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CRITICAL NOTES.] In this chapter the reign of Ahaziah (2 Chronicles 22:1-6); his and (2 Chronicles 22:7-9); and usurpation of Athaliah (2 Chronicles 22:10-12). Parallel in 2 Kings 8:24-29; 2 Kings 9:27; and 2 Kings 11:1-3.
2 Chronicles 22:1-4.—Succession and beginning of A. Ah. (called Jehoahaz, 2 Chronicles 21:17) chosen by the people, elder brothers slain by Arabs and could not be ransomed. Forty and two, an error of transcription for 22 (2 Kings 8:26), for J., his father, not more than 40 at death (2 Chronicles 21:20); daughter, i.e., grand-daughter of Omri, founder of family (2 Kings 8:18-26). 2 Chronicles 22:3. He also as well as his father walked, &c. 2 Chronicles 22:4. They, Athaliah and Jehoram of Israel, her brother (cf. 2 Chronicles 22:1; 2 Chronicles 22:3; 2 Chronicles 22:5).
2 Chronicles 22:5-9.—Visit of A. to Jehoram. This ver. and next have come from a source used also by writer of Kings, and are nearly identical with 2 Kings 8:28-29 [Speak. Com.]. War of two kings against Hazael, aggressive to recover Ramoth-Gil., which Ahab and Jehoshaphat had failed to do fourteen years earlier (1 Kings 22:3-36). J. wounded by Syrians withdrew from siege to Jezreel, leaving his army under Jehu within the walls of town. Ahaz. went to visit Joram, and met with death. 2 Chronicles 22:8. Sons, princes of royal house, on a visit met with Jehu, and 42 of them slain (2 Kings 10:14). 2 Chronicles 22:9. Hid, about to hide in Samaria, where friends (2 Kings 10:12-15) were, but turned aside by pursuers, brought to Jehu, was wounded mortally, fled and died at Megiddo. None left of royal house to assume rule.
2 Chronicles 22:10-12.—Athaliah’s usurpation (cf. 2 Kings 11:1-3). Seed royal, who aspired to govern. Bed-chamber, in a chamber of mattresses, a repository for beds, not a lodging chamber. Jeh., as priest, had a right to occupy buildings in outer wall, and resided in one of these apartments.
AHAZIAH’S WICKED REIGN.—2 Chronicles 22:1-9
I. Its beginning through home influence. Here all start life in right or wrong direction. Foundations then laid, habits then formed, are permanent factors in future years. To begin life without godly training and virtuous principles will ensure failure, often early and final. Home influence affects societies, churches, and nations. “They that rock the cradle rule the world,” said Napoleon.
II. Its continuance by evil counsellors. A. and her brother counselled A. (2 Chronicles 22:4). Bad training, bad advice. Formed in childhood, directed as a man, how could his reign be otherwise? “In the multitude of counsellors there is safety,” and the larger the number the greater the safety. To one such Pharaoh owed the security of his kingdom from desolating famine. But “where no counsel is,” or only evil counsel, “the people must fall” (Proverbs 11:14). A nation with evil legislators like a ship directed in the midst of rocks in imminent peril. “The counsels of the wicked are deceit.”
III. Its end in judgment which it entailed. A. survived to be the ruin of her son, as she had been the bane of her husband (2 Chronicles 22:10). Under her influence he began a career of ungodliness and licentiousness which ended in his destruction. Certain and irretrievable ruin results from wicked counsel and wicked life. “How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and how oft cometh their destruction upon them! God distributeth sorrows in his anger.”
THE POWER OF A MOTHER’S INFLUENCE.—2 Chronicles 22:3
For is a kind of explanation, the reason assigned for results which are given. “For his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.”
I. It begins early in life. Education begins sooner than parents imagine; long enough before they are responsible; even when they begin to see, feel, and observe. Hence great importance to have first teaching of a child. Early impressions are elementary principles out of which mature life is organised. “When should I begin the education of my children now four years old?” asked a mother from a clergyman, who replied, “Madam, if you have not begun already you have lost those four years. From the first smile that gleams upon an infant’s cheek your opportunity begins.”
II. It moulds through life. A living power, forming character and directing conduct. The child becomes a man, the subject becomes a sovereign; influence is thus repeated and transmitted. Home the most powerful school in the world. Mother’s influence for good or evil mightier than pulpits and thrones. “My opinion is,” said Napoleon, “that the future good or bad conduct of a child depends entirely on the mother.”
III. It leaves permanent impress upon life. Alexander the Great could never correct the faults of gait and manners learned in childhood from Leonidas, his master. The face, words, and example of mothers leave permanent influence. “Every first thing continues for ever with the child; the first colour, the first music, the first flower, paint the foreground of life. Every new educator effects less than his predecessor; until, at last, if we regard all life as an educational institute, a circumnavigator of the world is less influenced by all the nations he has seen than by his nurse” [Richter].
“The fond attachment to the well-known place,
Whence first we started into life’s long race,
Retains its hold with such unfailing sway,
We feel it e’en in age, and at our latest day” [Cowper].
THE DEATH OF AHAZIAH.—2 Chronicles 22:6-9
I. Untimely in its method. Neither advanced in life, nor delicate in health. On a friendly visit to see a sick relative! Surely this errand of pity the occasion of gladness, not grief? Death everywhere at home and abroad, in our own families and those of friends. From the desk, the pulpit, and the throne we may be suddenly carried to the grave.
II. Brought about by companionship with evil men. Intimacy with Joram involved him in the common ruin of Ahab’s house. “Tell me with whom thou goest, and I will tell thee what thou art,” is the Spanish proverb; rendered into English, “A man is known by the company he keeps.” To be seen with the frivolous is to be known as frivolous; to have friendship with the wise is to enjoy reputation for wisdom; but “a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
“Heaven with a secret principle endued
Mankind to seek their own similitude.”
III. Arranged by the providence of God. “And the destruction of A. was of God by coming to J.” (2 Chronicles 22:7). Remarkable that threatened vengeance was brought on house of Ahab at the very time King of Judah was visiting Joram, that he might partake of punishment as a descendant of wicked Ahab. No evidence that Jehu fixed on this time from wish to include Ahaziah in punishment; nor was he aware of his presence at Jezreel. Unexpected concurrence of circumstances. All result of immutable purpose, and accomplished by a wonderful arrangement of Providence in time and place. May escape for a time, but no concealment from divine retribution.
WOMEN GOOD AND BAD.—2 Chronicles 22:10-12
What a contrast in these verses! Two females acting very different parts.
I. A bad woman engaged in wicked designs. Athaliah endeavours to destroy seed royal after death of her son. To this wickedness impelled in rage at destruction of Ahab’s family, hence David’s family must share the same fate; in zeal for idolatry and worship of Baal, which she was determined to uphold amid opposition; in regard to her own defence and in ambitious desire to usurp the throne and transmit the crown to her own family. “Athaliah had inherited the spirit of Jezebel, her mother. As wife of Joram and mother of Ahaziah, she had guided both the internal and the external policy of the Jewish kingdom; she had procured the establishment of the worship of Baal in Judæa (2 Kings 8:18-27), and had maintained a close alliance with the sister kingdom. The revolution effected by Jehu touched her nearly. It struck away from her the entire support which she derived from the power and grandeur of her relatives and their readiness to help her at need. It isolated her religious system, severing the communication with Phœnicia. Moreover, the death of Ahaziah deprived her of her legal status in Judæa, which was that of Gebirah, or queen-mother, and transferred that position to the chief wife of her deceased son. Under these circumstances, which might well have daunted even a woman of more than ordinary courage, Athaliah’s hereditary spirit and energy asserted itself. Instead of yielding to the storm, or merely standing on the defensive, she resolved to become the assailant, and, before any plans could be formed against her, to strike” [Speak. Com.].
II. A good woman engaged in benevolent designs. The family of David not entirely destroyed. J., daughter of Joram (not of Athaliah, Josephus), wife of Jehoiada, the high priest, took Joash, her nephew, to conceal and save him (2 Chronicles 22:11). The lineage of David and the human descent of Messiah suspended on the life of a child one year old! This loyal act a benevolent work, the means of fulfilling prophetic words and blessing the world! Women may be devils or ministering angels. “If once she falls, it is the fall of Lucifer” [Colton]. But “in great crises it is woman’s special lot to soften our misfortunes” [Napoleon].
“Her office there to rear, to teach,
Becoming, as is meet and fit,
A link among the days, to knit
The generations each with each” [Tennyson].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 22". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13