Jehoshaphat

2 Chronicles 17-20 MSG
(counting...)

Jehoshaphat of Judah

1-6Asa's son Jehoshaphat was the next king; he started out by working on his defense system against Israel. He put troops in all the fortress cities of Judah and deployed garrisons throughout Judah and in the towns of Ephraim that his father Asa had captured. God was on Jehoshaphat's side because he stuck to the ways of his father Asa's early years. He didn't fool around with the popular Baal religion—he was a seeker and follower of the God of his father and was obedient to him; he wasn't like Israel. And God secured the kingdom under his rule, gave him a firm grip on it. And everyone in Judah showed their appreciation by bringing gifts. Jehoshaphat ended up very rich and much honored. He was single-minded in following God; and he got rid of the local [a private party]-and-religion shrines.

7-9In the third year of his reign he sent his officials—excellent men, every one of them—Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah on a teaching mission to the cities of Judah. They were accompanied by Levites—Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-Adonijah; the priests Elishama and Jehoram were also in the company. They made a circuit of the towns of Judah, teaching the people and using the Book of The Revelation of God as their text.

10-12There was a strong sense of the fear of God in all the kingdoms around Judah—they didn't dare go to war against Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines even brought gifts and a load of silver to Jehoshaphat, and the desert bedouin brought flocks—7,700 rams and 7,700 goats. So Jehoshaphat became stronger by the day, and constructed more and more forts and store-cities—an age of prosperity for Judah!

13-19He also had excellent fighting men stationed in Jerusalem. The captains of the military units of Judah, classified according to families, were: Captain Adnah with 300,000 soldiers; his associate Captain Jehohanan with 280,000; his associate Amasiah son of Zicri, a volunteer for God, with 200,000. Officer Eliada represented Benjamin with 200,000 fully equipped with bow and shield; and his associate was Jehozabad with 180,000 armed and ready for battle. These were under the direct command of the king; in addition there were the troops assigned to the fortress cities spread all over Judah.

1-3But even though Jehoshaphat was very rich and much honored, he made a marriage alliance with Ahab of Israel. Some time later he paid a visit to Ahab at Samaria. Ahab celebrated his visit with a feast—a huge barbecue with all the lamb and beef you could eat. But Ahab had a hidden agenda; he wanted Jehoshaphat's support in attacking Ramoth Gilead. Then Ahab brought it into the open: "Will you join me in attacking Ramoth Gilead?" Jehoshaphat said, "You bet. I'm with you all the way; you can count on me and my troops."

4Then Jehoshaphat said, "But before you do anything, ask God for guidance."

5The king of Israel got the prophets together—all four hundred of them —and put the question to them: "Should I attack Ramoth Gilead or should I hold back?"

"Go for it," they said. "God will hand it over to the king."

6But Jehoshaphat dragged his feet, "Is there another prophet of God around here we can consult? Let's get a second opinion."

7The king of Israel told Jehoshaphat, "As a matter of fact, there is another. But I hate him. He never preaches anything good to me, only doom, doom, doom—Micaiah son of Imlah."

"The king shouldn't talk about a prophet like that!" said Jehoshaphat.

8So the king of Israel ordered one of his men, "Quickly, get Micaiah son of Imlah."

9-11Meanwhile, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat were seated on their thrones, dressed in their royal robes, resplendent in front of the Samaria city gates. All the prophets were staging a prophecy-performance for their benefit. Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had even made a set of iron horns, and brandishing them, called out, "God's word! With these horns you'll gore Aram until there's nothing left of them!" All the prophets chimed in, "Yes! Go for Ramoth Gilead! An easy victory! God's gift to the king!"

12The messenger who went to get Micaiah told him, "The prophets have all said Yes to the king. Make it unanimous—vote Yes!"

13But Micaiah said, "As sure as God lives, what God says, I'll say."

14With Micaiah before him, the king asked him, "So, Micaiah—do we attack Ramoth Gilead? Or do we hold back?"

"Go ahead," he said, "an easy victory! God's gift to the king."

15"Not so fast," said the king. "How many times have I made you promise under oath to tell me the truth and nothing but the truth?"

16"All right," said Micaiah, "since you insist . . .

I saw all of Israel scattered over the hills,

sheep with no shepherd.

Then God spoke, 'These poor people

have no one to tell them what to do.

Let them go home and do

the best they can for themselves.'"

17The king of Israel turned to Jehoshaphat, "See! What did I tell you? He never has a good word for me from God, only doom."

18-21Micaiah kept on, "I'm not done yet; listen to God's word:

I saw God enthroned,

and all the Angel Armies of heaven

standing at attention,

ranged on his right and his left.

And God said, "How can we seduce Ahab

into attacking Ramoth Gilead?"

Some said this,

and some said that.

Then a bold angel stepped out,

stood before God, and said,

"I'll seduce him."

"And how will you do it?" said God.

"Easy," said the angel,

"I'll get all the prophets to lie."

"That should do it," said God;

"On your way—seduce him!"

22"And that's what has happened. God filled the mouths of your puppet prophets with seductive lies. God has pronounced your doom."

23Just then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah came up and slapped Micaiah in the face, saying, "Since when did the Spirit of God leave me and take up with you?"

24Micaiah said, "You'll know soon enough; you'll know it when you're frantically and futilely looking for a place to hide."

25-26The king of Israel had heard enough: "Get Micaiah out of here! Turn him over to Amon the city magistrate and to Joash the king's son with this message: 'King's orders! Lock him up in jail; keep him on bread and water until I'm back in one piece.'"

27Micaiah said,

If you ever get back in one piece,

I'm no prophet of God.

He added,

When it happens, O people,

remember where you heard it!

28-29So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went ahead and attacked Ramoth Gilead. The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Wear my kingly robe; I'm going into battle disguised." So the king of Israel entered the battle in disguise.

30Meanwhile, the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders (there were thirty-two of them), "Don't bother with anyone whether small or great; go after the king of Israel and him only."

31-32When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they said, "There he is! The king of Israel!" and took after him. Jehoshaphat yelled out, and the chariot commanders realized they had the wrong man—it wasn't the king of Israel after all. God intervened and they let him go.

33Just then someone, without aiming, shot an arrow into the crowd and hit the king of Israel in the chink of his armor. The king told his charioteer, "Turn back! Get me out of here—I'm wounded."

34All day the fighting continued, hot and heavy. Propped up in his chariot, the king watched from the sidelines. He died that evening.

1-3But Jehoshaphat king of Judah got home safe and sound. Jehu, son of Hanani the seer, confronted King Jehoshaphat: "You have no business helping evil, cozying up to God-haters. Because you did this, God is good and angry with you. But you're not all bad—you made a clean sweep of the polluting [a private party]-and-religion shrines; and you were single-minded in seeking God."

4Jehoshaphat kept his residence in Jerusalem but made a regular round of visits among the people, from Beersheba in the south to Mount Ephraim in the north, urging them to return to God, the God of their ancestors.

5-7And he was diligent in appointing judges in the land—each of the fortress cities had its judge. He charged the judges: "This is serious work; do it carefully. You are not merely judging between men and women; these are God's judgments that you are passing on. Live in the fear of God—be most careful, for God hates dishonesty, partiality, and bribery."

8-10In Jerusalem Jehoshaphat also appointed Levites, priests, and family heads to decide on matters that had to do with worship and mediating local differences. He charged them: "Do your work in the fear of God; be dependable and honest in your duties. When a case comes before you involving any of your fellow citizens, whether it seems large (like murder) or small (like matters of interpretation of the law), you are responsible for warning them that they are dealing with God. Make that explicit, otherwise both you and they are going to be dealing with God's wrath. Do your work well or you'll end up being as guilty as they are.

11"Amariah the chief priest is in charge of all cases regarding the worship of God; Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the leader of the tribe of Judah, is in charge of all civil cases; the Levites will keep order in the courts. Be bold and diligent. And God be with you as you do your best."

1-2Some time later the Moabites and Ammonites, accompanied by Meunites, joined forces to make war on Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat received this intelligence report: "A huge force is on its way from beyond the Dead Sea to fight you. There's no time to waste—they're already at Hazazon Tamar, the oasis of En Gedi."

3-4Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed. He went to God for help and ordered a nationwide fast. The country of Judah united in seeking God's help—they came from all the cities of Judah to pray to God.

5-9Then Jehoshaphat took a position before the assembled people of Judah and Jerusalem at The Temple of God in front of the new courtyard and said, "O God, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven above and ruler of all kingdoms below? You hold all power and might in your fist—no one stands a chance against you! And didn't you make the natives of this land leave as you brought your people Israel in, turning it over permanently to your people Israel, the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived here and built a holy house of worship to honor you, saying, 'When the worst happens—whether war or flood or disease or famine—and we take our place before this Temple (we know you are personally present in this place!) and pray out our pain and trouble, we know that you will listen and give victory.'

10-12"And now it's happened: men from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir have shown up. You didn't let Israel touch them when we got here at first—we detoured around them and didn't lay a hand on them. And now they've come to kick us out of the country you gave us. O dear God, won't you take care of them? We're helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don't know what to do; we're looking to you."

13Everyone in Judah was there—little children, wives, sons—all present and attentive to God.

14-17Then Jahaziel was moved by the Spirit of God to speak from the midst of the congregation. (Jahaziel was the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah the Levite of the Asaph clan.) He said, "Attention everyone—all of you from out of town, all you from Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat—God's word: Don't be afraid; don't pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God's war, not yours. Tomorrow you'll go after them; see, they're already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you'll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. You won't have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God's saving work for you take shape. Don't be afraid, don't waver. March out boldly tomorrow—God is with you."

18-19Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!

20They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, "Listen Judah and Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in your prophets and you'll come out on top!"

21After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing,

Give thanks to God, His love never quits.

22-23As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, and all ended up killed.

24As Judah came up over the rise, looking into the wilderness for the horde of barbarians, they looked on a killing field of dead bodies—not a living soul among them.

25-26When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder they found more loot than they could carry off—equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away! On the fourth day they came together at the Valley of Blessing (Beracah) and blessed God (that's how it got the name, Valley of Blessing).

27-28Jehoshaphat then led all the men of Judah and Jerusalem back to Jerusalem—an exuberant parade. God had given them joyful relief from their enemies! They entered Jerusalem and came to The Temple of God with all the instruments of the band playing.

29-30When the surrounding kingdoms got word that God had fought Israel's enemies, the fear of God descended on them. Jehoshaphat heard no more from them; as long as Jehoshaphat reigned, peace reigned.

31-33That about sums up Jehoshaphat's reign over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king and ruled as king in Jerusalem for twenty-five years. His mother was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. He continued the kind of life characteristic of his father Asa—no detours, no dead-ends—pleasing God with his life. But he failed to get rid of the neighborhood [a private party]-andreligion shrines—people continued to pray and worship at these idolatrous god shops.

34The rest of Jehoshaphat's life, from start to finish, is written in the memoirs of Jehu son of Hanani, which are included in the Royal Annals of Israel's Kings.

35-37Late in life Jehoshaphat formed a trading syndicate with Ahaziah king of Israel—which was very wrong of him to do. He went in as partner with him to build ocean-going ships at Ezion Geber to trade with Tarshish. Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah preached against Jehoshaphat's venture: "Because you joined forces with Ahaziah, God has shipwrecked your work." The ships were smashed and nothing ever came of the trade partnership.


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