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2 Kings 3:1-19

Moab Fights with Israel

3:1 In the eighteenth year of King Jehoshaphat’s reign over Judah, Ahab’s son Jehoram became king over Israel in Samaria; 1  he ruled for twelve years. 3:2 He did evil in the sight of 2  the Lord, but not to the same degree as his father and mother. He did remove the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had made. 3:3 Yet he persisted in 3  the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who encouraged Israel to sin; he did not turn from them. 4 

3:4 Now King Mesha of Moab was a sheep breeder. 5  He would send as tribute 6  to the king of Israel 100,000 male lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. 3:5 When Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 3:6 At that time King Jehoram left Samaria and assembled all Israel for war. 3:7 He sent 7  this message to King Jehoshaphat of Judah: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you fight with me against Moab?” Jehoshaphat 8  replied, “I will join you in the campaign; my army and horses are at your disposal.” 9  3:8 He then asked, “Which invasion route are we going to take?” 10  Jehoram 11  answered, “By the road through the Desert of Edom.” 3:9 So the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom 12  set out together. They wandered around on the road for seven days and finally ran out of water for the men and animals they had with them. 3:10 The king of Israel said, “Oh no! 13  Certainly the Lord has summoned these three kings so that he can hand them over to the king of Moab!” 3:11 Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here that we might seek the Lord’s direction?” 14  One of the servants of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha son of Shapat is here; he used to be Elijah’s servant.” 15  3:12 Jehoshaphat said, “The Lord speaks through him.” 16  So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to visit him.

3:13 Elisha said to the king of Israel, “Why are you here? 17  Go to your father’s prophets or your mother’s prophets!” The king of Israel replied to him, “No, for the Lord is the one who summoned these three kings so that he can hand them over to Moab.” 3:14 Elisha said, “As certainly as the Lord who rules over all 18  lives (whom I serve), 19  if I did not respect King Jehoshaphat of Judah, 20  I would not pay attention to you or acknowledge you. 21  3:15 But now, get me a musician.” 22  When the musician played, the Lord energized him, 23  3:16 and he said, “This is what the Lord says, ‘Make many cisterns in this valley,’ 24  3:17 for this is what the Lord says, ‘You will not feel 25  any wind or see any rain, but this valley will be full of water and you and your cattle and animals will drink.’ 3:18 This is an easy task for the Lord; 26  he will also hand Moab over to you. 3:19 You will defeat every fortified city and every important 27  city. You must chop down 28  every productive 29  tree, stop up all the springs, and cover all the cultivated land with stones.” 30 

1 map For location see Map2 B1; Map4 D3; Map5 E2; Map6 A4; Map7 C1.

2 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”

3 tn Heb “held tight,” or “clung to.”

4 tc The Hebrew text has the singular, “it.” Some ancient witnesses read the plural, which seems preferable since the antecedent (“sins”) is plural. Another option is to emend the plural “sins” to a singular. One ancient Greek witness has the singular “sin.”

5 tn For a discussion of the meaning of term (נֹקֵד, noqed), see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 43.

6 tn The vav + perfect here indicates customary action contemporary with the situation described in the preceding main clause. See IBHS 533-34 §32.2.3e.

7 tn Heb “went and sent.”

8 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jehoshaphat) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Heb “I will go up – like me, like you; like my people, like your people; like my horses; like your horses.”

10 tn Heb “Where is the road we will go up?”

11 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jehoram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

12 tn Heb “the king of Israel and the king of Judah and the king of Edom.”

13 tn Or “ah.”

14 tn Heb “that we might inquire of the Lord through him?”

15 tn Heb “who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” This refers to one of the typical tasks of a servant.

16 tn Heb “the word of the Lord is with him.”

17 tn Or “What do we have in common?” The text reads literally, “What to me and to you?”

18 tn Traditionally “the Lord of hosts.”

19 tn Heb “before whom I stand.”

20 tn Heb “if I did not lift up the face of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah.”

21 tn Heb “I would not look at you or see you.”

22 tn The term used refers to one who plays a stringed instrument, perhaps a harp.

23 tn Heb “the hand of the Lord came on him.” This may refer to what typically happened, “[for] when a musician played, the hand of the Lord would come upon him.”

24 tn Heb “making this valley cisterns, cisterns.” The Hebrew noun גֵּב (gev) means “cistern” in Jer 14:3 (cf. Jer 39:10). The repetition of the noun is for emphasis. See GKC 396 §123.e. The verb (“making”) is an infinitive absolute, which has to be interpreted in light of the context. The translation above takes it in an imperatival sense. The command need not be understood as literal, but as hyperbolic. Telling them to build cisterns is a dramatic way of leading into the announcement that he would miraculously provide water in the desert. Some prefer to translate the infinitive as an imperfect with the Lord as the understood subject, “I will turn this valley [into] many pools.”

25 tn Heb “see.”

26 tn Heb “and this is easy in the eyes of the Lord.”

27 tn Heb “choice” or “select.”

28 tn Elisha places the object first and uses an imperfect verb form. The stylistic shift may signal that he is now instructing them what to do, rather than merely predicting what would happen.

29 tn Heb “good.”

30 tn Heb “and ruin every good portion with stones.”

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