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During the 18th year of Jehoshaphat’s reign in Judah, Jehoram (Ahab’s son) took over the throne of Israel at Samaria for 12 years. The Eternal saw that he did wicked things, but not to the same degree his parents did. He tore down and had nothing to do with the pillar honoring Baal that his father had crafted. But still, he walked the wicked path of Jeroboam (Nebat’s son) that caused the Israelites to live sinful lives. He never repented from his wickedness.

Mesha (Moab’s king) bred sheep and, as payment, he would give Israel’s king 100,000 lambs and the fleece of 100,000 rams. But when Ahab died, Mesha (Moab’s king) turned against Israel’s king. King Jehoram left Samaria and assembled the entire community of Israel. He sent a message to Jehoshaphat (Judah’s king).

Jehoram’s Message: Moab’s king is no longer on Israel’s side. He has turned against me. Will you accompany us in battle against him?

Jehoshaphat’s Reply: Yes, I will fight beside you. What is mine is yours—my people, my horses, everything.

Jehoram’s Second Message: What path do you want to take?

Jehoshaphat’s Reply: We will travel through the desert of Edom.

Since David defeated the nation of Moab (2 Samuel 8:2), it has been a vassal state to Israel; but under their new king Mesha, the Moabites are ready to revolt. Mesha has fortified the entire country, building a temple, palace, walls, and reservoirs. Most importantly, he fortifies the northern entrance to Moab, so Israel is forced to find another way to attack. Unfortunately, the only other option is for Israel to enter from the south, and that requires marching through Judah and Edom, something that would be perceived as an act of war. By securing Judah’s and Edom’s cooperation in the attack, Israel does not have to worry about being attacked while traveling through their nations, and she gains allies against the impressively strong Moab.

Israel’s king traveled with Judah’s king and Edom’s king. It was a difficult trip that lasted for seven days, a circular route around the territory held by Moab. By then there wasn’t any water for the army or for the livestock.

Jehoram: 10 This is terrible! The Eternal intends to hand the three of us over to Moab.

Jehoshaphat: 11 Surely there is a prophet of the Eternal One among us. If so, let him come forth so that we can talk with the Eternal through him.

Jehoram’s Servant: Yes, there is a prophet of the Lord among us! Elisha (Shaphat’s son)! He used to serve the great Elijah by pouring water on his hands!

Jehoshaphat: 12 The message and power of the Eternal One accompany him.

So Israel’s king (Jehoram), Jehoshaphat (Judah’s king), and Edom’s king went to find Elisha.

Elisha (to Jehoram): 13 What business do I have with you? Why don’t you go to the prophets of your parents’ god?

Jehoram: I can’t because the Eternal called the three of us together in order to hand us over to Moab.

Elisha: 14 As certain as the life of the Eternal One, Commander of heavenly armies, to whom I offer my life, I would pay you no attention except that I have such great respect for Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. But I have no regard for you! I will not even look at you! 15 But now, bring me a musician!

While the musician was playing, Elisha was empowered by the Eternal.

Elisha: 16 This is the Eternal’s message: “Dig trenches throughout this entire valley.”

17 This is the Eternal’s message: “You will not see rain fall from the sky or feel wind blow across your skin, but you will see this valley filled with water. You and your livestock will have plenty of water to quench your thirst!” 18 And that’s not all! It is indeed a small thing for the Eternal One: He is also going to hand the Moabites over to you. 19 Then you will attack every fortified and prosperous city, chop down every decent tree, plug up every water hole, and use stones to destroy every healthy piece of land along your way.

20 In the morning, water coming from the higher ground in Edom filled the entire land around the time that sacrifices were offered.

21 The Moabites heard a rumor that the kings were about to wage war against them, so every man who could wear armor—from young men to old men—was called to battle and waited at the border. 22 They woke up at dawn, as the fiery glow of the sunrise was kissing the water. From the view of the Moabites, the water was blood red.

Moabites: 23 Look! Blood! The kings have fought and killed each other, and now their blood fills the country. Go forth, Moab, and collect the spoil!

24 But when the Moabite warriors arrived at the Israelite encampment, the Israelites jumped up and killed the Moabites. The surviving Moabites ran away, but the Israelites ran after them and killed them all. 25 Then the Israelites destroyed every city, chopped down every decent tree, plugged up every water hole, and filled all the healthy land with stones along their way. Only the stone walls of Kir-hareseth remained after they were finished with it, but the men with slings later took care of these rocks as well. 26 When Moab’s king perceived how dangerous the battle was, he gathered up 700 of his swordsmen who tried to make their way through to Edom’s king. But it was impossible.

27 Desperate to survive, Moab’s king offered his own son, his oldest son who was next in line for the throne, as a burnt offering to Moab’s god Chemosh on the wall.

Unlike the Lord, who does not allow child sacrifice (Genesis 22), the Moabites believe their god, Chemosh, responds favorably to the sacrifice of children. Seeing that he is about to lose the war, Mesha makes the greatest sacrifice he can imagine: he offers his oldest son and heir. Not only does Mesha sacrifice the future of his nation and his son’s life, he believes he also sacrifices the boy’s afterlife, since burnt offerings are totally consumed and no body would remain for burial. Mesha’s action gives his army courage to fight, but it is the military engagement that saves his nation. Moab defeats Israel and her allies.

Then a fierce wrath swept against Israel, so they fled from Moab’s king and went back to their own country.

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