EVIL COUNSEL AND ECUMENICAL ALLIANCES ALMOST WIPE OUT THE DAVIDIC DYNASTY
Iain Duguid: The future of the Davidic throne seemed precarious: the crisis that had brought Ahaziah to the throne is highlighted by repetition of the circumstances that led to only the “youngest son” surviving (2 Chron. 22:1). Further, his reign was brief (v. 2), and the Chronicler emphasizes that “he also” followed the “ways of the house of Ahab” (v. 3). Policies leading to disaster continued. By the end of the chapter a glimmer of hope is expressed in the contrast between a very young royal child “hidden in the house of God” and a cruel, idolatrous daughter of Ahab, Athaliah, “reign[ing] over the land” (v. 12). Human plans and actions are evident throughout, but central in the chapter are references to God’s activity (v. 7).
Andrew Hill: The Chronicler hurries to tell the story of Jehoram’s son Ahaziah. His version abridges the fifty-six verses of 2 Kings 8:25 – 10:14 in just nine verses. The broad relationship of the two accounts may be represented as follows:
2 Chron. 22:1-6 = 2 Kings 8:25-29
2 Chron. 22:7 = 2 Kings 9:21
2 Chron. 22:8 = 2 Kings 10:13-14
2 Chron. 22:9 = 2 Kings 9:28
The account of King Ahaziah’s reign consists of three brief reports:
– The regnal resume and theological review (22:1-4),
– The alliance with Joram of Israel (22:5-6a), and
– The death report (22:6b-9).
The one-year reign of Ahaziah is dated anywhere from 845-841 B.C., depending on the source. His brief tenure in the royal office is best placed in 842 or 841 B.C.
Even as Davidic hopes were not doused by Ahaziah’s sin or Athaliah’s reign of terror, so too the Davidic hope remains alive in the postexilic period despite all appearances to the contrary.
August Konkel: The decimation of the royal household of Jehoram left Judah and Jerusalem in the precarious situation of disorderly succession. It left the territory in substantial control of the queen mother. She held the position of sovereign, an exalted ceremonial position with considerable influence on matters of state. Athaliah was the mirror image of Jezebel, wife of Ahab. Athaliah is said to be a daughter of Omri in the MT of 2 Kings 8:26 and 2 Chronicles 22:2, though she is a daughter of Ahab according to 2 Kings 8:18 and 2 Chronicles 21:6. The apparent discrepancy is easily resolved if she was the granddaughter of Omri: the Hebrew term for “daughter” can also mean “granddaughter.”
The inhabitants of Jerusalem installed the remaining son of the royal family as king. These may be the equivalent of the people of the land who participated in the installation of a king in times of dynastic crisis (2 Chron 23:20-21; 26:21; 33:25; 36:1). They must be associated with landed aristocracy or officials within civil service. Perhaps in the immediate crisis the decision was made by leaders in Jerusalem without further consultation.
J. Barton Payne: These verses furnish a historical demonstration of how, in God’s providence, the results of a sin may bring about that very sin’s punishment. In the case of Ahaziah it was the evil alliance of Judah with Israel that brought about the king’s death (vv. 4, 7), after a reign of only a few months.
I. (:1-4) EVIL COUNSEL COMPROMISED A YOUNG AND INEXPERIENCED KING
A. (:1) Impromptu Crowning of Ahaziah as King of Judah
“Then the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah, his youngest son, king in his place, for the band of men who came with the Arabs to the camp had slain all the older sons. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign.”
Raymond Dillard: The “marauders who had come with the Arabs” would have included the Philistines (21:16–17). The Chronicler’s mention of their attack reiterates his convictions regarding retributive justice: Jehoram, the king who had slain all his brothers, lived to witness the death of his own sons (21:4, 13, 16–17).
J.A. Thompson: The raiders who came with the Arabs into the camp represented an invasion that may not have been great and probably included the Philistines (21:16-17). This raid was for the Chronicler further evidence of God’s retributive justice. Jehoram, who killed all his brother, lived to witness the death of his own sons (21:4, 13, 16-17).
B. (:2a) Immaturity and Inexperience — Young Age and Short Duration of Reign
“Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king,
and he reigned one year in Jerusalem.”
Matthew Henry: We have here an account of the reign of Ahaziah, a short reign (of one year only), yet long enough, unless it had been better. He was called Jeho-ahaz (2 Chron. 21:17); here he is called Ahaz-iah, which is the same name and of the same signification, only the words of which it is compounded are transposed. He is here said to be forty-two years old when he began to reign (2 Chron. 22:2), which could not be, for his father, his immediate predecessor, was but forty when he died, and it is said (2 Kgs. 8:26) that he was twenty-two years old when he began to reign. Some make this forty-two to be the age of his mother Athaliah, for in the original it is, he was the son of forty-two years, that is, the son of a mother that was of that age; and justly is her age put for his, in reproach to him, because she managed him, and did what she would—she, in effect, reigned, and he had little more than the title of king. Many good expositors are ready to allow that this, with some few more such difficulties, arise from the mistake of some transcriber, who put forty-two for twenty-two, and the copies by which the error should have been corrected might be lost. Many ancient translations read it here twenty-two. Few books are now printed without some errata, yet the authors do not therefore disown them, nor are the errors of the press imputed to the author, but the candid reader amends them by the sense, or by comparing them with some other part of the work, as we may easily do this.
C. (:2b) Mother of Ahaziah from the Corrupt Family of Ahab
“And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the granddaughter of Omri.”
Iain Duguid: The role of queen mother was significant, although ill-defined. In this case she acted as “counselor” alongside others from the northern house, a major function in the court (cf. Ahithophel; 1 Chron. 27:33). Ahaziah was surrounded by people who would ensure that he followed the “ways of the house of Ahab” and that he supported his uncle Jehoram, son of Ahab, in seeking to regain a key city.
D. (:3-4) Moral Evaluation of Reign of Ahaziah
1. (:3) Pursued Wickedness Due to the Counsel of His Mother
“He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab,
for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly.”
Mark Boda: The concern expressed over inappropriate northern religious practices may be a reminder to the Chronicler’s audience that although members of the northern tribes are truly part of “all Israel,” there will be no compromises in religious purity.
2. (:4) Pursued Evil Doe to the Counsel of the House of Ahab
“And 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.”
Mark Boda: The account of this evil is dominated by references to the intrusion of the northern kingdom, an intrusion emphasized by the Chronicler’s threefold use of the Hebrew root counsel appearing in 22:3 (“his mother encouraged him in doing wrong”), 22:4 (“they even became his advisers . . . and they led him to ruin”), and 22:5 (“following their evil advice”). . . The Chronicler’s account thus casts Ahaziah “as a victim rather than as an instigator” (Japhet 1993:821). The seeds planted when Jehoshaphat made alliances with the Omride dynasty had now germinated and grown as weeds about to choke out the dynastic promise given to David.
II. (:5-6) ECUMENICAL ALLIANCE OF JUDAH WITH ISRAEL LED TO AHAZIAH’S DESTRUCTION
A. (:5a) Lack of Discernment Led to Battle Alliance with Jehoram
1. Following Bad Counsel
“He also walked according to their counsel,”
2. Fighting Bad Wars
“and went with Jehoram the son of Ahab king of Israel
to wage war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth-gilead.”
Frederick Mabie: Ahaziah’s reliance on the counsel of the ungodly (cf. vv. 3-4) leads to his agreement to help the northern kingdom in battle alliance against Aram at the Transjordanian city of Ramoth Gilead, in similar manner to his grandfather Jehoshaphat (cf. 18:2-34). Ramoth Gilead (likely Tell Ramith) was situated along the King’s Highway about thirty miles east of the Jordan River. Control over Ramoth Gilead meant control over the lucrative north-south trade caravans that passed through it.
B. (:5b-6) Lack of Discernment Led to Visiting the Wounded Jehoram
1. (:5b) Joram Wounded in Battle
“But the Arameans wounded Joram.”
2. (:6a) Joram Retreated to Jezreel to Recover
“So he returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which they had inflicted on him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Aram.”
3. (:6b) Joram Visited by Ahaziah
“And Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram king of Judah, went down to see Jehoram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.”
III. (:7-9) EXTINCTION OF DAVIDIC DYNASTY A VERY REAL DANGER
A. (:7) Divine Discipline for Culpability of Ahaziah
1. Culpable for Alliance with Joram
“Now the destruction of Ahaziah was from God,
in that he went to Joram.”
Raymond Dillard: In Kings the death of Ahaziah appears to result more from the excessive zeal of Jehu’s coup—perhaps it is precisely this excess in murdering the Judean king and members of the royal household that prompted Hosea’s oracle about God’s avenging the “blood of Jezreel” (Hos 1:4). For the Chronicler, however, the death of Ahaziah was the result of divine will, the inevitable outcome of his following in the ways of the house of Ahab.
Martin Selman: Ahaziah is probably not condemned for participating in the war as such. Rather, by failing to separate himself from Jehoram, he made himself liable to suffer the same punishment that God had previously announced against Ahab’s house and which he had chosen Hazael and Jehu to carry out (cf. 1 Kgs 19:15-17; 2 Kgs 8:11-13). This lack of discernment shows itself in several attendant ironies.
– Firstly, though Israel and Judah had been reunited, it was on the basis of self-interest and idolatry rather than the covenant.
– Secondly, joint action against the Syrians at Ramoth Gilead had already led to one disaster (ch. 18).
– Thirdly, Jehoram’s attempt to recover (v. 6, NIV, REB, NEB, etc.), literally “be healed” (NRSV, RSV) at Jezreel is probably a tacit rejection of the Lord’s offer of healing through repentance (cf. 2 Chr. 7:14; 30:20). His action may also have been compounded by further idolatry if family tradition is an adequate guide (cf. 2 Kgs 1:2-6, 15-17).
2. Culpable for Fighting against God’s Appointed Instrument of Judgment
“For when he came, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the LORD had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab.”
Iain Duguid: The following section (vv. 7–9) shows awareness of details in 2 Kings 9:1–10:36 but deals very briefly with Jehu’s purge of the house of Ahab. The Chronicler simply summarizes how it came about that “the house of Ahaziah had no one able to rule the kingdom” (his addition). This outcome was due not merely to human scheming or folly: “It was ordained by God [lit., “It was from God”] that the downfall of Ahaziah should come about. . . . [For] the Lord had anointed [Jehu] to destroy the house of Ahab” (cf. 2 Kings 9:1–13).
B. (:8) Collateral Damage on the Princes of Judah and Ahaziah’s Close Relatives
“And it came about when Jehu was executing judgment on the house of Ahab,
he found the princes of Judah and the sons of Ahaziah’s brothers,
ministering to Ahaziah, and slew them.”
C. (:9a) Death and Burial of Ahaziah
1. Death – No Escaping God’s Judgment
“He also sought Ahaziah, and they caught him while he was hiding in Samaria; they brought him to Jehu, put him to death,”
2. Burial – Mercy Shown Due to Godliness of Jehoshaphat
“and buried him. For they said, ‘He is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart.’”
Eugene Merrill: The chronicler seems to have implied that Ahaziah died at Jezreel (2 Chron. 22:9), while the author of Kings wrote that Ahaziah died at Megiddo (2 Kings 9:27). Probably the two accounts are supplementary. Ahaziah fled to Samaria and was captured there by Jehu’s men, who brought him back to Jehu. Meanwhile Jehu left Jezreel and met Ahaziah as he was being returned. Jehu’s men wounded him and Ahaziah escaped to Megiddo where he died.
D. (:9b) Leadership Crisis for the Davidic Dynasty
“So there was no one of the house of Ahaziah
to retain the power of the kingdom.”
Raymond Dillard: The infidelity of Jehoram and Ahaziah had brought the Davidic succession to the same point as that of Saul—no one left who could assume power over the kingdom (22:9; 1 Chr 10; cf. Mosis, Untersuchungen, 179). . .
The Chronicler spoke of a time in the past when there was no one left of the Davidic line “who could assume power over the kingdom” (22:9). Surely the lesson was not lost on his post-exilic audience: even in adversity the royal line was preserved and would eventually regain the kingdom. Davidic hopes did not die at the time of Ahaziah, Athaliah, and Joash; they should not die in the post-exilic period. The flame from the promise of God that David would never lack a descendant to rule Israel (1 Chr 17:11–14; 2 Chr 21:7) may have become little more than a smoldering wick—but it could not be extinguished.
Iain Duguid: The Chronicler’s concluding addition (2 Chron. 22:9b) illustrates the striking reversal: just seven years after Jehoshaphat’s godly reign, his grandson died and there is no descendant “able to rule the kingdom.” The omission, as for Jehoram, of the usual details of sources and resting with his fathers, as well as the absence of a successor, indicates that Ahaziah’s reign is also an aberration.
J.A. Thompson: It was in God’s purpose to destroy the house of Ahab, and Jehu had been “anointed” (masah) to carry out God’s intention. If Ahaziah placed himself at risk by foolishly visiting the king of Israel, it was almost inevitable that events would turn out as they did. The Chronicler was thus able to provide one more expression of his theology of immediate retribution.
The comment in v. 9 gives us the reflections of the Chronicler. Whatever his defects, Ahaziah was a descendant of Jehoshaphat. As a descendant of one who sought the Lord with all his heart, his corpse could hardly bel eft exposed. Respect for the godliness of Jehoshaphat extended even to his unworthy descendants.
With the death of Ahaziah the promise of God that David would never lack a descendant to rule over Israel (1 Chr 17:11-14; 2 Chr 21:7) seemed to be failing. The lamp God had given David (21:7) was now only a flickering wick. But God would not allow that, faint as it was, to be extinguished. He had Joash, only a child, waiting to be crowned (22:10 – 24:27).
Mark Boda: Whereas at the end of the reign of each of the previous kings of the southern kingdom there has been an heir waiting in the wings, this time there is none, a reality that deepens the crisis in Judah, creating a parallel to the crisis at the end of the reign of Saul (see 1 Chr 10:6, 13-14) and providing a segue to Athaliah’s reign of terror (22:10-12).