II Chronicles 22

 

 

This chapter comprises the accession, brief reign, and death of Ahaziah

(vs. 1-9) and the following murders and usurpation of Athaliah during six

years (vs. 10-12). The parallel of the former section is to be found in

II Kings 8:24-29; 9:14-16, 21-28; and of the latter, 11:1-3.

 

 

1 "And the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son

king in his stead: for the band of men that came with the Arabians

to the camp had slain all the eldest. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram

king of Judah reigned."  This verse does not so much purport to say how the

inhabitants of Jerusalem proceeded to appoint Ahaziah, in default of any

previous appointment on the part of his father, but merely that whereas

they appointed him, the youngest son, it was because they had no choice,

the elder brothers having been slain (ch. 21:17). though the

deceased Jehoram possibly might not have known up to the time of his

death, for certain, of their several deaths. This, if we may judge from the

particular language here used, had been brought about at the hands of the

band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp, now first

particularized. The parallel (II Kings 8:25), wanting both of these items,

states that this reign began in the twelfth year of Joram of Israel.

 

2 "Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and

he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was

Athaliah the daughter of Omri."  Forty and two; read, twenty and two,

and see parallel, II Kings 8:26; and note on our ch. 21:5. Daughter of Omri; i.e.

granddaughter of Omri, as Omri was the father of Ahab.

 

3 "He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother

was his counselor to do wickedly.  4 Wherefore he did evil in the sight of

the LORD like the house of Ahab: for they were his counselors after the

death of his father to his destruction."  The mother and the house of Ahab

had become a proverb and a by-word for their evil. In this and the following

two verses stress is laid on the evil counsel and the sources of it that prejudiced

Ahaziah to his ruin. Although the parallel wants these direct statements, perhaps it

scarcely says less, when it says (v. 27), For he was the son-in-law of the

house of Ahab.”

 

 

A Pitiable Prince; or, an Unfortunate Child of Fortune (vs. 1-4)

 

The thorough pitiableness of one born to a high estate is the lesson of the

text; but we must wait to learn:

 

  • THAT MEN SUFFER AS THEY SIN. It appears that Ahaziah was the

only son left to the house of Jehoram; all the eldest had been slain by the

invaders (v. 1). Thus we find that the man who with shameful selfishness

murdered his own brothers, had to suffer the loss, by violence, of his own

sons. It was a fitting penalty — fitting that he who used the sword

remorselessly should suffer from the sword; fitting that the man whose

darkest crime was committed “under his own roof” should bear his penalty

in his own kindred. We do not, of course, invariably find such “poetic

justice” dealt in the providence of God; but we do find that men not only

suffer because they sin, but THEY SUFFER AS THEY SIN!   If they sin as

husbands or fathers, they suffer as such; if they sin as sons, they suffer

through their children; if they sin in the flesh, they suffer in the flesh;

or if they sin in the spirit, they suffer in the spirit. There is a close, a plain,

a righteous correspondence between GUILT and PENALTY!

 

  • THAT PARENTAGE GOES A VERY LONG WAY TO ACCOUNT

FOR HUMAN CHARACTER AND FOR THE CAREERS OF MEN.

Ahaziah was the grandson on his mother’s side, of Ahab and of Jezebel.

What may he not have inherited from them? He was the son of Athaliah.

And, apart from the consideration of heredity, what evil did he not drink in

from the counsels of that wicked woman? She was “his counselor to do

wickedly (v. 3).

 

Ø      We may well bless God for all the good we and others have derived

from godly parents, especially from a holy mother, from the “counsels”

received at “the mother’s knee.” The blessing thus conferred upon the

world is quite inestimable.

 

Ø      Those who are parents may well realize the sacred burden of

responsibility which rests upon them; for it rests with them, very largely

indeed, to determine what their sons and daughters shall he — whether a

blessing or a bane to the world.  (It has been said that if a parent does not

do his job, IT WILL FOR EVER BE UNDONE!  - CY – 2016)

 

Ø      We do well to try and elevate those who are, or will be, the mothers of

the future. There is no worthier Christian enterprise than the Zenana

Mission, in which the aim is to reach and to raise the women who will be

the counselors” of the men and women of the next generation.

 

Ø      Evil counsel may extenuate, but it will not excuse, our individual folly

and wrong-doing. Not even a mother may lead us into paths of sin. .

 

  • THAT FAVORABLE CIRCUMSTANCES WILL NOT

GUARANTEE ANY MAN’S WELL- BEING.

 

Ø      Who so fortunate in Judah as Ahaziah? Heir to the throne, and

succeeding at an early age (see II Kings 8:26 with v. 17 of that

chapter); married while he was young; with little children soon about him;

with every prospect of power, wealth, domestic affection, royal estate, for

many years.

 

Ø      And who more pitiable than this young prince? Educated and trained:

 

o        in the belief of error,

o        in the practice of folly,

 

with a mother whose whole influence was against moral worth, seeking and

forming a dangerous alliance, cut off after a very brief reign (v. 2), leaving

a reputation of ill odor behind him. It is certain that no man can count on

a future of prosperity and joy simply because the circumstantial outlook

is favorable.  The child of fortune, like Ahaziah, proves to be one of the

most unfortunate of men. Whom all his young contemporaries were disposed

to envy, we who look back unite to pity with a most genuine and deep

compassion. Who, let us ask, is the man to be envied, or rather to be

congratulated? Surely it is he who is born of Christian parents, who has

about him in childhood and in youth “counsellors” who will know what is

true, and do what is really kind and wise; it is he whom his human father

trains in the way of righteousness, and whom his heavenly Father

disciplines, according to His Divine wisdom, building him up in purity, in

integrity, in strength, in love.

 

 

The Counsel that Destroys, and That Which Saves (v. 4)

 

“His counsellors… to his destruction.” The counsel we receive has much

to do with the character we form and the life we live; much, therefore, with

the destiny we are weaving.

 

  • THE URGENT NEED FOR COUNSEL IN A CRITICAL PERIOD OF

OUR LIFE. In our earliest years the river of our life flows between high

and narrow banks. We are well fenced in, and must move according to our

surroundings. But later on the banks are lower, the restrictions are weaker,

and we may overflow, may cut a new channel for ourselves. At first we are

under commandment from hour to hour; we do that which is prescribed for

us; we shun that which is interdicted. Then comes a time when we

disengage ourselves from this position; it has become bondage; we demand

to enter upon the rights of maturity, to form our own judgment, to act

according to our own choice. It is at this point, when the father’s authority

is no longer paramount, that we need to act under counsel. We urgently

need the help of those who will advise, though they do not assume to

direct us. We want the guidance of those who will say to us, not, You

shall, but, You should. We require the advantage of the experience of men

who have gone through the ways that now lie before us; of men whose

wisdom will equip us for:

 

Ø      the new duties that have to be discharged,

Ø      the new burdens that have to be borne,

Ø      the new dangers and difficulties that have to be faced and fought, and

Ø      the new temptations that have to be met and mastered.

 

But there are two kinds of counsel, and everything depends on which we shall

adopt.

 

  • THE COUNSEL THAT DESTROYS; Viz. the counsel that kills all

that is best in our nature, and brings us down to spiritual if not, indeed, to

material ruin.

 

Ø      The counsel of a degrading selfishness, which speaks on this wise:

“Take care of number one; ‘ “Every man for himself,” etc.; that would

impress the opening mind of young manhood with the miserable falsehood

that, so long as we can secure what we crave for ourselves, it is of little

consequence what becomes of our neighbors or of our fellow-men.

 

Ø      The counsel of shameful indulgence, which speaks in this strain: “Youth

comes but once in a lifetime;” “A short life and a merry one;” counsel that

would recommend the young to consume all that is pure and sound in their

nature in the fires of unholy passion, to drown all that is worthiest, all sense

of what is becoming, and all self-respect, in the turgid (swollen) waters of

unrestrained or ill-restrained indulgence.

 

Ø      The counsel of financial exaggeration, which says, “Get money by all

means, honestly if possible, but get money;” this is counsel which would

sacrifice life for the sake of the means of living,” which would lead to the

loss of that which is most sacred and precious for the sake of that which, at

best, can only supply the outward conditions of well-being. It makes mere

pecuniary possession the goal of human life — a very common but an utter

and pitiable mistake.

 

Ø      The counsel of a shallow materialism; that which lays great stress on

temporal success and on human favor, and makes little or nothing of

spiritual worth and the favor of God. Such counsels as these are truly

destructive; they kill:

 

o        faith,

o        love,

o        purity,

o        hope,

o        spirituality —

 

everything, indeed, which makes our manhood, which constitutes our true

heritage. Under such counselors we may gain the world, but we lose our

own soul  (Mark 8:36); they are “counselors to our destruction.”

 

  • THE COUNSEL WHICH SAVES. There is One of whom, many

centuries before He came, it was said, “His name shall be called

Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6), of whom, when He was with us, it was said,

“Whence hath this Man this wisdom?” (Matthew 13;54), who came to

be to us “the Wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:24). If we will learn of Him,

we shall know what is the truth indeed respecting human life, worldly wealth,

the honor which comes from man and that which is of God (How can we

possibly get off track on this? – CY – 2016), what constitutes eternal life

below, and what it is that leads on to the heavenly life beyond the grave

(see Matthew 6:19-20, 33; 10:37-39; Luke 4:4; 12:15; John 5:44; 14:23; 17:24).

 

5 "He walked also after their counsel, and went with Jehoram the son

of Ahab king of Israel to war against Hazael king of Syria at

Ramothgilead: and the Syrians smote Joram."  He… went with Jehoram the

son of Ahab. So the evil example of even the good lives after them. See

Jehoshaphat (ch.18:8; I Kings 22:29) followed by his son Jehoram first

(II Kings 3:9), and now by his grandson Ahaziah. The words of this verse

and the next are almost identical with the parallel (II Kings 8:28-29).

Ramoth-Gilead. It will be remembered that Ahab failed when he solicited

and obtained the help of Jehoshaphat (ch. 18:3-34; I Kings 22:3-36) in his

enterprise against Ramoth-Gilead. The present attempt, however, seems to

have had a different issue (II Kings 9:14-15). The Syrians; Hebrew,

הָרַמִּים. The initial radical here should be א, from neglect of observing which

the Septuagint has translated τοξόται - toxotai - archers.

 

6 "And he returned to be healed in Jezreel because of the wounds

which were given him at Ramah, when he fought with Hazael king

of Syria. And Azariah the son of Jehoram king of Judah wentdown

to see Jehoram the son of Ahab at Jezreel, because he was sick."

Both places (this and the parallel) tell first that Ahaziah went

with Joram against Hazael; then that Joram, being smitten, returned for

healing to Jezreel; next that Ahaziah, out of compassion in some sort, went

down to see Joram in Jezreel; and lastly, it is here signalized that in that

very deed of his, Providence brought it about that Jehu lighted upon the

track of him (vs. 7-9), and he met his end. This feature of the history the

writer of Chronicles wishes to exhibit, as usual. Ramah; i.q. Ramoth-

Gilead. Jezreel. This was a town in the Plain of Jezreel (Esdraelon),

belonging to the tribe of Issachar. For Azariah read Ahaziah; compare

אֲחַזְיָהוּ (Ahaziah) and יְהואָחָז (Jehoahaz), the meaning of both being

held” or “upheld of the Lord.” 

 

7 "And the destruction of Ahaziah was of God by coming to Joram: for

when he was come, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of

Nimshi, whom the LORD had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab."

He went out with Jehoram against Jehu. The “against” is the

simple preposition la,, and need intend nothing more than “to meet” Jehu;

not to meet him hostilely. What the manner of the meeting was, however,

we know from II Kings 9:21-22, 27-28. The history of this and

following two verses is here given very briefly; much must be filled in to

give its full explanation, as in ibid. vs. 11-29. Whom the Lord had

anointed to cut off the house of Ahab; i.e. had raised him to the throne,

possessed of the characteristic qualities which he had for this purpose

(ibid. vs. 1-7; I Kings 19:16). Jehu the son of Nimshi. Strictly,

the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi” (II Kings 9:2).

 

8 "And it came to pass, that, when Jehu was executing judgment upon

the house of Ahab, and found the princes of Judah, and the sons of

the brethren of Ahaziah, that ministered to Ahaziah, he slew them."

Executing judgment upon the house of Ahab. The description of all this is

sufficiently graphically scattered along the verses of II Kings 9:24-11:20.

And found the princes of Judah (see especially II Kings 10:7, 11; 11:13-20).

And the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah. This both explains and is explained

by II Kings 10:12-14. That ministered to Ahaziah. Even this enigmatical little

clause receives its probable explanation from the last clause of v. 13 in last

quotation foregoing.

 

9 "And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in

Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him,

they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat,

who sought the LORD with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah

had no power to keep still the kingdom."  And he sought Ahaziah:

and they caught him… brought him… buried him. This verse, which at

the first sight seems at variance with II Kings 9:27-28, is perhaps a simply

surprising instance of undesigned corroboration of history by the treatment

of different historians. The verse, e.g., corrects the italics of II Kings 9:27;

expunging them throws their proper force into the words, “at the going up

to Gur,” showing that Jehu reckoned on that steep hill to enable his

pursuing warriors to overtake Ahaziah; makes a sufficiently possible

harmony, to say the least, in respect of the remaining incidents narrated of

his life — that he made for the time a successful flight to Megiddo,

afterwards sought to hide in deeper retirement in Samaria, was thence

brought to Jehu at Megiddo, there eventually slain before his eyes, and by

his own servants, who must be supposed to have had some attachment to

him, but probably with the sanction of Jehu himself, conveyed “in a chariot

to Jerusalemfor sepulture “in the sepulcher of his fathers in the city of

David” (II Kings 9:28). The fact that he received decent burial being

due to the God-fearing character of his grandfather, and that this should

find its record on the page of the book that will last while the world lasts,

that very page already two thousand five hundred years old, is a most

touching consideration. Megiddo was on the Esdraelon or Jezreel plain,

that stretched between the hills of Galilee and those of Mount Ephraim or

Samaria. Had no power to keep still the kingdom. The undoubted

meaning of this clause is that there was no one of the house of Ahaziah

who could succeed him. The Hebrew text does not say, “no one left,” etc.

But the allusion can scarcely be to anything but the fact that transpires in

our v. 11 (where only Joash is mentioned as a son, and with him a nurse),

viz. that his only surviving son was an infant, The king’s sons (presumably

sons of Ahaziah and grandsons of her own) were among the “seed royal,”

whom the wicked Athaliah had “destroyed.” Gesenius says that the words

that wrap in them the slight ambiguity, עָצַר כֹחַ are a phrase peculiar to

the later Hebrew, and he instances nine examples, all of which come from

Daniel or Chronicles, the virtue of the phrase amounting to the potis esse

of the Latin. Translate, And there was no one of the house of Ahaziah able

for the kingdom, the exacter conditions of the case not being recorded.

 

10 "But when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was

dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of

Judah."  But when Athaliah. For parallel to the end of the chapter, see

II Kings 11:1-3. The words, of the house of Judah, are here carefully

supplied, wanting in parallel.

 

11"But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of

Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons that were slain,

and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber. So Jehoshabeath, the

daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, (for she was

the sister of Ahaziah,) hid him from Athaliah, so that she slew him not."

After of the king, the parallel conveniently certifies the name,

Joram, and adds, “sister of Ahaziah (very possibly half-sister, though),

and afterwards particularizes the hiding, as from Athaliah, as in the latter

part of this verse. We are here told, what is not mentioned in the parallel,

that Jehosheba was “wife of Jehoiada the priest,” probably the high priest.

Nor is this negated by the fact that the name is not found (1 Chronicles

6.) in the line from Aaron to Jozadak; for this is only the line of Jozadaks

ancestors, all of whom were not high priests. Joash is to be heard of again

(ch. 24:1; II Kings 11:21).

 

12 "And he was with them hid in the house of God six years: and

Athaliah reigned over the land." With them hid in the house of God six years.

During this time evidently Athaliah reigned. There were in the “house of God”

chambers sacred to the use of either priests or temple officials (I Kings 6:5-10).

 

 

A Medley of the Memoranda of Evil-Doing,

Its Consequences, and Its End (vs. 1-12)

 

The one surviving son of Jehoram, his youngest son, Ahaziah, is put on an

unsteady, unsafe throne. Jehoram had caused all his own brethren to be

slain, and now it had come to pass that all his “eldest sons had been slain

by the band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp” As Athaliah,

the daughter of Ahab and granddaughter of Omri, the evil wife of Jehoram,

had not failed to make an evil husband of Jehoram, so, the evil mother, she

does not fail to make an evil son of Ahaziah. She “was his counselor to do

wickedly.” And therein her whole house, “the house of Ahab,” were “after

the death of his father, counselors to his destruction.” Ahaziah repeated

the error of his grandfather Jehoshaphat, in associating himself with the

King of Israel, going up with him to fight against Hazael King of Syria, at

Ramoth-Gilead. It leads to further complications. The King of Israel is

wounded and returns to Jezreel, and because “he was sick,” Ahaziah must

go thither also to “see” him. He unconsciously is courting “his

destruction,” “of God” (r. 7); for once there he must support the king of

his rival line against one whom “God had anointed” to the very work of

cutting off the house of Ahab.” He is not only setting himself “to help the

ungodly, and to love them that hate the Lord” (ch. 19:2), but

he is setting himself in battle with one against whom the Lord has anointed

His own servant (Jehu the son of Nimshi), that he may destroy him and

his! That is, he has put himself in the position of actively and directly

fighting against God. And now, by doing thus, he not only involves “the

princes of Judah, and the sons of his own brethren” (because of the

company in which they were found), in indiscriminate slaughter, but

himself, the King of Judah, hidden — hidden in Samaria, searched for,

caught, taken. He with his mother has been run to earth in a double sense,

hounded to his miserable earthly end, his bones being honored with

decent burial only out of reverence for his good grandfather Jehoshaphat.

The humiliating epitaph, however, on his grave was to this effect, “The

house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom!” Once more the

enraged mother of the son whom she more than any one else had driven

into his sin and his grave, plots the slaughter of the entire royal seed of

David; but in vain. A faithful promise, a sure covenant, an unalterable

purpose, prevents the thing! The sister of the king just buried was married

to Jehoiada the priest, and she was the appointed preserver of the royal

line, in the providence of God. She saves one, an infant, her nephew, and

with her husband hides him for six years where alone so many others have

taken refuge, and been safely hidden till the stormy wind and tempest have

been overpast“in the house of God.” The usurping and iniquitous

Athaliah, daughter of Ahab, wife of Jehoram once, and once mother of

Ahaziah, an orphan, a widow, and without a son, unloving and unloved,

neither fearing God nor regarding man, reigns awhile, but does not rule!

God rules the people, rides the storm, keeps the sleep, the infancy, the

childhood, of His anointed; inspires his true priest, Jehoiada, with wisdom,

patience, determination, and religious courage. The royal line of Judah is

not cut off in its sixth king, and, when to the most of human knowledge it

seemed so, that six years’ interval may well have served as a needed pause

in the life of the kingdom and of its chief men. “The Word of the Lord”

was no doubt “precious in those days,” but it was not lost, and there was a

faithful priest. The silences of nations and oft of our own individual life, the

silences of Scripture and of the inscrutable God Himself, all have meaning,

all bear the mark of design and long-suffering providence, and if improved

instead of:

 

·         neglected,

·         sinned against, and

·         defied,

 

may be rich with future blessings.

 

 

A Chapter of Tragedies (vs. 1-12)

 

  • THE SLAUGHTER OF JEHORAM’S SONS. (v. 1) An illustration

of three things.

 

Ø      The perils attending high station. Jehoram’s sons were among the

captives taken by the Philistines and Arabians (ch. 21:17).

Had they been common soldiers, their lives might have been spared; being

princes of the blood, they were put to death. A man’s social elevation

attracts towards him the arrows of hate, envy, malice, and other secret

foes; an obscure position tends to protect him. Therefore let none murmur

that the Arbiter of destinies has not made them kings or great ones; neither

let any rejoice that their places on earth are not low.

 

Ø      The misfortunes accompanying war. It was probably their duty to take

the field against the combined hordes of the Philistines and Arabians;

nevertheless, they who go to war even for defense, and much more for

aggression, must not be surprised if they are killed. In the case of

Jehoram’s sons, the camp of Judah had been surprised by a reconnoitring

party who had come with the Arabians (Keil), or by “a hand of wild men

who served in the army of the Arabians, possibly against the will of the

leaders” (Bertheau); and Jehoram’s sons, having first been carried off as

prisoners, were afterwards put to death. In ancient times, when prisoners

became troublesome or proved dangerous, this was the customary way in

which they were disposed of.

 

Ø      The retributions wrought by Providence. Even if Jehoram’s sons were

not as wicked as himself, it was a signal illustration of the lex talionis, a

conspicuous demonstration of the truth that with what measure one metes

it shall be measured to him again (Matthew 7:2). Jehoram had

assassinated all his brothers on ascending the throne; before he descended

from it, Jehovah suffered him to see all his sons (except the youngest) cut

off by invading marauders. “Are not my ways equal? saith the Lord”

(Ezekiel 18:29).

 

  • THE EXTERMINATION OF AHAB’S HOUSE. (v. 7.) Incidentally

referred to by the Chronicler, it is more fully detailed in II Kings 9. and 10.,

and may here be briefly narrated.

 

Ø      The thing determined by God.

 

o        When? As far back as the time of Elijah, in the days of Ahab himself

(I Kings 19:16-17). Divine foreordination interferes not with the

freedom of human action. If the destruction of Ahab’s house was

carried out in fulfillment of a previously formed Divine decree,

it was, nevertheless, effected by a political revolution.

 

o        Why? On account of the incurable apostasy, outrageous irreligion, and

flagrant blood-guiltiness of Ahab and his successors on the throne of

Israel.  Besides being an idolater of the most debasing type, Ahab had

been a murderer of extreme ferocity, and his successors had walked in

his ways.  There was, therefore, no remedy remaining but one —

complete extirpation. Under the Divine government, redemption or

destruction are the two alternatives that stand before all evil-doers

(Isaiah 1:19-20).  Souls that cannot be recovered must be cut off

(Psalm 37:9). When the anti-diluvian world had sunk below the line

of possible restoration, it was submerged beneath the waters of a

flood (Genesis 6:7). When Sodom and Gomorrah had become too

filthy to be renovated, they were burnt up from off the face of the

earth (Genesis 18:21; 19:24-25; II Peter 2:6; Jude 1:7).

 

Ø      The instrument selected by God.

 

o        His name. Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi. This first

revealed to Elijah at Horeb (I Kings 19:16). In the Assyrian

inscriptions Jehu is twice mentioned, and each time as “Jehu the son of

Omri,” the foreign scribe being unacquainted with his history as

recorded in Scripture, and regarding him as a prince of the dynasty of

Omri. An obelisk of black marble, five feet in height, found at Nimroud,

and now in the British Museum, represents the tribute brought to

Shal-maneser II. by vassal princes, among whom appear “Yahua, son of

Khumri,” giving “silver, gold, bowls of gold, vessels of gold, goblets

of gold, pitchers of gold, lead, sceptres for the king’s hand, and staves”

(‘Records,’ etc., 5:41); while a fragment from the annals of Shalmaneser

III. contains a similar statement, that in the eighteenth year of his reign,

after conquering Hazael of Damascus, he received the tribute of the

Tyrian, the Sidonian, and of “Yahua the son of Khumri” (Schrader,

Keilinschriften,’ p. 210).

 

o        His station. Originally an officer, probably the ablest general, and

therefore field-marshal of Jehoram’s army (II Kings 9:5). God culls

His instruments from all ranks and occupations. Those who have

served Him most efficiently in the Christian Church have not

unfrequently been drawn from the army. The profession of a

soldier need not hinder one from being a servant of God.

 

o        His character. Energetic, active, decisive, ambitious, unscrupulous,

bloodthirsty, cruel, and fanatical, “the worst type of a son of Jacob,

thesupplanter,’ as he is called, without the noble and princely

qualities of Israel, the most unlovely and the most coldly commended

of all the heroes of his country” (Stanley, ‘Jewish Church,’ p. 338).

God’s selection of a man to be His instrument does not imply a

commendation of his character — witness Pharaoh, Saul,

Nebuchadnezzar, Herod.

 

o        His designation. To be king over Israel This first communicated at

Horeb to Elijah, who received at the same time a commission to see

Jehu’s anointing to the throne carried out — a commission afterwards

executed by Elisha (II Kings 8:29; 9:6).

 

o        His usurpation. In this he was assisted by his brother-officers

II Kings 9:13). Though designated and anointed by Elisha to the

throne of Israel, more than likely, as in the case of Jeroboam

(I Kings 11:31), the project of dethroning Jehoram had already

floated before his mind.

 

o        His commission. To execute Divine vengeance on the house of Ahab

by extirpating it, root and branch, from the land. Rough work, it needed

a rough instrument.

 

Ø      The work carried through by God. By means of His instrument. The

Chronicler recognizes (vs. 7- 8) that Jehu was God’s sword. How far

Jehu himself was under the dominion of this thought may be hazardous to

affirm. But, in any case, he lost no time in discharging the bloody business

entrusted to his hand. With a swiftness and relentless severity that

suggested leonine ferocity as much as religious zeal, he posted to Jezreel

and began the work of butchery. First he drove an arrow through the heart

of Jehoram (II Kings 9:24); next procured the death of Jezebel by

commanding two of her servants, his minions, to throw her from the palace

window (ibid. v. 33); and finally caused the seventy sons of Ahab in

Samaria to be beheaded (ibid. ch.10:7).

 

  • THE MURDER OF THE PRINCES OF JUDAH. (v. 8.)

 

Ø      Who these were.

 

o        Sons of the brethren of Ahaziah. Not the brethren of Ahaziah

(II Kings 10:13), since these had all been slain by the Arabian

marauders (ch. 21:17), but the children of these brothers, and

therefore Ahaziah’s nephews. That they were forty-two in number

cannot be pronounced impossible, since it is not known how many

elder brothers Ahaziah had.

 

o        Princes of Judah, who were doubtless remoter branches of the royal

house, and held important offices in the court. Possibly these should

be included in the number forty-two mentioned above.

 

Ø      When they were killed.

 

o        When Jehu was executing judgment on the house of Ahab (v. 8).

Though not responsible for being connected with the house of Ahab,

that they were so proved the cause of their destruction. Their sad fate

was an illustration of two truths:

 

§         that the innocent often suffer with and for the guilty (Job 9:23),

and,

§         that no one can predict how far the disastrous consequences

of one false step may reach.

 

Had Jehoram not married Athaliah, these princes had not fallen

victims to Jehu’s sword.

 

o        When Jehu was on the way from Jezreel, where he had perpetrated

three murders, to Samaria, where he had committed one massacre by

deputy, and whither he was going to add another (II Kings 10:25).

Having fallen in with the princes of Judah, Jehu ordered his attendants

to take them alive. Their resistance, it is supposed, led to their

immediate slaughter. One massacre more was nothing to Jehu. Besides,

the destruction of forty-two princes, mostly boys, was a trifle to that he

was contemplating — the wholesale sacrifice of Baal’s worshippers in

the house of Baal.

 

o        When Ahaziah’s nephews were on the way to Jezreel to pay a visit to

the court at Jezreel, “to salute the children of the queen and the

children of the king” (II Kings 10:13). One never knows where

he may be overtaken by death; hence the necessity of being

always ready.

 

Ø      Where they were killed. At the pit or cistern of the shearing-house, or

house of gathering” (II Kings 10:13); at “the shepherds’ house of

meeting” (Chaldee Version, Thenius, Bahr) — a house which served the

shepherds of the region round about for assembling; or at the house where

the shepherds tied up their sheep for shearing (Keil). “In a well close by, as

at Cawnpore, they were all slaughtered’ (Stanley).

 

Ø      By whom they were killed. Jehu, whose motive may have been either:

 

o        because he regarded their death as embraced within the scope of his

commission, or

o        because he feared the exaction by some of them of bleed-vengeance, or

o        because he wished to render impossible any future attempt at the

subversion of his authority.

 

  • THE ASSASSINATION OF AHAZIAH. (v. 9.)

 

Ø      After a brief reign. Ahaziah succeeded to his father’s throne in his

forty-second year, or in his twenty-second (II Kings 8:26) — a

discrepancy removed, by supposing the forty-two to indicate the

age of the kingdom of his mother s family (Lightfoot), but best

explained by conceding that an error has crept into the text

(Keil, Bertheau, Bahr). After enjoying regal power for one year,

he fell a victim to the sword of Jehu — a startling reminder of the

uncertainty of life and the vanity of human greatness.

 

Ø      By the hand of Providence. “The destruction of Ahaziah was of God”

(v. 7); not merely as all things are under the Divine control, but in the

special sense that the incidents which led to Ahaziah’s destruction

were of God’s permitting, if not ordering.

 

o        God allowed Jehoram to go to war, as his father had done, with the

Syrian king, now not Benhadad II., but Hazael the usurper (v. 6),

who is mentioned along with Jehu in the Assyrian inscriptions, and

with whom Shalmaneser II, in the eighteenth year of his reign, fought

at Damascus, capturing his camp with 1221 chariots and 470

war-carriages (Schrader, ‘ Keilinschriften,’ p. 210; ‘Records,’ etc.,

5:34; Sayce, ‘Fresh Light,’ etc., p. 123).

 

o        Ahaziah of Judah he permitted to go to Ramoth-Gilead with his uncle.

 

o        In the war Jehovah ordered it that Jehoram should be wounded and

return to Jezreel to be healed, and that Ahaziah should afterwards also

leave Ramoth and go to the Israslitish capital to inquire for his

mother’s brother.

 

o        Hence it came to pass that he was found in Jehoram’s company when

Jehu came to Jezreel on his murderous errand (II Kings 9:21).

 

o        Had this train of circumstances not preceded, Ahaziah’s death might

not have followed, at least at the time when and the place where it did.

 

Ø      As a just retribution for his wickedness. For Ahaziah a tremendous

misfortune, for which he was in no way responsible, that he had Jehoram

and Athaliah for his parents. If any man might be said to have “a double

dose of original sin,” or inherited corruption, he had. If he may be

pronounced happy who has the piety of generations at his back and within

his veins, propelling him forward in the ways of virtue and religion, on the

other hand he should be deemed an object of pity who is not only held back

from the paths of godliness, but urged into the broad roads of sin and vice

by secret forces of heredity that have been gathering momentum through a

long succession of wicked ancestors. Disadvantageously placed as Ahaziah

was, he was under no compulsion to yield to the evil influences by which

he was surrounded. That he did not resist them, but abandoned himself to

them without let or hindrance, was his sin.

 

o        He “walked in the ways of the house of Ahab,” and “did evil in the

sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab.” He copied their idolatries

and their immoralities.

 

o        He took as his example the house of Ahab, and especially his mother,

Athaliah, whom the Chronicler, with reference to her wicked

propensities, fitly designates “the daughter of Omri.”

 

Ø      In spite of strenuous efforts to escape. The accounts given of these

efforts to escape are considerably divergent. According to the Chronicler,

when Ahaziah saw Jehorem sink down in his chariot after being struck with

Jehu’s arrow, he fled by the way of the garden house, but was followed by

Jehu, and, like his uncle, wounded with an arrow at the going up to Gur,

which is by Ibleam, whence he fled to Megiddo, and died there (II Kings

9:27). According to II Kings, Ahaziah had hid himself in Samaria,

and, being found there, was slain by Jehu’s servants. The accounts are

pronounced irreconcilable, that of Kings being the older and more

authentic (Bahr, Bertheau); but the explanations ordinarily proffered

(Lightfoot, Keil) are deserving of consideration — that Ahaziah, on first

escaping, fled to Samaria, and was afterwards found there by Jehu’s

servants, who brought him to Jehu, at whose command he was shot while

in his chariot at Gur, beside Ibleam, and that, once more escaping, though

this time mortally wounded, he reached Megiddo, and perished there. On

the sites here mentioned, consult the Exposition.

 

  • THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SEED ROYAL OF THE HOUSE OF

JUDAH. (v. 10.)

 

Ø      The victims of this massacre. All the seed royal, i.e. all the direct

descendants of the kingly house, all who might in any measure or degree

aspire to the throne. As Ahaziah’s elder brothers had been captured and

slain by the Arabs (ch. 21:17), and as their sons, Ahaziah’s

nephews, had been (in part at least) put to death by Jehu (ibid. ch. 22:8),

it is possible that the actual victims were not numerous.

 

Ø      The perpetrator of this massacre. Athaliah, the queen-mother, who

thereby proved herself a true daughter of Jezebel. Instead of grieving at the

tidings of her son’s death, and taking measures to shield his young

children, her grandsons, from the sword of Jehu, she herself compassed

their destruction. Thereby she showed herself a most unnatural mother, an

inhuman monster — a woman, like Lady Macbeth, “from the crown to the

toe, top-full of direst cruelty” (‘Macbeth,’ act 1. sc. 5).

 

Ø      The motive of this massacre. Probably mingled fear and ambition.

Apprehensive of her own safety when she saw that Jehu had slain her son,

she may have judged that the speediest and surest way to establish her

security was to cut off every possible rival from her side, and seize the

throne of Judah for herself. It was the usual mode of procedure amongst

Oriental sovereigns, on ascending the throne, to put to death all possible

claimants of the crown. It is not difficult to see who was Jehoram’s teacher

(ch. 21:4).

 

Ø      The extent of this massacre. All the seed royal, with one exception,

Joash, Ahaziah’s son, who was rescued by his aunt, Jehoshabeath, his

father’s daughter but not his mother’s — she was obviously the daughter

of one of Jehoram’s secondary wives — and the wife of Jehoiada the priest

(see next homily).

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The vicissitudes of human life (v. 1).

Ø      The vanity of earthly glory (v. 2).

Ø      The danger of evil counsel (v. 3).

Ø      The self-destructive character of sin (v. 4).

Ø      The madness of walking with wicked men (v. 5).

Ø      The propriety of sympathizing with the ungodly in their

Ø      afflictions (v. 6).

Ø      The tiger-like ferocity of some monsters in sin (vs. 7-10).

Ø      The mystery of Providence in suffering such monsters to live.

 

 

Our Friends and Their Fate (vs. 5-12)

 

These verses offer us a cluster of truths which we may gather.

 

  • THAT OUR FATE IS COMMONLY BOUND UP WITH THAT OF

OUR FRIENDS. Ahaziah “went with Jehoram the son of Ahab” (v. 5);

and, allying himself with him in war, he visited him as a friend when he was

at his home at Jezreel. But this friendship with God’s enemies led him to

his destruction; his coming to Jehoram was “of God” (v. 7); it was the

way taken by Divine Providence to bring upon him the penalty of his guilt.

For he perished with his friend on the same day and at the same hand (vs. 8-9).

When we are determining upon our alliances and our friendships, it is

well not only to consider the station, the income, the reputation in society,

of those who invite us to their confidence, but also to inquire concerning

their probable whither-ward.

 

Ø      In what direction are they moving?

Ø      Toward what goal are their faces turned?

Ø      What will their end be?

Ø      Are they on an upward or on a downward course?

 

For nothing is more likely than that we shall share their fate, that we shall

become what they are becoming.

 

  • THAT THE INFLUENCE OF A GOOD MAN GOES FAR BEYOND

HIS OWN GENERATION. “They buried him, Because (they said) he is

the son of Jehoshaphat,” etc. (v. 9). He was Jehoshaphat’s grandson; but

though they had to go back two generations, the memory and the moral

impression of the good king had not faded — at any rate, had not been

effaced. “The memory of the just” abides; it is fragrant after many years

have gone; and the influence of the holy lasts when the memory has

disappeared.

 

Ø      Knowledge in the memory,

Ø      peace in the mind,

Ø      soundness in the soul,

Ø      beauty and usefulness in the life,

 

    these are the fruits of the good man’s life, though they are not traced to

his hand and not referred to his working; they are influences which spread

and widen as the years go on.

 

  • THAT IF WE PLACE OURSELVES UNDER THE DOMINION OF

EVIL, WE DO NOT KNOW TO WHAT DEPTH WE MAY DESCEND.

We have here a woman, who was brought up in a civilized court, and who

had the opportunity of acquainting herself with the Law of the Lord,

causing all her own grandsons to be murdered, in order that she might have

the helm of the state in her own hands! To what a bottomless depth of

moral degradation can a woman sink, when she gives herself up to the

power of evil! And we do not, any of us, know the lengths of wrong-doing,

the depths of iniquity, to which we may go, if we once yield to that strong

temptation:

 

Ø      impurity,

Ø      avarice,

Ø      indulgence in strong drink,

Ø      the intoxication of applause,

 

or whatever it may be — which is assailing and even threatening us. Shun

the first step in an evil course, for the slope becomes steeper as we go further,

and it leads down to a deep and dark gulf of shame and ruin.

 

  • THAT WOMANLY KINDNESS HAS A LARGE CONTRIBUTION

TO BRING TO THE CAUSE AND KINGDOM OF GOD. It was a very

great service, fruitful of large results, which Jehoshabeath now rendered

(v. 11). It was a very valuable service that womanly kindness and fidelity

rendered to our Lord when He lived and when He died for us. The Apostle

Paul had to thank womanly kindness for succor in the course of his

career. Pity, with the hand of help it stretches forth, is a handmaid of piety,

a valued servant in the king’s household.

 

  • THAT IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD WE MAY FIND A

HIDING-PLACE FOR OURSELVES. (v. 12.) His aunt hid the infant

Joash in the house of God (v. 12). Many times, in many lands, has the

house of God been a sanctuary, a place where men have taken refuge and

have hidden themselves from the wrath of the pursuer. But there is a better

way in which God’s house may be to us a sanctuary. We may go there to

hide ourselves in Him whose house it is. We may go there with our

troubled or our sin-burdened heart, and we may hide in Him who is

THE GOD OF ALL GRACE AND CONSOLATION,  in Him who is

abundant in mercy and truth (see Psalm 27:4-5). When we cherish a

living faith in God our Saviour and our Friend, we “hide ourselves

under the shadow of His wings” (Psalm 17:8).

 

 

The Rescue of Joash (vs. 11-12)

 

  • THE DANGER FROM WHICH HE WAS DELIVERED.

 

Ø      An early death. He was an infant at the breast, since he had a wet-nurse:

not above a year old” (Josephus). More than one-half of the human race

die in infancy. Scripture examples of the deaths of children:

 

o       the firstborn of Pharaoh (Exodus 12:29-30);

o       the child of David (II Samuel 12:14-23),

o       of Jeroboam (I Kings 14:13),

o       of the widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17:17),

o       of the Shunammite (II Kings 4:19-20).

 

Many exposed to the danger of dying in infancy who nevertheless

escape:

 

o       like Moses(Exodus 2:3),

o       the child of the harlot (I Kings 3:25),

o       Jesus (Matthew 2:8),

o       the centurion’s son (John 4:49).

 

Ø      A violent death. He was in danger of being cut off by the sword. To die

a natural death in infancy is sad enough; to be cut off by a supernatural

stroke like the Egyptian children, or the Bethlehem innocents, or by an

accidental stroke like the Shunammite’s boy, much more by a violent

stroke like Samaria’s children (Hosea 10:14), excites the imagination

as a hard fate indeed.

 

Ø      An unnatural death. He was in danger of being killed by his own

grandmother. Only one fate could have been worse — to have been

slain by his own mother, like the son of the woman in Samaria

(II Kings 6:29); or by his own father, like the King of Moab’s eldest

son (II Kings 3:27).

 

  • THE PERSON BY WHOM HE WAS DELIVERED.

 

Ø      A kinswoman. Jehoshabeath, or Jehosheba, “Jehovah is the oath,” was

the aunt of Joash, the sister of his father (see preceding homily).

 

Ø      A good woman. A plausible inference from the fact that she was married

to Jehoiada the high priest. “Even princesses did not then scorn the bed

of those that served at God’s altar ‘ (Hall). Most likely she and her

husband disapproved of the state religion and state policy of the day,

inspired and controlled as these were by Athaliah.

 

A brave woman. Scarcely without peril to herself could she have carried

out her humane design of rescuing her infant nephew.

 

Ø      A clever woman. Without immense tact she could never have evaded

the vigilant eyes of Athaliah. Of the substitution of some other child

in Joash’s room (Hall) Scripture is silent.

 

  • THE MODE IN WHICH HE WAS DELIVERED.

 

Ø      By secret concealment in the palace. Along with his nurse he was hid

in a bedchamber, or chamber for the beds; neither the dormitory of the

priests and Levites in the temple-courts (Vatablus), nor the sleeping-

apartments of the royal princes in the palace (Clericus), but a room in

the latter, where, according to Eastern custom, the beds, i.e. mattresses

and coverlets, were kept (Keil). In this recess, usually uninhabited,

a temporary refuge was obtained from Athaliah’s rage.

 

Ø      By private upbringing in the temple. Not in the holy of holies (Targum),

to which Athaliah had no access, but in one of the buildings on the outer

wall, in which the high priest resided with his wife. Fetched at the first

convenient opportunity from their dangerous proximity to Athaliah in

the palace, the young child and his nurse were for six years lodged in

the priest’s house. Here his training must have been both carefully and

successfully attended to, as his after-career showed (Proverbs 22:6).

From the priest’s lips he would receive instruction in the Law of God

(Malachi 2:7); from his aunt, learn to love and practice the religion of

his great and good ancestors, Jehoshaphat and Asa.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The ease with which God can defeat the projects of the wicked.

Ø      The tender care God takes of children, especially of such as belong to

the covenant.

Ø      The blessing of possessing pious parents and kinsmen.

Ø      The value of early instruction in the doctrines and duties of religion.

Ø      The safety of those whom God keeps.

Ø      The advantage of spending one’s early years in the house of God.

 

 

 

 

 

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