King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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2 Chronicles 20

The danger and distress of Judah. (1-13) Jahaziel’s prophecy of victory. (14-19) The thanksgiving of Judah. (20-30) Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahaziah. (31-37)

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The danger and distress of Judah

1 It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.

2 Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.

3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.

5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,

6 And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?

7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?

8 And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,

9 If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.

10 And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;

11 Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.

12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.

13 And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.

Jahaziel’s prophecy of victory

14 Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;

15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

16 To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.

17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.

18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.

19 And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.

The thanksgiving of Judah

20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.

21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.

22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.

23 For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.

24 And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.

25 And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.

26 And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.

27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.

28 And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD.

29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel.

30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.

Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahaziah

31 And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.

32 And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD.

33 Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.

34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.

35 And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:

36 And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongaber.

37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Of the Ammonites; people sprung from them. Those who explain the Psalm lxxxii. of this war, find many nations mentioned. Some of these, not daring to appear openly, assumed the name of Ammonites. Perhaps we should read (C.) Mannim. H. — Sept. “the Mineans,” who dwelt in Arabia Felix, upon the Red Sea, (Pliny vi. 28.) or rather the Maonians, in the environs of Gaza. C. — Some MSS. and Latin editions have “Idumeans,” which is conformable to v. 11, 23, and S. Jerom Trad. Lyran, &c. M.

Ver. 2. Sea of Sodom, (H.) or the Red Sea. D. — Syria, which comprised the country of Ammon. M. — Perhaps Edom might rather have been in the text, as we find no Syrians in this war, but many of the Idumeans. C. — Adom and Arom, (Syria. H.) have often been confounded. 4 K. xvi. 6. C. — Asasonthamar, “the palm-tree cottage,” (Bochart) between Jericho and the Dead Sea.

Ver. 3. Juda. The whole kingdom was concerned. Sometimes a fast was proclaimed for one city. 3 K. xxi. 9. Jonas iii. 7. C. — They were accustomed to fast, not only to subdue the flesh, but also for other necessities. W.

Ver. 4. Prot. “to ask help of.” H. — Cities. Here we have an example of a pilgrimage to a holy place, as God is more willing to hear the virtuous in one place than in another. C. vi. 7. &c. W.

Ver. 5. New court of the priests. Why it is so called, does not appear. C. — Some understand the court for the women; (Salien) others, that for Gentiles. Le Clerc. — Probably some of the courts had been found too spacious after the schism, and had been neglected; but now, as many had returned to serve the Lord in the dominions of Josaphat, he had made some repairs. T.

Ver. 7. All, or the greatest part. Heb. “drive out the inhabitants.” H.

Ver. 9. Sword of. Prot. “as the sword, judgment, or,” &c. Sept. “the sword, judgment, death, famine.” All these are sent in punishment of sin. H. — The sword of the enemy is a judgment of God. M.

Ver. 12. Judge and punish them, as they fight against thee? C. — Enough. Yet we read that Josaphat had above a million soldiers; and he knew that his father had discomfited a greater army of Zara with half the forces. He thus puts us in mind that no power can stand against God’s will; and he endeavours, by humility, to obtain the protection of heaven. The invading army must, however, have been very numerous, to extort these expressions from a potent king, and to have thrown his whole people into such consternation. It could hardly be less than that of Zara; and thus, in the space of a century, above two millions and a half of idolaters perished by the hand of God, without Juda losing a single man, v. 29. C. xiii. 17. H.

Ver. 13. Children. Even the little infants were deprived of the breasts, on such emergencies, that their cries might be more affecting. H. Joel ii. 16. Judit. iv. 8. — The pagans of Ninive even made the cattle also fast. Jonas iii. 7. C. S. Amb. ser. 40. T.

Ver. 14. Spirit of prophecy. M. — Jahaziel is known only by this event. C.

Ver. 16. Six. Some translate “flowry ascent.” C. — Prot. “the cliff of Ziz.” H. — If it had been Zin, we might understand the desert of stony Arabia, where Ptolemy places the town of Ziza. C. — But we may recollect that the army was already advanced as far as Engaddi; (v. 2,) so that it seems to have lain nearer Jerusalem. H. — Jeruel, “the fear of God,” which name was given to the place, in consequence of the panic with which God struck the enemy. S. Jerom. M.

Ver. 19. High. Rejoicing at the promised deliverance. C.

Ver. 20. Thecua, two mile east of Bethlehem, on the road to Jeruel. Adric. M. — Believe. Faith is the foundation of all good works; (Heb. xi.) but not alone sufficient, as here the people fasted and prayed, and would have fought, if God had not dispensed with them. See Jos. xxiii. W. — We may also translate Heb. “trust.”

Ver. 21. Ever. This was usually sung in times of joy. C. v. 13. The army seemed thus to be returning victorious. C.

Ver. 22. Ambushments, placed by the Moabites, (M.) and Ammonites, (H.) against Juda. Some detachments of Mount Seir, perhaps, coming suddenly on them, were taken for foes, and slaughtered. H.

Ver. 24. Tower. Maspha, in the tribe of Benjamin, (C.) or some other (H.) eminence. M.

Ver. 25. Insomuch. Heb. and Sept. “Three days passed, while they gathered the spoils, because it was great,” (H.) “without weight,” or estimation. C.

Ver. 26. Blessing. SS. Jerom and Epiphanius place Caphar-barucha, “the field of blessing,” near Hebron, on the east. Hither Abraham attended the Lord, when he was going to destroy Sodom. Epist. Paulæ.

Ver. 29. Lands, in the vicinity. M. — Israel, as he had lately treated Zara. C. xiv. 13. H.

Ver. 33. Places, erected in honour of God, but displeasing to him. C. xvii. 6. H. — The good king perhaps attempted to take these also away, but was obliged to desist by the rebellious people. M. — Hence we find that they are here blamed. H. — They would not conform exactly to the law, (Lev. xvii. 3. T.) and the king was not able to bring all to perfection. W. — “It is better to pass over….vices, than to shew which we cannot subdue.” Tacit. An. iii.

Ver. 34. Which. Sept. “who wrote a book of the kings of Israel.” H. — Jehu rebuked Josaphat, C. xix. C. — His book is not extant. M.

Ver. 35. Things: the victory over Ammon, &c. H. — Wicked. See C. xvi. 3.

Ver. 36. Tharsis; probably Cilicia, (C.) or some part of the ocean. — Asion-gaber was on the Red Sea; and ships would not have been built there, to trade on the Mediterranean. C. ix. 21. T.