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
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
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:
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!
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. .
GUARANTEE ANY MAN’S WELL- BEING.
Ø Who so fortunate
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
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.
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
that is best in our nature, and brings us down to spiritual if not, indeed, to
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 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.”
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
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
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,
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-
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
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
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
life — that he made for the time a successful flight to
afterwards sought to hide in deeper retirement in
brought to Jehu at
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
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
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
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 Jozadak’s
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
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
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
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
· sinned against, and
may be rich with future blessings.
A Chapter of Tragedies (vs. 1-12)
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”
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,
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,
the ‘supplanter,’ as he is called, without the noble and princely
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,
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
(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).
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),
§ 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
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
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’ (
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
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.
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
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
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,
by Ibleam, whence he fled to
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
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
mortally wounded, he reached
the sites here mentioned, consult the Exposition.
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
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
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
TO BRING TO THE CAUSE AND
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.
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)
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
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
accidental stroke like the Shunammite’s boy, much more by a violent
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
(II Kings 6:29); or by his own father, like the King of Moab’s eldest
son (II Kings 3:27).
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.
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.
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
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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