2 Chronicles 20


‘After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.’ 2 Chronicles 20:1-4

Jehoshaphat Defeats Moab And Ammon

This is the first time, since the reign of David, that the Moabites and the Ammonites go to wage war against God’s people, 2 Samuel 8:2 / 2 Samuel 12:26-30.

The full power of the Moabites was mobilised, but only a few Ammonites. Later, we read that the Edomites, those of Mount Seir, were also a part of this coalition against Israel.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following, concerning the fast, Mark 9:28-29.

‘General fasts had been previously observed by the Israelites, Judges 20:26 / 1 Samuel 7:6, but we don’t hear of any fast having been ‘proclaimed’ by authority before this.’

‘Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard and said: “LORD, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand 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 Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.’ 2 Chronicles 20:5-13

Jehoshaphat now stands up in the assembly, at the temple in front of the new courtyard, this is probably the outer court of the temple that had been rebuilt, 2 Chronicles 15:8.

Barnes in his commentary, says the following.

‘Jehoshaphat’s appeal is threefold:

1. To God omnipotent, 2 Chronicles 20:6.

2. To ‘our God’.

3. The God especially ‘of this house’ the temple.

Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple, and here, Jehoshaphat calls upon God to answer not only his prayer but also Solomon’s prayer, 2 Chronicles 6:20-25.

Jehoshaphat obviously didn’t know what to do about the threat from the Moabites and the Ammonites and so, in his address to God, he asks the question, ‘did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel?’

The answer to which is yes, He is, it was God who drove out the Canaanites, using the Israelites, Deuteronomy 2:5 / 2 Chronicles 6:28-31.

Jehoshaphat complained that God didn’t allow Israel to destroy them when they first came out of Egypt, Deuteronomy 2:8-9 / Deuteronomy 2:19, but now, he complained, the Moabites and Ammonites were trying to cast Israel out of the land that God promised to Israel.

Notice that Abraham is described as ‘God’s friend’, this expression came about because Abraham spoke to god as someone who speaks to his friend, Genesis 18:23-33 / Exodus 33:11.

It appears that this threat was serious because all the families were gathered together to plead with the Lord for His help.

‘Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’” Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.’ 2 Chronicles 20:14-19

When the Spirit of the LORD came on Jahaziel, God speaks through him and tells the people not to be afraid, which tells us they obviously were afraid. The threat didn’t start because they were aggressive towards Moab and Ammon but because the Moabites and the Ammonites were trying to drive Judah out of the land.

Notice Jahaziel tells the people ‘the battle is not yours but God’s’. In other words, Judah shouldn’t stress about the threat because God is going to deal with it, Exodus 14:13. It’s no wonder that Jehoshaphat and the people fell down to worship and praise God.

Notice they were told that they were to march down against them, despite God telling them that the battle wasn’t theirs but His. In other words, they couldn’t just sit back and let it happen, they still had to go.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Here we have the picture of a worshipping, praying Israel as the background of a most remarkable deliverance of God’s people from the ravages of a hostile invasion. There cannot be any doubt that many such deliverances of God’s people were similarly preceded by this same kind of a spiritual awakening of God’s people, and by their most fervent prayers and supplications.’

‘Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.” As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.’ 2 Chronicles 20:20-23

As the people were being led out to the Desert of Tekoa, 2 Samuel 14:2, Jehoshaphat addresses the people again and tells them to trust God and they will be successful.

God then moved the Moabites and Ammonites to turn on one another and their internal strife with one another was so intense that they destroyed one another.

What started off as a threat to get rid of Judah, ended up with the Moabites and the Ammonites turning on each other and killing each other.

The events which unfold here remind us of the victory of Gideon over the Midianites, Judges 7, in a similar fashion, the invading forces destroyed themselves.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘These who lie in wait have been regarded as angels employed by God to confuse the host and cause its destruction, so that the Moabites and Ammonites first united to destroy the Edomites, and then turned upon each other.’

‘When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day, they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day. Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lyres and trumpets. The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.’ 2 Chronicles 20:24-30

Notice that there was so much spoil taken from the Moabite and Ammonite dead, it took three days to gather it all.

They assembled together to cry out to God for His deliverance on the fourth day, to thank God for what He had done, but they not only thanked God, but they also blessed His Name because of everything He had done.

Word obviously got around about what had happened because all the other nations left Judah in peace.

The End Of Jehoshaphat’s Reign

‘So Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. He followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The high places, however, were not removed, and the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their ancestors. The other events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, from beginning to end, are written in the annals of Jehu son of Hanani, which are recorded in the book of the kings of Israel. Later, Jehoshaphat king of Judah made an alliance with Ahaziah king of Israel, whose ways were wicked. He agreed with him to construct a fleet of trading ships. After these were built at Ezion Geber, Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the LORD will destroy what you have made.” The ships were wrecked and were not able to set sail to trade.’ 2 Chronicles 20:31-37

Just as Solomon had done before him, 1 Kings 9:26-28, Jehoshaphat, starts the big rebuilding process in the southern kingdom of Israel by sending trading ships to Ophir, 1 Kings 22:49-50.

Although Jehoshaphat achieved much, he didn’t remove the high places, which resulted in God’s people not being devoted to Him alone. The high places, where idols were worshipped, were taken away, 2 Chronicles 17:6, but not those where sacrifices were offered to God.

Since the northern kingdom by the time of Jehoshaphat had digressed toward idol worship more than Judah, it was a very unwise move on the part of Jehoshaphat to align himself with Ahaziah, the king of Israel.

God’s punishment of Jehoshaphat for this alliance was the destruction of the ships, 2 Chronicles 8:18 / 1 Kings 22:48, that he had built to go to Tarshish, a city somewhere in Spain.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Although, in the general sense, Jehoshaphat did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, there were nevertheless some failures on his part. His failure to remove the high places, which had been removed, of course, but had been rebuilt by the people, again and a again, and his alliance with Ahaziah, mentioned in the final paragraph here, were two examples. A third, which we should mention, was his choice of a wife for his son and heir Jehoram. Jehoshaphat evidently hoped to promote peace between Israel and Judah by arranging for the marriage of Jehoram to the daughter of Jezebel and Ahab. This might not have been considered a sin by some, but it was an unqualified disaster, nevertheless and it resulted in great sorrows for God’s people.’

The account in 1 Kings 22:49-50, speaks of Ahaziah’s attempt to continue as a partner with Jehoshaphat in that ship-building venture, but it is to the great credit of Jehoshaphat that, acting upon the warning of the prophet, he refused to allow it.

Go To 2 Chronicles 21


"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness."