The death of King Ahaziah (2 Chr 22:7-22:9)

“But it was ordained by God that the downfall of King Ahaziah should come about through his going to visit King Jehoram. For when he came there he went out with King Jehoram to meet Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom Yahweh had anointed to destroy the house of King Ahab. When Jehu was executing judgment on the house of King Ahab, he met the officials of Judah and the sons of King Ahaziah’s brothers, who attended King Ahaziah. Then he killed them. He searched for King Ahaziah. He was captured while hiding in Samaria. He was brought to Jehu and put to death. They buried him. They said. ‘He is the grandson of Jehoshaphat, who sought Yahweh with all his heart.’ The house of King Ahaziah had no one able to rule the kingdom.”

Now we are loosely following 2 Kings, chapter 9. Jehu, the anointed commander of the Israelite army, killed King Jehoram of Israel. Then he saw the officials of Judah and tried to kill them. King Ahaziah of Judah took off when he saw what had happened to his uncle. It is strange that he fled north to Samaria when Judah was south. He died there and not in Megiddo in northern Manasseh, as in 2 Kings. There is no mention here that they carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, where he was buried with his ancestors in the city of David as in 2 Kings. However, they allowed him to be buried because of his holy grandfather, King Jehoshaphat.

The predicted punishment of King Jehoram (2 Chr 21:11-21:15)

“Moreover King Jehoram made high places in the hill country of Judah. He led the inhabitants of Jerusalem into unfaithfulness. He made Judah go astray. A letter came to him from the prophet Elijah, saying.

‘Thus says Yahweh,

The God of your father David.

Because you have not walked in the ways

Of your father King Jehoshaphat

Or in the ways of King Asa of Judah,

But have walked in the way of the kings of Israel,

You will be punished.

You have led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem

Into unfaithfulness,

As the house of Ahab led Israel into unfaithfulness.

You also have killed your brothers,

Members of your father’s house,

Who were better than you.

See! Yahweh will bring a great plague on your people,

Your children, your wives, and all your possessions.

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.’”

This section was not found in 2 Kings. In fact, the insertion of the letter from the prophet Elijah seems like an anachronism. This was an attempt to condemn King Jehoram with a major prophet. There was no other mention of Elijah in the 2 books of Chronicles. In fact, he had been taken up to heaven during the reign of King Ahaziah of Israel, the father of King Jehoram of Israel. Most of Elijah’s dealings were with the northern kingdom of Israel and King Ahab, not with Judah. Nevertheless, the condemnation is clear. King Jehoram has not walked in the ways of his ancestor King David, nor his father or grandfather, King Asa and King Jehoshaphat, but like the kings of Israel and his father-in-law. He has led Judah and Jerusalem astray.   Note that they are considered separate. There is not mention of Benjamin anymore. He had built those high places in the countryside instead of protecting the Temple in Jerusalem. He had killed his 6 brothers, his father’s children. He and his people would suffer a plague. This seems to be a common punishment. He himself will have a disease of the bowels.

King Jehoram (2 Chr 21:1-21:3)

“The son of King Jehoshaphat King Jehoram succeeded him. King Jehoram had six brothers named Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariah, Michael, and Shephatiah. All these were the sons of King Jehoshaphat of Judah. Their father gave them many gifts, of silver, gold, and valuable possessions, together with fortified cities in Judah. However, he gave the kingdom to Jehoram, because he was the first-born.”

Although loosely based on 2 Kings, chapter 8, there was no mention of the six brothers of King Jehoram. (1) (4) Azariah is mentioned twice. There are a lot of biblical people with this name or something close to it. A child with the same name does not seem impossible. Ask George Foreman who named all his kids George. There were over 10 people with the same name as (2) Jehiel. There were over 27 people with the name of (3) Zechariah. There were only 11 people with the name of (5) Michael and 8 with the name of (6) Shephatiah. They had plenty of gifts from their father, plus they were in charge of fortified cities in Judah. However, Jehoram was the oldest and therefore became king.

The booty and spoils of the battles (2 Chr 20:24-20:30)

“When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude. There were corpses lying on the ground. No one had escaped. When King Jehoshaphat and his people came to take the booty from them, they found livestock in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They spent three days taking the booty, because of its abundance. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed Yahweh. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. Then all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, with King Jehoshaphat at their head, returned to Jerusalem with joy. Yahweh had enabled them to rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem, with harps, lyres, and trumpets, to the house of Yahweh. The fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that Yahweh had fought against the enemies of Israel. The realm of King Jehoshaphat was quiet. God gave him rest all around.”

When Judah and its king arrived at the spot where they would do battle with their enemies, they were surprised to see that they were all dead, with bodies all over the place. No one was alive. This was a strange massacre since everyone killed everyone else with no survivors. Thus King Jehoshaphat and his people gathered up all the booty for 3 days. There were livestock, goods, and clothing. After 3 days they could not take any more. On the 4th day they praised Yahweh in the Valley of Beracah. Some have speculated that this was on the road from Hebron to Jerusalem near Tekoa. Therefore they did not have to go far to return home with all their goodies. Moab and Ammon were defeated. When all the other countries heard that Yahweh had defeated the enemies of Judah, they too were in fear of Judah. Thus there was rest all around King Jehoshaphat. So ends the King Jehoshaphat story of this biblical writer.

 

The praise of Yahweh (2 Chr 20:20-20:21)

“They rose early in the morning. They went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they went out, King Jehoshaphat stood and said.

‘Listen to me.

O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem!

Believe in Yahweh your God,

Thus you will be established.

Believe his prophets.’

When he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to Yahweh and praise him in holy splendor. They went before the army, saying.

‘Give thanks to Yahweh,

For his steadfast love endures forever.’”

Once again we have a beautiful prayer to Yahweh. King Jehoshaphat reminds the people of Judah and Jerusalem to believe and trust in Yahweh. They had to believe in his prophets. He appointed Levites to sing, which they did with the lovely refrain that the steadfast love of Yahweh endures forever. They gave thanks for the everlasting love of God.

The great prayer of Judah (2 Chr 20:18-20:19)

“Then King Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground. All Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before Yahweh, worshiping Yahweh. The Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise Yahweh, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”

The king and everyone present bowed down with their face to the ground, a lot like the Muslim prayer stance. They fell before Yahweh and worshipped him. Then the Levite singers, especially the Kohathites and Korahites, began to praise Yahweh with a loud voice.

Yahweh responds via the prophet (2 Chr 20:13-20:17)

“Meanwhile all Judah stood before Yahweh, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. Then the Spirit of Yahweh came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the middle of the assembly. He said. ‘Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. Thus says Yahweh to you.

‘Do not fear!

Do not be dismayed at this great multitude!

The battle is not yours but God’s.

Tomorrow go down against them.

They will come up by the ascent of Ziz.

You will find them at the end of the valley,

Before the wilderness of Jeruel.

The battle is nor for you to fight.

Take your position.

Stand still.

See the victory of the Yahweh on your behalf,

O Judah and Jerusalem.

Do not fear!

Do not be dismayed.

Tomorrow go out against them.

Yahweh will be with you.’”

Suddenly all of Judah was in Jerusalem with King Jehoshaphat. Everyone had their whole family, wives and children. The Spirit of Yahweh came upon one of the Levite singers. Jahaziel son of Zechariah was not a traditional prophet. Although there others with this same name, this is the only time that he appears as a prophet. Yahweh will speak through him. He told the assembled people that they were not to be afraid or be dismayed. This was a battle of Yahweh and not the people of Judah. Yahweh would give them victory tomorrow because he is with them.

The attack from the southeast (2 Chr 20:1-20:2)

“After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against King Jehoshaphat for battle. Messengers came and told King Jehoshaphat. ‘A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea. Already they are at Hazazon-tamar that is, En-gedi.”

This attack is coming from the people of Moab and Edom, southeast of Judah on the other side of the Dead Sea. They were joined by the Meunites, who were a small group also from the southeast side of the Dead Sea. The messengers said that they were already at Hazazon-tamar that is, En-gedi. En-gedi was on the western side of the Dead Sea about 10 miles east of Hebron so that they were pretty close.

The battle at Ramoth-gilead (2 Chr 18:28-18:32)

“So the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. The king of Israel said to King Jehoshaphat. ‘I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.’ So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. Now the king of Aram had commanded the captains of his chariots. ‘Fight with no one small or great, but only with the king of Israel.’ When the captains of the chariots saw King Jehoshaphat, they said. ‘It is the king of Israel.’ So they turned to fight against him. However King Jehoshaphat cried out. Yahweh helped him. God drew them away from him. When the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him.”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 1 Kings, chapter 22. King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat went out together to do battle with the Arameans at Ramoth-gilead on the east side of the Jordan River. King Ahab must have expected something because he disguised himself and sent King Jehoshaphat with full robes into battle. In fact, the king of the Arameans had told his captains to kill King Ahab and not anyone else. Obviously the Arameans saw King Jehoshaphat with all his royal robes so that they thought that he was King Ahab. They started to fight against him until King Jehoshaphat cried out to go to battle. Here the biblical author says that Yahweh helped him to draw the Arameans away from him. Then they realized that is was not King Ahab and stopped pursuing him.

The prophet Micaiah reports to King Ahab (2 Chr 18:14-18:17)

“When Micaiah had come to King Ahab, the king said to him. ‘Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I refrain?’ He answered him. ‘Go up and triumph. They will give it into your hand.’ But the king said to him. ‘How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of Yahweh?’ Then Micaiah said. ‘I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. Yahweh said. ‘These have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’ The king of Israel said to King Jehoshaphat. ‘Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy anything favorable about me, but only disaster?’”

Once again, this is word for word from 1 Kings, chapter 22. Micaiah repeated what the other prophets had said. This should have pleased King Ahab. However, King Ahab wanted him to speak the truth, recognizing that he was mocking the other prophets. Micaiah then said that Israel would be scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. They would not have any leader. Thus they would return home in peace. This was a strange response. Since he appeared to favor the prophets until King Ahab told him to tell the truth in the name of Yahweh. Then Micaiah said that the Israelites would be scattered without a leader. King Ahab told King Jehoshaphat that he told him that this prophet would not say anything good about him. Strangely, it is not Elijah, who King Ahab had some problems with but this Micaiah, who does not appear elsewhere in the biblical literature. He is not the biblical prophet Micah, who appears later with his own biblical work.