2 Chronicles 21-23
Jehoram Rules in Judah
21 When Jehoshaphat died, he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Then his son Jehoram became the next king.
2 Jehoram’s brothers—the other sons of Jehoshaphat—were Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariahu, Michael, and Shephatiah; all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Judah.[a] 3 Their father had given each of them valuable gifts of silver, gold, and costly items, and also some of Judah’s fortified towns. However, he designated Jehoram as the next king because he was the oldest. 4 But when Jehoram had become solidly established as king, he killed all his brothers and some of the other leaders of Judah.
5 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. 6 But Jehoram followed the example of the kings of Israel and was as wicked as King Ahab, for he had married one of Ahab’s daughters. So Jehoram did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. 7 But the Lord did not want to destroy David’s dynasty, for he had made a covenant with David and promised that his descendants would continue to rule, shining like a lamp forever.
8 During Jehoram’s reign, the Edomites revolted against Judah and crowned their own king. 9 So Jehoram went out with his full army and all his chariots. The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he went out at night and attacked them[b] under cover of darkness. 10 Even so, Edom has been independent from Judah to this day. The town of Libnah also revolted about that same time. All this happened because Jehoram had abandoned the Lord, the God of his ancestors. 11 He had built pagan shrines in the hill country of Judah and had led the people of Jerusalem and Judah to give themselves to pagan gods and to go astray.
12 Then Elijah the prophet wrote Jehoram this letter:
“This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: You have not followed the good example of your father, Jehoshaphat, or your grandfather King Asa of Judah. 13 Instead, you have been as evil as the kings of Israel. You have led the people of Jerusalem and Judah to worship idols, just as King Ahab did in Israel. And you have even killed your own brothers, men who were better than you. 14 So now the Lord is about to strike you, your people, your children, your wives, and all that is yours with a heavy blow. 15 You yourself will suffer with a severe intestinal disease that will get worse each day until your bowels come out.”
16 Then the Lord stirred up the Philistines and the Arabs, who lived near the Ethiopians,[c] to attack Jehoram. 17 They marched against Judah, broke down its defenses, and carried away everything of value in the royal palace, including the king’s sons and his wives. Only his youngest son, Ahaziah,[d] was spared.
18 After all this, the Lord struck Jehoram with an incurable intestinal disease. 19 The disease grew worse and worse, and at the end of two years it caused his bowels to come out, and he died in agony. His people did not build a great funeral fire to honor him as they had done for his ancestors.
20 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. No one was sorry when he died. They buried him in the City of David, but not in the royal cemetery.
Ahaziah Rules in Judah
22 Then the people of Jerusalem made Ahaziah, Jehoram’s youngest son, their next king, since the marauding bands who came with the Arabs[e] had killed all the older sons. So Ahaziah son of Jehoram reigned as king of Judah.
2 Ahaziah was twenty-two[f] years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother was Athaliah, a granddaughter of King Omri. 3 Ahaziah also followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong. 4 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Ahab’s family had done. They even became his advisers after the death of his father, and they led him to ruin.
5 Following their evil advice, Ahaziah joined Joram,[g] the son of King Ahab of Israel, in his war against King Hazael of Aram at Ramoth-gilead. When the Arameans[h] wounded Joram in the battle, 6 he returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds he had received at Ramoth.[i] Because Joram was wounded, King Ahaziah[j] of Judah went to Jezreel to visit him.
7 But God had decided that this visit would be Ahaziah’s downfall. While he was there, Ahaziah went out with Joram to meet Jehu grandson of Nimshi,[k] whom the Lord had appointed to destroy the dynasty of Ahab.
8 While Jehu was executing judgment against the family of Ahab, he happened to meet some of Judah’s officials and Ahaziah’s relatives[l] who were traveling with Ahaziah. So Jehu killed them all. 9 Then Jehu’s men searched for Ahaziah, and they found him hiding in the city of Samaria. They brought him to Jehu, who killed him. Ahaziah was given a decent burial because the people said, “He was the grandson of Jehoshaphat—a man who sought the Lord with all his heart.” But none of the surviving members of Ahaziah’s family was capable of ruling the kingdom.
Queen Athaliah Rules in Judah
10 When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she began to destroy the rest of Judah’s royal family. 11 But Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba,[m] the daughter of King Jehoram, took Ahaziah’s infant son, Joash, and stole him away from among the rest of the king’s children, who were about to be killed. She put Joash and his nurse in a bedroom. In this way, Jehosheba, wife of Jehoiada the priest and sister of Ahaziah, hid the child so that Athaliah could not murder him. 12 Joash remained hidden in the Temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled over the land.
Revolt against Athaliah
23 In the seventh year of Athaliah’s reign, Jehoiada the priest decided to act. He summoned his courage and made a pact with five army commanders: Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zicri. 2 These men traveled secretly throughout Judah and summoned the Levites and clan leaders in all the towns to come to Jerusalem. 3 They all gathered at the Temple of God, where they made a solemn pact with Joash, the young king.
Jehoiada said to them, “Here is the king’s son! The time has come for him to reign! The Lord has promised that a descendant of David will be our king. 4 This is what you must do. When you priests and Levites come on duty on the Sabbath, a third of you will serve as gatekeepers. 5 Another third will go over to the royal palace, and the final third will be at the Foundation Gate. Everyone else should stay in the courtyards of the Lord’s Temple. 6 Remember, only the priests and Levites on duty may enter the Temple of the Lord, for they are set apart as holy. The rest of the people must obey the Lord’s instructions and stay outside. 7 You Levites, form a bodyguard around the king and keep your weapons in hand. Kill anyone who tries to enter the Temple. Stay with the king wherever he goes.”
8 So the Levites and all the people of Judah did everything as Jehoiada the priest ordered. The commanders took charge of the men reporting for duty that Sabbath, as well as those who were going off duty. Jehoiada the priest did not let anyone go home after their shift ended. 9 Then Jehoiada supplied the commanders with the spears and the large and small shields that had once belonged to King David and were stored in the Temple of God. 10 He stationed all the people around the king, with their weapons ready. They formed a line from the south side of the Temple around to the north side and all around the altar.
11 Then Jehoiada and his sons brought out Joash, the king’s son, placed the crown on his head, and presented him with a copy of God’s laws.[n] They anointed him and proclaimed him king, and everyone shouted, “Long live the king!”
The Death of Athaliah
12 When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and the shouts of praise to the king, she hurried to the Lord’s Temple to see what was happening. 13 When she arrived, she saw the newly crowned king standing in his place of authority by the pillar at the Temple entrance. The commanders and trumpeters were surrounding him, and people from all over the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. Singers with musical instruments were leading the people in a great celebration. When Athaliah saw all this, she tore her clothes in despair and shouted, “Treason! Treason!”
14 Then Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders who were in charge of the troops, “Take her to the soldiers in front of the Temple,[o] and kill anyone who tries to rescue her.” For the priest had said, “She must not be killed in the Temple of the Lord.” 15 So they seized her and led her out to the entrance of the Horse Gate on the palace grounds, and they killed her there.
Jehoiada’s Religious Reforms
16 Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and the king and the people that they would be the Lord’s people. 17 And all the people went over to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They demolished the altars and smashed the idols, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.
18 Jehoiada now put the priests and Levites in charge of the Temple of the Lord, following all the directions given by David. He also commanded them to present burnt offerings to the Lord, as prescribed by the Law of Moses, and to sing and rejoice as David had instructed. 19 He also stationed gatekeepers at the gates of the Lord’s Temple to keep out those who for any reason were ceremonially unclean.
20 Then the commanders, nobles, rulers, and all the people of the land escorted the king from the Temple of the Lord. They went through the upper gate and into the palace, and they seated the king on the royal throne. 21 So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was peaceful because Athaliah had been killed.
- 21:2 Masoretic Text reads of Israel; also in 21:4. The author of Chronicles sees Judah as representative of the true Israel. (Some Hebrew manuscripts, Greek and Syriac versions, and Latin Vulgate read of Judah.)
- 21:9 Or he went out and escaped. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
- 21:16 Hebrew the Cushites.
- 21:17 Hebrew Jehoahaz, a variant spelling of Ahaziah; compare 22:1.
- 22:1 Or marauding bands of Arabs.
- 22:2 As in some Greek manuscripts and Syriac version (see also 2 Kgs 8:26); Hebrew reads forty-two.
- 22:5a Hebrew Jehoram, a variant spelling of Joram; also in 22:6, 7.
- 22:5b As in two Hebrew manuscripts and Latin Vulgate (see also 2 Kgs 8:28); Masoretic Text reads the archers.
- 22:6a Hebrew Ramah, a variant spelling of Ramoth.
- 22:6b As in some Hebrew manuscripts, Greek and Syriac versions, and Latin Vulgate (see also 2 Kgs 8:29); most Hebrew manuscripts read Azariah.
- 22:7 Hebrew descendant of Nimshi; compare 2 Kgs 9:2, 14.
- 22:8 As in Greek version (see also 2 Kgs 10:13); Hebrew reads and sons of the brothers of Ahaziah.
- 22:11 As in parallel text at 2 Kgs 11:2; Hebrew lacks Ahaziah’s sister and reads Jehoshabeath [a variant spelling of Jehosheba].
- 23:11 Or a copy of the covenant.
- 23:14 Or Bring her out from between the ranks; or Take her out of the Temple precincts. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
13 I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, 14 for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. 15 For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead! 16 And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their descendants will also be holy—just as the entire batch of dough is holy because the portion given as an offering is holy. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too.
17 But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. 18 But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.
19 “Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” 20 Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. 21 For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t[a] spare you either.
22 Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off. 23 And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree. 24 You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.
God’s Mercy Is for Everyone
25 I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters,[b] so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. 26 And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say,
28 Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. 30 Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. 31 Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share[f] in God’s mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.
33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be sung to the tune “Doe of the Dawn.”
1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
2 Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.
5 They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
6 But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!
7 Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
8 “Is this the one who relies on the Lord?
Then let the Lord save him!
If the Lord loves him so much,
let the Lord rescue him!”
9 Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
10 I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
You have been my God from the moment I was born.
11 Do not stay so far from me,
for trouble is near,
and no one else can help me.
12 My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls;
fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!
13 Like lions they open their jaws against me,
roaring and tearing into their prey.
14 My life is poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
melting within me.
15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.
16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
an evil gang closes in on me.
They have pierced[a] my hands and feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
My enemies stare at me and gloat.
18 They divide my garments among themselves
and throw dice[b] for my clothing.
7 The godly walk with integrity;
blessed are their children who follow them.