Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 3:19

Then you shall strike every fortified city and every choice city, and fell every good tree and stop all springs of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.'"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Armies;   Moabites;   Stones;   Water;   Thompson Chain Reference - Jehoshaphat;   Wells;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Water;   Wells;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Mesha;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Moab;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Prophet, Prophetess, Prophecy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Jehoram;   Jehoshaphat;   Moabite Stone;   Stone;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Dibon;   Well;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Kir-Hareseth;   Mesha;   Oracles;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Edom, Edomites;   Jehoshaphat;   Medeba;   Mesha;   Water;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Fountain;   Joram, Jehoram;   Mesha ;   Miracles;   Moab, Moabites ;   Stones;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Kirharaseth;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Armor;   Arms;   Jehoshaphat;   Mesha;   Moab;   Samaria;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Eli'sha;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Elisha;   Fortification;   Good;   Kings, Books of;   Mar;   Siege;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Shall fell every good tree - Every tree by which your enemies may serve themselves for fortifications, etc. But surely fruit trees are not intended here; for this was positively against the law of God, Deuteronomy 20:19, Deuteronomy 20:20; : "When thou shalt besiege a city - thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof - for the tree of the field is man's life - only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down."

Stop all wells of water - In those hot countries this would lead sooner than any thing else to reduce an enemy.

Mar every good piece of land with stones - Such a multitude of men, each throwing a stone on a good field as they passed, would completely destroy it.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Ye shall fell every good tree - This is not an infringement of the rule laid down in Deuteronomy 20:19-20. The Israelites were not forbidden to fell the fruit trees in an enemy‘s country, as a part of the ravage of war, when they had no thoughts of occupying the country. The plan of thus injuring an enemy was probably in general use among the nations of these parts at the time. We see the destruction represented frequently on the Assyrian monuments and mentioned in the inscriptions of Egypt.

And stop all wells of water - The stoppage of wells was a common feature of ancient, and especially Oriental, warfare (compare Genesis 26:15-18).

Mar … with stones - The exact converse of that suggested in Isaiah 5:2. The land in and about Palestine is so stony that the first work of the cultivator is to collect the surface stones together into heaps. An army marching through a land could easily undo this work, dispersing the stones thus gathered, and spreading them once more over the fields.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-3.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And ye shall smite every fenced city and every choice city,.... That is, the inhabitants of them with the sword, and demolish them also, 2 Kings 3:25, and shall fell every good tree; which seems contrary to the law in Deuteronomy 20:19, but that may respect trees belonging to a city when besieged only, or only to Canaanitish cities; or the law was now dispensed with, and that for this time only, to make the punishment of Moab the greater, for their rebellion and other sins:

and stop all wells of water; which must be very distressing to those that survived the calamity of the sword:

and mar every good piece of land with stones; as that it could not be ploughed and sowed, nor anything spring up and grow upon it.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and n mar every good piece of land with stones.

(n) Though God bestows his benefits for a time on the enemies, yet he has his seasons, when he will take them away to the intent they might see his vengeance which is prepared for them.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-kings-3.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Ye shall smite — And if this command seem severe, it must be considered, that the Moabites were a very wicked people, perfidious, cruel, implacable enemies to God's people upon all occasions, and now in a state of rebellion.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-kings-3.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 19. And ye shall smite every fenced city.] Omnia anathemati devovebitis. Spoiling Moab shall be utterly spoiled. [Isaiah 33:1]

And mar every good piece of land,] Heb., Grieve or afflict; Nam lapides sunt quaedam pestes agrorum.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-kings-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Kings 3:19. And mar every good piece of land with stones Commentators seem to have been at no pains to account for this part of the punishment of the king of Moab's rebellion; though it does not appear very easy to conceive how the thing was to be done to any purpose; and, indeed, without giving as much trouble, or more, to Israel to gather these stones, and carry them on the lands of the Moabites, as to the latter to gather them up again, and carry them off. I would therefore propose it to the learned to consider, whether we may not understand the passage of Israel's doing that nationally, and as victors, which was done by private persons very frequently in these countries in ancient times, by way of revenge, and which is mentioned in some of the old Roman laws. Egmont and Hayman, who speak of the contentions and vindictive temper of the Arabs, tell us, they were ignorant however, "whether that people still retained the method of revenge formerly common among them, and which is called σκοπελισμος, mentioned in lib. ff. Digest. de extraord. Criminib. which contains the following account: 'In the province of Arabia there is a crime called σκοπελισμος, or fixing of stones; it being a frequent practice among them, to place stones in the grounds of those with whom they were at a variance, as a warning, that any person who dared to till that field should infallibly be slain by the contrivance of those who placed the stones there.' This malicious practice," they add, "is thought to have had its origin in Arabia Petraea." See their Travels through part of Europe, &c. vol. 2: p. 156. If the Israelites as victors, who could prescribe what laws they thought proper to the conquered, placed such stones in the best grounds of the Moabites, as interdicting them from tillage, on pain of their owners being destroyed, they without much trouble effectually marred such fields, as long as their power over Moab lasted, which had before this continued some time, and by the suppression of this rebellion might be supposed to continue long. As it was an ancient practice in these countries, might it not be supposed to be as ancient as the times of Elisha, and that he referred to it? Observations, p. 443.

REFLECTIONS.—War being resolved, Jehoram musters his forces, and, to strengthen himself the more,

1. Solicits and obtains the assistance of Jehoshaphat. At a council held, Jehoshaphat advises to fall upon the Moabites, not by the nearest way over Jordan, but through the wilderness of Edom, in order to surprise them.

2. The advice was followed, but it had nearly proved fatal to their army; and no wonder, when they had not consulted God about their way. The want of water parched them with thirst; and Jehoram, with murmurs against Providence, is ready to despair through fear of being attacked by the king of Moab in this dispirited and weakened situation. Note; (1.) If we keep company with sinners, we shall be in danger of smarting under their rod. (2.) They who will not consult God to direct their way, will yet quarrel at his providence, when involved in difficulties, into which their own imprudence has brought them.

3. Jehoshaphat now reflects on his error, and, to amend it before it be too late, inquires after a prophet. In a camp he was little to be expected; but so God ordered it, who foresaw these difficulties, that Elisha should attend the army; and though the kings knew not of him, a godly Israelite of their servants had been favoured with his company, and could give them information concerning him. Hereupon, the kings immediately wait on him in his tent, to state their deplorable case, and to beg his prayers and direction. Note; (1.) Afflictions drive those to God, who in their prosperity neglected him. (2.) God's mercy towards us is not only beyond our desert, but often foreruns our desires.

4. Elisha, with just indignation at Jehoram's idolatry, sends him to his father's prophets for direction: but these Jehoram knew were unable to help; therefore he humbles himself, and begs him, for the sake at least of the kings his confederates, to intercede for them. Hereunto Elisha consents; yet, testifying his high displeasure against him, and declaring, that but for Jehoshaphat's sake he would not deign to look upon or answer him. A minstrel is called for to soothe his ruffled spirit, provoked with Jehoram's presence, and to prepare his mind for prophetic inspiration; and when with sounds of heavenly melody the sweet musician sung, straight his enraptured spirit felt the present Deity. He bids them dig trenches, and without wind or rain God should fill them with water, and their lives be not only thus preserved, but victory succeed, and Moab be made desolate by them. Note; (1.) The greatest are not too high for rebuke. (2.) The wicked fare the better for their connections with God's people. (3.) God will not leave his people in distress, when they cry to him, though their own follies have brought them into it. (4.) When God gives, he gives like himself, more than we dare ask or think.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-kings-3.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

This is either, first, A command; and then the last clause is an exception from that law, Deuteronomy 20:19, which being delivered by a prophet, might be obeyed. And if this command seem severe, it must be considered that the Moabites were a very wicked people, perfidious, cruel, implacable enemies to God’s people upon all occasions, and now in a state of rebellion. Or rather, secondly, A prediction of their success, that they should have so full and complete a victory, that they should be able to do all which is here expressed.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-kings-3.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

19.Fell every good tree — This is by no means a mere prophecy, as Wordsworth says; a simple prediction of what the allied armies would inflict on Moab; but a command as plain and positive as that by which he had formerly authorized the destruction of the idolatrous Canaanites. So utter a destruction of the Moabites did the Lord now authorize that he even suspended the law of Deuteronomy 20:19, which forbade the destruction of the fruit-trees of the enemy. The Israelites were not to occupy the land of Moab, as they did the land of the Canaanites, and therefore they had no need to spare the fruit-trees for their own use. But this felling of the good trees would be to the surviving Moabites a memorable woe. Their ruined cities they might speedily rebuild, and unstop their wells, or dig new ones, and clear the land of stones, but years must pass before new fruit-trees could be reared.

Mar’ land with stones — Literally, Grieve the land. That is, afflict, disfigure, and injure the land by casting stones upon it so as to make it sterile. A vast host like that led by these three kings could speedily cover a field with stones.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-kings-3.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Kings 3:19. Ye shall smite, &c. — If this command seem severe, it must be considered that the Moabites were a very wicked people, perfidious, cruel, and implacable enemies to God’s people upon all occasions, and now in a state of rebellion. But these words are rather to be considered as a prediction of their success, than as a command, enjoining them to do all these things; and thus understood, they imply that their victory should be so full and complete, that they should have it in their power to lay the country of the Moabites waste with fire and sword.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Tree. This was an exception from the general law; (Deuteronomy xx. 19.; Calmet) or it might only regard the land of Chanaan, which the Hebrews should occupy. (Menochius) (Worthington) --- Stones, which had been gathered off into heaps, Isaias v. 1. Persius calls a field thus cleared, Exossatus ager; (Calmet) as if the bones were taken out. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

mar = spoil.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-kings-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

Ye shall smite every fenced city ... and shall fell every good tree, [ Towb (Hebrew #2896), good, i:e., prolific, tree]. The destruction of fruit trees was expressly prohibited by the Mosaic law (see the notes at Deuteronomy 20:19-20). But a special permission was granted by God to the Israelites to do it on this occasion, as a punishment to Moabites (cf. Jeremiah 18:11-12), who were to be destroyed by extraordinary judgments of heaven, for their great wickedness.

And mar every good piece of land with stones - by strewing the fields with heaps of small stones, so as to render them waste and incapable of tillage (cf. Job 5:23).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-kings-3.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(19) And ye shall smite . . . shall fell . . .—These verbs are continuative of those in the last verse, i.e., they do not command a course of action, but foretell it. (Comp. 2 Kings 8:12-13.) Taken as commands, they appear to conflict with Deuteronomy 20:19, where the felling of an enemy’s fruit trees for the purposes of siege-works is forbidden. Keil, however, explains that the law relates to Canaanite territory which the Israelites were to occupy, whereas Moab’s was an enemy’s country, and therefore not to be spared.

Fenced city . . . choice city.—There is a paronomasia, or play on words of similar sound, in the Hebrew: ‘îr mibçâr . . . ‘îr mibhôr.

Every good tree—i.e., fruit-bearing trees.

Stop.—Genesis 26:15; Genesis 26:18.

Mar.—Literally, make to grieve: a poetical expression. An unfruitful land is said to mourn (Isaiah 24:4; Jeremiah 12:4).

Every good piece of land.—All the good demesne (literally, portion, allotment).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
And ye
13:17; Numbers 24:17; Judges 6:16; 1 Samuel 15:3; 23:2
fell
Deuteronomy 20:19,20
mar
Heb. grieve.
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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:19". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-3.html.