2 Kings 3


‘Joram son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned twelve years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father and mother had done. He got rid of the sacred stone of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them.’ 2 Kings 3:1-3

Joram, also known as Jehoram reigned from around 852 to 841 B.C. in the northern kingdom of Israel, while he was resigning in the north, Jehoshaphat, was reigning in the southern kingdom of Judah.

The good news concerning Joram, is that he didn’t follow in his parents, Ahab and Jezebel’s footsteps, he didn’t get involved and promote the worship of Baal, he actually removed the sacred stone of Baal from the temple.

The bad news is he continued in the sins of Jeroboam, that is he encouraged the two kingdoms to stay separate, he demanded that those in the north, should sacrifice to the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.

Moab Revolts

‘Now Mesha king of Moab raised sheep, and he had to pay the king of Israel a tribute of a hundred thousand lambs and the wool of a hundred thousand rams. But after Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. So at that time King Joram set out from Samaria and mobilized all Israel. He also sent this message to Jehoshaphat king of Judah: ‘The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?’ ‘I will go with you,’ he replied. ‘I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.’ ‘By what route shall we attack?’ he asked. ‘Through the Desert of Edom,’ he answered. So the king of Israel set out with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. After a roundabout march of seven days, the army had no more water for themselves or for the animals with them. ‘What!’ exclaimed the king of Israel. ‘Has the LORD called us three kings together only to deliver us into the hands of Moab?’ But Jehoshaphat asked, ‘Is there no prophet of the LORD here, through whom we may inquire of the LORD?’ An officer of the king of Israel answered, ‘Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.’ Jehoshaphat said, ‘The word of the LORD is with him.’ So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.’ 2 Kings 3:4-12

When we read what Mesha, the king of Moab had to pay Joram, it’s understandable that Moab wanted to revolt against him. It’s clear that Joram wants to put Moab under Israelite control once again and he succeeds. He defeated Mesha’s army and destroyed a number of the Moabite cities.

However, he wasn’t able to take he was not able to take Kir Hareseth, 2 Kings 3:25, the capital city of Moab. Because Joram didn’t take this city, this meant that Mesha could keep his independence from Israel.

It appears that there was some confusion in the northern kingdom of Israel when Ahab died. Because Ahaziah’s reign was relatively short in the southern kingdom, Mesha tried to take advantage of this by getting rid of the burden that the house of Omri had placed on them. It also appears that Edom was in subjection to Judah, because they are enrolled to join in, to help Joram take control of Mesha.

Because there was still some kind of alliance between Joram and Jehoshaphat, Joram asks him to help take control of Mesha. Jehoshaphat is ready and willing to help Joram out, which is a little surprising because earlier when Ahab asked him to join him, he received a rebuke from Jehu, God’s prophet, 2 Chronicles 19:2.

The kings now go to war against Moab, but a drought had removed their water supply. After Jehoshaphat inquires if there was a prophet in the land, his officer tells him that Elisha is there and ‘he used to pour water in the hands of Elijah’, this basically means Elisha was a servant of Elijah who met his needs.

‘Elisha said to the king of Israel, ‘Why do you want to involve me? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother’. ‘No,’ the king of Israel answered, ‘because it was the LORD who called us three kings together to deliver us into the hands of Moab.’ Elisha said, ‘As surely as the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not pay any attention to you. But now bring me a harpist.’ While the harpist was playing, the hand of the LORD came on Elisha and he said, ‘This is what the LORD says: I will fill this valley with pools of water. For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also deliver Moab into your hands. You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.’ The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water.’ 2 Kings 3:13-20

When Joram met Elisha, Elisha asks them, ‘why they want to involve him’. By asking this question Elisha was showing great contempt towards Joram because Joram had turned away from God and he tolerated the false prophets that his forefathers had put in place years before.

Elisha agrees to inquire of the Lord concerning this upcoming battle with Moab, but only for Judah’s sake. The answer to Elisha’s prophecy of rain was miraculous in nature, and once again because of the miraculous answer to his prayer, this again would let everyone know that Elisha was God’s prophet, and God was working through him, 2 Kings 2:19-22.

The fulfilment of this prophecy would also reassure Jehoshaphat that God would bring about the victory over Moab.

‘Now all the Moabites had heard that the kings had come to fight against them; so every man, young and old, who could bear arms was called up and stationed on the border. When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites across the way, the water looked red—like blood. ‘That’s blood!’ they said. ‘Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!’ But when the Moabites came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and fought them until they fled. And the Israelites invaded the land and slaughtered the Moabites. They destroyed the towns, and each man threw a stone on every good field until it was covered. They stopped up all the springs and cut down every good tree. Only Kir Hareseth was left with its stones in place, but men armed with slings surrounded it and attacked it. When the king of Moab saw that the battle had gone against him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through to the king of Edom, but they failed. Then he took his firstborn son, who was to succeed him as king, and offered him as a sacrifice on the city wall. The fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land.’ 2 Kings 3:21-27

News got back to the Moabites that war had begun but notice that, ‘the sun was shining on the water’. Because east of the Jordan was known as being desert land, the suns’ reflection off the water gave the impression that it was red in colour.

Because the Moabites thought there was no water in this area, the mistook the reflection for blood and came to the conclusion that war had already broken out between the three kings, who came to make war against them.

Although Mesha now knew that he couldn’t defeat the kings of Israel, Judah and Edom and after the Israelites destroyed most of the towns of Moab, Mesha had become so furious with Israel, he offered and sacrificed his own firstborn son on the city wall. This shows us how far morally away from God, the people of this time had become.

As a result of Mesha sacrificing his own son on the city wall, the Israelites withdrew and returned to their own land in total disgust of what he did, Leviticus 18:21 / Leviticus 20:3.

Go To 2 Kings 4


"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD."

Isaiah 55:8