2 Chronicles 21:4
Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brothers with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel.
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2 Chronicles 21:4. He strengthened himself — Hardened his heart, as the word חזק, chazak, often signifies; and slew all his brethren with the sword — Either by false accusation, under colour of law, or rather by assassination, pretending, it is likely, that he could not think himself safe in the government till they were taken out of the way. Those that mean ill themselves, are commonly, without cause, jealous of those about them. And divers also of the princes of Israel — Either, 1st, Of Judah, here called Israel, as in 2 Chronicles 21:2. Or rather, 2d, Of Israel properly so called; not the princes of all Israel, or of the several tribes thereof, but the chief of those Israelites who, out of love to God and the true religion, had forsaken their estates in the kingdom of Israel, and were now incorporated with the kingdom of Judah: these he slew, because he thought they would be most zealous for that religion which he was resolved to oppose.21:1-11 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.The execution of several "princes of Israel" (i. e. of Judah; see 2 Chronicles 20:34 note) implies that Jehoram's brothers found supporters among the chief men of the country, and that Jehoram's sole sovereignty was not established without a struggle. CHAPTER 21

2Ch 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 2Ki 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.

He strengthened himself; he took courage and hardened his heart, as that word sometimes signifies.

Slew all his brethren with the sword; partly because they either did, or he knew that they would, oppose him in his wicked designs; and partly for his own security, lest his people, who, as he believed, would be highly exasperated with the execution of his counsels, should advance any of them to the throne, and depose him.

Of the princes of Israel; either,

1. Of Judah, here called Israel, or which See Poole "2 Chronicles 21:2". Or,

2. The princes or chief men of Israel, properly so called; not the princes of all Israel, or of the several tribes thereof, but the chief of those Israelites who, out of love to God and to the true religion, had forsaken their estates and worthy advantages in the kingdom of Israel, and were now incorporated with the kingdom of Judah. These he especially struck at, either,

1. Because his wife instigated him thereunto, both to punish them for their revolt from her father, and to deter others from following their example. Or,

2. Because he justly and truly thought these would be most firm and constant to and zealous for that religion which he was resolved to oppose, being both by their conscience and interest obliged to it. Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father,.... Succeeded him in it, and reigned alone, for he had reigned with his father some years before his death; see Gill on 2 Kings 8:16,

he strengthened himself; in the kingdom, by some means or another closely attaching the greater part of the princes, and people of the land, unto him, when he thought himself well settled and established on the throne; though some understand it of making strong, or hardening his heart to do what is next mentioned:

and slew all his brethren with the sword; either to get their riches into his hands, or lest, being religious princes, they should oppose his restoring idolatry, and for that reason the people should depose him, and set up one of them; and therefore he dispatched them out of the way to secure himself, and carry his point:

and divers also of the princes of Israel; such who had removed out of the ten tribes, for the sake of religion, and therefore would never agree to the introduction of idolatry among them, for which reason Jehoram slew them; and perhaps they might express their disapprobation and abhorrence of his murder of his brethren.

Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and {b} slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of {c} Israel.

(b) Because the wicked always live in fear, and also are ambitious, they become cruel and spare not to murder them, whom by nature they ought most to cherish and defend.

(c) Meaning, of Judah and Benjamin.

4. to the kingdom] R.V. over the kingdom.

he strengthened himself, and slew] R.V. and had strengthened himself, he slew. For “strengthened himself” cp. 2 Chronicles 1:1 (note).Verse 4. - Slew all his brethren... and also of the princes of Israel. It may be, as suggested by the genius of the last clause of our yet. 13, that Jehoram's wicked heart prompted him the rather because his own works were evil and his brothers' righteous. He may have thought their practical witness against him, and that of the "princes" who shared their fate, would be growingly inconvenient, and would work in them a necessary disloyalty (Judges 9:1-5). On the ether showing, the "princes" now cut down may have shown partiality and affection to the six brothers, one or other of them. Concluding notes on Jehoshaphat's reign, which are found also in 1 Kings 22:41-51, where they, supplemented by some notes (1 Kings 22:45, 1 Kings 22:48, and 1 Kings 22:49) which are wanting in the Chronicle, form the whole account of his reign. In the statements as to Jehoshaphat's age at his accession, and the length and character of his reign, both accounts agree, except that the author of the Chronicle has, instead of the stereotyped formula, "and the people still sacrificed and offered incense upon the high places," a remark more significant of the state of affairs: "and the people had not yet determinedly turned their heart to the God of their fathers" (2 Chronicles 20:33). The notice that Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel (1 Kings 22:45) is not found in the Chronicle, because that would, as a matter of course, follow from Jehoshaphat's having joined affinity with the royal house of Ahab, and had been already sufficiently attested by the narrative in 2 Chronicles 18, and is so still further by the undertaking spoken of in 2 Chronicles 20:35. For the same reason, the clause introduced in 1 Kings 22:46 about the valiant acts and the wars of Jehoshaphat is omitted in the Chronicle, as these acts have been specially narrated here. As to Jehu's speeches, which were put into the book of Kings, see the Introduction. Further, the remark on the driving out of the remaining Sodomites (קדשׁ) from the land, 1 Kings 22:47, which refers back to 1 Kings 15:12, is wanting here, because this speciality is not mentioned in the case of Asa. Finally, the remark that Edom had no king, but only a viceroy or deputy, serves in 1 Kings 22:48 only as an introduction to the succeeding account of Jehoshaphat's attempt to open up anew the sea traffic with Ophir. But on that subject the author of the Chronicle only recounts in 2 Chronicles 20:35-37 that Jehoshaphat allied himself with the godless Ahaziah the king of Israel to build in Ezion-gaber ships to go to Tarshish, was censured for it by the prophet Eliezer, who announced to him that Jahve would destroy his work, and that thereupon the ships were broken, doubtless by a storm, and so could not go upon the voyage. אהרי־כן does not definitely fix the time (cf. 2 Chronicles 20:1), but only states that the alliance with Ahaziah took place after the victory over the Ammonites and Moabites. Ahaziah ascended the throne in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat, and reigned scarcely two years, and the enterprise under discussion falls in that period. אתחבּר is an Aramaic form for התחבּר.

The last clause of v. 38, "he did wickedly," Bertheau refers to Jehoshaphat: he did wrong; because the context shows that these words are intended to contain a censure on Jehoshaphat for his connection with the king of the northern kingdom. But this remark, though substantially correct, by no means proves that הוּא refers to Jehoshaphat. The words contain a censure on Jehoshaphat on account of his alliance with Ahaziah, even if they describe Ahaziah's conduct. We must, with the older commentators, take the words to refer to Ahaziah, for הרשׁיע is much too strong a word for Jehoshaphat's fault in the matter. The author of the Chronicle does indeed use the word הרשׁיע of Jehoshaphat's grandson Ahaziah, 2 Chronicles 22:3, in the clause, "his mother, a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, was for הרשׁיע his counsellor," but only that he may characterize the acts of the Ahabic house. Jehoshaphat allied himself with the wicked Ahaziah to build ships תּרשׁישׁ ללכת, to go to Tarshish; and they built ships at Ezion-gaber, i.e., on the Red Sea. Instead of this, we have in 1 Kings 22:49 : Jehoshaphat built Tarshish ships to go to Ophir for gold. Hence it is manifest that in both passages the same undertaking is spoken of, and the expression "Tarshish ships" is paraphrased in the Chronicle by "ships to go to Tarshish." This periphrasis is, however, a mistake; for Tarshish ships are merely ships which, like those going to Tarshish, were built for long sea voyages, for Jehoshaphat merely desired to renew the voyages to Ophir. With the exception of this erroneous interpretation of the words, Tarshish ships, the two narratives agree, if we only keep in mind the fact that both are incomplete extracts from a more detailed account of this enterprise. The Chronicle supplies us with an explanatory commentary on the short account in 1 Kings 22:49, both in the statement that Jehoshaphat allied himself with Ahaziah of Israel for the preparation of the ships, and also in communicating the word of the prophet Eliezer as to the enterprise, which makes clear to us the reason for the destruction of the ships; while in 1 Kings 22:49 merely the fact of their destruction is recorded. Of the prophet Eliezer nothing further is known than the saying here communicated. His father's name, Dodavahu, is analogous in form to Hodavya, Joshavya (see on 1 Chronicles 3:24), so that there is no good ground to alter it into דּודיּהוּ, friend of Jahve, after the Doodi'a of the lxx. As to Mareshah, see on 2 Chronicles 11:8. The perfect פּרץ is prophetic: Jahve will rend thy work asunder. The words which follow record the fulfilment. עצר as in 2 Chronicles 13:20; 2 Chronicles 14:10. With this the chronicler's account of this enterprise concludes; while in 1 Kings 22:50 it is further stated that, after the destruction of the ships first built, Ahaziah called upon Jehoshaphat still to undertake the Ophir voyage in common with him, and to build new ships for the purpose, but Jehoshaphat would not. The ground of his refusal may easily be gathered from 2 Chronicles 20:37 of the Chronicle.

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