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In this passage Elisha tells the people they will have water, however this was a small thing in God’s eye, He will also give Moab into their hands

“This is a light thing in the sight of the Lord. He will also give the Moabites into your hand” ‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭

However the chapter ends with all three armies fleeing from before a handful of Moabites left defending their walled off city

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

They didn’t even leave with plunder as was the motive for going to war in the first place.

“ “Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he had to deliver to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.” ‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭3:4,5‬ ‭

What is the explanation with respect to Elisha?

  • Was his prophecy wrong?
  • Was it right but incomplete? Was he misinterpreted?
  • If they fled did God give Moab into their hands, technically but not really?
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  • If it was Moab who rather returned, the reader would certainly know why(i.e. because they were angry at their plight) – user21676 Jan 25 at 1:02
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The prophecy by Elisha (2 Kings 3) contained the following predictions:

  1. V17 - For the LORD says, ‘You will not see wind or rain, but the valley will be filled with water, and you will drink—you and your cattle and your animals.’
  2. V18b - He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand.
  3. V19a - And you shall attack every fortified city and every city of importance.
  4. V19b - You shall cut down every good tree, stop up every spring, and ruin every good field with stones.”

What was the outcome?

  1. V20 - water suddenly flowed from the direction of Edom and filled the land.
  2. V24 - when the Moabites came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and attacked them, and they fled before them. So the Israelites invaded their land and struck down the Moabites.
  3. V25a, c - They destroyed the cities ... Only Kir-haraseth was left with stones in place, but men with slings surrounded it and attacked it as well.
  4. V25b - each man threw stones on every good field until it was covered. They stopped up every spring and cut down every good tree.

As a follow-up we are also told that -

  • V26, 27 - 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 prevail. So he took his firstborn son, who was to succeed him, and offered him as a burnt offering on the city wall.

Thus, Moab was completely destroyed, the heir apparent was dead, the cities and economy destroyed. The prophecy was fulfilled completely.

The chronicler then notes with considerable understatement -

  • V27b - And there was great fury against the Israelites [not surprisingly!!], so they withdrew and returned to their own land.

I note that V27b can also be translated, "And Israel’s fury was great ... " (BSB). This might be the productive subject of another question about the subtle meaning of this verse.

However, the prophecy of Elisha appears to have been fulfilled in detail.

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