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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 21

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Verse 2

2 Chronicles 21:2. Jehoshaphat king of Israel King of Judah; Houbigant; after almost all the ancient versions.

Verse 11

2 Chronicles 21:11. And compelled Judah thereto And made Judah most contemptible. Houbigant.

Verse 12

2 Chronicles 21:12. From Elijah the prophet It being plain from 2Ki 2:11 that Elijah was taken up into heaven in the time of Jehoshaphat, the question is, how could Elijah send his son a letter. Josephus and others imagine, that this writing was indited by Elijah in heaven, and sent to Jehoram by the ministry of angels: but there is no reason to suppose that so singular a miracle was wrought in favour of an idolatrous prince, who had Moses and the prophets, which, in our Saviour's opinion, were sufficient to instruct him in all points necessary to salvation; and needed not any additional writing to be sent to him from the other world. Others are of opinion, therefore, that this letter was written before Elijah's ascension into heaven; that, foreseeing by the spirit of prophesy, the great wickedness that Jehoram would fall into, he dictated the contents thereof to one of the prophets, charging him to put them down in writing, to send them in a letter to Jehoram when he grew as impious as is here related, and to let him know that Elijah commanded this writing to be delivered to him, upon the presumption that it would affect him the more, as it came from a person translated into heaven. Lastly, others have supposed, that the Elijah by whom this letter was sent was not the prophet who was taken up into heaven, but another of that name who lived in the subsequent age, and was cotemporary with Jehoram. Which of these conjectures seems most probable, must be left to the judgment of the reader. See Le Clerc and Houbigant.

Verse 18

2 Chronicles 21:18. The Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease Dr. Mede observes, that "two impious kings are recorded to have had the same end; Antiochus Epiphanes, and Agrippa, of whom it was said, εις τι τα σπλαγχνα τοις ου σπλαγχνιεομε οις, of what avail are bowels to those who have no bowels? Now, this distemper seems to me to be no other than a severe dysentery; for in this the intestines are ulcerated, and blood flows from the eroded vessels, together with some excrement, which is always liquid and filmy matter; and sometimes also some fleshy strings come away, so that the very intestines may seem to be ejected." See Mede's Med. Sacr. ch. 4. It is remarkable, that there was no calamity which could be thought of, that did not befal this wicked prince. His kingdom was destroyed and depopulated by the fiercest nations; his treasures ransacked; his wives carried into captivity; his children slain; himself afflicted with a sore disease for two years; and, when he was dead, denied the honour of a royal sepulchre, such as his father had. All which calamities were threatened in a writing sent him in the name of Elijah, that he might not think that they came by chance, but be assured that they took place by the special direction of Almighty God, as a punishment for his iniquity.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Jehoshaphat's death opened the succession to the unworthy Jehoram, whom, during his lifetime, he had associated with him in the government.

1. Jehoram's reign opened with the most bloody and unnatural murder of his brethren, lest any of them, more pious than himself, should oppose the idolatry that he intended to introduce; and the princes of Israel, the great men who had settled in Judah under Jehoshaphat, were massacred, because, probably they refused to comply with his abominable innovations, or remonstrated against his crimes. Note; (1.) Ambition is deaf to the cries of nature or humanity. (2.) Tyrants ever rule in fear, and all their precautions shew the tormented state of their own minds. (3.) Kingdoms supported by bloodshed are in a tottering condition indeed.

2. Those whom he feared as his opposers being removed, he throws off the mask, and, like Ahab his father-in-law, establishes gross and bare-faced idolatry; not only inviting the people by his countenance, but compelling them by force, to frequent his abominable sacrifices. What a curse on a land is a wicked king!
2nd, 1. Elijah, by his letter, reproaches him with his iniquities, and his forsaking the ways of his pious forefathers, to whom he was a great scandal. Tyranny, idolatry, and murder, are particularly charged upon him, and judgment pronounced for these crimes. Ruin should overtake his family and people; and, smitten of God by a disease terrible and loathsome, he should linger out the remains of his life without ease or remedy. Note; Diseases are God's scourges: he can soon make those a burden to themselves who are by their crimes a burden to the earth.

2. The war being disregarded, the accomplishment of the threatening was speedy. [1.] The Arabians, stirred up of God, made an irruption into Judah; plundered the king's palace, either that at Jerusalem, or it may he some palace in the country, where the court at that time was; slew all his sons but one, chap. 2Ch 21:17 2Ch 22:1 and carried away his wives captive, except Athaliah, who escaped. [2.] A disease, painful as incurable, seized him, rendered him incapable of recovering his losses; and, robbed of every domestic comfort, without hope in God, and under his curse in body and soul, he lingered two long years, and then those bowels, which yearned not over his brethren, fell out, and he died. Note; The sick bed of a sinner is among the most miserable scenes on this side hell: the body tormented with pain, death standing with terrible aspect before him, horror of conscience increasing every pang, and a fearful looking for judgment, already waking up the gnawing worm which never dies.

3. He died unlamented, and was buried with disgrace. Glad to be rid of such a monster, they carried him to a common grave, as unworthy a place in the sepulchre of his ancestors; and, as his memory was odious, they burnt no sweet spices over him, leaving the loathsome corpse an emblem of the more loathsome soul. Note; Tyrants, when alive, though feared, will be hated; and, when dead, will be branded with infamy.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 21". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/2-chronicles-21.html. 1801-1803.
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