II Kings 8

 

Elisha is still the protagonistes of the historical drama. The writer brings together in

the present section two more occasions of a public character in which he was

concerned, and in which kings also bore a part.  One of the occasions is domestic,

and shows the interest which Jehoram took in the miracles of the prophet, and in

those who were the objects of them (vs. 1-6). The other belongs to Syrian, rather

than to Israelite, history, and proves that the influence of Elisha was not confined to

Palestine (vs. 7-15).

 

                        The Sequel of the Story of the Shunammite (vs. 1-6)

 

1  “Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life,” –

There is no “then” in the original, of which the simplest rendering would be, “And

Elisha spake unto the woman,” - The true sense is, perhaps, best brought out

by the Revised Version, which gives the following: Now Elisha had spoken unto

 the woman.  The reference is to a time long anterior to the siege of Samaria.

“saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever

thou canst sojourn: for the Lord hath called for a famine;” -  A famine is

mentioned in ch. 4:38, which must belong to the reign of Jehoram, and which is

probably identified with that here spoken of. Elisha, on its approach, recommended

the Shunammite, though she was a woman of substance (Ibid. v.8), to quit her home

and remove to some other residence, where she might escape the pressure of the

calamity He left it to her to choose the place of her temporary abode. The phrase,

“God hath called for a famine,” means no more and no less than “God has

determined that there shall be a famine.” With God to speak the word is to bring

about the event - “and it shall also come upon the land seven years. Seven

years was the actual duration of the great famine, which Joseph foretold in Egypt

(Genesis 41:27), and was the ideally perfect period for a severe famine. Many

of the best meteorologists are inclined to regard the term  of “seven years” as a

cyclic period in connection with weather changes.

 

2  And the woman arose, and did after the saying of the man of God:” –

It is a satisfaction to find that there was yet faith in Israel. There were still those

to whom the prophet was the mouthpiece of God, who waited on his words,

and accepted them as Divine commands whereto they were ready to render

immediate and entire obedience. Even opulent persons have to migrate in times

of severe dearth – “and she went with her household, and sojourned in

the land of the Philistines” - Philistia was a great grain country (Judges 15:5),

and, though not altogether exempt from famine, was less exposed to it than

either Judaea or Samaria. The soil was exceedingly fertile, and the vapors from

the Mediterranean descended upon it in dews and showers, when their beneficial

influence was not felt further inland. The Shunammite may have had other reasons

for fixing her residence in the Philistine country; but probably she was chiefly

determined in her choice by its proximity and its productiveness - “seven years.”

As long, i.e., as the famine lasted.

 

3  “And it came to pass at the seven years’ end, that the woman returned

out of the land of the Philistines:” -  She stayed no longer than she could help.

Her own land, where she could have the ministrations of a “man of God” (ch. 4:23),

was dear to her; and no sooner had the famine abated than she returned to it -  “and

she went forth to cry unto the king for her house and for her land.”  During her

prolonged absence, some grasping neighbor had seized on the unoccupied house and

the uncultivated estate adjoining it, and now refused to restore them to the rightful

owner. Widows were especially liable to such treatment on the part of greedy

oppressors, since they were, comparatively speaking, weak and defenseless (see

Isaiah 10:2; Matthew 23:14). Under such circumstances the injured party would

naturally, in an Oriental country, make appeal to the king (compare II Samuel 14:4;

I Kings 3:16; ch. 6:26).

 

4  “And the king talked with Gehazi” -  rather, now the king was talking

with Gehazi, as in the Revised Version. The king, i.e., happened to be talking

with Gehazi at the moment when the woman came into his presence and “cried”

to him. It has been reasonably concluded from this, that chronological order is

not observed in the portion of the narrative which treats of Elisha and his doings,

since a king of Israel would scarcely be in familiar conversation with a leper. It may

be added that Gehazi can scarcely have continued to be the servant of Elisha, as he

evidently now was, after his leprosy. He must have dwelt “without the gate.” –

“the servant of the man of God,” -  That a king should converse with a servant

is, no doubt, somewhat unusual; but, there is nothing in the circumstance that need

astonish us. It is natural enough that, having been himself a witness of so many of

the prophet’s marvelous acts done in public, Jehoram should become curious

concerning those other marvelous acts which he had performed in private, among

his personal friends and associates, with respect to which many rumors must

have got abroad; and should wish to obtain an account of them from a source on

which he could rely. If he had this desire, he could scarcely apply to the prophet

himself, with whom he was at no time on familiar terms, and who would shrink

from enlarging on his own miraculous powers. “To whom, then, could he apply

with more propriety for this information than to the prophet’s familiar servant” —

an eye-witness of most of them, and one who would have no reason for reticence?

Oriental ideas would not be shocked by the king’s sending for any subject from

whom he desired information, and questioning him -  “saying, Tell me, I pray

thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done.” Miracles are often called

“great things” (twOldog]) in the Old Testament, but generally in connection with

God as the doer of them (see Job 5:9; 9:10; 37:5; Psalm 71:19; 106:21).

 

5  “And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he i.e. Elisha —

had restored a dead body to life,” -  This was undoubtedly the greatest of all

Elisha’s miracles, and Gehazi naturally enlarged upon it. As an eye-witness

(ch. 4:29-36), he could give all the details – “that, behold, the woman, whose

son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land.”

The coincidence can scarcely have been accidental. Divine providence so ordered

matters that, just when the king’s interest in the woman was most warm, she should

appear before him to urge her claim. At another time, Jehoram would, it is probable,

have been but slightly moved by her complaint. Under the peculiar circumstances, he

was deeply moved, and at once granted the woman the redress for which she asked.

And Gehazi said, my lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son,

whom Elisha restored to life.”  The Shunammite was accompanied by her son,

now a boy of at least tea or eleven years old — the actual object of Elisha’s miracle.

The king’s interest in the woman would be still more roused by this circumstance.

 

6  “And when the king asked the woman, she told him.” - rather, and the king

made inquiry of the woman, and she answered him. The extent of the inquiries is

not indicated. They may have included questions concerning the miracle, as well as

questions concerning the woman’s claim to the land and house, and the evidence

which she could produce of proprietorship. “So the king appointed unto her a

certain officer” — literally, a certain eunuch, or chamberlain — an officer of

the court, who was in his confidence, and would give effect to his directions

“saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the

day that she left the land, even until now.”  The order was, that not only was

the Shunammite to receive back her house and estate, but that she was also to

have “the mesne profits” i.e. the full value of all that the land had produced beyond

the expense of cultivation during the seven yearn of her absence. English law lays

down the same rule in cases of unlawful possession for which there is no valid excuse.

 

Consider:  “All things work together for good to them that love God”  

(Romans 8:28). The piety of the Shunammite had been sufficiently shown in the

previous record left us of her (ch. 4:8-37). The sequel of her story indicates how,

in a wonderful way, events and circumstances seemingly fortuitous and unconnected

work together for the advantage and happiness of one who lives virtuously, and

seeks in all things to serve God and advance the cause of religion.  Series of

incidents, often form a marvelous web of Divine dispensations.  We may learn

from the entire narrative:

 

·        that our lives are divinely ordered;

·        that nothing happens to us by mere chance;

·        that events which seem to us, at the time when they happen, of the least

            possible importance, may be necessary links in the chain which Divine

            providence is forging for the ordering of our lives, and for the working out

            through them of the Divine purposes.

 

 

            Elishas Visit to Damascus, and Its Consequences (vs. 7-15)

 

 It has been usual to connect this visit of Elisha’s to Damascus with the commission

given to Elijah many years previously, to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria (I Kings

19:15). But it is certainly worthy of remark that neither is Elijah authorized to

devolve his commission on another, nor is he said to have done so, nor is there any

statement in the present narrative or elsewhere that Elisha anointed Hazael. It is

therefore quite possible that Elisha’s journey was wholly unconnected with the

command given to Elijah. It may have been the consequence of disorders and

dangers in Samaria, growing out of the divergence of views between Jehoram and

the queen-mother Jezebel, who still retained considerable influence over the

government; and Elisha may have taken his journey, not so much for the sake of a

visit, as of a prolonged sojourn.  That he attracted the attention both of Benhadad

and of his successor Hazael is not surprising.

 

7  “And Elisha came to Damascus;” -  It was a bold step, whatever the

circumstances that led to it. Not very long previously the Syrian king had made

extraordinary efforts to capture Elisha, intending either to kill him or to keep him

confined as a prisoner (ch. 6:13-19). Elisha had subsequently helped to baffle his

plans of conquest, and might be thought to have caused the disgraceful retreat of the

Syrian army from the walls of Samaria, which he had certainly prophesied (Ibid. 7:1).

But Elisha was not afraid. He was probably commissioned to take his journey,

whether its purpose was the anointing of Hazael or no – “and Benhadad the

King of Syria was sick;” - Ben-hadad must have been of an age when the

infirmities of nature press in upon a man, and when illness has to be expected. He

was a contemporary of Ahab (I Kings 20:1), who had now been dead ten or

twelve years – “and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come

hither.”  Elisha seems to have attempted no concealment of his presence.

No sooner was he arrived than his coming was reported to Benhadad. The

Syrians had by this time learnt to give him the name by which he was

commonly known (ch. 4:7, 21, 40; 5:20; 6:6,10; 7:2,18) in Israel.

 

8  “And the king said unto Hazael,” -  It is implied that Hazael was in attendance

on Benhadad in his sick room, either permanently as a chamberlain, or occasionally

as a minister. According to Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:4. § 6), he was “the most faithful

of the king’s domestics”.  We cannot presume from v.12 that he had as yet

distinguished himself as a warrior – “Take a present in thine hand, and go, meet

the man of God,” -  It was usual, both among the heathen and among the Israelites,

for those who consulted a prophet to bring him a present (see I Samuel 9:7; I Kings

14:3). Hence, mainly, the great wealth of the Delphic and other oracles. Naaman

(ch. 5:5) had brought with him a rich present when he went to consult Elisha in

Samaria - “and inquire of the Lord by him, saying, Shall I recover of this

disease?” The miracles of Elisha had had at any rate this effect — they had

convinced the Syrians that Jehovah was a great and powerful God, and

made them regard Elisha himself as a true prophet. Their faith in their own

superstitions must have been at least partially shaken by these convictions.

It was by these and similar weakenings of established errors that the world

was gradually educated, and the way prepared for the introduction of

Christianity. There was very early among the Syrians a flourishing Christian

Church.

 

 

9  “So Hazael went to meet him i.e. Elisha — and took a present with him;”

“In his hand” means “under his control.” The present was far too large to be

carried by an individual. It consisted of “even of every good thing of Damascus;”

  i.e. of gold and silver and costly raiment, of the luscious wine of Helbon, which

was the drink of the Persian kings, of the soft white wool of the Antilibanus (Ezekiel

27:18), of damask coverings of couches (Amos 3:12), perhaps of Damascus

blades, and of various manufactured articles, the products of Tyre, Egypt, Nineveh,

and Babylon, which her extensive land trade was always bringing to the Syrian capital.

“Forty camels’ burden,” -  Not as much as forty camels could carry, but a gift of

such a size that it was actually placed on the backs of forty camels, which paraded

the town, and conveyed in a long procession to the prophet’s house the king’s

magnificent offering. Orientals are guilty of extreme ostentation with respect to the

presents that they make. As Chardin says, “Fifty persons often carry what a single

one could have very well borne” (‘Voyage en Perse,’ vol. 3. p. 217). The practice

is illustrated by the bas-reliefs of Nineveh and Persepolis, which furnish proofs of its

antiquity. One present-bearer carries a few pomegranates; another, a bunch of

grapes; a third, a string of locusts; a fourth, two small ointment-pots; a fifth, a

branch of an olive tree, and the like (Layard, ‘Monuments of Nineveh,’ second

series, pls. 8, 9, etc.). It is not unlikely that a single camel could have carried the

whole – “and came and stood before him, and said, Thy son Benhadad

king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying” — Benhadad seeks to propitiate

Elisha by calling himself his son, thus indicating the respect he feels for him (compare

 ch. 6:21; 13:14) — “Shall I recover of this disease?”  Nothing was more

common in the ancient world than the consultation of an oracle or a prophet in cases

of disease or other bodily affliction. Two questions were commonly asked, “Shall

I recover?” and “How may I recover?” So Pheron of Egypt is said to have

consulted an oracle with respect to his blindness (Herod., 2:111), and Battus of

Cyrene to have done the same with respect to his stammering (Ibid., 4:155).

It was seldom that a clear and direct answer was given.

 

Consider:  The power of calamity to bend the spirit of the proud. Benhadad had

hitherto been an enemy of Jehovah and His prophets. He had sought Elisha’s life

(ch. 6:13-20), and, when baffled in his design to seize his person, had made a bold

attempt to crush and destroy the whole Israelite nation. But now God had laid His

hand upon him; he was prostrated on a sick-bed; and lo! All was altered. The

mighty monarch, so lately glorying in his strength, and, in his own opinion, infinitely

above any prophet, is brought down so low that, on hearing of Elisha’s having come

 voluntarily to his capital, instead of seizing him, he sends him a humble embassy.

Hazael, a high officer of the court, is bidden to “take a present in his hand, and go

meet the man of God, and inquire of Jehovah by him — Will the king recover from

his disease?” The present is a rich one, made by Oriental ostentation to appear even

grander than it is in reality. Forty camels bear their burden to the prophet’s door, and

bring him “every good thing of Damascus,” without stint. The great king calls

himself Elisha’s son — “Thy son Benhadad has sent me to thee” (v. 9). There has

a complete reversal of human conditions. The hunted enemy is now felt to be the best

friend; is courted, flattered, propitiated both by act and word. The proud king grovels

in the dust, is content to be the prophet’s son and servant, does him obeisance

morally, and hangs upon his words as those of one with whom are the issues of life

and death! And so it is with the proud and mighty generally.

 

  • A Pharaoh despises Jehovah, and asks, “Who is the Lord, that I should

            obey his voice and let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let

            Israel go” (Exodus 5:2); but in a little time the same Pharaoh has to rise

            up in the dead of the night, and to call for Jehovah’s servants, Moses and

            Aaron, and to entreat them to go forth from among his people, both they

            and the children of Israel, and go, serve Jehovah, as they had said; also to

            take their flocks and their herds, as they had said, and to be gone; and to

            bless him also” (Ibid. 12:31-32).

 

  • An Ahab lets loose the dogs of persecution against the people of God,

            destroys the prophets of Jehovah, and sells himself to work evil in the sight

            of the Lord; but, when boldly rebuked and threatened with calamity, all his

            pride forsakes him, and he rends his clothes, and puts sackcloth upon his

            flesh, and fasts, and lies in sackcloth, and goes softly (I Kings 21:27).

 

  • A Manasseh turns from God to worship Baal, and does after all the

            abominations of the heathen, and builds again the high places, and rears up

            altars for Baal, and uses witchcraft, and sets up a carved image in the

            house of God, and sheds innocent blood very much till he fills Jerusalem

            from one end to another (ch. 21:16), and does worse than the heathen whom

            the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel, even causing Isaiah (according

            to the tradition – Hebrews 11:37)  to be sawn asunder; but calamity

            smites him, the captains of the host of the King of Assyria take him, and

            put hooks in his mouth, and chains upon his limbs, and carry him captive to

            Babylon to the King of Assyria — then all his pride falls away from him

            like a cast-off garment, and in his affliction he beseeches the Lord his God,

            and humbles himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prays to

            Him, and makes supplication, and is forgiven, and thenceforth serves

            Jehovah (II Chronicles 33:11-16). The pastor who has under his charge

            proud, tyrannical, oppressive persons, who scorn rebuke, and think to ride

            roughshod over their fellow-men, may wait with a good hope for the hour

            of sickness or calamity, which sooner or later, unless in the case of sudden

            death, comes to all. He will find the Benhadad of the sick-room a very

            different person from the Benhadad of the camp, or of the court, or of the

            mart, and one much more open to admonition. Hardness, stubbornness,

            self-reliance, can scarcely survive, when the weakness of decay and the

            helplessness of acute sickness have supervened. He need not despair,

            however cruel, oppressive, and injurious to others the man’s earlier life

            may have been. If a Benhadad could humble himself, if an Ahab could

            repent and “go softly,” if a Manasseh could turn to God and obtain

            pardon, there must be a possibility of repentance even for the most

            hardened sinners.

 

10  “And Elisha said unto him; Go, say unto him; Thou mayest

certainly recover:” -  The existing Masoretic text (alArm;a’ hy;j]ti hyij;) is

untranslatable, since emar-lo cannot mean, “say not,” on account of the

order of the words; and lo cannot he joined with khayiah thikhyah, first on

account of the makkeph whick attaches it to emar, and secondly because

the emphatic infinitive is in itself affirmative, and does not admit of a

negative prefix. The emendation in the Hebrew margin (wOl for al),

accepted by all the versions, and by almost all commentators, is thus

certain. Our translators are therefore, so far, in the right; but they were not

entitled to tone down the strong affirmative, khayih thikhyah, “living thou

shalt live,” or “thou shalt surely live,” into the weak potential, “thou

mayest certainly recover.” What Elisha says to Hazael is, “Go, say unto

him, Thou shalt surely live;” i.e. “Go, say unto him, what thou hast already

made up thy mind to say, what a courtier is sure to say, Thou shalt recover.”

(Compare Zedekiah and the false prophets reply to Ahab (I Kings 22:6, 11-12) –

“howbeit the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die.”  If Hazael had

reported the whole answer to Benhadad, he would have told no lie, and thus

Elisha is not responsible for his lie.

 

11  “And he settled his countenance steadfastly — literally, and

he settled his countenance and set it; i.e. Elisha fixed on Hazael a long and

meaning look — until he i.e. Hazael — was ashamed; i.e. until Hazael

felt embarrassed, and his eyes fell.  It may be gathered that the ambitious

courtier had already formed a murderous design against his master, and

understood by the peculiar gaze which the prophet fixed upon him that his

design was penetrated – “and the man of God wept.”  There flashed on the

prophet’s mind all the long series of calamities which Israel would suffer at

the hands of Syria during Hazael’s reign, and he could not but weep at the

thought of them (see the next verse).

 

12  “And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord?” - While inwardly

contemplating an act of audacious wickedness in defiance of the prophet’s

implied rebuke, Hazael preserves towards him outwardly an attitude of

extreme deference and respect. “My lord” was the phrase with which

slaves addressed their masters, and subjects their monarchs. “And he

answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of

Israel: their strongholds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt

thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their

women with child.”  The prophet does not intend to tax Hazael with any

special cruelty, he only means to say, “Thou wilt wage long and bloody wars

with Israel, in which will occur all those customary horrors that make war so

terrible — the burning of cities, the slaughter of the flower of the youth, the

violent death of children, and even the massacre of women in a state of

pregnancy. These horrors belonged, more or less, to all Oriental wars, and

are touched on in ch.15:16; Psalm 137:9; Isaiah 13:16,18; Hosea 10:14;

Nahum 3:10; Amos 1:13. The wars of Hazael with the Israelites are mentioned

in ch. 10:32-33; 13:3-7; and Amos 1:3-4.

 

13  “And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do

this great thing?” - Hazael does not accuse Elisha of making him out a dog in the

future, but calls himself a dog in the present. “Dog” is a word of extreme contempt

-  “the most contemptuous epithet of abuse” , as appears, among other places, from

I Samuel 24:14 and II Samuel 16:9. Hazael means to say — How is it possible that

he, occupying, as he does, so poor and humble a position as that of a mere courtier

or domestic (oijketh>v, Josephus), should ever wage war with Israel, and do the

“great things” which Elisha has predicted of him? “And Elisha answered, The

Lord hath showed me that thou shalt be king over Syria.”  Elisha

explains how it would be possible. Hazael would not continue in his poor

and humble condition. Jehovah has revealed it to him that the mere courtier

will shortly mount the Syrian throne.

 

Consider:  When two such characters as Elisha and Hazael, are brought into

contact, the natural result is mutual repulsion. Hazael is ashamed that Elisha should

read him so well; and Elisha weeps when he thinks of the woes that Hazael will

inflict upon Israel Outward respect is maintained; But the two must have felt,

when they parted, that they were adversaries for life, bent on opposite

courses, with opposed principles, aims, motives; not only the servants of

different gods, but antagonistic in their whole conception of life and its

objects, sure to clash if ever they should meet again, and, even if they should not

meet, sure to be ever working for different ends, and engaged in thwarting one the

other.  (Does this not eloquently describe the plight of true Christians in the world

as they come into close contact with their fellowmen, often friends, who do not

share their zeal or love for God? - CY – 2011)

 

14  “So he departed from Elisha, and came to his master; who said to him,

What said Elisha to thee? And he answered, He told me that thou shouldest

surely recover. This, as already observed, was giving half Elisha’s answer, and

suppressing the other half. The suppression was Hazael’s act, not Elisha’s. Had

Hazael repeated the whole of Elisha’s answer, “Say unto him, Thou shalt

surely recover; howbeit the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die;”

— Benhadad might have been puzzled, but he would not have been deceived.

 

15  “And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth,” –

 Macber is a cloth of a coarse texture — a mat, or piece of carpeting.

It has here the article prefixed to it (ham-macber), which implies that there

was but one in the sick room. We may conjecture that it was a mat used as

a sort of pillow, and interposed between the head-rest (so common in

Egypt and Assyria) and the head (compare the cbir of I Samuel 19:13).

“and dipped it in water,” -  The water would fill up the interstices

through which air might otherwise have been drawn, and hasten the

suffocation – “and spread it on his face, so that he died:” - It has been

supposed by some commentators, that Benhadad put the wet macber on his

own face for refreshment, and accidentally suffocated himself; but this is very

unlikely, and it is certainly not the natural sense of the words. As “Hazael” is the

subject of “departed” and “came” and “answered” in v. 14, so it is the

natural subject of “took” and “dipped” and “spread” in v. 15. Verse 11

also would be unintelligible if Hazael entertained no murderous intentions.

“and Hazael reigned in his stead.”  The direct succession of Hazael to

Benhadad is confirmed by the inscription on the Black Obelisk, where he

appears as King of Damascus (line 97) a few years only after Benhadad

(Bin-idri) had been mentioned as king.

 

 

            The Wicked Reign of Jehoram in Judah (vs. 16-24)

 

At this point the writer, who has been concerned with the history of the kingdom of

Israel hitherto in the present book, takes up the story of the kingdom of Judah from

I Kings 22:50, and proceeds to give a very brief account of the reign of Jehoshaphat’s

eldest son, Jehoram, or (by contraction) Joram. His narrative has to be supplemented

from II Chronicles 21., which contains many facts not mentioned by the writer of

Kings.

 

16  “And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab King of Israel,

Jehoshaphat being then King of Judah,” -  literally, and of

Jehoshaphat King of Judah. The words are wanting in three Hebrew

manuscripts, in some editions of the Septuagint, in the Peshito Syriac, in

the Parisian Heptaplar Syriac, in the Arabic Version, and in many copies of

the Vulgate. They cannot possibly have the sense assigned to them in our

version, and are most probably a gloss which has crept into the text from

the margin - “Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat King of Judah began to

reign.”  Jehoram’s reign was sometimes counted from the seventeenth year

of his father, when he was given the royal title, sometimes from his father’s

twenty-third year, when he was associated, and sometimes from his

father’s death in his twenty-fifth year, when he became sole king (see the

comment on ch. 1:17b and  3:1).

 

17  “Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he

reigned eight years in Jerusalem.”  The eight years seem to be counted from

his association in the kingdom by his father in his twenty-third year. He reigned

as sole king only six years.

 

18  “And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of

Ahab:” -  i.e. he introduced into Judah the Baal and Astarte worship, which Ahab

had introduced into Israel from Phoenicia. The “house of Ahab” maintained and

spread the Baal-worship, wherever it had influence. Ahaziah, the son of Ahab,

championed it in Israel (I Kings 22:53); Jehoram, his brother, allowed its

continuance (ch. 10:18-28); Jehoram of Judah was induced by his wife, Athaliah,

the daughter of Ahab, to countenance it in Judaea; Athaliah, when she usurped the

throne upon the death of her son Ahaziah, made it the state religion in that country.

“Evil communications corrupt good manners.” (I Corinthians 15:33) - The

alliance of the two separated kingdoms, concluded between Jehoshaphat and Ahab

(I Kings 22:2-4), had no tangible result beyond the introduction into Judah of the

licentious and debasing superstition which had previously overspread the sister

country. (see Jeremiah 3:6-11) – “for the daughter of Ahab was his wife:” –

In v. 26 Athaliah, the wife of Jehoram, is called “the daughter of Omri;” but by

“daughter” in that place must be meant “descendant” or “granddaughter.” Athaliah

has been well called “a second Jezebel.” – “and he did evil in the sight of the

Lord.”  The wicked actions of Jehoram are recorded at some length in II

Chronicles 21:2-4,11-13). Shortly after his accession he put to death his six

brothers — Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Ahaziah (?), Michael, and Shephatiah —

in order to “strengthen himself.” At the same time, he caused many of the

“princes of Israelto be executed. Soon afterwards he “made high places in

the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit

fornication” (i.e. to become idolaters), “and compelled Judah thereto.

That the idolatry, which he introduced, was the Baal-worship is clear, both

from the present passage and from Ibid. v.13.

 

19  “Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake,” –

The natural punishment of apostasy was rejection by God, and on rejection would,

as a matter of course, follow destruction and ruin.  God had declared by Moses,

“If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do

all His commandments and statutes, which I command thee this day; all these

 curses shall come upon thee The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation,

 and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be

 destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy

 doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me. The Lord shall make the pestilence

 cleave unto thee, until He have consumed thee from off the land, whither

 thou goest to possess it. The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and

with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and

 with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue

 thee till thou perish.  And thy heaven which is over thy head shall be brass,

 and the earth that is underneath thee shall be iron.... The Lord shall cause

 thee to be smitten of thine enemies; thou shalt go out one way against

 them, and flee seven ways before them: and thou shalt be removed into

 all the kingdoms of the earth.... Thou shall become an astonishment, a

 proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead

 thee” (Deuteronomy 28:15-37). The apostasy of Jehoram, and of the nation

under him, was calculated to bring about the immediate fulfillment of all these

threats, and would have done so but for a restraining cause. God had made

promises to David, and to his seed after him (II Samuel 7:13-16; Psalm

89:29-37), which would be unfulfilled if Judah’s candlestick were at once

removed. He had declared, “If thy children forsake my Law, and walk not

in my statutes... I will visit their offences with the rod, and their sin with

scourges. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take away, nor

suffer my truth to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that

is gone out of my lips; I have sworn once by my holiness that I will not fail

David.” If He had now swept away the Jewish kingdom, He would have

dealt more hardly with these who clave to David than with those that broke

off from Him. He would not have shown the “faithfulness” or the “mercy”

which He had promised, He would have forgotten “the loving-kindnesses

which He aware unto David in His truth” (Psalm 89:49). Therefore He

would not — he could not — as yet “destroy Judah,” with which, in point

of fact, He bore for above three centuries longer, until at last the cup of

their iniquities was full, and “there was no remedy” (II Chronicles 36:16).

“as He promised him to give him always a light, and to his children.”

There is no “and” in the original. Translate — As He promised him to give

 him always a light in respect of his children, and compare, for the promise

of “a light” (I Kings 11:36; 15:4; and Psalm 132:17).

 

20  “In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah” -  Edom had

been conquered by Joab in the time of David, and had been treated with great

severity, all the males, or at any rate all those of full age, having been put to death

(I Kings 11:15-16). On the death of David, Edom seems to have revolted under

a prince named Hadad, and to have reestablished its independence. It had been

again subjected by the time of Jehoshaphat, who appointed a governor over it

(I Kings 22:47), and treated it as a portion of his own territories (ch. 3:8). Now

the yoke was finally thrown off, as had been prophesied (Genesis 27:40).

Edom became once more a separate kingdom, and was especially hostile to

Judah. In the reign of Ahaz the Edomites “smote Judahand carried away

many captives  II Chronicles 28:17). When the Chaldaeans attacked and

besieged Jerusalem, they cried, “Down with it, down with it, even to the

ground!” (Psalm 137:7). They looked on with joy at the capture of the

holy city (Obadiah 1:12), and “stood in the crossway, to cut off such as

escaped” (Ibid. v.14). After the return from the Captivity, they were still Judah’s

enemies, and am especially denounced as such by the Prophet Malachi (Malachi

1:3-5). In the Maccabee wars, we find them always on the Syrian side (1 Mac.

4:29, 61; 5:3; 6:31; 2 Macc. 10:15), doing their best to rivet the hateful yoke of

the heathen on their suffering brethren. As Idumaeans, the Herodian family must

have been specially hateful to the Jews - “and made a king over themselves.”

The king mentioned in ch. 3:9, 26 was probably a mere vassal king under

Jehoshaphat.

 

21  “So Joram (Jehoram) went over to Zair,” - Naturally, Joram did not allow

Edom to become independent without an attempt to reduce it. He invaded

the country in full force, taking up a position at a place called Zair, which is

not otherwise known -  “and all the chariots with him:” - The article

has the force of the possessive pronoun - “and he rose by night, and

smote the Edomites which compassed him about,” -  Josephus understands

the writer to mean that Joram made his invasion by night, and smote the

Edomites on all sides (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:5. § 1); but it seems better to suppose,

with most modern commentators, that the meaning is the following: Soon

after Joram invaded the country, he found himself surrounded and blocked

in by the Edomite troops, and could only save himself by a night attack,

which was so far successful that he broke through the enemy’s lines and

escaped; his army, however, was so alarmed at the danger it had run, that it

at once dispersed and returned home - “and the captains of the chariots;

i.e. the captains of the Edomite chariots. They too were “smitten,” having

probably taken the chief part in trying to prevent the escape - “and the

people fled into their tents.” - i.e. dispersed to their homes. Compare the

cry of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:16), “To your tents, O Israel!”

 

22  “Yet Edom revolted” - Joram’s attempt having failed, the independence

of the country was established -  “from under the hand of Judah unto this day.”

The successes of Amaziah and Azariah against Edom (ch. 14:7, 22) did not

amount to reconquests. Edom continued a separate country, not subject to

Judaea, and frequently at war with it, until the time of John Hyrcanus, by whom

it was subjugated. “Unto this day” means, at the most, until the time when the

Books of Kings took their present shape, which was before the return from the

Captivity -  “Then Libnah revolted at the same time.”  Libnah was situated

on the borders of Philistia, in the Shefelah, or low country, but towards its eastern

edge. Its exact position is uncertain; but it is now generally thought to be identical

with the modern Tel-es-Safi, between Gath and Ekron, about long. 34° 50’ E.,

Int. 31° 38’ N. It had been an independent city, with a king of its own, in the early

Canaanite time (Joshua 10:29-30; 12:15), but had been assigned to Judah

(Ibid. 15:42), and had hitherto remained, so far as appears, contented with its

position. Its people can scarcely have had any sympathy with the Edomites, and its

revolt at this time can have had no close connection with the Edomite rebellion.

Libnah’s sympathies would be with Philistia, and the occasion of the revolt may

have been the invasion of Judaea by the Philistines in the reign of Jehoram, in

II Chronicles 21:16, and in which Jehoram’s sons were carried off.  (This Jehoram

was king of Judah and the son of Jehoshaphat – the one in this chapter was king of

Israel and the son of Ahab – CY – 2011)

 

23   And the rest of the sets of Joram, and all that he did, are they not

written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? Some of these

acts are recorded in II Chronicles; e.g. his execution of his brothers and of many

nobles (Ibid. 21:4); his erection of high places (Ibid. 21:11); his persecution

of the followers of Jehovah (Ibid.);  his reception of a writing from Elisha, which,

however, had no effect upon his conduct (Ibid. 21:12-15); his war with the

Philistines (Ibid. v.16) and with the Arabs (Ibid.); his loss of all his sons but one

during his lifetime; his long illness, and his painful death (Ibid. vs.18-19). But the

‘Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah’ was a work on a larger scale

than the extant Book of Chronicles, and probably went into much greater detail.

 

24  “And Joram slept with his fathers,” - Joram died after an illness,

that lasted two years, of an incurable disease of his bowels. “No burning”

was made for him, (Ibid. v. 19) and there was no regret at his death - “and

was buried with his fathers in the city of David:” -  i.e. in the portion of

Jerusalem which David built; but, according to Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:5. § 3)

and II Chronicles 21:20), not in the sepulchers of the kings – “and Ahaziah

his son reigned in his stead. Ahaziah is called “Jehoahaz” (Ibid. v.17) by an

inversion of the two elements of his name, and “Azariah” in (Ibid. 22:6, apparently

by a slip of the pen.

 

                       

                        The Wicked Reign of Ahaziah (vs. 25-29)

 

The writer continues the history of Judah through another reign — a very short

one-almost to its close. He describes the wickedness of Ahaziah, for the most part,

in general terms, attributes it to his connection with the “house of Ahab,” and

notes his alliance with Joram of Israel against the Syrians, and his visit to his

brother monarch at Samaria, which led on to his death.

 

25  “In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab King of Israel” - In

 ch. 9:29 the year of Ahaziah’s accession is said to have been Joram’s eleventh

year. It is conjectured that he began to reign as viceroy to his father during his

severe illness in Joram’s eleventh year, and became sole king at his father’s death

in the year following - “did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram King of Judah begin

to reign.” - i.e. begin to be full king.

 

26  Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign;” -  

II Chronicles 22:2 says, “two and forty” which is absolutely impossible, since his

father was but forty when he died (see v. 17 here, an compare II Chronicles 21:5,

20).  Even “two and twenty” is a more advanced age than we should have

expected, since Ahaziah (Jehoahaz) was the youngest of Jehoram’s sons (Ibid. v.17);

he must therefore have been born in his father’s nineteenth year. Yet he had several

elder brothers (Ibid. 21:17; 22:1)! To explain this, we have to remember:

 

  • the early age at which marriage is contracted in the East (twelve years);

 

  • the fact that each prince had, besides his wife, several concubines. That

            Joram had several appears from Ibid. 21:17.

 

“and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was

Athaliah, the daughter of Omri King of Israel.”  There is something very

remarkable in the dignity and precedence attached to Omri. He was, no doubt,

regarded of a sort of second founder of the kingdom of Israel, having been the

first monarch to establish anything like a stable dynasty. His “statutes” were

looked upon as the fundamental laws of the kingdom, and were “kept”

down to the time of its destruction (Micah 6:16). Foreigners knew Samaria as

Beth. Khumri, or “the house of Omri.” He is the only Israelite king mentioned

by name on the Moabite Stone (line 5), and the earliest mentioned in the inscriptions

of Assyria. Even Jehu, who put an end to his dynasty, was regarded by the

Assyrians as his descendant, and known under the designation of” Yahua, the son

of Khnmri” (Black Obelisk, epig. 2.). Athallah, the daughter of Ahab, is called

“the daughter of Omri,” not only in the present passage, but also in II Chronicles

22:2.

 

27  “And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab,” -  Compare what is said

of Ahaziah of Israel in I Kings 22:52-53, and of Jehoram of Judah in the present

chapter (v. 18). What is specially intended is that Ahaziah kept up the Baal-worship

introduced by his father into Judah -  “and did evil in the sight of the Lord, as

did the house of Ahab: for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab.”

 

28  And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to the war against Hazael

King of Syria in Ramoth-Gilead;” - Ahaziah followed the example of his

grandfather Jehoshaphat, who had accompanied Ahab to Ramoth-Gilead

(I Kings 22:29), to fight against the Syrians in the time of Benhadad. That the

city was still disputed shows the importance which it possessed in the eyes of

both parties -  “and the Syrians wounded Joram.”  It appears that Hazael,

soon after his accession, with the ardor of a young prince anxious to distinguish

himself, made an expedition against Ramoth-Gilead, which had been recovered

by the Israelites between the death of Ahab and the time of which the historian

is now treating. Joram went to the relief of the town with a large force, and, being

received within the walls, maintained a gallant defense (ch. 9:14), in the course of

which he was wounded severely, though not fatally. Thereupon he and his brother

king quitted the town and returned to their respective capitals, leaving a strong

garrison in Ramoth-Gilead under Jehu and some other captains. Joram needed

rest and careful nursing on account of his wounds, and Ahaziah would naturally

withdraw with him; since he could not serve under a mere general.

 

29  “And King Joram went back to be healed in Jezreel.” -  Jezreel

was more accessible from Ramoth-Gilead than Samaria. It lay in the plain,

and could be reached without traveling over any rough or mountainous

country. It was also the usual place to which the court retired for rest and

refreshment-the Versailles or Windsor of Samaria, as it has been called - “of

the wounds which the Syrians had given him at Ramah, when he fought

against Hazael King of Syria.”  “Ramah” is another name for “Ramoth-Gilead”

or “Ramoth in Gilead,” which is the full name of the place. The word means “high,”

“elevated,” and is cognate to Aram. “And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram King

of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel,” -  Ahaziah

would probably take the route by way of Jericho, the Jordan valley, and the

Wata el Jalud, and would consequently begin his journey by the rapid descent

 from Jerusalem to Jericho -  “because he was sick.” -  i.e. unwell, wounded.

 

 

Consider:  The power of bad women for evil.  All the evil wrought, all the

irreligion, all the licentiousness and depravity, and almost all the misery suffered

during the reigns of Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram in Israel, and of Jehoram and

Ahaziah in Judah, were caused by the machinations and influence of two wicked

women — Jezebel and her daughter Athaliah. Jezebel, a proud imperious

woman, born in the purple, a “king’s daughter;” and extraordinarily strong-minded

and unscrupulous, obtained a complete ascendancy over the weak and unstable

Ahab, and must be viewed as the instigator of all his wicked actions. With Ahab’s

connivance, she “slew the prophets of the Lord,” persecuted the faithful,

set up the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth in Samaria, introduced into Israel

the unchaste rites of the Dea Syra and of Adonis, threatened the life of Elijah and

drove him into banishment, contrived the judicial murder of Naboth, and imparted

to Ahab’s reign that character of licentiousness and bloody cruelty which gives it its

sad preeminence above all others in the black list of Israel’s monarchs. Nor did

Jezebel’s evil influence stop her.  She outlived her husband by some thirteen years,

and during that period was the evil genius of her two sons, Ahaziah and Jehoram.

Ahaziah she completely perverted (I Kings 22:52-53). Over Jehoram she had

less influence; but to her we must ascribe it that during his reign the Baal worship

continued in the capitol (ch. 10:25-27) and in the country districts (Ibid. v. 21),

though he himself took no part in it (Ibid. ch. 3:2). Athaliah, though without the

strength of mind and will which characterized her mother, resembled her, as a

faint replica resembles a strongly painted portrait. Married to Jehoram of Israel,

a weak prince, she had little difficulty in establishing her ascendancy over him,

and becoming his chief adviser and counselor (v.18). It was under her direction

that Jehoram “made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the

inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto”

(II Chronicles 21:11), or, in other words, established the Baal worship in Judah and

Jerusalem, and forced the inhabitants to embrace it.  Over Ahaziah, her son, who

was but two and twenty at his accession, her influence was naturally greater. He

seems to have been a mere puppet in her hands (Ibid. 22:3-5). With a boldness

worthy of her mother, Athaliah, on the death of her son Ahaziah, murdered all

his half-brothers, and seized the sovereign power, which she held for six years –

a unique feature in the history of the Jews. The Baal worship was now made to

supersede the worship of Jehovah in the temple on Mount Zion, and Mattan, the

chief of Baal, was installed in the place previously occupied by the Aaronic high

priest (Ibid. 23:17). Jehovah-worship was forbidden, persecuted, and probably

ceased, except in secret; and the kingdom of Judah was, so far as appearances

went, apostate. Such were the evils wrought by these two ambitious and wicked

women. The history of the world, though it can furnish no exact parallels, has many

cases more or less similar. Semiramis may be a myth, but Queen Hatasu in Egypt,

Queens Atossa and Parysatis in Persia, Olympia in Greece, Messalina and

Poppaea Sabina in Rome, Catharine de Medici, and Catherine Empress of

Russia, in modern Europe, were women equally imperious, equally determined,

and the prolific causes of equal mischief. It would seem that, in the female nature,

where the natural impulses are so largely towards good, if these are perverted

and Satan allowed the mastery, there is no longer any let or restraint; the passions

become ungovernable, the will as iron, the heart hard and unrelenting; evil has

unresisted sway, and the result is something even more fearful and terrible than the

wickedness of the worst man. Corruptio optimi pessima – [corruption of the

best is worse] – (To those who espouse the goals of the National Organization

of Women in America, may I refer you to  I Corinthians 11:10 which says

“For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because

of the angels” – the reference is to the angels who, not satisfied with their

position in the beginning, tried to overthrow God – I say this in reference to the

fact that “a woman is not a man” – CY – 2011)  Woman’s function in the world

is to be soft and tender, to smooth down man’s roughness, to pacify and soothe

and mitigate; if she abnegates these functions, and assumes the man’s

duties of ruling and repressing and bending to her will the stubborn necks

of others, she runs counter to her proper nature, and becomes a monstrosity.

There is no saying to what lengths of profligacy, cruelty, and other wickedness she

may not go. She is worse than a wild beast, and may do infinitely more evil. She

may utterly corrupt a society, (the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,

but she has relinquished that role to the tune of 45,000,000 abortions since

1973 –  (I recommend Abortion Rationale as of 2009 - # 7 and Abortion

Statistics as of 2004 - # 8 this web site – CY - 2011) or she may deluge with

blood a continent. She may ruin the country to which she belongs and bring its fairest

provinces to desolation. She may stir up hatreds, set class against class, and cause

a civil war that shall cost the lives of hundreds of thousands. The only security

against all this mischief is for WOMAN NOT TO DESERT HER SPHERE  

but to remain within it, working for God, and doing the good which SHE

WAS DESIGNED TO DO!

 

 

 

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