2 Chronicles 20

2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 20

War Against Eastern Enemies

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “This is the Chronicler’s own material, describing a victory over Judah’s enemies in which the sovereign God acts alone for his people. In contrast to earlier battles (chs 13;14), Judah’s part is simply to pray for God’s help, trust in his word, worship him (20:18-22), and then watch thankfully as the Divine Warrior destroys the enemy. The narrative draws together a wide range of religious themes and practices, especially those centered on the temple, and also alludes to many earlier scriptural texts and themes. Jehoshaphat’s faith is presented here in the most positive light (although the Chronicler will go own to show a further lapse in vv. 35-37), and the rest of the nation (conceived here as a sacred assembly) similarly acts in an exemplary way. The significance of the narrative for the Chronicler’s own postexilic community seems clear; although Judah was a small and oppressed outpost of the Persian empire, recourse to the temple in prayer and trust in the prophetic word (v. 20) was its sure defense in the most testing circumstances, including the dangers posed by its hostile neighbors (cf. Ezra 4; Nehemiah 4).”

      • Later the Moabites and the Ammonites, along with some of the Meunites attacked Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A huge army from Edom is marching against you from the other side of the Dead Sea. They’re already at Hazezon Tamar (that is, En Gedi).” Jehoshaphat was afraid so he resolved to seek Yahweh, and he proclaimed a fast for all of Judah. The people of Judah gathered together to seek help from Yahweh; they came from all the cities of Judah to seek Yahweh.

        • NET Bible points out a couple of textual issues. Regarding v. 1, “The Hebrew text has ‘Ammonites,’ but they are mentioned just before this. Most translations, following some mss of the LXX, read ‘Meunites’ (see 2 Chr 26:7; so NASB, NIV, NRSV).” Regarding v. 2, “Most Hebrew mss, the LXX, and Vulgate read ‘from Aram’ (i.e., Syria), but this should be emended to ‘Edom,’ which is the reading of one Hebrew ms and the Old Latin.”

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible notes, “The Moabites and Ammonites lived east of the Dead Sea…The Meunites, an Arabian tribe living in the Sinai and southern Transjordan who controlled many trade routes connecting to the King’s Highway, are equated with the people of Mount Seir (2 Chron 20:10, 22, 23), on the southern border of Judah (cf 1 Chron 4:39-41 and 2 Chron 26:7-8. ‘Siruatti the Meunite, whose territory is below Egypt’ (that is, the region between southern Palestine and Egypt) is named in the Annals of Tiglath-pileser III (8th century BC) as an Assyrian vassal. Engedi is an oasis on the midpoint of the Dead Sea’s western shore…”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Translating the word Edom instead of Aram is consistent with the Chronicler’s later description of the armies (20:10, 22-23) and with the geographical description of the attack from the southeast through En-gedi. (Aram was northeast of Judah.)”

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “’Seeking the Lord’ was characteristic of Jehoshaphat at his best…The fast was an expression of the special intensity of the people’s prayer (see Judg 20:26; Ezra 8:21-23).”

        • Guzik remarks, “Jehoshaphat called the nation to express their humility and total dependence upon God through a public fast – that is, abstaining from all food for a period of time (typically a day or more) and drinking only water. In Mark 9:28-29, Jesus explained that prayer and fasting together were a source of significant spiritual power. It isn’t as if prayer and fasting make us more worthy to be blessed or do God’s work; it is that prayer and fasting draw us closer to the heart of God, and they put us more in line with His power. Fasting is a powerful expression of our total dependence on Him.”

Jehoshaphat’s Prayer

      • Jehoshaphat stood before the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, at the house of Yahweh, in front of the new courtyard and said:

          • O Yahweh, God of our ancestors, are You not the God who is in heaven? Do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and strength are in Your hands so that no one can stand against You. Our God, did You not drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Your friend Abraham? They have lived in it, and built a sanctuary for Your name in it saying, ‘If disaster comes on us- whether sword or judgment, or plague or famine- we will stand in front of this house and in front of You, because Your name is in this house. We will cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.’ Now men from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir are coming! When Israel came from the land of Egypt, You didn’t allow Israel to invade these lands. They bypassed them and didn’t destroy them. Look how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of Your possession which You gave to us as an inheritance. O our God, will You not judge them? We are powerless against this vast army that attacks us. We don’t know what to do, but we look to You.”

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Mount Seir was another name for Edom (see Gen 32:3…”)

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “Jehoshaphat’s prayer in the house of the Lord begins by calling to mind God’s universal sovereignty (v. 6), his gift of the land to Abraham’s descendants (v. 7), and the sanctuary that testifies to God’s promise to hear his people’s prayers and save them (v. 9, a clear allusion to the circumstances envisioned in Solomon’s dedicatory prayer in 6:14-42). In the judicial style of the so-called psalms of lament (see Psalms 44; 74), Jehoshaphat then complains to God to execute judgment on them.”

        • Guzik says, “Jehoshaphat began his great prayer by recognizing the power of Yahweh over heaven and all kingdoms of the nations. Other peoples believed in localized deities – as if the Moabites had their god, the Philistines their god, the Ammonites their god, and so on. Jehoshaphat recognized that the God of Israel was in fact the God of all kingdoms, of all nations, of all the earth and indeed of heaven itself. Jehoshaphat also prayed recognizing God’s great works in the past on behalf of His people. The logic is clear: If God had done great things for His people in the past, He can be prevailed upon to do great things for His people at their moment of great need…Jehoshaphat prayed with both knowledge and understanding of God’s word. He remembered that God did not allow Israel to invade these peoples when they came from Egypt to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 2:8-9 and 2:19). Since God did not allow Israel to destroy those peoples then, it would be unjust if He allowed them to destroy Judah now. He implicitly prayed that God would not allow His people to suffer for their prior obedience…Here Jehoshaphat – a king standing before his people – openly confessed that he did not have the answer. Their only answer was to trust in God, that His power and goodness would protect Judah when nothing else could.”

God’s Answer

      • All the men of Judah, along with their wives, infants, and children, were standing there before Yahweh. Then in the midst of the assembly, the Spirit of Yahweh came upon Jahaziel. Jahaziel’s father was Zechariah, whose father was Benaiah, whose father was Jeiel, whose father was Mattaniah- a Levite who was a descendant of Asaph. He said, “Listen all you people of Judah, residents of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. This is what Yahweh says: ‘Don’t be afraid and don’t panic because of this huge army because the battle is not yours, but God’s. March down against them tomorrow. They will be coming up the Ascent of Ziz and you will find them at the end of the ravine in front of the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Take your positions, stand firm, and watch Yahweh deliver you O Judah and Jerusalem. Don’t be afraid and don’t panic. March out against them tomorrow and Yahweh will be with you.’”

        • Guzik writes, “The sense is that after Jehoshaphat’s great prayer, the people stood silently before the LORD, waiting upon Him for some sense of direction or encouragement…Out of this huge group gathered together, the Spirit of the LORD came upon one man to speak to the entire assembly. This was a spontaneous word of prophecy that came as God’s people waited before Him and sought Him. The threat was real – there really was a great multitude dedicated to destroying Judah. Yet the command was to not be afraid nor dismayed, because the battle was God’s battle. He would fight on behalf of Judah against this great multitude.”

        • On the command to march out against the enemy, Guzik continues, “This was an important command, because one might think that because of the promise of 2 Chronicles 20:15, Judah would not even have to show up at the battle and perhaps God wanted them to stay in Jerusalem and pray. Yet God wanted them to go out to battle against the enemy and He would use their participation in the battle. God knew the plans of the attacking armies precisely and He relayed this information to the king and people of Judah. Judah did not need to fight in this battle, yet it did not mean there was nothing for them to do. It was a significant step of faith to position yourselves, to stand still, and to believe that you would see the salvation of the LORD in the face of a large attacking army. There were any number of ways that God could have defeated these armies assembled against Judah, but He appointed a way that demanded the participation of faith on behalf of Judah. They had to work on a faith-partnership with God.”

      • Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem fell down before Yahweh and worshiped Him. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and the Korahites stood up and loudly praised Yahweh, the God of Israel.

        • Guzik says, “First they worshipped with the posture of their bodies and hearts; then with song led by the chorus of the Levitical worship leaders.”

Victory and Plunder

      • Early the next morning they marched out to the wilderness of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, people of Judah and residents of Jerusalem. Believe in Yahweh your God and you will be safe. Believe His prophets and you will succeed.” Then he consulted with the people and appointed some of them to sing to Yahweh and praise Him for His holy splendor. As they marched ahead of the army they sang, “Give thanks to Yahweh because His steadfast love endures forever.”

      • When they began to praise and shout, Yahweh set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and men from Mount Seir who had come to fight against Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites turned against the men from Mount Seir and completely annihilated them. When they had finished the men of Seir, they attacked and destroyed one another. When the men of Judah arrived at the observation post that overlooks the wilderness and looked at the huge army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground. No one had escaped. Jehoshaphat and his men went to gather the plunder. They found a huge amount of supplies, clothing, and valuable items. They carried away everything they could. There was so much plunder it took them 3 days to haul it off.

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The wilderness of Tekoa lies about 12 miles south of Jerusalem. Jehoshaphat’s call to faith is based on Isa 7:9. Believe here means the active and obedient trust that God rewards (see Heb 11:6), acting on the revealed word of his prophets, including Jahaziel. The singers whom Jehoshaphat appointed to go out before the army were evidently Levites…declaring words from Psalm 136 as their battle song (see 1 Chron 16:34; 2 Chron 5:13). Their song of praise invokes God to move against their enemies (20:22; see 1 Chron 16:35). Ambush may denote either angelic agents (see 2 Chron 32:21) or men (see Judg 9:25), in which case there were mutual suspicions among the coalition forces, leading to panic and their own destruction (2 Chron 20:23; see Judg 7:22; 1 Sam 14:20). Verse 24 calls to mind Israel’s sight of the dead Egyptians in Ex 14:30.”

      • On the 4th day they assembled at the Valley of Berakah where they praised Yahweh. This is why that place is called the Valley of Berakah to this day. Then, with Jehoshaphat leading them, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem because Yahweh had given them reason to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem to the sound of harps, lyres, and trumpets, and proceeded to the house of Yahweh. The fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the surrounding lands when they heard that Yahweh had fought against Israel’s enemies. So Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace because God had given him rest on every side.

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “’Beracah’ means ‘blessing.’ There may be a recollection of this event in the prophecy in Joel 3:2, 12 (‘the Valley of Jehoshaphat’). The return to Jerusalem takes the form of a triumphal procession, which ends appropriately in the temple, where the people had first sought God’s deliverance (2 Chron 20:5).”

        • Guzik adds the following, “The victory itself was a warning against the neighboring nations. This gave King Jehoshaphat and his kingdom rest all around. We notice that this did not become a pattern for warfare in Judah or an invitation to conquest, led by the ‘invincible army of praise.’ This was in direct response to a specific word from God; to disobey would have been sin, but it would have also been sin to make it a standing pattern for all future warfare in Judah. The principle of God fighting on behalf of His people and the glory of trusting praise before the battle remained; how God wanted His people to participate in the battle would differ from circumstance to circumstance according to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their situation. Most importantly, we can praise God that Jesus Christ has fought the battle for our salvation and to rescue us from the judgment of God that we so rightly deserved. This makes us more than conquerors in Jesus Christ, because He fights the battle and defeats our foe, and we share in the spoil (Romans 8:37).”

Summary of Jehoshaphat’s Reign

      • Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was 35 years old when he became king and he ruled for 25 years in Jerusalem. His mother was Azubah, and her father was Shilhi. He walked in the way of his father Asa and didn’t turn aside from it, doing what was right in Yahweh’s eyes. However, the high places weren’t removed, and the people did not set their hearts on the God of their ancestors. The rest of the events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in the “Annals of Jehu son of Hanani,” which is included in the “Book of the Kings of Israel.”

        • ESV Study Bible notes that verses 31-24 are, “Adapted from 1 Kings 22:41-45…Some have claimed that 2 Chron 20:33 is inconsistent with 17:6, which says that Jehoshaphat ‘took the high places…out of Judah,’ but both can be true if 17:6 refers to Jehoshaphat’s official actions and 20:33 indicates that the people’s commitment to Jehoshaphat’s reforms was not wholehearted in every place (cf 1 Kings 22:43). The Chronicler explains why: the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their fathers (2 Chron 20:33).”

      • Later, Judah’s King Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Israel’s King Ahaziah, who did evil. They agreed to make a fleet of trading ships to go to Tarshish, and they built the ships in Ezion Geber. Eliezer, whose father was Dodavahu from Mareshah, prophesied against Jehoshaphat saying, “Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, I will destroy what you have made.” The ships were wrecked and unable to go to Tarshish.

        • ESV Study Bible says that verses 35-37 are, “Adapted and expanded from 1 Kings 22:48-49. Jehoshaphat repeats his error of making an alliance (this time, a commercial one) with the northern king, Ahab’s son Ahaziah. The Chronicler has added the prophetic denunciation by Eliezer.”

        • Guzik adds, “1 Kings 22:48-49 tells us that this initial partnership with Ahaziah king of Israel ended in disaster, when the ships were wrecked at Ezion Geber. It also tells us that after the rebuke from Eliezer the son of Dodavah, king Jehoshaphat refused another offer of alliance with Ahaziah. He had learned his lesson and did not add error upon error.”

Click here to go to chapter 21