Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 3:9

So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom; and they made a circuit of seven days' journey, and there was no water for the army or for the cattle that followed them.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Commissary;   Edomites;   Moabites;   Thompson Chain Reference - Dry Places;   Jehoshaphat;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Kings;   Travellers;   Water;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Mesha;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Moab;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Government;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Jehoram;   Jehoshaphat;   Moabite Stone;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Dibon;   Edom;   Jehoram;   Judah, Kingdom of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Circuit;   King, Kingship;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Kir-Hareseth;   Mesha;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Circuit;   Compass;   Edom, Edomites;   Jehoshaphat;   Medeba;   Mesha;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Joram, Jehoram;   Mesha ;   Moab, Moabites ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Kirharaseth;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Armor;   Arms;   Compass;   Jehoshaphat;   Mesha;   Moab;   Samaria;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Eli'sha;   Weights and Measures;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Circuit;   Compass;   Dead Sea, the;   Edom;   Fetch;   Water;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Edox, Idumea;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

A compass of seven days' journey - By taking a circuitous route, to go round the southern part of the Dead Sea, they probably intended to surprise the Moabites; but it appears their journey was ill planned, as they at last got into a country in which it was impossible to obtain water, and they were brought in consequence to the utmost extremity.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:9". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Seven days‘ journey - The distance of the route probably followed is not much more than 100 miles. But the difficulties of the way are great; and the army might not be able to move along it at a faster rate than about 15 miles a day.

No water - The kings had probably expected to find sufficient water for both men and baggage animals in the Wady-el-Ahsy, which divides Edom from Moab, and which has a stream that is now regarded as perennial. But it was dried up - quite a possible occurrence with any of the streams of this region.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:9". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-3.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

WHEN DISASTER THREATENED; THE KINGS WENT TO ELISHA

"So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom; and they made a circuit of seven days' journey: and there was no water for the host, nor for the beasts that followed them. And the king of Israel said, Alas! for Jehovah hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab. But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of Jehovah, that we may inquire of Jehovah by him? And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah. And Jehoshaphat said, The word of Jehovah is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him."

"They made a circuit of seven days' journey" (2 Kings 3:9). Their route of attack against Moab was down the western shore of the Dead Sea, around the southern end of that sea and through the territory of Edom toward Moab. When they came to the border of Moab, which was the Wady es-Ahsy they fully expected plenty of water from the perennial stream, but an extended drought in Edom had dried it up, and the whole host of the three kings was threatened with death by thirst! It was a crisis of unbelievable magnitude.

"Jehovah hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab" (2 Kings 3:10). This statement by the king of Israel was that of an unbeliever. Any threatening disaster he was ready to attribute to Israel's true God, but, fortunately, Jehoshaphat was a man of greater faith.

"Is there not here a prophet of Jehovah?" (2 Kings 3:11). It is remarkable that Jehoram was ignorant of Elisha's presence in the host, but one of his servants told him that the prophet was among them. Having learned this, Jehoshaphat at once stated that the word of Jehovah was with Elisha, and the three kings decided to consult him.

"And they went down to him" (2 Kings 3:12). Jehoram might have thought of sending for Elisha, but the three kings were in dire straits and decided to humble themselves and go to the prophet rather than demanding that the prophet come to them. After all, when terrible death threatens, many an erstwhile unbeliever turns in meekness and humility to God who alone determines the issues of life and death.

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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 3:9". "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

So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah,.... The way of the wilderness of Edom, proposed by the latter:

and the king of Edom; whom they took with them in their way, who was not properly a king, but a viceroy or deputy, see 1 Kings 22:47.

and they fetched a compass of seven days journey; they went round the Dead Sea, and through the wilderness of Edom, and so to the borders of Moab:

and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them; neither for the soldiers in the army, nor the cattle that drew the carriages, being in a wilderness.

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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 3:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the e king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days' journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.

(e) Meaning the viceroy, or lieutenant of the king of Judah, (1 Kings 22:47).
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:9". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-kings-3.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days' journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.

King of Edom — That is, the vice-roy under Jehosaphat, 1 Kings 22:47, here called king: because that word is sometimes used for any prince or chief ruler.

Seven days — Because they made a great army, which could move but slowly; and they fetched a greater compass than was usual, for some advantage which they expected by it.

No water — A frequent want in those parts; and now, it seems, increased by the extraordinary heat and dryness of the season.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:9". "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 3:9 So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days’ journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.

Ver. 9. Of seven days’ journey.] This was a long while for such an army to be without water; and should have been sooner seen to. Prevision is the best means of prevention. This was a check to Jehoshaphat’s rashness.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:9". 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

The king of Edom, i.e. the viceroy under Jehoshaphat, 1 Kings 22:47, here called king; either because he was so called and accounted by his own people, or because that word is sometimes used for any prince or chief ruler. See Deuteronomy 33:5 Jude 18:1 21:25 1 Kings 20:1.

They fetched a compass, because they made a great army, which could move but slowly; and they fetched a greater compass than was usual, for some advantage which they expected by it.

There was no water; a frequent want in those hot and desert parts; and now, as it seems, increased by the extraordinary heat and dryness of the season.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:9". 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

9.And the king of Edom — One further object of journeying by the way of Edom may have been to secure the co-operation of this king, who was now at peace and in league with Judah, but who might have been strongly tempted to revolt if he had been ignored in this war for the subjugation of Moab.

No water for the host — A calamity very likely to overtake a vast army in that desolate and barren section of the land.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:9". "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 3:9. The king of Edom — Properly speaking, there was no king at this time in Edom, as we read in the last chapter of the foregoing book, 1 Kings 22:47; but the viceroy, under Jehoshaphat, is here called king, that word being often used for any prince or chief ruler. Of seven days’ journey — Because they made a great army, which could move but slowly; and they fetched a greater compass than usual, that they might come upon the backs of the Moabites, where they did not expect them, or for some other advantage which they hoped to reap by it. There was no water for the host — A frequent want in those parts; and now, it seems, increased by the extraordinary heat and dryness of the season. And for the cattle that followed them — Which drew their carriages.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:9". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-3.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

fetched a compass = made a circuit. Compare Acts 28:13.

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Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:9". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-kings-3.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(9) The king of Edom.—A vassal king appointed by Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:48).

They fetched a compass.—Went round (scil., the Dead Sea) a journey of seven days. The confederates appear to have lost their way among the mountains of Seir. They would, in any case, be greatly delayed by the cattle which it was necessary to take with them for subsistence. It is evident from the context that the distress began after the Edomite contingent had joined.

For the host, and for the cattle that followed them.—The stopping is wrong. It should be, and there was not water for the army and for the cattle which followed them. “Them,” i.e., the kings. (Comp. Judges 5:15.) “The cattle,” i.e., the herds and flocks for the maintenance of the army.

The allies appear to have marched through the deep, rocky glen of El-Ahsy (or El-Qurâhy), between Moab and Edom. They expected to find water there, as is usually the case, even in the dry season; but on this occasion the water failed.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:9". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days' journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.
Edom
1 Kings 22:27
no water
Exodus 15:22; 17:1; Numbers 20:2,4; 21:5; 33:14
that followed them
Heb. at their feet.
Exodus 11:8; *marg:; Judges 4:10
Reciprocal: Genesis 21:15 - the water;  1 Kings 22:47 - no king;  2 Kings 3:26 - unto the king of Edom;  2 Kings 8:20 - Edom;  2 Chronicles 21:8 - and made;  Psalm 84:6 - the rain;  Proverbs 19:3 - foolishness;  Amos 2:1 - because

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-3.html.