2 Chronicles 17-19
New English Translation
Jehoshaphat Becomes King
17 His son Jehoshaphat replaced him as king and solidified his rule over Israel.[a] 2 He placed troops in all Judah’s fortified cities and posted garrisons[b] throughout the land of Judah and in the cities of Ephraim that his father Asa had seized.
3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed in his ancestor[c] David’s footsteps at the beginning of his reign.[d] He did not seek the Baals, 4 but instead sought the God of his ancestors[e] and obeyed[f] his commands, unlike the Israelites.[g] 5 The Lord made his kingdom secure;[h] all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he became very wealthy and greatly respected.[i] 6 He was committed to following the Lord;[j] he even removed the high places and Asherah poles from Judah.
7 In the third year of his reign he sent his officials Ben Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah to teach in the cities of Judah. 8 They were accompanied by the Levites Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-Adonijah, and by the priests Elishama and Jehoram. 9 They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the scroll of the law of the Lord. They traveled to all the cities of Judah and taught the people.
10 The Lord put fear into all the kingdoms surrounding Judah;[k] they did not make war with Jehoshaphat. 11 Some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat tribute, including a load of silver. The Arabs brought him 7,700 rams and 7,700 goats from their flocks.
12 Jehoshaphat’s power kept increasing. He built fortresses and storage cities throughout Judah. 13 He had many supplies stored in the cities of Judah and an army of skilled warriors stationed in Jerusalem.[l] 14 These were their divisions by families:
There were 1,000 officers from Judah.[m] Adnah the commander led 300,000 skilled warriors, 15 Jehochanan the commander led 280,000, 16 and Amasiah son of Zikri, who volunteered to serve the Lord, led 200,000 skilled warriors.
17 From Benjamin, Eliada, a skilled warrior, led 200,000 men who were equipped with bows and shields, 18 and Jehozabad led 180,000 trained warriors.
19 These were the ones who served the king, besides those whom the king placed in the fortified cities throughout Judah.
Jehoshaphat Allies with Ahab
18 Jehoshaphat was very wealthy and greatly respected. He made an alliance by marriage with Ahab, 2 and after several years[n] went down to visit[o] Ahab in Samaria. Ahab slaughtered many sheep and cattle to honor Jehoshaphat and those who came with him.[p] He persuaded him to join in an attack[q] against Ramoth Gilead. 3 King Ahab of Israel said to King Jehoshaphat of Judah, “Will you go with me to attack Ramoth Gilead?” He replied, “I will support you; my army is at your disposal and will support you in battle.”[r] 4 Then Jehoshaphat said further to the king of Israel,[s] “First,[t] please seek an oracle from the Lord.”[u] 5 So the king of Israel assembled 400 prophets and asked them, “Should we attack Ramoth Gilead or not?”[v] They said, “Attack! God[w] will hand it over to the king.” 6 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the Lord still here, that we may ask him?” 7 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can seek the Lord’s will,[x] but I despise[y] him because he does not prophesy prosperity for me, but always[z] disaster—Micaiah son of Imlah.” Jehoshaphat said, “The king should not say such things!” 8 The king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Quickly bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”
9 Now the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were sitting on their respective thrones, dressed in their royal robes, at the threshing floor at[aa] the entrance of the gate of Samaria. All the prophets were prophesying before them. 10 Zedekiah son of Kenaanah made iron horns and said, “This is what the Lord says, ‘With these you will gore Syria until they are destroyed.’” 11 All the prophets were prophesying the same, saying, “Attack Ramoth Gilead! You will succeed; the Lord will hand it over to the king.” 12 Now the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the prophets are in complete agreement that the king will succeed.[ab] Your words must agree with theirs; you must predict success!”[ac] 13 But Micaiah said, “As certainly as the Lord lives, I will say what my God tells me to say!”
14 Micaiah[ad] came before the king and the king asked him, “Micaiah, should we attack Ramoth Gilead or not?” He answered him, “Attack! You will succeed; they will be handed over to you.”[ae] 15 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you solemnly promise in[af] the name of the Lord to tell me only the truth?” 16 Micaiah[ag] replied, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep that have no shepherd. Then the Lord said, ‘They have no master. They should go home in peace.’” 17 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you he does not prophesy prosperity for me, but disaster?” 18 Micaiah[ah] said, “That being the case, listen to the Lord’s message. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the heavenly assembly standing on his right and on his left. 19 The Lord said, ‘Who will deceive King Ahab of Israel, so he will attack Ramoth Gilead and die there?’ One said this and another that. 20 Then a spirit[ai] stepped forward and stood before the Lord. He said, ‘I will deceive him.’ The Lord asked him, ‘How?’ 21 He replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.’ The Lord[aj] said, ‘Deceive and overpower him.[ak] Go out and do as you have proposed.’ 22 So now, look, the Lord has placed a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours, but the Lord has decreed disaster for you.” 23 Zedekiah son of Kenaanah approached, hit Micaiah on the jaw, and said, “Which way did the Lord’s Spirit go when he went from me to speak to you?” 24 Micaiah replied, “Look, you will see in the day when you go into an inner room to hide.” 25 Then the king of Israel said, “Take Micaiah and return him to Amon the city official and Joash the king’s son. 26 Say, ‘This is what the king says: “Put this man in prison. Give him only a little bread and water[al] until I return safely.”’” 27 Micaiah said, “If you really do return safely, then the Lord has not spoken through me!” Then he added, “Take note,[am] all you people.”
28 The king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah attacked Ramoth Gilead. 29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and then enter[an] the battle, but you wear your royal attire.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and they entered the battle. 30 Now the king of Syria had ordered his chariot commanders, “Do not fight common soldiers or high ranking officers;[ao] fight only the king of Israel!” 31 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “He must be the king of Israel!” So they turned and attacked him, but Jehoshaphat cried out. The Lord helped him; God lured them away from him. 32 When the chariot commanders realized he was not the king of Israel, they turned away from him. 33 Now an archer shot an arrow at random,[ap] and it struck the king of Israel between the plates of his armor. The king[aq] ordered his charioteer, “Turn around and take me from the battle line,[ar] for I am wounded.” 34 While the battle raged throughout the day, the king of Israel stood propped up in his chariot opposite the Syrians. He died in the evening as the sun was setting.
19 When King Jehoshaphat of Judah returned home safely to Jerusalem, 2 the prophet[as] Jehu son of Hanani confronted him;[at] he said to King Jehoshaphat, “Is it right to help the wicked and be an ally of those who oppose the Lord?[au] Because you have done this, the Lord is angry with you![av] 3 Nevertheless you have done some good things;[aw] you removed[ax] the Asherah poles from the land and you were determined to follow God.”[ay]
Jehoshaphat Appoints Judges
4 Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem. He went out among the people from Beer Sheba to the hill country of Ephraim and encouraged them to follow[az] the Lord God of their ancestors.[ba] 5 He appointed judges throughout the land and in each of the fortified cities of Judah.[bb] 6 He told the judges, “Be careful what you do,[bc] for you are not judging for men, but for the Lord, who will be with you when you make judicial decisions. 7 Respect the Lord and make careful decisions, for the Lord our God disapproves of injustice, partiality, and bribery.”[bd]
8 In Jerusalem Jehoshaphat appointed some Levites, priests, and Israelite family leaders to judge on behalf of the Lord[be] and to settle disputes among the residents of Jerusalem.[bf] 9 He commanded them: “Carry out your duties with respect for the Lord, with honesty, and with pure motives.[bg] 10 Whenever your countrymen who live in the cities bring a case before you[bh] (whether it involves a violent crime[bi] or other matters related to the law, commandments, rules, and regulations), warn them that they must not sin against the Lord. If you fail to do so, God will be angry with you and your colleagues, but if you obey, you will be free of guilt.[bj] 11 Take note, Amariah the chief priest will oversee[bk] you in every matter pertaining to the Lord and Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the leader of the family of Judah, in every matter pertaining to the king. The Levites will serve as officials before you. Act courageously,[bl] and may the Lord be with those who do well!”
- 2 Chronicles 17:1 tn Heb “and strengthened himself over Israel.”
- 2 Chronicles 17:2 tn Or perhaps, “governors.”
- 2 Chronicles 17:3 tn Heb “father.”
- 2 Chronicles 17:3 tn Heb “for he walked in the ways of David his father [in] the beginning [times].”
- 2 Chronicles 17:4 tn Heb “fathers.”
- 2 Chronicles 17:4 tn Heb “walked in.”
- 2 Chronicles 17:4 tn Heb “and not like the behavior of Israel.”
- 2 Chronicles 17:5 tn Heb “established the kingdom in his hand.”
- 2 Chronicles 17:5 tn Heb “and he had wealth and honor in abundance.”
- 2 Chronicles 17:6 tn Heb “and his heart was high in the ways of the Lord.” Perhaps גָּבַהּ (gavah, “be high”) here means “be cheerful” (HALOT 171 s.v.) or “be encouraged” (BDB 147 s.v. 3.a).
- 2 Chronicles 17:10 tn Heb “and the terror of the Lord was upon all the kingdoms of the lands which were surrounding Judah.”
- 2 Chronicles 17:13 tn Heb “and many supplies were his in the cities of Judah, and men of war, warriors of skill in Jerusalem.”
- 2 Chronicles 17:14 tn Or perhaps “from Judah, commanders of the thousands.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:2 tn Heb “at the end of years.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:2 tn The word “visit” is supplied in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons.
- 2 Chronicles 18:2 tn Heb “and Ahab slaughtered for him sheep and cattle in abundance, and for the people who were with him.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:2 tn Heb “to go up.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:3 tn Heb “Like me, like you; and like your people, my people; and with you in battle.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:4 tn The word “further” has been added on the basis that this is a second speech act. The narrator uses the title “king of Israel” to convey a sense of formality.
- 2 Chronicles 18:4 tn Or “even today,” “right away.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:4 tn Heb “inquire for the Lord’s message.” Jehoshaphat is requesting a prophetic oracle revealing the Lord’s will in the matter and their prospects for success. For examples of such oracles, see 2 Sam 5:19, 23-24.
- 2 Chronicles 18:5 tn Heb “Should we go against Ramoth Gilead for war or should I refrain?”
- 2 Chronicles 18:5 tn Though Jehoshaphat had requested an oracle from “the Lord” (יְהוָה, yehvah, “Yahweh”), the Israelite prophets stop short of actually using this name and substitute the title הָאֱלֹהִים (haʾelohim, “the God”). This ambiguity may explain in part Jehoshaphat’s hesitancy and caution (vv. 7-8). He seems to doubt that the 400 are genuine prophets of the Lord.
- 2 Chronicles 18:7 tn Heb “to seek the Lord from him.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:7 tn Or “hate.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:7 tn Heb “all his days.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:9 tn Heb “at,” which in this case probably means “near.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:12 tn Heb “the words of the prophets are [with] one mouth good for the king.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:12 tn Heb “let your words be like one of them and speak good.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:14 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Micaiah) has been specified in the translation both for clarity and for stylistic reasons.
- 2 Chronicles 18:14 sn One does not expect Micaiah, having just vowed to speak only what the Lord tells him, to agree with the other prophets and give the king an inaccurate prophecy. Micaiah’s actions became understandable later, when we discover that the Lord desires to deceive the king and lead him to his demise. The Lord even dispatches a lying spirit to deceive Ahab’s prophets. Micaiah can lie to the king because he realizes this lie is from the Lord. It is important to note that in v. 13 Micaiah only vows to speak the word of his God; he does not necessarily say he will tell the truth. In this case the Lord’s word is deliberately deceptive. Only when the king adjures him to tell the truth (v. 15), does Micaiah do so.
- 2 Chronicles 18:15 tn Or “swear an oath by.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:16 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Micaiah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Chronicles 18:18 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Micaiah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Chronicles 18:20 tn Heb “the spirit.” The significance of the article prefixed to רוּחַ (ruakh) is uncertain, but it could contain a clue as to this spirit’s identity, especially when interpreted in light of verse 23. It is certainly possible, and probably even likely, that the article is used in a generic or dramatic sense and should be translated, “a spirit.” In the latter case it would show that this spirit was vivid and definite in the mind of Micaiah the storyteller. However, if one insists that the article indicates a well-known or universally known spirit, the following context provides a likely referent. Verse 23 tells how Zedekiah slapped Micaiah in the face and then asked sarcastically, “Which way did the spirit from the Lord (רוּחַ־יְהוָה, ruakh yehvah) go when he went from me to speak to you?” When the phrase “the spirit of the Lord” refers to the divine spirit (rather than the divine breath or mind, as in Isa 40:7, 13) elsewhere, the spirit energizes an individual or group for special tasks or moves one to prophesy. This raises the possibility that the deceiving spirit of vv. 20-22 is the same as the divine spirit mentioned by Zedekiah in v. 23. This would explain why the article is used on רוּחַ (ruakh); he can be called “the spirit” because he is the well-known spirit who energizes the prophets.
- 2 Chronicles 18:21 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Chronicles 18:21 tn The Hebrew text has two imperfects connected by וְגַם (vegam). These verbs could be translated as specific futures, “you will deceive and also you will prevail,” in which case the Lord is assuring the spirit of success on his mission. However, in a commissioning context (note the following imperatives) such as this, it is more likely that the imperfects are injunctive, in which case one could translate, “Deceive, and also overpower.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:26 tn Heb “the bread of affliction and the water of affliction.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:27 tn Heb “Listen.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:29 tn The Hebrew verbal forms could be imperatives (“Disguise yourself and enter”), but this would make no sense in light of the immediately following context. The forms are better interpreted as infinitives absolute functioning as cohortatives (see IBHS 594 §35.5.2a). Some prefer to emend the forms to imperfects.
- 2 Chronicles 18:30 tn Heb “small or great.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:33 tn Heb “now a man drew a bow in his innocence” (i.e., with no specific target in mind, or at least without realizing his target was the king of Israel).
- 2 Chronicles 18:33 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Chronicles 18:33 tn Heb “camp.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:2 tn Or “seer.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:2 tn Heb “went out to his face.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:2 tn Heb “and love those who hate the Lord?”
- 2 Chronicles 19:2 tn Heb “and because of this upon you is anger from before the Lord.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:3 tn Heb “nevertheless good things are found with you.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:3 tn Here בָּעַר (baʿar) is not the well attested verb “burn,” but the less common homonym meaning “devastate, sweep away, remove.” See HALOT 146 s.v. II בער.
- 2 Chronicles 19:3 tn Heb “and you set your heart to seek God.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:4 tn Heb “and turned them back to.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:4 tn Heb “fathers.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:5 tn Heb “in the land in all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:6 tn Heb “see what you are doing.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:7 tn Heb “and now let the terror of the Lord be upon you, be careful and act for there is not with the Lord our God injustice, lifting up of a face, and taking a bribe.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:8 tn Heb “for the judgment of the Lord.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:8 tc Heb “and to conduct a case [or “for controversy”], and they returned [to] Jerusalem.” Some emend וַיָּשֻׁבוּ (vayyashuvu, “and they returned”) to וַיֵּשְׁבוּ (vayyeshevu, “and they lived [in]”). The present translation assumes an emendation to יֹשְׁבֵי (yoshevey, “residents of”).
- 2 Chronicles 19:9 tn Heb “This you must do with the fear of the Lord, with honesty, and with a complete heart.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:10 tn Heb “and every case which comes to you from your brothers who live in their cities.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:10 tn Heb “between blood pertaining to blood.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:10 tn Heb “and anger will be upon you and your brothers; do this and you will not be guilty.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:11 tn Heb “will be over you.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:11 tn Heb “Be strong and act!”