2 Chronicles 17 – “Jehoshophat’s Righteous Rule”

hebrew_bibleHebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Jehoshophat becomes king, uproots idolatry from the land, and sends messengers to teach the word of God to the people. He also develops a large army, fortifies Judah, and receives tribute from his neighbors.

II. Photo
Jehoshophat sends messengers to teach the people: “They offered instruction throughout Judah, having with them the Book of the Teaching of the LORD. They made the rounds of all the cities of the LORD and instructed the people.”

III. Important Verses
vv. 3-4: The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the earlier ways of his father David, and did not worship the Baalim, but worshiped the God of his father and followed His commandments — unlike the behavior of Israel.
v. 6: His mind was elevated in the ways of the LORD. Moreover, he abolished the shrines and the sacred posts from Judah.
vv. 7-9: In the third year of his reign he sent his officers… They offered instruction throughout Judah, having with them the Book of the Teaching of the LORD. They made the rounds of all the cities of the LORD and instructed the people.
v. 10: A terror of the LORD seized all the kingdoms of the lands around Judah, and they did not go to war with Jehoshaphat.

IV. Outline
1. Jehoshaphat is anointed
2. Fortifying Judah
3-5. Jehoshophat is favored by God
6-9. Religious reform: uprooting idolatry and teaching the law
10-11. Foreigners pay tribute
12-13a. Fortifying Judah
13b-19. Military roster

V. Comment
Chapter 17 describes Jehoshophat’s religious reforms and successes as a ruler. It has been shown in the previous chapter that the book of Chronicles evinces a “theology of immediate retribution,” i.e. the belief that one is immediately rewarded or punished for ones deeds. This chapter is a prime example of this type of theology. After describing Jehoshophat’s righteous reign, the Chronicler writes: “A terror of the LORD seized all the kingdoms of the lands around Judah, and they did not go to war with Jehoshaphat. From Philistia a load of silver was brought to Jehoshaphat as tribute. The Arabs, too, brought him flocks: 7,700 rams and 7,700 he-goats. Jehoshaphat grew greater and greater…” (vv. 10-12)

The descriptions of Asa and Jehoshophat are given much more detail in the book of Chronicles than in the book of Kings. Besides for this point, Dillard notes that the description of Jehoshophat mirrors that of Asa in 6 other ways. He writes (129-130):

  1. Both accounts concern pious kings whose reigns could be outlined as follows: (a) reform, building programs, and large armies (14:2–8; 17:1–19); (b) battle report (14:9–15; 18:1–19:3); (c) reform (15:1–19; 19:4–11); (d) battle report (16:1–9; 20:1–30); (e) transgression and death (16:10–14; 20:31–21:1).
  2. The reform accounts in both reigns are thought by many scholars to be duplicates of the same event: Asa’s suppression of heterodox worship (14:2–6) may have been one aspect of the reforms endorsed by Azariah the prophet (15:1–19…); Jehoshaphat’s teaching mission (17:7–9) may have been the reflex of a larger judicial reform (19:4–11).
  3. Both kings are said to have suppressed the high places (14:2–5; 17:6) and not to have done so (15:17; 20:33)…
  4. Both enjoy the rewards of their piety in building programs (14:7; 17:2, 12), peace (14:1; 17:10), large armies (14:8; 17:12–19). God was with both (15:9; 17:3), and the fear of [the Lord] was on the nations (14:14; 17:10; 20:29) during their reigns.
  5. Prophets indict both for their entangling foreign alliances (16:7–9; 19:1–3; cf. 20:35–37). Two prophets minister during the reigns of each: Azariah and Hanani for Asa; Jehu and Eliezer for Jehoshaphat. Like Asa and Jehoshaphat the relationship between two of the prophets is father-son; Hanani (16:7) was the father of Jehu (19:2; 20:34).
  6. The Chronicler may be using a paronomasia on the name of both kings. A. Shinan and Y. Zakowitch (“Midrash on Scripture and Midrash within Scripture,” Scripta Hieroslymitana 31 [1986] 272) suggest that the Chronicler is using a word play on Asa’s name. [’asa’] n Aramaic is a term for physician (16:11–14). Jehoshaphat, whose name means “[the Lord] judges,” is the one who appoints judges for Judah (19:4–11).

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Dillard, Raymond B. “2 Chronicles” (Waco Texas: Word Books, 1988).
Photo taken from http://oneyearbibleimages.com/hebrew_bible.jpg

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