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2 Chronicles 16-20 Common English Bible (CEB)

Aram invades Judah

16 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s rule, Israel’s King Baasha attacked Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent Judah’s King Asa from moving into that area. Asa took silver and gold from the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and the royal palace and sent them to Aram’s King Ben-hadad, who ruled in Damascus, with the following message: “Let’s make a covenant similar to the one between our fathers. Since I have already sent you silver and gold, break your covenant with Israel’s King Baasha so that he will leave me alone.” Ben-hadad agreed with King Asa and sent his army commanders against the cities of Israel, attacking Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the store-cities of Naphtali. As soon as Baasha learned of this, he stopped building Ramah and abandoned his work. Then King Asa had all Judah carry away the stone and timber that Baasha was using to build Ramah, and King Asa used it to build Geba and Mizpah. At that time Hanani the seer came to Judah’s King Asa and said to him, “Because you relied on Aram’s king and not on the Lord your God, the army of Aram’s king has slipped out of your grasp. Weren’t the Cushites and the Libyans a vast army with chariots and horsemen to spare? Still, when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your power, because the Lord’s eyes scan the whole world to strengthen those who are committed to him with all their hearts. Your foolishness means that you will have war on your hands from now on.” 10 Asa was angry with the seer. Asa was so mad he threw Hanani in jail and took his anger out on some of the people.

Asa’s disease and death

11 The rest of Asa’s deeds, from beginning to end, are written in the official records of Israel’s and Judah’s kings. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his rule, Asa developed a severe foot disease. But even in his illness he refused to seek the Lord and consulted doctors instead. 13 In the forty-first year of his rule, Asa lay down with his ancestors. 14 He was buried in the tomb he had prepared for himself in David’s City, and was laid on a bed filled with sweet spices and various kinds of perfume, with a huge fire made in his honor.

Jehoshaphat rules Judah

17 Asa’s son Jehoshaphat succeeded him as king. Jehoshaphat strengthened his position against Israel by stationing troops in the fortified cities of Judah and placing soldiers throughout the land of Judah and in the cities of Ephraim that his father Asa had captured. The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the earlier ways of his father[a] by not seeking Baal. Instead, he sought the God of his father, and unlike Israel, he followed God’s commandments. The Lord gave him firm control over the kingdom, and all Judah brought Jehoshaphat tribute, so that he had abundant riches and honor. Jehoshaphat took pride in the Lord’s ways and again removed the shrines and the sacred poles[b] from Judah.

In the third year of his rule, Jehoshaphat sent his officials Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah to teach in the cities of Judah. They were accompanied by the Levites Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah, and by the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They taught throughout Judah. They brought with them the Lord’s Instruction scroll as they made their rounds to all the cities of Judah, teaching the people.

10 All the kingdoms surrounding Judah were afraid of the Lord and didn’t wage war against Jehoshaphat. 11 Some of the Philistines brought a load of silver as tribute to Jehoshaphat. The Arabians also brought flocks to Jehoshaphat: seventy-seven hundred rams and seventy-seven hundred goats. 12 As Jehoshaphat grew increasingly powerful, he built fortresses and storage cities in Judah 13 and had many supplies in the cities of Judah. He also had an army of mighty warriors in Jerusalem, 14 registered by their clans as follows: Judah’s officers over units of a thousand included Commander Adnah with three hundred thousand soldiers; 15 next to him was Commander Jehohanan with two hundred eighty thousand soldiers; 16 at his side was Amasiah, Zichri’s son, who volunteered for the Lord with two hundred thousand soldiers. 17 From Benjamin came a valiant warrior: Eliada, together with two hundred thousand armed with bow and shield; 18 next to him was Jehozabad, together with one hundred eighty thousand soldiers. 19 These were the individuals who served the king in addition to those the king placed in the fortified cities throughout Judah.

Jehoshaphat and Ahab

18 Even though Jehoshaphat already had great wealth and honor, he allied himself with Ahab through marriage. A few years later, while Jehoshaphat was visiting Ahab in Samaria, Ahab slaughtered many sheep and oxen for Jehoshaphat and those who were with him in order to persuade him to attack Ramoth-gilead. “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” Israel’s King Ahab asked Judah’s King Jehoshaphat.

Jehoshaphat replied, “I and my people will be united with you and your people in battle. But,” Jehoshaphat said to Israel’s king, “first, let’s see what the Lord has to say.” So Israel’s king gathered four hundred prophets and asked them, “Should we go to war with Ramoth-gilead or not?”

“Attack!” the prophets answered. “God will hand it over to the king.”

But Jehoshaphat said, “Isn’t there any other prophet of the Lord around whom we could ask?”

“There’s one other man who could ask the Lord for us,” Israel’s king told Jehoshaphat, “but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, only bad. His name is Micaiah, Imlah’s son.”

“The king shouldn’t speak like that!” Jehoshaphat said.

So Israel’s king called an officer and ordered, “Bring Micaiah, Imlah’s son, right away.”

Now Israel’s king and Judah’s King Jehoshaphat were sitting on their thrones dressed in their royal robes at the threshing floor beside the entrance to the gate of Samaria. All the prophets were prophesying in front of them. 10 Zedekiah, Chenaanah’s son, made iron horns for himself and said, “This is what the Lord says: With these horns you will gore the Arameans until there’s nothing left of them!”

11 The other prophets agreed: “Attack Ramoth-gilead and win! The Lord will hand it over to the king!”

12 Meanwhile, the messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Listen, the prophets all agree that the king will succeed. You should say the same thing they say and prophesy success.”

13 But Micaiah answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will say only what God tells me to say.”[c]

14 When Micaiah arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war with Ramoth-gilead or not?”

“Attack and win!” Micaiah answered. “The Lord will hand it over to the king.”

15 But the king said, “How many times must I demand that you tell me the truth when you speak in the Lord’s name?”

16 Then Micaiah replied, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd! And then the Lord said: ‘They have no master. Let them return safely to their own homes.’”

17 Then Israel’s king said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you? He never prophesies anything good about me, only bad.”

18 Then Micaiah said, “Listen now to the Lord’s word: I saw the Lord enthroned with all the heavenly forces stationed at his right and at his left. 19 The Lord said, ‘Who will persuade Israel’s King Ahab so that he attacks Ramoth-gilead and dies there?’ There were several suggestions, 20 until one particular spirit approached the Lord and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ ‘How?’ the Lord asked. 21 ‘I will be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. The Lord agreed: ‘You will succeed in persuading him! Go ahead!’ 22 So now, since the Lord placed a lying spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours, it is the Lord who has pronounced disaster against you!”

23 Zedekiah, Chenaanah’s son, approached Micaiah and slapped him on the cheek. “Just how did the Lord’s spirit leave me to speak to you?” he asked.

24 Micaiah answered, “You will find out on the day you try to hide in an inner room.”

25 “Arrest him,” ordered Israel’s king, “and turn him over to Amon the city governor and to Joash the king’s son. 26 Tell them, ‘The king says: Put this man in prison and feed him minimum rations of bread and water until I return safely.’”

27 “If you ever return safely,” Micaiah replied, “then the Lord wasn’t speaking through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, every last one of you!”

28 So Israel’s king and Judah’s King Jehoshaphat attacked Ramoth-gilead. 29 Israel’s king said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself when we go into battle, but you should wear your royal attire.” When the king of Israel had disguised himself, they entered the battle.

30 Meanwhile, Aram’s king had commanded his chariot officers, “Don’t bother with anyone big or small. Fight only with Israel’s king.” 31 When the chariot officers saw Jehoshaphat, they assumed that he must be Israel’s king, so they turned to attack him. But when Jehoshaphat cried out, the Lord helped him, and God lured them away from him. 32 When the chariot officers realized that he wasn’t Israel’s king, they stopped chasing him.

33 Someone, however, randomly shot an arrow that struck Israel’s king between the joints in his armor. “Turn around and get me out of the battle,” the king told his chariot driver. “I’ve been hit!” 34 While the battle raged all that day, Israel’s king stood propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. But that evening he died, just as the sun was going down.

19 Upon the safe arrival of Judah’s King Jehoshaphat to his palace in Jerusalem, Jehu son of Hanani the seer came out to meet him and said, “Why did you help the wicked? Why have you loved those who hate the Lord? This is why the Lord is angry with you. Nevertheless, there is some good to be found in you, in that you have removed the sacred poles[d] from the land and set your mind to seek God.”

Jehoshaphat’s reforms

Though Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, he regularly went out among the people between Beer-sheba and Ephraim’s highlands, and encouraged them to return to the Lord, the God of their ancestors. He appointed judges throughout the land in each of the fortified cities of Judah, instructing them, “Be careful when you pass judgment. You aren’t dispensing justice by merely human standards but for the Lord, who is with you. Therefore, respect the Lord and act accordingly, because there can be no injustice, playing favorites, or taking bribes when it comes to the Lord our God.”

Jehoshaphat also appointed judges in Jerusalem from among the Levites, the priests, and the family heads of Israel to administer the Lord’s Instruction and to settle disputes among those living[e] in Jerusalem. He instructed them, “You must respect the Lord at all times, in truth, and with complete integrity. 10 In any case that comes before you from a fellow citizen in an outlying town, whether it involves bloodshed or is an issue of instruction, commandment, regulations, or case laws, you must warn them not to sin against the Lord, consequently making him angry with both you and your fellow citizen. Do this, and you won’t sin. 11 Amariah the chief priest will be in charge of all religious matters, and Zebadiah, Ishmael’s son, the leader of Judah’s house, will be in charge of all civil matters. The Levites will serve as your officers of the court. Carry out your duties with confidence, and may the Lord be with those who do good.”

Jehoshaphat’s victory

20 Some time later, the Moabites and the Ammonites, along with some of the Meunites,[f] attacked Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was told, “A large army from beyond the sea, from Edom,[g] is coming to attack you. They are already at Hazazon-tamar!” (that is, En-gedi). Frightened, Jehoshaphat decided to seek the Lord’s help and proclaimed a fast for all Judah. People from all of Judah’s cities came to ask the Lord for help. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem in the Lord’s temple in front of the new courtyard. Lord, the God of our ancestors, you alone are God in heaven. You rule all the kingdoms of the nations. You are so powerful that no one can oppose you. You, our God, drove out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and gave this land to the descendants of your friend Abraham forever. They have lived in it and have built a sanctuary in honor of your name in it, saying, ‘If calamity, sword, flood,[h] plague, or famine comes upon us, we will stand before this temple, before you, because your name is in this temple. We will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ 10 So look here! The Ammonites, the Moabites, and those from Mount Seir—the people you wouldn’t let Israel invade when they came out of Egypt’s land, so Israel avoided them and didn’t destroy them— 11 here they are, returning the favor by coming to drive us out of your possession that you gave to us! 12 Our God, won’t you punish them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We don’t know what to do, and so we are looking to you for help.”

13 All Judah was standing before the Lord, even their little ones, wives, and children. 14 Then the Lord’s spirit came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah son of Benaiah son of Jeiel son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the line of Asaph, as he stood in the middle of the assembly.

15 “Pay attention, all of Judah, every inhabitant of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat,” Jahaziel said. “This is what the Lord says to you: Don’t be afraid or discouraged by this great army because the battle isn’t yours. It belongs to God! 16 March out against them tomorrow. Since they will be coming through the Ziz pass, meet them at the end of the valley that opens into the Jeruel wilderness. 17 You don’t need to fight this battle. Just take your places, stand ready, and watch how the Lord, who is with you, will deliver you, Judah and Jerusalem. Don’t be afraid or discouraged! Go out tomorrow and face them. The Lord will be with you.”

18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord in worship. 19 Levites from the lines of Kohath and Korah stood up to loudly praise the Lord, the God of Israel.

20 Early the next morning they went into the Tekoa wilderness. When they were about to go out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and every inhabitant of Jerusalem! Trust the Lord your God, and you will stand firm; trust his prophets and succeed!”

21 After consulting with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed musicians to play for the Lord, praising his majestic holiness. They were to march out before the warriors, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord because his faithful love lasts forever!” 22 As they broke into joyful song and praise, the Lord launched a surprise attack against the Ammonites, the Moabites, and those from Mount Seir who were invading Judah, so that they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and the Moabites turned on those from Mount Seir, completely destroying them. Once they had finished off the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy each other!

24 When Judah arrived at the point overlooking the wilderness, all they could see were corpses lying all over the ground. There were no survivors. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his army came to take the loot, they found a great amount of cattle,[i] goods, clothing,[j] and other valuables—much more than they could carry. In fact, there was so much it took three days to haul it away. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in Blessing Valley, where they blessed the Lord. That’s why it is called Blessing Valley to this day. 27 Then everyone from Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat at their head, joyfully returned home to Jerusalem because the Lord had given them reason to rejoice over their enemies. 28 They entered Jerusalem accompanied by harps, lutes, and trumpets, and they went to the Lord’s temple.

29 The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against Israel’s enemies. 30 As a result, Jehoshaphat’s rule was peaceful because his God gave him rest on all sides.

Jehoshaphat’s last days

31 Jehoshaphat ruled over Judah. He was 35 years old when he became king, and he ruled for twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah; she was Shilhi’s daughter. 32 Jehoshaphat walked in the way of his father Asa and didn’t turn aside from it, doing what was right in the Lord’s eyes, 33 with the exception that he didn’t remove the shrines. The people were still not committed with all their hearts to the God of their ancestors. 34 The rest of Jehoshaphat’s deeds, from beginning to end, are written in the records of Jehu, Hanani’s son, which are included in the records of Israel’s kings.

35 Sometime later, Judah’s King Jehoshaphat formed an alliance with Israel’s King Ahaziah, which caused him to sin. 36 They agreed to build a fleet of Tarshish-styled ships, and they built them in Ezion-geber. 37 Eliezer, Dodavahu’s son from Mareshah, prophesied against Jehoshaphat: “Because you have formed an alliance with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.” The ships were wrecked and couldn’t sail to Tarshish.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Chronicles 17:3 LXX; MT in the ways of his father David
  2. 2 Chronicles 17:6 Heb asherim, perhaps objects devoted to the goddess Asherah
  3. 2 Chronicles 18:13 LXX, 1 Kgs 22:14; MT omits me.
  4. 2 Chronicles 19:3 Heb asherot, perhaps objects devoted to the goddess Asherah
  5. 2 Chronicles 19:8 LXX, Vulg; MT they returned to Jerusalem
  6. 2 Chronicles 20:1 LXX; MT Ammonites
  7. 2 Chronicles 20:2 OL; MT Aram
  8. 2 Chronicles 20:9 LXX; MT judgment
  9. 2 Chronicles 20:25 LXX; MT among them
  10. 2 Chronicles 20:25 Vulg; MT corpses
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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