The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Fourth Book of Kings
It was in the eighteenth year of king Josaphat that Joram, son of Achab, began his reign over Israel at Samaria; it lasted twelve years.
He too defied the Lord’s will, but not so openly as his father and mother before him; the images his father had raised to Baal he abolished,
but he clung to the sins of Jeroboam, that taught Israel to sin, and could not bring himself to leave them.
The king of Moab, Mesa, had great flocks in his possession, and used to pay a tribute of a hundred thousand lambs, and as many rams unshorn;
but when Achab died, he renounced his agreement with the kings of Israel.
Whereupon king Joram lost no time in marching out from Samaria, mustering his whole forces,
and sending a message to Josaphat, king of Juda, bidding him come out and bear arms against the rebel king of Moab. I will march with thee, he answered; mine is thine, men and horses of mine are at thy disposal;
what shall be our line of march? Through the desert of Edom, answered he;
and march they did, the three kings of Israel, Juda and Edom, by so indirect a journey as took them seven days to accomplish, till the supply of water failed for man and beast.
Alas, alas, the king of Israel cried, that the Lord should have gathered us here, kings three, to fall into the hands of Moab!
But Josaphat said, Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we might win the divine favour? At that, one of Joram’s men said, Eliseus the son of Saphat is close by, that was body-servant once to Elias.
He is a man that has the power of the Lord with him, said Josaphat. So to Eliseus the three kings of Israel, Juda and Edom betook themselves.
And thus he greeted the king of Israel, What makest thou with me? To those other prophets betake thyself, whom thy father and thy mother knew. Tell me this, said Joram; why has the Lord gathered us here, kings three, to fall into the hands of Moab?
And Eliseus told him, As the Lord of hosts, the God I serve, is a living God, neither heed nor hearing thou shouldst have had from me, but for that reverence I bear for Josaphat, king of Juda.
Bring a minstrel here. So a minstrel came, and while he played on his harp, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Eliseus, and he cried,
A message from the Lord; Dig channels here, channels there, in this dry river-bed.
Thus says the Lord, Never a sign shall there be of wind or rain, but this river-bed shall fill with water, for you and yours and for your beasts to drink.
And the Lord will not be content with that; he means to give you victory over Moab.
Every fortress and every cherished city of theirs you must overthrow, cut down every fruit-tree, stop up every well, strew all their best plough-land with boulders.
And so, next morning, at the time when sacrifice is offered, in came the water, flowing from Edom; water filled all the plain.
And now the Moabites, who had heard that the kings were marching against them, called to arms every man that could wear a sword-belt, and stood ready to defend their frontier.
They awoke that morning to find sunrise reflected in the water, so that it seemed, from their side of the valley, red as blood.
Bloodshed! they cried; the kings have fallen out with one another and come to blows; men of Moab, there lies the spoil!
So they made straight for the Israelite camp; where the Israelites stood to their arms and overpowered them, so that they turned to flee. And now the victors, with Moab at their mercy,
overthrew the cities, smothered their best plough-land, every man throwing his stone, stopped up the wells, and cut down the fruit-trees. Only the City of Brick Walls was left, and even this, beleaguered by slingers, was in great part destroyed.
The king of Moab, seeing that his cause was lost, tried to break through, at the head of seven hundred warriors, and attack the king of Edom. When this would not serve,
he took his own first-born son, the heir to the throne, and offered him up as a sacrifice on the walls. At this, great ruth came upon the men of Israel, so that they let him be, and went back to their own country.✻
The Holy Bible