Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 3:27

Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel, and they departed from him and returned to their own land.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Blindness;   Idolatry;   Moabites;   Offerings;   Thompson Chain Reference - Human;   Jehoshaphat;   Sacrifices;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Burnt Offering, the;   Moabites;   Murder;   Walls;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Mesha;   Moabites;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Chemosh;   Jephthah;   Moab;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Jehoshaphat;   Kir-Haraseth;   Mesha;   Moabite Stone;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Dibon;   Isaac;   Moab;   Moloch;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Gods, Pagan;   Human Sacrifice;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Kir-Hareseth;   Medeba;   Mesha;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Chemosh;   Edom, Edomites;   Firstborn;   Jehoshaphat;   Kir (1);   Medeba;   Mesha;   Moab, Moabites;   Sacrifice and Offering;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Firstborn;   Sacrifices ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Mesha ;   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;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Chemosh;   Divide;   Firstborn;   Hiel;   Moab;   Sacrifice, Human;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Burnt Offering;   Chemosh;   Dimi;   Moabite Stone;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Took his eldest son - The rabbins account for this horrible sacrifice in the following way: -

When the king of Moab found himself so harassed, and the royal city on the point of being taken, he called a council of his servants, and asked them how it was these Israelites could perform such prodigies, and that such miracles were wrought for them? His servants answered, that it was owing to their progenitor Abraham, who, having an only son, was commanded by Jehovah to offer him in sacrifice. Abraham instantly obeyed, and offered his only son for a burnt-offering; and the Israelites being his descendants, through his merits the holy blessed God wrought such miracles in their behalf. The king of Moab answered, I also have an only son, and I will go and offer him to my God. Then he offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall.

Upon the wall - החמה על al hachamah . Rab. Sol. Jarchi says that the letter ו vau is wanting in this word, as it should be written חומה chomah, to signify a wall; but חמה chammah signifies the sun, and this was the god of the king of Moab: "And he offered his first-born son for a burnt-offering unto the sun." This is not very solid.

There was great indignation - The Lord was displeased with them for driving things to such an extremity: or the surrounding nations held them in abomination on the account; and they were so terrified themselves at this most horrid sacrifice, that they immediately raised the siege and departed. In cases of great extremity it was customary in various heathen nations to offer human sacrifices, or to devote to the infernal gods the most precious or excellent thing or person they possessed. This was frequent among the Phoenicians, Romans, and Greeks; and it was the natural fruit of a religious system which had for the objects of its worship cruel and merciless divinities. How different the Christian system! "Wilt thou that we shall bring down fire from heaven and destroy them? Ye know not what manner of spirits ye are of; the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Compare the marginal reference. Mesha, when his sally failed, took, as a last resource, his first born son, and offered him as a burnt-offering to appease the manifest anger of his god Chemosh, and obtain his aid against his enemies. This act was thoroughly in accordance with Moabitish notions.

And there was great indignation against Israel - Either the Israelites were indignant with themselves, or the men of Judah and the Edomites were indignant at the Israelites for having caused the pollution of this sacrifice, and the siege was relinquished.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-3.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Kings 3:27

Then he took his eldest son . . . and offered him for a burnt offering.

A king’s sacrifice

The King of Moab’s sacrifice a picture of the world’s sacrifices. The King of Moab was besieged in Kirharaseth by the allied armies of Israel, and Judah, and Edom. Finding himself hard pressed, he resolved upon a sortie, in hopes of regaining the open country. Selecting seven hundred of the choicest of his troops, he headed an assault against the lines of the King of Edom, but was driven back. Turning in despair to his counsellors, says a Jewish legend, he inquired how it was that such feats of valour could be done by the men of Israel, and how such miracles were wrought in their behalf; to which his counsellors replied, that they sprang from Abraham, who had an only son, and offered him in sacrifice to God. “Then I, too, have an only son,” said the King of Moab. “I also will go and offer him up as a sacrifice to my god;” upon which, as it is stated in sacred history, “he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall.” It is not probable that the explanation of the Rabbis is correct. More than likely, as already has been hinted, the act of Mesha was done out of pure, blind, debasing superstition--as a peace-offering or bloody propitiation to the Moabitish war-god, Chemosh. Philo tells us it was a custom among the ancients, in times of great national disaster, instead of all being devoted to destruction, for those who had the rule in either town or country to give up the well-beloved child of their families to be put to death, as a ransom price to secure the favour of the gods (cf. Tennyson’s poem, “The Victim.” In a time of plague and famine the gods, when consulted, answer--

The king is happy in child and wife.

Take you his nearest; take you his dearest: give us a life.

Cf. also the speech of Caiaphas in John 11:49; John 11:1); and, doubtless, this was the custom in accordance with which the sheep-master offered up his son. Thus it was a picture of the way in which the unbelieving world has all along endeavoured to make peace with God. “How shall I obtain forgiveness? how ever shall a man be justified before God?” is the universal cry of the human heart; and thousands upon thousands in every age have answered it like Mesha: “By giving the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul.” In heathen lands how many myriads of little children have fallen victims to this foul superstition? As if the guilt already incurred by a sinner could be wiped away by the simple process of contracting more! Let us thank God that even those among us who have not yet obtained forgiveness have been delivered from this miserable delusion. At the same time, there is room for inquiring if the dregs, at least, of that very superstition which made a victim of the son of Mesha on the wall of Kirharaseth, be not remaining with us. Do we not sometimes offer, as our atoning sacrifice, with a view to purchase heaven’s favour, if not the fruit of our bodies, the fruit of our souls--our good deeds, our moral lives, our excellent dispositions, our prayers, our praises, etc.? They are as much a sacrifice of superstition as was that of Mesha. The only difference is, that Mesha’s sacrifice was offered to an idol; whereas ours is presented to the living God. If there be another point of difference, it is this, that Mesha knew no better, whereas we are well assured that all such sacrifices are vain. (T. Whitelaw, M. A.)

Sacrifice of the first-born

One of the most striking evidences of the widespread conviction among the Israelites of the efficacy of the sacrifice of the first-born son, whether infant or grown, is afforded by the story of the sacrifice of the son of the King of Moab. Each town or nation believed in the existence of its own special god, to whom it stood in a peculiar relation. At times it became necessary to strengthen the hands of that god, as it were, against the gods of hostile nations, who seemed to be too strong for him, or to arouse his interest, which seemed in some way to have been alienated or diverted. He may be offended, because he had not received that which was his due. Or it might be that the god was not able to withstand the power of other gods his adversaries. The King of Moab was sore pressed. As a last resort, whether to appease his deity, Chemosh, or to strengthen Chemosh’s hands against the gods of his adversaries, the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom, Mesha sacrificed on the wall of the city, in sight of the allied hosts, his son and the heir to the throne. The Israelites, Jews, and Edomites who beheld the sacrifice were filled with terror, knowing the meaning and power of this sacrifice, and believing that it would so arouse and strengthen the god of Moab that he would become almost if not quite irresistible. (J. P. Peters, D. D.)
.

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Kings 3:27". 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

Then he took his eldest son, that should have reigned in his stead,.... Not the eldest son of the king of Edom, whom the king of Moab had in his hands before, which made the king of Edom the more willing to join in this expedition for the recovery of his son, as Joseph Kimchi thinks; or whom he took now in his sally out upon him, as Moses Kimchi and Ben Gersom, proceeding upon a mistaken sense of Amos 2:1 for the king of Edom could have no son that had a right, or was designed to succeed him, since he was but a deputy king himself; and besides, the sacrificing of him was not the way to cause the kings to raise the siege, but rather to provoke them to press it the more closely: it was the king of Moab that took his son and heir to the crown,

and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall; that it might be seen by the camp of Israel, and move their compassion; or rather this was done as a religious action, to appease the deity by an human sacrifice so dear and precious, to give success, and cause the enemy to break up the siege; and was either offered to the true God, the God of Israel, in imitation of Abraham, as some Jewish writers fancyF14T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 39. 2. Pesikta in Abarbinel in loc. , or to his idol Chemosh, the sun; and Jarchi observes, out of an exposition of theirs, that "vau" is wanting in the word for wall, and so may be interpreted of the sun, towards which this burnt offering was offered; and it is observed, from various Heathen authors, that it was usual with the Heathens, when in calamity and distress, to offer up to their gods what was most dear and valuable to them; and particularly the PhoeniciansF15Vid. Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 1. c. 10. p. 40. l. 4. c. 16. p. 156. Porphyr. de Abstinentia, l. 2. sect. 56. Vid. Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 12. c. 28. , and from them the Carthaginians had this custom, who at one time offered up two hundred sons of their nobility, to appease their godsF16Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 20. p. 756. :

and there was great indignation against Israel; not of the king of Edom against them, for not rescuing his son, or because they were the means of this disaster which befell him; but of the king of Moab, who was quite desperate, and determined to hold out the siege to the utmost extremity: and they departed, and returned to their own land; the three kings, the one to Edom, the other to Israel, and the third to Judah; when they saw the Moabites would sell their lives so dear, and hold out to the last man, they thought fit to break up the siege; and perhaps were greatly affected with the barbarous shocking sight they had seen, and might fear, should they stay, something else of the like kind would be done.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and r offered him [for] a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to [their own] land.

(r) Some refer it to the king of Edom's son, whom they say he had taken in that skirmish: but rather it seemed to be his own son, whom he offered to his gods to pacify them: which barbarous cruelty moved the Israelites hearts of pity to depart.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-kings-3.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering, etc. — By this deed of horror, to which the allied army drove the king of Moab, a divine judgment came upon Israel; that is, the besiegers feared the anger of God, which they had incurred by giving occasion to the human sacrifice forbidden in the law (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:3), and hastily raised the siege.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-kings-3.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS

I stay not to remark all the interesting things which this chapter contains; otherwise I might charge it upon my soul to admire and adore, what I have read of grace and mercy transcending iniquity and undeservings. But I pass over; for the present; the consideration of all these, important as they are in themselves, to contemplate Jesus: most beautifully shadowed forth in the prophet's prayer, being answered in the time of the morning sacrifice. How sweetly was the prophet's mind prepared for the expectation of this mercy when the Holy Ghost; whose office it is to glorify Jesus, poured out of his blessed influences through the medium of this minstrel. But how glorious an object is it thus to behold in ages so remote from the hour of the Redeemer's sacrifice, its blessed efficacy in bringing down all needed blessings.

Pause, my soul; I charge thee pause, and say what upon earth can impress thy mind more in token of the infinite importance of the redemption by Jesus's sacrifice, than that Jehovah, in so many instances; made even the hour when in after ages that sacrifice was to be offered memorable, in the pouring out of his mercies. Did the Lord God appoint the morning lamb, and the evening lamb, a standing daily memorial of his lamb slain; and did all his faithful servants eye Jesus in their morning and evening oblation? And wilt not thou, my soul, now thy Jesus, thy God and Saviour, hath by that one offering perfected forever them that are sanctified; wilt thou not eye him in all thy poor presentations of the sacrifice of prayer and praise. Precious Jesus! grant me to look on thee continually. Thou art the only sacrifice for sin. Thou art the only lamb of God for a burnt-offering. The golden altar of thy divine nature, on which the sacrifice can alone be offered; and the everlasting High Priest by whom all can be presented. Thou, thou art the sum and substance of all. Oh! Holy Father! having boldness to enter into the holiest by his blood; behold I come in his name, making mention of his righteousness, even his righteousness only. Covered under his complete, all justifying robe, and washed from all impurities in his blood: let me enter into the sacred retirings of the Lord God. Yes! most gracious, indulgent Father! the remedy is of thy own providing; it is thou, blessed be thy glorious name, thou who hast reconciled all things to thyself by Jesus Christ. Look, holy Father, upon the face of thine anointed! and say, Canst thou deny me any mercy while I ask it in thy dear Son's name? And blessed, forever blessed, be God the Holy Ghost, for having left upon record that sweet scripture to confirm those well grounded assurances in Jesus's name and work; He that spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him freely give us all things?

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/2-kings-3.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.

His son — Or rather, his own son: whom he sacrificed; partly, to obtain the favour of his god, according to the manner of the Phoenicians and other people in publick calamities; and partly, to oblige the Israelites to quit the siege out of compassion; or, as despairing to conquer (at least without greater loss of men than it was worth) him who was resolved to defend the city to the utmost extremity.

On the wall — That the besiegers might see it, and be moved by it.

There was, … — Or, great trouble or repentance upon Israel, the Israelitish king and people (who was the first cause of the war, and had brought the rest into confederacy with him) were greatly grieved for this barbarous action, and resolved to prosecute the war no farther.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "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 3:27 Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him [for] a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to [their own] land.

Ver. 27. Then he took his eldest son.] The king of Edom’s eldest son, say some, whom he had taken in the late sally, and now spitefully sacrificed. See on Amos 2:1. The king of Moab’s own son and heir, say others, whom he took and sacrificed to his god Chemos, or the sun, that with so precious a sacrifice he might prevail with him for help in this extremity. The like was usually done by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, as Diodorus and Q. Curtius report, by an apish and hellish imitation, say some, of Abraham’s offering up his son Isaac. R. Solomon, and cut of him Lyra, tell us that the king of Moab asked his priests how the Iraelites came to be so gracious with God, and so victorious. They answered, that Abraham their father, in obedience unto him, sacrificed his only son, and that Mosha thereupon took and sacrificed this his son upon the wall. And the like is reported of Sennacherib, as I have elsewhere noted.

And there was great indignation,] i.e., Great discontent in the other two confederate kings against the king of Israel for his obstinate spleen, the cause of such an abomination.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". 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 3:27. Took his eldest son—and offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall. Not only the holy Scriptures, but several heathen writers, assure us, that in cases of great extremity it was customary among various people to sacrifice to their gods whatever was most dear to them. Caesar in his war with the Gauls tells us, that when they were afflicted with grievous diseases, or in time of war or great danger, they either offered men for sacrifices, or vowed that they would offer them; because they imagined that their gods could never be appeased unless one man's life was given for another's. In conformity with this horrid custom, and to appease no doubt, as he thought, the anger of his idol Chemosh, the king of Moab made this costly sacrifice of his eldest son; a deed which, it is plain from the text, was held in the greatest abhorrence by the Israelites.

REFLECTIONS.—The event answers the prediction.

1. The water came in a torrent by the way of Edom, at the time of the morning sacrifice. Probably then Elisha prayed openly, with his face towards the temple, that they might be assured whence this relief was sent. Note; (1.) Every mercy that we receive is owing to the efficacy of the blood of the Lamb which was slain. (2.) Every prayer must proceed on that foundation.

2. The Moabites, beholding the water as the morning-sun arose, and persuaded that there could be no water there, presently conclude that the confederates had quarrelled, and this was the blood of the slain: therefore they march as to certain victory, every man who was able to bear arms having been summoned to oppose the invasion. But how terrible their disappointment, when, tumultuously rushing on the spoil, the confederate army fell upon them with dreadful slaughter, routed them, wasted their country, ruined their cities, and left only the metropolis standing, which was soon besieged, and the breaches ready to be stormed. Note; (1.) Whom God will destroy, he often previously infatuates. (2.) Rebellion must not hope to prosper.

3. In this extremity, the king of Moab attempts, with a select band, to break through the quarters of Edom where he expected least resistance, but is repulsed. When rendered desperate by his danger, he seeks by the inhuman and most precious sacrifice of his eldest son, as his last effort, to appease his idol god Chemosh; or, by such a shocking scene on the walls, he thought to move the compassion of the besiegers; or, perhaps, to intimate his determined resolution to die with all his family, rather than yield. The seeing their king reduced to such distress, roused the indignation of the remainder of the Moabites; and when the Israelites saw them thus made resolute by despair, they raised the siege and retired. Note; (1.) Despair sometimes does more than the most determined courage. (2.) Let us bless God for deliverance from idolatry. Our God delights not in the blood of the slain, but the living sacrifices of the heart devoted to his will.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-kings-3.html. 1801-1803.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 361

THE KING OF MOAB SACRIFICES HIS SON

2 Kings 3:27. Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall.

GOD delights to honour prayer; and often withholds the blessings which he has purposed to bestow, till he shall have been “inquired of by us concerning them [Note: Ezekiel 36:37.].” In the preceding context we are informed that Moab had rebelled against Israel, and that the kings of Israel, of Judah, and of Edom united their forces in order to reduce them to their former state of subjection. In prosecution of this purpose they were left of God to adopt such measures as nearly proved fatal to the confederate armies. They attempted to pass through the wilderness of Edom, where they were in danger of perishing for want of water. Then, but not till then, did they think of making their application to Jehovah. Jehoshaphat, a pious king, proposed it, and the other two from the pressure of their necessity united in it. Elisha, doubtless by the gracious appointment of Providence, was in the camp at the time; and at the request of the three kings, undertook to lay their case before the Lord. The Lord bade him inform them that he would not only give them a miraculous supply of water, but would deliver the Moabites into their hands. The supply of water, without the intervention of any natural cause, was given; and the Moabites, mistaking the reflection of the sun upon the water for blood, supposed that the confederate armies had destroyed each other; and going therefore securely to take the spoil, were themselves destroyed. The remnant of them with their king taking refuge in a fortress, the king brought forth his eldest son, and offered him for a burnt-offering in the sight of all his enemies. We shall,

I. Inquire into the reasons of this extraordinary act—

Reduced to the greatest extremity, he resorted to this expedient,

1. To propitiate his gods—

[The gods of the heathen are supposed to delight in sacrifices, and to regard them in proportion to the worth and estimation of them in the minds of the offerers. Hence they are supposed above all to be pleased with human sacrifices: and hence their votaries have offered to them even their own sons and daughters, with the hope of conciliating their favour. Even the Israelites themselves, when they had departed from their God, practised these impious and cruel rites [Note: Psalms 106:37-38.]. The king of Moab, now looking to his gods for help, presented to them as an offering his own, his eldest son, as being confessedly of more value, and dearer to himself, than all that he possessed. Whilst we lament that Satan should have ever so blinded the eyes of men, we cannot but be filled with shame when we reflect, how little we have ever sacrificed to our offended God. We all know that he has abundant reason to be displeased with us: and we know that “a broken and contrite spirit is a sacrifice which he will never despise:” but how few of us are willing to offer it! how few are at all anxious about his favour, or will exercise any self-denial in order to obtain it! Will not that ignorant heathen rise up in judgment against us? — — —]

2. To intimidate his enemies—

[He offered his son “upon the wall” in the sight of all his enemies. What an idea did that give them of his determination to sacrifice every thing rather than surrender to his enemies, and to sell his life as dear as possible! We cannot doubt but that this act of his was publicly known amongst the besiegers as well as the besieged: and, methinks, it must strike them all with horror to reflect, that they had driven him to such an awful act of desperation; and no doubt it tended also to inflame the hatred of his own subjects against them to the uttermost. We are told indeed that this effect ensued; for “they had great indignation against Israel;” who being the principals in the war, (whilst the other two kings were only allies,) were the more immediate objects of their resentment [Note: The burning of Moscow by the Russians, on Buonaparte’s invasion of Russia in 1812, to prevent it from being serviceable to their enemies, was an act somewhat similar, and tended not a little to convince the French that the complete conquest of Russia would be no easy matter. In fact, it produced the same effect as the expedient of the king of Moab did; it caused his enemies to depart, without pursuing any further the advantages they had already gained.]. And certainly the expedient so far succeeded, that his victorious enemies “departed from him, and returned to their own land.”]

Having seen the reasons of that extraordinary act, we proceed to,

II. Suggest some reflections naturally arising from it—

We observe then,

1. How great are the calamities of war!

[Dreadful indeed were the evils inflicted on the land of Moab: “the cities were beaten down; every good piece of land was marred with stones; the wells were all filled up; and every good tree levelled with the ground.” True it is that these judgments were inflicted by the command of God; and therefore the agents who inflicted them were blameless: but the warfare which has so long desolated Europe, and especially that which has recently been carried on in its more northern states, has partaken much of the same spirit, and proved almost equally fetal to the happiness of millions. What reason then have we to bless our God, that, notwithstanding all the menaces of our enemies, this happy land has not been made the theatre of war! And with what alacrity should we contribute for the relief and comfort of our suffering allies! — — — Let us learn to sympathize even with our enemies, and to moderate our joy at the victories we obtain, by feelings of compassion for the miseries we inflict.]

2. How pitiable is the ignorance of the heathen!

[Who can forbear to pity that afflicted king, who had recourse to such an unnatural expedient as that of murdering his own son in order to pacify the deities he adored? Yet such are the methods by which the heathen almost universally endeavour to appease their gods. When once they begin to ask, “Wherewith shall I come before my god?” they proceed to say, “Shall I give my first-born for my transgression; the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul [Note: Micah 6:7.]?” Even amongst our fellow-subjects in India, there are thousands, perhaps many thousands, sacrificed every year, under the idea that such offerings are pleasing to the gods whom they worship. Should we hear of such transactions then with indifference? Should not a holy zeal be stirred up within us, to turn the heathen, if possible, from those vanities, to serve the living and true God? O that we felt for the honour of God, and for the good of man, as we ought to do; and that they especially who call themselves ministers of Christ were more willing to spend and be spent in the service of their Lord! Alas! how few are those that are willing to forego their carnal ease and worldly interests, to save their benighted and perishing fellow-creatures! A call to accept a lucrative situation is soon acknowledged and easily obeyed: but God may call us long enough to go and labour among the heathen, and we neither regard his voice, nor listen to his proposals. If ever there was a time that peculiarly called for missionary exertions, methinks this is that time: for never was there such a zeal for disseminating the Holy Scriptures as at this time; never were so many societies raised up to consider the state both of Jews and Gentiles, as at this moment. This alone is a call from God to contribute, each according to his ability, to the advancement of our Redeemer’s kingdom, and to the salvation of a ruined world.]

3. How rich are the provisions of the Gospel!

[We all, as sinners, have reason to fear, that God is displeased with us. But we need not sacrifice an eldest son to avert his wrath: no: blessed be his name! he himself has given us “a Lamb for a burnt-offering,” even his only dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This sacrifice was once offered on Mount Calvary; and it was offered, not to intimidate, but encourage us; not to menace us with ruin, but to open for us a way of everlasting salvation. With this sacrifice he was well pleased: he smelled a sweet savour at the very instant it was offered; and from respect to it, he is reconciled to his most inveterate enemies. What thanks do we owe to God for such a wonderful provision as this! How delightful should it be to us to hear, that “God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all!” Let us dwell upon the joyful sound: let us put away all those vain hopes which we are apt to substitute in the place of this: and let us look to Christ for all the ends and purposes for which he was sent. Are we afraid that God is angry with us? let us seek reconciliation with him through the blood of our adorable Redeemer. Are we desirous of repelling all our spiritual enemies? let us “be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might:” let us “resist the devil” in the strength of Christ, and “he will flee from us.” In Christ there is all that we can stand in need of. We are expressly taught to say, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.” “In him therefore let us rejoice alway;” for, as “in him we shall be justified, so in him we should glory [Note: Isaiah 45:24-25.].”]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/2-kings-3.html. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

His eldest son; either, first, The king of Edom’s son; whom in this eruption he took, and then sacrificed. Compare Amos 2:1. But, first, That place speaks of the king, not of the king’s son; and of the burning of his bones, not of the offering of a living man for a burnt-offering. Secondly, This would not have made the besiegers to raise their siege, but to have followed it more warmly to revenge so barbarous an action. Thirdly, The following clause,

that should have reigned in his stead, agrees not so well to the Edomites, whose king was only Jehoshaphat’s viceroy, and therefore his son had no right to succeed him; as it doth to the Moabites, whose king was revolted from Israel, and intended to keep that kingdom to himself and children. Or rather, secondly, his own son; whom he sacrificed, partly to obtain the favour of his god, according to the manner of the Phoenicians and other people in grievous and public calamities; whereof we have manifest testimonies, both in Scripture, as Psalms 106:37 Ezekiel 20:31, and in heathen authors, as Porphyrius, Plutarch, and others; and partly to oblige the Israelites to quit the siege out of compassion, or as despairing to conquer (at least without greater loss of men than it was worth) him who was resolved to defend himself and city to the utmost extremity.

Offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall, that the besiegers might see it, and be moved by it.

Great indignation against Israel, or, great trouble or repentance upon Israel; i.e. the Israelitish king and people (who was the first cause of the war, and had brought the rest into confederacy with him) were greatly afflicted and grieved for this barbarous action, and resolved to prosecute the war no further, and so withdrew their forces, as also did their allies, and returned to their several homes; which they were the more willing to do, because the kingdom and country of Moab were so ruinated, both as to their men, and cities or villages, and lands, that they were all secure of any great annoyance from him.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". 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

27.Took his eldest son — His own son; not, as some have said, the son of the king of Edom. Amos 2:1, has no reference to this occasion.

Mesha’s eldest son, and heir of the throne, must have been the dearest idol of his heart, and his sacrifice shown the utter despair to which he was driven. The rabbies say, that in his despair the king of Moab asked his servants how Israel could work such miracles, and was told that it was owing to Abraham’s sacrifice of his only son at the command of God. He accordingly hastened to offer up his firstborn son, hoping to receive like favours of Heaven.

Offered him’ upon the wall — In sight of his own people and of all the hosts of the besiegers. The offering was doubtless made to the Moabitish god Chemosh, not to the God of Israel. Mesha supposed that his misfortunes were owing to the vengeance of his gods, whom he had in some way offended, and by this costly sacrifice he sought to propitiate them. Human sacrifices were common among many of the ancient heathen nations. The story of Iphigenia sufficiently shows the existence of the practice among the Greeks. It prevailed also among the Carthaginians, the Phenicians, and most of the nations in and around Palestine. Causing children to pass through fire to Molech (2 Kings 23:10; Deuteronomy 18:10) is an allusion to this abominable custom. Diodorus Siculus relates, that “when Agathocles was going to besiege Carthage the people, seeing the extremities to which they were reduced, ascribed their misfortunes to the anger of their god, in that they had latterly spared to offer him children nobly born, and had fraudulently put him off with the children of slaves and foreigners. To make an atonement for this crime two hundred children of the best families in Carthage were at once offered in sacrifice, and no less than three hundred of the citizens voluntarily sacrificed themselves.” Philo, in a fragment preserved by Eusebius, says: “It was a custom among the ancients, on occasions of great distress, for the rulers of a city or nation, instead of leaving the entire population to destruction, to sacrifice the beloved of their children as a ransom to the vengeful deities.”

There was great indignation against Israel — That is, according to some interpreters, there was great wrath on the part of the besieged Moabites against Israel for having driven them to such a terrible extremity. But why should Moabitish indignation against Israel cause the latter to abandon the siege? Keil, on the contrary, understands that this indignation was the wrath of God against Israel, first for having driven Mesha to such an extremity as to occasion his offering a human sacrifice, and then for abandoning the siege and leaving the city un-subdued. But this absurdly assumes that God was angry with Israel partly for doing the very thing he had, by his prophet, commanded them to do; (see note on 2 Kings 3:19;) and surely Israel could not justly be held responsible for the immolation of Mesha’s son. Then, further, the text clearly makes Israel’s abandoning of the siege the consequence, not the cause, of the indignation. It is better, therefore, to take the word here rendered against, (על,) in the sense of over. The meaning then would be: Great indignation — an intense feeling of horror at the sight of the terribly loathsome spectacle on the wall of Kir-haraseth — came over Israel; that is, pervaded the whole Israelitish army.

Departed from him — From the king of Moab. They were so deeply disgusted with the king’s horrible sacrifice that they felt no longer willing to stay and complete the subjugation of his capital, but turned away in utter loathing and contempt. Whether they were justifiable in thus abandoning the siege, the sacred writer does not say.

 

 

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "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 3:27. He took his eldest son — and offered him for a burnt-offering upon the walls — “Not only the Holy Scriptures, but several heathen writers assure us, that in case of great extremity, it was customary among various people to sacrifice to their gods whatever was most dear to them.” Eusebius and Luctantius mention several nations who used these sacrifices. And “Cesar, in his war with the Gauls, tells us that when they were afflicted with grievous diseases, or in time of war or great danger, they either offered men for sacrifices, or vowed that they would offer them; because they imagined that their gods could never be appeased unless one man’s life was given for another’s. In conformity with this horrid custom, and to appease, no doubt, as he thought, the anger of his idol Chemosh, the king of Moab made this costly sacrifice of his eldest son; a deed which, it is plain from the text, was held in the greatest abhorrence by the Israelites.” — Dodd. For so, it seems, we are to understand the following words, which should be rendered, not, There was great indignation against Israel, but, There was great trouble, or repentance upon (in or among) Israel: that is, they were extremely grieved on account of this barbarous sacrifice, and wished they had not pushed on a war so far, which ended in such a horrid action. They departed from him, and returned to their own land — They resolved to prosecute the war no further; but raised the siege, by common consent, and returned home, for fear any such thing should be done again.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Wall, to Chamos, the idol of Moab; (Menochius) or to Moloc, to appease the wrath of the gods. Horrible blindness! The pagans believed, that the most precious thing ought to be sacrificed in very imminent dangers. (Philo Biblius, following Eusebius, præp. iv. 16.) --- The Phœnicians offered such victims to Saturn. Many devoted themselves to death for the safety of the Roman republic; and some were ready to do so, to preserve the lives of Caligula and Nero, before they had given proof of their evil dispositions. (Seutonius xiv.) --- It s thought that Sennacherib intended to treat his two sons in this manner, if they had not prevented him. (Abulensis, in 4 Kings xix. 37.) --- Some imagine that Mesa sacrificed his son to the God of Israel, in imitation of Abraham; (Josephus; Grotius) others, that he slew the son of the king of Edom, out of revenge. (Kimchi, in Amos ii. 1.) --- The Hebrew is ambiguous. (Amama) --- But interpreters generally believe, that the heir of Mesa fell a victim (Calmet) to his father's mistaken zeal, or to his desire to make the enemy retire, when they saw him reduced to such a state of desperation. It had, at least, this effect. (Haydock) --- Indignation, at such a cruel action. (Menochius) --- Septuagint, "there was great repentance" and sorrow. The text may also imply, that God was displeased at Israel for pushing the king to such an extremity; or, they became an object of horror to the surrounding nations. (Calmet) --- The first explanation seems the best; as the Israelites thought the king had been sufficiently punished, and therefore retired. They had no reason to suspect that he would have given way to such madness, nor were they to blame for it. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

offered him = offered him up. App-43.

a burnt offering. App-43. Recording a fact on which Mesha is silent on the Moabite stone. App-54.

the wall. i.e., the higher of the two. Hebrew. homah not kir as in verses: 2 Kings 3:4, 2 Kings 3:10.

indignation = wrath. This led probably to Moab"s subsequent success.

they departed. This expresses the failure of Israel"s expedition, while Mesha goes on to record his subsequent successes, which were great all the cities taken by him (App-54) being those belonging to Reuben and Gad.

from him: i.e. from the king of Moab.

their own. The Syriac and Vulgate have these words in the text.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "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

Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.

Then he took his eldest son, that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering, [ Waya`

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "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

(27) Then.—And.

His eldest son—i.e., the despairing king of Moab took his own son and heir.

Offered him for a burnt offering.—To Chemosh, without doubt, by way of appeasing that wrath of the god which seemed bent on his destruction. (Comp. the words of Mesha’s inscription: “Chemosh was angry with his ląnd.” Note, 2 Kings 1:1.) There is a reference to such hideous sacrifices in Micah 6:7, “Shall I give my firstborn for my transgressions?” In dark times of national calamity the Hebrews were prone, like their neighbours, to seek help in the same dreadful rites. (Comp. the case of Manasseh, 2 Chronicles 33:6; see also Psalms 106:37-39.) From the cuneiform records we learn that the sacrifice of children was also a Babylonian practice. (Amos 2:1 refers to a totally different event from that recorded in the text.)

Upon the wall.—Of Kir-haraseth. This was done that the besiegers might see, and dread the consequences, believing, as they would be likely to do, that the Divine wrath was now appeased.

And there was great indignation against Israel.—Or, And great wrath fell upon Israel. This phrase always denotes a visitation of Divine wrath. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 19:10; 2 Chronicles 24:18.) The manifestation of wrath in the present case was apparently a successful sortie of the Moabite garrison, whose faith in this terrible expedient of their king inspired them with new courage, while the besiegers were proportionally disheartened. The result was that “they (i.e., the allied forces) departed from him (raised the siege), and returned to the land” (of Israel). Why did Divine wrath fall upon Israel rather than upon Moab? upon the involuntary cause rather than the voluntary agents in this shocking rite? If the wrath of Jehovah be meant, we cannot tell. But, as the present writer understands the words of the text, they rather indicate that the object of the dreadful expiation was attained, and that the wrath of Chemosh fell upon the Hebrew alliance. It is certain that belief in the supremacy of Jehovah did not hinder ancient Israel from admitting the real existence and potency of foreign deities. (See Note on 1 Chronicles 16:25-26; 1 Chronicles 17:21; and comp. Numbers 21:29; Judges 11:24.) This peculiar conception is a token of the antiquity of the record before us. In the second half of Isaiah the foreign gods are called non. entities.

After the events described in this verse we may suppose that Mesha’s successes continued, as described on the stone of Dibon. (See Note on 2 Kings 1:1.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.
offered him
In cases of great extremity, it was customary in various heathen nations, to offer human sacrifices, and even their own children. This was frequent among the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Scythians, Gauls, Africans, and others; and was the natural fruit of a religious system, which had for the objects of its worship cruel and merciless divinities. The king of Moab, in this case, sacrificed his son to obtain the favour of Chemosh his god, who, being a devil, delighted in blood and murder, and the destruction of mankind. The dearer any thing was to them, the more acceptable those idolaters thought the sacrifice, and therefore burnt their children in the fire to their honour.
Genesis 22:2,13; Deuteronomy 12:31; Judges 11:31,39; Psalms 106:37,38; Ezekiel 16:20; Micah 6:7
they departed
1 Samuel 14:36-46; 1 Kings 20:13,28,43 Reciprocal: Numbers 24:17 - Moab;  2 Kings 8:20 - Edom;  Isaiah 16:12 - he shall

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:27". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-3.html.