King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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2 Kings 3

Jehoram, king of Israel. (1-5) War with Moab, The intercession of Elisha. (6-19) Water supplied, Moab overcome. (20-27)

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Jehoram, king of Israel

1 Now Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years.

2 And he wrought evil in the sight of the LORD; but not like his father, and like his mother: for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made.

3 Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.

4 And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.

5 But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.

War with Moab, The intercession of Elisha

6 And king Jehoram went out of Samaria the same time, and numbered all Israel.

7 And he went and sent to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying, The king of Moab hath rebelled against me: wilt thou go with me against Moab to battle? And he said, I will go up: I am as thou art, my people as thy people, and my horses as thy horses.

8 And he said, Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom.

9 So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days’ journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.

10 And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!

11 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of the LORD by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.

12 And 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.

13 And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay: for the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab.

14 And Elisha said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.

15 But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.

16 And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Make this valley full of ditches.

17 For thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts.

18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of the LORD: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.

19 And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.

Water supplied, Moab overcome

20 And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat offering was offered, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.

21 And when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered all that were able to put on armour, and upward, and stood in the border.

22 And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood:

23 And they said, This is blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil.

24 And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them: but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country.

25 And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees: only in Kirharaseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it.

26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew swords, to break through even unto the king of Edom: but they could not.

27 Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Achab. Joram succeeded his brother. C. i. 17.

Ver. 2. Baal. This happened after his victory over Moab, v. 13. C. — Salien thinks rather that Josaphat refused to assist him, except he would destroy what had been lately introduced by his parents, as the league with Achab had been blamed. See 2 Par. xix. 2. The golden calves were of an older standing, and could not be so easily taken from the people. M. — Joram was not so wicked as might have been expected. C.

Ver. 4. Nourished. Hebrew noked, a term which the Sept. leave untranslated, means literally, “marked” with some colour by the master.

Aut pecori signum, aut numeros impressit acervo. Georg. i.

Sheep, Sym. “large cattle.” — Fleeces; is it commonly supposed every year. This mode of tribute was more usual than paying money. The Moabites were chiefly employed in feeding sheep and cattle; so that it is not wonderful that they should have such great numbers. Dejotarus is represented not only as “a noble Tetrarch, but also as a diligent husbandman and herdsman,” pecuarius: (Cic.) which last is the idea which some attach to Mesa.

Ver. 7. He entered cordially into this war, as he perceived that if Moab succeeded, Edom would follow the same plan. M.

Ver. 8. Edom though more circuitous (C.) than to cross over the Jordan at Galgal, as the enemy might this be taken unawares, (M.) and fresh recruits might be procured from the tributary king of Edom, v. 9. H. Yet the want of water made this road more dangerous.

Ver. 11. Elias, a proverbial expression to denote that he waited upon him, though the prophet’s rough manner of living would require but little attendance. So the Baptist speaks of untying our Saviour’s shoes, Mat. iii. C. — Providence had sent Eliseus to attend the army (H.) contrary to his custom. C.

Ver. 12. With him. I am content. H. — Others read with an interrogation, as if the reputation of Eliseus was not yet established. M. — Him; they go to his tent. No one ever supported the character of God’s envoy, or shewed his authority over the most haughty, better than Eliseus. C.

Ver. 13. Mother, whom thou supportest. This is not an order, but a sarcasm (H.) which the king deserved. C. — Christ said to Judas, what thou dost, do quickly, John xiii. 27. H. — With what liberty does the prophet speak to an impious king! shewing himself worthy to succeed Elias, and actuated by the like zeal for God.

Ver. 14. Reverence, (erubescerem) “blush at,” may imply a degree of censure at Josaphat’s being again found in such bad company, v. 2. H. — Heb. “If I did not receive (C.) or regard the face.” H.

Ver. 15. Minstrel. The priests and Levites, who officiated in the temple, accompanied the army. Eliseus wants no profane music, (C.) but, by this request, shews his respect for the true religion, (H.) and by sounding forth the divine praises, in some of David’s psalms, wishes to obtain of God the favour which was desired. Theodoret. M. — He had felt some emotion at the sight of Joram, and was sensible that God required a calm. C. — He dwells not in a violent wind, &c. 3 K. xix 11. H. — The surprising effects of ancient music to calm the passions are well attested. 1 K. xvi. 17. By this means S. Francis was raised to the contemplation of heavenly things; and S. Augustine says of himself: “How I wept when I heard thy hymns and canticles, being greatly moved at the delightful harmony of thy church:” suavesonantis Ecclesiæ tuæ vocibus commotus acriter. Conf. ix. 6. de C. xiv. 24. — Upon him, so that he experienced that enthusiasm which shewed that he was actuated by the divine spirit, to speak with all the authority requisite. The pagans strove to imitate the true prophets, but the difference was very evident; no less than the spirit with which they were filled; the former were agitated in a furious manner; the latter were composed and majestic. C.

Ver. 16. Ditches. It was then quite dry; the water which should come in the night, would both refresh the army, and bring on the ruin of the Moabites.

Ver. 19. Tree. This was an exception from the general law; (Deut. xx. 19. C.) or it might only regard the land of Chanaan, which the Hebrews should occupy. M. W. — Stones, which had been gathered off into heaps. Isai. v. 1. Persius calls a field thus cleared, Exossatus ager; (C.) as if the bones were taken out. H.

Ver. 20. Offered, at sun-rise, Ex. xxix. 38. — Water, produced miraculously, without any rain being seen; (v. 17. C.) though it might fall at a distance in Idumea. H.

Ver. 21. Upon them. Heb. “and upward,” both soldiers and those who were usually exempt from service.

Ver. 22. Blood. The clouds have frequently a reddish colour at sun-rise, which would be reflected in the waters: the sand might also be red. As the Moabites knew that no water could be expected there at that season of the year, and as some examples had occurred of people turning their arms one against another in the night, (Judg. vii. 11. 1 K. xiv. 20.) they concluded that what they saw was blood. C. — God had also destined them for slaughter, (Abulens. q. 21.) and suffered their imagination and judgment to be deluded. H.

Ver. 24. Moab. Heb. adds, “even in the country.”

Ver. 25. Brick walls. It was the proper name of the city of the Moabites. In Hebrew, Kir-Charaseth. Ch. — Isai. xv. and xvi. 7. It was also called Ar, or Arcopolis. — Remained. Heb. adds, “with the stones unmolested.” They laid siege to it. H. — Slingers. Grotius would understand those who attended the machines designed to throw stones, &c. But the slingers kept off the enemy, while others undermined the walls. C.

Ver. 26. Edom, hoping that he would favour their escape, or because that part seemed the weakest.

Ver. 27. Wall, to Chamos, the idol of Moab; (M.) or to Moloc, to appease the wrath of the gods. Horrible blindness! The pagans believed, that the most precious thing ought to be sacrificed in very imminent dangers. Philo Biblius. ap. Eus. præp. iv. 16. — The Phœnicians offered such victims to Saturn. Many devoted themselves to death for the safety of the Roman republic; and some were ready to do so, to preserve the lives of Caligula and Nero, before they had given proof of their evil dispositions. Seuton. xiv. — It s thought that Sennacherib intended to treat his two sons in this manner, if they had not prevented him. Abul. in 4 K. xix. 37. — Some imagine that Mesa sacrificed his son to the God of Israel, in imitation of Abraham; (Joseph. Grot.) others, that he slew the son of the king of Edom, out of revenge. Kimchi, in Amos ii. 1. — The Heb. is ambiguous. Amama. — But interpreters generally believe, that the heir of Mesa fell a victim (C.) to his father’s mistaken zeal, or to his desire to make the enemy retire, when they saw him reduced to such a state of desperation. It had, at least, this effect. H. — Indignation, at such a cruel action. M. — Sept. “there was great repentance” and sorrow. The text may also imply, that God was displeased at Israel for pushing the king to such an extremity; or, they became an object of horror to the surrounding nations. C. — The first explanation seems the best; as the Israelites thought the king had been sufficiently punished, and therefore retired. They had no reason to suspect that he would have given way to such madness, nor were they to blame for it. H.