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21 When Jehoshaphat joined his ancestors in death and was laid to rest with his fathers in the city of David, Jerusalem, his son Jehoram succeeded him to the throne. Jehoshaphat, king of the true Israel,[a] had a number of sons in addition to Jehoram: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azaryahu, Michael, and Shephatiah. Jehoshaphat made each one a wealthy governor with silver, gold, and costly gifts over his own fortified cities in Judah and appointed Jehoram as the future king since he was the firstborn. Once Jehoram had taken over his father’s kingdom and had established himself, he killed all his brothers and some rulers of Israel so they could not challenge his right to rule.

Jehoram was 32 years old when he ascended to the throne, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. But he was not a righteous king as his father was before him. He married Ahab’s daughter and was tempted to worship her pagan gods as the kings of the Northern Kingdom did. He did evil instead of following the Eternal; now despite this the Eternal upheld His promise to David. In His covenant with David, He promised David’s family would guide Israel forever, so He would not destroy Jehoram or his government. But God punished him with revolts by Edom and Libnah.

Instead of following Jehoram’s rule, the people of Edom revolted and elected their own king. Jehoram responded to their disobedience by attacking the Edomites with all of his officers and chariots. But the Edomites surrounded Jehoram with his army of commanders and chariots. Then Jehoram went out in the dark of night and struck down the Edomite rebellion. 10 Edom has continually rebelled against the rule of Judah until this day. Likewise, Libnah (a Levitical city in southwestern Judah) revolted against Jehoram’s rule at the same time because Jehoram had abandoned the Eternal One, the True God of his ancestors, in favor of worshiping foreign gods. 11 He even built high places in the mountains of Judah to honor those gods, leading the citizens of Jerusalem and Judah to prostitute themselves spiritually to other gods.

This is a particularly bloody time for Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Each king—or queen in the case of Athaliah in Judah—has to watch his or her back constantly for international threats from Aram north of Israel, Egypt south of Judah, or Ammon, Moab, and Edom on the other side of the Jordan River and Dead Sea. As well, there is political and familial intrigue and deception in the palace households of some of these kings. Being a monarch is a very dangerous position, and some do not fare well.

In just a few years, King Jehu from Israel carries out a bloody campaign against anyone associated with the House of Ahab in order to eradicate idolatry and rebellion from the land. But this move by Jehu only buys Israel another century before the Neo-Assyrians move in and exile the people.

12 Having heard about Jehoram’s actions, Elijah the prophet sent a letter to the king.

Elijah’s Letter: I received this message from the Eternal One, True God of your ancestor David: “You have not followed Me as Jehoshaphat, your father, and as Asa, your grandfather, did during their reigns 13 but have instead followed the gods of the kings of Israel. You have caused the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves spiritually as Ahab and his family did. You have murdered your brothers, your own family, who were better men than you. 14 Because of your evil actions, the Eternal will severely punish your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions. 15 And you will suffer with an intestinal disease until your bowels come out, ending your life.”

16 Fulfilling His promise, the Eternal incited the Philistines and the Arabs who bordered the Cushites to attack Jehoram 17 and Judah. They invaded the nation and plundered the palace, taking all the possessions including the king’s children and wives. When they had finished, all that remained was Jehoahaz,[b] Jehoram’s youngest son. 18 Then the Eternal infected the king with a terminal intestinal illness. 19 He died painfully two years later with the prolapse of his intestines. After he died, the people did not honor his memory by lighting a fire for him as they had done for his ancestors. 20 He was 32 years old when he became king, and he ruled in Jerusalem for eight years. No one was sorry when he died. They buried him in the city of David, Jerusalem, but not in the tombs with the other kings and his ancestors.


  1. 21:2 Greek, Syriac, and Vulgate read, “king of Judah”
  2. 21:17 Also called “Ahaziah” (22:1)

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