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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
2 Kings 1

 

 

Verses 1-18

3. Ahaziah"s evil reign in Israel1Kings22:51-2Kings1:18 (continued)

Second Kings begins with Ahaziah"s reign that fell during the33-year period of Israel and Judah"s alliance (874-841 B.C.; 1 Kings 16:29 - 2 Kings 9:29). This period in turn fits within the larger context of the divided kingdom (931-722 B.C.; 1 Kings 12 - 2 Kings 17). [Note: See the diagram of the period of alliance near my notes on1Kings16:29.]

"The typical Syrian upper balcony was enclosed with a jointed wood lattice-work that, while suitable for privacy, could easily be broken." [Note: R. D. Patterson and Hermann J. Austel, "1 , 2 Kings ," in1Kings- Job , vol4of The Expositor"s Bible Commentary, p172.]

One of the results of Ahaziah"s decision to follow his father Ahab"s idolatrous example ( 1 Kings 22:52-53) was that during his reign Israel lost some of its control of Moab ( 2 Kings 22:1; 2 Kings 3:5). It had held this since Omri"s reign at least. [Note: Gary Rendsburg, "A Reconstruction of Moabite-Israelite History," Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society of Columbia University13 (1981):67.] King Mesha of Moab"s rebellion was not completely effective at first, but later it proved successful.

We can detect Ahaziah"s failure to acknowledge his position under Yahweh, Israel"s true King, in his seeking advice from a false god ( 2 Kings 22:2; cf. 1 Kings 22:8). Ekron was on the Philistine border southwest of Samaria. Why would Ahaziah send to Philistia to inquire of Baal since Baalism was rampant in Israel? He may have done so to keep his illness a secret from his political enemies. Furthermore, the Baal religious center at Ekron had a reputation for divination and soothsaying (cf. 1 Samuel 6:2, Isaiah 2:6). In addition, Ekron was not far from Samaria.

The angel of the Lord here ( 2 Kings 22:3) was perhaps the preincarnate Christ ( Genesis 16:9; 1 Kings 19:7; 2 Kings 19:35; et al.). Premature death was God"s punishment for the king"s insubordination ( 2 Kings 22:4; cf. Saul). The people in the courts of Samaria knew Elijah well, of course ( 2 Kings 22:8).

Ahaziah showed complete contempt for God"s prophet and Yahweh, whom he represented, by sending soldiers to arrest Elijah. He apparently wanted to get a reversal of the prophecy against him and resorted to massive force to secure it. [Note: D. J. Wiseman, 1 & 2Kings: An Introduction and Commentary, p193.] "Man of God" means prophet ( 2 Kings 22:9; et al.). Elijah replied that he was indeed a servant of God. For this reason the king should have submitted to him. Elijah"s position on the top of the hill suggests his superiority over the king and his messengers. [Note: The NET Bible note on1:9.] The issue in this thrice-repeated confrontation was, who is in charge and has more power, Yahweh or Ahaziah (cf1Kings18)? Fire from heaven settled the controversy ( 2 Kings 22:10; et al.; cf. 1 Kings 18:38; Luke 9:54-56). The third captain took the proper humble approach to God"s prophet ( 2 Kings 22:13-14).

There is wordplay in the Hebrew text that is helpful in appreciating the dialog between Elijah and the first two captains. The first two captains commanded the "man of God" to "come down" ( 2 Kings 22:9; 2 Kings 22:11). Elijah replied, "If I am a man [Heb. "ish] of God, let fire [Heb. "sh] come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty" ( 2 Kings 22:10; 2 Kings 22:12). Sure enough, fire came down on them proving that Elijah was indeed a man of God.

It is probable that Baal-zebub ( 2 Kings 22:6) means "lord of the flies," bringing pestilence to mind. [Note: James R. Battenfield, "YHWH"s Refutation of the Baal Myth through the Actions of Elijah and Elisha," in Israel"s Apostasy and Restoration: Essays in Honor of Roland K. Harrison, p26.] "Baal Zebub" may be a deliberate scribal corruption of the name "Baal Zebul" meaning "Baal, the Prince," a title of the idol known from Ugaritic texts. [Note: See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings, p25.] However, it may mean "exalted lord" [Note: Eugene H. Merrill, " 2 Kings ," in The Old Testament Explorer, p271.] or "lord of the flame." [Note: F. Charles Fensham, "A Possible Explanation of the Name Baal-Zebub of Ekron," Zeitschrift fr die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft79 (1967):363.] If it means the latter, God may have been demonstrating His superiority to Baal as He had done previously on Mt. Carmel by sending fire from heaven. This time He did so to consume the soldiers ( 1 Kings 18:38).

"The issue is still the same as at Carmel." [Note: Wiseman, p192.]

Ahaziah died, as Elijah had announced, as punishment for his failure to submit to Yahweh"s authority over His people ( 2 Kings 22:17). Since he had no son to succeed him-note the fertility motif-his brother Jehoram became Israel"s next king ( 2 Kings 22:18). There was also a contemporary king of Judah named Jehoram. The NIV translators have kept these two men distinct by spelling the Israelite king"s name "Joram," a variant spelling, and the Judahite king"s name "Jehoram."

God judged Ahaziah for his idolatry economically ( 1 Kings 22:47-48; cf. 2 Chronicles 20:36-37), politically ( 2 Kings 22:1), and personally ( 2 Kings 22:2).


Verses 1-29

B. THE PERIOD OF ALLIANCE1Kings16:29-2Kings9:29 [CONT. FROM1KGS.] )

 


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 1:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/2-kings-1.html. 2012.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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