2 Chronicles 19 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

2 Chronicles 19
Pulpit Commentary
And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.
Verse 1. - In peace. Compare the use of the phrase in vers. 16 and 26, 27 of last chapter. The only peace in which it could be reasonably supposed Jehoshaphat returned to his house and the metropolis was that of freedom from war, and of present "assurance of his life."
And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.
Verse 2. - And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him. For Hanani, the faithful father of a faithful son, see 2 Chronicles 16:7-10, where we read that he "came to Asa King of Judah," etc. Also for Jehu, see 1 Kings 16:1-4, where we read of his commission at the word of the Lord to rebuke Baasha the King of Israel, at a date upwards of thirty years before the present; and see 2 Chronicles 20:34, which would lead us to infer, though not with certainty, that he outlived Jehoshaphat. The book called by his name, however, was not necessarily finished by him. It is evident that neither the word of the Lord nor the messengers and prophets of the Lord were bound by the orthodox limits of the divided kingdom. The powerful character and the moral force of the true prophet is again seen (comp. 2 Chronicles 15:1-8) in the way in which he was wont to go out to meet the evil-doer, though he were a king. We are accustomed to set the whole of this down to the account of the special inspiration of the prophet of old; yet that was but typical of the intrinsic force that truth faithfully spoken should wield in its own right in later times. Religion is established in the nation and people that know and do this, by the accredited teachers of it, vie. the plain rebuke of the wrong. Shouldest thou... love them that hate the Lord? Strong suspicion must attend upon Jehoshaphat, that he had been not a little misled by answering to some personal fascination in Ahab. The prophet's rebuke is not that Jehoshaphat helped both Israel and therein Judah also against a common foe, but that he helped the ungodly, etc. Therefore wrath upon thee, etc. The significance of this sentence was probably not merely retrospective, glancing at the fact that Jehoshaphat returned to Jerusalem minus the victory for which he had bid, but was probably an intimation of troubles that should ripen, were already ripening for Jehoshaphat, in the coming invasion of his own kingdom (2 Chronicles 20:1-3).
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.
Verse 3. - Nevertheless; Hebrew, אֲכָל one of the few particles that were affirmative in the earlier Hebrew (Genesis 42:21), but adversative in the later (2 Chronicles 1:4; Daniel 10:7, 21). It may be well rendered, "on the other hand." The expression here recalls the less favourable "notwithstanding" of Revelation 2:20. There are good things found in thee (see 2 Chronicles 17:1-9).
And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the LORD God of their fathers.
Verse 4. - From Beershsba to Mount Ephraim. The length of the good land is not to be quoted, as of old, the undivided "Dan to Beersheba," but Beersheba to Mount Ephraim (2 Chronicles 13:16-19). Jehoshaphat makes another conscientious and vigorous endeavour to reform his own kingdom, to keep it steadfast in the worship of God, and free from idolatry. It is to be noticed that he does not turn away his ear from the rebuke which had been given him, but turns his heart to it. As it does not appear that he broke with Israel and Israel's kings (2 Chronicles 20:35, 37; 2 Kings 3:7, 14, 24), it is possible, especially in view of ver. 37 in our ch. 20, that the severity of the Divine rebuke was understood to apply to the occasions which found Jehoshaphat in alliance with a king notably bad, and for some supposed chance of advantage to himself. This last element of consideration will difference sufficiently the two cases just cited, to wit, the case in which Jehoshaphat joined himself with Azariah, and is sternly "prophesied against," and that in which he helped Jehoram, and through Elisha's intervention gained him the day.
And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city,
Verse 5. - Judges... fenced cities. Jehoshaphat proceeds from direct religious reforms to that which is of importance only second in the life of a nation - reform in the matter of civil administration of justice. The skeleton here given of what should be the character of a judge, and why, harmonizes well with the uniform stress laid in Scripture upon "justice and judgment." It is hard indeed to see, rather impossible, upon what foundation a sure structure of civil growth and stability can be laid, except on that of positive religion. Note the positions and the succinct arguments of vers. 6, 7; and how unequivocally they are based upon faith in a personal God, and upon his revealed character. It can scarcely be that this was the first time of judges being set in the cities of Judah but possibly the meaning intended to be conveyed with emphasis is, that now, looking well round his kingdom, he took care that all the cities should be properly provided with the necessary judges, while of late some had been, and some had not, and some, though they had been officered with judges, had found them not what judges ought to be. The immense majority of the "six thousand" Levite "officers and judges" of David's regulation (1 Chronicles 23:4; 36:29) had, with their superiors, kings and prophets, gone astray. With our present passage may be compared Deuteronomy 16:18-20, where the original enactment of judges and officers is narrated. Fenced cities. Hebrew for "fenced," בְּצֻרות; kal passive part. plur. The word occurs twenty-six times from the Book of Numbers to the Book of the Prophet Zechariah, and is rendered in the Authorized Version "fenced" or "defenced" twenty-two times, "walled" twice, "strong" once, and "mighty" once. The "gates" of the original institution in Deuteronomy are now (probably still the gates of) fenced cities.
And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment.
Verses 6, 7. - The statement of the Divine principles laid down in these verses for the foundations of the "kingdom of heaven" on earth, and the doing of God's "will on earth, even as it is in heaven," stretch from Moses and Job (Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 10:17; Deuteronomy 16:19; Job 34:19) to SS. Paul and Peter (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; 1 Peter 1:17).
Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.
Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the LORD, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem.
Verse 8. - This and the following three verses close the immediate subject by stating with some emphasis the reform in the metropolis itself, of the "supreme tribunal," as it has been called (Exodus 18:19, 20, 26; Deuteronomy 17:9, 10, 12), composed of Levites, priests, and chief of the fathers of Israel; i.e. probably heads of the whole family that went by the same name. Of course every father was head of his own family, but only one (such as in modern times by primogeniture the eldest son) the representative head of the entire family, and under this expression is no doubt naturally set forth only those families that were of some relative consideration or distinction. For the judgment of the Lord, and for controversies. Considering the plainer distinction in the language of vex. 11, there can be no doubt that the words, "for the judgment of the Lord," do not intend simply to describe godly judgment, but point to dues payable to the Lord in some religious aspect: "Render to Caesar... and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25); while the words, "and for controversies," point to the mutual strifes of the people. When they returned; Hebrew, "and they returned." It has been proposed to remove this clause so as to begin the next verse with it (and so the Revised Version shows as a clause by itself, "And they returned to Jerusalem"), and, to make this fit the better, the word did in the first line of the verse is changed into "had." It is, however, possible to render the clause, "And they dwelt in Jerusalem,' which would make a far mere coherent sense, and would mark the permanence and stationariness of this chief court.
And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.
And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the LORD, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass.
Verse 10. - Come... of your brethren... in their cities. These words confirm our foregoing note, and point to the appeal character of the Jerusalem court. Note also the clear connection of the verse with Deuteronomy 17:8, 10, 11; Exodus 21:12-27. Law ... commandment, statutes... judgments. It might sometimes need to be shown how the particular commandment flowed from main and essential law; and the written statute is easily distinguishable from those judgments, which were more like "judge-made" law. Ye shall not trespass; Revised Version, more correctly, ye shall not be guilty.
And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king's matters: also the Levites shall be officers before you. Deal courageously, and the LORD shall be with the good.
Verse 11. - Amariah. Probably the Amariah of 1 Chronicles 7:11. To the priest plainly the sacred causes are entrusted. Zebadiah is not known elsewhere. Officers (see Exodus 5:10). The Lord shall be with the good (see 2 Chronicles 15:3, 4).

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