I’m reposting these together today because the events of Isaiah, which is the next book we’re going to get into, take place during the same timeframe as these stories of kings and I had to do quite a bit of review to place everything together after having been so long on to other things. If you recall, we did 2 Kings a year ago.
Here we come back to the woman whose son Elisha had healed back in chapter 4 and quickly goes on to the king of Syria getting sick and sending a messenger to Elisha to ask if he will recover. The response is a bit muddled for me, but this king dies in the next paragraph and is succeeded somehow by the messenger. Not sure how you get from messenger to king and it doesn’t really go into it either. In this exchange, Elisha tells the man that he knows he will become king and of some of the horrible things he would eventually do.
Then they go back and cover some familiar ground within the succession, this time including that Edom and Libnah revolted against Judah during the time of Jehoram. I don’t recall the Edomites being part of Judah or Israel….
When we go from Joram to Ahaziah, the text again includes the mother’s name of the new king. While her name alone may seem insignificant, as I didn’t pick up on it the last time we saw this pattern, it is interesting and a bit of a statement that her name is included now. None of the mother’s names in succession had been mentioned before Kings. Does this denote a difference in the status of the mothers of some of the kings as opposed to the Genesis mothers? Or of women in general? Or is it an afterthought, a part of the record that someone had begun to keep because they had the information?
When the kings of Israel and Judah go up against the king of Syria, the king of Israel is injured and becomes sick.
This chapter opens with a bit of a coup staged by Elisha, presumably under God’s orders. He has a servant anoint one of the commanders as the king of Israel and tells him that he must strike down the current king because of the words of God concerning Ahab and Jezebel.
The coup is carried out in short time and Jehu has killed and usurped the king of Israel, and also killed the king of Judah, not sure why he did that one. Then he goes for Jezebel as had been promised and he has some men who were around her but with him throw her off the building she was in. They leave the body there for a while and there isn’t even enough left to identify her, at which point Jehu recites the prophesy that Elijah had delivered about her on God’s behalf.
Then Jehu really gets to killing people. He sends out letters to have SEVENTY sons of Ahab who were in other towns killed and their heads returned. He sets about killing every descendant in his vicinity and even kills a bunch of Ahaziah’s (king of Judah) relatives. He tops it all off by killing every worshiper of Baal by telling them that he’s going to have a big offering and a big service and that all worshipers are required to be there. He even threatens to kill any of the guards who lets someone escape.
For this, God rewards him by saying that his house will rule until the fourth generation, but he doesn’t follow God “with all his heart” and so instead of dethroning him, God lets Syria chip away at the kingdom.
Athaliah, one of those named mother’s of the kings, sees that her son is dead and then “destroyed all the royal family”, thus making her queen. But who is part of the royal family in this? How many wives were there and were any remaining children also hers? Regardless, Jehosheba, who is both a daughter of King Joram of Israel and the sister of Ahaziah saves the remaining son of the king by squirreling him away along with his nurse during Athaliah’s reign.
After six years, a prophet sends for the son to be protected and conducts the anointing of the boy. She walks in on the whole thing and starts yelling “Treason” and the prophet, Jehoiada, has her put death outside. Given that she had killed all the rest of her own family (and then some probably) in order to take the thrown in the first place, I feel like she’s really the treasonous one here. There’s no mention of what happened to Jehosheba in the interim.
Now, it was in the last chapter with Jehu as king of Israel and him killing all the Baal worshipers in his land and God promising that rewarding him with staying on the throne despite falling off the wagon down the road. Now, here we are on the other side, with the people of Judah tearing down the house of Baal killing the priests of Baal.
The chapter ends with Jehoash taking “his seat on the throne of the kings” and that he was seven years old when it happened.
This is where it becomes obvious that not all (and possibly none) of the family Athaliah killed came from her. The mother of the new king from last chapter is named at the time of his reign is fit into the timeline with Israel, her name is Zibiah.
Jehoash follows God and does what He wants according to Jehoiada, who instructs him on what that is. Except that he keeps the offering places of other gods up like his predecessors had done. There is a dispute about money in the temple that gets sorted out and then there’s a raid where he decides to give the Hazael the gold and stuff from inside the house of the Lord.
Then his own guards killed him.
Meanwhile, Jehoahaz is the king over in Israel and he upsets God at first but then “sought” Him and God sent “a savior, so that they escaped from the hand of the Syrians”. Despite this, they don’t get much better but not much worse either and nothing else significant happens with Jehoahaz before he passes and we move on to another Jehoash, or Joash. The names are used interchangeably for the king of Israel and had been for the former king of Judah, so it could be a little confusing.
This king comes to visit Elisha on his deathbed and is given an opportunity to see how many times God will help him against the Syrians and he undershoots it, even to the point where Elisha kinda yells at him. There’s also an interesting revival here when a dead man is accidentally thrown into the same grave as Elisha and as soon as his body touches Elisha’s, he stands up.
The king of Syria passes from Hazael to Ben-hadad and Joash defeats him as many times as had been worked out threw Elisha.
The kingship of Judah passes from Joash to Amaziah and again the mother’s name is also mentioned, she is Jehoaddin. Amaziah lives in the Lord as much as his father but again it is specified that this is not as much as David because of the altars to other gods that remain in place and in use. He’s also likes to pick a fight.
Killing the servants who had killed his father is understandable, even preserving their children is an upstanding thing for a king who could easily have wiped out the whole family, but there’s no mention of Edom or Israel doing anything to deserve the battles that Amaziah instigates with them. He beats Edom but not Israel. Jehoash beats him and “broke down the wall of Jerusalem” at certain points and takes a bunch of gold and other stuff and bounces. The next we hear of him is his death and the passing of his thrown to his son Jeroboam (yes, the second). Soon after Amaziah also passes on. He’s actually also killed by his people who chase him all the way to Lachish to “put him to death there.” His son, Azariah, takes over.
Jeroboam II also “made Israel to sin” but apparently he listened enough and God had taken pity on the rest of the people anyway according to this line:
But the Lord had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.
Then he’s just gone and his son Zechariah takes over Israel.
This chapter has a quick set of successions of the kings.
- Zechariah – the fourth generation of Jehu to sit on the throne, as promised, and not a generation more
- Shallum – who conspired a successful coup against Zechariah
- Menahem – also leading a coup, also “ripped open all the women who were pregnant” after sacking a town. I can’t even begin to express how I feel about that gruesomeness.
- Pekahiah – the victim of a coup
- Pekah – led successful coup against Pekahiah and is beaten in battle by the Assyrians several times losing many towns to them
- Hoshea – led successful coup against Pekah
Judah: Azariah, Jotham (who is referred to as the son of Uzziah but his father’s name is spelled Azariah in some places), ends on Ahaz taking over.
This chapter begins with Ahaz and his failure to not only improve upon the way Judah followed God, but he made it worse. He burnt his own son as an offering and begins to give offerings to the other gods.
Syria and Israel teamed up against him, so he basically sacks the house of God in order to bribe Assyria to help him out with them, who takes him up on his offer. Then he goes about desecrating the house of the Lord further. He dies and is succeeded by his son, Hezekiah.
First, Israel falls into the hands of Assyria. Events progress and the king of Assyria brings people in from other lands that aren’t familiar with Israel and Israel’s God. Then there’s this:
Therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them.
A messenger comes to the king to explain that it is because the people who now inhabit the land don’t know the rules of this God and so he sends for a priest to teach them these laws. This is interesting for two reasons. First, Israel not following the laws they already knew about was the reason these people were in the land to begin with. Second, it’s like God figured that Israel not following Him was not a good reason for the new inhabitants to ignore Him.
This prompts them to fear the God of Israel, but they also worshiped and sacrificed to their original gods too.
Meanwhile in Judah, they made a near-total recovery, the king even having the high places to the other gods torn down and doing “what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done”. I find it interesting that they continue to refer to David as the father of these kings. He’s certainly an ancestor, but it’s not the word that we would use in conversational English, so it’s an interesting choice.
It is included that the people had begun to worship the bronze serpent staff that had been created in the time of Moses and this king, Hezekiah, had it destroyed. Then it goes on to retell the way the king of Assyria took the Israelites in Samaria which is followed by the king Assyria coming up against Judah. Hezekiah attempts to just pay him off, which appears to anger him. A group is then sent to basically challenge Judah and their faith that God will deliver them. Yep. They didn’t just try to take them in battle, they challenged that none of the other nations that they attempted to take were saved by their gods, what makes you think that yours will?
Hezekiah immediately sends messengers to find out what to do from the local prophet. This time it is Isaiah. Isaiah tells them God’s promise:
Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.
Hezekiah decides not to worry about it and then receives a warning not to listen to God, but he is faithful. He goes in prayer, imploring God not just to save them for themselves, but so “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”
They did try to say He didn’t exist. Isaiah comes to see the king and delivers a beautiful message from God that He is going to take care of it. The next day, 185,000 Assyrians are found dead. No battle, no nothing. Just dead in the morning, I would assume in their beds or racks or wherever they slept. The king of Assyria leaves and was later killed by his own sons while worshiping his god.
Hezekiah gets sick and is assured by Isaiah that he will pass on soon after the events of the last chapter, but he goes again to God in prayer changes God’s mind about it. He decides to give Hezekiah 15 more years. Then there’s a visit from some Babylonians which prompts Isaiah to admit that God has already told him that they will eventually carry off everything that belonged to Judah, including some of Hezekiah’s sons.
I thought it was interesting that Hezekiah’s reaction was to say it was good because he was glad that there would be peace and security for the rest of his days. The next paragraph mentions his inclusion in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah and that he “slept with his fathers” and was succeeded by his son, Manasseh.