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2 Chronicles 20


(LXX versing)
Judah Invaded Ammon, Moab and Mt. Seir Defeated The Great Victory Over Enemies of the True Faith; Jehoshaphat's Final Mistake and Consequent Punishment War Against Edom A Holy War
20:1-4 20:1-4 20:1-4 20:1-9 20:1-2
Jehoshaphat's Prayer 20:3-4
20:5-12 20:5-13 20:5-12 20:5-9
20:10-12 20:10-12
20:13 20:13-17 20:13-17 20:13-17
Jahaziel Answers the Prayer
20:14-17 20:14-19
20:18-19 20:18-19 20:18-19 20:18-19
Enemies Destroy Themselves
20:20-23 20:20-21
20:20-21 20:20-21
20:22-23 20:22-24 20:22-23
20:24-25 20:24-30 20:24-30 20:24-30
Triumphant Return to Jerusalem 20:25-30
20:26-30 The End of Jehoshaphat's Reign The End of Jehoshaphat's Reign The End of the Reign of Jehoshaphat
20:31-33 20:31-34 20:31-33 20:31-33 20:31-34
20:34 20:34 20:34
Alliance Displeases God
20:35-37 20:35-37 20:35-21:1 20:35-21:1 20:35-21:1

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.


1Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat. 2Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, "A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi)." 3Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4So Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord.

20:1 The MT implies there were two national groups,

  1. Moab
  2. Ammon

but the second use of Ammonites does not make sense in this context. So the LXX has "Minites" (Minaioi), while the Peshitta has "the mighty men of war."

The UBS Text Project, p. 465, suggests

  1. מהמעונים ‒ Meunites
  2. מהעמונים ‒ Amonites

It gives option #1 "B" rating (some doubt).

The "Meunites" (JPSOA footnote) were

  1. Arabian people from the city of "Ma'in." They are mentioned in 1 Chr. 4:41; 2 Chr. 26:7; Ezra 2:50; Neh. 7:52; also Josephus, Antiq. 9.1.2.).
  2. inhabitants of the Palestinian city of "Maon," southeast of En-gedi, about 15 miles
  3. somehow related to Nabateans or to Edomites (i.e., city of Meon, near Petra, "inhabitants of Mt. Seir," cf. 2 Chr. 20:10,22-23)
  4. a people mentioned in Assyrian documents from Tiglath-pileser III's time; a people group living between the northern border of Egypt and the southern border of Judah

See AB, vol. 4, pp. 801-802.

TEV, REB  "the Dead Sea"
Peshitta  "the Red Sea"

This seems to refer to the Dead Sea. In the OT it is called "the Salt Sea" (cf. Gen. 14:3; Num. 34:3,12; Deut. 3:17; Josh. 3:16; 12:3; 15:2,5; 18:19), also known as "the sea of the Arabah" in Deut. 3:17; Josh. 3:16; 12:3. Josephus, Antiq. 9.1.2., calls it "Lake Asphaltitus."

NASB, NKJV, LXX  "Syria"
JPSOA  "Aram"

The MT has "from Aram" (BDB 74). This is apparently the common "d" ‒ "r" confusion.

  1. from Aram ‒ מארם
  2. from Edom ‒ מאדם

The UBS Text Project, p. 465, gives option #2 a "C" rating (considerable doubt). Edom fits "beyond the sea" better and makes the alliance regional.


20:3 "turned his attention" This is a Hebrew idiom "set his face."

"to seek the Lord" This VERB (BDB 205, KB 233) is used many times in 2 Chronicles as an idiom for a person drawing near to YHWH. In the NIV it is translated

  1. inquire (seek information) ‒
    1. from YHWH ‒ 2 Chr. 1:5; 18:4,6,7; 20:3,4; 34:21,26
    2. from priests/Levites ‒ 2 Chr. 24:6; 31:9
  2. seek (seek YHWH Himself) ‒ 2 Chr. 12:14; 14:4,7; 15:2,12,13; 17:4; 22:9; 26:5; 30:19; 31:21; 34:3
  3. seek (seek help) ‒ 2 Chr. 16:12; 20:4
  4. seek (Ba'al) ‒ 2 Chr. 17:3 (negated); 19:3; 25:15,20

A synonymous VERB (BDB 134, KB 152) appears in 2 Chr. 20:4 (twice); 7:14; 11:16; 15:4,15. Both VERBS express a human desire to know, obey, and worship the Holy One of Israel; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God of the Exodus, and Conquest!

"proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah" Corporate fasting was a means of spiritual preparation and a way to focus on God (i.e., 1 Sam. 7:6; Ezra 8:21; it even worked for pagans in Jonah 3:5-9; see Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, pp. 272-273).


5Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord before the new court, 6and he said, "O Lord, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. 7Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? 8They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary there for Your name, saying, 9'Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.' 10Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them), 11see how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance. 12O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You."

20:5 "the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem" Both the LXX and Peshitta have "in Jerusalem."

"the new court" I am uncertain what this means.

  1. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 557, suggests it refers to a new addition to the temple in the Chronicler's day.
  2. The Jewish Study Bible, p. 1794, suggests it was
    1. a third outer court
    2. a new division within the second court (cf. 2 Chr. 4:9)
  3. Barnes' Notes, p. 398, suggests that Solomon's temple had two courts but Asa remodeled one (cf. 2 Chr. 15:8) and it was now called "the new court."

20:6 "the God of our fathers" This refers to the Patriarchs (i.e., Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).

"are You not God in the heavens" This question expects a "yes" answer. YHWH is the only true God.

The term "heaven" (BDB 1029) is used in two related senses.

  1. the atmosphere above this planet
  2. the abode of Deity




"are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations" This is another rhetorical question which expects a "yes" answer. It seems to relate to Genesis 10 and Deut. 32:8 (LXX).

"Power and might. . .hand" These all refer to YHWH's ability to accomplish His will on earth. There are no other gods (elohim) that can do this!

20:7 This refers to YHWH's promise to Abraham and his descendants.


"the inhabitants of this land" This refers to the pre-conquest inhabitants of Canaan.


"Abraham Your friend" Wow! What a powerful way to characterize Abraham (cf. Isa. 41:8; James 2:23). YHWH is not just a transcendent God but an immanent friend. This probably reflects Gen. 18:17-33 and the comment about this in Exod. 33:11.

Jesus used this same phrase for

  1. His hearers ‒ Luke 12:4
  2. His Apostles ‒ John 15:14-15

The faith is a family! Heaven is a personal fellowship more than a place! It will be a family reunion! Prayer clearly shows one's belief that YHWH is personal and available.

"forever" SPECIAL TOPIC: FOREVER ('olam)

20:9 This is a list of the problems caused by covenant disobedience (i.e., Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).

  1. the sword (i.e., war, invasion; MT, "the sword of judgment")
  2. judgment, usually just #1, 3, 4 summarize YHWH's judgment; the NEB, REB, emend this to "flood"; following the LXX (L).
  3. pestilence
  4. famine (often #1, 3, 4 are used together as a summary of God's judgment (this is one of the specific predictions of "the curses" in Lev. 26:25-26 and also Deut. 28:17,21-24,25-26; it appears often in
    1. Jeremiah ‒ Jer. 14:12; 21:9; 24:10; 27:8,13; 29:17-18; 32:24,36; 34:17; 38:2; 42:17,22; 44:13
    2. Ezekiel ‒ Ezek. 5:12; 6:11-12; 7:15; 12:6

Repentance would bring forgiveness and release (i.e., 1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 6).

"(for Your Name is in this house)" The "name" stood for the person (cf. 2 Chr. 6:20).


20:10 "Mount Seir" This is identified with Edom, which supports the emendation of "Edom" in 2 Chr. 20:2; also note vv. 22-23.

"whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt" This is an allusion to Num. 20:17-21. It heightens the shock and appalling nature of this unprovoked invasion (2 Chr. 20:11).

20:12 This is an acknowledgment of Israel's dependance on YHWH.

  1. We are powerless.
  2. We do not know what to do.
  3. So we look to You (i.e., Ps. 25:15; 121:1-2).

13All Judah was standing before the Lord, with their infants, their wives and their children.

20:13 It would be unusual for the whole family to be before the new court of the temple (2 Chr. 20:5). This illustrates the intensity of the request and need!

14Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph; 15and he said, "Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the Lord to you, 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's. 16Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you."

20:14 YHWH chose and empowered a spokesperson (a Levite) to encourage His people and reveal His plan for victory. Chronicles often highlights the ministry of the Levites.


20:15-17 The Levite makes several emphatic statements in YHWH's name (much like Exod. 14:13-14).

  1. listen, 2 Chr. 20:15 ‒ BDB 904, KB 1151, Hiphil IMPERATIVE
  2. do not fear, 2 Chr. 20:15,17 ‒ BDB 431, KB 432, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense
  3. do not be dismayed, 2 Chr. 20:15,17 ‒ BDB 369, KB 365, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense
  4. go down against them, 2 Chr. 20:16 ‒ BDB 432, KB 434, Qal IMPERATIVE
  5. station yourselves, 2 Chr. 20:17 ‒ BDB426, KB 427, Hithpael IMPERATIVE
  6. stand, 2 Chr. 20:17 ‒ BDB 763, KB 840, Qal IMPERATIVE
  7. see, 2 Chr. 20:17 ‒ BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal IMPERATIVE
  8. go out to face them, 2 Chr. 20:17 ‒ BDB 422, KB 425, Qal IMPERATIVE

YHWH's people will clearly see His deliverance (cf. Joshua 8:1; 2 Chr. 32:7).

18Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19The Levites, from the sons of the Kohathites and of the sons of the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

20They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed." 21When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the Lord and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, "Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting." 22When they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed. 23For the sons of Ammon and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir destroying them completely; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

20:20 The king admonishes his people to obey and trust YHWH.

  1. listen ‒ BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal IMPERATIVE (different word from 2 Chr. 20:15)
  2. put your trust in the Lord your God ‒ BDB 52, KB 63; Hiphil IMPERATIVE
  3. (if you do) you will be established ‒ this is the same root as #2, but in the Niphal IMPERFECT form
  4. put your trust in His prophets ‒ this is the same root as #2
  5. (if you do) you will succeed ‒ BDB 852, KB 1026, Hiphil IMPERATIVE; this VERB is used often in 2 Chronicles
    1. Abijah's message to Jeroboam I, 2 Chr. 13:12
    2. YHWH gave Asa rest, 2 Chr. 14:6
    3. Joash abandons YHWH and goes after the Ba'als; this disobedience causes a lack of success, 2 Chr. 24:20
    4. used of Hezekiah in 2 Chr. 31:21 and 32:30
    5. success is dependant on covenant obedience, cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28


20:21 "When he had consulted with the people" This theme of shared decision-making reappears in 2 Chr. 1:2; 30:2; 32:3. It must be related to the truth of Exod. 19:5-6. Israel was a holy people.

NASB  "Him in holy attire"
NKJV  "the beauty of holiness"
NRSV  "him in holy splendor"
NJB  "in sacred vestments"
JPSOA  "the One majestic in holiness"
REB  "the splendor of his holiness"
LXX  "the holy things"
Peshitta  "the excellency of his holiness"

The MT has "in holy array" (BDB 214 CONSTRUCT BDB 871), which refers to

  1. YHWH Himself ‒ NKJV, NRSV, JPSOA, REB, Peshitta, cf. Ps. 96:7-9; this is supported by NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 1015 #3
  2. the sacred clothing of the priest in public worship ‒ NASB, NJB
  3. the ark of the covenant and the trumpets going before the army into battle ‒ LXX
  4. the place of sacrifice/worship ‒ 1 Chr. 16:27-29

"lovingkindness" The phrase "His lovingkindness is everlasting" is a theological mantra (cf. 1 Chr. 16:34,41; 2 Chr. 5:13; 7:3,6; 20:21; Ezra 3:11; Ps. 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; Jer. 33:11).


"everlasting" YHWH is faithful; His people are not! Believers give thanks (BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil IMPERATIVE) because of His unchanging, merciful character.



20:22 "When they began singing and praising" Normally this was reserved until the victory but here it precedes the victory (cf. 2 Chr. 20:21). By faith YHWH's covenant people knew He would do what He promised (i.e., vv. 14-19). This is their act of faith! The priests and Levites

  1. call on Judah to trust YHWH (2 Chr. 20:20)
  2. proclaimed the covenant theology (20:21; v. 6, Jehoshaphat's faith affirmation)
  3. sang and praised YHWH for His promised victory (2 Chr. 20:20,22)

"the Lord set ambushes" This is "holy war" imagery and YHWH as "the divine warrior" (i.e., Isa. 42:13; 49:24-26; 52:10; 59:16-17; also allusions in Eph. 6:14). As in the exodus, conquest, and judges periods, YHWH causes confusion within the enemy camp and often they destroy themselves (i.e., Jdgs. 7:22; 1 Sam. 14:20).

C. D. Ginsburg, Introduction to the Masoretic-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible, suggested that "Lord" be changed to "Judah," but this is followed by no ancient version.

The NET Bible, p. 689, suggests that the VERB "set ambushes" (BDB 70, KB 83, Piel PARTICIPLE) is idiomatic for "a surprise attack."

20:23 "destroying them completely" This is the Hebrew root hrm (BDB 356, KB 353), which is a common element in Holy War, where some land, city, people, thing is given to YHWH and becomes "too holy" for human use. Therefore, it must be destroyed. Sometimes this "given to" is positive (sacrificial system) or negative (destruction).

  1. a country ‒ 2 Kgs. 19:1; Isa. 11:15; 34:5; 48:28; Jer. 50:21,26; 51:3
  2. a people (often #1 and #2 are synonymous) ‒ Josh. 6:21; 8:26; 10:28,35,37,39,40; 11:11,12,20,21; Jdgs. 21:11; 1 Chr. 4:41; Isa. 15:3,8,20; 34:2; Jer. 25:9
  3. a city ‒ Num. 21:2,3; Deut. 2:34; 3:6; 13:15; 20:17; Josh. 6:17,18; 7:1,11,12,13,15; 10:1,28; 22:20
  4. things given to YHWH ‒ Lev. 27:21,28,29; Num. 18:14; Deut. 13:17; Josh. 6:18
  5. idols destroyed ‒ Deut. 7:26; 2 Chr. 32:14


NASB, NKJV, NRSV, JPSOA  "they helped"
TEV, LXX  "they turned on each other"
NJB  "set to work"
REB  "they savagely attacked"
Peshitta  "every one helped"

This VERB (BDB 740, KB 810, Qal PERFECT) normally means "to help" or "to aid." But this does not fit this context, so a second root (KB 811 II) is supposed. The same root is used in Ugaritic for a "warrior" and, therefore, may denote not "help" but "an attack" (REB).

24When Judah came to the lookout of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and behold, they were corpses lying on the ground, and no one had escaped. 25When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found much among them, including goods, garments and valuable things which they took for themselves, more than they could carry. And they were three days taking the spoil because there was so much.

20:25 "take their spoil" Usually in Holy War all the spoils belonged to YHWH, but here it was given to the Judean soldiers who watched YHWH's victory. These spoils included

  1. goods (BDB 940)
  2. garments (MT, JPSOA "corpses" (BDB 803)/"garments" comes from Vulgate [BDB 93 II], while LXX has "baggage" or "armor")
    1. corpses ‒ פגרים
    2. garments ‒ בגרים
  3. valuable things (BDB 479 CONSTRUCT BDB 326; probably weights of precious metals and gemstones, since clothes appear in #2)
  4. the UBS Text Project, p. 466, suggests that "among them" of the MT should be emended to "live stock"
    1. בהם ‒ "among them" (NASB, NKJV, JPSOA, Peshitta)
    2. בהמה ‒ beasts (BDB 96, KB 111, NRSV, TEV, NJB, REB, LXX)

    It gives option "b" a "C" rating (considerable doubt).

26Then on the fourth day they assembled in the valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the Lord. Therefore they have named that place "The Valley of Beracah" until today. 27Every man of Judah and Jerusalem returned with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies. 28They came to Jerusalem with harps, lyres and trumpets to the house of the Lord. 29And the dread of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30So the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God gave him rest on all sides.

20:26 Often, place names were labeled because of historical events that occurred there.

"until today" This shows the presence of a later editor or compiler, probably Ezra. See note at 2 Chr. 5:9.

20:28 YHWH's people worship

  1. with singing (cf. 2 Chr. 20:27; Exod. 15:1; Jdgs. 5:3; Ps. 66:2,4; 71:22-23)
  2. with musical instruments (cf. Exod. 15:20; Jdgs. 11:34; 21:21; Ps. 71:22; 98:4-6; 150:3-5)
  3. with dancing (cf. 1 Sam. 21:11; 29:5; 2 Sam. 6:14; 1 Chr. 15:29; Ps. 149:3; 150:4)

The OT worship was a combination of

  1. joy and exuberance
    1. praise, 2 Chr. 20:21
    2. singing, 2 Chr. 20:22
    3. blessing, 2 Chr. 20:26
    4. joy, 2 Chr. 20:27
    5. instruments, 2 Chr. 20:28
  2. awe and respect
    1. a called fast, 2 Chr. 20:3
    2. prayer and affirmation, 2 Chr. 20:6-7
    3. whole families standing in His presence, 2 Chr. 20:13
    4. bowing to the ground, 2 Chr. 20:18

All of Israel's worship days and feasts were joyous occasions, except the Day of Atonement.


20:29 "the dread of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands" This is also "holy war" terminology (i.e., Exod. 15:16; 23:27; Deut. 2:25; 11:25; Josh. 2:9).

  1. dread of YHWH ‒ 1 San. 11:7; 2 Chr. 14:14; 19:7; 20:29
  2. dread of Elohim ‒ Ps. 36:1; Isa. 2:10,19,21

20:30 Jehoshaphat had peace and rest (cf. 2 Chr. 14:6-7; 15:15) because of

  1. YHWH's covenant commitment
  2. Judah's covenant obedience


31Now Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 32He walked in the way of his father Asa and did not depart from it, doing right in the sight of the Lord. 33The high places, however, were not removed; the people had not yet directed their hearts to the God of their fathers.

20:31-34 This is a typical summary of a king of Judah's life. Most of this information would come from prophetic writings (cf. 2 Chr. 20:34).

It is surprising that the written document is called "the Book of the Kings of Israel" instead of "Judah" (cf. 1 Kgs. 22:45). Several times in 2 Chronicles "Israel" is used of Judah (i.e., 2 Chr. 11:13,16; 12:6; 21:2; 23:2). The Chronicler saw Judah as the only legitimate line of David.

20:31 This number can be verified by 2 Kgs. 3:1 and 8:16 plus a three year co-reign with his father, Asa. See Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, pp. 35,38.


20:32 This is a surprising overstatement. Asa was not always faithful and Jehoshaphat, although the author of Chronicles uses him as an example of a godly king, also had his problems.

  1. alliance with Ahab, king of Israel (2 Chronicles 18)
  2. alliance with Ahaziah, king of Israel (cf. 2 Chr. 20:35-37); this is very different from the parallel in 1 Kgs. 22:48-49

"doing right in the sight of the Lord" NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 566, mentions that this is a standard phrase referring to godly kings who acted like David (i.e., 1 Kgs. 11:13,38; 14:8; 15:15), as one who kept and revered YHWH's law (cf. Deut. 6:18; 12:8,25,28; 13:18; 21:9; 1 Kgs. 11:38).

  1. Asa ‒ 1 Kgs. 15:11; 2 Chr. 14:2
  2. Jehoshaphat ‒ 1 Kgs. 22:43; 2 Chr. 20:32
  3. Jehu ‒ 2 Kgs. 10:30
  4. Jehoash ‒ 2 Kgs. 12:2; 2 Chr. 24:2
  5. Joash ‒ 2 Kgs. 14:3; 2 Chr. 24:2
  6. Amaziah ‒ 2 Chr. 25:2
  7. Azariah ‒ 2 Kgs. 15:3; 2 Chr. 26:4 (Uzziah)
  8. Jotham ‒ 2 Kgs. 15:34; 2 Chr. 27:2
  9. Hezekiah ‒ 2 Kgs. 18:3; 2 Chr. 29:2; 31:20
  10. Josiah ‒ 2 Kgs. 22:2; 2 Chr. 34:2

20:33 Several kings of Judah tried to remove/outlaw the local worship of Ba'al and Asherah, but the people of Judah would not let it happen (cf. 1 Kgs. 22:43).

34Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first to last, behold, they are written in the annals of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel.

35After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel. He acted wickedly in so doing. 36So he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion-geber. 37Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat saying, "Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works." So the ships were broken and could not go to Tarshish.

20:35 "Ahaziah king of Israel" See the record of his reign in 1 Kgs. 22:51 ‒ 2 Kgs. 1:16.

NASB, NKJV, REB  "allied"
NRSV, NJB, JPSOA, Peshitta  "joined"
TEV  "made an alliance"
LXX  "he acted and went to"

The VERB (BDB 287, KB 287, Piel IMPERFECT with waw) is used of joining sacred things in the tabernacle/temple. This union is condemned either

  1. because it was an alliance with an idolatrous king
  2. because the term has idolatrous implications (BDB suggests it denotes "tie a magic knot" or "spell/charm")

This is used only here in the Piel stem of an agreement between nations.

"Tarshish" This is both

  1. a type of ocean going ship
  2. a far away port (literal)
  3. a far away port (of myth and legend)


"Ezion-geber" This is also known as Elath. It was on the northern most part of the Red Sea. Earlier it was the headquarters for Solomon's fleet (cf. 2 Chr. 8:17).

Since this is not the Mediterranean "Tarshish" (above), it may refer to a type of ocean going command ship.

"Eliezer" This prophet is mentioned only here. What a contrast occurs in this chapter between the encouraging words of Jahaziel, the Levite, in vv. 14-19 and the discouraging words of Eliezer here. Sin has an effect on leaders and their nations!

20:37 "the Lord had destroyed your works" The method of this destruction of the finished ships is not stated. It could have been

  1. a violent storm
  2. an attack by other traders
  3. an attack by a local group

The OT gives all causality to God. It was a way to express His sovereignty (i.e., Eccl. 7:14; Isa. 14:24-27; 45:7; Amos 3:6b).


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. Why does the Chronicler give so much emphasis to Jehoshaphat?
  2. What does it mean "to seek the Lord"?
  3. Why is 2 Chr. 20:6-7 so theologically significant?
  4. Why is 2 Chr. 20:13 unusual? What does it imply?
  5. What does "the Spirit of the Lord came upon. . ." mean?
  6. List the aspect of Holy War in this chapter. What aspects are different?
  7. What does "the Lord set ambushes" mean?
  8. Why is 2 Chr. 20:32 an overstatement?
  9. What were "high places"?

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