Jehoram Meets Moab Rebellion
1 Jehoram the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the (a)eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years. 2 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not like his father and mother; for he put away the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had made. 3 Nevertheless, he continued in the [idolatrous] sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin; he did not depart from them.
4 (b)Mesha the king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he used to pay [an annual tribute] to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. 5 But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 So King Jehoram left Samaria at that time and assembled all [the fighting men of] Israel. 7 Then he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, saying, “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?” And he replied, “I will go; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” 8 Jehoram said, “Which way shall we go up?” Jehoshaphat answered, “The way through the Wilderness of Edom.”
9 So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. They made a circuit of seven days’ journey, but there was no water for the army or for the cattle that followed them. 10 Then the king of Israel said, “We are doomed, for the Lord has called these three kings to be handed over to Moab.” 11 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here from whom we may inquire of the Lord?” One of the servants of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who (c)used to pour water over Elijah’s hands.” 12 Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the Lord is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to Elisha.
13 Now Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What business do you have with me? Go to the prophets of your [wicked] father [Ahab] and to the prophets of your [pagan] mother [Jezebel].” But the king of Israel said to him, “No, for the Lord has called these three kings together to be handed over to Moab.” 14 Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts (armies) lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you [king of Israel]. 15 But now bring me a musician.” And it came about while the musician played, that the hand (power) of the Lord came upon Elisha. 16 He said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Make this valley (the Arabah) full of trenches.’ 17 For thus says the Lord, ‘You will not see wind or rain, yet that valley will be filled with water, so you and your cattle and your other animals may drink. 18 This is but a simple thing in the sight of the Lord; He will also hand over the Moabites to you. 19 You shall strike every fortified city and every choice (principal) city, and cut down every good tree and stop up all sources of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones.’” 20 It happened in the morning, when the sacrifice was offered, that suddenly water came [miraculously] from the area of Edom, and the country was filled with water.
21 Now all the Moabites heard that the [three] kings had come up to fight against them, and all (d)who were able to put on armor, as well as those who were older, were summoned and stood [together in battle formation] at the border. 22 When they got up early the next morning, the sun shone on the water, and the Moabites saw the water across from them as red as blood. 23 And they said, “This is blood! Clearly the kings have fought together, and have killed one another. Now then, Moab, to the spoil [and the plunder of the dead soldiers]!” 24 But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and struck the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they went forward into the land, killing the Moabites [as they went]. 25 They destroyed the [walls of the] cities, and each man threw a stone on every piece of good land, covering it [with stones]. And they stopped up all the springs of water and cut down all the good trees, until they left nothing in Kir-hareseth [Moab’s capital city] but its stones. Then the [stone] slingers surrounded the city and destroyed it. 26 When the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through to the king of Edom; but they could not. 27 Then the king of Moab took his (e)eldest son, who was to reign in his place, and (f)offered him [publicly] as a burnt offering [to Chemosh] on the [city] wall [horrifying everyone]. And there was great wrath against Israel, and Israel’s allies [Judah and Edom] withdrew from King Jehoram and returned to their own land.
a. 2 Kings 3:1: See note 1:17.
b. 2 Kings 3:4: This name of the king of Moab occurs in the first line of the Moabite Stone. In that inscription the Moabite king mentions his successes against Omri and Omri’s successor (1 Kin 16:23).
c. 2 Kings 3:11: A Hebrew idiom meaning that one person personally served another.
d. 2 Kings 3:21: I.e. the young and able.
e. 2 Kings 3:27: I.e. the crown prince.
f. 2 Kings 3:27: This terrible act of human sacrifice did nothing to mitigate or reverse Israel’s victory over Mesha and the Moabites.