Son of Asa; fourth king of Judah (873-c. 849 B.C.); contemporary of Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram, kings of Israel. He inaugurated a policy which was contrary to that pursued by his predecessors, by recognizing the conditions created by the division of the realm, and by entering into a close alliance with the Northern Kingdom. In execution of this policy, his son Jehoram married Athaliah, Ahab's daughter (I Kings xxii. 51; I Chron. iii. 11; II Kings viii. 18; II Chron. xxi. 6). Jehoshaphat took part in the expedition undertaken by Ahab against the Arameans (I Kings xxii. 1 et seq.; II Chron. xviii. 3 et seq.), and together with Jehoram of Israel waged war upon King Mesha of Moab (II Kings iii. 4 et seq.; comp. II Chron. xx. 1 et seq., where the episode is embellished with religious and miraculous elements). He also had the ambition to emulate Solomon's maritime ventures to Ophir, and built a large vessel for Tarshish. But when this boat was wrecked at Ezion-geber he relinquished the project (I Kings xxii. 48 et seq.; II Chron. xx. 35 et seq.).
In I Kings xxii. 43 the piety of Jehoshaphat is briefly dwelt on. Chronicles, in keeping with its tendency, elaborates this trait of the king's character. According to its report (II Chron. xvii. 7 et seq., xix. 4 et seq.) Jehoshaphat organized a missionary movement by sending out his officers, the priests, and the Levites to instruct the people throughout the land in the Law of Yhwh, the king himself delivering sermons. Ecclesiastical and secular jurisdictions, according to II Chron. xix. 11, were by royal command kept distinct.
Underlying this ascription to the king of the purpose to carry out the Priestly Code, is the historical fact that Jehoshaphat took heed to organize the administration of justice on a solid foundation, and was an honest worshiper of Yhwh. In connection with this the statement that Jehoshaphat expelled the "Ḳedeshim" (R. V. "Sodomites") from the land (I Kings xxii. 46) is characteristic; while II Chron. xix. 3 credits him with having cut down the Asherot. The report (II Chron. xvii. 6) that he took away the "high places" (and the Asherim) conflicts with I Kings xxii. 44 (A. V. v. 43) and II Chron.xx. 33. The account of Jehoshaphat's tremendous army (1,160,000 men) and the rich tribute received from (among others) the Philistines and the Arabs (II Chron. xvii. 10 et seq.) is not historical. It is in harmony with the theory worked out in Chronicles that pious monarchs have always been the mightiest and most prosperous.
Bibliography:E. G. H.
- Commentaries on Kings and Chronicles; the histories of Stade, Guthe, Winckler, Piepenbring, Smith, and Ewald;
- Hastings, Dict. Bible;
- Guthe, Kurzes Bibel Wörterb.;
- Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl.;
- Riehm, Handwörterb. 2d ed.