THE COMBINATION OF INTERMARRIAGE TO FOREIGN PAGANS AND WICKED PARENTAL MODELS WEAKENS THE KINGDOM OF JUDAH
The Davidic kingdom in Judah continues to slide downward until God’s people look no different than the people of the world. Evil parenting models exemplified by King Ahab as well as the idolatry introduced by intermarriage with foreign pagans produce weak and ineffectual rulers like Joram and Ahaziah. The resulting weakness leads to the revolt of the vassal state of Edom and the secession of Libnah. The rulers of both Israel and Judah end up together in Jezreel in preparation of God using Jehu to wipe out the household of Ahab.
Wiersbe: The wall of separation was gradually crumbling between David’s dynasty in Judah and the descendants of Ahab in Israel. The future of God’s great plan of salvation depended on the continuation of the Davidic dynasty, so Jehoram was playing right into the enemy’s hands. By compromising with the evil rulers of Israel, Jehoram displeased the Lord and weakened the nation.
David Guzik: The story of the kings of Judah really paused at 1 Kings 22:50, where Jehoshaphat the son of Asa ended his 25-year reign and his son Jehoram came to the throne. Now we pick up the story of Jehoram again.
Peter Pett: The main lesson that comes out of this passage is similar to that which comes out with regard to the majority of the kings, and that is that if we walk faithfully with God and are obedient to His will and covenant, we can be sure that He will bless us in our lives in the long term, but that if we turn from Him and disobey His laws and covenant He will finally bring chastisement and judgment on us. This is indeed the author’s continual emphasis.
Caleb Nelson: For the last several months, we have focused exclusively on events in Northern Israel under the reigns of Ahaziah and Jehoram, kings of Israel and sons of Ahab. Now we switch briefly back to Judah and see two kings named . . . Jehoram and Ahaziah! What do you think the narrator is trying to tell us? That Judah and Israel are starting to look so much like each other that even the names of their kings are difficult to tell apart.
I. (:16-24) EVIL REIGN OF JORAM IN THE SOUTH
A. (:16-19) Selected Touchpoints of Joram’s Reign
1. (:16) When Did He Become King
“Now in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then the king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah became king.”
MacArthur: Jehoram of Judah served as co-regent with his father Jehoshaphat for the final 4 years of his reign, 853-848 B.C. Joram (Jehoram) became king of Israel during the second year of this co-regency, 852 B.C. Jehoram of Judah ruled alone for 8 years after his father’s death, until 841 B.C. (cf. 2Ch 21:15). Most likely, Obadiah prophesied during his reign.
2. (:17a) How Old Was He When He Became King?
“He was thirty-two years old when he became king,”
3. (:17b) How Long Did He Reign?
“and he reigned eight years”
4. (:17c) Which Kingdom Did He Govern?
B. (:18-19) Summary Evaluation of Joram’s Reign
1. (:18) Followed in the Steps of Wicked Ahab
“And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab became his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.”
MacArthur: Jehoram officially sanctioned Baal worship in Judah as Ahab had in Israel (1Ki 16:31-33). Jehoram was married to Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (v. 26).
Donald Wiseman: The influence of an evil woman, as of an evil man, can persist. The historian views evil in Judah as worse than in Israel, and this forms the backdrop of God’s covenant mercy (v. 19).
Dale Ralph Davis: One wonders why Jehoshaphat cemented an alliance with Israel (1 Kings 22:44) by marrying his son (Jehoram) to Ahab’s daughter (2 Kings 8:18; 2 Chron. 18:1). Perhaps he thought it a suave move in face of the resurging Assyrian menace under Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III. But it was a spiritual, moral, national disaster. Jehoshaphat seemed to be long on piety and short on sense.
2. (:19) Forbearance of the Lord on Account of David
“However, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David His servant, since He had promised him to give a lamp to him through his sons always.”
William Barnes: In the present instance, we are encouraged that despite the negative events which attend Jehoram’s reign, Yahweh will be faithful to his covenant with David.
Mordechai Cogan: The figure of a “lamp” as a sign of life and hope appears in Abishai’s oath to David: “You shall not go with us into battle anymore, lest you extinguish the lamp (nēr) of Israel!” (2 Sam 21:17). Contrast, too, the simile “They would quench my last remaining ember” (2 Sam 14:7) and its Akkadian counterpart, PN ša kinūnšu bilû, “PN whose brazier has gone out”; CAD B 73a; K 394b. Finally, the promise of a “lamp” for David finds its late reflection in Ps 132, in which Deuteronomistic echoes are patent: “I have arranged a lamp (nēr) for my anointed one” (v. 17).
J. Orr: Grieved though God was with his conduct, he would not destroy Judah, having pledged himself to David to perpetuate his line. The descendants of holy men and women do not know how much of God’s mercy and forbearance they often owe to, their ancestral connection. God spares them for their fathers’ sakes (Romans 11:28).
C. (:20-22) Revolt of Edom and Libnah
1. (:20) Revolt of Edom – Breaking Free from Vassal Bondage
“In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah,
and made a king over themselves.”
Caleb Nelson: Jehoram’s leadership cost Judah its most important vassal ally, and thus access not only to the Red Sea at Ezion Geber but also trade routes to Arabia. Ouch. God is at work for judgment in the lives of those who deliberately and passionately pursue wickedness.
2. (:21) Military Engagement with Edomites
“Then Joram crossed over to Zair, and all his chariots with him. And it came about that he arose by night and struck the Edomites who had surrounded him and the captains of the chariots; but his army fled to their tents.”
Peter Pett: Jehoram (now Joram, a shortened form of the same name) went south to quell the rebellion, but seemingly with insufficient forces, with the result that he was outmaneuvered and surrounded by what was probably a much larger force of Edomites. Rather than recording it as a defeat, however, his annalists ignored that idea (in typical Near Eastern fashion) and described the heroic way in which, in a surprise night foray, by means of his chariot force he broke through the ranks of the enemy who considerably outnumbered him, thus allowing many of his people to escape with him. But the truth comes out in that these then ‘fled to their tents (homes)’, always a sign of defeat. In other words his defeated army dispersed. ‘Fled to their tents’ was a technical phrase brought forward from wilderness days.
3. (:22) Revolt of Libnah – Seceding from Judah
“So Edom revolted against Judah to this day.
Then Libnah revolted at the same time.”
Dale Ralph Davis: I think the writer wants us to look on Edom and Libnah as Yahweh’s initial scourges upon Jehoram.
Constable: Jehoshaphat appointed his son Jehoram coregent the year Jehoshaphat went off to join forces with Ahab in battle at Ramoth-gilead (853 B.C.). For the next five years Jehoram served with his father. In 848 B.C. he began ruling alone and did so for the next eight years (until 841 B.C.). His reign overlapped the reigns of Ahaziah and Jehoram (whom the NASB called Joram from now on) in Israel. It is possible that the writing prophet Obadiah ministered and wrote the Bible book that bears his name during Jehoram’s reign. Rather than following the godly example of his father, Jehoram chose to pursue idolatry and infidelity to Yahweh like his wife Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel.
D. (:23-24) Overall Summary of Joram’s Reign
1. (:23) Recorded Deeds of Joram
“and the rest of the acts of Joram and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?”
2. (:24a) Death and Burial
“So Joram slept with his fathers,
and was buried with his fathers in the city of David;
David Guzik: According to 2 Chronicles 21:12-15, Elijah wrote Jehoram a letter, condemning him for his sins and predicting that judgment would come upon him and disaster upon the nation. At the age of 40, Jehoram was struck with a fatal intestinal disease and he died in terrible pain (2 Chronicles 21:19).
J. Orr: Presumptuous transgressors are rightly visited with judgments of exceptional severity (cf. Acts 12:23). It is the memory of the just that is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot (Proverbs 10:7).
3. (:24b) Succession
“and Ahaziah his son became king in his place.”
Paul House: Jehoram’s eight-year reign (ca. 848–841 B.C.) is characterized by three comments.
– First, he sins as did Ahab’s house, primarily because he marries Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah (cf. 2 Kgs 8:26), a woman who becomes quite important later in the story.
– Second, the writer claims that Yahweh only permits Jehoram and Judah to survive “for the sake of his servant David.” This conclusion echoes sentiments already expressed in the text (cf. 1 Kgs 11:34–39; 15:3–5; cf. 2 Chr 21:4, 10).
– Third, Jehoram is unable to put down an Edomite revolt and just manages to escape with his life. Like Israel’s loss of its Moabite vassal (2 Kgs 3:1–27), this humiliation at the hands of the Edomites demonstrates how weak Judah has become since the glory days of David and Solomon.
II. (:25-29) EVIL REIGN OF AHAZIAH IN THE SOUTH
A. (:25-27) Selected Touchpoints of Ahaziah’s Reign
1. (:25) When Did He Become King?
“In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel,
Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign.”
Constable: There were two King Ahaziahs as there were two King Jehorams, one of each in each kingdom. Both Ahaziahs reigned only one year each, but their administrations did not overlap. The administrations of the two Jehorams did overlap. Ahaziah of Israel reigned 11 years earlier than Ahaziah of Judah. In Judah, Jehoram (853-841 B.C) preceded Ahaziah (841 B.C.), but in Israel Ahaziah (853-852 B.C.) preceded Jehoram (852-841 B.C.). Ahab had two sons, Ahaziah and J(eh)oram, who reigned successively in Israel; Jehoshaphat had a son, Jehoram, and a grandson, Ahaziah, who reigned successively in Judah.
John Gates: The ascension of Ahaziah marked the turning point in Judah, from which she never recovered.
2. (:26a) How Old Was He When He Become King?
“Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king,”
3. (:26b) How Long Did He Reign?
“and he reigned one year”
4. (:26c) Which Kingdom Did He Govern?
5. (:26d) Who Was His Mother?
“And his mother’s name was Athaliah
the granddaughter of Omri king of Israel.”
R. D. Patterson: Ahaziah, too, was under the paganistic spell of wicked Athaliah (v. 26b; cf. 2 Chron 22:3-5) and perpetuated the Baalism that his father had fostered (v. 27). Likewise, at the first opportunity he joined in with Ahab’s son Jehoram in renewed hostilities with the Arameans in Ramoth Gilead (v. 28; 1 Kings 22:1-40). Once more the battle went badly for Israel and Judah, for in that battle King Jehoram was sorely wounded and returned to Jezreel for rest and recovery from his wounds (v. 29; cf. 9:14-16). The chapter ends with a concerned Ahaziah going to visit Jehoram in Jezreel. He would not return to Jerusalem alive (cf. 9:16, 24-29).
B. (:27) Summary Evaluation of Ahaziah’s Reign
“And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, like the house of Ahab had done, because he was a son-in-law of the house of Ahab.”
C. (:28-29) Interaction with between Ahaziah and Joram in Military Conflict Against Hazael
1. (:28) Ahaziah Fighting with Joram against Hazael at Ramoth-gilead
a. War Against Hazael
“Then he went with Joram the son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth-gilead,”
b. Wounding of Joram
“and the Arameans wounded Joram.”
2. (:29a) Joram Finding Refuge in Jezreel after being Wounded
“So King Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Arameans had inflicted on him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Aram.”
3. (:29b) Ahaziah Following Joram to Jezreel to Check on His Condition
“Then Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel because he was sick.”
MacArthur: Ahaziah’s travel to visit the recuperating Joram (also called Jehoram) king of Israel placed him in Jezreel (W of the Jordan, SW of the Sea of Galilee) during Jehu’s purge of the house of Omri (see 9:21-29).
Paul House: Four items highlight his reign.
– First, his mother is Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab (2 Kgs 8:18) and granddaughter of Omri. This second reference to Athaliah prepares the reader for her prominence in 2 Kgs 11:16.
– Second, Ahaziah acts like the house of Ahab because he is “related by marriage to Ahab’s family.” According to 2 Chr 22:3 his mother “encouraged him in doing wrong.”
– Third, because of the family ties (2 Chr 22:4–5) he fights Syria alongside Joram of Israel.
– Fourth, he visits Joram when the Israelite king returns to Samaria to recover from wounds received while fighting Syria. This final item places Joram and Ahaziah at the same place at the same time, a fact that will matter a great deal in the next chapter.