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This chapter comprises the accession, brief reign, and death of Ahaziah (2 Chronicles 22:1-9) and the following murders and usurpation of Athaliah during six years (2 Chronicles 22:10-12). The parallel of the former section is to be found in 2 Kings 8:24-29; 2Ki 9:14-16, 2 Kings 9:21-28; and of the latter, 2 Kings 11:1-3.
2 Chronicles 22:1
This verse does not so much purport to say how the inhabitants of Jerusalem proceeded to appoint Ahaziah, in default of any previous appointment on the part of his father, but merely that whereas they appointed him, the youngest son, it was because they had no choice, the elder brothers having been slain (2 Chronicles 21:17). though the deceased Jehoram possibly might not have known up to the time of his death, for certain, of their several deaths. This, if we may judge from the particular language here used, had been brought about at the bands of the band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp, now first particularized. The parallel (2 Kings 8:25), wanting both of these items, states that this reign began in the twelfth year of Joram of Israel.
2 Chronicles 22:2
Forty and two; read, twenty and two, and see parallel, 2 Kings 8:26; and note on our 2 Chronicles 21:5. Daughter of Omri; i.e. granddaughter of Omri, as Omri was the father of Ahab.
2 Chronicles 22:3
The mother and the house of Ahab had become a proverb and a by-word for their evil. In this and the following two verses stress is laid on the evil counsel and the sources of it that prejudiced Ahaziah to his ruin. Although the parallel wants these direct statements, perhaps it scarcely says less, when it says (verse 27), "For he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab."
2 Chronicles 22:5
He … went with Jehoram the son of Ahab. So the evil example of even the good lives after them. See Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:29; 2 Chronicles 18:8) followed by his son Jehoram first (2 Kings 3:9), and now by his grandson Ahaziah. The words of this verse and the next are almost identical with the parallel (2 Kings 8:28, 2 Kings 8:29). Ramoth-Gilead. It will be remembered that Ahab failed when he solicited and obtained the help of Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:3-36; 2 Chronicles 18:3-34) in his enterprise against Ramoth-Gilead. The present attempt, however, seems to have had a different issue (2 Kings 9:14, 2 Kings 9:15). The Syrians; Hebrew, הָרַמִּים. The initial radical here should be א, from neglect of observing which the Septuagint has translated "archers" (relate).
2 Chronicles 22:6
Both places (this and the parallel) tell first that Ahaziah went with Joram against Hazael; then that Joram, being smitten, returned for healing to Jezreel; next that Ahaziah, out of compassion in some sort, went down to see Joram in Jezreel; and lastly, it is here signalized that in that very deed of his, Providence brought it about that Jehu lighted upon the track of him (2 Chronicles 22:7-9), and he met his end. This feature of the history the writer of Chronicles wishes to exhibit, as usual. Ramah; i.q. Ramoth-Gilead. Jezreel. This was a town in the Plain of Jezreel (Esdraelon), belonging to the tribe of Issachar. For Azariah read Ahaziah; compare אֲחַזְיָהוּ (Ahaziah) and יְהוֹאָחָז (Jehoahaz), the meaning of both being "held" or "upheld of the Lord."
2 Chronicles 22:7
He went out with Jehoram against Jehu. The "against" is the simple preposition אֶל, and need intend nothing more than "to meet" Jehu; not to meet him hostilely. What the manner of the meeting was, however, we know from 2 Kings 9:21, 2 Kings 9:22, 2Ki 9:27, 2 Kings 9:28. The history of this and following two verses is here given very briefly; much must be filled in to give its full explanation, as in 2 Kings 9:11-29. Whom the Lord had anointed to out off the house of Ahab; i.e. had raised him to the throne, possessed of the characteristic qualities which he had for this purpose (2 Kings 9:1-7; 1 Kings 19:16). Jehu the son of Nimshi. Strictly, "the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi" (2 Kings 9:2).
2 Chronicles 22:8
Executing judgment upon the house of Ahab. The description of all this is sufficiently graphically scattered along the verses of 2 Kings 9:24-20. And found the princes of Judah (see especially 2 Kings 10:7, 2 Kings 10:11; 2 Kings 11:13-20). And the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah. This both explains and is explained by 2 Kings 10:12-14. That ministered to Ahaziah. Even this enigmatical little clause receives its probable explanation from the last clause of 2 Kings 10:13 in last quotation foregoing.
2 Chronicles 22:9
And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him … brought him … buried him. This verse, which at the first sight seems at variance with 2 Kings 9:27, 2 Kings 9:28, is perhaps a simply surprising instance of undesigned corroboration of history by the treatment of different historians. The verse, e.g; corrects the italics of 2 Kings 9:27; expunging them throws their proper force into the words, "at the going up to Gur," showing that Jehu reckoned on that steep kill to enable his pursuing warriors to overtake Ahaziah; makes a sufficiently possible harmony, to say the least, in respect of the remaining incidents narrated of his life—that he made for the time a successful flight to Megiddo, afterwards sought to hide in deeper retirement in Samaria, was thence brought to Jehu at Megiddo, there eventually slain before his eyes, and by his own servants, who must be supposed to have had some attachment to him, but probably with the sanction of Jehu himself, conveyed "in a chariot to Jerusalem" for sepulture "in the sepulchre of his fathers in the city of David" (2 Kings 9:28). The fact that he received decent burial being due to the God-fearing character of his grandfather, and that this should find its record on the page of the book that will last while the world lasts, that very page already two thousand five hundred years old, is a most touching consideration. Megiddo was on the Esdraelon or Jezreel plain, that stretched between the hills of Galilee and those of Mount Ephraim or Samaria. Had no power to keep still the kingdom. The undoubted meaning of this clause is that there was no one of the house of Ahaziah who could succeed him. The Hebrew text does not say, "no one left," etc. But the allusion can scarcely be to anything but the fact that transpires in our 2 Kings 9:11 (where only Joash is mentioned as a son, and with him a nurse), viz. that his only surviving son was an infant, The king's sons (presumably sons of Ahaziah and grandsons of her own) were among the "seed royal," whom the wicked Athaliah had "destroyed." Gesenius says that the words that wrap in them the slight ambiguity, עָצַר כֹחַ, are a phrase peculiar to the later Hebrew, and he instances nine examples, all of which come from Daniel or Chronicles, the virtue of the phrase amounting to the ports ease of the Latin. Translate, And there was no one of the house of Ahaziah able for the kingdom, the exacter conditions of the case not being recorded.
2 Chronicles 22:10
But when Athaliah. For parallel to the end of the chapter, see 2 Kings 11:1-3. The words, of the house of Judah, are here carefully supplied, wanting in parallel.
2 Chronicles 22:11
After of the king, the parallel conveniently certifies the name, Joram, and adds, "sister of Ahaziah" (very possibly half-sister, though), and afterwards particularizes the hiding, as from Athaliah, as in the latter part of this verse. We are here told, what is not mentioned in the parallel, that Jehosheba was "wife of Jehoiada the priest," probably the high priest. Nor is this negatived by the fact that the name is not found (1 Chronicles 6:1-81.) in the line from Aaron to Jozadak; for this is only the line of Jozadak's ancestors, all of whom were not high priests. Joash is to be heard of again (2 Kings 11:21; 2 Chronicles 24:1).
2 Chronicles 22:12
With them hid in the house of God six years. During this time evidently Athaliah reigned. There were in the "house of God" chambers sacred to the use of either priests or temple officials (1 Kings 6:5-10).
2 Chronicles 22:1-12
A medley of the memoranda of evil-doing, its consequences, and its end.
The one surviving son of Jehoram, his youngest son, Ahaziah, is put on an unsteady, unsafe throne. Jehoram had caused all his own brethren to be slain, and now it had come to pass that all his "eldest sons had been slain by the band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp" As Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and granddaughter of Omri, the evil wife of Jehoram, had not failed to make an evil husband of Jehoram, so, the evil mother, she does not fail to make an evil son of Ahaziah. She "was his counsellor to do wickedly." And therein her whole house, "the house of Ahab," were "after the death of his father, counsellors to his destruction." Ahaziah repeated the error of his grandfather Jehoshaphat, in associating himself with the King of Israel, going up with him to fight against Hazael King of Syria, at Ramoth-Gilead. It leads to further complications. The King of Israel is wounded and returns to Jezreel, and because "he was sick," Ahaziah must go thither also to "see" him. He unconsciously is courting "his destruction," "of God" (2 Chronicles 22:7); for once there he must support the king of his rival line against one whom "God had anointed" to the very work of "cutting off the house of Ahab." He is not only setting himself "to help the ungodly, and to love them that hate the Lord" (2 Chronicles 19:2), but he is setting himself in battle with one against whom the Lord has anointed his own servant ("Jehu the son of Nimshi"), that he may destroy him and his! That is, he has put himself in the position of actively and directly fighting against God. And now, by doing thus, he not only involves "the princes of Judah, and the sons of his own brethren" (because of the company in which they were found), in indiscriminate slaughter, but himself, the King of Judah, hidden—hidden in Samaria, searched for, caught, taken. He with his mother has been run to earth in a double sense, hounded to his miserable earthly end, his bones being honoured with decent burial only out of reverence for his good grandfather Jehoshaphat. The humiliating epitaph, however, on his grave was to this effect, "The house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom!" Once more the enraged mother of the son whom she more than any one else had driven into his sin and his grave, plots the slaughter of the entire royal seed of David; but in vain. A faithful promise, a sure covenant, an unalterable purpose, prevents the thing! The sister of the king just buried was married to Jehoiada the priest, and she was the appointed preserver of the royal line, in the providence of God. She saves one, an infant, her nephew, and with her husband hides him for six years where alone so many others have taken refuge, and been safely hidden till the stormy wind and tempest have been overpast—"in the house of God." The usurping and iniquitous Athaliah, daughter of Ahab, wife of Jehoram once, and once mother of Ahaziah, an orphan, a widow, and without a son, unloving and unloved, neither fearing God nor regarding man, reigns awhile, but does not rule! God rules the people, rides the storm, keeps the sleep, the infancy, the childhood, of his anointed; inspires his true priest, Jehoiada, with wisdom, patience, determination, and religious courage. The royal line of Judah is not cut off in its sixth king, and, when to the most of human knowledge it seemed so, that six years' interval may well have served as a needed pause in the life of the kingdom and of its chief men. "The Word of the Lord" was no doubt "precious in those days," but it was not lost, and there was a faithful priest. The silences of nations and oft of our own individual life, the silences of Scripture and of the inscrutable God himself, all have meaning, all bear the mark of design and long-suffering providence, and if improved instead of neglected, sinned against, and defied, may be rich with future blessings.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
2 Chronicles 22:1-4
A pitiable prince; or, an unfortunate child of fortune.
The thorough pitiableness of one born to a high estate is the lesson of the text; but we must wait to learn—
I. THAT MEN SUFFER AS THEY SIN. It appears that Ahaziah was the only son left to the house of Jehoram; all the eldest had been slain by the invaders (2 Chronicles 22:1). Thus we find that the man who with shameful selfishness murdered his own brothers, had to suffer the loss, by violence, of his own sons. It was a fitting penalty—fitting that he who used the sword remorselessly should suffer from the sword; fitting that the man whose darkest crime was committed "under his own roof" should bear his penalty in his own kindred. We do not, of course, invariably find such "poetic justice" dealt in the providence of God; but we do find that men not only suffer because they sin, but they suffer as they sin. If they sin as husbands or fathers, they suffer as such; if they sin as sons, they suffer through their children; if they sin in the flesh, they suffer in the flesh; or if they sin in the spirit, they suffer in the spirit. There is a close, a plain, a righteous correspondence between guilt and penalty.
II. THAT PARENTAGE GOES A VERY LONG WAY TO ACCOUNT FOR HUMAN CHARACTER AND FOR THE CAREERS OF MEN. Ahaziah was the grandson on his mother's side, of Ahab and of Jezebel. What may he not have inherited from them? He was the son of Athaliah. And, apart from the consideration of heredity, what evil did he not drink in from the counsels of that wicked woman? She was "his counsellor to do wickedly" (2 Chronicles 22:3).
1. We may well bless God for all the good we and others have derived from godly parents, especially from a holy mother, from the "counsels" received at "the mother's knee." The blessing thus conferred upon the world is quite inestimable.
2. Those who are parents may well realize the sacred burden of responsibility which rests upon them; for it rests with them, very largely indeed, to determine what their sons and daughters shall he—whether a blessing or a bane to the world.
3. We do well to try and elevate those who are, or will be, the mothers of the future. There is no worthier Christian enterprise than the Zenana Mission, in which the aim is to reach and to raise the women who will be "the counsellors" of the men and women of the next generation.
4. Evil counsel may extenuate, but it will not excuse, our individual folly and wrong-doing. Not even a mother may lead us into paths of sin.
III. THAT FAVORABLE CIRCUMSTANCES WILL NOT GUARANTEE ANY MAN'S WELL- BEING.
1. Who so fortunate in Judah as Ahaziah? Heir to the throne, and succeeding at an early age (see 2 Kings 8:26 with 2 Kings 8:17 of that chapter); married while he was young; with little children soon about him; with every prospect of power, wealth, domestic affection, royal estate, for many years.
2. And who more pitiable than this young prince? Educated and trained in the belief of error, in the practice of folly, with a mother whose whole influence was against moral worth, seeking and forming a dangerous alliance, cut off after a very brief reign (2 Chronicles 22:2), leaving a reputation of ill odour behind him. It is certain that no man can count on a future of prosperity and joy simply because the circumstantial outlook is favourable. The child of fortune, like Ahaziah, proves to be one of the most unfortunate of men. Whom all his young contemporaries were disposed to envy, we who look back unite to pity with a most genuine and deep compassion. Who, let us ask, is the man to be envied, or rather to be congratulated? Surely it is he who is born of Christian parents, who has about him in childhood and in youth "counsellors" who will know what is true, and do what is really kind and wise; it is he whom his human father trains in the way of righteousness, and whom his heavenly Father disciplines, according to his Divine wisdom, building him up in purity, in integrity, in strength, in love.—C.
2 Chronicles 22:4
The counsel that destroys, and that which saves.
"His counsellors … to his destruction." The counsel we receive has much to do with the character we form and the life we live; much, therefore, with the destiny we are weaving.
I. THE URGENT NEED FOR COUNSEL IN A CRITICAL PERIOD OF OUR LIFE. In our earliest years the river of our life flows between high and narrow banks. We are well fenced in, and must move according to our surroundings. But later on the banks are lower, the restrictions are weaker, and we may overflow, may cut a new channel for ourselves. At first we are under commandment from hour to hour; we do that which is prescribed for us; we shun that which is interdicted. Then comes a time when we disengage ourselves from this position; it has become bondage; we demand to enter upon the rights of maturity, to form our own judgment, to act according to our own choice. It is at this point, when the father's authority is no longer paramount, that we need to act under counsel. We urgently need the help of those who will advise, though they do not assume to direct us. We want the guidance of those who will say to us, not, You shall, but, You should. We require the advantage of the experience of men who have gone through the ways that now lie before us; of men whose wisdom will equip us for the new duties that have to be discharged, for the new burdens that have to be borne, for the new dangers and difficulties that have to be faced and fought, for the new teen, rations that have to be met and mastered. But there are two kinds of counsel, and everything depends on which we shall adopt.
II. THE COUNSEL THAT DESTROYS; Viz. the counsel that kills all that is best in our nature, and brings us down to spiritual if not, indeed, to material ruin.
1. The counsel of a degrading selfishness, which speaks on this wise: "Take care of number one; ' "Every man for himself," etc.; that would impress the opening mind of young manhood with the miserable falsehood that, so long as we can secure what we crave for ourselves, it is of little consequence what becomes of our neighbours or of our fellow-men.
2. The counsel of shameful indulgence, which speaks in this strain: "Youth comes but once in a lifetime;" "A short life and a merry one;" counsel that would recommend the young to consume all that is pure and sound in their nature in the fires of unholy passion, to drown all that is worthiest, all sense of what is becoming, and all self-respect, in the turgid waters of unrestrained or ill-restrained indulgence.
3. The counsel of financial exaggeration, which says, "Get money by all means, honestly if possible, but get money;" this is counsel which would "sacrifice life for the sake of the means of living," which would lead to the loss of that which is most sacred and precious for the sake of that which, at best, can only supply the outward conditions of well-being. It makes mere pecuniary possession the goal of human life—a very common but an utter and pitiable mistake.
4. The counsel of a shallow materialism; that which lays great stress on temporal success and on human favour, and makes little or nothing of spiritual worth and the favour of God. Such counsels as these are truly destructive; they kill faith, love, purity, hope, spirituality—everything, indeed, which makes our manhood, which constitutes our true heritage. Under such counsellors we may gain the world, but we lose our soul; they are "counsellors to our destruction."
III. THE COUNSEL WHICH SAVES. There is One of whom, many centuries before he came, it was said, "His name shall be called Counsellor;" of whom, when he was with us, it was said, "Whence hath this Man this wisdom?" who came to be to us "the Wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24). If we will learn of him, we shall know what is the truth indeed respecting human life, worldly wealth, the honour which comes from man and that which is of God, what constitutes eternal life below, and what it is that leads on to the heavenly life beyond the grave (see Matthew 6:19, Matthew 6:20, Matthew 6:33; Matthew 10:37-39; Luke 4:4; Luke 12:15; John 5:44; John 14:23; John 17:24).—C.
2 Chronicles 22:5-12
Our friends and their fate, etc
These verses offer us a cluster of truths which we may gather.
I. THAT OUR FATE IS COMMONLY BOUND UP WITH THAT OF OUR FRIENDS. Ahaziah "went with Jehoram the son of Ahab" (2 Chronicles 22:5); and, allying himself with him in war, he visited him as a friend when he was at his home at Jezreel. But this friendship with God's enemies led him to his destruction; his coming to Jehoram was "of God" (2 Chronicles 22:7); it was the way taken by Divine Providence to bring upon him the penalty of his guilt. For he perished with his friend on the same day and at the same hand (2 Chronicles 22:8, 2 Chronicles 22:9). When we are determining upon our alliances and our friendships, it is well not only to consider the station, the income, the reputation in society, of those who invite us to their confidence, but also to inquire concerning their probable whither-ward. In what direction are they moving? Toward what goal are their faces turned? What will their end be? Are they on an upward or on a downward course? For nothing is more likely than that we shall share their fate, that we shall become what they are becoming.
II. THAT THE INFLUENCE OF A GOOD MAN GOES FAR BEYOND HIS OWN GENERATION. "They buried him, Because (they said) he is the son of Jehoshaphat," etc. (2 Chronicles 22:9). He was Jehoshaphat's grandson; but though they had to go back two generations, the memory and the moral impression of the good king had not faded—at any rate, had not been effaced. "The memory of the just" abides; it is fragrant after many years have gone; and the influence of the holy lasts when the memory has disappeared. Knowledge in the memory, peace in the mind, soundness in the soul, beauty and usefulness in the life,—these are the fruits of the good man's life, though they are not traced to his hand and not referred to his working; they are influences which spread and widen as the years go on.
III. THAT IF WE PLACE OURSELVES UNDER THE DOMINION OF EVIL, WE DO NOT KNOW TO WHAT DEPTH WE MAY DESCEND. We have here a woman, who was brought up in a civilized court, and who had the opportunity of acquainting herself with the Law of the Lord, causing all her own grandsons to be murdered, in order that she might have the helm of the state in her own hands! To what a bottomless depth of moral degradation can a woman sink, when she gives herself up to the power of evil! And we do not, any of us, know the lengths of wrong-doing, the depths of iniquity, to which we may go, if we once yield to that strong temptation—impurity, avarice, indulgence in strong drink, the intoxication of applause, or whatever it may be—which is assailing and even threatening us. Shun the first step in an evil course, for the slope becomes steeper as we go further, and it leads down to a deep and dark gulf of shame and ruin.
IV. THAT WOMANLY KINDNESS HAS A LARGE CONTRIBUTION TO BRING TO THE CAUSE AND KINGDOM OF GOD. It was a very great service, fruitful of large results, which Jehoshabeath now rendered (2 Chronicles 22:11). It was a very valuable service that womanly kindness and fidelity rendered to our Lord when he lived and when he died for us. The Apostle Paul had to thank womanly kindness for succour in the course of his career. Pity, with the hand of help it stretches forth, is a handmaid of piety, a valued servant in the king's household.
V. THAT IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD WE MAY FIND A HIDING-PLACE FOR OURSELVES. (2 Chronicles 22:12.) His aunt hid the infant Joash in the house of God (2 Chronicles 22:12). Many times, in many lands, has the house of God been a sanctuary, a place where men have taken refuge and have hidden themselves from the wrath of the pursuer. But there is a better way in which God's house may be to us a sanctuary. We may go there to hide ourselves in him whose house it is. We may go there with our troubled or our sin-burdened heart, and we may hide in him who is the God of all grace and consolation, in him who is abundant in mercy and truth (see Psalms 27:4, Psalms 27:5). When we cherish a living faith in God our Saviour and our Friend, we "hide ourselves under the shadow of his wings" (Psalms 17:8).—C.
HOMILIES BY T. WHITELAW
2 Chronicles 22:1-12
A chapter of tragedies.
I. THE SLAUGHTER OF JEHORAM'S SONS. (2 Chronicles 22:1.) An illustration of three things.
1. The perils attending high station. Jehoram's sons were among the captives taken by the Philistines and Arabians (2 Chronicles 21:17). Had they been common soldiers, their lives might have been spared; being princes of the blood, they were put to death. A man's social elevation attracts towards him the arrows of hate, envy, malice, and other secret foes; an obscure position tends to protect him. Therefore let none murmur that the Arbiter of destinies has not made them kings or great ones; neither let any rejoice that their places on earth are not low.
2. The mischances accompanying war. It was probably their duty to take the field against the combined hordes of the Philistines and Arabians; nevertheless, they who go to war even for defence, and much more for aggression, must not be surprised if they are killed. In the case of Jehoram's sons, the camp of Judah had been surprised by a reconnoitring party who had come with the Arabians (Keil), or by "a hand of wild men who served in the army of the Arabians, possibly against the will of the leaders" (Bertheau); and Jehoram's sons, having first been carried off as prisoners, were afterwards put to death. In ancient timed, when prisoners became troublesome or proved dangerous, this was the customary way in which they were disposed of.
3. The retributions wrought by Providence. Even if Jehoram's sons were not as wicked as himself, it was a signal illustration of the lex talionis, a conspicuous demonstration of the truth that with what measure one metes it shall be measured to him again (Matthew 7:2). Jehoram had assassinated all his brothers on ascending the throne; before he descended from it, Jehovah suffered him to see all his sons (except the youngest) cut off by invading marauders. "Are not my ways equal? saith the Lord" (Ezekiel 18:29).
II. THE EXTERMINATION OF AHAB'S HOUSE. (2 Chronicles 22:7.) Incidentally referred to by the Chronicler, it is more fully detailed in 2 Kings 9:1-37 and 2 Kings 10:1-36; and may here be briefly narrated.
1. The thing determined by God.
(1) When? As far back as the time of Elijah, in the days of Ahab himself (1 Kings 19:16, 1 Kings 19:17). Divine foreordination interferes not with the freedom of human action. If the destruction of Ahab's house was carried out in fulfilment of a previously formed Divine decree, it was, nevertheless, effected by a political revolution.
(2) Why? On account of the incurable apostasy, outrageous irreligion, and flagrant blood-guiltiness of Ahab and his successors on the throne of Israel. Besides being an idolater of the most debasing type, Ahab had been a murderer of extreme ferocity, and his successors had walked in his ways. There was, therefore, no remedy remaining but one—complete extirpation. Under the Divine government, redemption or destruction are the two alternatives that stand before all evil-doers (Isaiah 1:19, Isaiah 1:20). Souls that cannot be recovered must be cut off (Psalms 37:9). When the prediluvian world had sunk below the line of possible restoration, it was submerged beneath the waters of a flood (Genesis 6:7). When Sodom and Gomorrah had become too filthy to be renovated, they were burnt up from off the face of the earth (Genesis 18:21; Genesis 19:24, Genesis 19:25; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 1:7).
2. The instrument selected by God.
(1) His name. Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi. This first revealed to Elijah at Horeb (1 Kings 19:16). In the Assyrian inscriptions Jehu is twice mentioned, and each time as "Jehu the son of Omri," the foreign scribe being unacquainted with his history as recorded in Scripture, and regarding him as a prince of the dynasty of Omri. An obelisk of black marble, five feet in height, found at Nimroud, and now in the British Museum, represents the tribute brought to Shal-maneser II. by vassal princes, among whom appear "Yahua, son. of Khumri," giving "silver, gold, bowls of gold, vessels of gold, goblets of gold, pitchers of gold, lead, sceptres for the king's hand, and staves" ('Records,' etc; 5:41); while a fragment from the annals of Shalmaneser III. contains a similar statement, that in the eighteenth year of his reign, after conquering Hazael of Damascus, he received the tribute of the Tyrian, the Sidonian, and of "Yahua the son of Khumri".
(2) His station. Originally an officer, probably the ablest general, and therefore field-marshal of Jehoram's army (2 Kings 9:5). God culls his instruments from all ranks and occupations. Those who have served him most efficiently in the Christian Church have not unfrequently been drawn from the army. The profession of a soldier need not hinder one from being a servant of God.
(3) His character. Energetic, active, decisive, ambitious, unscrupulous, bloodthirsty, cruel, and fanatical, "the worst type of a son of Jacob, the 'supplanter,' as he is called, without the noble and princely qualities of Israel, the most unlovely and the most coldly commended of all the heroes of his country". God's selection of a man to be his instrument does not imply a commendation of his character—witness Pharaoh, Saul, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod.
(4) His designation. To be king over Israel This first communicated at Horeh to Elijah, who received at the same time a commission to see Jehu's anointing to the throne carried out—a commission afterwards executed by Elisha (2 Kings 8:29; 2 Kings 9:6).
(5) His usurpation. In this he was assisted by his brother-officers (2 Kings 9:13). Though designated and anointed by Elisha to the throne of Israel, more than likely, as in the case of Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:31), the project of dethroning Jehoram had already floated before his mind.
(6) His commission. To execute Divine vengeance on the house of Ahab by extirpating it, root and branch, from the land. Rough work, it needed a rough instrument.
3. The work carried through by God. By means of his instrument. The Chronicler recognizes (2 Kings 10:7, 2 Kings 10:8) that Jehu was God's sword. How far Jehu himself was under the dominion of this thought may be hazardous to affirm. But, in any case, he lost no time in discharging the bloody business entrusted to his hand. With a swiftness and relentless severity that suggested leonine ferocity as much as religious zeal, he posted to Jezreel and began the work of butchery. First he drove an arrow through the heart of Jehoram (2 Kings 9:24); next procured the death of Jezebel by commanding two of her servants, his minions, to throw her from the palace window (2 Kings 9:33); and finally caused the seventy sons of Ahab in Samaria to be beheaded (2 Kings 10:7).
III. THE MURDER OF THE PRINCES OF JUDAH. (2 Kings 10:8.)
1. Who these were.
(1) Sons of the brethren of Ahaziah. Not the brethren of Ahaziah (2 Kings 10:13), since these had all been slain by the Arabian marauders (2 Chronicles 21:17), but the children of these brothers, and therefore Ahaziah's nephews. That they were forty-two in number cannot be pronounced impossible, since it is not known how many elder brothers Ahaziah had.
(2) Princes of Judah, who were doubtless remoter branches of the royal house, and held important offices in the court. Possibly these should be included in the number forty-two mentioned above.
2. When they were killed.
(1) When Jehu was executing judgment on the house of Ahab (2 Kings 10:8). Though not responsible for being connected with the house of Ahab, that they were so proved the cause of their destruction. Their sad fate was an illustration of two truths—that the innocent often suffer with and for the guilty (Job 9:23), and that no one can predict how far the disastrous consequences of one false step may reach. Had Jehoram not married Athaliah, these princes had not fallen victims to Jehu's sword.
(2) When Jehu was on the way from Jezreel, where he had perpetrated three murders, to Samaria, where he had committed one massacre by deputy, and whither he was going to add another (2 Kings 10:25). Having fallen in with the princes of Judah, Jehu ordered his attendants to take them alive. Their resistance, it is supposed, led to their immediate slaughter. One massacre more was nothing to Jehu. Besides, the destruction of forty-two princes, mostly boys, was a trifle to that he was contemplating—the wholesale sacrifice of Baal's worshippers in the house of Baal.
(3) When Ahaziah's nephews were on the way to Jezreel to pay a visit to the court at Jezreel, "to salute the children of the queen and the children of the king" (2 Kings 10:13). One never knows where he may be overtaken by death; hence the necessity of being always ready.
3. Where they were killed. At the pit or cistern of the shearing-house, or "house of gathering" (2 Kings 10:13); at "the shepherds' house of meeting" (Chaldee Version, Thenius, Bahr)—a house which served the shepherds of the region round about for assembling; or at the house where the shepherds tied up their sheep for shearing (Keil). "In a well close by, as at Cawnpore, they were all slaughtered' (Stanley).
4. By whom they were killed. Jehu, whose motive may have been either
(1) because he regarded their death as embraced within the scope of his commission, or
(2) because he feared the exaction by some of them of bleed-vengeance, or
(3) because he wished to render impossible any future attempt at the subversion of his authority.
IV. THE ASSASSINATION OF AHAZIAH. (2 Kings 10:9.)
1. After a brief reign. Ahaziah succeeded to his father's throne in his forty-second year, or in his twenty-second (2 Kings 8:26)—a discrepancy removed, by supposing the forty-two to. indicate the age of the kingdom of his mother s family (Lightfoot), but best explained by conceding that an error has crept into the text (Keil, Bertheau, Bahr). After enjoying regal power for one year, he fell a victim to the sword of Jehu—a startling reminder cf the uncertainty of life and the vanity of human greatness.
2. By the hand of Providence. "The destruction of Ahaziah was of God" (2 Kings 10:7); not merely as all things are under the Divine control, but in the special sense that the incidents which led to Ahaziah's destruction were of God's permitting, if not ordering.
(1) God allowed Jehoram to go to war, as his father had done, with the Syrian king, now not Benhadad II; but Hazael the usurper (2 Kings 10:6), who is mentioned along with Jehu in the Assyrian inscriptions, and with whom Shalmaneser II; in the eighteenth year of his reign, fought at Damascus, capturing his camp with 1221 chariots and 470 war-carriages.
(2) Ahaziah of Judah he permitted to go to Ramoth-Gilead with his uncle.
(3) In the war Jehovah ordered it that Jehoram should be wounded and return to Jezreel to be healed, and that Ahaziah should afterwards also leave Ramoth and go to the Israslitish capital to inquire for his mother's brother.
(4) Hence it came to pass that he was found in Jehoram's company when Jehu came to Jezreel on his murderous errand (2 Kings 9:21).
(5) Had this train of circumstances not preceded, Ahaziah's death might not have followed, at least at the time when and the place where it did.
3. As a just retribution for his wickedness. For Ahaziah a tremendous misfortune, for which he was in no way responsible, that he had Jehoram and Athalish for his parents. If any man might be said to have "a double dose of original sin," or inherited corruption, he had. If he may be pronounced happy who has the piety of generations at his back and within his veins, propelling him forward in the ways of virtue and religion, on the other hand he should be deemed an object of pity who is not only held back from the paths of godliness, but urged into the broad roads of sin and vice by secret forces of heredity that have been gathering momentum through a long succession of wicked ancestors. Disadvantageously placed as Ahaziah was, he was under no compulsion to yield to the evil influences by which he was surrounded. That he did not resist them, but abandoned himself to them without let or hindrance, was his sin.
(1) He "walked in the ways of the house of Ahab," and "did evil in the sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab." He copied their idolatries and their immoralities.
(2) He took as his example the house of Ahab, and especially his mother, Athaliah, whom the Chronicler, with reference to her wicked propensities, fitly designates "the daughter of Omri."
4. In spite of strenuous efforts to escape. The accounts given of these efforts to escape are considerably divergent. According to the Chronicler, when Ahaziah saw Jehorem sink down in his chariot after being struck with Jehu's arrow, he fled by the way of the garden house, but was followed by Jehu, and, like his uncle, wounded with an arrow at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam, whence he fled to Megiddo, and died there (2 Kings 9:27). According to 2 Kings, Ahaziah had hid himself in Samaria, and, being found there, was slain by Jehu's servants. The accounts are pronounced irreconcilable, that of Kings being the older and more authentic (Bahr, Bertheau); but the explanations ordinarily proffered (Lightfoot, Keil) are deserving of consideration—that Ahaziah, on first escaping, fled to Samaria, and was afterwards found there by Jehu's servants, who brought him to Jehu, at whose command he was shot while in his chariot at Gur, beside Ibleam, and that, once more escaping, though this time mortally wounded, he reached Megiddo, and perished them. On the sites here mentioned, consult the Exposition.
V. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SEED ROYAL OF THE HOUSE OF JUDAH. (Verse 10.)
1. victims of this massacre. All the seed royal, i.e. all the direct descendants of the kingly house, all who might in any measure or degree aspire to the throne. As Ahaziah's elder brothers had been captured and slain by the Arabs (2 Chronicles 21:17), and as their sons, Ahaziah's nephews, had been (in part at least) put to death by Jehu (2 Chronicles 22:8), it is possible that the actual victims were not numerous.
2. The perpetrator of this massacre. Athaliah, the queen-mother, who thereby proved herself a true daughter of Jezebel. Instead of grieving at the tidings of her son's death, and taking measures to shield his young children, her grandsons, from the sword of Jehu, she herself compassed their destruction. Thereby she showed herself a most unnatural mother, an inhuman monster—a woman, like Lady Macbeth, "from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty" ('Macbeth,' Acts 1:0. sc. 5).
3. The motive of this massacre. Probably mingled fear and ambition. Apprehensive of her own safety when she saw that Jehu had slain her son, she may have judged that the speediest and surest way to establish her security was to cut off every possible rival from her side, and seize the throne of Judah for herself. It was the usual mode of procedure amongst Oriental sovereigns, on ascending the throne, to put to death all possible claimants of the crown. It is not difficult to see who was Jehoram's teacher (2 Chronicles 21:4).
4. The extent of this massacre. All the seed royal, with one exception, Joash, Ahaziah's son, who was rescued by his aunt, Jehoshabeath, his father's daughter but not his mother's—she was obviously the daughter of one of Jehoram's secondary wives—and the wife of Jehoiada the priest (see next homily).
1. The vicissitudes of human life (verse 1).
2. The vanity of earthly glory (verse 2).
3. The danger of evil counsel (verse 3).
4. The self-destructive character of sin (verse 4).
5. The madness of walking with wicked men (verse 5).
6. The propriety of sympathizing with the ungodly in their afflictions (verse 6).
7. The tiger-like ferocity of some monsters in sin (verses 7-10).
8. The mystery of Providence in suffering such monsters to live.—W.
2 Chronicles 22:11, 2 Chronicles 22:12
The rescue of Joash.
I. THE DANGER FROM WHICH HE WAS DELIVERED.
1. An early death. He was an infant at the breast, since he had a wet-nurse: "not above a year old" (Josephus). More than one-half of the human race die in infancy. Scripture examples of the deaths of children: the firstborn of Pharaoh (Exodus 12:29, Exodus 12:30); the child of David (2 Samuel 12:14-23), of Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:13), of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:17), of the Shunammite (2 Kings 4:19, 2 Kings 4:20). Many exposed to the danger of dying in infancy who nevertheless escape, like Moses (Exodus 2:3), the child of the harlot (1 Kings 3:25), Jesus (Matthew 2:8), the centurion's son (John 4:49).
2. A violent death. He was in danger of being cut off by the sword. To die a natural death in infancy is sad enough; to be cut off by a supernatural stroke like the Egyptian children, or the Bethlehem innocents, or by an accidental stroke like the Shunammite's boy, much more by a violent stroke like Samaria's children (Hosea 10:14), excites the imagination as a hard fate indeed.
3. An unnatural death. He was in danger of being killed by his own grandmother. Only one fate could have been worse—to have been slain by his own mother, like the son of the woman in Samaria (2 Kings 6:29); or by his own father, like the King of Moab's eldest son (2 Kings 3:27).
II. THE PERSON BY WHOM HE WAS DELIVERED.
1. A kinswoman. Jehoshabeath, or Jehosheba, "Jehovah is the oath," was the aunt of Joash, the sister of his father (see preceding homily).
2. A good woman. A plausible inference from the fact that she was married to Jehoiada the high priest. "Even princesses did not then scorn the bed of those that served at God's altar ' (Hall). Most likely she and her husband disapproved of the state religion and state policy of the day, inspired and controlled as these were by Athaliah.
3. A brave woman. Scarcely without peril to herself could she have carried out her humane design of rescuing her infant nephew.
4. A clever woman. Without immense tact she could never have evaded the vigilant eyes of Athaliah. Of the substitution of some other child in Joash's room (Hall) Scripture is silent.
III. THE MODE IN WHICH HE WAS DELIVERED.
1. By secret concealment in the palace. Along with his nurse he was hid in a bedchamber, or chamber for the beds; neither the dormitory of the priests and Levites in the temple-courts (Vatablus), nor the sleeping-apartments of the royal princes in the palace (Clericus), but a room in the latter, where, according to Eastern custom, the beds, i.e. mattresses and coverlets, were kept (Keil). In this recess, usually uninhabited, a temporary refuge was obtained from Athaliah's rage.
2. By private upbringing in the temple. Not in the holy of holies (Targum), to which Athaliah had no access, but in one of the buildings on the outer wall, in which the high priest resided with his wife. Fetched at the first convenient opportunity from their dangerous proximity to Athaliah in the palace, the young child and his nurse were for six years lodged in the priest's house. Here his training must have been both carefully and successfully attended to, as his after-career showed (Proverbs 22:6). From the priest's lips he would receive instruction in the Law of God (Malachi 2:7); from his aunt, learn to love and practise the religion of his great and good ancestors, Jehoshaphat and Asa.
1. The ease with which God can defeat the projects of the wicked.
2. The tender care God takes of children, especially of such as belong to the covenant.
3. The blessing of possessing pious parents and kinsmen.
4. The value of early instruction in the doctrines and duties of religion.
5. The safety of those whom God keeps.
6. The advantage of spending one's early years in the house of God.—W.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 22". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany