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2 Chronicles 17


(LXX versing)
Jehoshaphat Succeeds Asa Jehoshaphat Reigns in Judah The Initially Good and Prosperous Reign of Jehoshaphat Jehoshaphat Becomes King Jehoshaphat's Military Policy
17:1-2 17:1-9 17:1-6 17:1-6 17:1-2
His Good Reign His Devotion to Religion
17:3-9 17:3-6
17:7-9 17:7-9 17:7-9
Jehoshaphat's Greatness
17:10-19 17:10-11 17:10-19 17:10-13a 17:10-11
17:12-19 17:12
The Army
17:13b-19 17:13b-14a

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


1Jehoshaphat his son then became king in his place, and made his position over Israel firm. 2He placed troops in all the fortified cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah and in the cities of Ephraim which Asa his father had captured.

17:1 "Jehoshaphat" "Jehoshaphat" means "YHWH is Judge" (BDB 221). 2 Chronicles 17-20 deals with his reign. This material is not in Kings and, therefore, comes from the Chronicler's prophet source or other written annals (cf. 2 Chr. 16:11).

There may have been a three year co-reign with Asa (because of Asa's debilitating foot disease). Therefore, the "third year" of 2 Chr. 17:17 would have been his first year after the death of Asa.


NASB, JB  "over Israel"
NKJV, NRSV, TEV, NJB, REB, LXX, Peshitta  "against Israel"
JPSOA  "took a firm hold of Israel"

Again Judah is called "Israel" (NASB, JB, JPSOA). The implication is that Judah is the true descendant of Jacob.

The MT has the preposition על, which has a large semantic range (BDB 752-759). 2 Chronicles 17:2 seems to support "against." The powerful northern King, Ahab, mentioned so predominately in Kings, is the focus.

17:2 "in the cities of Ephraim which Asa his father had captured" This goes back to 2 Chr. 13:19; 15:8. It would include "Ramah" (2 Chr. 16:1).

3The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father David's earlier days and did not seek the Baals, 4but sought the God of his father, followed His commandments, and did not act as Israel did. 5So the Lord established the kingdom in his control, and all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. 6He took great pride in the ways of the Lord and again removed the high places and the Asherim from Judah. 7Then in the third year of his reign he sent his officials, Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah; 8and with them the Levites, Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tobadonijah, the Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, the priests. 9They taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the Lord with them; and they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.

17:3-9 "The Lord was with Jehoshaphat" There are several reasons given.

  1. He followed the example of early David, 2 Chr. 17:3 (i.e., the Davidic covenant of 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17 is the theological key, cf. 2 Kgs. 2:2; 2 Chr. 34:2).
  2. He did not practice fertility worship, 2 Chr. 17:3.
  3. He sought the God of David, 2 Chr. 17:4 (see note at 2 Chr. 7:14).
  4. He obeyed YHWH's commandments, 2 Chr. 17:4 (see Special Topic: Keep).
  5. He did not act like the northern tribes, 2 Chr. 17:4.
  6. He took pride in the ways of the Lord, 2 Chr. 17:6 (lit. "his heart was high in the ways of YHWH").
  7. He removed the high places, 2 Chr. 17:6.
  8. He sent
    1. five officials
    2. nine Levites (cf. 2 chr. 35:3)
    3. two priests

    into the cities of Judah to teach the Law of Moses, 2 Chr. 17:7-9 (cf. Deut. 6:4-9; 33:10).

The Chronicler does not spend any space or ink on Ahab and Jezebel!

17:3 "his father David" The MT is supported by the Peshitta, but some MSS of the LXX have "his father," implying Asa. Asa also was faithful only during his early years.

"earlier days" There is some confusion in the Hebrew text. This could refer to

  1. Asa (LXX)
  2. David (MT, Peshitta)
  3. Jehoshaphat (NIV, see Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 496)

"the Baals" Ba'al was the male fertility god of the Canaanite pantheon. This worship could be expressed as a singular (cf. 1 Kgs. 16:31) or a plural, as here (cf. 1 Kgs. 18:18). This fertility god was worshiped by imitation magic at local high places (i.e., ritual sex). Every town and village had their own high place.

17:3,6 "Baal. . .Asherim" These were the male and female gods of Canaanite fertility worship.


17:5 YHWH blessed Jehoshaphat by

  1. establishing his kingdom, 2 Chr. 17:5
  2. all Judah bringing tribute, 2 Chr. 17:5
    1. expected gifts to a new king
    2. taxes, cf. 1 Sam. 10:27; 1 Kgs. 10:25
  3. great riches and honor, 2 Chr. 17:5
  4. protection from attack by the surrounding nations because of their dread of YHWH, 2 Chr. 17:10
  5. gifts brought by Philistines, 2 Chr. 17:11
  6. animals brought by Arabians, 2 Chr. 17:11 (Josephus, Antiq. 8.15.1., says they brought more every year)
  7. he grew greater and greater, 2 Chr. 17:12
    1. built cities
    2. large army

17:6 "He took great pride in the ways of the Lord" This is literally "his heart was lifted up," which usually denotes a prideful event (cf. Deut. 8:14; 2 Chr. 26:16; Ps. 131:1), but here it is a positive attitude toward YHWH and His Law.

"and again removed the high places" Asa also tried to remove the local Ba'al and Asherah worship sites but the people kept reopening them (cf. 2 Chr. 15:17; 20:33). They are removed again under Hezekiah (cf. 2 Kgs. 18:4) and Josiah (cf. 2 Kgs. 23:4-8).

LXX  "the sons of the mighty"
Peshitta  "the commanders of the armies"
AB  "outstanding men"

The name "Ben-hail" (BDB 122) occurs only here. Why the ancient versions took it as a descriptive phrase and not a name is uncertain. Possibly, "ben," "son of. . .," caused the confusion. These government or royal leaders did not do the teaching but acted as governmental enforcers or organizers.

17:9 "the book of the law of the Lord" One wonders what this book contained (cf. Deut. 17:18-20; 2 Chr. 34:14; Neh. 9:3).

  1. all the Pentateuch
  2. Deuteronomy only
  3. some of the historical books

The verse implies that Jehoshaphat had many copies of the Law made so that each group could have a copy to teach the people from.

10Now the dread of the Lord was on all the kingdoms of the lands which were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat. 11Some of the Philistines brought gifts and silver as tribute to Jehoshaphat; the Arabians also brought him flocks, 7,700 rams and 7,700 male goats. 12So Jehoshaphat grew greater and greater, and he built fortresses and store cities in Judah. 13He had large supplies in the cities of Judah, and warriors, valiant men, in Jerusalem. 14This was their muster according to their fathers' households: of Judah, commanders of thousands, Adnah was the commander, and with him 300,000 valiant warriors; 15and next to him was Johanan the commander, and with him 280,000; 16and next to him Amasiah the son of Zichri, who volunteered for the Lord, and with him 200,000 valiant warriors; 17and of Benjamin, Eliada a valiant warrior, and with him 200,000 armed with bow and shield; 18and next to him Jehozabad, and with him 180,000 equipped for war. 19These are they who served the king, apart from those whom the king put in the fortified cities through all Judah.

17:10 "the dread of the Lord" There are many Hebrew terms that express this concept. Fear can be a good thing (i.e., Jer. 32:40) when it is used in the sense of awe or reverence , but in this context, it refers to the divine fear of YHWH given to the covenant people's enemies (cf. Exod. 15:14-16; 23:27; Deut. 2:25; 11:25; Ps. 105:38; 2 Chr. 14:14).


17:14-18 These numbers add up to over a million. They probably represent military units of a much smaller number.

  1. the NASB Study Bible, p. 606, suggests "300 units. . .280 units. . .200 units. . .200 units. . .180 units"
  2. the Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 497, suggests that "'eleph" (thousand) should be "'allup" (leader)
    1. אלף ‒ thousand
    2. אלוף ‒ chief
  3. however, NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 407, rejects this identification

    There is obviously some form of conscription for labor and the military in 2 Chronicles.

    1. Asa ‒ 2 Chr. 14:7 (for labor)
    2. Jehoshaphat ‒ here, (for military)
    3. Amaziah ‒ 2 Chr. 25:5 (for military)
    4. Uzziah ‒ 2 Chr. 26:11-13 (for military)



This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. How does 2 Chr. 17:1-2 refer to Ahab, King of Israel, without mentioning him?
  2. To what does the adjective "earlier" refer?
  3. List the ways Jehoshaphat followed YHWH.
  4. What were "the high places"?
  5. Why is 2 Chr. 17:7 unique?
  6. What does "the book of the law of the Lord" include?
  7. Explain "the dread of the Lord."
  8. Why can the numbers of 2 Chr. 17:14-18 not be taken literally?

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