Fausset's Bible Dictionary


("he whom Jehovah judges".)

1. Recorder or annalist in David's and Solomon's court. Son of Ahilud (2Sa_8:16; 1Ki_4:3; compare Est_6:1).

2. A priest. Blew the trumpet before the ark in its passage from Obed Edom's house to Jerusalem (1Ch_15:24).

3. Son of Paruah. One of Solomon's twelve purveyors, in Issachar (1Ki_4:17).

4. Son of Asa and Azubah. At 35 began to reign, the first three years during his father's incapacity through disease in the feet, then 22 alone, beginning at 914 B.C., 25 years in all (1Ki_15:24; 1Ki_22:41-50; 2Ki_8:16; 2Ch_17:1-21. 2Ch_17:3). "He walked in the first ways of his father David (before his sin with Bathsheba), and sought not unto Baalim (whether Baal or other false god, or worshipping Jehovah by an image which degrades Him to the level of Baal, Jdg_2:11), but to the Lord God of his fathers, and not after the doings of Israel (worshipping Jehovah through the golden calves). Therefore, the Lord established the kingdom in his hand .... And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord; moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah" (2Ch_17:3-6; 2Ch_19:3).

But "the high places (of Jehovah) were not taken away, for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers." All that depended on him he did, but the people could not yet rise up to his spirituality so as to worship Jehovah without any visible altar save the one at Jerusalem (2Ch_20:32-33). He utterly abolished the idol high places and, as far as he could, the unlawful Jehovah high places, but was unable thoroughly to get rid of the latter (1Ki_15:14; 1Ki_22:43). To remedy the people's ignorance of the book of the law, in the third year of his reign he sent a commission of five princes, nine Levites, and two priests to go through the cities of Judah, teaching them in it; a model for rulers as to national education (Deu_11:19-21). Jehoshaphat at first fortified the cities of Judah and those of Ephraim taken by Asa (2Ch_17:2) to secure himself against Israel.

Afterward he changed his policy to one of alliance with Israel against, the common foe Syria and the eastern tribes, Ammon, Moab, etc.; and his son Jehoram married Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (2Ch_22:2-3; 2Ch_22:7-8; 2Ch_22:10). A fatal union (1Co_15:33)! Many facts attest the intimacy between the two dynasties; avoiding Judah when fleeing from Ahab; the same names given in the two families; Jehovah's name compounded in names of Ahab's idolatrous children; Jehoshaphat's readiness to go with (See AHAB to battle at Ramoth Gilead. Ahab's demonstrative hospitality was the bait to entice him (2Ch_18:1-3). There he would have paid with life for his dangerous alliance with cowardly Ahab, who sought to save his own life by exposing his magnanimous ally, but for God's interposition.

On his return in peace, in the 16th year of his reign probably, Jehu the son of Hanani reproved him," Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord? (compare 1Sa_15:35; 1Sa_16:1). Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord." But God is ever ready to discern any good in His servants; "nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God" (compare 2Ch_27:6, "ways"; contrast Rehoboam, 2Ch_12:14). Jehoshaphat then again, besides the former commission (2Ch_17:9) in the third year of his reign, took up the work of reformation and went out in person through the people from Beersheba in the S. to mount Ephraim in the N. to bring them back unto the Lord God of their fathers. He also set judges in the several cities, and a supreme court for references and appeals ("controversies") in Jerusalem, made up of Levites, priests, and chief fathers of Israel (the judges in the cities were probably of the same classes).

The judges chosen from the elders by Moses at Jethro's suggestion were the foundation of the judicial body (Exo_18:21, etc.; Deu_1:15, etc.), David added for the expanding wants of the kingdom 6,000 Levites. "The judgment of the Lord" (2Ch_19:8) corresponds to "matters of the Lord" (verse 11), i.e. religious questions. "Controversies" answer to "the king's matters," civil causes. Jehoshaphat's directions are a rule for judges in all ages: "take heed what ye do, for ye judge not for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment; wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you ... for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts." Amariah the chief priest presided in religious questions; Zebadiah, "ruler of the house of Judah" (tribal prince of Judah), in civil questions. The Levites were to be shoterim, "officers" literally, scribes, keeping written accounts; assistants to the judges, transmitting their orders to the people, and superintending the execution of them.

Five divisions comprised his soldiery, comprising 780,000 men in Judah and 380,000 in Benjamin. But it was "the fear of the Lord failing upon all the kingdoms ... round about Judah" (so Gen_35:5), that was his main defense, "so that they made no war on Jehoshaphat." Nay, the Philistines and Arabians brought presents and tribute. Edom had a "deputy king," a vassal to Judah; "there was (then) no (real, independent) king" (1Ki_22:47). This remark is introduced to show how Jehoshaphat was able to make ships of Tarshish (i.e. ships such as go to Tarshish, i.e. long voyaging ships; 2Ch_20:36 changes this into "to make ships to go to Tarshish," a copyist's misunderstanding) to go to Ophir from the maritime coast of Edom. Jehoshaphat allied himself with the wicked Ahaziah in this enterprise. The ships were built in Ezion Geber on the Red Sea.

Then Eliezer, son of Dodavah, prophesied," because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord shall break (the perfect is prophetical, not hath broken) thy works." They were accordingly wrecked at Ezion Geber by a storm (2Ch_20:35-37). Ahaziah in vain tried to induce Jehoshaphat to repeat the attempt. One chastisement from the Lord sufficed a docile child (1Co_11:32; contrast Isa_9:13; Jer_5:3). This was subsequent to the Edomite, Ammonite, and Moabite invasion of Judah by way of Engedi.  Edom joined with Ammon and other desert tribes enumerated in Psa_83:3-7 ("other beside the Ammonites," KJV 2Ch_20:1; Hiller proposes to read Maonites from Maan a city near Petra on mount Seir, tribes from all parts of mount Seir: Keil; 26:7, Mehunims), to not only throw off Judah's supremacy but root the Jews out of their divinely given inheritance; but in vain.

Jehoshaphat's piety shone brightly on this occasion. "He feared, set himself to seek Jehovah, and proclaimed a fast throughout Judah," so that "out of all the cities they came to ask help of Jehovah." His prayer in the congregation in the Lord's house is a model "O Lord God of our fathers (therefore we the children have a covenanted claim on Thee), art not Thou God in heaven (therefore hast rule thence over all)? Rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the pagan (therefore the pagan invaders of Thine elect nation cannot escape Thee)? And in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand Thee (therefore this horde cannot)? Art not Thou our God who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham Thy friend for ever? (Thy covenant forever with 'Thy friend,' and Thine honour at stake, require Thy interposition).

And they have built Thee a sanctuary, saying (1Ki_8:33; 1Ki_8:37, covenanting for God's help to be rendered in all future times in answer to the nation's prayer, which covenant God accepted), If when evil cometh upon us... we stand before Thy house in Thy presence ... and cry unto Thee ... then Thou wilt hear and help. And now behold ... Ammon, Moab ... whom Thou wouldest not let Israel invade ... they reward us (evil for good) to come to east us out of Thy possession (in undesigned coincidence with Psa_83:12, 'let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession'). O our God, wilt Thou not judge (do us justice on) them? For we have no might against this great company ... neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee." The "little ones, wives, and children," standing before Jehovah, by their very helplessness were a powerful plea with the compassionate God.

Jahaziel then gave the promise from God (compare Exo_14:13-14), and Jehoshaphat and all Judah bowed with face to the ground. The Levites stood up to praise the God of Israel with a loud voice. As the people went forth the following morning Jehoshaphat urged the people to faith as the receptive state needed on their part for ensuring God's promised blessing: "Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established" (compare Isa_7:9; Mat_9:28-29). In strong faith he ordered singers to "praise the beauty of holiness" ("to praise, clad in holy ornaments," Keil) already for the promised victory. At their beginning to sing was the time that the Lord delivered them. Seirites, greedy for booty, by God's providence, from an ambush suddenly attacking, caused a panic among the Ammonites and Moabites which eventuated in mutual slaughter.

Jehoshaphat and his people were three days gathering the spoil. On the fourth day was the blessing of Jehovah in Berachah valley, then the return and the thanksgiving in the house of God. The three allies' invasion of Moab was probably subsequent. His character stands among the highest for piety of Judah's kings, and the kingdom in his reign was at its zenith. Firmness and consistency were wanting. This want betrayed him into the alliance with Israel which on three occasions brought its penalty:

(1) at Ramoth Gilead,

(2) in the joint invasion of Moab (2 Kings 3) through the Edomite wilderness, and

(3) in respect to his naval enterprise for Ophir. To avert the foreseen evil consequences of his alliance he appointed Jehoram, his firstborn, king in his lifetime, and gave gifts and fenced eries to his other sons; but no human precautions can avert. the penalty for religious compromise (2Co_6:17-18). 2Co_6:5. Nimshi's son, king Jehu's father (2Ki_9:2).

Taken from: Fausset's Bible Dictionary by Andrew Robert Fausset (1821-1910)