Chapter 3 doesn’t start off with Elisha. But I’ll catch you up on what has happened. The Moabites rebelled after Ahab died. I know I already talked a little about this so I’ll refer you to that rather than re-writing the whole thought process I had.
The Rebellion of Moab
Anyway, the Moabites rebel. The Jehoshaphat of Judah and Jehoram decide to attack the Moabites. They meet up and decide to attack from the wilderness of Edom. On the way down through Edom, the king there joins the Israelis and Judaeans. But they all run out of water before they get to attack. How embarrassing! One of the servants of the king of Israel asks,” What about Elisha? You know, the one who poured water on the hands of Elijah?” That was 2 Kings 3:11 paraphrased.
Pouring Water on the Hands
Is this a miracle that we don’t have recorded? It’s a possibility. For all that is written about these prophets, a lot is left out. Maybe “pouring water on the hands of Elijah” is a phrase which denotes service. Translating the servant’s suggestion with this thought in mind he may have said, “What about Elisha? You know, the one who helped/served Elijah?” I guess both are equally possible. Either way, the kings were all aware of what the servant was talking about.
Elisha Traveling with the Army
It says the kings went down to Elisha. Does that mean he was traveling with them? It does say that Elisha became a trusted advisor of the king of Israel. By this time has he achieved that trust with the king? I don’t know. Cross reference map 10. The wilderness of Edom is South-East of the Dead Sea. The Moabites, if you remember, live East of the Dead Sea. So Jehoram left Israel with his force heading South, picking up King Jehoshaphat as he marched through Judah and picked up the King of Edom when they began to pass through there. I can’t imagine the 3 kings making the 160+ mile trip back to Mount Carmel just to talk to Elisha. My guess is he traveled with them. Whether he liked it or not is another question. I’ll talk about that in a second. My only other theory is that Elisha just happened to be in the area when a giant army bent on slaughtering Moabites came through.
Not a Happy Camper
From the cross reference, it makes it seem like Elisha was not a happy camper at all. Which is why I think he was traveling with the army. Cross reference Ezekiel 14:3, Judges 10:14, and Proverbs 1:28. Pretty much all these are saying why should the Lord God listen and help you when you have built up idols to replace the real God? Cry unto your idols, not God, if you think they can help you better than He can. Pretty much is saying why come to prophets of God when you have idols? Can’t they help you?
I think that is how Elisha is feeling. When kings come unto him, he says some direct things to them. Elisha asks them why they have come to him. He tells them to go back to the Gods and prophets of their fathers and mothers. The kings of Israel says, “No, it’s ok. The Lord has called these three kings together to conquer Moab.” In reply to that statement Elisha says,”As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the King of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.” Boom! Elisha is like, “I wouldn’t look at you, or even in your direction if it wasn’t for the King of Judah standing before me.” I do not think he is very happy with these men.
Importance of Music in Prophecy
Elisha asks them to bring a minstrel and play a tune. They do and the hand of the Lord comes upon Elisha. I have never heard of anything like this before. It makes sense, though. Music really does bring the spirit. This was a really good idea because he was most likely disappointed with the kings. He needed this music to calm him down and fill him with the spirit again.
The Will Deliver Your Enemies Into Your Hands
Elisha, now with the spirit, tells them to make ditches all over the place. And that even though there is no water, there will be. Also, doing this is easy for the Lord, he will also deliver the Moabites into your hands.
Cross reference 1 Nephi 21:6. This scripture says it is easy for the Lord to raise up natives through Jacob to be saviors for others. Pretty much it is another example of how powerful and smart God is. These things are impossible or seemingly impossible towards man, are easy for God to do. Also cross-reference 3 Nephi 3:4. The Nephites (I think) are preparing to go up to battle to decide to go on the defensive instead of the offensive because they know that if they do this, they will be defending themselves and won’t be in the wrong and striking the first move. That by doing this, the Lord would deliver their enemies into their hands. Elisha tells them this and when the chance comes, they need to ransack pretty much all the important cities.
Here’s what happens. The kings listen to Elisha’s advice from God. They dig the ditches, rain comes and fills them all up so they have water. Well, the Moabites hear what is going in the land of Edom so they decide to attack first. When Moabites arrive early in the morning, the sun shines upon the ditches with water and they are red as blood. The Moabites take this to mean that the three kings’ armies killed each other off and the Moabites are now free to spoil away. They come down to the camp and are surprised when the armies came out of hiding (in the tents?) and begin to slay them. The Moabites are chased into their land as their cities are destroyed in pursuit.
Two funny things happen during this battle. First, the Israelites are supposed to destroy the Moabites land with stones. But they run out of stones at Kir-haraseth. They can’t do too much damage because the slingers don’t have stones. Second, the king of Moab sees the battle is too sore so he rallies 200 men to charge the army to get through to the king of Edom. It fails.
After the battle, the Moab king offers HIS SON as a burnt offering. The same son who was to reign in his stead, upon one of the city walls. Yikes! After this happens, whether the sacrifice influenced this I know not, the armies withdraws back to Edom, Judah, and Israel.