2 Kings Chapter 3  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: 2 Kings 3
2Ki 3:1(top)
2Ki 3:2

“removed.” Exactly what the king did with the standing-stone is unclear from the vocabulary. The text does not use a word for “destroyed,” Jehoram may have destroyed it or just moved it to a less prominent place.

“standing-stone.” Standing-stones were set up for various reasons, some of them being godly memorials, but here the context is pagan worship; the worship of Baal. Sometimes the stone represented the god, but sometimes the people believed the god actually inhabited the stone. [For more on standing-stones, see commentary on Gen. 28:18. For more on idols being harmful, see commentary on Deuteronomy 7:5].

2Ki 3:3

“from them.” The Hebrew is singular, “from it,” bundling all the sins together as if they were one collective sin.

2Ki 3:4

“Mesha.” Mesha is mentioned in the Mesha Stele (also known as the Moabite Stone; see Satellite Bible Atlas map 6-4). The Mesha Stele was found in Dibon in 1868, and it describes Moab’s revolt in 35 lines on a black basalt stone (56 x 32 in.). The inscription is important for biblical historical geography and the study of ancient languages. In the inscription, Mesha boasts of conquering cities and territory on the Medeba Plateau north of the Arnon River. He “made the highway through the Arnon,” a route that connects the Plateau to Moab proper (ANET 320). Besides site names, Mesha mentions Omri king of Israel, Omri’s son, the tribe of Gad, the vessels of Yahweh and the house of David. This is a significant reference to the Davidic dynasty, and by implication confirms that David was a real person. The inscription is one of only two known ancient extra-biblical references to David. The other reference is from the Tel Dan Inscription (Satellite Bible Atlas Map 6-5). Both inscriptions date to just after 850 BC, over 100 years after David lived.

2Ki 3:5(top)
2Ki 3:6(top)
2Ki 3:7

“He went ahead and he sent.” Jehoram went ahead with his plans to attack Moab.

“I will go up.” Moab was up on a plateau to the east. Earlier King Ahab asked the same kind of thing and the battle ended in defeat (1 Kings 22:4).

2Ki 3:8

“And he said.” Who the “he” is here is ambiguous.

“The Road of the Wilderness of Edom.” This road runs north-south on the east side of Edom and Moab. At this time in history, Judah was controlling Edom (1 Kings 22:47), and it is possible that Moab was attacking Syria to the north and so their southern border was weak.

2Ki 3:9

“flanking movement.” The Hebrew word is related to “go around.” The idea was to get behind and to the east of Moab.

“that followed them.” The Hebrew text is idiomatic: “that was at their feet.”

2Ki 3:10

“For Yahweh has called.” Jehoram of Israel did not follow or obey Yahweh, but he somehow blames Him for Israel’s trouble.

2Ki 3:11

“Is there not a prophet of Yahweh here.” Very similar to 1 Kings 22:7.

“who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” Pouring water on the master teacher so he could wash his hands after eating was a humble act that showed the relationship between the two people.

2Ki 3:12(top)
2Ki 3:13

“Do not say that, because Yahweh has called.” Jehoram king of Israel is saying that it was Yahweh, Elisha’s God, who called for the war with Moab, even though Yahweh did not call the kings to war.

2Ki 3:14

“respect the presence.” This is idiomatic. The literal Hebrew text reads “lift up the face.”

2Ki 3:15

“But now bring me a musician.” The Hebrew word “musician” relates to someone who plays an instrument that has strings. Elisha had just boldly confronted the king of Israel, whose mother was likely Jezebel, the great enemy of Elijah, and the confrontation unsettled him. It is difficult to impossible to hear the gentle voice of God when you are upset or anxious, so Elisha apparently asked for a musician to play to calm him down. That apparently worked because right after that Elisha got the revelation about the water coming and making pools in the valley.

2Ki 3:16

“this valley.” Most likely this is one of the canyons going down from the heights of Edom down to the Rift Valley. Although most versions translate the verb as an imperative, “make this valley,” it is an infinitive, “the making of this valley into pools.” It would be very difficult to dig any kind of a trench or ditch in the canyons going down from the heights to the Jordan Valley because the rains washed most of the soil away and the bottom of the valleys are mainly rock. It makes much more sense that God is going to send water and it will pool up in places in the canyon.

“pools, many pools.” The word “pools” is repeated twice for emphasis and to show there would be a lot of them. The Hebrew text simply reads, “pools pools,” repeating the exact same word twice, which is the figure of speech repetitio (“repetition;” see Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible). Canyons and valleys have many places where water pools up after a heavy rain. There apparently had not been much rain, because even the animals and people needed water, but now there would be lots of water and pools of water in the valley.

2Ki 3:17

“livestock and your animals.” Livestock to eat and animals to carry burdens and to ride on.

2Ki 3:18

“light thing.” That is, an easy thing.

2Ki 3:19

“You will strike.” Here the prophet Elisha is foretelling what the Israelite, Judean, and Edomite armies will do, not what is the will of God for them to do.

2Ki 3:20

“about the time of offering the grain offering.” The fact that the water came at about the time that the grain offering was being offered at the Temple in Jerusalem was a sign that the water was from Yahweh and He was helping Israel and Judah win the war.

“from the direction of.” The Hebrew text is “by the way of Edom,” meaning from the east. It likely rained east of the army and the water ran down the valley from east to west.

2Ki 3:21

“on the border.” The southern border of Moab was the Arnon River valley.

2Ki 3:22(top)
2Ki 3:23

“slain, yes, slain.” The Hebrew text emphasizes the excitement of the Moabites at the thought that their enemies had destroyed one another by using the figure of speech polyptoton, the repetition of the verb but in different cases.

2Ki 3:24

“the land.” The Hebrew is more literally “her,” but the land or cities in the land are often referred to as “her” or “she.”

2Ki 3:25

“each man cast stones.” The Hebrew is singular: “each man cast his stone,” but “stone” is likely a collective singular for stones because it would not be logical that each man cast just one stone on each piece of property. We use the collective singular if we say, “My house is made of stone.” It is really made of lots of stones.

“Kir-hareseth.” This was the capital city of Moab.

“however, the men armed with slings went about it and struck it.” The capital city of Moab did not fall to Israel, but the Israelite slingers were able to kill some of the people in the city.

2Ki 3:26(top)
2Ki 3:27

“and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall.” This is a very clear case of human sacrifice, which was more common among the nations of the ancient Near East than is portrayed in the Bible. The gods of the pagan nations were demanding and cruel, which is what we would expect from demonically inspired idols. Mordechai Cogan and Hayim Tadmore write in The Anchor Yale Bible: II Kings, “Classical sources report the frequent sacrifice of children in cities under siege in Phoenicia and its north African colonies.”

“There was great wrath against Israel.” 2 Kings 3:27 is very difficult to understand. Mordechai Cogan and Hayim Tadmore write in The Anchor Yale Bible: II Kings, “This clause is one of the most perplexing items in Scripture.” There have been many suggestions set forth as to what it means, but none are fully satisfying. It seems at first blush that because of the attack of Israel on Moab that there was great anger toward Israel, but how would that be connected to Israel returning to its own land, if in fact the two sentences are connected. We would expect that any country that was attacked and ruined would have great anger toward the aggressor nation, so why is that in the text here? There are no truly satisfying answers at this time. It does make sense that Israel would return to the land of Israel after they were through fighting Moab. After all, Yahweh told them that they could not have the land of Moab (Deut. 2:9).


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