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2 Chronicles 21:1b-22:1 – Jehoram

Summary

The Chronicler deems Jehoram's alliance with Ahab in the north as responsible for the series of disasters that accompany his reign: defeat in war, plague, and personal illness culminating in an early death.

Analysis

In some ways, the reigns of Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah comprise a single episode in Chronicles that provide a tragic sequel to Jehoshaphat's disastrous alliance with the north. All three are related to Ahab and adopt the Baalism promulgated by Ahab and Jezebel. All three die horrible deaths and are denied burial in the royal cemetery.

Jehoram is the first king, though not the last, to be thoroughly condemned by the Chronicler. The concentric ordering of the material, after a long digression culminating in the fratricide of Jehoram's brothers (vv. 1-4), emphasizes rebellion and judgment: a letter from Elijah announcing divine judgment anchors the center of the text (vv. 12-15), which is flanked by the rebellions of Edom and Libnah (vv. 8-11) and the Philistines and Arabs (vv. 16-17). Surrounding these rebellions are the Chronicler's own judgment of Jehoram (vv. 6-7) and those of God and the people (vv. 18-19). Typical accession formulas enclose the whole (vv. 5, 20).

Theologically more interesting, however, is the Chronicler's alteration of 2 Kings 8:19, "Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah, for the sake of his servant David, since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his descendants forever." The Chronicler states that God would not destroy the house of David, and then inserts "because of the covenant that he had made with David" (2 Chronicles 21:7). These significant alterations proclaim the Chronicler's firm belief that the covenant with David is a divine promise that even Jehoram's sin cannot nullify.

2 Chronicles 21:1b-22:1

Jehoram’s Reign

21Jehoshaphat slept with his ancestors and was buried with his ancestors in the city of David; his son Jehoram succeeded him. 2He had brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariah, Michael, and Shephatiah; all these were the sons of King Jehoshaphat of Judah.* 3Their father gave them many gifts, of silver, gold, and valuable possessions, together with fortified cities in Judah; but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram, because he was the firstborn. 4When Jehoram had ascended the throne of his father and was established, he put all his brothers to the sword, and also some of the officials of Israel. 5Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned for eight years in Jerusalem. 6He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done; for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 7Yet the Lord would not destroy the house of David because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his descendants for ever.

Revolt of Edom

8 In his days Edom revolted against the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own. 9Then Jehoram crossed over with his commanders and all his chariots. He set out by night and attacked the Edomites, who had surrounded him and his chariot commanders. 10So Edom has been in revolt against the rule of Judah to this day. At that time Libnah also revolted against his rule, because he had forsaken the Lord, the God of his ancestors.

Elijah’s Letter

11 Moreover, he made high places in the hill country of Judah, and led the inhabitants of Jerusalem into unfaithfulness, and made Judah go astray. 12A letter came to him from the prophet Elijah, saying: ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David: Because you have not walked in the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or in the ways of King Asa of Judah, 13but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into unfaithfulness, as the house of Ahab led Israel into unfaithfulness, and because you also have killed your brothers, members of your father’s house, who were better than yourself, 14see, the Lord will bring a great plague on your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions, 15and you yourself will have a severe sickness with a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out, day after day, because of the disease.’

16 The Lord aroused against Jehoram the anger of the Philistines and of the Arabs who are near the Ethiopians.* 17They came up against Judah, invaded it, and carried away all the possessions they found that belonged to the king’s house, along with his sons and his wives, so that no son was left to him except Jehoahaz, his youngest son.

Disease and Death of Jehoram

18 After all this the Lord struck him in his bowels with an incurable disease. 19In course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony. His people made no fire in his honour, like the fires made for his ancestors. 20He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned for eight years in Jerusalem. He departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.

Ahaziah’s Reign

22The inhabitants of Jerusalem made his youngest son Ahaziah king as his successor; for the troops who came with the Arabs to the camp had killed all the older sons. So Ahaziah son of Jehoram reigned as king of Judah.

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10 February 2011

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