2 Kings 8:16-29

2 KINGS 8:16 - 17:41
KINGS OF ISRAEL AND OF JUDAH

 

2 Kings 8:16‑29

Jehoram, King of Judah, and his Son, Ahaziah

The beginning of this passage presents a small chrono­logical difficulty which the rationalists have not failed to exploit against the authority of the biblical account (cf. 2 Kings 3). Here we are told that Jehoram of Judah began to reign over Judah during the lifetime of his father, in the fifth year of Jehoram of Israel. Now in 2 Kings 1, Jehoram of Israel succeeds his brother Ahaziah in the second year of Jehoram of Judah. This can be explained very simply by the fact that Jehoshaphat of Judah had conferred the regen­cy upon his son Jehoram, and at the end of seven years, while Jehoshaphat was still alive, he fully conferred the kingdom upon him, perhaps in view of difficulties he might have had with his brothers (2 Chr. 21: 1‑4). The first year of the regency of Jehoram of Judah corresponds to the time when his father Jehoshaphat went up with Ahab, king of Israel, to retake Ramoth‑Gilead from the Syrians. These so‑called contradictions are never such to the simple Christian who has received these accounts from the hand of God. It is not always possible for him to answer the objections for he is a limited and ignorant creature, but in waiting upon the Lord he will sooner or later receive the answer-when God judges this to be appropriate. To him it remains an estab­lished fact that God has spoken, and that He will be found true when He speaks, whereas every man will be found a liar.

The short history of King Jehoram and King Ahaziah of Judah, woven in here in order to link together the order of events, nevertheless presents serious and instructive fea­tures. The daughter of Ahab (the husband of Jezebel) was the wife of Jehoram of Judah. Ahaziah, Jehoram's son, was also "the son‑in‑law of the house of Ahab." These pro­fane alliances led the one and the other into the ways of the kings of Israel. The same holds true at all times. A Christian yoked together with a child of the world neces­sarily loses his testimony and even the appearance of his Christianity, for the world is never improved by the Chris­tian's alliance with it. Rather, to the contrary, it is bad com­pany that corrupts good manners. True, the Lord, faithful to the promises made to David, does not destroy Jehoram of Judah, but this latter does not find in the world that rest which his corrupted religion cannot give him and which the discipline and chastening of God do not leave him. Edom, which until now had a governor dependent upon the throne of Judah, revolts and chooses a king for itself. The consequence is war. Jehoram has the advantage, but the revolt is not crushed, and this unsubdued enemy continues on "unto this day." At the same time, Libnah revolted. Lib­nah was a city of Judah, a priestly city belonging to the sons of Aaron (Joshua 21: 13; 1 Chr. 6: 57). What a shame for Jehoram! In his own kingdom one of the morally most im­portant cities detached itself from him. The reason is given in 2 Chronicles 21: 10‑11. The sons of Aaron could not associate themselves with one who "had forsaken Jehovah the God of his fathers," and who urged Judah into this path by his high places and fornications. Some testimony was then still left in Judah, and this testimony was to Jehoram's shame. The Lord separated from him a part of the priesthood, that which alone could yet maintain Jehoram's relationship with Himself. When we come to our study in Chronicles, we will consider the judgment of this impious king in greater detail.

Ahaziah the son of Jehoram of Judah, began to reign in the twelfth year of Jehoram of Israel (2 Kings 8: 25). His mother was Athaliah, daughter of Omri, a common way of speaking among the Jews; for she was in fact the granddaughter of the head of this dynasty, Omri, the daughter of Ahab, and the wife of Jehoram of Judah (v. 18). She was thus the sister of Jehoram of Israel. Ahaziah himself was the son-in‑law of the house of Ahab. As Jehoshaphat his grandfather had made an alliance with Ahab in order to retake Ramoth-Gilead, which had fallen under the power of the king of Syria, so Ahaziah the son of Jehoram of Judah made an alliance with Jehoram of Israel, son of Ahab, to make war against Hazael, the king of Syria, at Ramoth‑Gilead, which was a city of refuge (Deut. 4: 43). This was done according to the advice of his counsellors of the house of Ahab and of Athaliah his mother (2 Chr. 22: 4‑5). This alliance with the kings of Israel was an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. Jehoram of Israel suffered the same fate at Ramoth as Ahab, who had earlier been wounded by the Syrians at the same place (1 Kings 22: 34). He retired to Jizreel to be healed of his wounds. It was there that his ally Ahaziah, king of Judah, came to him to express his sympathy. By the world's standards this was an act of simple courtesy, but after having opposed Hazael, God's rod against Israel, Ahaziah subjects himself to the blows of Jehu, the second of God's rods against his ally. These judgments upon Israel neither move him nor restrain him in his pathway, and lo, these judgments will reach his very own person!