2 Chronicles 21:3
And their father gave them great gifts of silver, and of gold, and of precious things, with fenced cities in Judah: but the kingdom gave he to Jehoram; because he was the firstborn.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
2 Chronicles 21:3. With fenced cities of Judah — Over which he made them governors. This he seems to have done prudently; thus providing well for them, that they might not be tempted to envy their brother the kingdom, nor to quarrel among themselves: but “things excellently designed,” says Strigelius, from Cicero, “have often a very ill event.” This wealth and authority of theirs, made their brother first fear them, and then, through his wicked covetousness, contrive to cut them off, that he might get possession of their riches and power. Because he was the firstborn — Whom Jehoshaphat supposed he ought to prefer on account of the law, recorded Deuteronomy 21:15, though otherwise, it is probable, he would not have done it, having doubtless, before this time, observed his perverse and wicked inclinations, and how much he was swayed by his idolatrous wife.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.Jehoshaphat departed from Rehoboam's policy (2 Chronicles 11:23 note), actually making over to his sons the "fenced cities" in which they dwelt. This, it is probable, provoked the jealousy of Jehoram, and induced him to put them to death 2 Chronicles 21:4.

Because he was the firstborn - Compare Deuteronomy 21:15-17. Exceptions to this rule in the northern and southern kingdoms are Solomon, where divine appointment superseded the natural order, Abijah 2 Chronicles 11:22 note), and Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:30 note).

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.

Whom he conceived that he ought to prefer by virtue of that law of God, Deu 21:15, though otherwise he would not have done it, having probably ere this time perceived his perverse and wicked inclinations, and how much he was swayed by his idolatrous wife. Now he saw his error when it was too late. And their father gave them great gifts of silver, and of gold, and of precious things,.... As jewels and precious stones; or precious garments, as the Targum, in like manner as Abraham gave to his sons, when he sent them from Isaac:

with fenced cities in Judah; not as their own property, but he appointed them governors in them, to defend them against an enemy, and as a mark of honour to them:

but the kingdom gave he to Jehoram, because he was the firstborn; strictly observing the law in Deuteronomy 21:16, which was not always done; though it was reckoned by the Heathens contrary to the law of nations to give the kingdom to the younger (y).

(y) Justin. e Trogo, l. 16. c. 2.

And their father gave them great gifts of silver, and of gold, and of precious things, with fenced cities in Judah: but the kingdom gave he to Jehoram; because he was the firstborn.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. their father gave them] Rehoboam did the same; 2 Chronicles 11:23.

precious things] Heb. migdânôth; cp. 2 Chronicles 32:23 (“presents,” A.V.; “precious things,” R.V.).Verse 3. - The father's foreseeing care issued very differently from what he had thought, waking now the greed and murderous intent of Jehoram. Jehoshaphat, nevertheless, was but following in the wake of the head of the separated kingdom of Judah, Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:22, 23), wherein he is said to have "dealt wisely;" even the parallel (in the matter of one son Abijah, sen of Maachah, the favourite wife, being appointed king) obtaining there in an aggravated form, as he was not the eldest son. This case, with those of Solomon and Jehoahaz (by the favour not of the parent but of the people, 2 Kings 23:30), formed the exceptions to the usual observance of and honour done to the principle of primogeniture (Deuteronomy 21:15-17). 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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