I’d ask you read the whole chapter to get context

Essentially Israel asks Judah and Edom to join in a conquest of Moab because Moab stopped paying their tributes to Israel.

They get a prophetic word from prophet Elisha.

“He said, "Thus says the LORD, 'Make this valley full of trenches.' For thus says the LORD, 'You shall not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts. This is but a slight thing in the sight of the LORD; He will also give the Moabites into your hand. Then you shall strike every fortified city and every choice city, and fell every good tree and stop all springs of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.'"” ‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭3:16-19‬ ‭NASB‬‬

And they fulfill it to the T

“But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites arose and struck the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they went forward into the land, slaughtering the Moabites. Thus they destroyed the cities; and each one threw a stone on every piece of good land and filled it. So they stopped all the springs of water and felled all the good trees, until in Kir-hareseth only they left its stones; however, the slingers went about it and struck it.” ‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭3:24-25‬ ‭NASB‬‬

until... the king of Moab...

“Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel, and they departed from him and returned to their own land.” ‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭3:27‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The three armies travelled seven days to get to the battle ground, almost died of thirst, experienced miracles and prophecies fulfilled, were given instructions in prophecy, fulfilled it and then a human sacrifice caused them to return empty handed, no tributes, no spoils of war, no bounty, seven day journey back home without the Moabites lifting another sword.

Please interpret verse 27. Especially in light of human sacrifice trumping prophecy. How can The Almighty promise in prophecy ”He will also give the Moabites into your hand“, after meticulous obedience from the three armies and it be overruled by a human sacrifice that generated a wrath, that evidently made them flee in terror without cause. (Moabites into your hand without spoils or objective being met to my mind is not into your hand.)

  • I can see why you might suggest that. I’ll change the words explain with interpret and passage with verse 27. Certainly hermeneutics is not limited to textual criticism in my mind “Modern hermeneutics includes both verbal and non-verbal communication as well as semiotics, presuppositions, and pre-understandings.” I think Dieter did a fine hermeneutic job in his response, even if I don’t espouse to the views presented. It is a very important verse to me and if I get that one person with that one response that I need to discover it could revolutionize something very deep and significant. – Nihil Sine Deo Jan 8 '19 at 13:44
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    Duplicate of this. – Lucian Jan 9 '19 at 9:42
  • That link you sent me to, Lucian, was exactly what I needed. The reason Elisha’s prophecy was “overturned” was because Israel had entered into covenant with Chemosh(or Moloch one and the same) and G -d as a general rule doesn’t overstep contracts that are in vigor. Israel had an open door due to their worship of Chemosh and they didn’t break off his authority over them through repentance. So when Moab called upon Chemosh, Chemosh exploited his position in the divine council and was granted permission to bring wrath on Israel. In this way the prophecy was suspended due to a legal technicality. – Nihil Sine Deo Jan 9 '19 at 18:21

In the Septuagint, 2 Kings 3:27 is translated literally as follows (using English word order):

"And he took his first-born son, whom he gave reign instead of him, and offered him as a whole burnt (offering) upon the wall. And it came to pass a great repentance in Israel. And they departed from him, and returned to the land."

However, the Hebrew and Syriac text do not agree with the Greek reading regarding Israel's repentance. Instead, the interpretation of those readings depends on the words "his" in reference to a first-born son (whose first-born son?), and the source of the "wrath" against Israel (whose wrath?). There's nothing in the text here that indicates an interpretation that God's wrath was involved. The context of Edom is possible from the previous verse.

Biblical scholar, Dr. Steven Anderson, posts the following explanation on truthonlybible.com:

"After Mesha’s attempt to break through to the king of Edom was unsuccessful, he retreated back into the city and performed an extreme act of desperation. His whole land had just been completely destroyed, and the Israelite army was about to break into his sole remaining city and kill both him and his army. This desperate situation prompted Mesha’s despicable act in v. 27. Mesha took the the king of Edom’s oldest son onto the height of the wall and burned his body (alive?) in full view of the attacking armies—which is what is meant by “offered (lit., ‘presented’) him as a burnt-offering.” When the Edomites saw that Israel’s assault had resulted in the death of the heir to their throne, they became enraged with Israel to the point of launching an attack, forcing the Israelite army to withdraw immediately to avoid a major battle."

The Israelites did have Moab "in their hands" as Elisha prophesied. But instead of continuing to trust in God who previously saved them from a Moabite attack, the Israelites gave up and went home.

  • Interesting angle, it’s a very curious angle I must say. Especially since it’s implying what was not said namely that thenMoabites picked up courage like the 300 Spartans or something. Granted I don’t buy it because Moab’s king had 1) retreated into the city or on the wall and 2) had only 700 warriors left. If his whole army could not defeat the three kings and their armies 700 exhausted wrathful men far less of a chance. Human sacrifices were offered to the gods and it’s not mentioned but implied that this fallen elohim or god was able to put the fear of god in Israel that they fled. – Nihil Sine Deo Jan 8 '19 at 5:52
  • My question is not directed at what happened but how the god could overrule a prophecy from the mouth of a prophet of G d and what role did human sacrifice have in all this? – Nihil Sine Deo Jan 8 '19 at 5:54
  • The short answer is that God didn't overrule anything. Neither did the Israelites flee. The problem is that you're making way too many assumptions about what's actually written in the text. – Dieter Jan 9 '19 at 2:22
  • I said god not G-d seemingly overruled G-d’s prophecy through Elisha. also I take your point they didn’t flee, some wrath came over them and they walked back home... I’m not asking you to share my view just like I don’t share your view that it has no spiritual implication as if to say only the body and soul were in play. Where does it say that it was the only heir? We are both reading into it because there’s not a lot there. – Nihil Sine Deo Jan 9 '19 at 2:41
  • @MrConstantin, We now come to the point. It doesn't (or shouldn't) matter on the Biblical Hermeneutics forum whether you agree or disagree with anyone's position. That's completely irrelevant. What matters is how well you support your position using other scripture references, historical translations, scholarly commentary or papers, archaeological evidence, and so on. In my response, I included the Septuagint, tried to find it in the Dead Sea Scrolls, referenced the Syriac Peshitta, and included a scholar's commentary. Do you understand what I'm getting at? :-) – Dieter Jan 9 '19 at 6:07

the reason why the great indignation against Israel: the scriptures cannot be broken for it is written when I see the blood I will pass over you. God is trying to show His people that sacrifice is a great weapon used to overturn battle. deliverance isbeyond prayer, it is transactional. That's why the blood of Jesus is very powerful

  • Hi Ifeoma, welcome to BHSE. Please take the Site Tour when you get a chance. This answer could be improved by showing more references and explanation for how you have reached the above conclusion. Have a great week. – Steve Taylor Feb 25 '20 at 10:06

First of all, one has to understand that the term "indignation" stresses extreme emotional regret or anger as a result of watching/witnessing an evil/unjust action being mented against another person. With this in mind, Israel's recognition of the Moabite king committing the heinous act of burning his son alive in the war( recorded in 2Kings chapter 3) totally killed their spirits to pursue the Moabite any more. They somehow even blamed themselves for pressing the defeate of their enemies to the extreme of the Moabites having to commit this wicked sacrifice just for the survival of the remaining few of their men.

After all, they had already prevailed against Moab in every way foretold by the prophet: they had devastated their's territory completely, discomfitted their fighting force altogether, blocked up all of the rivers and cut down all food bearing trees of Moab. So why keep pressing on with the war until someone had to die such a death before they could realize that they had won the war was the indignation that came upon them to discontinue the war.


This is a wrong claim that king of Moab defeated Israel, the Bible clearly says that Moab was defeated in verse 2 Kings 3:24 and also, the Mesha stele shows that Moab king rebuilt the cities destroyed by Israel. For a nation to be destroyed, withdrawing from opponent city is not defeat, the opponent in this case Moab must ransack Jerusalem, Israels, capital, which is not the case, also proved by Mesha Stele as it doesnt claim vioctory over Jerusalem or Israel

2 Kings 3:24 But when the Moabites came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and fought them until they fled. And the Israelites invaded the land and slaughtered the Moabites. 25 They destroyed the towns, and each man threw a stone on every good field until it was covered. They stopped up all the springs and cut down every good tree. Only Kir Hareseth was left with its stones in place, but men armed with slings surrounded it and attacked it."

Coming to the point that God of the Bible wanted the sacrifice is just absurd, Mesha king of Moab is a pagan, he is sacrificing his son on his city wall, Moabs cheif god was Chemosh(similar to Baal), so a sacrifice to another God, Chemosh shouldnt be taken as a sacrifice offered or promoted by God of Bible. Only arguement that can be made is that they lost the battle, but not the war mostly because they lost faith or got scared of the human sacrifice by the Moab king


Seems pretty simple to me. The purpose of invading Moab was to depose the king and install his "son" as the new leader.
They should have waited for the king to die naturally.

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