(Je·hoshʹa·phat) [Jehovah Is Judge].
3. Son of Judean King Asa by Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. At the age of 35 Jehoshaphat succeeded his father to the throne and ruled for 25 years, from 936 B.C.E. (1Ki 22:42; 2Ch 20:31) His reign was contemporaneous with that of Israelite Kings Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram. (1Ki 22:41, 51; 2Ki 3:1, 2; 2Ch 17:3, 4) It was marked by stability, prosperity, glory, and relative peace with neighboring lands. Jehoshaphat received presents from his subjects and tribute from the Philistines and Arabs.—2Ch 17:5, 10, 11.
Accomplishments. Jehoshaphat strengthened his position by putting military forces in Judah’s fortified cities, as well as garrisons both in the land of Judah and in the Israelite territory captured by his father Asa. At Jerusalem a large body of valiant warriors served the royal interests; and in Judah, Jehoshaphat built fortified places and storage cities.—2Ch 17:1, 2, 12-19.
Unlike the Israelite kings of the northern kingdom, Jehoshaphat manifested great concern for true worship. (2Ch 17:4) He commissioned certain princes, Levites, and priests to teach Jehovah’s law in the cities of Judah. (2Ch 17:7-9) Jehoshaphat also sanctified holy offerings (2Ki 12:18) and personally traveled throughout his realm, directing his subjects to return to Jehovah in faithfulness. (2Ch 19:4) Courageously Jehoshaphat continued the campaign against idolatry started by Asa. (1Ki 22:46; 2Ch 17:6) But improper worship at high places was so entrenched among the Israelites that Jehoshaphat’s efforts did not permanently eradicate it.—1Ki 22:43; 2Ch 20:33.
Jehoshaphat’s reign also witnessed the institution of a better judicial system. The king himself impressed upon the judges the importance of being impartial and free from bribery, since they were judging, not for man, but for Jehovah.—2Ch 19:5-11.
Jehoshaphat proved himself to be a king who relied on Jehovah. When Judah was threatened by the combined forces of Ammon, Moab, and the mountainous region of Seir, he humbly acknowledged the nation’s weakness in the face of this danger and prayed to Jehovah for help. Thereafter Jehovah fought for Judah by striking confusion into the ranks of the enemy so that they slaughtered one another. Consequently the surrounding nations became fearful, and Judah continued to enjoy peace.—2Ch 20:1-30.
Relationship With the Ten-Tribe Kingdom. Jehoshaphat maintained peace with the northern kingdom and unwisely formed a marriage alliance with Ahab. (1Ki 22:44; 2Ch 18:1) For this reason on several occasions he was drawn into other alliances with the kingdom of Israel.
During a visit in the northern kingdom sometime after the marriage of Ahab’s daughter Athaliah to his firstborn Jehoram, Jehoshaphat agreed to accompany King Ahab in a military venture to recover Ramoth-gilead from the Syrians. However, before actually starting out, Jehoshaphat requested that Ahab inquire of Jehovah. Four hundred prophets assured Ahab of success. But Jehovah’s true prophet Micaiah, hated by Ahab but called at Jehoshaphat’s insistence, foretold certain defeat. Nevertheless, Jehoshaphat, perhaps so as not to go back on his original promise to accompany Ahab, went into battle dressed in his royal garments. Since Ahab had taken the precaution to disguise himself, the Syrians mistakenly concluded that Jehoshaphat was Israel’s king and therefore subjected him to the heaviest attack. Jehoshaphat barely escaped with his life, and Ahab, despite the disguise, was mortally wounded. (1Ki 22:2-37; 2Ch 18) Upon returning to Jerusalem, Jehoshaphat was censured for unwisely allying himself with wicked Ahab, the visionary Jehu saying to him: “Is it to the wicked that help is to be given, and is it for those hating Jehovah that you should have love? And for this there is indignation against you from the person of Jehovah.”—2Ch 19:2.
Later, Jehoshaphat became partner to King Ahaziah, Ahab’s successor, in a shipbuilding enterprise at Ezion-geber on the Gulf of ʽAqaba. But Jehovah disapproved of this maritime alliance with wicked Ahaziah. Therefore, in fulfillment of prophecy, the ships were wrecked.—1Ki 22:48, 49; 2Ch 20:35-37; see AHAZIAH No. 1.
Sometime after this, Jehoshaphat joined Ahaziah’s successor to the throne, Jehoram, and the king of Edom in a military offensive to put down Moabite King Mesha’s revolt against the ten-tribe kingdom. But the armies of the alliance became entrapped in a waterless wilderness. Jehoshaphat therefore called for a prophet of Jehovah. Only out of regard for Jehoshaphat did the prophet Elisha seek divine inspiration, and his subsequent advice saved the three kings and their armies from disaster.—2Ki 3:4-25.
Jehoram Becomes King. While Jehoshaphat was still alive he gave the kingship to his firstborn Jehoram, but to his other sons he gave precious gifts and fortified cities in Judah. (2Ki 8:16; 2Ch 21:3) Particularly after Jehoshaphat’s death and burial in the City of David did the marriage alliance with the house of Ahab prove to be disastrous for the kingdom of Judah. Under the influence of Athaliah, Jehoram revived idolatrous practices.—1Ki 22:50; 2Ch 21:1-7, 11.