Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Jehoshaphat . . . strengthened himself against Israel--The temper
and proceedings of the kings of Israel rendered it necessary for him to
prepare vigorous measures of defense on the northern frontier of his
kingdom. These consisted in filling all the fortresses with their full
complement of troops and establishing military stations in various
parts of the country, as well as in the cities of Mount Ephraim, which
belonged to Jehoshaphat
3-5. he walked in the first ways of his father David--He imitated the
piety of his great ancestor in the early part of his reign before he
made those unhappy lapses which dishonored his character.
and sought not unto Baalim--a term used for idols generally in
contradistinction to the Lord God of his father.
4. and not after the doings of Israel--He observed with scrupulous
fidelity, and employed his royal influence to support the divine
institutions as enacted by Moses, abhorring that spurious and unlawful
calf-worship that now formed the established religion in Israel. Being
thus far removed, alike from gross idolatry and Israelitish apostasy,
and adhering zealously to the requirements of the divine law, the
blessing of God rested on his government. Ruling in the fear of God,
and for the good of his subjects, "the Lord established the kingdom in
5. all Judah brought . . . presents--This was customary with the people
generally at the beginning of a reign
and with the nobles and high functionaries yearly afterwards. They were
given in the form of voluntary offerings, to avoid the odious idea of a
tax or tribute.
6. his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord--Full of faith and
piety, he possessed zeal and courage to undertake the reformation of
manners, to suppress all the works and objects of idolatry
and he held out public encouragement to the pure worship of God.
7-11. Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, . . .
to teach in the cities of Judah--The ordinary work of teaching devolved
on the priests. But extraordinary commissioners were appointed,
probably to ascertain whether the work had been done or neglected. This
deputation of five princes, assisted by two priests and nine Levites,
was to make a circuit of the towns in Judah. It is the first practical
measure we read of as being adopted by any of the kings for the
religious instruction of the people. Time and unbroken opportunities
were afforded for carrying out fully this excellent plan of home
education, for the kingdom enjoyed internal tranquillity as well as
freedom for foreign wars. It is conformable to the pious style of the
sacred historian to trace this profound peace to the "fear of the Lord
having fallen on all kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah."
9. the book of the law--that is, either the whole Pentateuch or only
the book of Deuteronomy, which contains an abridgment of it.
11. Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and
tribute silver--either they had been his tributaries, or they
were desirous of securing his valuable friendship, and now made a
voluntary offer of tribute. Perhaps they were the Philistines who had
submitted to the yoke of David
the Arabians--the nomad tribes on the south of the Dead Sea, who,
seeking the protection of Jehoshaphat after his conquest of Edom, paid
their tribute in the way most suitable to their pastoral habits--the
present of so many head of cattle.
14. these are the numbers--The warriors were arranged in the army
according to their fathers houses. The army of Jehoshaphat, commanded
by five great generals and consisting of five unequal divisions,
comprised one million one hundred and sixty thousand men, without
including those who garrisoned the fortresses. No monarch, since the
time of Solomon, equalled Jehoshaphat in the extent of his revenue, in
the strength of his fortifications, and in the number of his troops.