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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 21

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-20

2 Chronicles 21:2 . Jehoshaphat king of Israel. Many think that Israel is here put for Judah; but many of the ten tribes now placed themselves under Jehoshaphat; the text may therefore be correct, God having made the house of David the real kings of Israel. Ezra also repeats the word kings of Israel, 2 Chronicles 28:19; 2 Chronicles 28:27.

2 Chronicles 21:3 . Their father gave them great gifts with fenced cities of Judah. He made them lieutenants, and military princes of districts.

2 Chronicles 21:10 . Libnah was a strong city in the time of David. It fell by lot to the priests; and being a frontier town, was strongly fortified. The cause of the revolt is supposed to be Jehoram’s attempts to enforce idolatry, and to oppress his people.

2 Chronicles 21:12 . There came a writing to him from Elijah. The chronology of those times seems to suggest that Elijah had now ascended to heaven; but as the time of his ascension is not exactly noted, he might yet be on earth. The supposition of Josephus, that Elijah wrote this letter by an angel from heaven, is a rabbinical legend, utterly dissimilar to the way of providence in its intercourse with man.

2 Chronicles 21:16 . The Lord stirred up against Jehoram the Arabians that were near the Ethiopians. כושׁים Cushim, the Cushites, who had possessions on both sides of the Red sea. This seems to be the only reason why the wife of Moses should be reproachfully called an Ethiopian woman.

2 Chronicles 21:18 . The Lord smote him with an incurable disease. Not a dysentery, for that would have killed him in less than two years: but from the eruption of the bowels, scrophulous abscesses seem more likely to have been his complaint.

2 Chronicles 21:20 . They buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings. The elders had a little power between the demise of one monarch and the accession of another; and they laid this punishment on the deceased Jehoram. A monarchy seems to have been for Israel the best form of government, when the throne was filled with eminent men; and the worst, when the king was a bad man. Happy art thou, oh England, in a mixed monarchy!


Jehoshaphat having attained his sixty first year, and having walked from his youth in the ways of the Lord, died in glory and in peace. His country, conscious of his worth, paid his memory all the honours due to his birth; and they had cause to weep, for in him every man lost a father. His virtues were many, and his actions great; in piety he was peculiarly distinguished; and all his faults may be resolved to a single point, a connection with Ahab’s house. The taking of Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, a princess for Jehoram his son, was an error which went within a single step of exterminating the whole house of David. See 2 Kings 11:0. The statesman would indeed applaud the match as highly advantageous to the nation. It would be deemed a preventive of all future wars with Israel, and it would strengthen Judah by a powerful ally. But was Ahab more than God? Was the defence of JEHOVAH insufficient? No sooner did the prince take this woman to his bosom, this woman initiated into all her mother’s crimes, than she made him as wicked as herself, and controlled him in council: 2 Chronicles 22:3. On coming to the throne he slew all his brethren, ruled as a tyrant, and revolted the hearts of all his people. God forsook him, and nothing prospered under his reign. Elijah’s awful letter had no effect in checking his career of impiety and vice; and in that view he was more hardened than Ahab. God therefore in compassion to his people, shortened his life by long afflictions and an early death. Come hither then, ye lukewarm professors, who in marrying your children give riches the preference to virtue. That lady of fortune and family, that lady accomplished for the assembly and the theatre, will corrupt your son; she will seduce his heart, destroy his soul, and cause the memory of grace, and the blessings of the covenant, like the daughters of Heth, for ever to depart from your house.

Jehoram thus corrupted in principle and practice by his wife, forced on Judah the superstition and idolatrous practices of Jezebel and Athaliah. This was an insult to the memory of his pious fathers, and exposed both him and his people to the vengeance of his father’s God. Having forfeited the divine protection, his subjects were the less solicitous to pay him homage. Moab, unable to support his tyranny, and availing itself of his embarrassments, made a successful revolt. The priests, and best friends of his father’s house, were driven to rebellion: and to complete his calamities, while the Philistines fought him on the west, the Arabians from the south came up, plundered Jerusalem, slaughtered his sons, and took his household captive. And it may not be reckoned the least of his calamities that Athaliah escaped on this occasion. Here are the fruits of leaving his fathers’ God, and of indulging in every crime. What a melancholy example for dissipated youths, who having had a religious education, forsake the ways of righteousness and truth.

Let us now follow him to the two last years of a life curtailed by vice. While his body was assailed with hopeless and acute pains, what must have been his anguish of mind when he reflected on the departed glory of his house, and the encreasing disasters of his kingdom. Surely his conscience would tell him terrible things, and convert his chamber into a tragic stage, the most instructive to humankind. He saw his treasures plundered, his wives in captivity, his sons slain, as he had slain his brethren, and nothing left of Solomon’s glory but the wreck of crimes. If he looked toward the sanctuary, the only refuge and comfort of a dying man, he saw both priests and prophets degraded, persecuted, and oppressed. If he turned his eyes, as is most likely, to the ministers and the idols of superstition, there was no mitigation of his calamities, for the gods were unmoved by his curses, and unsoftened by his cries. In physicians he had neither hope nor help. Though promised great rewards, or menaced with immediate death, they could do nothing against the hand of God. Ah, no: he was arrested by divine justice, and conformably to Elijah’s sentence. Having despised the warning, God, it would now seem, denied him repentance; for he neither retraced his religious errors, nor repaired a single fault. Thus having help neither in God nor in man, to whom could he look, but to the infernal divinities! With whom could he imagine himself surrounded but with the ghosts of his murdered brothers, and of his massacred subjects. Surely then, in the torments of his body and in the anguish of his mind, hopeless in every view, hell in this man was begun on earth. “Consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you to pieces, and there be none to deliver.”

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 21". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/2-chronicles-21.html. 1835.
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