Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 3:4

Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and used to pay the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Mesha;   Sheep;   Thompson Chain Reference - Jehoshaphat;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Kings;   Lamb, the;   Moabites;   Sheep;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Mesha;   Shepherd;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Miracles;   Moab;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Jehoram;   Jehoshaphat;   Mesha;   Moabite Stone;   Omri;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ahab;   Ahaziah;   Balaam;   Bozrah;   David;   Dibon;   Lamb;   Mesha;   Moab;   Uzziah;   Wool;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ahab;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Kir-Hareseth;   Mesha;   Moab and the Moabite Stone;   Tribute;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Edom, Edomites;   Jehoram;   Jehoshaphat;   Medeba;   Mesha;   War;   Wool;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Jesus ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Joram, Jehoram;   Mesha ;   Moab, Moabites ;   Tribute;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Kirharaseth;   Mesha;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Armor;   Arms;   Jehoshaphat;   Mesha;   Moab;   Samaria;   Sheep;   Shepherd;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Eli'sha;   Israel, Kingdom of;   Me'sha;   Mo'abite Stone, the;   Sheep;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Moab;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Amos (1);   Chemosh;   City;   Jehoram;   Jehoshaphat (2);   King;   Lamb;   Moabite Stone;   Sheep;   Sheep-Master;   Sheep-Shearing;   Tax;   Trade;   Wool;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Alphabet, the Hebrew;   Moabite Stone;   Paleography;   Sha'aṭ;   Sheep;   Taxation;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Was a sheepmaster - The original is נקד naked, of which the Septuagint could make nothing, and therefore retained the Hebrew word νωκηδ : but the Chaldee has גיתי מרי marey githey, "a sheepmaster;" Aquila has ποιμνιοτροφος ; and Symmachus, τρεφων βοσκηματα ; all to the same sense. The original signifies one who marks or brands, probably from the marking of sheep. He fed many sheep, etc., and had them all marked in a particular way, in order to ascertain his property.

A hundred thousand lambs - The Chaldee and Arabic have a hundred thousand fat oxen.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Moab, the region immediately east of the Dead Sea and of the lower Jordan, though in part suited for agriculture, is in the main a great grazing country. Mesha resembled a modern Arab Sheikh, whose wealth is usually estimated by the number of his flocks and herds. His tribute of the wool of 100,000 lambs was a tribute in kind, the ordinary tribute at this time in the East.

Mesha is the monarch who wrote the inscription on the “Moabite stone” (2 Kings 1:1 note). The points established by the Inscription are:

1. That Moab recovered from the blow dealt by David 2 Samuel 8:2, 2 Samuel 8:12, and became again an independent state in the interval between David‘s conquest and the accession of Omri;

2. That Omri reconquered the country, and that it then became subject to the northern kingdom, and remained so throughout his reign and that of his son Ahab, and into the reign of Ahab‘s son and successor, Ahaziah;

3. That the independence was regained by means of a war, in which Mesha took town after town from the Israelites, including in his conquests many of the towns which, at the original occupation of the holy land, had passed into the possession of the Reubenites or the Gadites, as Baal-Meon Numbers 32:38, Kirjathaim Numbers 32:37, Ataroth Numbers 32:34, Nebo Numbers 32:38, Jahaz Joshua 13:18, etc.;

4. That the name of Yahweh was well known to the Moabites as that of the God of the Israelites; and

5. That there was a sanctuary of Yahweh at Nebo, in the Trans-Jordanic territory, where “vessels” were used in His service.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-3.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

ISRAEL; JUDAH; AND EDOM GO TO WAR AGAINST MOAB

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

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

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

"He rendered unto the king of Israel the wool of a hundred thousand, ..." (2 Kings 3:4). The RSV adds the word "annually" here, despite the fact of its not being in the Hebrew, but this is probably correct, because Keil agreed that the usage of this terminology throughout the O.T. indicates annual tribute.[5]

Calkins labeled such an annual tribute as "excessive,"[6] but Keil stated that, "Such an annual tribute would not have been exorbitant, because the land of the Moabites abounded in excellent pasture and was especially adapted to the rearing of flocks."[7]

"I am as thou art, ..." (2 Kings 3:7). Jehoshaphat's ready compliance with Jehoram's request is surprising, "Because his similar response to a like invitation from Ahab had resulted in his receiving the rebuke of God's prophet (2 Chronicles 19:2). Jehoram's removing that pillar of Baal might have influenced him."[8]

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

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-kings-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Mesha king of Moab was a sheep master,.... With which his country abounded; he kept great numbers of them, and shepherds to take care of them; he traded in them, and got great riches by them; his substance chiefly consisted in them:

and rendered unto the king of Israel: either as a present, or as an annual tribute:

an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool; that is, upon them, unshorn, and so the more valuable; and it was usual for tributary nations to pay their tribute to those to whom they were subject in such commodities which they most abounded with; so the Cappadocians, as StraboF3Geograph. l. 11. p. 362. relates, used to pay, as a tribute to the Persians, every year, 1500 horses and 2000 mules, and five myriads of sheep, or 50,000; and formerly, PlinyF4Nat. Hist. l. 18. c. 3. says, the only tribute was from the pastures.

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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 3:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And c Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.

(c) This was done after David had made the Moabites tributaries to his successors.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-kings-3.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.

A sheep-master — A man of great wealth (which in those times and places consisted much in cattle) which enabled and emboldened him to rebel against his sovereign.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "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 3:4 And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.

Ver. 4. And Mesha king of Moab.] Mesha signifieth Salvation, a fit name for a king. But this man might as ill deserve it, as did Antiochus, surnamed Soter, that is, a saviour: not for any great good he did, but because he did not much harm.

With the wool.] It was grown to a proverb among our forefathers, Curia Romana non petit ovem sine lana. (a)

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". 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 3:4. An hundred thousand lambs, &c.— Though this is a very large number, we are to consider that these countries abounded with sheep, insomuch that Solomon offered a hundred and twenty thousand at the dedication of the temple, 2 Chronicles 7:5 and the Reubenites drove from the Hagarites two hundred and fifty thousand, 1 Chronicles 5:21 for, as Bochart observes, their sheep frequently brought forth two at a time, and sometimes twice a year; and he remarks further, that in ancient times, when the people's riches consisted in cattle, this was the only way of paying tribute. See Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. 18: cap. 3. Hence Ludolph is of opinion, that this great number of cattle was not a tribute which the Moabites were obliged to pay to the Israelites every year, but upon some special occasion only; as for instance, upon the accession of a new king, or the like. See Lud. Ethiopic. Hist. lib. 2: cap. 3 and Scheuchzer on the place.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". 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

A sheep-master; a man of great wealth, (which in those times and places consisted much in cattle,) which enabled and emboldened him to rebel against his sovereign lord.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". 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

4.Sheepmaster — The word is rendered shepherd in Amos 1:1, and, according to some writers, means literally a marker, and serves to designate a shepherd, because it was his custom to mark his sheep in order to distinguish them. Mesha was evidently rich in sheep, and the hills and valleys of Moab, like those of Gilead on the north, (Numbers 32:1,) were well adapted to the pasturage of numerous flocks and herds.

A hundred thousand lambs — “Much curious information might easily be presented with respect to ancient, and even modern, tributes in cattle. A curious instance is that of the Cappadocians, of whom Strabo relates that they used to deliver every year, as tribute to the Persians, fifteen hundred horses, two thousand mules, and fifty thousand sheep. This Moabite tribute seems very heavy, and doubtless it was so felt by them while it lasted; but in the same degree was it valuable to the crown of Israel; and the internal taxation, to which resort must have been had to make up for this lapse of external revenue, doubtless made the expedition eventually undertaken for the purpose of reducing the Moabites highly popular in Israel.” — Kitto.

A hundred thousand rams, with the wool — Literally, A hundred thousand rams’ wool; that is, the wool of a hundred thousand rams. This number of rams would be, as many have remarked, a strange proportion for the number of lambs named; hence we understand with Thenius that the tribute was a hundred thousand fat sheep or lambs, (כרים,) and the wool of an equal number of rams, but not the rams themselves. Some understand that the tribute of both lambs and rams was paid in wool.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "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 3:4. Mesha, king of Moab, was a sheep-master — The riches, not only of private men, but also of kings, in ancient times, consisted much in sheep and cattle. And this king of Moab had abundance of them, which imboldened and enabled him to rebel against his sovereign. And rendered to the king of Israel a hundred thousand lambs, &c. — This was a prodigious number, and as they were rendered unshorn, they were the more valuable. But we are to consider that these countries abounded with sheep; insomuch that Solomon offered one hundred and twenty thousand at the dedication of the temple, 2 Chronicles 7:5; and the Reubenites drove from the Hagarenes one hundred and fifty thousand, 1 Chronicles 5:7.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Nourished. Hebrew noked, a term which the Septuagint leave untranslated, means literally, "marked" with some colour by the master. Aut pecori signum, aut numeros impressit acervo. (Georg. i.)

Sheep, Symmachus, "large cattle." --- Fleeces; is it commonly supposed every year. This mode of tribute was more usual than paying money. The Moabites were chiefly employed in feeding sheep and cattle; so that it is not wonderful that they should have such great numbers. Dejotarus is represented not only as "a noble Tetrarch, but also as a diligent husbandman and herdsman," pecuarius: (Cicero) which last is the idea which some attach to Mesa.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Meslia. See App-54 on "the Moabite stone".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "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 Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.

Mesha king of Moab was a sheep-master, [ noqeed (Hebrew #5349), a herdsman, a sheep-breeder (Amos 1:1). The Septuagint retains the original, Moosa basileus Mooab een Nookeed]. His dominions embracing an extensive pasture country, he paid, as annual tribute, the wool of 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams. It is still common in the East to pay custom and taxes in the fruits or natural produce of the land. It is probable, however, that so immense flocks were not paid as a regular yearly tribute, but only on some special occasion, as the accession of a new king to the throne of Israel.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "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

(4) The revolt of Moab, continued from 2 Kings 1:1. Ahaziah did not reign two full years, and his accident seems to have prevented any attempt on his part to reduce the Moabites.

Mesha.—The name means “deliverance, salvation,” and occurs on the monument set up by this king, describing his victories and buildings. (See Note on 2 Kings 1:1.)

A sheep-master.—Heb., nôqçd (Amos 1:1). In Arabic, naqad means a kind of sheep of superior wool; naqqâd, the owner or shepherd of such sheep. The land of Moab is mountainous, but well watered, and rich in fertile valleys, and thus specially suited for pasture; and the Arabian wilderness lay open to the Moabite shepherds and their flocks.

Rendered.—Used to render (waw conversive of the perfect); scil., year by year. This tribute is referred to in Isaiah 16:1.

With the wool.—Rather, in wool (an accusative of limitation). The word rendered “lambs” (kârîm) means lambs fatted for food. The expression “in wool,” therefore, relates only to the rams. Mesha’s annual tribute was paid in kind, and consisted of a hundred thousand fatted lambs and the fleeces of a hundred thousand rams. This was a heavy burden for a country no larger than the county of Huntingdon. (Comp. Mesha’s own allusions to the “oppression” of Moab by Omri and Ahab, 2 Kings 1:1, Note.) The LXX. adds, ἐν τῇ ἐπαναστάσει (“in the revolt”); implying that the present rebellion was distinct from that of 2 Kings 1:1, and that this tribute was imposed as an indemnity for the former revolt. The addition is probably due to a transcriber.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.
a sheepmaster
Genesis 13:2; 26:13,14; 2 Chronicles 26:10; Job 1:3; 42:12
rendered
2 Samuel 8:2; 1 Chronicles 18:2; Psalms 60:8; 108:9,10
lambs
Isaiah 16:1
Reciprocal: 2 Samuel 13:23 - sheepshearers;  2 Kings 1:1 - after the;  2 Chronicles 17:11 - brought;  Ecclesiastes 2:7 - also

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-3.html.