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Deeper Commentary

2Ch 20:1 It happened after this that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them some of the other Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle-
For "Ammonites", LXX and some texts read "the Mehunim", of 2 Chron. 26:7; 1 Chron. 4:41.

2Ch 20:2 Then some came who told Jehoshaphat saying, A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea from Syria. Behold, they are in Hazazon Tamar (that is, En Gedi)-
Some manuscripts read "from Edom", called "mount Seir" in :10, which would make better sense of them coming from En Gedi, with "the sea" then referring to the Dead Sea.. G.A. Smith explains that En Gedi was "on the west coast of the Dead Sea at a point where a rugged pass leads up into the hill country of Judah". 

2Ch 20:3 Jehoshaphat was alarmed, and set himself to seek to Yahweh. He proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah-
Fasts were typically proclaimed to call for repentance, as a result of calamity convicting people of sin. Jehoshaphat recognized that his reforms had not touched the soul of most of his people, and saw this invasion as a result of that. See on :10.

2Ch 20:4 Judah gathered themselves together to seek help from Yahweh. They came out of all the cities of Judah to seek Yahweh-
The people came to "seek help", but as explained on :3, Jehoshaphat realized that what was essentially needed was repentance.  

2Ch 20:5 Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of Yahweh, before the new court-
Jehoshaphat stood not "in" but "before" this court, so it may refer to the court of the priests which had been rebuilt recently. Hence "new". 

2Ch 20:6 and he said, Yahweh, the God of our fathers, aren’t You God in heaven? Aren’t You ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, so that no one is able to stand against You-
To "stand against" is s.w. "stand with" or "before". Jehoshaphat 'stood' "before" Yahweh (:5). He feels his unworthiness to do this, and yet is aware that all the world likewise stands before Him, and cannot stand against Him. We note that God was king of the Gentile world even then. For them to become His 'kingdom', as today, required a recognition that He is king, and to accept His position as their king and they as His subjects. In other words, to accept what is already potentially the situation. This aspect of the call of the Gospel of the Kingdom is often felt by those who truly respond to it, having previously known nothing of His ways.   

2Ch 20:7 Didn’t You, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and give it to the seed of Abraham Your friend forever?-
"Drive out" is s.w. "inherit" in :11. It is not the usual word for "drive out". If as suggested on :2 the invaders were from Edom, Ammon and Moab (:10), they too were the seed of Abraham. And it is all of them whom Jehoshaphat has in view here. They were called to be part of God's kingdom (see on :6). The idea is not, therefore. 'You drove out the Canaanites, do drive out these invaders now'. For the Canaanites were not the seed of Abraham. But these invaders were. These descendants of Abraham were to be defeated, Jehoshaphat argues, because they were trying to drive Judah out of the land which they too had been given to inherit (:11). So the grounds of their condemnation were not that they were Canaanites, but rather that they were forbidding other members of the seed a place in the inheritance. And there is a lesson for that in the warring members of the true seed of Abraham today.  

2Ch 20:8 They lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name saying-
Jehoshaphat has great spirituality and faith at this point. But he retains the misunderstanding of David and Solomon, that the sanctuary or temple built was somehow a guarantee that God would always protect His people. God had explained that He didn't want them to build it, but rather wanted to build them a 'house' or family of humbled hearts, open to the operation of His Spirit. See on :28. 

2Ch 20:9 If evil comes on us- the sword, judgment, plague or famine- we will stand before this house and before You, (for Your name is in this house), and cry to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save-
He is repeating the prayer of Solomon. But he also repeats the same misunderstanding, that the physical temple was some kind of talisman which would nudge God into saving His people from judgment even when they sinned. This was not the case. And the final destruction of the temple and captivity of the people was evidence enough of that.

2Ch 20:10 Now, consider the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned aside from them, and didn’t destroy them-
This is starting to put the blame on God for allowing these people to still exist. But the reason for their invasion was because Judah had sinned, and Jehoshaphat realized that when he called for a fast (see on :3). But like us, he soon drifted away from that initial realization of sin and the need for repentance and salvation by grace. For from that height, he slips down into considering the temple as a physical talisman which would bring help (:8,9), and now he tries to rationalize the situation by even blaming God. Rather than retaining his sense of sin.

2Ch 20:11 See how they reward us, to come to cast us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit-
As discussed on :7, their behaviour was obnoxious because they too were the seed of Abraham, but refused to allow Judah to have a place in the land promised to Abraham.  

2Ch 20:12 Our God, will You not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that comes against us; neither know we what to do, but our eyes are toward You-
As discussed on :10, Jehoshaphat has slipped down from his initial sense that Judah have sinned and must desperately, urgently repent (:3). Now he is saying that those sent to judge Judah are sinners worthy of judgment. And yet he recognizes that he has no might against that judgment. And yet the history of Israel is full of faithful individuals and armies winning victories, with Yahweh's help, against far larger and stronger armies. Yet Jehoshaphat seems to lack that level of faith, and is simply "dismayed", which we will note on :15 seems to imply a lack of faith.

2Ch 20:13 All Judah stood before Yahweh, with their little ones, their wives and their children-
We see here how "all" in the Bible isn't always to be read literally. Representatives from a community are counted as "all" of it. "Little ones" seems here to mean babies.

2Ch 20:14 Then the Spirit of Yahweh came on Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, the Levite, of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly-
"Jahaziel", 'he who sees visions of God', is an example of a person having a name which was acquired due to later life experience, and was likely not the birth name. We note he was a Levite not from the priestly line, continuing the theme we saw developed in 2 Chron. 19:8,11 of Levites being chosen for exalted work. Levites were servants to the priests, but here they are invested with high authority.

2Ch 20:15 He said, Listen, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, king Jehoshaphat. Thus says Yahweh to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, neither be dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s-
I noted on :12 that Jehoshaphat's faith was rather weak and he appeared almost fatalistic. "The battle is... God's" is a quotation of David's words to Goliath in  1 Sam. 17:47. Being "dismayed and terrified" is the term used of how Israel generally were terrified of Goliath, whereas David by faith wasn't (1 Sam. 17:11). David in turn uses to his son Solomon (1 Chron. 22:13; 28:20). He was thereby urging Solomon not to worry if he was out of step with all Israel; if they were dismayed and terrified, he was still to walk in faith as David had done at the time of the Goliath crisis. It is also used to urge the people toward the spirit of David rather than that of Israel in 2 Chron. 20:15,17. The same phrase is also used in urging the people of Judah in Hezekiah's time to consider the Assyrians to be as a Goliath which they like David could vanquish (2 Chron. 32:7). The exiles likewise were urged not to be dismayed and terrified at the reproach of men (Is. 51:7; Jer. 30:10), very clearly making the history with Goliath relevant to their times.

2Ch 20:16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they are coming up by the ascent of Ziz. You shall find them at the end of the valley, before the wilderness of Jeruel-
The valley refers to one of the ravines leading from the Dead Sea; see on :2.

2Ch 20:17 You will not need to fight this battle. Set yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of Yahweh with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Don’t be afraid, nor be dismayed. Go out against them tomorrow, for Yahweh is with you’-
To "stand still and see" was the language of the invitation to behold the miracle of the salvation at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:13, cp. 1 Sam. 12:16 and see note there). Yahweh was "with you" whilst they were with Him (2 Chron. 15:2), and yet it seems the faith of the people was weak, and they had been called to radical repentance in :3. But by grace, Yahweh was with them despite this. Just as they had stood still and seen His salvation at the Red Sea whilst they were still clutching the idols of Egypt (according to Ez. 20). And Jehoshaphat grasped that, saying that the victory was to be by grace (:21).

2Ch 20:18 Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before Yahweh, worshipping Yahweh-
This was an act of great faith in the prophetic word. For at that point there was no visible evidence that this victory would happen.

2Ch 20:19 The Levites, of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites, stood up to praise Yahweh, the God of Israel, with an exceeding loud voice-
This again, as noted on :19, was the joy of deep faith. For there was no evidence that the victory would happen. That had to be taken on absolute faith. They didn't just 'wait and see', they proactively rejoiced.

2Ch 20:20 They rose early in the morning and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Listen to me, Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in Yahweh your God, so you shall be established!-
The word was and is God. Dt. 4:12 [Heb.] says that Israel heard God's voice and saw no similitude save a voice. To hear the word is to in that sense see God; for the word was and is God. There are other connections between seeing God and hearing His word in Ex. 20:21 and 1 Kings 19:12-14. Observe the parallelism in 2 Chron. 20:20: "Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper". Our attitude to God is our attitude to His word. Because the word is so pure, therefore we love it (Ps. 119:140). John Carter rightly observed: "Upon our understanding of what the Bible is, our attitude to it will be determined".

Believe His prophets, so you shall prosper-
The false prophets had told Ahab and Jehoshaphat to go up and fight at Ramoth Gilead, "for Yahweh will deliver it into the hand of the king" (1 Kings 22:12). But Jehoshaphat had nearly lost his life, because he had refused to hear the voice of the one true prophet of Yahweh. So the emphasis is upon believing Yahweh's prophets, and not false prophets. By saying this, Jehoshaphat shows he had learned from his mistake.

2Ch 20:21 When he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who should sing to Yahweh and give praise in holy array, as they went out before the army, and say, Give thanks to Yahweh; for His grace endures forever-
This is really a parade example of believing that you receive what you ask for, before the answer arrives. And feeling you have received it. It seems they sung Ps. 136, glorying in the victory which was not then theirs. The vanguard were singing Levites, as in the victory over Jericho. Indeed "before the army" appears to allude to Josh. 6:7,9.

2Ch 20:22 When they began to sing and to praise, Yahweh set ambushers against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were struck-
It was exactly at the moment that they began to praise God for a victory which seemed impossible, that Yahweh began to destroy them. The ambushers could have been Angels appearing as men. Or more likely, the people of Esau / Edom (see on :2) began fighting amongst themselves (:23). It could be however that as in Josh. 8:2, God told Jehoshaphat to set an ambush against the enemy, which resulted in them fighting each other.

2Ch 20:23 For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to kill and destroy them. When they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, each one helped to destroy another-
This is typical of how God so often destroyed Israel's enemies (e.g. Jud. 7:22), and how He will work in the last days. They destroy each other, just as men bring about their own judgment rather than being simply judged by God.

2Ch 20:24 When Judah came to the place overlooking the wilderness, they looked at the multitude which were now dead bodies fallen to the earth, and there were none who escaped-
As they came to the edge of the cliff, down which they had to descend in full view of the enemy they expected, their faith was at maximum stretch. We wonder whether the singers of confident praise for the promised victory... just slightly quavered as they approached it. But faith was rewarded. AV "came toward the watchtower" may refer to one of the castles built by Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 17:12).

2Ch 20:25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them in abundance both riches and dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much-
The presence of so much wealth amongst the attackers was doubtless a reason they fought each other.

2Ch 20:26 On the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Beracah; for there they blessed Yahweh. Therefore the name of that place is called The valley of Beracah to this day-
This may be the "valley of Jehoshaphat" which will feature in the latter day destruction of Israel's enemies (Joel 3:2,12).

2Ch 20:27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in their forefront, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for Yahweh had made them to rejoice over their enemies-
God's psychological influencing of people is a parade example of how His Spirit works upon the human spirit. They rejoiced before the battle with the same joy they experienced after it. Truly they believed they had already received what they had asked for (Mk. 11:24).

2Ch 20:28 They came to Jerusalem with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets to the house of Yahweh-
This returning to Jerusalem recalls how Jehoshaphat had earlier returned to Jerusalem in shame after the conflict at Ramoth Gilead. He ought to have learned that without association with the ten tribes, he would return to Jerusalem with joy. However we note that they came to the temple with their praise. On one hand this was appropriate, but we sense that for all their faith, they had still not learned the lesson that the temple was not in fact the source of their victory. See on :8.9.

2Ch 20:29 The fear of God was on all the kingdoms of the countries, when they heard that Yahweh fought against the enemies of Israel-
The fear of Yahweh coming upon those cities was the promised reward for obedience (Dt. 11:25), and recalls the terror which fell upon the cities around Jacob at the time of Gen. 35:5. But that terror didn't come because Israel were righteous at that time; in fact the opposite. For they had just massacred Shechem. Likewise here, these blessings were by grace, for Judah were not so righteous at this time (:33); and reflected Yahweh's extreme sensitivity to any faith and obedience toward Him.

2Ch 20:30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet; for his God gave him rest all around-
As in 2 Chron. 15;15, peace with the surrounding nations is seen as a result of spiritual blessing. This also implies that the invasion they had just experienced was indeed due to their serious sins (see on :3).

2Ch 20:31 Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty-five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi-
Kings notes that he "began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel", but Chronicles seems to not mention Ahab, nor use the apostate kings of Israel as a time marker for the reigns of the kings of Judah. Perhaps in exile, when Chronicles was written or rewritten, they realized that it was thanks to the influence of the kings of Israel that Judah had fallen away from Yahweh. "Azubah" means 'forsaking' and may mean that although his mother forsook Yahweh, Jehoshaphat in the end was loyal to Him in his heart.

2Ch 20:32 He walked in the way of Asa his father, and didn’t turn aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh-
Jehoshaphat did externally turn aside, in his trust in Ahab and association with the apostate ten tribes. His behaviour incited the wrath of God against him- serious language. See on 2 Chron. 19:2. But God saw that in his heart, he didn't swerve from Him; and He considered those heart positions as being the 'doing' which is all important to Him. This idea is continued in :33, where we learn God's overall judgment upon Judah at this time was that their hearts were not with Him- despite their great faith shown in the conflict earlier in this chapter. Peaks of faith and works are not the same as a core heart position.  

2Ch 20:33 However the high places were not taken away; neither as yet had the people set their hearts to the God of their fathers-
Israel never really wholeheartedly committed themselves to Yahweh, and yet 2 Chron. 20:33 AV positively and hopefully says: "As yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers". They never did. Especially in the preaching of the word of salvation to those who they knew wouldn’t respond, the Father and Son show their hopeful spirit. We therefore conclude that the apparent blessings upon the people for obedience were by grace, or perhaps from Divine respect for Jehoshaphat's faithful heart. For their hearts were not set upon their God.

Asa and Jehoshaphat removed the high places, but in a sense they didn't (1 Kings 15:14 cp. 2 Chron. 14:5; 17:6 cp. 20:33). We read of how the land was purged of Baal, Sodomites etc.; but in a very short time, we read of another purge being necessary. Hezekiah, Manasseh and Josiah all made major purges within a space of 80 years. Jeremiah therefore condemns the Jews who lived at the time of Josiah's reformation for not knowing God in their hearts. Asa gathered the gold and silver vessels back into the temple- and then went and used them to make a political treaty. He apparently treated them as God's riches, but then in reality he used them as his own (1 Kings 15:18, 15). Many a Western Christian has this very same tendency. We too must ask ourselves whether our spirituality is really just a product of the crowd mentality; as the crowd shouted one day "Hosanna to the Son of David", a few days later they wanted Jesus to be delivered rather than Barabbas, but within minutes they were persuaded to cry for the crucifixion of the Son of God. Church life, Bible studies, the breaking of bread... inevitably, there is a crowd mentality developed here. There is a feeling of devotion which wells up within us as a community, as an audience, as we sit there, as we stand in praise and worship together. But the real spirituality is far deeper than this. We must seriously ask whether our spirituality, our feelings of devotion, our true repentance, are only stimulated by these meetings?

2Ch 20:34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the history of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is inserted in the book of the kings of Israel-
The prophet Jehu rebuked Baasha (1 Kings 16:1) and yet he also wrote a history of Jehoshaphat's reign (2 Chron. 20:34), implying that he outlived Jehoshaphat. This means that Jehu must have been a young man at the time of his rebuke of Baasha. It's hard to keep on keeping on in ministry over a long lifetime, and those who do should be deeply respected.

2Ch 20:35 After this, Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly-
He was so slow to learn the lesson that he should not work together with the apostate ten tribe kingdom. He had almost lost his life because of this whilst fighting at Ramoth Gilead. And like us, the situations were repeated, but he was so slow to learn. 

2Ch 20:36 He joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish; and they made the ships in Ezion Geber-
1 Kings 22:48 "to go to Ophir for gold". Despite the wealth God gave Jehoshaphat, even he was tempted by the desire for more. This has to be a warning to all generations.

"Ships of Tarshish" is clearly a technical term for a long distance trading vessel. "Tarshish" appears to have been the source of gold, peacocks, silver etc., which are only found together in southern India. But a ship of Tarshish wasn't necessarily a ship which went to Tarshish. "Tarshish" means 'endurance' and refers to vessels which had a capacity for long distance trading. At that time, India was the end of the earth for someone living in Israel. There is an analogous situation with how 19th century long distance trading vessels were known as "Indiamen", not because they necessarily sailed the routes to India, but because they were long distance vessels of the kind which had sailed to India. This is why 'going to Tarshish' in 2 Chron. 20:36,37 is paralleled with 'going to Ophir in ships of Tarshish' in 1 Kings 22:48.

 "Ophir" may have been a generic name for areas to the east, including southern Arabia (famed for gold in Ps. 72:15; Ez. 27:22) and India; Ophir was in Arabia according to Gen. 10:29. Sheba was nearby and was famed for gold, so it was through this trading that the Queen of Sheba heard of the wisdom of Solomon. 1 Kings 10:1 goes on to speak of her after mentioning gold of Ophir in 1 Kings 9:28, connecting her with this gold trade with Ophir. But 1 Kings 10:11 connects Ophir with "almug trees and precious stones". "Almug" appears to refer to sandalwood, "the Hebraized form of the Deccan word for sandal". This points to "Ophir" as being in the east, possibly as far as the Indian coast where these trees grow.

2Ch 20:37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat saying, Because you have joined yourself with Ahaziah, Yahweh has destroyed your works. The ships were broken, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish-
"Broken" is literally 'broken forth'. It is used of God as it were lashing out in sudden judgment (1 Chron. 13:11). He was so patient with Jehoshaphat regarding his abiding weakness of association with wicked people, even though his core heart position was with Yahweh. 1 Kings 22:49 suggests that the ships were broken because Jehoshaphat refused Ahaziah's offer of more experienced sailors. So perhaps the ships were destroyed by a storm as soon as they left, which Ahaziah blamed upon inexperienced sailors from Judah. The ships had to be broken by the wind / storm of God's wrath, perhaps in the form of a gale. But according to 1 Kings, when Ahaziah proposes another join venture, Jehoshaphat apparently learns the lesson. I say apparently, because after Ahaziah dies, Jehoshaphat again repeats the same mistake with Ahab's other son Jehoram (2 Kings 3:7). And yet he was finally counted righteous with God because his basic state of heart was for Him. We marvel again at God's patience with men. This means that we are to continue seeking the repentance of men and never cut them off, as is typically done by small minded churches 'disfellowshipping' people.