2 Kings 3: Jehoram (Israel)

Jehoram, brother of Ahaziah and son of Ahab takes over as king of Israel and inherits the rebellion of the Moabites.


2 Kings 3 discusses the reign of Jehoram, who took over the throne of Israel from Ahaziah. Confusingly, Jehoram is also the name of Jehoshaphat's son who is already reigning co-regent with his father. Thus when Jehoram comes to power there are two king Jehoram's reigning in Israel. Israel's Jehoram is actually Ahaziah's brother, not his son; he takes the throne because Ahaziah has no sons. His reign begins during Jehoshaphat's 18th year and Judah's Jehoram's 2nd year of co-regency. Jehoram reigns for 12 years and makes a few improvements in Israel, though he is still not seen as a righteous king.

Moab Rebels

Desert in Jordan
The king of Moab had given tribute to Israel but when Ahab died, that alliance crumbled and the Moabites rebelled against God. Now, that his brother was dead, Jehoram bore the burden of preparing for battle. Jehoram numbers his army and travels to Judah to gain support from Jehoshaphat. Having already extended an olive branch to Israel, Jehoshaphat reiterates the fact that they are the same people and should stick together. The two kings travel by way of Edom and convince the Edomites to join them. Remember in terms of family, the Edomites were their brothers while the Moabites descended from the incestuous relationship of Lot (a distant relative of Jacob & Esau).

While the men are journeying to battle, they run out of water. Jehoram believes they are being delivered in to the hands of the Moabites, but Jehoshaphat, being the God-fearing king, inquires of a prophet to consult God. Elisha is the prophet who comes to their aid. Elisha tells them that water will appear, neither by rain nor by wind but by God's hand. In addition, God will give the Israelites the victory. They are to destroy everything in Moab, however. Just as Elisha prophesies, water appears and the Israelites go into battle smiting the Moabites and their cities.

When the king of Moab panics, he tries to pit his personal army against Edom to create an escape path, but God protects Edom as well. Seeing that he has failed, the king of Moab sacrifices his eldest son. This must have been a pagan ritual because God did not approve of human sacrifices; he barely approved of animal sacrifices—see Isaiah 66:3 and Psalm 40:6.

Relating To Today

Leaders often inherit other people's problems just as Jehoram inherited his brother's. Many people point out the conflicting stance on whether God punishes the son for the father's sins, but I think this passage is a reminder of how this works. Because we come from imperfect parents and imperfect societies, we learn imperfect habits. Throughout 1 & 2 Kings, we are told that the new king followed the ways of the old king. Despite God postponing judgment from one king to another, we are told that the new king behaved in the same ungodly manner his father did. Had the new king repented and delivered the nation into the path of God, judgement would have been postponed once again. The problem is that we learn how to behave from our parents and the society around us, so if our parents and our society is corrupt, it is more likely that we too will be corrupt.

As members of society or as parents, we owe it to our neighbors and children to be a good example. We owe it to teach sound doctrine and consult God in each of our decisions. It is difficult to break habits, but not impossible. In 1&2 Kings we see glimmers of hope where prophets like Elisha and Elijah, or kings like Jehoshaphat and Asa, tried to lead the Israelites back to God. We want to be like those people. We don't want to be the cause of our children's failure.



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