Our reading today begins with the reign of Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram. We will see that the accounts of the wicked kings are far shorter than those of the good kings, which suits the chronicler’s purpose. Take, for example, Jehoram. The first act we read of here is his murdering all of his brothers and any of the royal family that might be a threat to his power (21:4). The next six verses parallel 2 Kings 8:16-24, with one exception. Here, we are told the real reason that Edom and Libnah revolted: Jehoram had forsaken God (v. 10).
And it gets worse. Unlike his father and grandfather, Jehoram built high places for worship (v. 11). He led Judah (whose commitment to YHWH was already tenuous – see 20:33) astray by making provision for their sin. So God has Elijah (remember him?) send a letter to Jehoram (v. 12). Note that God is the God of David, which is why He has kept His promise to the great king. But since Jehoram has forsaken Him completely (unlike his father and grandfather – v. 13) like the kings of Israel, and has led his people into sin like Ahab (his father-in-law – see v. 6), God would punish him and the people for their sin. Note that Jehoram is responsible for leading the people into sin, yet the people are responsible for their own sin. So the people will suffer a plague (v. 14), and Jehoram would suffer a terrible, painful disease that will kill him (v. 15).
But wait, there’s more. The people had peace under Jehoshaphat, enjoying the blessings of God. Now, God brings the curses upon them. The Philistines and Arabians attack Jerusalem, taking the riches of the king, but also taking his family into captivity. The “plague” of verse 14 is captivity! The chronicler is drawing this contrast between the outcomes of obedience and disobedience for the sake of the remnant. Would they obey God, or risk another captivity?
Elijah’s prophecy about Jehoram is fulfilled in verses 18-20. In verse 20, we see that he died “with no one’s regret.” None of the people were sorry he had died! So they did not give him the ceremonial burial of a king (v. 19), nor did they bury him with the other kings (v. 20). It is as if they would just rather forget he ever existed. The chronicler seems to agree. He uncharacteristically avoids using the kings name in the record of his death.
Chapter 22 begins with the reign of Jehoram’s son, Ahaziah (22:1). In 21:17, he is called Jehoahaz. Both mean “YHWH holds.” Note that he shares both the bloodline of David, and the bloodline of the kings of Israel (v. 2), because his father married Ahab’s daughter Athaliah. Remember God’s displeasure with Jehoshaphat for aiding Ahab in war and building ships with Ahaziah (not Jehoahaz, the king of Israel). How about intermarrying with them?
And we see the influence Ahab’s daughter has on him (v. 3). So Ahaziah repeats the sin of his grandfather and joins Israel in war (v. 5). So God ordains his death through his fellowship with sinful Israel (v. 7). Jehu had been anointed to destroy the house of Ahab (see 2 Kings 9:6-7). And that includes Ahaziah (v. 9). As we will see, the “house of Ahab” is not a physical line, but a spiritual one, as Ahaziah’s physical son will reign. But for now, we see that treachery is a family trait. Athaliah sees an opportunity to seize power for herself, and kills her own grandchildren (v. 10). However, God will keep His promise to David, and He preserves one son, Joash (vv. 11-12). He is the remnant preserved from the wicked line that is destroyed. So Judah has a queen for six years.