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Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah. On the whole, Jehoshaphat was a very godly king who worshipped the Lord and sought to promote godliness throughout the land. He appointed teachers of the law and judges throughout the land to teach the people right from wrong, settle disputes, and promote godliness (2 Chronicles 17:6–9; 19:4–11).
As a result, the Lord gave him success as a military leader, and the neighboring peoples brought him gifts as a sign of their submission to him (2 Chronicles 17:10–13). The Lord also gave him victory over a great army of Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites who were approaching Jerusalem to attack him (2 Chronicles 20).
Jehoshaphat evidenced susceptibility to sin. The root of his sin probably lay in his willingness to marry into wicked King Ahab’s family, likely to seal a political alliance with him (2Chronicles 18:1). Later Ahab persuaded Jehoshaphat to join him in an ill-fated battle to recover the town of Ramoth Gilead from the Arameans. He also partnered with Ahab’s wicked son Ahaziah to launch a fleet of trading ships to sail to Ophir for gold, but the ships were wrecked by a storm before they ever launched (1 Kings 22:48–49; 2 Chronicles 20:35–37).
Jehoshaphat’s plan to launch trading ships for Ophir was likely inspired by his great-great-grandfather Solomon, who had done the same thing about a hundred years earlier (1 Kings 9:26–28). As with Solomon’s venture, the ships were set to launch from Ezion Geber, a port on the Red Sea at the extreme southern border of Judah.