The wicked reign of Jehoram. (1-11) Jehoram's miserable end. (12-20)
Verses 1-11 Jehoram hated his brethren, and slew them, for the same reason that Cain hated Abel, and slew him, because their piety condemned his impiety. In the mystery of Providence such men sometimes prosper for a time; but the Lord has righteous purposes in permitting such events, part of which may now be made out, and the rest will be seen hereafter.
Verses 12-20 A warning from God was sent to Jehoram. The Spirit of prophecy might direct Elijah to prepare this writing in the foresight of Jehoram's crimes. He is plainly told that his sin should certainly ruin him. But no marvel that sinners are not frightened from sin, and to repentance, by the threatenings of misery in another world, when the certainty of misery in this world, the sinking of their estates, and the ruin of their health, will not restrain them from vicious courses. See Jehoram here stripped of all his comforts. Thus God plainly showed that the controversy was with him, and his house. He had slain all his brethren to strengthen himself; now, all his sons are slain but one. David's house must not be wholly destroyed, like those of Israel's kings, because a blessing was in it; that of the Messiah. Good men may be afflicted with diseases; but to them they are fatherly chastisements, and by the support of Divine consolations the soul may dwell at ease, even when the body lies in pain. To be sick and poor, sick and solitary, but especially to be sick and in sin, sick and under the curse of God, sick and without grace to bear it, is a most deplorable case. Wickedness and profaneness make men despicable, even in the eyes of those who have but little religion.
2 Chronicles 21:1-4 . JEHORAM SUCCEEDS JEHOSHAPHAT.
1-4. Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers . . . Jehoram . . . reigned--The late king left seven sons; two of them are in our version named Azariah; but in the Hebrew they appear considerably different, the one being spelt "Azariah," and the other "Azariahu." Though Jehoshaphat had made his family arrangements with prudent precaution, and while he divided the functions of royalty in his lifetime (compare 2 Kings 8:16 ), as well as fixed the succession to the throne in his oldest son, he appointed each of the others to the government of a fenced city, thus providing them with an honorable independence. But this good intentions were frustrated; for no sooner did Jehoram find himself in the sole possession of sovereign power than, from jealousy, or on account of their connections, he murdered all his brothers, together with some leading influential persons who, he suspected, were attached to their interest, or would avenge their deaths. Similar tragedies have been sadly frequent in Eastern courts, where the heir of the crown looks upon his brothers as his most formidable enemies, and is therefore tempted to secure his power by their death.
2 Chronicles 21:5-7 . HIS WICKED REIGN.
6, 7. he walked . . . as did the house of Ahab, for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife--The precepts and examples of his excellent father were soon obliterated by his matrimonial alliance with a daughter of the royal house of Israel. Through the influence of Athaliah he abolished the worship of the Lord, and encouraged an introduction of all the corruptions prevalent in the sister kingdom. The divine vengeance was denounced against him, and would have utterly destroyed him and his house, had it not been for a tender regard to the promise made to David ( 2 Samuel 7:29 , 2 Kings 8:19 ).
2 Chronicles 21:8-17 . EDOM AND LIBNAH REVOLT.
8-10. the Edomites revolted--That nation had been made dependent by David, and down to the time of Jehoshaphat was governed by a tributary ruler ( 1 Kings 22:47 , 2 Kings 3:9 ). But that king having been slain in an insurrection at home, his successor thought to ingratiate himself with his new subjects by raising the flag of independence [JOSEPHUS]. The attempt was defeated in the first instance by Jehoram, who possessed all the military establishments of his father; but being renewed unexpectedly, the Edomites succeeded in completely emancipating their country from the yoke of Judah ( Genesis 27:40 ). Libnah, which lay on the southern frontier and towards Edom, followed the example of that country.
12-15. there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet--That prophet's translation having taken place in the reign of Jehoshaphat [ 2 Kings 2:11 2 Kings 2:12 ], we must conclude that the name of Elijah has, by the error of a transcriber, been put for that of Elisha.
13-19. hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem . . . like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab--that is, introduced the superstitions and vices of Phoenician idolatry this account, as well as for his unnatural cruelties, divine vengeance was denounced against him, which was soon after executed exactly as the prophet had foretold. A series of overwhelming calamities befell this wicked king; for in addition to the revolts already mentioned, two neighboring tribes (see 2 Chronicles 17:11 ) made hostile incursions on the southern and western portions of his kingdom. His country was ravaged, his capital taken, his palace plundered, his wives carried off, and all his children slain except the youngest. He himself was seized with an incurable dysentery, which, after subjecting him to the most painful suffering for the unusual period of two years, carried him off, a monument of the divine judgment. To complete his degradation, his death was unlamented, his burial unhonored by his subjects. This custom, similar to what obtained in Egypt, seems to have crept in among the Hebrews, of giving funeral honors to their kings, or withholding them, according to the good or bad characters of their reign.