Jehoshaphat, on his return from Ramoth-gilead, is met by the prophet Jehu, and reproved, 1-3. He makes a farther reformation in the land, establishing courts of justice, and giving solemn and pertinent directions to the judges, Levites, people, in the fear of God, 4-11.
Notes on Chapter 19
Returned to his house in peace
That is, in safety, notwithstanding he had been exposed to a danger so imminent, from which only the especial mercy of God could have saved him.
Jehu the son of Hanani
We have met with this prophet before; See Clarke on 1 Kings 16:7.
Therefore is wrath upon thee
That is, Thou deservest to be punished. And who can doubt this, who knows that he did help the ungodly, and did love them that hated Jehovah? And is not the wrath of God upon all those alliances which his people form with the ungodly, whether they be social, matrimonial, commercial, or political?
From Beer-sheba to Mount Ephraim
Before the separation of the ten tribes, in speaking of the extent of the land it was said, From Dan to Beer-sheba; but since that event, the kingdom of Judah was bounded on the south by Beer-sheba, and on the north by the mountains of Ephraim. This shows that Jehoshaphat had gone through all his territories to examine every thing himself, to see that judgment and justice were properly administered among the people.
Take heed what ye do
A very solemn and very necessary caution; judges should feel themselves in the place of God, and judge as those who know they shall be judged for their judgments.
And for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem.
Who were they that returned to Jerusalem? Some suppose that it means Jehoshaphat and his courtiers, who returned to Jerusalem after the expedition mentioned 2 Chronicles 19:4: but if this were so, or if the text spoke of any person returning to Jerusalem, would not lirushalem, TO Jerusalem, and not the simple word Yerushalem, without the preposition, be used?
Learned men have supposed, with great plausibility, that the word vaiyashubu, "and they returned," should be written yoshebey, "the inhabitants," and that the words should be read, And for the controversies of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. That this was the original reading is very probable from its vestiges in the Vulgate, habitatoribus ejus, "its INHABITANTS;" and in the Septuagint it is found totidem verbis, καικρινειντους κατοικουνταςενιερουσαλημ, And to judge the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
There is a clause in 2 Chronicles 34:9where we have a similar mistake in our version: And they returned to Jerusalem, where the false keri, or marginal note, directs it, in opposition to common sense and ALL the versions, to be read and they returned, which our translation has unhappily followed.
Between blood and blood
Cases of man-slaughter or accidental murder, or cases of consanguinity, the settlement of inheritance, family claims,
Between law and commandment
Whatsoever concerns the moral precepts, rites, and ceremonies, of the law, or whatsoever belongs to civil affairs.
Here was a two-fold jurisdiction, ecclesiastical and civil: in the ecclesiastical court, Amariah the high-priest was supreme judge, in the civil court, Zebadiah was supreme. To assist both the Levites were a sort of counsellors.
WITHOUT good and wholesome laws, no nation can be prosperous: and vain are the best laws if they be not judiciously and conscientiously administered. The things of GOD and the things of the KING should never be confounded in the administration of justice. Amariah the priest, and Zebadiah the ruler, should ever have their distinct places of jurisdiction.