Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
2 Chronicles 18:1
Jehoshaphat's marriage alliance with Ahab, and his campaign with Ahab against the Syrians at Ramoth in Gilead. - Ch2 18:1. Jehoshaphat came into connection by marriage with Ahab through his son Joram taking Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab, to wife (Ch2 21:6); an event which did not take place on the visit made by Jehoshaphat to Ahab in his palace at Samaria, and recorded in Ch2 18:2, but which had preceded that by about nine years. That visit falls in the beginning of the year in which Ahab was mortally wounded at Ramoth, and died, i.e., the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat's reign. But at that time Ahaziah, the son of Joram and Athaliah, was already from eight to nine years old, since thirteen years later he became king at the age of twenty-two; Kg2 8:26, cf. with the chronol. table to 1 Kings 12. The marriage connection is mentioned in order to account for Jehoshaphat's visit to Samaria (Ch2 18:2), and his alliance with Ahab in the war against the Syrians; but it is also introduced by a reference to Jehoshaphat's riches and his royal splendour, repeated from Ch2 17:5. In the opinion of many commentators, this is stated to account for Ahab's willingness to connect his family by marriage with that of Jehoshaphat. This opinion might be tenable were it Ahab's entering upon a marriage connection with Jehoshaphat which is spoken of; but for Jehoshaphat, of whom it is related that he entered into a marriage connection with Ahab, his own great wealth could not be a motive for his action in that matter. If we consider, first, that this marriage connection was very hurtful to the kingdom of Judah and the royal house of David, since Athaliah not only introduced the Phoenician idolatry into the kingdom, but also at the death of Ahaziah extirpated all the royal seed of the house of David, only the infant Joash of all the royal children being saved by the princess, a sister of Ahaziah, who was married to the high priest Jehoiada (Ch2 22:10-12); and, second, that Jehoshaphat was sharply censured by the prophet for his alliance with the criminal Ahab (Ch2 19:2.), and had, moreover, all but forfeited his life in the war (Ch2 18:34.), - we see that the author of the Chronicle can only have regarded the marriage connection between Jehoshaphat and Ahab as a mistake. By introducing this account of it by a second reference to Jehoshaphat's riches and power, he must therefore have intended to hint that Jehoshaphat had no need to enter into this relationship with the idolatrous house of Ahab, but had acted very inconsiderately in doing so. Schmidt has correctly stated the contents of the verse thus: Josaphatus cetera dives et gloriosus infelicem adfinitatem cum Achabo, rege Israelis, contrahit. With which side the proposals for thus connecting the two royal houses originated we are not anywhere informed. Even if the conjecture of Ramb., that Ahab proposed it to Jehoshaphat, be not well founded, yet so much is beyond doubt, namely, that Ahab not only desired the alliance, but also promoted it by every means in his power, since it must have been of great importance to him to gain in Jehoshaphat a strong ally against the hostile pressure of the Syrians. Jehoshaphat probably entered upon the alliance bono animo et spe firmandae inter duo regna pacis (Ramb.), without much thought of the dangers which a connection of this sort with the idolatrous Ahab and with Jezebel might bring upon his kingdom.
2 Chronicles 18:2
The campaign undertaken along with Ahab against the Syrians at Ramoth in Gilead, with its origin, course, and results for Ahab, is narrated in 1 Kings (in the history of Ahab) in agreement with our narrative, only the introduction to the war being different here. In Kg1 22:1-3 it is remarked, in connection with the preceding wars of Ahab with the Syrians, that after there had been no war for three years between Aram and Israel, in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah came up to the king of Israel; and the latter, when he and his servants had determined to snatch away from the Syrians the city Ramoth in Gilead, which belonged to Israel, called upon Jehoshaphat to march with him to the war against Ramoth. In the Chronicle the more exact statement, "in the third year," which is intelligible only in connection with the earlier history of Ahab, is exchanged for the indefinite שׁנים לקץ, "at the end of years;" and mention is made of the festal entertainment which Ahab bestowed upon his guest and his train (עמּו אשׁר העם), to show the pains which Ahab took to induce King Jehoshaphat to take part in the proposed campaign. He killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, ויסיתהוּ ,ecnadn, and enticed, seduced him to go up with him to Ramoth. הסית, to incite, entice to anything (Jdg 1:14), frequently to evil; cf. Deu 13:7, etc. עלה, to advance upon a land or a city in a warlike sense. The account which follows of the preparations for the campaign by inquiring of prophets, and of the war itself, vv. 4-34, is in almost verbal agreement with 1 Kings 22:5-35. Referring to 1 Kings for the commentary on the substance of the narrative, we will here only group together briefly the divergences. Instead of 400 men who were prophets, Ch2 18:5, in Kg1 22:5 we have about 400 men. It is a statement in round numbers, founded not upon exact enumeration, but upon an approximate estimate. Instead of אהדּל אם...הנלך, Ch2 18:5, in Kings, Kg1 22:6, we have אהדּל אם...האלך, both verbs being in the same number; and so too in Ch2 18:14, where in Kings. Kg1 22:15, both verbs stand in the plural, notwithstanding that the answer which follows, והצלח עלה, is addressed to Ahab alone, not to both the kings, while in the Chronicle the answer is given in the plural to both the kings, והצליחוּ עלוּ. in Ch2 18:7, "he prophesies me nothing good, but all his days (i.e., so long as he has been a prophet) evil," the meaning is intensified by the כּל־ימיו, which is not found in Kg1 22:8. In Ch2 18:9, the ויושׁבים, which is introduced before the בּגרן, "and sitting upon the threshing-floor," is due to difference of style, for it is quite superfluous for the signification. In Ch2 18:15, the ambiguous words of Micah,' and Jahve will give into the hand of the king" (Kg1 22:15), are given in a more definite form: "and they (the enemy) shall be given into your hand." In Ch2 18:19, in the first כּכה אמר זה, the אמר after the preceding ויּאמר is not only superfluous, but improper, and has probably come into the text by a copyist's error. We should therefore read only בּכה זה, corresponding to the כּכה זה of Kg1 22:20 : "Then spake one after this manner, and the other spake after another manner." In Ch2 18:23, the indefinite אי־זה of Kg1 22:24, is elucidated by הדּרך זה אי, "is that the manner" (cf. Kg1 13:12; Kg2 3:8)., and the verb. עבר follows without the relative pronoun, as in the passages cited. In Ch2 18:30, only הרכב שׂרי of the king are mentioned, without any statement of the number, which is given in Kg1 22:31, with a backward reference to the former war (Kg1 20:24). In Ch2 18:31, after the words, "and Jehoshaphat cried out," the higher cause of Jehoshaphat's rescue is pointed out in the words, "and Jahve helped him, and God drove them from him," which are not found in Kg1 22:32; but by this religious reflection the actual course of the event is in no way altered. Bertheau's remark, therefore, that "the words disturb the clear connection of the events," is quite unwarrantable. Finally, in Ch2 18:34, מעמיד היה, he was holding his position, i.e., he held himself standing upright, the Hiph. is more expressive than the Hoph. מעמד (Kg1 22:35), since it expresses more definitely the fact that he held himself upright by his own strength. With Ahab's death, which took place in the evening at the time of the going down of the sun, the author of the Chronicle concludes his account of this war, and proceeds in Ch2 19:1-11 to narrate the further course of Jehoshaphat's reign. In Kg1 22:36-39, the return of the defeated army, and the details as to Ahab's death and burial, are recorded; but these did not fit into the plan of the Chronicle.