supposed to be appeased.

2 Kings 3:27. And there was great indignation in Israel, &c. This sentence, on account of its curt-ness and brevity, is quite obscure and difficult Its meaning has been taken in different ways Most of the expositors, citing the same phrase Numbers 1:53; Numbers 18:5 (comp. with Leviticus 17:11); Joshua 9:20; Joshua 22:20; 2 Chronicles 19:10; 2 Chronicles 24:18, think of divine wrath or a divine judgment, and give as the meaning: As a result of this abominable action, which is so strictly forbidden in the Law ( Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:3), and to which the allied army had compelled the king of Moab, there came a divine judgment upon Israel, so that they withdrew without subjugating Moab (Keil). There is no objection to this in the usage of the language; but the context is decidedly opposed to it. The divine קֶצֶף [wrath] Isaiah, in all the places mentioned above, the result of a definite guilt on the part of Israel; in this case, however, there is not a word to the effect that Israel had incurred guilt. That which had been brought about by the allied army, had taken place as the prophet had foretold ( 2 Kings 3:18 sq.), and he had represented it as an especially great assistance of God. When, then, the king of Moab did something of his own accord which the Law strenuously forbade, that was his guilt and not Israel’s. On the hypothesis proposed, the withdrawal of the army, which was a piece of good fortune for him, would have been even a reward for his abominable crime, instead of being the punishment which he deserved, whereas the punishment would have fallen upon guiltless Israel. Moreover, in what did the heavy judgment of God against Israel consist? The text contains not a syllable in regard to any plague or calamity. These expositors are therefore compelled to take קֶצֶף as meaning human anger (dissatisfaction, resentment, bitterness), in which sense it occurs, Ecclesiastes 5:17 [Hbr. text, 16]; Esther 1:18, and as קָצַף is so often found ( Genesis 40:2; Genesis 41:10; Exodus 16:20; Leviticus 10:16; Numbers 31:14). Many expositors, then, give to the words this sense, that on account of this shocking crime, there sprang up, in the kings of Judah and Edom, a great wrath or resentment against Israel and its king, as original cause of the war, and therefore of the crime, so that they would not fight any longer with and for Israel, but withdrew, and so compelled Israel to do the same (Dereser). It is not right, however, to fill out the text in this manner; and nothing justifies us in understanding under יִשֶׂרָאֵל here, simply the army of Jehoram. We therefore follow the old translations, according to which עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵל is not, as it is generally understood, a designation of the object, but of the subject of the anger. The Sept. have: καὶ ἐγένετο μετάμελος μέγας ἐπὶ ’Ισραήλ; the Vulgata has: et facta est indignatio magna in Israel; so also the Syr. and Arab, and Luther in like manner: “da ward Israel sehr zornig” (Grotius, Clericus, Thenius). עַל stands in a similar use 2 Kings 3:15; Jeremiah 8:18; Jonah 2:7 [Hbr. text, 8], and often. According to Psalm 106:37-39, by the sacrifice of sons and daughters the whole land was covered with blood-guilt, and was rendered impure and accursed. In the present instance this took place by the sacrifice of the first-born son of the king, which the ruler of the land himself offered. They did not wish to remain any longer in such a country, on account of their horror at this deed; they preferred to renounce further possession of it. The words: They departed from him and returned to their own land, certainly do hot mean to say: “The end of the expedition was attained, and the land was forced back under the sceptre of the king of Israel again” (Krummacher); on the contrary, they gave up the attempt to subjugate Moab by force.

HISTORICAL AND ETHICAL

1. The brief and general description of the reign of Jehoram brings out into prominence, as characteristic of it, two points. In the first place, that this king removed the statue of Baal, which had been erected by his father Ahab, then, however, that he clung all the more decidedly to the Calf-worship of Jeroboam. From the first statement it does not by any means follow, as has often been assumed, that he “abolished the Baal-worship” altogether (Winer, R-W-B. i. s., 599), for, according to chap10, this worship endured yet throughout his entire reign, and Jehu was the first who put an end to it. It appears, therefore, that he only broke with the worship of Baal for himself, asking, and meant to declare publicly, by the removal of the statue, that the worship of Baal was not the prevailing state-religion. This was, at all events, a step towards improvement, yet without especial value; for, if the fear of the living God of Israel, and the conviction of the absolute repulsiveness of idol-worship had led him to this course, then he could not possibly have allowed idolatry to continue in its complete development. That he persevered so firmly in maintaining the institutions of Jeroboam, was brought about by the same cause as in the case of all his predecessors: the existence of the kingdom, separate from Judah, was conditioned upon these institutions (see 1 Kings12. Hist. § 1). It is therefore very probable that they were rather political motives and considerations than anything else which prompted him to the removal of the statue. By means of Elijah and the schools of the prophets, a large portion, and that, too, the best portion, of the people had already been won over to a disposition hostile to the worship of Baal, so that from that side danger might arise for the house of Ahab, which had introduced this worship of idols, as, in fact, at a later time, this danger became a reality through Jehu (chap9). Jehoram, therefore, for his own part, renounced the worship of Baal, and desisted from all persecutions of the opponents of the same; but he still tolerated it for the sake of his mother, the fanatically idolatrous Jezebel, if for no other reason. His policy of government was therefore a half-way one, and for that reason an ineffective one. Indecision, want of firmness, and a disposition to do everything only half-way, are the characteristics which present themselves prominently, in many ways, throughout his entire behavior, as will be shown still further, below.

2. King Jehoshaphat appears here just as in 1 Kings22. He yielded to the request of Jehoram, in spite of the unsuccessful results of his undertakings with Ahab and Ahaziah, and in spite of the warning of the prophet Jehu not to help the apostates ( 2 Chronicles 19:2), probably influenced by the conviction that the war against rebellious Moab was a necessary and just one, and was also in the interest of Judah. The restless Moabites had always had a disposition hostile to all the people of Israel ( Deuteronomy 23:4-6). They had already once entered into an alliance with the Ammonites against Jehoshaphat ( 2 Chronicles 20), and were, therefore, dangerous neighbors for Judah: to permit them to become independent would have been only to make this danger greater. It was in the highest degree important for both kingdoms, on general principles, to hold the different kings who had been tributary since David’s time in subjection, since every defection or rebellion which succeeded would only have encouraged and stimulated to another. The restoration of the ancient greatness and glory of the united kingdom, which Jehoshaphat was striving for (see above on 1 Kings 22:41 sq.), would have become more and more improbable. His behavior during the expedition stands in strong contrast with that of Jehoram. The latter does not know what to do in the time of need; he mourns and complains despairingly, while Jehoshaphat, the god-fearing, does not lose dignity and composure; he desires that the Lord should be inquired of, and he relies upon His help and counsel. The old expositors thought that he ought to have inquired of the Lord before the expedition, and that it was because he did not do this that he too came into so great distress. But Elisha is so far from giving utterance to any blame against him, that he declares, on the other hand, that it is only on his account that he is willing to, and will, answer and give counsel. The tendency of the whole story is to show how Jehovah, for the sake of the one king who is faithful to Him, saves the two others, in order that both they and the entire army may see that this God alone is mighty, and that victory comes from Him ( Psalm 62:11, 12]; Proverbs 21:31).

3. We see Elisha here, for the first time, step out face to face with kings, and interfere in the fortunes of the entire nation. Here too he maintains himself as one on whom Elijah’s spirit rests ( 2 Kings 2:15), and not alone as the one who had poured water on his hands. Without the orders or the knowledge of the king, he joins the toilsome expedition, and shares all the dangers of the army, by no means from soldier like passion for war, or from compulsion, but from prophetical zeal, in order that he may bear witness, by word and deed, to the God of Israel, His power and faithfulness, wherever and however circumstances might demand. Now, when need and distress occur, and the three kings and their train, Jehoram at the head, come to him, he knows nothing of fear, he neither allows himself to be overawed or terrified, nor does he feel himself honored and flattered; but he steps forth to meet the wavering king firmly and independently, as Elijah had once gone to meet Ahab ( 1 Kings 18:18), and rebukes his sins, so that the king stands before him, as it were, with fettered hands, feels himself smitten, and begs that the prophet will not repel him, at least for the sake of the two other kings. Köster (Die Propheten des Alt. Test. s. 86) asserts that “the prophet appears here, under the control of unspiritual pride and anger, to profit by the distress of the king, in order to hurt his feelings deeply,” and that his conduct “cannot be entirely justified;” but he mistakes entirely the nature and position of the prophetical calling in Israel, in regard to which that holds true, which was said to Jerem. ( 2 Kings 1:9 sq.): “Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, and to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant,” and to Ezekiel ( 2 Kings 3:17): “Son of Prayer of Manasseh, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore hear the warning from my mouth and give them warning from me.” It is just on account of this directly divine calling that the prophecy of the Israelites stands as unparalleled in the world as the chosen people itself. Not of their own will or power did the holy men speak, but moved by the Holy Ghost ( 2 Peter 1:21). In the case of Elisha it would have been impossible ever to say that the spirit of his master Elijah rested upon him, if he had fulfilled the desire of that king who clung firmly to the calf-worship, and at the same time tolerated idolatry, without saying to him a single word of rebuke. The reproof of Elisha deserves besides to be considered in another aspect. Ewald (Geschichte des V. Isr. iii. s. 487, 3d ed. s. 525) asserts: “There is not a single sign from which it appears that Elijah and his school made war upon this image-worship (i.e., that introduced by Jeroboam) in any such powerful manner as Hosea did at a later time. On the contrary, the opposite of this appears true, in the case where this school reaches its final aim, namely, at the Revelation -establishment of the constitution of the kingdom by Jehu” ( 2 Kings 10:31). He also goes on to say that, even if Elijah himself was not favorable to the image-worship, yet in his time there was no controversy about it in the kingdom of the ten tribes, but that it was allowed to endure among the people. Duncker (Gesch. des Alterthums, i. s. 404) goes still further. He perceives in the worship of Jeroboam’s calf-image “a national reaction against the foreign worships which Solomon had introduced,” nay, even “the establishment of the Jehovah-worship,” and then says: “That those images did not shock the feelings of the people at that time, and did not give offence to the then existing measure of religious culture, is proved by the circumstance that such honored prophets as Elijah and Elisha had no objection to make to them.” These assertions find their direct contradiction in this reproof of Elisha to Jehoram. Jehoram was no idolater, he had even removed the statue of Baal which his father had set up. All the more firmly, however, did he cling to the cultus which had been introduced by Jeroboam ( 2 Kings 3:2-3). In like manner the prophets of Ahab, whom Elisha here definitely distinguishes from the prophets of Jezebel, were no idol-worshippers, as 1 Kings22. shows, but they were false prophets of Jehovah (belonging to Jeroboam’s cultus). “When now Elisha, nevertheless, assails the king so severely, when he then declares solemnly, in answer to the prayer of the king, that he will not repulse him, that he will respond to this prayer, not for the king of Israel’s sake, but for the sake of Jehoshaphat, who was not addicted to the image-worship, then nothing is clearer than that he “made war mightily” not only upon the Baal-worship, but also upon the worship of the calf-image. How could Elijah, the Revelation -establisher of the organic law of Israel, the second Moses, and his successor Elisha, have been so zealous against the transgression of one Mosaic commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” and then, on the other hand, have overlooked and allowed to pass without rebuke that other commandment which stands beside it and is most closely connected with it: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” (see 1 Kings12. Hist. § 1)? [It is a very remarkable fact that Elijah and Elisha say nothing about the Jehovah-calf-worship. The nation may have been so devoted to Baal-worship at this time that the calf-worship did not deserve attention. If there is any reference to that worship in this rebuke of Jehoram, which is very doubtful indeed, then, to say the least, it is a very indirect and indifferent reference, not by any means in the style of Elijah or Elisha. When they had anything to condemn we find that they did it without circumlocution or innuendo. Even if we recognised in this rebuke a reference to the calf-worship, the difficulty would scarcely be lessened: Why did he not explicitly condemn this worship? Why do we find no direct reference to it in his recorded words?—W. G. S.]

4. The prophecy of Elisha forms the central point of the whole story; by the fulfilment of it he is confirmed, before the three kings of the entire army, as man of God and prophet. Although the fulfilment of this prophecy did not induce Jehoram to desist from his course ( 2 Kings 3:3), yet it seems to have accomplished this much in his case, that he abstained from all persecution of the prophet—did not dare to behave towards him as Ahab had done towards Elijah, but took up a friendly disposition towards him (cf. 2 Kings 4:13), and from that time on allowed him to reside at Samaria in peace ( 2 Kings 5:24). To reduce this prophecy to a mere foreboding or presentiment, would be to make of the prophet a dreamer and a hero of mere thoughtless daring, and to cut out the nerve of the entire narrative, which even Thenius reckons among the purely historical portions of these books; for it is evidently incorporated in the historical record before us, for the sake of this prophecy. Elisha needed for a mere supposition or presentiment no harp-player, who should raise him into a higher state of mind, and yet no one can call this feature of the story legendary or unhistorical; it is described rather as “in the highest degree characteristic of the more ancient Israelite prophecy” (Eisenlohr). He intended, then, to prophesy and to have his promises regarded, not as his own opinion but as divine revelation. This circumstance by itself contradicts the rationalistic explanation, which is again repeated by Knobel (Der Prophet, der Hebä. ii. s. 95): “Elisha was a distinguished master in the knowledge of nature, for the times in which he lived. In this character he appears when he commands the soldiers, who are suffering for want of water, to dig ditches upon ditches, and thus procures them a rich supply. He seems to have recognised in the district the signs that it contained water, while these signs escaped the notice of those who were less instructed.” In order to perceive that the locality contained water, or, in general, in order to make use of his remarkable knowledge of nature, he did not need harp-music; he could do all that without music. If Hebrews, however, demanded music when he really relied upon his knowledge of nature, he sinks to the level of a mere wizard. It has been inferred, not without justice, from this passage in connection with 1 Samuel 10:5, that, as was remarked above, music was practised in the schools of the prophets. It must, therefore, have been regarded as an essential means for withdrawing the soul from the external world, and for disposing it to divine things, so that they ascribed to it, as a gift of God, great value. This reminds us involuntarily of Luther’s declaration (Luth. Werke, von Walch, xxii. s. 2062, 2248 sq.): “One of the finest and noblest gifts of God is music. This is very hostile to Satan, and with it we may drive off many temptations and evil thoughts.….

After theology, I give the next place and highest honor to music.…. It has often aroused and moved me, so that. I have won a desire to preach.…. I have always loved music. He who is master of this art is always well disposed and ready for anything which may arise. Music must necessarily be retained in the schools (N. B. in the higher, Song of Solomon -called Latin schools, exist). A schoolmaster must be able to sing, or not in the common schools, which did not then else I do not esteem him. We ought not to ordain young men to the office of preacher if they have not trained themselves and practised [singing] in the schools.”

5. The salvation of the Israelitish army from the destruction which threatened it “did not consist in a miracle which overruled the laws of nature, but only in this, that God caused the powers of nature, which He had prepared, to work in the manner which He had foreordained. As the abundance of water which suddenly presented itself was brought about in a natural way by a sudden flood of rain at a distance, so the illusion also, which was so ruinous to the Moabites, is to be explained in the natural manner which is stated in the text” (Keil). [The inference would be more just to say that, as the Moabites’ mistake is explained in a natural way in the text, so we are justified in adopting a natural explanation of the supply of water.—W. G. S.] Nevertheless this salvation of the army belongs to that series of extraordinary events which have their foundation in the selection of the Israelites to be the chosen people, and which bear witness to their especial, divine direction and guidance. The Old Testament knows nothing whatever of the difference between absolute and relative, or direct and indirect miracles. Every act of God in which there is revealed an especial, divine guidance and providence, especially a helping and saving might and grace of God, is called a miracle ( Psalm 9:1, 2]; Psalm 71:17; Psalm 72:18; Psalm 77:11, 12]; Psalm 136:4). In this sense the action before us is also a miracle, which had for its object not only to confirm Elisha as prophet, but also to serve the end that all Israel, and especially its king, who was tolerating idolatry, should perceive that Jehovah alone is God, and should confess, with the psalmist: “Thou art the God that doest wonders; thou hast declared thy strength among the people” ( Psalm 77:14). This act of God is great enough in itself, and does not need to be made greater, as it is by Krummacher: “Without delay they follow the counsel of the prophet and dig out the trenches. Hardly, however, is the sand penetrated when, oh! marvel to relate! the fresh springs of water bubble forth beneath the feet of the laborers,” or as it was by the old expositors, who assumed that God had miraculously influenced the eyes and imaginations of the Moabites (Menochius, Tostatus, and others).

6. The departure of the Israelitish army in consequence of the human sacrifice of the king of Moab, whether we understand by קֶצֶף, ver21, human or divine anger and dissatisfaction, is a very remarkable sign of the difference between the fundamental opinions of the Israelites and of the heathen. Whereas, among almost all heathen peoples, sacrifice culminates in human sacrifice, and this is considered the most holy and most effective, in the Mosaic system, on the other hand, it is regarded as the greatest and most detestable abomination in the sight of God. It is forbidden, not merely from considerations of humanity, but also because, as the Law declares with especial emphasis, the sanctuary of the Lord is thereby defiled, and His holy name (see notes on 1 Kings6). is profaned ( Leviticus 20:1-5; Leviticus 18:21). Human sacrifice stands in the most glaring contradiction to the revelation of God as the Holy One, in which character he was known in Israel alone; hence it was to be punished, without respite, by death (cf. Symb. d. Mos. Kult. ii. s. 333). From the preceding narrative we see how deep roots the detestation of human sacrifice had struck in the conscience of the people. Neither the cultus founded by Jeroboam, nor that of Baal, which Ahab had imported, with all its barbarism, had been able even to weaken this detestation. It was still so strong that a victorious army allowed itself to be led thereby to withdraw again from a land it had already subdued. Von Gerlach remarks, with justice: “This occurrence serves at the same time as a strong proof that Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter ( Judges 11) cannot be understood literally.” On the contrary, Ewald infers (Gesch. iii. p518, 3d ed558) from this very narrative that “Israel at that time yet, for a great part, in its views of the subject of sacrifice, did not reach above or beyond the heathen conceptions,” for the ancient Canaanitic sacrifice still had the intended effect upon the people, “as if Jehovah himself were angry with the Israelites for having forced the king to this bold and horrible deed,” so that “the army, impelled by dumb horror, abandoned the fortress and commenced a retreat.” But, apart from, the fact that the text does not in the least force us to take קֶצֶף of the wrath of God, this acceptation is opposed to the promise of the prophet, 2 Kings 3:18-19. For, according to that, it was Jehovah himself who helped Israel to take possession of the whole country, and to pursue the king to his capital. How then could they come to the opinion that the same Jehovah was now full of hard bitterness against Israel, which, after all, had only done what He himself had caused His prophet to promise them as His own act? It was not the supposed exasperation of Jehovah at the great victory of Israel which incited the army to return, but the conviction that the conquest and possession of the city over which so heavy blood-guilt and, at the same time, so severe a curse, was hanging, could not be either good-fortune or blessing for Israel. As for the act of Mesha itself, it does not indeed belong to the “most memorable signs of what a king can dare for his people, which has only just won its freedom” (Ewald, l. c.); it is rather a sign of a barbarism which violated all feeling of humanity, which was more than brutal, and in the highest degree detestable, on the part of a king who is so cowardly that, instead of fighting to the last as a brave soldier, and risking his own life for the sake of his first-born Song of Solomon, the future leader of his people, he puts him to death, rather than continue to pay as a tribute sheep and wool of rams ( 2 Kings 3:4) from his great wealth of flocks. In his case, the thing at stake was not so much the “freedom” of his people as his own freedom from a yearly tax, payable in kind. [See note under Homilet. and Pract. on 2 Kings 3:21-25.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

2 Kings 3:1-3. Berleb. Bib.: He did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord, and many thousands do that with him, who nevertheless sing: “God has pleasure in us.” If we do not remain in the footsteps of our fathers and ancestors, yet we do not, at best, go far from them. If we perceive that a reformation or an improvement is necessary, then we are glad to let it rest at the first stage. We satisfy ourselves so easily, if we are only like father or mother, or a wicked elder brother, and do not disregard all scruples quite so much as others. Whether God is satisfied with that, however, or not, and whether He gives us the testimony of a good conscience in regard to it, about that we do not trouble ourselves.… If we do in truth tear down a statue of Baal or two, and adhere nevertheless to the sins of Jeroboam and to his calf-images, [i.e.] to those ordinances which, for political reasons, have been introduced and established in the Church, contrary to the will of the Lord, what will it help us?—J. Lange: Those are also to be accounted godless rulers, who do indeed ordain something good here and there, or abolish something bad, and perceive still more which their duty would require them to remove, but cannot bring themselves to do it, from motives of policy which are not pure, or pleasing to God. He who, for himself, abstains from that which is opposed to God’s word and commandment, but continues to tolerate it in those who are connected with him, or subject to him, shows thereby that he is not in earnest in his own obedience to God, and that his principles are deduced only from external considerations and relations.

2 Kings 3:4-27. The War of Israel with the Moabites. (a) The cause of it, and the preparation for it; (b) the danger of perishing; (c) the result.

2 Kings 3:4. Cramer: When kings and lords fall away from God, then their subjects must fall away from them; and when the fathers are disobedient to God, the children and servants must also be disobedient to them, for their punishment, for with the froward, God shows himself froward [perverse]. ( Psalm 18:26 [Hbr27]).

2 Kings 3:5. It was not on account of poverty and need and oppressive subjection that Mesha threw off his obligations (he was very rich) and rebelled, but from avarice and arrogance. Those are still the ordinary motives to insurrection and rebellion in individual instances, or among entire nations. The very ones who have much are often most inclined to divest themselves of their obligations.

2 Kings 3:6-8, cf. above, under Hom. and Pract. on 1 Kings 22:4. Osiander: When the unbelieving and wicked need the help of the pious, they tempt them with friendly words: secretly, however, they behave in a hostile manner towards them.—Cramer: Covenants between believers and unbelievers are dangerous.

2 Kings 3:8. “A man’s heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps” ( Proverbs 16:9). Therefore, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” ( Proverbs 3:5-6; cf. James 4:13-15).—By which way shall we go up? Only the narrow way leads upward, only upon this is the Lord with us ( Matthew 7:13-14).

2 Kings 3:9-12. Krummacher: The Expedition against Moab. (a) The distress of the kings; (b) the seek refuge with the prophet.

2 Kings 3:9. Cramer: If God did not let us sometimes fall into necessity and want, we should not often think of His word and His servants ( Psalm 67:2-3, 3, 4]).

2 Kings 3:10-11. In need and distress the state of a man’s heart is brought to light. Jehoram falls into despair, he does not know what counsel to take, nor how to help himself; instead of seeking the Lord and calling to Him for help, he accuses Him, and casts the reproach upon Him that He means to destroy three kings at once. In prosperity and in days of good fortune, resisting, and building upon human wisdom and power: in time of need, forthwith despairing and helpless—that is the disposition of the heart of the natural man who does not know the living God, or, at least, knows Him only by name. Jehoshaphat, who had always bent his heart to seek God ( 2 Chronicles 19:3), does not wring his hands in despair, but is quiet and composed. He thinks within himself: The Lord has neither now, nor ever, withdrawn himself from His people. Therefore he trusts, and asks: Is there no prophet of the Lord here? “He that dwelleth in the secret place,” &c. ( Psalm 91:1-2).—Krummacher: Jehoshaphat falls into the same calamity with Jehoram. He who goes hand in hand with the godless, and makes common cause with them, must be contented if he is cast to the earth at the same time with them, when the lightning strikes their house.—Servants often know more and better where and with whom God’s word, consolation, and counsel are to be found than their masters, who, however, ought to inquire into this before all others.

2 Kings 3:12. “The word of the Lord is with him.” It is the right testimony and the best one, when it can be said of a servant of God: He does not preach himself, his own, or other men’s wisdom; his words are not sounding brass nor tinkling cymbal, but a hammer which breaks rocks in pieces, and an ointment which heals wounds.—Würt. Summ.: So long as men are free from distress and danger, they ask nothing about the poor ministers of the Gospel, they take no notice of them, they wish to have nothing to do with them, they throw their faithful warning to the winds; but when an accident or a death occurs, then they are glad to see the despised preacher, and they desire to make use of his services and of his prayers.—Three kings descend from their elevation and come humbly and with petitions to the man who once was a servant of Elijah, and poured water over his hands, of whom they had not even known so much as that he had joined the expedition. Him who is proud He can humble ( Daniel 4:34). He raiseth up the lowly from the dust, that He may seat him by the side of princes ( 1 Samuel 2:4; 1 Samuel 2:7). So now emperors and kings bow the knee before Him, who came to His own and His own received Him not, who did not have a place to lay His head, who was so despised that people covered their faces before Him, and they confess, to the glory of God, that He is the Lord.

2 Kings 3:13-19. Krummacher: The Miraculous Assistance. (a) Elisha’s address to the three Kings; (b) the minstrel; (c) the prophet’s counsel.—Elisha before the three Kings as the one who stands in the Presence of the Lord. (a) His zeal for the Lord; (b) his independence and fearlessness; (c) his prophecy. (See Historical, § 3.)

2 Kings 3:13. Starke: Upright servants of God have an unterrified independence, and speak the truth distinctly to the face of the great as well as of the humble ( 1 Kings 18:18).—Elisha stood before the Lord, the living God; Jehoram before the calf-god. That was not only a difference in religious views and opinions, but also an entirely different stand-point in life. Where there is a life in God, there there can be no fellowship with those who have denied and abandoned the living God; the two ways diverge directly and decidedly ( 2 Corinthians 6:15). The relation in which a man stands to God is decisive for his relation to other men; it divides him from some by a separation which is just as wide as the communion into which it brings him with others is close.—The children of this world have their prophets, whom they gladly hear because they speak just what the ears of their hearers are itching to hear. These prophets are to be found not only in the priestly class, but also among civilians, among poets, and learned men, in professorial chairs, and on the lecturer’s platform. It is true of them to-day: “Thy friends have set thee on and have prevailed against thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back” ( Jeremiah 38:22; Isaiah 3:12). When thy conscience awakes and thy sin torments thee, go to them and ask them, they have no consolation but that of the high-priest, Matthew 27:4. When thy soul is saddened, even unto death, go and ask them; that which belongs to thy peace in time and in eternity they cannot give thee, for they themselves have not peace.

2 Kings 3:14. He who has renounced God and His word can make no claim to esteem, even though he be a king; fidelity to God and holding fast to His word are what make a man truly estimable, even though he were the poorest and lowliest.—God does not let the righteous perish with the unrighteous and godless ( Genesis 18:25); it rather comes to pass that, for the sake of a single righteous Prayer of Manasseh, many godless persons are saved and preserved ( Genesis 39:5), in order that they may give up their habits and may turn to that God who is rich in compassion and grace, and who wishes, by kindness, to lead sinners to repentance.

2 Kings 3:15. Since a prophet like Elisha called for harp-music, and was thereby brought into a state of mind which was fitted to receive divine Revelation, therefore we may and ought to regard music as a gift of God, which is given to us that we may thereby elevate our hearts and bring them into a holy disposition. It is lack of understanding and lack of gratitude to exclude it from the Church. The Scriptures say: “Praise the Lord with harp,” &c. ( Psalm 33:2-3). Whoever sings and makes melody unto the Lord in his heart will do it also with his mouth and with his hands.—Like every other gift of God which is given us for our salvation and blessing, music also can be abused: “It is a dangerous art, this mover of souls, when it is employed in the service of the world, of vanity, and of sin” (Krummacher).—The world also often exclaims: “Bring me a minstrel!” not, however, in order to lift up the heart (sursum corda) and to soothe the soul, but rather to fan the fire of the smouldering passions into a flame, and to awaken the fleshly lusts that war against the soul.

2 Kings 3:16-19. The great Promise of Elisha. (a) Its contents; (b) its aim and object.—The Lord gives beyond what we pray for, beyond what we understand; He not only saves from need and danger, but He also gives the victory besides, out of pure, undeserved grace. That is the fundamental feature of all divine promises. The Lord not only does not deal with us according to our sins, but He gives us, besides that, the victory, through Him in whom all promises are yea! and amen! ( 2 Corinthians 1:20).

2 Kings 3:21-25. The Fall of Moab a divine Vengeance upon fleshly Secureness and Pride, upon Avarice and Covetousness. This is written for the warning of individuals as well as of peoples. [This interpretation of the rebellion of Moab, as the result of avarice, or perhaps, more strictly speaking, of niggardliness, is not justified by the text, and could not fairly be presented in a homiletical treatment of the passage. We have not far to search for the cause of revolt. A nation which is tributary to another may well have other and nobler reasons for rebellion than to save the amount of the tribute. We have no reason for imputing any baser motivest to the Moabites. They may have been influenced by baser ones, but, so long as that is not even hinted at in the text, it is not a legitimate subject for homiletical treatment. The inscription referred to in the Exeg. notes on 2 Kings 3:4 is very valuable as giving a glimpse of the relations between Moab and Israel at this time “from the other side.”—W. G. S.]—Cramer: When God is about to punish any one He first causes him to become secure, proud, bold, and arrogant, then He takes away from him cunning, sense, and understanding, and strikes him with blindness.

2 Kings 3:26-27. The disgraceful act of the king of Moab shows how low man can sink and fall when he does not know the living God. By the most abominable crime he thinks that he will do God a service and save himself ( Romans 1:28). Even yet human sacrifices occur among the heathen; how much we have to thank the Lord that He has saved us from the power of darkness, and has caused His holy word to enlighten us. Where this light shines, there the night of superstition flees, with all its abominations.—Men often offer the hardest outward sacrifice more willingly than they do the inner sacrifice, which alone God demands, and which pleases him ( Psalm 51:17).

2 Kings 3:27. Würt. Summ.: When we see an abominable crime going on, or hear of it, we ought not to laugh at it, or to feel a pleasure in it, but we ought to loathe it, and turn away from it, that we may not be involved in the punishment, which will certainly come.—We must renounce an object or a possession which is stained by bloodguilt and curses, although ever so great temporal advantage may be connected with it. We must renounce it for the sake of God and conscience.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - 2 Kings 3:3.—[מִמֶּנָּה, sing-fem. suff. referring to a plural noun, when separated from it by a considerable interval, as in 2 Kings 10:26; 2 Kings 17:22.

FN#2 - 2 Kings 3:4.—[נֹקֵד is well translated by sheep-master. The word was unintelligible to the Sept, who reproduce it in Greek letters. They add ἐν τῆ ἐπαναστάσει, “after the insurrection,” a detail which does not seem to be well founded.

FN#3 - 2 Kings 3:4.—[אֵילִים צָמֶר. The words are best understood as suggested above. So the Sept. (ἐπὶ πόκων, either, in lanam, or in tonsuram, Schl.), Thenius, Bunsen, Bähr, and Ewald (Widder, i.e., Vliesze, Wollc). Keil undecided between this and “wool of lambs or rams.”

FN#4 - 2 Kings 3:13.—[אַל כִּי. The Sept. and Vulg. take this as a question; so also Ewald, § 324, b: the same as μὴ ὅτι—a question implying fear, and expecting an answer confirmatory of the fear. Keil, Bunsen, Bähr, Thenius, all take it as in the E. V.

FN#5 - 2 Kings 3:16.—[Ew. § 328, c, takes עָשׂה as standing for the first person, and compares 1 Kings 22:30.

FN#6 - 2 Kings 3:23.—[נֶחֶרְבוּ, they have fought. The hof. inf. abs. הָחֳרֵב is joined with it in the adverbial usage, to be destroyed.—W. G. S.]

FN#7 - 2 Kings 3:24.—The keri וַיַּכּוּ is no improvement. We can read וַיָּבוֹ, as in 1 Kings 12:12, where it stands for וַיָּבוֹא (Bähr). [The Sept. read וַיָּבֹאוּ בוֹא, “And they went in farther and farther, and smote Moab more and more.” Thenius and Bunsen adopt this, and it makes the best sense. הַכּוֹת is the const. used for the abs.—W. G. S.]

FN#8 - 2 Kings 3:25.—[הִשְׁאִיר is infin. as הִשְׁמִיד in 1 Kings 15:29; cf. also 2 Kings 10:11; 2 Kings 10:17. Ew. § 238, d. (Keil). Fürst, in the concordance, takes it as perf. עַד must then be taken for עַד־אֲשֶׁר.—W. G. S.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/2-kings-3.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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