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Two Kings Three

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

2 Kings 3:1 Now Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years.

eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat. See footnote on 2 Kings 1:17.

2 Kings 3:2 And he wrought evil in the sight of the LORD; but not like his father, and like his mother: for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made.

2 Kings 3:3 Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.

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.

rendered unto the king. Evidently the Moabites had been in subjection to Judah and Israel ever since the days of King David (2 Samuel 8:1, 2).

2 Kings 3:5 But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.

king of Moab rebelled. This rebellion had begun during the days of Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:1) with Mesha refusing to pay the heavy annual tribute, until Jehoram decided to re-subjugate Moab. The famous Moabite Stone, one of the most important archaeological discoveries, mentions this event.

2 Kings 3:6 And king Jehoram went out of Samaria the same time, and numbered all Israel.

2 Kings 3:7 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, and my horses as thy horses.

I am as thou art. Although Jehoshaphat was a godly king, he was related to Jehoram by marriage. Althaliah was a sister of Israel's Jehoram (both were children of Ahab), and was married to Judah's Jehoram, who was son of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat also may have been encouraged by the fact that Jehoram had stored away the idol of Baal made and worshipped by his father Ahab. Jehoshaphat, however, had twice previously made unfortunate alliances with kings of Israel—once with Ahab (1 Kings 22:29) and once with Ahaziah (2 Chronicles 20:35).

2 Kings 3:8 And he said, Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom.

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.

2 Kings 3:10 And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!

2 Kings 3:11 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may inquire of the LORD by him? And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of 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.

2 Kings 3:13 And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay: for the LORD hath 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 liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.

presence of Jehoshaphat. Although Jehoshaphat should not have allied himself with the idol-worshipping kings of Edom and Israel, his presence among them was, at least in this case, honored by the Lord, perhaps also because they were fighting the even more wicked Moabites.

2 Kings 3:15 But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.

2 Kings 3:16 And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Make this valley full of ditches.

2 Kings 3:17 For thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts.

2 Kings 3:18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of the LORD: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.

2 Kings 3:19 And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.

2 Kings 3:20 And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat offering was offered, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.

filled with water. Arid regions occasionally are subject to cloudbursts, when the dry arroyos very quickly are filled with floodwater runoff. Probably this was what happened in this case, providentially timed in response to Elisha's prophetic prayer, just as had been Elijah's experience at Mount Carmel after the three-and-a-half-year drought in Israel.

2 Kings 3:21 And when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered all that were able to put on armour, and upward, and stood in the border.

2 Kings 3:22 And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood:

red as blood. The sudden floods rushing over the terrain of erosive red sandstone perhaps made the waters look bloody, wrongly interpreted by the Moabites as the result of infighting among themselves by the three armies.

2 Kings 3:23 And they said, This is blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil.

2 Kings 3:24 And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them: but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country.

2 Kings 3:25 And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees: only in Kirharaseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it.

2 Kings 3:26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew swords, to break through even unto the king of Edom: but they could not.

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.

his eldest son. There has been some uncertainty by the scribes as to whether Mesha, the king of Moab (2 Kings 3:4, 26) sacrificed his own son in an attempt to persuade his god (Chemosh) to intervene against Israel, or had somehow captured the son of the king of Edom and sacrificed him, as an act of vengeance against Edom for siding with Israel. In either case, the semi-pagan Israelites were so disturbed by this development, which had evidently infuriated both the Moabites and Edomites against them, that they simply abandoned the campaign against Moab and went home.