Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Now Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead.XXI.
Slept.—Lay down. The verse is literally the same as 1Kings 22:50.
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 Israel.REIGN OF JEHORAM (2Chronicles 21:2-18).
THE NEW KING MURDERS HIS SIX BROTHERS
(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.
(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.)
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.”)
Jehoram was thirty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.JEHORAM’S IDOLATRY. THE REVOLT OF EDOM AND LIBNAH
This section is parallel with 2Kings 8:17-22.
(5) Jehoram was thirty and two years old.—2Kings 8:17, “he was;” because the name had just occurred in the former verse.
And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD.(6) And he walked in the way.—A repetition of 2Kings 8:18, literatim.
Howbeit the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised to give a light to him and to his sons for ever.(7) The Lord would not destroy the house of David . . .—An exegetical (not arbitrary, as Thenius asserts) expansion of “The Lord would not destroy Judah, for the sake of David his servant” (Kings).
The covenant that he had made with David.—Literally, for David. So Isaiah 55:3, “I will make an everlasting covenant for you, even the sure mercies of David.” This construction is generally used of the stronger imposing conditions on the weaker. (Comp. Joshua 9:6; 1Samuel 11:1-2.) In the Pentateuch, God makes a covenant with (im or eth) His people (Genesis 15:16; Exodus 24:8).
To give a light to him and to his sons.—Literally, a lamp. Some critics find another “deviation” here, and render 1Kings 8:19, “to give a lamp to him in respect of his sons.” But many Hebrew MSS., and the LXX., Vulg., and Targum of that passage, read, “and to his sons,” as here. Syriac, “On account of the oaths which he sware to David, to give to him a burning lamp, and to his sons all the days.”
For ever.—All the days.
In his days the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah, and made themselves a king.(8) In his days the Edomites revolted.—2Kings 8:20. See also 1Kings 22:47, from which it appears that under Jehoshaphat “a deputy,” or viceroy, ruled in Edom. (Comp. 2Chronicles 20:35, Note.)
Then Jehoram went forth with his princes, and all his chariots with him: and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him in, and the captains of the chariots.(9) Then Jehoram went forth.—And Jehoram passed over.
With his princes.—Captains (‘im sārāv); Kings, “to Zair,” which appears to be a corruption of “to Seir.” The chronicler has substituted an intelligible for an obscure expression.
And he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him in.—Literally, and it came to pass, he rose. Brief as the notice is, it is evident that the verse relates not a victory of Jehoram’s, but his desperate escape by cutting his way through the enemy’s troops, which had surrounded him and his forces. (See on 2Kings 8:21, where it is added, “and the people fled to their tents.”) (Syriac. “And Jehoram passed over with his captains; and all his chariots with him. And it came to pass that when he rose in the night, he destroyed the Edomites, and the captains of the chariots came with him.”)
So the Edomites revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. The same time also did Libnah revolt from under his hand; because he had forsaken the LORD God of his fathers.(10) Unto this day.—See on 2Chronicles 5:9. The date thus assigned is some time prior to the captivity. No account is taken of Amaziah’s reduction of Edom (2Chronicles 25:11-15), which was probably not permanent.
The same time also.—Literally, then revolted Libnah at that time. 2Kings 8:22 ends here. The chronicler adds, “from under his (i.e., Jehoram’s) hand,” and assigns a moral ground for the successful rebellion: “For he had forsaken Jehovah, the God of his fathers.” (Thenius can hardly be right in asserting that the chronicler meant to say that Libnah, as a city of the priests, refused obedience to the idolatrous king; nor Hitzig, in explaining the revolt as merely a religious secession. ) He forsook Jehovah, by “walking in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab,” i.e., by adopting and popularising the worship of the Tyrian Baal, to please his wife and her people. In those days friendship with an alien race seems to have involved recognition of their gods. (Comp. Amos 1:9 for the alliance between Tyre and Judah.)
Libnah.—Syriac, “the Edomites that lived in Libnah.”
Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto.(11) Moreover he made.—There is a stress on the pronoun, “he made,” in contrast with Asa and Jehoshaphat, his worthier predecessors (2Chronicles 17:6). Or he himself, and not the people. LXX., καὶ γὰρ αὐτὸς ἐποίησεν. From this point to the end of the reign the narrative is peculiar to the chronicler.
High places.—For the worship of the foreign gods, as well as of the God of Israel.
Mountains.—Many Heb. MSS., LXX., and Vulg., “cities” (a similar word); Syriac, “Moreover he made high places in the mountain of Judah, and caused the Nazarites of Jerusalem to drink wine, and scattered those who were of the house of Judah.”
And caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication—i.e., the spiritual fornication of unfaithfulness to Jehovah, the only lawful spouse of Israel. (Comp. Hosea 2:5; Hosea 2:8; Hosea 2:13; Hosea 2:16-17; Hosea 2:19 :1Chronicles 5:25.)
And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah,ELIJAH’S LETTER TO JEHORAM (2Chronicles 21:12-15).
(12) And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet.—Rather, to him a writing. This is the chronicler’s only mention of the great prophet of the northern kingdom. Elijah, though a very old man, may have been still alive. His extreme age would account for his sending a written prophecy, rather than going in person to warn Jehoram. If, however, it be supposed that the author of Kings has told the story of Elijah’s translation in its right place chronologically, and that the campaign described in the following chapter, in which Jehoshaphat took part, was really subsequent to that event, we may say that this “writing from Elijah the prophet,” containing the substance of some last utterances of his directed against Jehoram and Athaliah, was now put into written shape, and forwarded to Jehoram by one of the prophet’s pupils, perhaps by his great successor Elisha. (See 2Kings 2:15; 2Kings 3:11.) This explanation may seem to be favoured by the indefiniteness of the phrase, “a writing from Elijah” (not a letter); but 2Kings 3:11 is hardly conclusive against the assumption that Elijah was still alive. Elisha’s ministry may have begun, probably did begin, some time before his master’s ascension, and the description of him in 2Kings 3:11, “Elisha the son of Shaphat, who poured water on the hands of Elijah,” need not mean more than “Elisha the son of Shaphat, the servant of Elijah.” (Syriac, “And there was brought to him one of the discourses of Elijah the prophet, which said to him.”Vulg., wrongly, a letter, “allatae sunt autem ei litteræ ab Elia propheta.” LXX., καὶ ἦλθεν αὐτῷ ἐγγραφὴ παρὰ Ηλιου τοῦ προφήτου λέγων.)
But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father's house, which were better than thyself:(13) And hast made . . . to go a whoring—i.e., “caused to commit fornication” (2Chronicles 21:11). Like to the whoredoms, infinitive of the same verb; as the house of Ahah causeth them to commit fornication. This verb, zānāh, occurred in 1Chronicles 5:25, but the writer does not use it again.
Hast slain thy brethren.—2Chronicles 21:4, supr.
Behold, with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods:(14) Behold, with a great plague will the Lord smite thy people.—Literally, Behold, Jehovah is about to smite a great smiting in thy people and in thy sons. The immediate object of the verb is not expressed. (Comp. 2Chronicles 21:18.) It was Jehoram himself who was smitten in his people, and in his sons, and in his wives, and in all his goods, as 2Chronicles 21:17 shows. The “smiting “—i.e., heaven-sent stroke, or Divine visitation—consisted in an invasion of Philistines and Arabs, who sacked Jerusalem and the royal palace.
And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.(15) And thou shalt have great sickness.—Literally, And thou thyself shalt be in great diseases through diseasing of thy bowels. (Comp. for the two synonyms; Deuteronomy 28:59, Proverbs 18:14)
Fall out.—Come out.
Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians:(16) Moreover.—And, here equivalent to so.
The Lord stirred up against Jehoram.—Isaiah 13:17. The phrase, “stirred up the spirit”—i.e., the will—of a man to an undertaking, is found in Jeremiah 51:11; Haggai 1:14 (Comp. 1Chronicles 5:26; Ezra 1:1.)
The Philistines, and of the Arabians.—These are mentioned together elsewhere as enemies of Judah. (See 2Chronicles 26:7; 2Chronicles 17:11; Jeremiah 25:20.) The invasion of the Philistines and Arabians accords with Joel 3:4-6, and is certainly historical (Thenius on 2Kings 8:23-24).
That were near the Ethiopians.—Literally, At the hand of (i.e., beside) the Cushites. Some tribes. of southern Arabia. There were Cushite settlements on both sides of the Red Sea. LXX., well: τοὺς Ἄραβας καὶ τοὺς ὁμόρους τῶν Αἰθιόπων; Vulg., “qui confines sunt Aethiopum.”
And they came up into Judah, and brake into it, and carried away all the substance that was found in the king's house, and his sons also, and his wives; so that there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.(17) And brake into it.—Literally, clave it asun-der (Exodus 14:16). Here as in 1Chronicles 11:18; 2Samuel 23:16.
And carried away all the substance . . . his wives.—This statement implies that the enemy entered Jerusalem, although the chronicler has not expressly said it. In the same way (2Chronicles 12:9) he omitted to state that Shishak captured the city before plundering the Temple and palace. The desire to be concise accounts for both omissions. (See on 2Chronicles 22:1.)
All the substance that was found in the king’s house.—Literally, that belonged to the king’s house. (Comp. 2Chronicles 34:32 for in; comp. also Deuteronomy 21:17.) It is not said that the Temple was plundered; but nothing can be inferred from the writer’s silence on this point.
So that there was never a son left him.—They were not only taken, but slain (2Chronicles 22:1).
Save Jehoahaz.—Called Ahaziah in 2Chronicles 22:1, which is the same name with the elements of it reversed. It means “Iah holdeth.” The “Azariah” of 2Chronicles 22:6 seems to be a mistake. LXX., Syriac, Arabic, and Targum, “Ahaziah.”
And after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease.(18) With an incurable disease.—This is correct. Literally, to a disease, to want of healing. (Comp. 2Chronicles 36:16.) The Syriac and Arabic make 2Chronicles 21:16-18 part of the prophecy.
And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers.(19) In process of time.—Comp. 2Chronicles 21:15. Literally, at days from days, i.e., “a year after a year,” or “after two years.”
After the end of two years.—This clause more exactly defines the preceding. Literally, and about the time of the going forth of the end of two years, i.e., when two full years after the delivery of the prediction had expired. The time of the event exactly coincided with the time predicted. Vulg., well: “duorum annorum expletus est circulus;” Syriac, “When the prophet’s word was fulfilled touching two years.”
By reason of his sickness.—Literally, along with, i.e., in, during, his disease, which appears to have been a violent dysentery.
So he died of sore diseases.—And he died in sore pains (tachaluim, Deuteronomy 29:21).
And his people made no burning for him.—The usual honours of a sovereign were withheld in his case. (See on 2Chronicles 16:14; and comp. Jeremiah 22:19.) So Syriac: “And his people did him no honour, as they did to his fathers.”
Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years, and departed without being desired. Howbeit they buried him in the city of David, but not in the sepulchres of the kings.(20) Thirty and two years.—The word “years” has fallen out of the Hebrew text; but some MSS. contain it. The repetition of his age, &c, is curious. (See 2Chronicles 21:6.) It seems to indicate that the writer was here transcribing from another source.
And departed without being desired.—And he departed without regret, died unregretted. Hemdāh answers to the Latin desiderium. The LXX. and Vulg. render: “And he walked not in approbation,” or “rightly.” Comp. Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the end of king Jehoiakim: “They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah, my brother!” &c. (Jeremiah 22:18-19). So Syriac and Arabic.
They buried him.—LXX., Syriac, and Arabic: “He was buried.”
But not in the sepulchres of the kings.—2Chronicles 24:25; 2Chronicles 26:23. Another circumstance of dishonour. It is not mentioned in 2Kings 8:17. Thenius asserts that in these additions to the history of Jehoram there is traceable, not only a traditional or legendary element, but also pure embellishment on the part of the chronicler. The grounds he alleges, however, by no means necessitate his conclusion, being themselves misinterpretations of the statements of Kings.