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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

2 Chronicles 21


Jehoram is made king, and slayeth his brethren, 2 Chronicles 21:1-4.

His wicked reign, 2 Chronicles 21:5-7.

Edom and Libnah revolt 2 Chronicles 21:8-11.

The prophecy of Elijah against him in writing, 2 Chronicles 21:12-15.

The Philistines and Arabians oppress him; his incurable disease, death, and burial, 2 Chronicles 21:16-20.

Verse 2

Azariah; two sons called by the same name, though doubtless distinguished by some additional title, which is not mentioned here, because it did not concern succeeding ages to know it. Though indeed there is a difference in their Hebrew names, the one being Azariah, the other Azariahu, hu being the last syllabic in his name, as in Elihu and others. Jehoshaphat king of Israel; so he is called, either,

1. Because he was so by right. Or,

2. Because he was king not only of Judah and Benjamin, but of a great number of Israelites, who had come into and settled themselves in his kingdom, in his and in his predecessor’s days; who being a considerable, and the purest and best, part of Israel, may well be called Israel, being more truly and properly God’s Israel than their apostate brethren, who were no longer worthy of that name. Or,

3. Because all his subjects were Israelites; and therefore he was

king of Israel, though not of all Israel. Or,

4. With some reflection upon his memory for making so strict an alliance and friendship with the king of Israel, whose cause he defended with his own and his kingdom’s great hazard, as if he had been the king not so much of Judah as of Israel. And this may be the rather noted here, because here speedily follows a sad effect of that wicked and cursed match. Some say Israel was foisted into some copies by the transcriber instead of Judah, as it was first written.

Verse 3

Whom he conceived that he ought to prefer by virtue of that law of God, Deuteronomy 21:15, though otherwise he would not have done it, having probably ere this time perceived his perverse and wicked inclinations, and how much he was swayed by his idolatrous wife. Now he saw his error when it was too late.

Verse 4

He strengthened himself; he took courage and hardened his heart, as that word sometimes signifies.

Slew all his brethren with the sword; partly because they either did, or he knew that they would, oppose him in his wicked designs; and partly for his own security, lest his people, who, as he believed, would be highly exasperated with the execution of his counsels, should advance any of them to the throne, and depose him.

Of the princes of Israel; either,

1. Of Judah, here called Israel, or which See Poole "2 Chronicles 21:2". Or,

2. The princes or chief men of Israel, properly so called; not the princes of all Israel, or of the several tribes thereof, but the chief of those Israelites who, out of love to God and to the true religion, had forsaken their estates and worthy advantages in the kingdom of Israel, and were now incorporated with the kingdom of Judah. These he especially struck at, either,

1. Because his wife instigated him thereunto, both to punish them for their revolt from her father, and to deter others from following their example. Or,

2. Because he justly and truly thought these would be most firm and constant to and zealous for that religion which he was resolved to oppose, being both by their conscience and interest obliged to it.

Verse 5

Of this, and 2 Chronicles 21:6-10, See Poole "2 Kings 8:17".

Verse 7

Because of the covenant that he had made with David; for which, in 2 Kings 8:19, it is for David his servant’s sake, i.e. not for David’s merits, but for God’s free promise and covenant, as it is here explained.

Verse 10

To wit, publicly and avowedly, setting him at defiance, as the next verse shows. And this is mentioned, either,

1. As the reason why the priests, whose city Libnah was, forsook him, because he had forsaken God; or rather,

2. As the reason why God raised up so many enemies against him, both from abroad and at home.

Verse 11

He made high places; not to the Lord, whose sworn enemy he was, but to Baals, or false gods.

Caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication; not only by his counsel and example, but, as it follows, by force, by threats and penalties.

Verse 12

There came a writing to him from Elijah.

Quest. How could this be, when Elijah was rapt up to heaven in Jehoshaphat’s time, 2 Kings 2:3,2 Kings 2:11.

Answ. Either,

1. This was Elisha, or some other prophet called Elijah, because he acted in the spirit and power of Elijah, for which cause John the Baptist also is so called. Or rather,

2. This was really written by Elijah, who by the Spirit did clearly foresee and foretell the reign and acts of Jehoram, (as others did of Josiah, 1 Kings 13:2, and Isaiah of Cyrus, Isaiah 45:3, long before they were born,) and in consideration thereof left this prophecy with Elisha, to be delivered in due time by him, or some other person in his name, and as from his mouth.

The Lord God of David thy father; whose name he mentions either to upbraid him with his degeneration from so worthy a parent; or to take off his presumption and confidence, which was grounded upon his being the son and successor of David, in whose posterity the crown was settled for ever by God’s special appointment, and by the approbation of the people.

In the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father; whose wise counsel and good example thou hast despised.

Verse 13

More innocent, and righteous, and pious.

Verse 14

The Lord will smite thy people.

Quest. Why the people for his sin?

Answ. 1. Because the generality of them sinned in complying with his wicked and idolatrous commands through fear, 2 Chronicles 21:11.

2. Because he suffered in his people’s destruction: for as the honour, and safety, and strength of a king lies in the multitude and prosperity of his people, Proverbs 14:28; so when they are diminished and destroyed, the king is very much weakened and endangered by it.

Thy children and thy wives; whose lives shall go for the lives of thy brethren, 2 Chronicles 21:4.

Verse 15

i.e. From day to day continually. Or, year upon year, i.e. one year after another, or for the space of two years, as the event shows, 2 Chronicles 21:19. Heb. days upon days. Days are oft put for a year, as Exodus 13:10; Leviticus 25:29; Numbers 9:22; Judges 17:10; 1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 27:7; Amos 4:4.

Verse 16

The Philistines; a people fully subdued and dispirited; but God now raiseth their spirits and courage to do his work.

Near the Ethiopians, Heb. near the Cushites, i.e. either the Ethiopians, from whom they were parted only by the Red Sea, each dwelling upon the opposite shores of it; or rather, a people in Arabia, frequently mentioned in Scripture, and so called, either for their likeness in colour and complexion to the Ethiopians properly so called, or because the one of these people were a colony of the other. But the Ethiopians above Egypt were far enough from these other Arabians, being separated from them by the Red Sea.

Verse 17

His sons also and his wives; whom also they slew, 2 Chronicles 22:1, except Ahaziah and Athaliah, who possibly were hidden in some secret and safe place.

Jehoahaz; called also Ahaziah, which signifies the very same thing with Jehoahaz; and Azariah, 2 Chronicles 22:6, whose signification is near akin to the other, all signifying God’s taking or helping of him.

Verse 20

Departed, Heb. went, to wit, the way of all the earth, as it is more fully expressed, Joshua 23:14. Or, to the land of darkness, as Job 10:21,Job 10:22. Or, to his long home, Ecclesiastes 12:5. Or, went away, to wit, out of this world; as this word is used, Job 14:20; Ecclesiastes 5:15; Ecclesiastes 6:4; there being many such words and phrases used concerning death in the Old and New Testament, signifying that death is not an annihilation, but only a translation into another place and state. See Genesis 15:15; Philippians 1:23.

Without being desired, Heb. without desire; which may belong either,

1. To himself; he had no desire of living longer, nor any pleasure in life, but was heartily weary of it, through his excessive pains: or rather,

2. To his people, who did not desire that he should live longer, but oft and heartily wished that he had died sooner; which contempt of him they showed both by making no burning for him, as they used to do for good and laudable kings, 2 Chronicles 16:14, and by denying him burial among the kings, as it here follows. Desire is here put for a person or thing whose life or continuance is desirable or desired by others, as Isaiah 2:16; Ezekiel 24:16,Ezekiel 24:18,Ezekiel 24:21,Ezekiel 24:25; Daniel 9:23; Daniel 10:11,Daniel 10:19. And this is an emphatical expression, because it is usual with men to desire the deaths of some persons, whom afterward they lament and heartily wish that they were alive again, as they may have cause to do. But for this ungodly and unhappy prince, his people did not only in his lifetime wish his death, but afterwards they did not repent of those desires, nor wish him alive again, but rejoiced that they were delivered from so great a plague as he was to them.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 21". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.