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Go to Bible: 2 Kings 8
“and it has now come on the land.” The famine that Israel was experiencing could well be the famine in the previous chapter. That would mean that the two chapters occur at the same time, but were written one after the other.(top)
“She went with her household and stayed in the land of the Philistines for seven years.” At first glance this seems to be incongruous, that this woman would go to the Philistine territory. But there may have been some kind of alliance or loose alliance between Samaria and the Philistines. After all, when Ahaziah was sick, he sent to find out from Baalzebul, the god at Ekron, a capital city of the Philistines, if he would recover (2 Kings 1:2).(top)
“to cry out.” This phrase is used idiomatically here, and is used for supplication, such as when Israel cried out to God when they were slaves in Egypt.(top)
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“forty camel-loads.” The king of Syria was wealthy in the extreme, and it was customary to give a gift to a prophet when you asked for a prophecy or prediction of the future. Although Elisha refused the gift from Naaman (2 Kings 5:15-16), he apparently took this gift from the king of Syria, although no mention is made of what he did with it. A load of goods that required forty camels to carry it, at several hundred pounds of stuff per camel, would have made Elisha fabulously wealthy if he kept it all.
“your son.” In this context, “son” is used idiomatically as a term of endearment, someone who respects the other. Ben-hadad, king of Syria, was not Elisha’s son, nor a disciple of Yahweh. He worshiped pagan gods, but he respected Elisha and knew of the power that he had shown.(top)
“live, yes, live’...die, yes, die.” The Hebrew text uses the figure of speech polyptoton for emphasis. The verbs “live” and “die” are each repeated twice but in different cases, the first verb is an infinitive and the second is an imperfect. The repetition emphasizes the irony here. Hazael is to tell king Ben-hadad that he will live, but in fact he will die at the hands of Hazael himself, who will smother the king to death. (For more on polyptoton, see commentary on Gen. 2:16).(top)
“he was embarrassed.” The text is not clear as to who was embarrassed, Elisha or Hazael.(top)
“their little ones you will dash in pieces, and their pregnant women you will split open.” These are cruel and heartless acts.(top)
“you will be king over Syria.” Yahweh had told Elijah to anoint Hazael as king over Syria (1 Kings 19:15), but it is never recorded that Elijah got to follow through and do that.(top)
“lord.” The word “lord” in this verse is a grammatical plural, “lords” but it is referring to one lord and is translated that way in the versions. It sometimes happens in Hebrew that a singular word like “lord” is pluralized, and that is done for different reasons, such as emphasis or to magnify the person, although the reasons may not be immediately apparent.
“you will live, yes, live.” Hazael quotes Elisha (see 2 Kings 8:10).(top)
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“Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign.” This is showing the co-reign between Jehoshaphat and Jehoram.(top)
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“just as the house of Ahab had done.” In this context, the “house” of Ahab is the dynasty of Ahab. One king after another worshipped idols and committed other sins. This is a terrible indictment of Jehoram, who was the son of a godly king.
“for he had the daughter of Ahab as a wife.” Athaliah was the granddaughter of Omri (2 Kings 8:26), and a daughter of Ahab (2 Kings 8:18), but Athaliah was likely not the daughter of Jezebel or it seems the text would have made that point, instead she was likely the daughter of one of the other wives of Ahab. As the mother of Ahaziah, when Ahaziah was killed by Jehu, Athaliah took control of the throne of Judah, the only break in the Davidic dynasty from David to Jehoiachin and the suspension of the throne of David. The Bible had warned that if a man married a pagan wife that his heart might turn from Yahweh (Deut. 17:17; 1 Kings 11:3(top)
“a lamp for his children.” The “lamp” is the man in the line of David who is ruling as king on David’s throne. The metaphorical ‘lamp’ symbolizes the Davidic dynasty. In 2 Samuel 21:17, David’s men referred to him as the “lamp” of Israel, and so it makes sense that his descendants in the Davidic Dynasty are also referred to as lamps (see commentary on 1 Kings 11:36). The “lamp” is a symbol of life and hope. In this context, David’s “children” refer primarily to the one who would be on the throne, but the whole royal family would be blessed by a Davidic ruler.(top)
“In his days Edom revolted.” Here the Author makes a point that unfaithfulness to Yahweh leads to political instability.
“under the hand of Judah.” An idiom for under the authority of Judah.
“enthroned a king over themselves.” The Hebrew is more literally something like, “they kinged themselves a king” (cp. Fox, The Schocken Bible).(top)
“Joram.” The Hebrew text has “Jehoram,” a variant of Joram.
“Zair.” This is likely the town of Zoar that Lot fled to (Gen. 19:22).
“his army.” The Hebrew text reads “people” instead of army, but that becomes unclear in English. Joram’s “people” in this context is his army. Joram made an attack on Edom, but it was of limited success because his army deserted him and went back to Israel, and so Edom’s revolt was successful.(top)
“So Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah.” Joram had more problems than just Edom and Libnah. We learn from 2 Chronicles 21:16-17 that the Philistines attacked from the west and the Arabians from the east, and they even sacked Joram’s palace and took away captive his wives and children.
“Libnah.” Libnah was a Levitical city in the Shephelah of Judah (Josh. 10:29-39; 21:13). The exact location of the city is disputed. This could well be a revolt of Judeans who were not happy with the rule of Jehoram, king of Judah, and took advantage of the fact that he was occupied with trying to subdue Edom and rebelled against him. Then, given Joram’s continued problems with outside invaders such as the Philistines and Arabians, he never seems to have regained control over Libnah, which was a powerful fortified city in its own right. Libnah was significant enough it is mentioned in 2 Kings 19:8 as being attacked by the Assyrian king, Sennacherib. Later in Judah’s history, Josiah’s wife Hamutal came from Libnah (2 Kings 23:31; 24:18).(top)
“the Book of the Chronicles.” This is recorded in 2 Chronicles 21.(top)
“Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.” Ahaziah reigned over Judah with his evil mother Athaliah, of the house of Ahab, being the apparent power behind the throne, and she took over when Ahaziah died. In Matthew’s genealogy from Abraham to Christ, Ahaziah and Joash were skipped, and the genealogy goes from Joram to Uzziah (Matt. 1:8).(top)
“Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign.” This Ahaziah is not the same as Ahaziah the king of Israel (cp. 1 Kings 22:51; 2 Kings 1:2). Also, this Ahaziah, king of Judah, is called Azariah in 2 Chronicles 22:6.(top)
“a granddaughter.” The Hebrew word is “daughter,” but she would have been one of the granddaughters of Omri. There is no Hebrew word for “granddaughter” or “grandson,” just simply “daughter” or “son.” The same with “grandmother” or “grandfather,” which is why the Bible speaks of “our father Abraham” when Abraham would have been a distant ancestor. When the text uses “father,” “mother,” “son,” or “daughter” the exact relationship has to be determined from the context.
Athaliah was the granddaughter of Omri (2 Kings 8:26), and a daughter of Ahab (2 Kings 8:18), but Athaliah was likely not the daughter of Jezebel or it seems the text would have made that point, instead she was likely the daughter of one of the other wives of Ahab. Nevertheless, although her mother was likely not Jezebel, as a girl growing up in the palace of Ahab and Jezebel she would have been schooled in evil and in the pagan ways of worship, and also schooled against Yahweh. This all played out when her son Ahaziah was killed and she took over as queen and killed off all of the royal family except for Joash (2 Kings 11:1-3).(top)
“He walked in the way of the house of Ahab.” In this context, the “house of Ahab” was the dynasty of Ahab, which actually started with King Omri (1 Kings 16:21-22). The lineage was Omri, then Ahab (1 Kings 16:28-29), then Ahaziah (1 Kings 22:40), then Ahaziah’a younger brother Joram (2 Kings 1:17; 3:1; 9:24). With the death of Joram (also called Jehoram), the dynasty of Omri came to an end and Jehu began to reign as king over Israel.
“house of Ahab.” Joram was Ahaziah’s younger brother. Athaliah, Jehoram’s wife, was the granddaughter of Omri (2 Kings 8:26), and a daughter of Ahab (2 Kings 8:18), but Athaliah was likely not the daughter of Jezebel or it seems the text would have made that point, instead she was likely the daughter of one of the other wives of Ahab. So Ahaziah’s mother was Athaliah of the house of Ahab.(top)
“Joram the son of Ahab.” That is, Joram the king of Israel.(top)
“at Ramah.” This is another name for Ramoth-gilead (2 Kings 8:28).(top)