We are told of these two incidents which took place more or less around the same time and its not clear which one preceeded the other.Both incident just took place after the death of Ahab king of Israel.

2 Kings 1 NASB

1 Now Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. 2 And Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber which was in Samaria, and became ill. So he sent messengers and said to them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I will recover from this sickness.”

We are also told that just after the death of Ahab Moab teamed up with Ammonites and other groups and tried to attack Jehoshaphat and Judah.It is recorded that all fighting men were annihilated in this incident

2 Chronicles 20:23-25 NASB

1 Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the [a]Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat . . . 23 For the sons of Ammon and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir destroying them completely; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.24 When Judah came to the lookout of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and behold, they were corpses lying on the ground, and no one had escaped.

Could the Ahaziah incident have taken place before the intended Jehoshaphat attack?

1 Answer 1


First I should clarify that the reference in beginning of 2 kings is to a rebellion not a full fledged war (this can be proven from 3:4-5 cited later). Moab rebelled against Israel which led to a war between Israel and Moab (recorded in chapter 3). Israel sent for Judah to be her ally and to go with her to wage war against Moab. The king of Judah at that time was Jehoshaphat. This is recounted in detail in 2 Kings chapter 3:4-8,

Meanwhile, Moab’s King Mesha was a sheep breeder. He used to pay 100,000 lambs and the wool from 100,000 rams to the king of Israel as tribute. 5 After Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 So King Jehoram left Samaria at that time[e] and mustered the entire army of[f] Israel. 7 As he was going out, he sent this message[g] to King Jehoshaphat of Judah: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight Moab?” “I’m coming,” Jehoshaphat[h] replied. “I’m like you! My army will act like your army and my cavalry like your cavalry,”

It seems likely that the text here is only continuing from where it left off in chapter 1 (2 Kings). The book started with the rebellion of Moab; now it is returning to that and explaining what ensued right after this rebellion. Except that the king of Israel going into battle is Jehoram not Ahaziah! Why is that? The reason is simple: because Ahaziah died (he fell from the lattice) before he was able to organize his army, so his successor finished up what his predecessor wasn't capable of doing. So the chronology of events looks something like this:

  1. Ahab dies, Mesha king of Moab rebels (chapter 1).
  2. Ahaziah organizes an army to go out and subdue them, but he dies before he is able to participate in this battle (this event is not recorded in the bible, but is an educated guess of what must have happened).
  3. Jehoram his successor organizes his army and calls for Jehoshaphat to join his cause. Together they successfully defeat Moab and Ammon (chapter 3).

It seems likely that the war which Jehoshaphat wages in Chronicles is the same war described in 2 kings 3. Even it is not that same battle it must have been a continuation of that war. It is possible that the Moabites were mad at Judah for joining Israel's battle against them, so they come back the next year to show Judah that the war is not yet over (2 Chronicles 20:1). In any case, the battle in 2 Kings 3 must have preceded the one in 2 Chronicles, since Jehoshaphat was first recruited by Jehoram and only got involved in this war against Moab through Israel. So my educated guess is that Jehoram first recruited Jehoshaphat to join him in battle against the rebelling Moabites. Once Judah was involved in this as well, another battle ensued the next year between Moab and Judah (possibly Israel too, only the author of Chronicles doesn't tell us) in which Moab was defeated once again and for all, as is recounted in 2 Chronicles 20.

  • I don't believe 2 Chr 20:35 supports this ordering. Also to be clear Jehoram was not the son of Ahaziah(2Ki 1:17-18, 'he had no son').
    – user21676
    Apr 16, 2019 at 23:22
  • 1
    @user21676 thanks for pointing out v. 17 which I had missed. I edited my post.
    – bach
    Apr 17, 2019 at 0:55
  • @user21676 about 2 Chr 20:35, I don't think it disproves anything I wrote in my post. You see v. 35 seems out of place and interrupts the flow. Reading v. 34 one would expect the text to move on to Jehoshaphat's son and successor ("and the rest of his deeds" is a very common ending to the chronicles of a specific king), why end his story when you still have more to say. Furthermore, the meaning of "And after that" in the beginning of v. 35 are unclear as well, after what events?
    – bach
    Apr 17, 2019 at 1:09
  • That's what leads me to the conclusion that it is an editorial that was added later to preserve another tidbit that was mistakenly left out. It almost looks like as if the editor did copy and paste from another source and added it sloppily to the existing record of Jehoshaphat. That's why I believe this section does not and cannot shed light on the question of the OP. That's just personal opinion and you're welcome to post your own answer. Also thanks for making me aware of this as well.
    – bach
    Apr 17, 2019 at 1:09

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