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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2 Chronicles 21


This chapter is parallel with 2 Kings 8:16-24, but is a fuller record of Jehoram’s reign. The additions are the following: The names, wealth, and slaughter of “his brethren,” the sons of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 21:2-4. What motives led Jehoram to destroy these princes we are not told. Some think he coveted their wealth, the “great gifts of silver, and of gold, and of precious things, with fenced cities in Judah,” which they had received from their father. 2 Chronicles 21:3. Others think it was because they disapproved of his idolatrous practices, and his marriage with the daughter of Ahab.

Verse 11

11. He made high places in the mountains Thus undoing, or setting at naught, the labours of his pious father, who had exerted himself with marked though not complete success, (compare 2 Chronicles 17:6; 2 Chronicles 20:33,) to take away this stone of stumbling from Israel.

Caused… Jerusalem to commit fornication A common scriptural metaphor for idolatry.

Compelled Judah In thus using violence to seduce the people to idolatry, Jehoram was probably influenced by his wife, Athaliah, who would fain have introduced a foreign idolatry into the kingdom of Judah as her mother Jezebel had done into the kingdom of Israel.

Verse 12

12. There came a writing to him from Elijah Here it appears that Elijah was still on earth in the days of Jehoram, and after the death of Jehoshaphat. Though we might naturally infer the contrary from the order of the narrative in 2 Kings, where Elijah’s ascension is recorded before the reign of Jehoram, yet such an inference is by no means necessary. The writer of Kings wished to group together the miracles of Elisha, and it was natural for him first to record the ascension of that master, Elijah, whose spirit rested so mightily upon his successor. So in his account of Elijah’s departure and of Elisha’s miracles he did not aim for chronological order, but for the grouping of certain assimilated facts. Some expositors, however, think that as Elijah committed the anointing of Hazael and Jehu (compare 1 Kings 19:15-16, with 2 Kings 8:13; 2 Kings 9:1-3, notes) to his servant Elisha, he may also have commissioned Elisha, or some other prophet, to announce, after his ascension, this threatening prophecy to Jehoram; and so, coming from that departed prophet, whose name had been a terror to Ahab, it would be like a voice from the other world calling to the wicked king of Judah. But this hypothesis seems to be entirely unnecessary, for there is no valid evidence that Elijah had yet ascended. His ministry was chiefly in the northern kingdom, and hence this is the only notice we have of him in Chronicles; but it shows that he did not overlook the religious interests of Judah.

The prophet’s epistle charges upon Jehoram two great crimes 1) his compelling Judah into idolatry, and 2) the slaughter of his brethren. And for these crimes he announces a twofold punishment 1) a stroke of Divine judgment upon his people, children, wives, and goods, (2 Chronicles 21:14,) and 2) a dreadful, incurable disease. 2 Chronicles 21:15.

Verse 14

14. A great plague Margin, a great stroke. It was the judgment of disastrous war, as shown in 2 Chronicles 21:16-17.

Verse 15

15. Great sickness by disease of thy bowels Appropriate punishment for him who had no “bowels of compassion” for his own brethren, who were better than himself. Jehoram’s “incurable disease,” as described in this verse and in 2 Chronicles 21:18-19, must have been of the most loathsome and excruciating character. “Trusen holds this disease to have been a violent dysentery, being an inflammation of the nervous tissue of the whole great intestine, which causes the overlying mucous membrane to decay and peel off, which then falls out often in tube-shape, so that the intestines appear to fall from the body.” Keil.

Verse 16

16. The Philistines, and… Arabians These nations had been tributary to Jehoshaphat, (2 Chronicles 17:11,) but under his wicked son they revolted, and Jehovah used them as his rod of anger to punish Jehoram, as he had foretold. 2 Chronicles 21:14. “Southern Arabia was originally occupied by Cushites, or Ethiopians, (Genesis 10:7,) whose descendants still exist in the modern Mahra, a remnant of the Himyaritic Arabs. ‘The Arabians that were near the Ethiopians’ were probably Joktanean Arabs from the neighbourhood of these Cushites.” Rawlinson.

Verse 17

17. Brake into it Made a forcible irruption into the kingdom, and captured many of the chief cities, if not Jerusalem itself.

Carried away all the substance that was found in the king’s house, and his sons also, and his wives This most naturally implies the capture of Jerusalem and the plunder of the royal palace. And yet, it must be confessed, that such a plunder of the capital city is usually described in a more direct and unmistakable way. Compare 2 Chronicles 12:9; 2 Chronicles 25:24: 2 Kings 14:13. Keil therefore argues that the capital was not captured, and that “the substance that was found in the king’s house” was the treasures belonging to the king’s family, which were stored in various cities, villages, and castles of the kingdom. 1 Chronicles 27:25. He supposes also that the king’s sons and wives were captured, not in Jerusalem, but in the camp of the men of Judah, (2 Chronicles 22:1,) where they were surprised and taken by the enemy. Owing to the brevity of the narrative, the exact sense is somewhat obscure; but we cannot resist the conviction that the king of Judah’s wives would scarcely have been found in the camp, and the whole passage is most easily and naturally explained by supposing that, on this occasion as on a number of others, Jerusalem was broken into, and largely plundered by the invading forces.

Verse 19

19. His people made no burning for him As they did for Asa his grandfather. 2 Chronicles 16:14, note.

Verse 20

20. Departed without being desired That is, unregretted, unwept, unhonoured. His people were rather glad to be rid of such a king.

Not in the sepulchres of the kings Those tombs, it was thought, would have been dishonoured and defiled by the burial there of one so abandoned and accursed of Jehovah.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 21". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.