Joram son of Ahab began his rule over Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. He was king for twelve years.
In God's sight he was a bad king. But he wasn't as bad as his father and mother - to his credit he destroyed the obscene Baal stone that his father had made.
But he hung on to the sinful practices of Jeroboam son of Nebat, the ones that had corrupted Israel for so long. He wasn't about to give them up.
King Mesha of Moab raised sheep. He was forced to give the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and another hundred thousand rams.
When Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.
So King Joram set out from Samaria and prepared Israel for war.
His first move was to send a message to Jehoshaphat king of Judah: "The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Would you join me and fight him?"
Which route shall we take?" "Through the badlands of Edom."
The king of Israel, the king of Judah, and the king of Edom started out on what proved to be a looping detour. After seven days they had run out of water for both army and animals.
The king of Israel said, "Bad news! God has gotten us three kings out here to dump us into the hand of Moab."
But Jehoshaphat said, "Isn't there a prophet of God anywhere around through whom we can consult God?" One of the servants of the king of Israel said, "Elisha son of Shaphat is around somewhere - the one who was Elijah's right-hand man."
Jehoshaphat said, "Good! A man we can trust!" So the three of them - the king of Israel, Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom - went to meet him.
Elisha addressed the king of Israel, "What do you and I have in common? Go consult the puppet-prophets of your father and mother." "Never!" said the king of Israel. "It's God who has gotten us into this fix, dumping all three of us kings into the hand of Moab."
Elisha said, "As God-of-the-Angel-Armies lives, and before whom I stand ready to serve, if it weren't for the respect I have for Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I wouldn't give you the time of day.
But considering - bring me a minstrel." (When a minstrel played, the power of God came on Elisha.)
He then said, "God's word: Dig ditches all over this valley.
Here's what will happen - you won't hear the wind, you won't see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water and your army and your animals will drink their fill.
This is easy for God to do; he will also hand over Moab to you.
You will ravage the country: Knock out its fortifications, level the key villages, clear-cut the orchards, clog the springs, and litter the cultivated fields with stones."
In the morning - it was at the hour of morning sacrifice - the water had arrived, water pouring in from the west, from Edom, a flash-flood filling the valley with water.
By this time everyone in Moab had heard that the kings had come up to make war against them. Everyone who was able to handle a sword was called into service and took a stand at the border.
They were up and ready early in the morning when the sun rose over the water. From where the Moabites stood, the water reflecting the sun looked red, like blood.
"Blood! Look at the blood!" they said. "The kings must have fought each other - a bloody massacre! Go for the loot, Moab!"
When Moab entered the camp of Israel, the Israelites were up on their feet killing Moabites right and left, the Moabites running for their lives, Israelites relentless in pursuit - a slaughter.
They leveled the towns, littered the cultivated fields with rocks, clogged the springs, and clear-cut the orchards. Only the capital, Kir Hareseth, was left intact, and that not for long; it too was surrounded and attacked with thrown and flung rocks.
When the king of Moab realized that he was fighting a losing battle, he took seven hundred swordsmen to hack a corridor past the king of Edom, but they didn't make it.
Then he took his son, his firstborn who would succeed him as king, and sacrificed him on the city wall. That set off furious anger against Israel. Israel pulled back and returned home.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)