Jehoshaphat, son of Asa

Early on Jehoshaphat fortified the cities of Judah and the Ephramite cities previously captured by his father Asa. He set garrisons throughout the land and by reason of military strength made peace with Israel. Jehoshaphat sought the God of his father David, and walked in His commandments. Therefore, the LORD established his kingdom and he was greatly honored by the people.

He cleansed the sodomite remnant from the land and worked to remove the high places (2Ch 17:6) from the land, but the people were resistant because their hearts remained unreconciled to the God of their fathers (2Ch 20:33; 1Ki 22:43).

In the third year of his reign, he sent forth itinerant teachers into all the cities of Judah to instruct the people in the Law of Moses (2Ch 17:7-9). Jehoshaphat built castles, store cities, and the people enjoyed a thriving economy. The fear of God fell upon the surrounding nations, who paid him tribute and dared not make war against him.

The one disgrace of Jehoshaphat's reign was his alliance with Ahab, the idolatrous king of Israel. The marriage of his son Jehoram to Ahab's daughter Athaliah nearly doomed Judah after Jehoshaphat's death (2Ki 11:1-3). After a narrow escape from the bloody battle of Ramoth-Gilead (2Ch 18:31), the prophet Jehu rebuked him for this unholy alliance. Jehoshaphat refocused his reform efforts, which included a reorganization of the legal system by appointing judges in key cities, with an appeal court in Jerusalem (2Ch 19:4-11).

After Ahab's death, Jehoshaphat entered into a maritime commerce alliance with Ahab's son Ahaziah in order to trade with Ophir for gold (2Ch 20:35-37; 1Ki 22:48-49), but then:

“...Eli`ezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Yehoshafat, saying, Because you have joined yourself with Achazyah, the LORD has destroyed your works. The ships were broken, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish.” (2Ch 20:37, HNV)

After Ahaziah's death, Jehoshaphat joined forces with his brother Jehoram in a successful war against the Moabites (see Jehoram, king of Israel for details).

The final significant event of his reign is recorded in 2Ch 20. The Moabites formed a powerful confederacy with the surrounding nations, and came against Jehoshaphat. Fearful of the great multitude allied against his kingdom, he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah to seek God's help. In response to their cry, the Spirit of the LORD came upon the Levite Jahaziel who said they should not be afraid because the battle belonged to God:

“You shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand you still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Yehudah and Yerushalayim; don't be afraid, nor be dismayed: tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD is with you. Yehoshafat bowed his head with his face to the ground; and all Yehudah and the inhabitants of Yerushalayim fell down before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.” (2Ch 20:17-18, HNV).

God sent confusion into the enemy camps causing internal dissension between the confederate factions, and each rose up to fight one against the other. The result was total annihilation of the confederacy. When the men of Judah arrived, only a vast army of dead bodies and much plunder remained. It took three days for Jehoshaphat and his men to carry off the spoils of clothing, equipment and valuables. On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Breracah to praise the Lord for total deliverance.

The fear of God came upon all the surrounding nations when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Jehoshaphat. The kingdom of Judah then enjoyed peace and rest on every border. Afterwards, Jehoshaphat died, after a reign of twenty-five years, being sixty years of age, and was succeeded by his son Jehoram (1Ki 22:50). He had this testimony, that “he sought the Lord with all his heart” (2Ch 22:9). The kingdom of Judah was never more prosperous than under his reign.