Jehoram, the son of Ahab, and brother of Ahaziah, is here upon the throne of Israel; and, though he was but a bad man, yet two commendable things are here recorded of him:—
I. That he removed his father’s idols. He did evil in many things, but not like his father Ahab or his mother Jezebel, 2 Kgs. 3:2. Bad he was, but not so bad, so overmuch wicked, as Solomon speaks, Eccl. 7:17. Perhaps Jehoshaphat, though by his alliance with the house of Ahab he made his own family worse, did something towards making Ahab’s better. Jehoram saw his father and brother cut off for worshipping Baal, and wisely took warning by God’s judgments on them, and put away the image of Baal, resolving to worship the God of Israel only, and consult none but his prophets. So far was well, yet it did not prevent the destruction of Ahab’s family, nay, that destruction came in his days, and fell immediately upon him (2 Kgs. 9:24), though he was one of the best of the family, for then the measure of its iniquity was full. Jehoram’s reformation was next to none; for, 1. He only put away the image of Baal which his father had made, and this probably in compliment to Jehoshaphat, who otherwise would not have come into confederacy with him, any more than with his brother, 1 Kgs. 22:49. But he did not destroy the worship of Baal among the people, for Jehu found it prevalent, 2 Kgs. 10:19. It was well to reform his family, but it was not enough; he ought to have used his power for the reforming of his kingdom. 2. When he put away the image of Baal, he adhered to the worship of the calves, that politic sin of Jeroboam, 2 Kgs. 3:3. He departed not therefrom, because that was the state engine by which the division between the two tribes was supported. Those do not truly, nor acceptably, repent or reform, who only part with the sins that they lose by, but continue their affection to the sins that they get by. 3. He only put away the image of Baal, he did not break it in pieces, as he ought to have done. He laid it aside for the present, yet not knowing but he might have occasion for it another time; and Jezebel, for reasons of state, was content to worship her Baal in private.
II. That he did what he could to recover his brother’s losses. As he had something more of the religion of an Israelite than his father, so he had something more of the spirit of a king than his brother. Moab rebelled against Israel, immediately upon the death of Ahab, 2 Kgs. 1:1. And we do not find that Ahaziah made any attempt to chastise or reduce them, but tamely let go his interest in them, rather than entertain the cares, undergo the fatigues, and run the hazards, of a war with them. His folly and pusillanimity herein, and his indifference to the public good, were the more aggravated because the tribute which the king of Moab paid was a very considerable branch of the revenue of the crown of Israel: 100,000 lambs, and 100,000 wethers, 2 Kgs. 3:4. The riches of kings then lay more in cattle than coin, and they thought it not below them to know the state of their flocks and herds themselves, because, as Solomon observes, the crown doth not endure to every generation, Prov. 27:23, 24. Taxes were then paid not so much in money as in the commodities of the country, which was an ease to the subject, whether it was an advantage to the prince or no. The revolt of Moab was a great loss to Israel, yet Ahaziah sat still in sloth and ease. But an upper chamber in his house proved as fatal to him as the high places of the field could have been (2 Kgs. 1:2), and the breaking of his lattice let into his throne a man of the more active genius, that would not lose the dominion of Moab without making at least one push for its preservation.
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