2 Chronicles 21: Jehoram

The reign of Jehoram of Judah is discussed.

Introduction

Jehoram, also spelled Joram, is one of the kings of Judah that shares his name with a king of Israel. Not only does he share his name with a king of Israel, the two reigned at the same time! Some have speculated that they are actually the same person and that Judah was under the reign of Israel at the time. This theory will be discussed below, in addition to details of Jehoram's reign.
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Who Was Jehoram?

Jehoram takes over the throne of Judah at the age of 32 when his father, Jehoshaphat, dies. Jehoram had several younger brothers, who were given great gifts from Jehoshaphat. The names of his brothers are given as: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Michael, and Shephatiah. Strangely, Azariah is listed twice, which made me wonder if Jehoshaphat had two sons named Azariah. Although it sounds weird, it's strangely common according to Google searches.[1] In the original Hebrew text, the name is not quite identical. One "Azariah" contains an extra character; this could change the name or be an indicator between siblings with the same name. Whatever the case, none of Jehoram's brothers were able to enjoy the gifts they inherited from Jehoshaphat. didn't get to enjoy these gifts because Jehoram kills them as soon as he became king.

It goes without saying that Jehoram was not a good king and did not follow God's law. He marries the daughter of Ahab, which scholars believe may have been suggested by his father in attempt to bring the two kingdoms back together.[2] Instead, the kingdoms remain at odds and Jehoram ends up following the ways of Ahab and turns Judah into idolatry just as Israel had been.

Although God's anger is kindled against Jehoram (and a few other descendants of David) God does not destroy the lineage however, because of his covenant with David. God already knew that He would fulfill His promise to David, Abraham, and even Eve, through Jesus. In Israel God allows dynasties to die, the way Ahab and his descendants did, but God ensures that there is always a descendent of David because it is through this succession that Jesus was to come. Nonetheless, God cuts Jehoram's reign short, allowing up to control Judah for only 8 years.

The Two Jehorams

When Did He Reign?

The timeline surrounding the two Jehoram's is quite confusing. 2 Kings 1:17, 2 Kings 3:1, and 2 Kings 8:16 seem to conflict on when exactly these successions took place.

1 Kings 22:41 tells us that Jehoshaphat (Jehoram of Judah's father) began his reign during the 4th year of Ahab (Jehoram of Israel's father). Ahab reigns for 22 years (1 Kings 16:29), before his son Ahaziah takes the throne. Jehoram of Judah takes the throne after Ahaziah, who reigns for 2 years. Jehoram of Israel takes the throne after Ahaziah. Based on this timeline, it seems that Jehoram of Israel should start his reign roughly during the 20th year of Jehoshaphat. However, we are told that Ahaziah began his reign during Jehoshaphat's 17th year (1 Kings 22:51) and Jehoram during Jehoshaphat's 18th year. This makes sense if you consider that these numbers are probably rounded up; the final year of each king was probably not a complete year. On top of that, we must consider that when defining "the xth year of" a particular king, we may be starting from the beginning of the year or the point of coronation. Taking this into consideration, 2 Kings 3:1 makes sense.[3]

However, 2 Kings 1:17 tells us that Jehoram of Israel took the throne during Jehoram of Judah's 2nd year. Many people initially believe this to be a contradiction, before considering co-regency. Co-regency often occurred as kings planned to pass the kingdom on to a particular son. If we consider a co-regency, then this verse goes from being a contradiction to a basket of new information. If a co-regency existed between Jehoshaphat and Jehoram of Judah, it would make sense that Jehoshaphat's 18th year was the same as Jehoram's 2nd year.[3]

What about 2 Kings 8:16, though? This verse tells us that Jehoram of Israel had already been reigning for 5 years when Jehoram of Judah began his reign. How is that possible if Jehoram of Israel started his reign during Jehoram of Judah's 2nd year? Perhaps what is meant is that Jehoram of Judah began his independent reign 5 years in to Jehoram of Israel's reign. Depending on the time of year each event occurred, this would mean Jehoram of Judah took over for Jehoshaphat after Jehoshaphat had ruled 23 to 24 years. This doesn't quite line up with the 25 years Jehoshaphat reigned, though does it? Actually, it does. 2 Kings 8:16 tells us that Jehoshaphat was still king. During his last year as king, he likely handed over the reigns to his son and gave him the primary role as king.[3]
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Where There 2 Jehorams?

With all the confusion surrounding the timeline of the Jehorams, it's not surprising that people began making up conspiracy theories. There are some who believe there was only one Jehoram and that Judah was briefly conquered by Israel. There isn't anything to back up this claim. It is not unusal for people to have the same name, in fact many people in the Bible have the same name. Further, the marriage between Ahab's line and David's could have played a role in this if they were named after someone.[4]

Battles & Wars

Although God didn't wipe out Jehoram and his entire family, He did punish Jehoram for his sinfulness. God allows the Edomites to rebel. Prior to these events, the Edomites had been under the dominion of Judah, but now they had appointed their own king. Essentially Edom was declaring itself independent. Following Edom's lead, a place called Libnah also revolted. Jehoram sends armies to bring these nations back under his control, however, neither nation caves to Jehoram's demands. With God out of the picture—due to Jehoram's poor relationship with God—Judah was like a sitting duck and unable to take on a real army.
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Idolatry & More Warring

Jehoram also makes altars outside of the Temple; whether these were pagan or for God, were forbidden. This caused the Israelites of Judah to drift further from God. The prophet Elijah sends him a letter explaining God's disappointment for these actions as well as outlining the punishment God would give Jehoram. This possibly the only king of Judah that was contacted by Elijah, the great prophet of Israel.

God enacts vengeance through a great plague, which was a sickness of the bowels. God also stirred up the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabians near Ethiopia to battle with Judah. These nations raided the house of the king, stealing not only valuables but Jehoram's wives and children. The only person left is Jehoahaz, Jehoram's youngest son, who would go on to continue the lineage.
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Death and Illness

Photocredit: Unsplash.com/Jon Butterworth
Following such failure and lost, God strikes Jehoram with the incurable disease of the bowels prophesied by Elijah. After 2 years of suffering, Jehoram dies. Because of his shame, the people buried him with David's descendants but not with the other kings.
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References

  1. "Google Search: Sibling with the Same Name"; visited March 2017
  2. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 761-763. 2014
  3. "2 Chronicles 21 Commentary". Bible Hub; visited March 2017
  4. Dick Harfield. "Who began his reign first: Jehoram of Israel, or Jehoram of Judah?". Stack Exchange. October 2013

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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