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Jehoshaphat Of Judah
Jehoshaphat, from the Hebrew name pronounced yeh-ho-shaw-fawt, meaning the LORD judged, was the fourth king of The Southern Kingdom of "Judah" (not to be confused with a few other men with the same name recorded in Bible History in that era e.g. a bodyguard of King David, a Levite who accompanied the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem in the time of King David, a scribe in the time of King Solomon, the father of King Jehu of Israel). Jehoshaphat inherited the throne of Judah from his father King Asa (see Asa Of Judah), thereby continuing the direct royal line of David (which did not exist in The Northern Kingdom of "Israel"; see Israelite Dynasties).
"15:23 The rest of all the acts of Asa, and all his might, and all that he did, and the cities which he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? Nevertheless in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet. 15:24 And Asa slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead." (1 Kings 15:23-24 KJV)
"And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the LORD"
Jehoshaphat's reign began with a gradual effort (i.e. a little at first, much more later) to rid the land of idolatry and perversion.
"22:42 Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.
King Jehoshaphat of Judah had no need to meddle with, or be meddled with by, the kingdom of Israel to the north. Jehoshaphat "made peace" with Israel by making Judah strong enough to deter any interference from Israel.
"22:44 And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel." (1 Kings 22:44 KJV)
The greatest defense that Jehoshaphat established for his kingdom however was his obedience to the Law of the LORD. Thereafter, "the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat." The reason that the corrupt northern kingdom of Israel had war after war is because they no longer had the LORD as their Army, as Judah did.
"17:7 Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, even to Benhail, and to Obadiah, and to Zechariah, and to Nethaneel, and to Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah. 17:8 And with them he sent Levites, even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tobadonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests. 17:9 And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.
Jehoshaphat's first major blunder was to bring Judah to the aid of the doomed King Ahab of Israel, and his infamously wicked wife Jezebel (see The Fall Of Ahab and Jezebel), who were at war with Syria in the time of Elijah (see The Prophets: Elijah). Jehoshaphat was with Ahab in the battle in which Ahab was fatally wounded.
"22:29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead. 22:30 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle.
After surviving the battle, Jehoshaphat was rebuked by the prophet Jehu. Thereafter, Jehoshaphat sought to return to the righteous path that he had begun when he first became king - while steering clear of the degenerate kingdom of Israel to the north (see The Galilee Captivity to understand how "Israel" became "the lost ten tribes").
"19:1 And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem. 19:2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD. 19:3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.
Later however, Jehoshaphat repeated his earlier mistake of allying himself with the collapsing northern kingdom, which was then ruled by Ahab's son Ahaziah. This time, it was an attempt to build a navy together - which the LORD allowed them to build, before He sunk it.
"20:35 And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly: 20:36 And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongaber. 20:37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish." (2 Chronicles 20:35-37 KJV)
Still having not learned his lesson to stay clear of the wicked heretics to the north, Jehoshaphat, in the time of the prophet Elisha (see The Prophets: Elisha), made another alliance with a king of Israel, this time against Moab. It was a military success, but a righteous failure. Like the prophet Jehu before him, Elisha told Jehoshaphat that he should mind his own business, in his own land.
"3:11 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may inquire of the LORD by him?
Soon thereafter, Jehoshaphat died, about age sixty, after a reign of twenty five years.
"22:50 And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoram his son reigned in his stead." (1 Kings 22:50 KJV)
Fact Finder: What or where is the "Valley of Jehoshaphat"?