Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 3:20

It happened in the morning about the time of offering the sacrifice, that behold, water came by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Miracles;   Moabites;   Water;   Thompson Chain Reference - Fulfilment of Prophecy;   Jehoshaphat;   Prophecy;   Providence, Divine;   Supplies, Divine;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Water;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Mesha;   Moabites;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Edom;   Moab;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Jehoshaphat;   Kir-Haraseth;   Moabite Stone;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Dibon;   Pentateuch;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Kir-Hareseth;   Mesha;   Oracles;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Edom, Edomites;   Jehoshaphat;   Medeba;   Mesha;   Way;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Joram, Jehoram;   Mesha ;   Miracles;   Moab, Moabites ;   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;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

When the meat-offering was offered - This was the first of all offerings, and was generally made at sun-rising.

There came water - This supply was altogether miraculous, for there was neither wind nor rain, nor any other natural means by which it could be supplied.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

When the meat offering was offered - i. e. about sunrise, when the morning sacrifice was offered. Compare 1 Kings 18:29.

There came water by the way of Edom - The Wady-el-Ahsy drains a considerable portion of northern Edom. Heavy rain had fallen during the night in some part of this tract, and with the morning a freshet of water came down the valley, filling the pits.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-3.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Kings 3:20

And it came to pass in the morning there came water by the way of Moab.

Defeat of the Moabites

I. The threefold preparation for this miraculous interposition.

1. The preparation of supplication. The kings, in their need, “inquired of the Lord” (2 Kings 3:11) by means of His prophet. The act implies an application for the help of Jehovah. Preparation for the reception of special blessing by means of supplication is a law of God’s kingdom. The prayer of the leper made way for Christ’s miraculous healing (Matthew 8:2-4); the beseeching entreaty of the Syro-Phenician woman brought down the blessing she desired (Luke 7:24-30). The supplication (Acts 2:14) of the Early Church was the preparation for the descent of the Holy Spirit. Supplication is the placing of the wood in order upon the altar in readiness for the descent of fire from heaven.

2. The preparation of the prophet’s mind for the reception of the Divine direction. “When the minstrel played, the hand of the Lord came upon him” (2 Kings 3:15). The soul that has to bear the message of God to others needs to rise into some degree of harmony with the mind of God, to partake in some measure of the holy calm which belongs to Him. Music prepares the heart of the good man to receive, and hence to be the bearer of special help from the Divine Spirit.

II. The miracle itself. That the flowing in of the water was miraculous is evident because it came without rain, where there were no natural springs, and in fulfilment of Elisha’s prophecy. In the New Testament the supernatural Divine workings are classified into “signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost.” (Hebrews 2:2).

III. The twofold effect of the miracle. It was the occasion of life to one army and of death to the other. The one was brought about by the supernatural interposition, the other by a natural, though mistaken, inference. The cloud that was the help of Israel at the Red Sea, became the destruction of the Egyptians. (Sermon Outlines.)

Attracted by grace

I noticed on one of our streets during the frost, when the pipes were all congealed and frozen and waterless, that the water authorities opened the main pipe early in the morning. The inhabitants got up that frosty morning, they turned the tap, but no water flowed. Then the neighbours began to tell one another that in a certain street the main pipe was flowing, and the bairns got their pitchers and buckets and flagons, and the women put their shawls over their heads in their hurry, and the domestics were sent out with the utensils from the kitchen. The cry had gone out that the water was flowing, and on that frosty morning they gathered round the main pipe. What brought them? Just the real flowing of real water. That was the reason of the crowd. If Christians were to experience freshly and literally and truly the grace of God, thousands would flock into every assembly in the city, and in the land, just drawn and won by the reality of the grace of Christ. (J. Robertson.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Kings 3:20". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/2-kings-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat offering was offered,.... At Jerusalem; which always went along with the daily burnt offering of the lamb, which might not indeed be offered before break of day, yet quickly after; for no sacrifice could be offered before that; see Gill on Exodus 29:39,

that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom; not from the heavens, but it may be out of some rock, rolling along on the earth from the hills and mountains, down into the valleys, where the armies were:

and the country was filled with water; all round about them. Who has not heard of the "thundering" legion, as it was called by the Emperor M. Aurelius, who, when the army under him was about to engage with the Germans and Sarmatians, and sadly distressed with thirst, fell down on their knees and prayed, upon which a large shower of rain came down to the refreshment of the army, and thunder bolts, which annoyed and put the enemy to flightF9Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 5. c. 5. Orosii Hist. l. 7. c. 15. p. 120. ? at the battle of the Romans with Jugurtha, a sudden and unexpected shower of rain fell, to the refreshment of the Romans, in intolerable thirstF11Orosii Hist. l. 5. c. 15. p. 77. .

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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 3:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-3.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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 meal-offering — That is, the morning sacrifice: which doubtless was attended with the solemn prayers of God's people. At this time Elisha joined his prayers with the prayers of God's people, especially those at Jerusalem. And this time God chose to answer their prayers, and to work this miracle, that thereby he might determine the controversy between the Israelites and the Jews, about the place and manner of worship, and give a publick testimony from heaven for the Jews, and against the Israelites. God that commands all the waters both above and beneath the firmament, sent them abundance of water on a sudden.

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Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". "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 3:20 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.

Ver. 20. In the morning, when the meat offering was offered.] Which was the hour of public prayer. [Acts 3:1] The devotions of all true Jews - all the world over - were in that hour combined. How seasonably doth the wisdom of God pick out that instant wherein he might at once answer both Elisha’s prophecy and his people’s prayers!

That, behold, there came water.] Adductae ab angelis, saith A Lapide, brought thither by the angels.

And the country was filled.] Not the ditches only.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-kings-3.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

When the meat-offering was offered, i.e. the morning sacrifice; of which Exodus 29:39,40, which doubtless was attended with the solemn prayers of God’s people, as the evening sacrifice unquestionably was, Acts 3:1, there being the same reason for substance for both times. At this time Elisha joined his prayers with the prayers of God’s people, especially those at Jerusalem, as Elijah had done at a like time, 1 Kings 18:29; and this time God chose to answer his and their prayers, and to work this miracle, that thereby he might determine the controversy between the Israelites and the Jews, about the place and manner of worship, and give a public testimony from heaven for the Jews, and against the Israelites.

There came water; miraculously produced out of some rock or vein of the earth.

By the way of Edom; from those parts which were towards Edom.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". 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

20.When the meat offering was offered — That is, at sunrise. “Miraculous manifestations of God’s mercy often take place at stated times of prayer, and thus God’s approval of such appointments is shown.” — Wordsworth.

There came water by the way of Edom — There had been during the night a sudden and heavy fall of rain off among the mountains of Edom, where the valley in which the pits were dug took its rise; and so in the early morning the floods came rushing down, and filled all the pits and the bed of the valley with water.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". "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 3:20. In the morning when the meat-offering was offered — That is, at the time of the morning sacrifice, which doubtless was attended with the solemn prayers of God’s people. At this time Elisha joined his prayers with the prayers of God’s people, especially those at Jerusalem. And this time God chose to answer their prayers, and to work this miracle, that thereby he might determine the controversy between the Israelites and the Jews, about the place and manner of worship, and give a public testimony from heaven for the Jews, and against the Israelites. God, that commands all the waters both above and beneath the firmament, sent them abundance of water on a sudden.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Offered, at sun-rise, Exodus xxix. 38. --- Water, produced miraculously, without any rain being seen; (ver. 17.; Calmet) though it might fall at a distance in Idumea. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

meat offering = meal offering. Hebrew. minhah. See App-43. = gift offering.

offered = offered up. there came water. Elisha"s fourth miracle. See note on 2 Kings 2:15.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". "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 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.

When the meat offering was offered - i:e., at the time of the morning sacrifice, accompanied, doubtless, with solemn prayers; and these led, it may be, by Elisha on this occasion, as on a similar one by Elijah (1 Kings 18:36).

Behold, there came water by the way of Edom. Far from the Israelite camp, in the eastern mountains of Edom, a great fall of rain, a kind of cloud-burst, took place, by which the wady was at once filled, without their either seeing the wind or the rains. The divine interpretation was shown by introducing the laws of nature to the determined end, and in the pre-determined way (Keil). It brought not only aid to the Israelite army in their distress, by a plentiful of water, but destruction on the Moabites, who, perceiving the water, under the refulgent rays of the morning sun, red like blood, concluded the confederate kings had quarrelled, and deluged the field with their mutual slaughter; so that, rushing to their camp in full expectation of great spoil, they were met by the Israelites, who, prepared for battle, fought, and pursued them. Their country was laid waste in the way which has always been considered the greatest desolation in the East (2 Kings 3:24).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". "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

(20) When the meat offering was offered.—Comp. 1 Kings 18:29; 1 Kings 18:36. A more exact definition of the time. The reckoning by hours was unknown before the captivity. According to the Talmud, the morning sacrifice was offered in the Temple the moment it became light. (Ewald assumes that “the meat offering” was offered on this occasion in the camp.) That help came to the distressed army just at the hour of morning worship was a striking coincidence. (This allusion to the law of Exodus 29:38, seq., may be an indirect hit at the northern kingdom.)

There came water.—Water was coming from the way (direction) of Edom. It would seem that a sudden storm of rain had fallen on the mountains of Seir, at some distance from the camp (Josephus says at a distance of three days’ march); and the water found its natural outlet in the dry wady. Reuss thinks this explanation “superfluous,” in the face of “the author’s intention to describe a miracle;” but there are different kinds of miracle, and, in the present instance, the miraculous element is visible in the prophet’s prediction of the coming help, and in the coincidence of the natural phenomena with the needs of the Israelites. (Comp. 2 Kings 7:1-2, seq.) [This statement seems to preclude also the naturalistic explanation founded on the meaning of the Arabic name of the locality. Hisyun, hasyun, hasan, mean water which gathers on a hard bottom under the sand in certain localities, and which the Arabs get at by scooping holes in the ground. See Lane, Arab. Eng. Lex. s.v.]

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
when the meat
Exodus 29:39,40; 1 Kings 18:36; Daniel 9:21
there came water
This supply was altogether miraculous; for there was neither wind nor rain, nor any other natural means to furnish it.
filled
Psalms 78:15,16,20; Isaiah 35:6,7
Reciprocal: 2 Kings 16:15 - the morning

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-3.html.