3:1 In the eighteenth year of King Jehoshaphat’s reign over Judah, Ahab’s son Jehoram became king over Israel in Samaria; 1 he ruled for twelve years. 3:2 He did evil in the sight of 2 the Lord, but not to the same degree as his father and mother. He did remove the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had made. 3:3 Yet he persisted in 3 the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who encouraged Israel to sin; he did not turn from them. 4
3:4 Now King Mesha of Moab was a sheep breeder. 5 He would send as tribute 6 to the king of Israel 100,000 male lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. 3:5 When Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 3:6 At that time King Jehoram left Samaria and assembled all Israel for war. 3:7 He sent 7 this message to King Jehoshaphat of Judah: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you fight with me against Moab?” Jehoshaphat 8 replied, “I will join you in the campaign; my army and horses are at your disposal.” 9 3:8 He then asked, “Which invasion route are we going to take?” 10 Jehoram 11 answered, “By the road through the Desert of Edom.” 3:9 So the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom 12 set out together. They wandered around on the road for seven days and finally ran out of water for the men and animals they had with them. 3:10 The king of Israel said, “Oh no! 13 Certainly the Lord has summoned these three kings so that he can hand them over to the king of Moab!” 3:11 Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here that we might seek the Lord’s direction?” 14 One of the servants of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha son of Shapat is here; he used to be Elijah’s servant.” 15 3:12 Jehoshaphat said, “The Lord speaks through him.” 16 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to visit him.
3:13 Elisha said to the king of Israel, “Why are you here? 17 Go to your father’s prophets or your mother’s prophets!” The king of Israel replied to him, “No, for the Lord is the one who summoned these three kings so that he can hand them over to Moab.” 3:14 Elisha said, “As certainly as the Lord who rules over all 18 lives (whom I serve), 19 if I did not respect King Jehoshaphat of Judah, 20 I would not pay attention to you or acknowledge you. 21 3:15 But now, get me a musician.” 22 When the musician played, the Lord energized him, 23 3:16 and he said, “This is what the Lord says, ‘Make many cisterns in this valley,’ 24 3:17 for this is what the Lord says, ‘You will not feel 25 any wind or see any rain, but this valley will be full of water and you and your cattle and animals will drink.’ 3:18 This is an easy task for the Lord; 26 he will also hand Moab over to you. 3:19 You will defeat every fortified city and every important 27 city. You must chop down 28 every productive 29 tree, stop up all the springs, and cover all the cultivated land with stones.” 30
3:20 Sure enough, the next morning, at the time of the morning sacrifice, water came flowing down from Edom and filled the land. 31 3:21 Now all Moab had heard that the kings were attacking, 32 so everyone old enough to fight was mustered and placed at the border. 33 3:22 When they got up early the next morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites, who were some distance away, the water looked red like blood. 3:23 The Moabites 34 said, “It’s blood! The kings are totally destroyed! 35 They have struck one another down! Now, Moab, seize the plunder!” 3:24 When they approached the Israelite camp, the Israelites rose up and struck down the Moabites, who then ran from them. The Israelites 36 thoroughly defeated 37 Moab. 3:25 They tore down the cities and each man threw a stone into every cultivated field until they were covered. 38 They stopped up every spring and chopped down every productive tree.
Only Kir Hareseth was left intact, 39 but the slingers surrounded it and attacked it. 3:26 When the king of Moab realized he was losing the battle, 40 he and 700 swordsmen tried to break through and attack 41 the king of Edom, but they failed. 3:27 So he took his firstborn son, who was to succeed him as king, and offered him up as a burnt sacrifice on the wall. There was an outburst of divine anger against Israel, 42 so they broke off the attack 43 and returned to their homeland.
[3:3] 4 tc The Hebrew text has the singular, “it.” Some ancient witnesses read the plural, which seems preferable since the antecedent (“sins”) is plural. Another option is to emend the plural “sins” to a singular. One ancient Greek witness has the singular “sin.”
[3:16] 24 tn Heb “making this valley cisterns, cisterns.” The Hebrew noun גֵּב (gev) means “cistern” in Jer 14:3 (cf. Jer 39:10). The repetition of the noun is for emphasis. See GKC 396 §123.e. The verb (“making”) is an infinitive absolute, which has to be interpreted in light of the context. The translation above takes it in an imperatival sense. The command need not be understood as literal, but as hyperbolic. Telling them to build cisterns is a dramatic way of leading into the announcement that he would miraculously provide water in the desert. Some prefer to translate the infinitive as an imperfect with the Lord as the understood subject, “I will turn this valley [into] many pools.”
[3:19] 28 tn Elisha places the object first and uses an imperfect verb form. The stylistic shift may signal that he is now instructing them what to do, rather than merely predicting what would happen.
[3:23] 35 tn The translation assumes the verb is חָרַב (kharav, “to be desolate”). The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb form for emphasis. (For another example of the Hophal infinitive with a Niphal finite verb, see Lev 19:20. Cf. also IBHS 582 §35.2.1c.) Some prefer to derive the verb from a proposed homonym meaning “at HALOT 349 s.v. II חרב and BDB 352 s.v. חָרְבָה).
[3:24] 37 tc The consonantal text (Kethib) suggests, “and they went, striking down,” but the marginal reading (Qere) is “they struck down, striking down.” For a discussion of the textual problem, see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 46.
[3:25] 38 tn Heb “and [on] every good portion they were throwing each man his stone and they filled it.” The vav + perfect (“and they filled”) here indicates customary action contemporary with the situation described in the preceding main clause (where a customary imperfect is used, “they were throwing”). See the note at 3:4.
[3:27] sn The meaning of this statement is uncertain, for the subject of the anger is not indicated. Except for two relatively late texts, the noun קֶצֶף (qetsef) refers to an outburst of divine anger. But it seems unlikely the Lord would be angry with Israel, for he placed his stamp of approval on the campaign (vv. 16-19). D. N. Freedman suggests the narrator, who obviously has a bias against the Omride dynasty, included this observation to show that the Lord would not allow the Israelite king to “have an undiluted victory” (as quoted in M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings [AB], 52, n. 8). Some suggest that the original source identified Chemosh the Moabite god as the subject and that his name was later suppressed by a conscientious scribe, but this proposal raises more questions than it answers. For a discussion of various views, see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 47-48, 51-52.