In 2 Chronicles 20, we are told the tale of the Battle of the Berakah Valley. King Jehoshaphat was warned by his spies that a vast army from three different nations was advancing. The King immediately sent out recon teams to keep watch and determine the enemy’s avenue of approach. The King sought guidance from God, and decided to set an ambush at the very far end of the Berakah Valley, where the advancing army had to pass through the narrow Pass of Ziz.
The King put his recon elements out to watch the enemy approach up the gorge while he set up an ambush on the high ground.
Before the King could spring his ambush, the enemy groups began fighting each other, eventually to the last man. The invading army had defeated itself and Israel was victorious without losing a single man.
What sort of tactical wisdom can we glean from this story, aside from the fact that it’s always helpful to have the Creator of the Universe on your side?
The Value of Intelligence
The King was only made aware of the enemy approach because he had an active intelligence network.
How can we as citizens have our own active networks in place? Monitoring the media, including social media, talking to people, joining a network of like-minded people, and cultivating sources. Get on your local police and fire department notification services, as well as the local health department warning network.
Advance knowledge is the key.
A caution about social media though…I recently heard a great quote, “We should harvest data from social media, not plant it”…In other words, gather information, but be careful what information you post on social media.
Recon is Key
Once you know specifically where an actual threat is, you need to keep eyes on it. Bad people left unobserved can slip around you and attack from an unexpected direction.
Anytime you know where a KNOWN hostile element is, you should have someone from your network or group keeping an eye on them and reporting back, even if it’s as simple as having one member assigned to watch a social media page or spot check a known trouble house in the neighborhood.
As GI Joe famously said, “Knowing is half the battle”.
Use Terrain to Your Advantage
Once you know the enemy’s “Avenue of Approach”, your defenses should dominate the key terrain facing that avenue, yet also able to observe alternate approaches from the same direction.
Anytime you analyze terrain, use “KOCOA”:
- Key Terrain
- Cover & Concealment
- Avenues of Approach
Don’t Interfere When the Enemy Makes Mistakes
Here, when the King heard they were attacking each other, he could have easily ordered an attack and won the battle while the enemy was distracted, but he risked losing lives. Waiting was the better option.
As Sun Tzu said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”.
Another Sun Tzu truth exposed in this story is “The Supreme Art of War is to subdue the enemy without fghting”.
The Battle of Berakah Valley, as told in 2 Chronicles 20, teaches us to have intelligence gathering in place ahead of time, conduct reconnaissance when a threat is detected & maintain observation, dominate the key terrain, and (most importantly) never interfere when an enemy is making a fatal mistake.