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2002 11 11
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Chapter 3


1 2 Joram, son of Ahab, became king of Israel in Samaria (in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and he reigned for twelve years).


He did evil in the LORD'S sight, though not as much as his father and mother. He did away with the pillar of Baal, which his father had made,


but he still clung to the sin to which Jeroboam, son of Nebat, had lured Israel; this he did not give up.


Now Mesha, king of Moab, who raised sheep, used to pay the king of Israel as tribute a hundred thousand lambs and the wool of a hundred thousand rams.


But when Ahab died, the king of Moab had rebelled against the king of Israel.


Joram as king mustered all Israel, and when he set out on a campaign from Samaria,


he sent the king of Judah the message: "The king of Moab is in rebellion against me. Will you join me in battle against Moab?" "I will," he replied. "You and I shall be as one, your people and mine, and your horses and mine as well."


They discussed the route for their attack, and settled upon the route through the desert of Edom.


So the king of Israel set out, accompanied by the king of Judah and the king of Edom. After their roundabout journey of seven days the water gave out for the army and for the animals with them.


"Alas!" exclaimed the king of Israel. "The LORD has called together these three kings to put them in the grasp of Moab."


But the king of Judah asked, "Is there no prophet of the LORD here through whom we may inquire of the LORD?" One of the officers of the king of Israel replied, "Elisha, son of Shaphat, who poured water on the hands of Elijah, is here."


"He has the word of the LORD," the king of Judah agreed. So the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom went down to Elisha.


"What do you want with me?" Elisha asked the king of Israel. "Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother." "No," the king of Israel replied. "The LORD has called these three kings together to put them in the grasp of Moab."


Then Elisha said, "As the LORD of hosts lives, whom I serve, were it not that I respect the king of Judah, I should neither look at you nor notice you at all.


Now get me a minstrel." When the minstrel played, the power of the LORD came upon Elisha


and he announced: "Thus says the LORD, 'Provide many catch basins in this wadi.'


For the LORD says, 'Though you will see neither wind nor rain, yet this wadi will be filled with water for you, your livestock, and your pack animals to drink.'


And since the LORD does not consider this enough, he will also deliver Moab into your grasp.


You shall destroy every fortified city, fell every fruit tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every fertile field with stones."


In the morning, at the time of the sacrifice, water came from the direction of Edom and filled the land.


Meanwhile, all Moab heard that the kings had come to give them battle; every man capable of bearing arms was called up and stationed at the border.


2 Early that morning, when the sun shone on the water, the Moabites saw the water at a distance as red as blood.


"This is blood!" they exclaimed. "The kings have fought among themselves and killed one another. Quick! To the spoils, Moabites!"


But when they reached the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and attacked the Moabites, who fled from them. They ranged through the countryside striking down the Moabites, and


3 destroying the cities; each of them cast stones onto every fertile field till they had loaded it down; all the springs they stopped up and every useful tree they felled. Finally only Kir-hareseth was left behind its stone walls, and the slingers had surrounded it and were attacking it.


When he saw that he was losing the battle, the king of Moab took seven hundred swordsmen to break through to the king of Aram, but he failed.


4 So he took his first-born, his heir apparent, and offered him as a holocaust upon the wall. The wrath against Israel was so great that they gave up the siege and returned to their own land.



1 [1] The sequence of the reigns between Ahab and Jehu of Israel may be reconstructed as follows: Jehoshaphat of Judah outlived Ahab by a short time, so that Ahaziah of Israel was his contemporary. Jehoram of Judah succeeded his father Jehoshaphat while Ahaziah of Israel was still alive. Jehoram (Joram) of Israel became king, following his brother Ahaziah, in the second year of Jehoram of Judah ( 2 Kings 1:17); this is one datum on which the earliest Greek evidence and the standard Hebrew text are in agreement.

2 [22] The two Jehorams were contemporary for much of their reigns; Jehoram of Judah was succeeded by Ahaziah something more than a year before Jehu did away with the rulers of both kingdoms ( 2 Kings 9:1-29). The Moabite campaign of 2 Kings 3:4-27 is thus best placed under the two Kings Jehoram, before the Edomite rebellion mentioned in 2 Kings 8:20. In the received Hebrew text, Jehoshaphat has been made the Judahite protagonist in the campaign against Moab as a tribute to his piety; this assimilates the story of 2 Kings 3 to that of 1 Kings 22, but creates difficulties in the chronology which the extant data leave partly unresolved. An older practice for stories of the Israelite kings was to leave them and their fellow kings without identification by name; cf 2 Kings 6:8-7, 20. The name of Jehoshaphat has been omitted from a number of places in 2 Kings 3-8, in this translation; cf 1 Kings 22:51.

2 [22] Red as blood: possibly caused by the red sandstone of the Wadi Zered ( Deut 2:13), south of Moab.

3 [25] Kir-hareseth: modern Kerak, east of the Dead Sea; cf Isaiah 16:7, 11; Jeremiah 48:31, 36.

4 [27] The wrath against Israel: probably the wrath of Chemosh, the Moabite god to whom the child was offered. He was feared by the Israelites who lost heart on foreign soil.

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