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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 21

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

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.

Jehoshaphat slept with his feathers ... 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 spelled 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 (cf. 2 Kings 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 honourable independence. But his 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.

Verses 2-5

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 6

And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of 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.

He walked ... as did the house of Ahab. The precepts and examples of his excellent father were soon obliterated by his matrimonial alliance with a daughter of the royal house of Israel. Through the influence of Athaliah he abolished the worship of the Lord, and encouraged an introduction of all the corruptions prevalent in the sister kingdom. The divine vengeance was denounced against him, and would have utterly destroyed him and his house had it not been for a tender regard to the promise made to David (2 Samuel 7:1-29; 2 Kings 8:19).

Verse 7

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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 8

In his days the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah, and made themselves a king.

The Edomites revolted. That nation had been made dependent by David, and down to the time of Jehoshaphat was governed by a tributary ruler (1 Kings 22:47; 2 Kings 3:9). But that king having been slain in an insurrection at home, his successor thought to ingratiate himself with his new subjects by raising the flag of independence (Josephus). The attempt was defeated in the first instance by Jehoram, who possessed all the military establishments of his father; but being renewed unexpectedly, the Edomites succeeded in completely emancipating their country from the yoke of Judah (Genesis 27:40). Libnah, which lay on the southern frontier and toward Edom, followed the example of that country.

Verses 9-11

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. No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 12

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,

There came a writing to him from Elijah. There have been various efforts made toward as explanation of this singular occurrence. Some have thought that that prophet's translation having taken place in the reign of Jehoshaphat, the name of Elijah has, by the error of a transcriber, been put for that of Elisha. That opinion, however, is not supported by any manuscript authority. Grotius considered that the letter had come directly from the invisible world. Cajetan conjectured that some other Elijah was intended. But 'the writing' [ miktaab (H4385)] was in all probability a written prophecy rather than a letter; and in that case it might very well have been written by Elijah, as, according to the best chronological reckoning, Jehoram must have arrived at maturity before the venerable prophet's departure; and as he had exhibited deplorable proofs of an utterly irreligious and wicked character, it pleased the spirit of prophecy to dictate this letter, which was probably committed to Elisha, or some other prophet, to be delivered to the king at a particular crisis, when the writing would make the deepest impression on his mind.

Henderson ('On Inspiration,' p. 145) remarks, 'that the Hebrew text [ Wayaabo' (H935) 'eelaayw (H413) miktaab (H4385) mee-'Eeliyaahuw (H452) hanaabiy' (H5030)] does not necessarily imply that the letter was written by the prophet at the time of its delivery. [The preposition, mi-, connects with miktaab (H4385), a writing, more readily than with the verb bow' (H935), and refers to Elijah as its author, so that it may have been composed years before it reached the hands of the wicked monarch whom it was designed to reprove.']

Verse 13

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:

Hast made ... like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab - i:e., introduced the superstitions and vices of Phoenician idolatry (see the notes at Deuteronomy 13:6-14). [ tazneh (H2181), used here and in Hosea 1:2; Hosea 4:10; Hosea 4:13; Hosea 4:18, refers to Leviticus 19:29, and the consideration of such a reference as establishing the guilt of the king's apostasy is very important. No doubt Gesenius, and several other critics, hold that haznowt (H2181) is used transitively in the Pentateuch, but intransitively by the author of Chronicles, and by Hosea. But, as Hengstenberg pertinently remarked ('Pentateuch,' 1:, p. 109), 'this assertion cannot be maintained on account of the evident reference to Leviticus. Besides, the assumption that Hophal here loses its characteristic meaning is quite arbitrary. In this passage of Chronicles, the transitive meaning is as clear as day: you gave Judah the tone, you made the people go a-whoring against the law.'] On this account, as well as far his unnatural cruelties, divine vengeance was denounced against him, which was soon after executed exactly as the prophet had foretold.

A series of overwhelming calamities befell this wicked king; because, in addition to the revolts already mentioned, two neighbouring tribes (see 2 Chronicles 17:11) made hostile incursions on the southern and western portions of his kingdom; his country was ravaged, his capital taken, his palace plundered, his wives carried off, all his children slain except the youngest, himself was seized with a chronic and incurable dysentery [accompanied by prolapsus ani; but, according to some, yeetsÂȘ'uw (H3318) mee`eykaa (H4578), thy intestines come out, denotes rupture, so that the bowels protrude from the abdomen], which, after subjecting him to the most painful suffering for the unusual period of two years, carried him off, a monument of the divine judgment; and, to complete his degradation, his death was unlamented, his burial unhonoured, by his subjects. This usage, similar to what obtained in Egypt, seems to have crept in among the Hebrews, of giving funereal honours to their kings, or withholding them, according to the good or bad characters of their reign.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 21". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-chronicles-21.html. 1871-8.
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