II Chronicles 21
The matter of this chapter may be divided into four parts. The death and
burial of Jehoshaphat, and the number, names, and position of his sons
(vs. 1-3). The accession and wicked course of Jehoram, the eldest son
(vs. 4-11). The written warning and denunciation of Elijah, and the very
practical warning of the Philistines, etc. (vs. 12-17). The disease, death,
and burial of Jehoram (vs. 18-20).
1 “Now Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his
fathers in the city of
The parallel for this verse is I Kings 22:50; and, with the exception
of one word, it is an exact parallel. To understand the questions
set in motion by the last clause of the verse, comparison must be made of
II Kings 1:17; 3:1; 8:16. For anything that appears here, we should take
for granted that Jehoram now first began to exercise any royal authority
and enjoy any royal dignity. But the first of the just-quoted passages says
year of Jehoram (of
above-quoted passages, however, we are told that the same Jehoram (of
which date tallies with our parallel of last chapter (I Kings 22:41), to
the effect that Jehoshaphat himself began to reign in Ahab’s fourth year,
and Ahaziah in Jehoshaphat’s seventeenth year. While, lastly, the third of
above-quoted references says that in the fifth year of Joram
“Jehoshaphat being then King of Judah” (which, however, is itself an
unfaithful rendering of what must be a corrupt text), his son Jehoram
“began to reign.” It has therefore been conjectured that the royal name was
given Jehoram (of
that in his twenty-third year he further invested him with some royal power
(our v. 3 gives some plausibility to this conjecture), from which last date
Jehoram’s “eight years” (II Kings 8:17; here vs. 5, 20) must be reckoned;
this was not less than two years before the death of Jehoshaphat. Were it
not for the countenance that our third verse (describing the cut-and-dried
arrangements that the father made for his sons) gives to the tenableness
of the above conjectures, we should prefer the conjecture that the passages
commented upon are so much corrupt text.
2 “And he had brethren the sons of Jehoshaphat, Azariah, and Jehiel,
and Zechariah, and Azariah, and Michael, and Shephatiah: all these
were the sons of Jehoshaphat
Azariahs appear among the six sons of Jehoshaphat here given, the Hebrew
text shows עֲזַרְיָה in the one place and עֲזַרְיָהוּ in the other. Nothing is known
of the previous history of these six, now so cruelly murdered by their eldest
brother. It will be observed that Jehoshaphat is styled King of Israel, probably
merely generically. Into this way the writer of Chronicles would run, at any
rate, more easily than the writer of Kings.
3 “And their father gave them great gifts of silver, and of gold, and of
precious things, with fenced cities in
he to Jehoram; because he was the firstborn.” The father’s foreseeing
care issued very differently from what he had thought, waking now the
greed and murderous intent of Jehoram. Jehoshaphat, nevertheless, was
following in the wake of the head of the separated
Rehoboam (ch. 11:22-23), wherein he is said to have “dealt wisely;” even
the parallel (in the matter of one son Abijah, son of Maachah, the favorite
wife, being appointed king) obtaining there in an aggravated form, as he
was not the eldest son. This case, with those of Solomon and Jehoahaz
(by the favor not of the parent but of the people, II Kings 23:30), formed
the exceptions to the usual observance of and honor done to the principle
of primogeniture (Deuteronomy 21:15-17).
4 “Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he
strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and
divers also of the princes of
of the princes of
clause of v.13, that Jehoram’s wicked heart prompted him the rather
because his own works were evil and his brothers’ righteous. He may have
thought their practical witness against him, and that of the “princes” who
shared their fate, would be growingly inconvenient, and would work in them
a necessary disloyalty (Judges 9:1-5). On the other showing, the “princes”
now cut down may have shown partiality and affection to the six brothers,
one or other of them.
5 “Jehoram was thirty and two years old when he began to reign, and
he reigned eight years in
dates to begin with the twenty-second or twenty-third year of the reign of
his father Jehoshaphat, according to note on v. 1, above. The parallel of
II Kings 8:17-21 may be consulted for our vs. 5-11; our vs. 11, 13 expound
in clearer detail the “evil” that Jehoram wrought than the narrative of Kings.
6 “And he
walked in the way of the kings of
house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he
wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD.
The daughter of Ahab to wife. That is, Athaliah, called (ch. 22:2;
II Kings 8:26) the daughter, that is, granddaughter, of Omri.
7 “Howbeit the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because
of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised
to give a light to him and to his sons for ever.” The covenant… a light…
his sons for ever (so II Samuel 7:12-13, 15-16; 23:5; I Kings 8:20, 24-25;
I Chronicles 22:10; Psalm 132:11-12; Isaiah 55:3; Acts 13:34).
8 “In his days the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of
fails intending to accentuate the mournful change now as compared with the
state of things depicted in our ch. 17:5-11.
9 “Then Jehoram went forth with his princes, and all his chariots with
him: and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites which
compassed him in, and the captains of the chariots.”
With his princes. The parallel, II Kings 8:21, reads, “to
Zair.” Of any such place nothing is known, and it has been proposed to
supersede the word there by “Seir,” which a certain amount of similarity of
the Hebrew characters might countenance. Possibly by some mishap, not
so readily explainable by misoccurrence of characters simply, our words,
“with his princes,” should stand in place of “to Zair.” It must be noted that
the two first clauses of the verse in the parallel become something
inconsequential (which is not the case with the reading of our text), in that
it says, “The king and chariots went forth to a place, and rose up by night,”
etc. The dislocation is, perhaps, not serious, but our text avoids it in
reading, “The king, princes, and chariots went forth, and rose up by night
and smote,” etc.
10 “So the
Edomites revolted from under the hand of
day. The same time also did Libnah revolt from under his hand;
because he had forsaken the LORD God of his fathers.”
Libnah… because he had forsaken. The parallel states the
revolt of Libnah also, but does not make the closing remark of our verse.
he made high places in the mountains of
caused the inhabitants of
the meaning is exclusively here the infidelity of idolatry, but at any rate
it includes this.
A Life Spent in Undoing (vs. 1-11)
For the quarter of a century Jehoshaphat spent all his individual power and
devoted all the weight of his royal office to the work of establishing piety,
justice, and (in consequence) real prosperity throughout his kingdom. And
right well he succeeded. When
he died he left
and richer than he found it. Then came his firstborn son in succession to
him. And what came with him? What else but a baneful and lamentable
undoing of all that he himself had done — all, at least, that his son had it in
his power to overturn?
Ø Jehoram’s reign began in selfish cruelty. To secure his own position, he
murdered his six brethren; to avert a contingent evil to himself, he wrought
the last and worst evil to his own mother’s sons (v. 4).
Ø It went on to personal apostasy. (v. 6.) He turned away from the God
of his fathers, from the worship of the God to whom he might and, indeed,
must have known that his throne was due, to serve Baal; and in so doing
he forsook the way of wisdom and of purity for paths of error and iniquity.
Ø It led down to the abuse of royal power. For he not only made
do the same (v. 11). He employed his royal authority (and probably his
standing army) to constrain his people to depart from the way of holiness,
from spiritual and moral integrity.
Ø It issued in national disaster. In:
o the loss of the Divine favor;
o the consequent defeat of his troops and loss of a dependency;
o the revolt of an important city (vs. 8-11).
Ø It closed in an early and miserable death.
that a long and devoted life, all that a useful and brilliant reign, had done. It
pulled down a large part of that which had been so carefully, so
laboriously, so wisely constructed. How easily, and in how short a time,
can a bad man undo what his predecessor, with infinite effort, has
accomplished! The striking and the holding of a lucifer match may bring
the stateliest structure to a heap of ruin. (James 3:5) The deflection from
the way of rectitude on the part of one prominent life, the wandering from
God of one strong human spirit, may have the effect of bringing to naught
the labor of more than one lifetime. How true the proverb, “One sinner
destroyeth much good”! (Ecclesiastes 9:18) There are amongst us the
names of men who have reached that poor and most pitiful notoriety of
not having attempted to do any good, but of having dragged down with
themselves their family, their Church, their community, to a dark depth
of shame and ruin.
account for it:
Ø A foolish decision of his father. Jehoshaphat made one of his serious
mistakes — and he made more than one — when he married his son to
Ahab’s daughter (v. 6; ch. 18:1). He could not conceivably
have taken a more dangerous step; it was the very last thing a faithful
servant of Jehovah should have done. What was likely to happen when
the daughter of Jezebel was presiding at the court of Jerusalem? Thus
Jehoram’s father, with a fatuity at which we can but wonder, introduced a
blighting influence into the home and so into the heart of his son.
Ø His own evil choice. These two things — unhealthy forces acting upon
us from without and our own false resolves — determine our character,
our course, our destiny. Let us be thankful for all holy influences; let us be
most solicitous to bring all and only good ones to bear on those for whom
we care. Let those who are young set before them the honorable ambition
of confirming the good work of their fathers; let them beware lest a bad
and selfish commencement lead down to a miserable and disgraceful end.
The Character of Jehoram (vs. 2-11)
Ø The advantages Jehoram possessed.
o A good father, Jehoshaphat, whose example should have led him,
whose instructions should have taught him (Proverbs 1:8), whose
prayers should have won him to walk in wisdom’s ways. But they
did not. Piety is not hereditary:
§ Example often fails to impress,
§ instruction to convince,
§ prayer to save,
the children of godly parents. Numerous instances in Scripture
(I Samuel 2:12; 8:3; 15:1, etc.) and in ordinary life.
o A good estate. As Jehoshaphat’s firstborn, he succeeded — whether
during his father’s lifetime (Keil) or at his father’s death (Bahr)
uncertain — to an exalted throne and a peaceful realm, became ruler
of a promising people and a growing empire. He had much to make
him contented with his lot and thankful for his mercies, to lead him
to think of God and devote himself to the practice of religion, as well
as to consecrate his talents to advancing the moral and material
interests of his subjects. Nevertheless, he neglected both his own
and his people’s salvation.
o A good God, who had kept him alive for thirty-two years, when many
better men than he had been cut off in youth (v. 5); who had allowed
him time to mature in wisdom before calling him to assume the
burdensome responsibilities of the throne; who had promoted him
to his father’s crown, which might easily have been given to another
(v. 3); who bore with him in his wickedness for His servant David’s
sake (v. 7); who punished him by suffering the Edomites to revolt
(v. 8), stirring up the Philistines and Arabians against him (v. 15),
and afflicting him with a mortal malady (v. 18), of which he was
forewarned by a letter from Elijah (v. 12). Yet for all this Jehoram
walked not in the ways of Jehoshaphat his father, or in
the ways of Asa his grandfather, but in the ways of Ahab,
the King of
Ø The disadvantages under which he labored.
o A bad heart. That Jehoram, though belonging to Judah and a son of
Jehoshaphat, was not a child of grace, his whole subsequent career
attested. All are not
Abraham’s seed, are they all children” (Romans 9:6-7); “For he is
not a Jew, which is one outwardly:… but he is a Jew, which is
one inwardly” (ibid. ch. 2:28-29). That Jehoram was not born good
was no excuse, since Jehovah’s grace was ready to assist him in
overcoming his natural corruption (Deuteronomy 30:6; I Kings 8:58;
o A bad wife. Athaliah, though a king’s daughter (v. 6), was a wicked
woman. Exalted in station, beautiful in person, gifted with high
mental endowments, she may have been; nevertheless, she was
inwardly, essentially, and radically of depraved instincts. Like
her mother Jezebel, she was superstitious, profligate, bloodthirsty,
imperious, and resolute. She belonged to the type of woman of
which Herodias and perhaps Drusilla and Bernice were New
Testament examples, and to which should be assigned the
Shakespearean creations of Lady Macbeth and Cleopatra. In
the hands of such women even strong men find it difficult to resist
the fatal influence of their superior natures, while feeble creatures
like Ahab and Jehoram are dragged like captives at their chariot-
wheels. The most dreadful calamity that can befall a weakling is to
wed such a spouse. A woman leagued with the devil will drag her
husband to PERDITION with a certainty and celerity that hardly
even the grace of God can prevent. In such a plight was Jehoram.
o A bad environment. Though not everything, a man’s surroundings are
something. They help to make or mar him. If good, they will at least
hinder his deterioration; if bad, they will hasten it. Perhaps nothing
could have been worse for Jehoram than to have Ahab’s daughter
for a wife; it was no amelioration of his hard fate to have:
§ Ahab for a father-in-law,
§ Jezebel for a mother-in-law,
§ Ahaziah and Jehoram for brothers-in-law, and
§ the house of Omri generally as relatives and friends.
It was hardly surprising that in after-years Jehoram, the King of
Ø The names of Jehoram’s brothers. Six in number; they had excellent
o Azariah, “whom Jehovah helps.” “Happy is the man that hath the
God of Jacob for his Help” (Psalm 146:5). This name may have
been given by Jehoshaphat to his second and his fifth sons —
distinguished slightly by the spelling, Azarjah and Azarjahu —
to emphasize that all hope for stability in his house and prosperity
in his kingdom depended on and proceeded from the assistance
o Jehiel, “God liveth.” Perhaps this truth was impressed upon
Jehoshaphat’s heart by the birth of his third son (Psalm 127:3),
as it was upon David’s, by His continued preservation from the
hand of Saul (II Samuel 22:47; Psalm 18:46).
o Zechariah, “whom Jehovah remembers.” Probably given by
Jehoshaphat to his son after Zechariah, the father of Jahaziel, who
predicted the overthrow of the Moabites (ch. 20:14). Or,
Jehoshaphat may have counted his fourth son a happy proof that
Jehovah had not forgotten him, but was still mindful of His
o Azariah (see above).
o Michael, “who is like unto God?” A great thought for a young man to
carry about with him on life’s journey, and one that might stir him to
noble deeds as well as lead him into pleasant ways. This thought was
familiar to Moses (Exodus 8:10), to David (Psalm 86:8), to Ethan the
Ezrahite (Psalm 89:6), and to Isaiah (Isaiah 40:18).
o Shephatiah, “whom Jehovah defends.” The name of one of David’s
sons (II Samuel 3:4), and probably for this reason bestowed upon
Ø The ranks of Jehoram’s brothers. Princes of the blood royal, they were
well provided for and well placed by their father, whose crown fell to
Jehoram as heir-apparent. Great gifts of silver, gold, and other precious
things were bestowed upon them, while they were appointed, as
Rehoboam’s sons had been (ch. 11:23), commandants of fortresses in the
fenced cities of
with their lot, and most likely were not.
Ø The characters of Jehoram’s brethren. They were better than he (v. 13).
Presumably in every way — physically, mentally, morally, religiously.
This last, perhaps, specially intended. Jehoshaphat’s piety had exercised
upon them more influence than upon him; they disapproved of the
idolatrous behavior and wicked policy generally of him and his wife.
Ø The murder of Jehoram’s brethren. Whatever the motive — cupidity or
a desire to appropriate their wealth, fear or a dread of being insecure upon
his throne while they lived, or hatred of their persons because they shunned
his evil ways — it was a hideous deed of blood, which has seldom been
paralleled amongst Oriental kings. “Upon the death of Selimus II. (1582).
III., succeeding to the
Mustapha, Solymon, Abdalla, Osman, and Sinagar — without pity or
commiseration, to be strangled in his presence and burned with his dead
father” (Whitecross, ‘Anecdotes on the Old Testament,’ p. 190). Along
brethren, he put to death a number of the princes of
probably a similar reason, because they disapproved of his conduct and
sympathized with his brethren.
Ø An apostate in religion. To be sure, he never had religion in reality. Yet,
true worship of Jehovah. But instead he became a devotee of Baal, a
favorer of the false gods his half-heathen wife patronized, building high
them in the mountains of
work of his devout father (ch. 17:6) and grandfather (ch. 14:2), and causing
Ezekiel 16:29; Revelation 19:2); yea, compelling
violence to go astray (Deuteronomy 13:6-11).
Ø A weakling in government. Under him the Edomites, who had in
Jehoshaphat’s reign been tributary to Judah (II Kings 3:9), becoming
achieved their independence. According to Josephus (‘
they first slew their king, who had yielded to Jehoshaphat, and
afterwards elected one who raised the standard of revolt. A feeble attempt
them to subjection proved abortive. At Zair, on the
— not to be identified with Zoar (Ewald), which belonged to
with the modern ruin Zueirah, on the
south-west of the
(Conder) — he, with all his princes and chariots, encountered the rebels;
but whether he defeated them (Jamieson), or only cut his way through
them when they had encompassed him (Keil), is obscure, though even on.
the former supposition his success was not permanent or decisive. Either
then or soon afterwards the Edomites completely renounced the yoke of
Eleutheropolis (Eusebius), though as yet unknown — succeeded in
establishing its freedom.
Ø A pigmy in manhood. Apart from the plague which struck him in his last
days, while yet in middle life (v. 15) he was obviously a poor and
contemptible creature. When he died nobody lamented him — at least,
nobody among his subjects. “He departed without being desired” (v. 20).
Men were glad to see the last of him. They would not burn a burning for
him, as they did for his good father and pious grandfather when they died.
carcass they buried in the city of
desecrate with it the sepulchers of the kings.
Ø The necessity of personal religion — no man may trade upon
his father’s piety.
Ø The duty of parents to provide for their children — exemplified by
Jehoshaphat’s donations to his sons.
Ø The bitterness of sin’s fruit when fully developed: “Sin, when it is
finished, bringeth forth death” in its worst forms — murder, fratricide, etc.
Ø The value of a good wife — inferred from the calamity of a bad one.
Ø The mercy of God to great sinners, even when they do not repent —
illustrated by God’s tolerance of Jehoram.
Ø The essential weakness of sin — as shown by the Edomite revolt against
Ø The pestilential influence of sin in high places: “One sinner destroyeth
12 “And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying,
Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father, Because thou hast
not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways
of Asa king of
This noun does not occur very frequently, but is found in the following
passages, viz.: Exodus 32:16; 39:30; Deuteronomy 10:4; here, ch. 35:4; 36:22;
Ezra 1:1; Isaiah 38:8. A note in Grove’s interesting article, “Elijah” (Smith’s
‘Bible Dictionary’ vol. 1. p. 580), says that the word is almost identical with
the Arabic word of the present day, while the ordinary Hebrew word for a “letter”
is סֵפֶד oftener rendered “book.” There came. That this is the precise language
used rather helps the persuasion that it was the well-known Prophet Elijah
not resident in
of his translation, was taught and directed divinely to send this message of
rebuke and terror for Jehoram. Elijah the prophet. Some hold that it
certainly was not the well-known prophet of the northern kingdom who is
here intended. “Time, place, and circumstance,” says Professor Dr. James
G. Murphy, of
difference him “from the Tishbite.” And he confidently considers him (with
Cajetan) another Elijah (Ezra 10:21), or Eliah (I Chronicles 8:27;
Ezra 10:26; for the form rendered so), or Eliyahu, in which form the
Hebrew name appears (אֵלִיָּה. or אֵלִיָּהיּ, being the forms of the name
found), on the grounds that the Tishbite was translated in the time of
Jehoram’s father Jehoshaphat (II Kings 3:11); that his sphere was in the
northern kingdom, and himself more of one who wrought mighty works
and spoke otherwise than as a prophet; and that the designation “the
prophet” need by no means denote him exclusively. He adds that a
“writing” from a prophet is nothing strange, which may be easily conceded
but poorly instanced by I Chronicles 28:19; better by Jeremiah 36:1-2, 6.
On the other hand, Grove (in article above quoted) and others
find no invincible difficulty in accepting this Elijah for the famous prophet.
His mention here is, of course, exceedingly interesting. as the only mention
of him in Chronicles — a fact which very remarkably falls in with the
abstinence as well as the fullness of the compiler of Chronicles. Josephus
pronounces that the letter was sent during Elijah’s life (‘
surmises to the contrary having been made. While Elijah’s translation
seems to have taken place before Jehoshaphat’s death, from what we read
of Elisha (II Kings 3:11), we may well account that Elisha had begun
his ministry before his master’s translation. Not only the other passages
that confirm, but in especial the passage (II Kings 1:17) which tells of
Jehoram’s being, before his father’s death, on the throne of
time of Elijah’s interview with Ahaziah (a passage that occurs immediately
preceding the account of Eiijah’s last acts), might have led us to suppose
that Elijah’s letter was before Jehoshaphat’s death, during the joint reign,
but for the mention of the slaying of his sons. Bertheau, in our text in his
‘Chronik,’ points out the resemblance which the “writing” shows to the
matter of the speeches of Elijah, while in certain respects of style, and the
very insulated sort of introduction it has here, it greatly differs from the
narrative in which it is now set. Although the calculation may seem rather a
fine one, the circumstances described accurately point to the “writing” of
Elijah reaching Jehoram before the chronologically misplaced translation of
Elijah as given in II Kings 2:1-11. This question may be instanced as
one of the interesting moot points by no means compassed with
insuperable difficulty, but challenging careful study and patient comparison
of chronological and historical passages.
hast walked in the way of the kings of
Judah and the inhabitants of
whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren
of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself:”
See note in previous verse on Jehoram’s slaying of his brethren, and the
conclusive proof this statement allows that Elijah’s letter must have been
subsequent to the death of Jehoshaphat. The better than thyself probably
points to the fact that they had not fallen into idolatrous
14 “Behold, with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people, and
thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods:” A great plague; Hebrew,
מַגֵּפָה, Out of the twenty-six occurrences of this word, it is rendered
(Authorized Version) twenty-three times by the word “plague,”
twice by the word “slaughter” (II Samuel 17:9; 18:7), and once “stroke”
(Ezekiel 24:16). It is not the word (גֶגַע) which about sixty times
(chiefly in Leviticus) describes the physical plague, but both of the words
are applied to the plagues, e.g. of Pharaoh, and to the suffering that came
of any severe smiting of the people. As no physical affliction in the shape
of disease visited, so far as we know, the people, wives, and children of
the king, and as his goods are reckoned in for the great plague, the general
opinion is probably the correct one, that the invasions spoken of (vs. 16-17)
fulfilled the punishment now announced.
15 “And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until
thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.”
Therefore against Jehoram and Judas Iscariot and Herod was it
decreed that their very bowels should bear witness.
The Letter of Elijah (vs. 12-15)
Ø Elisha, who entered on the duties of his calling before the death of
Jehoshaphat (II Kings 3:11), and who accordingly would be the most
likely party from whom should proceed such a communication as Jehoram
received. In this case the name of Elijah must have been substituted in the
text for that of Elisha (Kennicott, Jamieson).
Ø A later historian, “who describes the relation of Elijah to Joram in few
words, and according to his conception of it as a whole” (Bertheau); but
“this judgment rests on dogmatic grounds, and flows from a principle
which refuses to recognize any supernatural prediction in the prophetic
Ø Elijah, the author named in the text. Besides being in the text, the word
occurs in all existing Hebrew manuscripts and in all the Oriental versions.
Ø After Elijah’s translation. The notions that either Elijah sent the letter
from heaven by an angel (Grotius), or spoke it from the clouds (Menken),
may be discarded as conjectures wanting in support from any intelligible
Ø Before Elijah’s translation. Here two views emerge.
o After Jehoram had ascended the throne (Keil, Rawlinson). This
assumes that Elijah was alive at the commencement of Jehoram’s reign
(II Kings 1:17), and may have learned of the assassination of
Jehoshaphat’s sons — the knowledge of which crime may have moved
him to send its perpetrator the divinely given announcement of his
death this letter contains. The fact that Elisha accompanied Jehoshaphat
to the Moabitish war (II Kings 3:11) does not prove that Elijah had then
been translated, since Elijah was alive in the second year of the conjoint
reign of Jehoram and Jehoshaphat his father (II Kings 1:17; 3:1).
o Before Jehoram had ascended the throne (Buddaeus, Clarke). Nothing
impossible in the suggestion that Elijah had the wickedness of Jehoram
revealed to him before it occurred, as previously he had been informed
elevation of Jehu to the throne of
19:16-17). Either explanation is admissible, though the latter is
probably more correct.
Ø A twofold accusation.
o A charge of aggravated idolatry. Not only had Jehoram himself
forsaken the way of Jehoshaphat and of Asa, i.e. the worship of
Jehovah, and turned aside into the way of the kings
worship of Baal and other idols, but he had corrupted the whole
like the house of Ahab.
o An indictment of infamous murder. He had slain all his brethren, the
children of his father’s house, who were better than himself.
Ø A twofold retribution.
o A great stroke upon his people, upon his house (his wives and
children), upon his property (his goods or substance). As prosperity
was a usual concomitant of piety, so adversity was wont, under
Jehovah’s government of
o A greater stroke upon himself, in the shape of a slow, but sure,
loathsome and mortal disease which should seize upon his bowels.
That it should continue for two years before terminating fatally
(Bertheau) can hardly be made out from the expressions
“day by day,” or “days upon days.” The prophet could speak with
confidence, since diseases are God’s messengers who come and go
at his command (Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 28:60; Psalm 103:3).
Ø The invasion of Jehoram’s kingdom. (v. 16.)
o The prime mover was Jehovah, as Elijah’s letter predicted. “The Lord
stirred up the spirit of the Philistines,” as formerly, on two several
occasions, He had stirred up an adversary to Solomon (I Kings 11:14,
23), and afterwards stirred up Pul (Tiglath-Pileser) King of Assyria,
against Pekah King of
God is said to do what, for the accomplishment of His own wise
and sovereign purposes, he permits to be done, and hence is
represented as working all things according to the counsel of His
will (Job 9:12; Psalm 66:7; 115:3; Daniel 4:35; Ephesians 1:11).
acting instruments were the Philistines, an ancient enemy of
(Judges 10:7; I Samuel 4:1) on the west; and the Arabians near the
the middle Arabians, exactly south of
(Schurer). This juxtaposition of the Philistines and Arabians occurs
in two more places in this book (ch. 17:11; 26:7).
o The extent is indicated by the details given. The savage hordes broke
plunder they carried off (Bertheau), though, had
been sacked, “the treasures of the palace as well as of the temple
would have been mentioned” (Keil). In any case, they carried off
“all the substance found in the king’s house,” which may signify
all the property of the palace (Bertheau), or all the king’s property
the country, in the cities, villages, and castles of
(Keil). Along with this, they made prisoners of the king’s wives
and. sons, except Jehoahaz, or Ahaziah. What they did
with the former is not recorded; the latter they slew (ch. 22:1).
Ø The affliction of Jehoram’s body. Whatever the malady, a violent
dysentery, or some disease of the intestines, it was
o sudden — “Jehovah struck him,” pointing to a mysterious and
inexplicable infliction difficult to trace to any immediate physical
cause, and therefore ordinarily ascribed to a supernatural origin
(ch. 26:20; Acts 12:23);
o painful — the diseases were sore;
o protracted — his sickness continued two years;
o loathsome — his bowels fell out towards the end of that period;
o mortal — he succumbed beneath his ailment, and “died.”
Ø God’s knowledge of the histories, characters, and actions of men
Ø God’s ability to foresee and reveal to men the nature and tendency of
their or others’ acts (Genesis 18:17; 41:28; I Samuel 9:15).
Ø God’s determination to be avenged of them that do wickedly without
respect of persons (Psalm 34:16; 37:38).
Ø God’s resources for executing His purposes of judgment or mercy.
16 “Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the
Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians:”
The moreover of this verse is simply the conjunction “and;” it
is not the m of v. 11, for instance. Our Authorized Version “moreover”
obscures the purport of the verse. Better the simple “and,” as in the
Revised Version. The Lord stirred up. Reference may again be made to
ch.17:10-12. The things then gained are now being lost. The
Arabians… near the Ethiopians. The Ethiopians, i.e. Cushites, fully
fifteen centuries before the date of those original treatises from which the
writers of Kings and Chronicles respectively borrowed their materials, or
some of them, are recorded both genealogically and geographically in
Genesis 10:6-8. They had their location very early in the south of
Arabia, as also to the south of
the east, the Libyan desert on the west, and
whilst Syene marked conspicuously a site on the line of the northern
bounds between them and
45:14; Zephaniah 3:10). They are almost invariably connected with
whom the Arabians, on the other side of the
they came up into
all the substance that was found in the king’s house, and his sons also, and
his wives; so that there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz, the youngest
of his sons.” Brake into it; Hebrew, kal future of בָּקַע (compare the other
four significant and expressive occurrences of this exact form, Judges 15:19;
II Samuel 23:16; I Chronicles 11:18; Isaiah 48:21). The elementary idea of the
root is to divide; and it occurs in one conjugation or another fifty-one times,
there being no more typical occurrence than that of Genesis 7:11. Carried away.
The Hebrew uses the word “carried captive” (וַיִּשְׁבּוּ); possibly the order of
v. 14 is inadvertently neglected, which puts the living beings before all the
substance, or, goods (כָּל־הָרְכוּשׁ;). His sons also. From ch. 24:7 we note that
the sons were not punished for their father’s sins alone, but for their own.
Jehoahaz. This person is called Ahaziah in v.1 of the next chapter (the
syllables of the name being reversed) and Azariah in ibid. v. 6,
which cannot be explained, but must be supposed an error. The Jehoiachin
of ch. 36:9 is written Jeconiah, or Jechoniah, in I Chronicles 3:16-17;
Coniah in Jeremiah 22:24, etc.; and Jechoniah, here in ch. 24:1, etc. The
two parts of the word combined in either order make the same meaning.
On account of the express mention of the camp in ch. 22:1, some think that the
slaughter and the plunder were all such as might have been wrought in the royal
quarters there; others that we are to infer the taking by
and what was therein.
18 “And after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an
incurable disease.” An incurable disease; i.e. it was so severe that it was in this
19 “And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two
years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of
sore diseases. And his people made no burning for him, like the
burning of his fathers.” After the end of two years. That “two years’”
space began at the end of nearly two years after his father’s death. Two years’
warning and space for repentance subsequent Jehoram had turned to no
account, and even affliction and suffering brought him no ‘amendment.
No burning (see our note on ch. 16:14).
20 “Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign, and he
desired. Howbeit they buried him in the city of
the sepulchers of the kings.” Departed without being desired; literally,
without desire. The closing commentary, so quietly written, becomes the
more pathetically mournful The “desire” spoken of is the desiderium of
Horace, of nearly nine centuries later (‘Odes,’ L 24). But there was now no
“desiderium… tam cari capitis,” for want of room for this latter description.
They buried him in the city of
(see again our note on ch. 16:14; and compare ch. 24:25; 28:27).
A Reign of Unmitigated Shame (vs. 1-20)
To the career of Jehoshaphat of almost exemplary excellence, that of
Jehoram, his son, forms a contrast most humiliating. Obviously it is not the
least painful feature of this latter that it so inevitably forces into our
memory the parental fault, which, if it were not the cause and very
foundation of an eldest son’s abandoned character and course of conduct,
could not fail to have given opportunity for it, and could not fail to incur
the responsibility before all the world of having lent the occasion. This
chapter teaches us significantly:
ANY CONTRIVANCES AGAINST THE CONSEQUENCES OF ITS
OWN FAULTS AND SINS. No disposition in his will, no disposition of
the gifts of his property on the part of Jehoshaphat, sufficed to avert these
in this instance (vs. 3-4).
SIN THAT ARE INVOLVED HEREIN IN EVEN SUCH POOR
MEASURE OF FORESIGHT AS BELONGS TO HUMAN NATURE.
This is an indication of the great mercy that lies in the limited measure of
the powers of human nature. To be hunted and goaded by the forces of
memory from behind, and at the same time terrified by the only too just
apparitions of anticipation, and the pictures of what awaits us in front, even
in this life, — how dreadfully might they at times add to the misery of life!
How often might they induce remorse, and the despair that comes of remorse!
WHICH CONSIST IN VICTORY, POSSIBLY VICTORY ON
VICTORY, WITHOUT CONQUEST. (vs. 8, 10, 16-17.) It is the
Sisyphus of kings and rulers and nations, and Jehoram was the Sisyphus of
this time and history. But it involves also misery and a scourge for the
nation cursed with such rulers.
AND CROWDED THE END FOR JEHORAM. Forewarned by the great
Prophet Elijah, perhaps the very last, certainly among the very last, of the
acts of his ministry:
Ø a horror of a bodily disease;
Ø a plague for his people, his children, his wives, and his goods;
Ø the slaughter of all his sons save one — the one necessary to
carrying on the line of
Ø an unhonored death, and the forfeiting of a place in the
ancestral sepulchres of the kings;
these were “the portion of his cup,” and the filling up of its bitterness —
the retribution of an iniquitous and godless career, apparently unrelieved
by a single virtue or single good deed! It was impossible, indeed, that his
father could learn from notice and experience of the son; but “all these
things were written for our admonition” (I Corinthians 10:11) for all
succeeding generations, and tell their gravest lessons, and offer their
most fearful warnings for many another father.
The Trouble that is Worse than Sorrow (vs. 19b-20)
“His people made no burning for him;” he “departed without being desired.”
It is wise for us all not only to enjoy the present appreciation of our friends,
which may be an expression of their desire to stand well with us, but also to
consider what will be:
Jehoram probably comforted himself while he lived with the approval of
many of his courtiers. There are always found men mean enough to
compliment the man in power, however they may despise him. But
probably he did not foresee that his body would hardly be cold before he
would receive marks of general dishonor, and that not one week would
elapse before it would be signified to all the land that he was held unworthy
to sleep with his fathers. It is surely the mark of a very narrow and earthly
mind not to care what men will think of us when we are departed because
it will make no difference to us then. That is not quite certain; but if it
were, it surely behoves us, as upright spiritual intelligences, to care much
for our reputation when we have left these scenes. Shall we not desire to
enjoy “the memory of the just”? Shall it not be a matter of moment to us
that, when we are no longer here, those who remember us will think and
speak kindly of us, as of men that played their part bravely and faithfully, as
of men that loved and helped their kind? If this be so, since this is so, let us
reflect that after a while our character will stand in its true colors; that all
our pretences will disappear; that men will know us to have been just what
we are; that after death disguises fail away, and the man himself stands
forth in his virtue or in his guilt, in his manliness or in his meanness, in his
large-mindedness or in his selfishness and smallness. We must be right if
we would be so regarded when death takes off the veil from our character.
But we see here another thing worthy of our consideration.
Ø It is sad enough when a good man dies and is regretted. When some
great gap is left; when from the home, or from the Church, or from the
state there is taken one who had loved and been beloved, who had served
well and been highly honored; — when such a one is borne to his burial,
amid the tears and lamentations of many hearts, we feel that a great
affliction has befallen us, and we must bow in subjection to THE
FATHER OF THE SPIRITS.
Ø But it is sadder far when a bad man dies unlamented; when, as with
Jehoram, no one cares to pay him funeral honors; when the Chronicler has
to say about him that he “departed without being desired.” For of what
does it speak?
o Usually it speaks of the Divine condemnation. The indignation of a
people, especially of a nation that has received instruction from God
Himself, is commonly a reflection of the judgment of Heaven; it
signifies that “the departed” is a man whose life the Holy One has
condemned. (For which there is no need since CHRIST DIED
FOR ALL! “He that believeth on Him is not condemned” –
John 3:18; “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which
are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the
Spirit!” CY – 2016)
o Always it speaks of the deliberate reprobation of man. For when a
man dies, there is a disposition to be lenient in judgment, to overlook
offenses and to magnify service and virtue; when, therefore, the dead
are distinctly dishonored, when there is no one to pronounce a
eulogium or even to feel a lament, it is clear that their contemporaries
have decidedly and seriously condemned them.
o It speaks of a deplorable failure. Excepting in those comparatively
rare cases of the very best and greatest men, who have been before
their age in understanding and in action, and have therefore been
misunderstood, when men die dishonored and without regret it may
be taken that their lives have been unworthy; that they have been
marked by evil; that they have been fruitful of folly and of wrong.
And what can be sadder than that? That God should give us our powers
and our lives in order that we may spend them for His honor, to promote
the real well-being of our fellow-men, and to cultivate in ourselves
wisdom and worth that will fit us for higher spheres; and that we
should degrade our priceless opportunity by scattering seeds of error,
by diffusing unholy principles, by doing our utmost to injure
the spirits and to lower the lives of men, thus starting influences for
evil which will spread far and wide, and will go down from
generation to generation; — there is nothing we can conceive of
which is more deplorable than this.
o It is a painful and pitiable thing in itself. To depart unregretted by any
one! To go for ever and to be missed and mourned by none! To leave
no hearts that will be saddened by our absence, that will wish to see
us and speak to us again! To be borne away, not like the fair and noble
tree, whose fruit has been a treasure, whose form has been a perpetual
joy all the year round, whose shadow has been a kindly shelter to old
and young, with a sincere if not affectionate regret; but like an
unsightly and cumbersome log, that has been an offence to the eye
and an obstruction in the way, with a sense of relief and satisfaction;
— who of us would like to be so regarded when we die? Who of us
would not infinitely rather be bathed in a pure and holy sorrow as
we mourn some departed friend that has lived in love and died in
honour, than leave in the grave one for whom no tear is shed,
whose departure no soul regrets? Let us be such men and
live such lives that if our survivors and successors do not
“make a great burning for us,” as was done for Jehoram’s
grandfather (ch. 16:14), they will lose us with a genuine regret,
and mourn for us with a sorrow that will hallow their own hearts,
while it testifies to the worth that has found a home beneath other
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