2 Chronicles 21:2
And he had brothers the sons of Jehoshaphat, Azariah, and Jehiel, and Zechariah, and Azariah, and Michael, and Shephatiah: all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
REIGN OF JEHORAM (2Chronicles 21:2-18).

THE NEW KING MURDERS HIS SIX BROTHERS

(2Chronicles 21:2-4).

(2) Azariah . . . and Azariah.—Heb. ‘Azaryāh . . . and Azaryâhû, different forms of the same name. All the versions give one form only. An old error of transcription may be involved (comp. 1Chronicles 3:6; 1Chronicles 3:8); but it is also possible that Jehoshaphat named two of his sons Azariah, “Iah helpeth,” in pious recognition of two several mercies. Shephatiah, “Iah judgeth,” repeats his own name in inverted shape.

The other names are—“God liveth,” “Iah remem-bereth,” “Who is like God? “—all significant of the king’s faith.

Jehoshaphat king of Israel.—The southern kingdom is called “Israel” in 2Chronicles 12:1; 2Chronicles 12:6; 2Chronicles 21:4; 2Chronicles 28:19; 2Chronicles 28:27, and elsewhere, as enjoying the legitimate monarchy, and maintaining the orthodox ritual and priesthood. Here, however, some Hebrew MSS., the LXX., Syriac, Vulg., and Arabic, read “Judah.”

(3) And their father gave them great gifts.—Jehoshaphat before his death had provided for his sons, as Rehoboam before him had done for his, by appointing them resident governors of the national fortresses, and sending them away with valuable presents (2Chronicles 11:23).

Of silver, and of gold.—The preposition (le) belongs to the chronicler’s style.

Precious things (migdōnôth; Genesis 24:53).—Such as jewels, robes, and spices.

Because he was the firstborn.—This was the rule. (Comp. Deuteronomy 21:15-17.) For exceptions, see 1Chronicles 28:5; 2Chronicles 11:22; 2Chronicles 36:1.

(4) Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father.—Literally, And Jehoram arose over the kingdom, &c., a peculiar expression, only found here. It seems to mean, established himself on the throne. (See Exodus 1:8 for a similar phrase, and comp. the use of the same verb, 1Samuel 24:20.)

He strengthened himself.—Secured his hold of power (2Chronicles 1:1; 2Chronicles 1:12, &c).

And slew all his brethren.—In order to prevent intrigues against himself. Such ruthless crimes have been customary at Oriental accessions, and are one of the natural results of polygamy. (Comp. the conduct of Abimelech (Judges 9:5) and of Athaliah (2Chronicles 22:10). It was thus that Jehoram “strengthened himself.”

And divers also of the princes of Israel.—Some of the great chiefs of the clans, whose power or sympathy with his murdered brothers Jehoram may have dreaded. Or, like other Oriental despots, Jehoram may have acted from no other motive than a rapacious desire to confiscate their wealth. Some suppose that both his brethren and these “princes” had given signs of dissatisfaction at Jehoram and Athalian’s heathen policy. (Comp. 2Chronicles 21:13, “thy brethren . . . which were better than thyself.”)

2 Chronicles 21:2. And Azariah — Hebrew, עזריהו, Azaria-hu, distinguished by the last syllable, hu, from the Azariah mentioned in the former clause. Of Jehoshaphat king of Israel — So he is called, either, 1st, Because he was so by right: or, 2d, Because he was king not only of Judah and Benjamin, but of a great number of Israelites, who had come and settled in his kingdom.21:1-11 Jehoram hated his brethren, and slew them, for the same reason that Cain hated Abel, and slew him, because their piety condemned his impiety. In the mystery of Providence such men sometimes prosper for a time; but the Lord has righteous purposes in permitting such events, part of which may now be made out, and the rest will be seen hereafter.Jehoram's sole reign now began. (See 2 Kings 8:16 note). His eight years 2 Chronicles 21:5 must be counted from the time of his association, in his father's 23rd year. CHAPTER 21

2Ch 21:1-4. Jehoram Succeeds Jehoshaphat.

1-4. Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers … Jehoram … reigned—The late king left seven sons; two of them are in our version named Azariah; but in the Hebrew they appear considerably different, the one being spelt "Azariah," and the other "Azariahu." Though Jehoshaphat had made his family arrangements with prudent precaution, and while he divided the functions of royalty in his lifetime (compare 2Ki 8:16), as well as fixed the succession to the throne in his oldest son, he appointed each of the others to the government of a fenced city, thus providing them with an honorable independence. But this good intentions were frustrated; for no sooner did Jehoram find himself in the sole possession of sovereign power than, from jealousy, or on account of their connections, he murdered all his brothers, together with some leading influential persons who, he suspected, were attached to their interest, or would avenge their deaths. Similar tragedies have been sadly frequent in Eastern courts, where the heir of the crown looks upon his brothers as his most formidable enemies, and is therefore tempted to secure his power by their death.

Azariah; two sons called by the same name, though doubtless distinguished by some additional title, which is not mentioned here, because it did not concern succeeding ages to know it. Though indeed there is a difference in their Hebrew names, the one being Azariah, the other Azariahu, hu being the last syllabic in his name, as in Elihu and others. Jehoshaphat king of Israel; so he is called, either,

1. Because he was so by right. Or,

2. Because he was king not only of Judah and Benjamin, but of a great number of Israelites, who had come into and settled themselves in his kingdom, in his and in his predecessor’s days; who being a considerable, and the purest and best, part of Israel, may well be called Israel, being more truly and properly God’s Israel than their apostate brethren, who were no longer worthy of that name. Or,

3. Because all his subjects were Israelites; and therefore he was

king of Israel, though not of all Israel. Or,

4. With some reflection upon his memory for making so strict an alliance and friendship with the king of Israel, whose cause he defended with his own and his kingdom’s great hazard, as if he had been the king not so much of Judah as of Israel. And this may be the rather noted here, because here speedily follows a sad effect of that wicked and cursed match. Some say Israel was foisted into some copies by the transcriber instead of Judah, as it was first written. And he had brethren, the sons of Jehoshaphat,.... That is, Jehoram had, who succeeded him: their names follow:

Azariah, and Jehiel, and Zechariah, and Azariah, and Michael, and Shephatiah; two of them were of the same name; though it may be observed, that in the Hebrew text they are somewhat distinguished, the latter is called Azariah; Jehiel is said, by the Jews (x), to be the same with Hiel that rebuilt Jericho; indeed it was rebuilt in the times of Jehoshaphat, and was a city of the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:21 which was under his jurisdiction; but it can never be thought that he would ever suffer a son of his to rebuild it; besides, he is expressly said to be a Bethelite, 1 Kings 16:34,

all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel; which generally, since the division of the kingdom, designs the ten tribes, but cannot be the meaning here, because Jehoshaphat was only king of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin; they were tribes of Israel indeed, and so he was king of a part of Israel; and besides, many out of the ten tribes came and settled in his kingdom, and were under his government; though some think he is so called, because he concerned himself so much for the kingdom of Israel, and more than for his own; but the Vulgate Latin, Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, all read king of Judah; wherefore some are of opinion that Israel is a mistake of the transcriber; but this need not be supposed, since he was of right king of Israel, and was in fact king of two tribes that belonged to Israel.

(x) T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 29. 4.

And he had brethren the sons of Jehoshaphat, Azariah, and Jehiel, and Zechariah, and Azariah, and Michael, and Shephatiah: all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of {a} Israel.

(a) Read 2Ch 15:17 how by Israel he meant Judah.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2–4 (no parallel in Kings). The Names and the Fate of the other Sons of Jehoshaphat

2. brethren the sons of Jehoshaphat] It was necessary to define brethren, for the word by itself means no more than “kinsmen”; cp. 1 Chronicles 12:2 (note).

Azariah] Since this name is repeated (with a slight variation of spelling) in the list it is probable that the text is corrupt. The error may be no more than the omission of some epithet which distinguished one Azariah from the other in the original text of the list. The LXX. gives no help.

king of Israel] Cp. 2 Chronicles 11:3, note.Verse 2. - Though in our version two Azariahs appear among the six sons of Jehoshaphat here given, the Hebrew text shows עֲזַרְיָה in the one place and עֲזַרְיָהוּ in the other. Nothing is known of the previous history of these six, now so cruelly murdered by their eldest brother. It will be observed that Jehoshaphat is styled King of Israel, probably merely generically. Into this way the writer of Chronicles would run, at any rate, more easily than the writer of Kings. Concluding notes on Jehoshaphat's reign, which are found also in 1 Kings 22:41-51, where they, supplemented by some notes (1 Kings 22:45, 1 Kings 22:48, and 1 Kings 22:49) which are wanting in the Chronicle, form the whole account of his reign. In the statements as to Jehoshaphat's age at his accession, and the length and character of his reign, both accounts agree, except that the author of the Chronicle has, instead of the stereotyped formula, "and the people still sacrificed and offered incense upon the high places," a remark more significant of the state of affairs: "and the people had not yet determinedly turned their heart to the God of their fathers" (2 Chronicles 20:33). The notice that Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel (1 Kings 22:45) is not found in the Chronicle, because that would, as a matter of course, follow from Jehoshaphat's having joined affinity with the royal house of Ahab, and had been already sufficiently attested by the narrative in 2 Chronicles 18, and is so still further by the undertaking spoken of in 2 Chronicles 20:35. For the same reason, the clause introduced in 1 Kings 22:46 about the valiant acts and the wars of Jehoshaphat is omitted in the Chronicle, as these acts have been specially narrated here. As to Jehu's speeches, which were put into the book of Kings, see the Introduction. Further, the remark on the driving out of the remaining Sodomites (קדשׁ) from the land, 1 Kings 22:47, which refers back to 1 Kings 15:12, is wanting here, because this speciality is not mentioned in the case of Asa. Finally, the remark that Edom had no king, but only a viceroy or deputy, serves in 1 Kings 22:48 only as an introduction to the succeeding account of Jehoshaphat's attempt to open up anew the sea traffic with Ophir. But on that subject the author of the Chronicle only recounts in 2 Chronicles 20:35-37 that Jehoshaphat allied himself with the godless Ahaziah the king of Israel to build in Ezion-gaber ships to go to Tarshish, was censured for it by the prophet Eliezer, who announced to him that Jahve would destroy his work, and that thereupon the ships were broken, doubtless by a storm, and so could not go upon the voyage. אהרי־כן does not definitely fix the time (cf. 2 Chronicles 20:1), but only states that the alliance with Ahaziah took place after the victory over the Ammonites and Moabites. Ahaziah ascended the throne in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat, and reigned scarcely two years, and the enterprise under discussion falls in that period. אתחבּר is an Aramaic form for התחבּר.

The last clause of v. 38, "he did wickedly," Bertheau refers to Jehoshaphat: he did wrong; because the context shows that these words are intended to contain a censure on Jehoshaphat for his connection with the king of the northern kingdom. But this remark, though substantially correct, by no means proves that הוּא refers to Jehoshaphat. The words contain a censure on Jehoshaphat on account of his alliance with Ahaziah, even if they describe Ahaziah's conduct. We must, with the older commentators, take the words to refer to Ahaziah, for הרשׁיע is much too strong a word for Jehoshaphat's fault in the matter. The author of the Chronicle does indeed use the word הרשׁיע of Jehoshaphat's grandson Ahaziah, 2 Chronicles 22:3, in the clause, "his mother, a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, was for הרשׁיע his counsellor," but only that he may characterize the acts of the Ahabic house. Jehoshaphat allied himself with the wicked Ahaziah to build ships תּרשׁישׁ ללכת, to go to Tarshish; and they built ships at Ezion-gaber, i.e., on the Red Sea. Instead of this, we have in 1 Kings 22:49 : Jehoshaphat built Tarshish ships to go to Ophir for gold. Hence it is manifest that in both passages the same undertaking is spoken of, and the expression "Tarshish ships" is paraphrased in the Chronicle by "ships to go to Tarshish." This periphrasis is, however, a mistake; for Tarshish ships are merely ships which, like those going to Tarshish, were built for long sea voyages, for Jehoshaphat merely desired to renew the voyages to Ophir. With the exception of this erroneous interpretation of the words, Tarshish ships, the two narratives agree, if we only keep in mind the fact that both are incomplete extracts from a more detailed account of this enterprise. The Chronicle supplies us with an explanatory commentary on the short account in 1 Kings 22:49, both in the statement that Jehoshaphat allied himself with Ahaziah of Israel for the preparation of the ships, and also in communicating the word of the prophet Eliezer as to the enterprise, which makes clear to us the reason for the destruction of the ships; while in 1 Kings 22:49 merely the fact of their destruction is recorded. Of the prophet Eliezer nothing further is known than the saying here communicated. His father's name, Dodavahu, is analogous in form to Hodavya, Joshavya (see on 1 Chronicles 3:24), so that there is no good ground to alter it into דּודיּהוּ, friend of Jahve, after the Doodi'a of the lxx. As to Mareshah, see on 2 Chronicles 11:8. The perfect פּרץ is prophetic: Jahve will rend thy work asunder. The words which follow record the fulfilment. עצר as in 2 Chronicles 13:20; 2 Chronicles 14:10. With this the chronicler's account of this enterprise concludes; while in 1 Kings 22:50 it is further stated that, after the destruction of the ships first built, Ahaziah called upon Jehoshaphat still to undertake the Ophir voyage in common with him, and to build new ships for the purpose, but Jehoshaphat would not. The ground of his refusal may easily be gathered from 2 Chronicles 20:37 of the Chronicle.

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