je-ho'-ram, written also in the abbreviated form, (yehoram, yoram, "Yahweh is high"; the Revised Version (British and American) retains "Joram" for Hebrew yehoram in 2 Kings 9:15-24):
The statement in 2 Kings 1:17, "the second year of Jehoram," follows a system of chronology common to the Lucian group of manuscripts, in which the 1st year of Jehoshaphat falls in the 11th year of Omri; the 24th year of Jehoshaphat in the 1st year of Ahaziah; and the 1st year of Jehoram in the 2nd year of Jehoram of Judah. The double chronology (2 Kings 1:17 and 2 Kings 3:1) is due to the intention of the compiler of Kings to refer all the acts of Elisha to the reign of Jehoram, thus dislocating the order of events in that reign. Elisha, however, survived Jehoram many years, and it is possible that some of the events are to be referred to subsequent reigns.
I. Ninth King of Israel
1. His Religious Policy:
It is difficult to estimate the religious character of Jehoram. Apparently the fierce fanaticism of Jezebel and the boldness of Ahab reappear in the son in the form of duplicity and superstition. The attempt of Jezebel to substitute Baal for Yahweh had failed. The people were on the side of Yahweh. Otherwise Jehu could not have carried out his bloody reform. All the worshippers of Baal in the land could be gathered into one temple of Baal (2 Kings 10:18). Evidently Jehoram feared the people. Accordingly he posed as a reformer by putting away the pillar of Baal (2 Kings 3:2), while secretly he worshipped Baal (2 Kings 3:13 a). Nevertheless, when he got into straits, he expected to receive the help of Yahweh (2 Kings 3:13 b). He had not learned that a dual nature is as impossible as a union of Baal and Yahweh.
2. The Moabite War:
Immediately upon his accession, Jehoram came into conflict with Mesha, king of Moab (2 Kings 3:4). The account of the conflict is of special interest because of the supplementary information concerning Mesha furnished by the Moabite Stone. There we learn (ll. 1-8) that Moab became tributary to Israel in the days of Omri, and remained so for forty years, but that it rebelled in the days of Ahab. This probably brings us to the statement in 2 Kings 3:4 that Mesha "rendered unto the king of Israel the wool f a hundred thousand lambs, and of a hundred thousand rams," and that "when Ahab was dead, .... the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel." The victories of Mesha, glorified by the Moabite Stone, possibly took place before the events of 2 Kings 3:4. Accordingly, Jehoram resolved to recover the allegiance of the Moabites. He called to his aid the ally of his father, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and the latter's vassal, the king of Edom. Jehoram was entertained at Jerusalem (Josephus, Ant, IX, ii i, 1). The allies marched against Moab by the longer route, around the southern end of the Dead Sea, indicating that Moab was fortified against attack from the West, and that Israel was weak in the East Jordan country. After the allies had been miraculousl y delivered from perishing for lack of water, they devastated the land and sacked the cities, and finally they succeeded in shutting up Mesha in Kir-hareseth. Driven to despair, Mesha offered his eldest son upon the wall as a burnt offering to Chemosh. This seems to have caused the tide to turn, for "there was great wrath against Israel," and the allies returned to their own land, apparently having failed to secure a lasting advantage.
3. The Conflicts with Syria:
Assuming that 2 Kings 4-8 belong to the reign of Jehoram, it appears that the Syrians made frequent incursions into the land of Israel, perhaps more in the nature of plundering robber bands than invasions by a regular army (2 Kings 6). Finally, however, Ben-had in person invaded the country and besieged Samaria. The inhabitants were reduced to horrible straits by famine, when the oppressors took sudden flight and Israel was saved. In the years 849, 848, and 845, Shalmaneser II invaded Syria. It is probable that during this period Jehoram recovered Ramoth-gilead, which had fallen to Syria under Ahab. Hazael succeeded Ben-hadad as ruler of Syria, and his first act, after having murdered his predecessor, was to regain Ramoth-gilead. In the defense of the city, Jehoram, who was assisted by his nephew, Ahaziah, was wounded, and returned to Jezreel to be healed of his wounds.
4. The Conspiracy of Jehu:
Jehoram left the army at Ramoth-gilead under the command of Jehu, a popular captain of the host. While Jehoram was at Jezreel, Elisha sent a prophet to anoint Jehu as king of Israel. Jehu had been a witness of the dramatic scene when Elijah hurled the curse of Yahweh at Ahab for his crime against Naboth. Jehu at once found in himself the instrument to bring the curse to fulfillment. Accordingly, he conspired his crime against Jehoram With a company of horsemen he proceeded to Jezreel, where Ahaziah was visiting his sick uncle, Jehoram. Jehoram suspected treachery, and, in company with Ahaziah, he rode out to meet Jehu. On his question, "Is it peace, Jehu?" he received a brutal reply that no longer left him in doubt as to the intention of the conspirator. As Jehoram turned to flee, Jehu drew his bow and shot him in the back so that the arrow pierced his heart. His dead body was thrown into the plat of ground that had belonged to Naboth.
(2) King of Judah, son of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 8:16-24; 2 Chronicles 21:1-20), he began to rule about 849 and reigned 8 years. With reference to the chronological difficulty introduced by 2 Kings 1:17, see (1) above.
II. King of Judah
1. His Marriage:
In the beginning of the reigns of Ahab and Jehoshaphat, an attempt was made to end the old feud between Israel and Judah. At the suggestion of Ahab, the two kingdoms, for the first time, joined forces against the common foe from the North, the Syrians. To seal the alliance, Athaliah, daughter of Jezebel and Ahab, was married to Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat. Thus Jehoram was brother-in-law to (1) above. No doubt this was considered as a master stroke of conciliatory policy by the parties interested. However, it proved disastrous for Judah. Beyond a doubt, the unholy zeal of Jezebel included the Baalizing of Judah as well as of Israel. This marriage was a step in that direction.
2. His Idolatry:
"A man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife." Jehoram did so. "He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab" (2 Kings 8:18). According to 2 Chronicles 21:11,13, Jehoram not only accepted the religion of Athaliah, but he became a persecutor, compelling the inhabitants of Jerusalem and of the land to become apostates.
3. The Letter of Elijah:
Because of his gross idolatry and his wickedness, he is said (2 Chronicles 21:12) to have received a denunciatory letter from the prophet Elijah, which, however, had no effect on him. But this leads to a chronological difficulty. Was Elijah still alive? The inference from 2 Kings 3:11 is that he was not. Then, too, the Chronicler otherwise never mentions Elijah. Oettli is of the opinion that one should either read "Elisha" for "Elijah," or else consider the letter to have been the conception of a later writer, who felt that Elijah must have taken note of the wickedness of Jehoram and his wife, Athaliah, daughter of Ahab. In the latter event, the letter might be called a haggadic Midrash.
4. His Character:
A man's religion cannot be divorced from his character. Baalism had in it the elements of tyranny and civic unrighteousness. In keeping with his religion, and in true oriental fashion, Jehoram began his reign by murdering his brothers, and other princes of the land, to whom Jehoshaphat had given valuable gifts and responsible positions. The only event belonging to his reign recorded in Kings is the revolt of Edom.
5. The Revolt of Edom:
Edom was subdued by David, and, probably with the exception of a temporary revolt under Solomon (1 Kings 11:14), it had remained subject to the united kingdom or to Judah until the revolt under Jehoram The text is somewhat obscure, but both accounts indicate that the expedition of Jehoram against Edom ended in failure. In the account we are told that at the same time Libnah revolted.
6. The Raid into Judah:
Perhaps the revolt of Libnah should be taken in connection with the invasion of the Philistines and of the Arabians, mentioned in 2 Chronicles 21. Libnah was located on the south-western border of Judah. Since it was a border city, it is possible that the compiler of Kings considered it as belonging to Philistia. In the account in Chronicles, Jehoram is represented as having lost all his possessions and all his family, save Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons, when the town was sacked and the palace plundered by the invading force of Philistines and Arabians. The account appears to be based upon reliable sources.
7. His Death:
In his last days, he was afflicted with a frightful disease in the bowels. His death was unregretted, and his burial without honor. Contrast, however, 2 Kings 8:24 with 2 Chronicles 21:20. Ahaziah, also called Jehoahaz, his younger son, then became king in his stead.
S. K. Mosiman
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