New Defender's Study Bible Notes
3:1 eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat. See footnote on II Kings 1:17.
3:4 rendered unto the king. Evidently the Moabites had been in subjection to Judah and Israel ever since the days of King David (II Samuel 8:1, 2).
3:5 king of Moab rebelled. This rebellion had begun during the days of Ahaziah (II Kings 1:1) with Mesha refusing to pay the heavy annual tribute, until Jehoram decided to re-subjugate Moab. The famous Moabite Stone, one of the most important archaeological discoveries, mentions this event.
3:7 I am as thou art. Although Jehoshaphat was a godly king, he was related to Jehoram by marriage. Althaliah was a sister of Israel’s Jehoram (both were children of Ahab), and was married to Judah’s Jehoram, who was son of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat also may have been encouraged by the fact that Jehoram had stored away the idol of Baal made and worshipped by his father Ahab. Jehoshaphat, however, had twice previously made unfortunate alliances with kings of Israel—once with Ahab (I Kings 22:29) and once with Ahaziah (II Chronicles 20:35).
3:14 presence of Jehoshaphat. Although Jehoshaphat should not have allied himself with the idol-worshipping kings of Edom and Israel, his presence among them was, at least in this case, honored by the Lord, perhaps also because they were fighting the even more wicked Moabites.
3:20 filled with water. Arid regions occasionally are subject to cloudbursts, when the dry arroyos very quickly are filled with floodwater runoff. Probably this was what happened in this case, providentially timed in response to Elisha’s prophetic prayer, just as had been Elijah’s experience at Mount Carmel after the three-and-a-half-year drought in Israel.
3:22 red as blood. The sudden floods rushing over the terrain of erosive red sandstone perhaps made the waters look bloody, wrongly interpreted by the Moabites as the result of infighting among themselves by the three armies.
3:27 his eldest son. There has been some uncertainty by the scribes as to whether Mesha, the king of Moab (II Kings 3:4, 26) sacrificed his own son in an attempt to persuade his god (Chemosh) to intervene against Israel, or had somehow captured the son of the king of Edom and sacrificed him, as an act of vengeance against Edom for siding with Israel. In either case, the semi-pagan Israelites were so disturbed by this development, which had evidently infuriated both the Moabites and Edomites against them, that they simply abandoned the campaign against Moab and went home.