Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
2 Chronicles 22:1
Ahaziah's reign of a year, and his death. - The account of Ahaziah in Kg2 8:26-29 agrees with our narrative, except that there the reflections of the chronicler on the spirit of his government are wanting; but, on the contrary, the account of his death is very brief in the Chronicle (Ch2 22:6-9), while in 2 Kings 9 and 10 the extirpation of the Ahabic house by Jehu, in the course of which Ahaziah was slain with his relatives, is narrated at length.
Instead of the short stereotyped notice, "and Ahaziah his son was king in his stead," with which Kg2 8:24 concludes the history of Joram, the Chronicle gives more exact information as to Ahaziah's accession: "The inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah, his youngest son (who is called in Ch2 21:17 Jehoahaz), king in his stead; for all the elder (sons), the band which had come among the Arabs to the camp had slain." In ימליכוּ we have a hint that Ahaziah's succession was disputed or doubtful; for where the son follows the father on the throne without opposition, it is simply said in the Chronicle also, "and his son was king in his stead." But the only person who could contest the throne with Ahaziah, since all the other sons of Joram who would have had claims upon it were not then alive, was his mother Athaliah, who usurped the throne after his death. All the elder sons (הראשׁנים, the earlier born) were slain by the troop which had come among (with) the Arabians (see Ch2 21:16.) into the camp, - not of the Philistines (Cler.), but of the men of Judah; that is, they were slain by a reconnoitring party, which, in the invasion of Judah by the Philistines and Arabs, surprised the camp of the men of Judah, and slew the elder sons of Joram, who had marched to the war. Probably they did not cut them down on the spot, but (according to Ch2 21:17) took them prisoners and slew them afterwards.
The number 42 is an orthographical error for 22 (ב having been changed into )מ, Kg2 8:26. As Joram was thirty-two years of age at his accession, and reigned eight years (Ch2 21:20 and Ch2 21:5), at his death his youngest son could not be older than twenty-one or twenty-two years of age, and even then Joram must have begotten him in his eighteenth or nineteenth year. It is quite consistent with this that Joram had yet older sons; for in the East marriages are entered upon at a very early age, and the royal princes were wont to have several wives, or, besides their proper wives, concubines also. Certainly, had Ahaziah had forty-two older brothers, as Berth. and other critics conclude from Kg2 10:13., then he could not possibly have been begotten, or been born, in his father's eighteenth year. But that idea rests merely upon an erroneous interpretation of the passage quoted; see on Ch2 22:8. Ahaziah's mother Athaliah is called the daughter, i.e., granddaughter, of Omri, as in Kg2 8:26, because he was the founder of the idolatrous dynasty of the kingdom of the ten tribes.
He also (like his father Joram, Ch2 21:6) walked in the ways of the house of Ahab. This statement is accounted for by the clause: for his mother (a daughter of Ahab and the godless Jezebel) was his counsellor to do evil, i.e., led him to give himself up to the idolatry of the house of Ahab.
The further remark also, "he did that which was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, like the house of Ahab," is similarly explained; for they (the members of the house of Ahab related to him through his mother) were counsellors to him after the death of his father to his destruction, cf. Ch2 20:23; while in Kg2 8:27, the relationship alone is spoken of as the reason of his evil-doing. How far this counsel led to his destruction is narrated in Ch2 22:5 and onwards, and the narrative is introduced by the words, "He walked also in their counsel;" whence it is clear beyond all doubt, that Ahaziah entered along with Joram, Ahab's son, upon the war which was to bring about the destruction of Ahab's house, and to cost him his life, on the advice of Ahab's relations. There is no doubt that Joram, Ahab's son, had called upon Ahaziah to take part in the war against the Syrians at Ramoth Gilead (see on Ch2 18:28), and that Athaliah with her party supported his proposal, so that Ahaziah complied. In the war the Aramaeans (Syrians) smote Joram; i.e., according to Ch2 22:6, they wounded him (הרמּים is a contraction for הארמּים, Kg2 8:28). In consequence of this Joram returned to Jezreel, the summer residence of the Ahabic royal house (Kg1 18:45), the present Zerin; see on Jos 19:18. המּכּים כּי has no meaning, and is merely an error for המּכּים מן, Kg2 8:29, which indeed is the reading of several Codd.: to let himself be cured of his strokes (wounds). ועזריהוּ, too, is an orthographical error for ועחזיהוּ: and Ahaziah went down to visit the wounded Joram, his brother-in-law. Whether he went from Jerusalem or from the loftily-situated Ramah cannot be with certainty determined, for we have no special account of the course of the war, and from Kg2 9:14. we only learn that the Israelite army remained in Ramoth after the return of the wounded Joram. It is therefore probable that Ahaziah went direct from Ramoth to visit Joram, but it is not ascertained; for there is nothing opposed to the supposition that, after Joram had been wounded in the battle, and while the Israelite host remained to hold the city against the Syrian king Hazael, Ahaziah had returned to his capital, and thence went after some time to visit the wounded Joram in Jezreel.
Without touching upon the conspiracy against Joram, narrated in 2 Kings 9, at the head of which was Jehu, the captain of the host, whom God caused to be anointed king over Israel by a scholar of the prophets deputed by Elisha, and whom he called upon to extirpate the idolatrous family of Ahab, since it did not belong to the plan of the Chronicle to narrate the history of Israel, our historian only briefly records the slaughter of Ahaziah and his brother's sons by Jehu as being the result of a divine dispensation.
"And of God was (came) the destruction (תּבוּסה, a being trodden down, a formation which occurs here only) of Ahaziah, that he went to Joram;" i.e., under divine leading had Ahaziah come to Joram, there to find his death. וגו וּבבאו, and when he was come, he went out with Joram against Jehu (instead of אל־יהוּא, we have in Kg2 9:21 the more distinct יהוּא לקראת, towards Jehu) the son of Nimshi, whom God had anointed to extirpate the house of Ahab (Kg2 9:1-10).
When Jehu was executing judgment upon the house of Ahab (נשׁפּט usually construed with את, to be at law with any one, to administer justice; cf. Isa 46:13, Eze 38:22), he found the princes of Judah, and the sons of the brothers of Ahaziah, serving Ahaziah, and slew them. משׁרתים, i.e., in the train of King Ahaziah as his servants. As to when and where Jehu met the brothers' sons of Ahaziah and slew them, we have no further statement, as the author of the Chronicle mentions that fact only as a proof of the divinely directed extirpation of all the members of the idolatrous royal house. In Kg2 10:12-14 we read that Jehu, after he had extirpated the whole Israelite royal house - Joram and Jezebel, and the seventy sons of Ahab - went to Samaria, there to eradicate the Baal-worship, and upon his way thither met the brothers of Ahaziah the king of Judah, and caused them to be taken alive, and then slain, to the number of forty-two. These עחזיהוּ אחי, forty-two men, cannot have been actual brothers of Ahaziah, since all Ahaziah's brethren had, according to Ch2 22:1 and Ch2 21:17, been slain in the reign of Joram, in the invasion of the Philistines and Arabians. They must be brothers only in the wider sense, i.e., cousins and nephews of Ahaziah, as Movers (S. 258) and Ewald recognise, along with the older commentators. The Chronicle, therefore, is quite correct in saying, "sons of the brethren of Ahaziah," and along with these princes of Judah, who, according to the context, can only be princes who held offices at court, especially such as were entrusted with the education and guardianship of the royal princes. Perhaps these are included in the number forty-two (Kings). But even if this be not the case, we need not suppose that there were forty-two brothers' sons, or nephews of Ahaziah, since אחים includes cousins also, and in the text of the Chronicle no number is stated, although forty-two nephews would not be an unheard-of number; and we do not know how many elder brothers Ahaziah had. Certainly the nephews or brothers' sons of Ahaziah cannot have been very old, since Ahaziah's father Joram died at the age of forty, and Ahaziah, who became king in his twenty-second year, reigned only one year. But from the early development of posterity in southern lands, and the polygamy practised by the royal princes, Joram might easily have had in his fortieth year a considerable number of grandsons from five to eight years old, and boys of from six to nine years might quite well make a journey with their tutors to Jezreel to visit their relations. In this way the divergent statements as to the slaughter of the brothers and brothers' sons of Ahaziah, contained in 2 Kings 9 and in our Ch2 22:8, may be reconciled, without our being compelled, as Berth. thinks we are, to suppose that there were two different traditions on this subject.
And he (Jehu) sought Ahaziah, and they (Jehu's body-guard or his warriors) caught him while he was hiding in Samaria, and brought him to Jehu, and slew him. Then they (his servants, Kg2 9:27) buried him, for they said: He is a son of Jehoshaphat, who sought Jahve with all his heart. We find more exact information as to Ahaziah's death in Kg2 9:27., according to which Ahaziah, overtaken by Jehu near Jibleam in his flight before him, and smitten, i.e., wounded, fled to Megiddo, and there died, and was brought by his servants to Jerusalem, and buried with his fathers in the city of David. For the reconciliation of these statements, see on Kg2 9:27. The circumstance that in our account first the slaughter of the brothers' sons, then that of Ahaziah is mentioned, while according to 2 Kings 9 and 10 the slaughter of Ahaziah would seem to have preceded, does not make any essential difference; for the short account in the Chronicle is not arranged chronologically, but according to the subject, and the death of Ahaziah is mentioned last only in order that it might be connected with the further events which occurred in Judah. The last clause of Ch2 22:9, "and there was not to the house of Ahab one who would have possessed power for the kingdom," i.e., there was no successor on the throne to whom the government might straightway be transferred, forms a transition to the succeeding account of Athaliah's usurpation.
2 Chronicles 22:10
The six years' tyranny of Athaliah. - In regard to her, all that is stated is, that after Ahaziah's death she ascended the throne, and caused all the royal seed of the house of Judah, i.e., all the male members of the royal house, to be murdered. From this slaughter only Joash the son of Ahaziah, an infant a year old, was rescued, together with his nurse, by the princess Jehoshabeath, who was married to the high priest Jehoiada. He was hidden for six years, and during that time Athaliah reigned. The same narrative, for the most part in the same words, is found in Kg2 11:1-3, and has been already commented upon there.