TEHOSHAPHAT veh-ho-shaw-fawf Jehovah judged).
/. The fourth king of Judah, and son of Asa, whom he succeeded at the age of thirty-five, and reigned twenty-five years.
(1) Fortifies Kingdom and Resists Idolatry. He commenced his reign by fortifying his king dom against Israel; and having thus secured him self against' surprise from the quarter which gave most disturbance to him, he proceeded to purge the land from the idolatries and idolatrous monu ments by which it was still tainted. Even the high places and groves, which former well-dis posed kings had suffered to remain, were by the zeal of Jehoshaphat in a great measure destroyed. The chiefs, with priests and Levites, proceeded from town to town, with the book of the Law in their hands. instructing the people, and call ing back their wandering affections to the religion of their fathers. This was a beautiful and in teresting circumstance in the operations of the young king.
(2) Enjoys Divine Protection. Jehoshaphat was too well instructed in the great principles of the theocracy not to know that his faithful con duct had entitled him to expect the Divine pro tection. Of that protection he soon had manifest proofs. At home lie enjoyed peace and abundance, and abroad security and honor. His treasuries were filled with the 'presents' which the bless ing of God upon the people, 'in their basket and their store,' enabled them to bring. His renown extended into the neighboring nations, and the Philistines, as well as the adjoining Arabian tribes, paid him rich tributes in silver and in cattle. He was thus enabled to put all his towns in good condition, to erect fortresses, to organize a power ful army, and to raise his kinzdom to a degree of importance and splendor which it had not en joyed since the revolt of the ten tribes.
(3) Alliance with Ahab. The weak and im pious Ahab at that time occupied the throne of Israel; and Jehoshaphat, having nothing to fear from his power, sought, or at least did not repel, an alliance with him. This is alleged to have been
the grand mistake of his reign; and that it was such is proved by the consequences.
After a few years we find Jehoshaphat on a visit' to Ahab, in Samaria, being the first time any of the kings of Israel and Judah had met in peace. He here experienced a reception worthy of his greatness; but Ahab failed not to take advantage of the occasion, and so worked upon the weak points of his character as to prevail upon him to take arms with him against the Syrians, with whom, hitherto, the kingdom of Judah never had had any war or occasion of quarrel. How ever, Jehoshaphat was not so far infatuated as to proceed to the war without consulting God, who, according to the principles of the theocratic gov ernment, was the final arbiter of war and peace. The false prophets of Ahab poured forth ample promises of success, and one of them, named Zedekiah, resorting to material symbols, made him horns of iron, saying, 'Thus saith the Lord, with these shalt thou smite the Syrians till they be consumed.' Still Jehoshaphat was not satisfied; and the answer to his further inquiries extorted from him a rebuke of the reluctance which Ahab manifested to call Micah, 'the prophet of the Lord.' The fearless words of this prophet did not make the impression upon the king of Judah which might have been expected; or, probably, he then felt himself too deeply bound in honor to recede. He went to the fatal battle of Ramoth Gilead, and there nearly became the victim of a plan which Ahab had laid for his own safety at the expense of his too-confiding ally. He per suaded Jehoshaphat to appear as king, while he himself went disguised to the battle. This brought the heat of the contest around him, as the Syrians took him for Ahab; and if they had not in time discovered their mistake, lie would certainly have been slain. Ahab was killed, and the battle lost. (See AHAB) ; but Jehoshaphat escaped, and returned to Jerusalem.