Moab’s rebellion

Joram,[a] Ahab’s son, became king of Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat, Judah’s king. He ruled for twelve years. He did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes, but he wasn’t as bad as his father and mother. He removed the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had made. But he nevertheless clung to the sins that Jeroboam, Nebat’s son, had caused Israel to commit. He didn’t deviate from them.

Now Moab’s King Mesha kept sheep. He would pay Israel’s king one hundred thousand lambs and the wool from one hundred thousand rams. But when Ahab died, Moab’s king rebelled against Israel’s king. So King Joram set out from Samaria at once. He prepared all Israel for war. He sent word to Judah’s King Jehoshaphat, “Moab’s king has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?”

Jehoshaphat responded, “Yes, I’ll go. We’ll fight as one: you and I, our troops and our horses.”

“Which road should we take?” Joram asked.

Jehoshaphat responded, “The road that goes through the Edomite wilderness.”

So Israel’s and Judah’s kings set out with the king of Edom. They marched around for seven days until there was no water left for the army or for the animals with them. 10 Israel’s king said, “This is terrible! Has the Lord brought us three kings together only to hand us over to Moab?”

11 Jehoshaphat said, “Isn’t there any prophet of the Lord around, so we could question the Lord through him?”

One of the servants of Israel’s king answered, “Elisha, Shaphat’s son, is here. He used to pour water on Elijah’s hands.”

12 Jehoshaphat said, “He has the Lord’s word!” So Israel’s king and Jehoshaphat and Edom’s king went down to see Elisha.

13 Elisha said to Israel’s king, “What do we have to do with each other? Go to your father’s or mother’s prophets.”

Then Israel’s king said to him, “Don’t say that, because it is the Lord who has brought us three kings together—but only to hand us over to Moab!”

14 Elisha said, “I swear by the life of the Lord of heavenly forces, the one I stand before and serve, if I didn’t care about Judah’s King Jehoshaphat, I wouldn’t notice you or even look at you! 15 Now bring me a musician.” While the musician played, the Lord’s power came over Elisha. 16 He said, “This is what the Lord says: This valley will be filled with pools.[b] 17 This is what the Lord says: You won’t see any wind or rain, but that valley will be full of water. Then you’ll be able to drink—you, your cattle, and your animals. 18 This is easy for the Lord to do. He will also hand Moab over to you. 19 You will then attack every fort and every grand city, cutting down all the good trees, stopping up all the springs, and ruining the good fields with stones.”

20 The next morning, at the time to offer the grain offering, water came flowing from the direction of Edom. The land filled up with water.

21 Now all the Moabites had heard how these kings had come to fight against them. So all who were able to fight were summoned, and they took up positions along the border. 22 They got up early in the morning as the sun’s rays shone on the water. The Moabites saw the water from a distance. It looked as red as blood. 23 They said, “It’s blood! The kings must have fought each other and killed themselves! Now get the plunder, Moab!”

24 But when they entered Israel’s camp, the Israelites rose up and attacked the Moabites. The Moabites fled from them. Israel moved forward, striking the Moabites down as they went.[c] 25 Then the Israelites destroyed the Moabite cities. Each Israelite threw a stone on every piece of good land until it was covered. They stopped up every spring and cut down every good tree. Only Kir-hareseth remained with its stone wall intact,[d] but then stone throwers[e] surrounded it and attacked it.

26 Moab’s king saw that he was losing the battle. So he took seven hundred soldiers with him, each with sword in hand, to break through to Edom’s king. But they failed. 27 Then he took his oldest son, who was to succeed him as king, and he offered him on the wall as an entirely burned offering. As a result, outrage was expressed by Israel. So they pulled back from Moab’s king and returned to their own country.


  1. 2 Kings 3:1 Heb Jehoram (also in 3:6); the king’s name is variously spelled in either long Jehoram or short Joram form.
  2. 2 Kings 3:16 LXX, Vulg Fill this valley with ditches.
  3. 2 Kings 3:24 Heb uncertain
  4. 2 Kings 3:25 Heb uncertain
  5. 2 Kings 3:25 Heb uncertain