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King Mesha of Moab fought against the kings of Yisrael, Yehuda and Edom (2 Melachim chapter 3). The navi Elisha prophecies, under oath, that the Jews will be successful. However at the end of the chapter Mesha sacrifices his son (or perhaps the son of the king of Edom) which somehow causes a reversal of fortune with Mesha and Moav remaining undefeated.

This story is puzzling. What has Mesha achieved in killing his son? He was not commanded to do so by God, in fact it violates one of the 7 noachide laws. This is equally true if he killed the son of the Edomite king. Why then would God turn things in his favor as a result of this act? Furthermore the navi already said there would be victory. We have a principle that a positive prophecy will not be revoked.

How do we understand these turn of events?

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I wouldnt call him successful. They wrought a lot of damage to his country before withdrawing. – user2709 May 1 '13 at 8:16
I recall the Talmud discusses it, need more later; IIRC while the king did something horribly wrong, it made the Jews looked bad by contrast as they were so self-indulgent unwilling to make any sort of serious sacrifice. (Even if the king's form of sacrifice wast totally wrong!) – Shalom May 1 '13 at 13:20

What makes you think that he wasn't defeated? Admittedly he and some of his nation continued to exist, but in pasukim 24 & 25 it says clearly that the Israelites smote the Moabites. Chazal tell us why Mesha slaughtered his crown prince. Mesha had asked his advisers why the G'd of the Jews always helps them. His advisers told him that it came as a result of their ancestor Abraham being prepared to slaughter his son to H'. Mesha decided to do so too in order to please G'd, or according to another opinion in the gemoro, to please his god. Although he was totally wrong in doing this, his act did bring about a great anger against the Israelites (as per pasuk 27) because they were serving idols and, unlike Mesha, were not interested in pleasing G'd. In reality this anger could have had catastrophic consequences for the Israelites but they were saved, say Chazal, in the merit of the righteous lady mentioned in the next chapter.

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