2 Kings 3:24-27

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.

26 When the king of Moab saw that the battle had gone against him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through to the king of Edom, but they failed. 27 Then he took his firstborn son, who was to succeed him as king, and offered him as a sacrifice on the city wall. The fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land.

If I am understanding the text correctly, King of Moab has sacrificed the first son causing fury against Israel, and the army of Israel withdraws. My question is who is furious against Israel? The people? God? Or someone else? How does this cause them to withdraw?

  • My Dutch translation (NBV) translates basically as 'this dismayed/shocked the Israelites so much they withdrew', which suggests the Israelites where the ones being furious. But I have no idea if/how that translation is justified.
    – AVee
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 23:30

4 Answers 4


Then the king of Moab took his oldest son, who would have been the next king, and sacrificed him as a burnt offering on the wall. So there was great anger against Israel, and the Israelites withdrew and returned to their own land. (2 Kings 3:27, NLT)

I'd interpret this as saying that the king sacrificed his son which then fuelled the rage of the Moabites - it showed how passionate their king was, and it perhaps suggested to them what would happen to all of their children if they didn't get the Israelites to leave. So they then convinced the Israelites to leave, probably by arming the entire city making their army much larger.


I found this and thought it would be useful:

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary (2 Kings 3:27):

took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering, &c.— By this deed of horror, to which the allied army drove the king of Moab, a divine judgment came upon Israel; that is, the besiegers feared the anger of God, which they had incurred by giving occasion to the human sacrifice forbidden in the law (Le 18:21; 20:3), and hastily raised the siege.


God had told Israel not to go to war against Moab because Moab was of the descendants of Lot. What they did was an act of disobedience. The sacrificing of the son shows that these guys somehow knew about the God of Abraham. Remember Abraham sacrificed Isaac, read the book of Hebrews. They offered the sacrifice to the god of Moab and by so doing they did set in motion a spiritual principle. I would also like to believe that when Israel saw this they remembered what God had told them, do not fight against Moab.

  • Don't forget to use paragraphs ([Enter Key] twice) to break up your text into logical units.
    – enegue
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 4:58

Abraham did not sacrifice Isaac. He was ready to do so, but he was prevented from doing so, and a sacrificial ram was given to take Isaac's place.

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    – agarza
    Commented Jan 2, 2022 at 21:00

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