The Second Book of Kings
2-Kings. Chapter 3. Jehoshaphat of Judah and Jehoram of Israel are allies in War Again Moab.
To Hear a Talk based on the Text below:
2-Kings. 3. .
Jehoshaphat of Judah and Jehoram of Israel are allies in War Again Moab.
(ca. 24 minutes)
Talk includes points not mentioned in the text.
2-Kings chapter 3:
[2-Kings 3:1] Now Jehoram the son
of Ahab became king over Israel at Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat
king of Judah, and reigned twelve years.
in Modern Hebrew) the son of Ahab was the brother of
reigned before him and had died without issue. The son of
of Judah was also named Jehoram.
[2-Kings 3:2] And he did evil in
the sight of the LORD, but not like his father and mother; for he put away the
sacred pillar of Baal that his father had made.
It is thought that this sacred pillar
was connected to the ALTAR FOR BAAL IN THE HOUSE OF BAAL, WHICH HE HAD [i.e.
Ahab] BUILT IN SAMARIA [1-Kings 16:32].
The word in Hebrew translated as "sacred pillar" is "matsavah"
which can also refer to the sacred pillars or
and the dolmens that the Celts erected in Gaul and
[2-Kings 3:3] Nevertheless he
persisted in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin; he
did not depart from them.
The sin of Jeroboam was the erection of
two golden bull calves to represent the God of Israel and the prevention of the
Israelites from making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem of Judah [1-Kings 12:28].
Nowadays several "Ephraimite"
leaders appear to be continuing the sins of Jeroboam. They seem to go out of the
way to invent alternate calendars and explanations of Scripture just for the
sake of being different from Jewish practice.
[2-Kings 3:4] Now Mesha king of
Moab was a sheepbreeder, and he regularly paid the king of Israel one hundred
thousand lambs and the wool of one hundred thousand rams.
Lambs. In Hebrew "carim"
meaning "fattened sheep" (Daat
This mutton together with the wool would have made a handsome income for any
kingdom. It must have helped the Israelite economy a great deal and its loss
could have had severe effects on the Kingdom. This tribute that Moab had been
paying to the Kingdom of Israel may actually have helped the Moabite people.
Israelite connections and enterprise would have opened up markets and developed
demand that Moab otherwise might not have been able to benefit from.
# and he regularly paid #
In Hebrew it says, "ve-heshiv"
literally "he would repay". The Commentary Me-Am
(quotes from Kehilat
notes that the King of Moab actually owed this tax. It was a form of reparation.
The Moabites in the past had attacked and raided Israel and this tax was a form
of monetary compensation.
[2-Kings 3:5] But it happened, when Ahab died, that the king of Moab rebelled
against the king of Israel.
So too, the Indians and Africans
eventually rebelled against the British Empire even though they themselves were
to suffer greatly by doing so.
The rebellion of Moab had began after
the death of Ahab in the reign of
and before Jehoram
[2-Kings 3:6] So King Jehoram
went out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel.
[2-Kings 3:7] Then he went and
sent to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, saying, The king of Moab has rebelled against
me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?
And he said, I will go up; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses
as your horses.
It should be remembered that
king of Judah had married a daughter of Ahab and was therefore a brother-in-law
had his own reasons for going to war against Moab. In the time of Solomon the
Israelites had ruled over Ammon,
Moab, and Edom. After Israel and Judah had split apart Edom continued under the
suzerainty of Judah while Israel more or less controlled
and Moab. Ammon
was also a rich province and later was recorded as providing vast quantities
wheat and barley (2-Chronicles 26:5).
At the time under consideration however
and offshoots of Ammon
had previously broken away from Israel. Meanwhile Ahab of Israel together with
of Judah had gone to war against
Aram (as we saw in 2-Kings ch.1)
and been defeated. After this Judah was attacked by
together with Ammon,
offshoots of the Ammonites, along with offshoots from Edom (not part of the
Kingdom), and Moab. Judah had been in great danger from this alliance and
had led the people in prayer, repentance, and supplication before the Almighty.
The result was that the Edomite
offshoots (from Mount Seir)
had quarreled with the Ammonites and Moabites. Fighting broke out amongst them
resulting in a great slaughter. All Judah had to do after that was gather up the
booty and take care of the dead bodies (1-Chronicles ch.20).
entered into alliance with the King of Edom who to some degree was subservient
to him. Jehoshaphat
would also have been interested in any action on the part of Israel to subdue
[2-Kings 3:8] Then
he said, Which way shall we go up?
And he answered, By way of the Wilderness of Edom.
says that the reason they went via Edom was in order to ensure the participation
of Edom in their alliance. Edom was subservient to Judah but not wholly under
[2-Kings 3:9] So the king of
Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom, and they marched on
that roundabout route seven days; and there was no water for the army, nor for
the animals that followed them.
[2-Kings 3:10] And the king of
Israel said, Alas! For the LORD has called these three kings together to deliver
them into the hand of Moab.
of Israel did not deny the Almighty but he thought for some reason God was
[2-Kings 3:11] But Jehoshaphat
said, Is there no prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD by
So one of the servants of the king of Israel answered and said, Elisha the son
of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.
It was the custom to pour water over the
hands upon awaking in the morning, after relieving oneself, before eating, and
often prior to engaging in any especially sacred activity. It was sometimes
easier to have someone else do the pouring. In the Temple Service the Levites
poured water over the hands and feet of the
i.e. the officiating priests descendants of Aaron brother of Moses.
having poured water over the hands of Elijah showed that he had been especially
close to Elijah.
[2-Kings 3:12] And Jehoshaphat
said, The word of the LORD is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat
and the king of Edom went down to him.
had heard of Elisha
[2-Kings 3:13] Then Elisha said
to the king of Israel, What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your
father and the prophets of your mother.
But the king of Israel said to him, No, for the LORD has called these three
kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab.
[2-Kings 3:14] And Elisha
said, As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, surely were it not that I
regard the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you, nor
[2-Kings 3:15] But now
bring me a musician.
Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the LORD came upon
Music was sometimes used to induce inspiration and the spirit of prophecy.
Saul before becoming king had been told,
"you will meet
a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument,
a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying" (1
We see here that
used music to reach a state of Prophecy. We too should do the same if we are
depressed or have trouble worshipping God as we should. We should use music or
whatever legitimate means necessary to improve our mood and do what we have to
[2-Kings 3: 16] And
he said, Thus says the LORD: Make this valley full of ditches.
Valley. Hebrew "nachal"
meaning literally "river" or "stream" but here connoting a dry river bed.
The phrase could preferably be translated:
This river bed
shall be made [or become] full of ditches.
[2-Kings 3: 17] For thus says the LORD: You shall not see wind, nor shall you
see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle,
and your animals may drink.
This is a known phenomenon in the
wilderness where rain may fall some good distance away in the hills etc and the
water suddenly flow down through the river bed into areas that are parched for
lack of moisture.
[2-Kings 3: 18] And this is a simple matter in the sight of the LORD; He will
also deliver the Moabites into your hand.
[2-Kings 3: 19] Also you shall attack every fortified city and every choice
city, and shall cut down every good tree, and stop up every spring of water, and
ruin every good piece of land with stones.
[2-Kings 3: 20] Now it happened in the morning, when the grain offering was
offered, that suddenly water came by way of Edom, and the land was filled with
[2-Kings 3: 21] And when all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to
fight against them, all who were able to bear arms and older were gathered; and
they stood at the border.
[2-Kings 3: 22] Then they rose up early in the morning, and the sun was shining
on the water; and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood.
[2-Kings 3: 23] And they said, This is blood; the kings have surely struck
swords and have killed one another; now therefore, Moab, to the spoil!
It was not an infrequent occurrence for
allied armies from different nations to suddenly start fighting each other. The
Moabites themselves had suffered from such an experience not long before when
they had gone to war against
Jehoshaphat together with
and conflict had broken out amongst them (2-Chronicles 20:22 on). In that case
it was Judah who had benefited from the spoil. Now the Moabites assumed that
what had happened to them previously in turn had befallen the forces of Israel,
Judah, and Edom. They thought their turn had come to benefit from the spoil left
by their enemies whom they assumed had slaughtered each other!
[2-Kings 3:24] So when they came to the camp of Israel, Israel rose up and
attacked the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they entered their
land, killing the Moabites.
[2-Kings 3:25] Then they destroyed the cities, and each man threw a stone on
every good piece of land and filled it; and they stopped up all the springs of
water and cut down all the good trees. But they left the stones of Kir Haraseth
intact. However the slingers surrounded and attacked it.
We would translate (in the light of the
and Commentaries) the last section of this verse as:
Only the stone walls of Kir
remained. The catapult-operators surrounded it and began bombardment.
[2-Kings 3:26] And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for
him, he took with him seven hundred men who drew swords, to break through to the
king of Edom, but they could not.
[2-Kings 3:27] Then he took his eldest son who would have reigned in his place,
and offered him as a burnt offering upon the wall; and there was great
indignation against Israel. So they departed from him and returned to their own
There is a difference of opinion as to
who exactly did the king of Moab offer up. The simple meaning is that he
sacrificed his own son and successor. This was a known practice. Egyptian
depictions of sieges of Canaanite cities exist. They show children being thrown
as sacrifices off the wall.
See the illustration below showing an Egyptian siege of the Philistine city of
in the ca. 1200s BCE.
The top section of the picture shows some kind of
religious ceremony with people lifting their hands to heaven in prayer and
children (on each side of the picture) being thrown off the wall in sacrifice.
Source of Picture:
"Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, 10,000-586
In the case of the siege of Moab the child was not thrown
off the wall but rather offered up as a burnt offering upon it.
Another opinion (see
is that the Moabites had captured the son of the King of Edom and it was he who
was sacrificed. Consequently the
blamed the Israelites for what had happened and the coalition split up.
The Sages blamed the
alliance with Edom for causing an unsuccessful conclusion to this campaign.
So too, the Israeli
invasion of Lebanon and occupation of the southern section was complicated by
attempts to forge an alliance with the Christian community of that country.