Posts Tagged 'Wickedness'

2 Kings Chapter 24

Judah, which had been a land worthy of the temple of the Lord, and where the faithful would travel to worship and make sacrifices and offerings to the Lord, had become a wicked and idolatrous place. Unrighteous rulers, such as King Manasseh, had led the people to follow after their own wicked ways. Because of this, the people of Judah were promised to be removed from the land by other nations, just as the other tribes of Israel had been scattered. Jehoiakim, who had been raised to be the king of Judah by the Pharoah of Egypt, was not a righteous leader. The people became subject to Egypt, and Jehoiakim taxed them in order to pay the necessary tribute. The record of the people of Judah continues as follows:

1 In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him.
2 And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servants the prophets.
3 Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;
4 And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon.

Jehoiakim, and his people, became servants to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon for three years, and then they rebelled against Babylon. After this, and because of the promises of the Lord, other nations came against Judah. Some of these nations included the Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites, and the children of Ammon. Judah would be destroyed because of the grossly wicked acts committed there, such as the unforgivable shedding of innocent blood (see also 2 Kings 21:16).

5 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
6 So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead.
7 And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.

Jehoiakim died and his son Jehoiachin (also known as Jeconiah) became king of Judah. Pharaoh of Egypt did not return to take Judah, because the king of Babylon had taken much of the land from Pharaoh.

8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother’s name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father had done.

King Jehoiachin became the ruler of Judah at the age of eighteen (the second book of Chronicles says that he ruled at the age of eight). He only reigned for three months, and he did so in wickedness.

10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.
11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it.
12 And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign.
13 And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said.
14 And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.
15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.
16 And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar’s servants besieged Jerusalem during the reign of Jehoiachin. Nebuchadnezzar came against the city and Jehoiachin and his family and servants went out to him. Nebuchadnezzar took them. Then, he removed all the treasures from the palace and the temple. Many of the people in Jerusalem were carried away captive, even as many as ten thousand people, with the exception of those who were the “poorest sort”. They included seven thousand mighty men, a thousand craftsmen and smiths, and anyone who was strong enough to fight. These were possibly taken to make their own army stronger, or to stop the people of Jerusalem from being strong enough to fight or have the skill to make weapons needed to fight Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Those who were left may have been considered the poorest because they were not fit for battle against their enemies. The captives were taken to Babylon.

17 And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father’s brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
18 Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
19 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.
20 For through the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

Mattaniah, the brother of Jehoiachin, was made the king of Judah. His name was changed to Zedekiah. Zedekiah ruled for eleven years, from the age of 21 to about 32. He was an evil king and ruled as Jehoiakim had ruled. Jerusalem and Judah did not have peace in this time, because of their wickedness. Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon (see also 2 Chronicles 36 and Daniel 1).

As a side note, it is interesting to me, to see what had happened in the land of Judah, specifically in Jerusalem, at the time when the record of the book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon begins. I had assumed some things in all my times reading the verses of Nephi, which seem to have some differences if this chapter of 2 Kings is translated correctly. I had assumed that Lehi had left Jerusalem before any of the city had been taken. However, Lehi and his family were living in Jerusalem at this time when many of the people of Jerusalem were taken to Babylon. The record of Nephi begins in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, which means that Lehi’s family were of the people described here as the “poorest sort” left in Jerusalem. If being the “poorest” was regarding their wealth, they had not been among the wealthiest there before Jehoiachin was taken. Now that those people were gone, they may have been among the wealthier of those left. If not about their wealth, they were among those who were not physically the most strong, or did not have skills for making war. In which case, the Lord was looking out for Nephi, because he probably would have been taken, seeing as he was “large in stature“. But, the family of Lehi were not seen as any prominent or important family, so they were left there. This was a blessing for them, and for all of us today who benefit from the path that the Lord led them on shortly after these things happened.

Additionally, it would not have been unbelievable then, that all of Jerusalem could have been destroyed and taken, because these things had nearly happened to them and had happened for all the lands of Israel around them. When Lehi became a prophet, he was mocked for telling the people of Jerusalem of their wickedness, not for telling them what would happen to Jerusalem and it being unbelievable. For me, this shows even more, just how wickedly the people were living there, that they could have dealt with the effects of the Babylonian attack on them, and still denied that there was a need for repentance and returning to the Lord.

We read in the chapter a part of the fulfillment of the revelations of the prophets. There was such great wickedness in the promised land, that most of the people had been scattered into foreign lands. There were some who still remained in Jerusalem, with the promise that the prophecies would be fulfilled and destruction would come to all of Jerusalem. In our day, there are still prophecies of the scriptures that are not fulfilled. We have a choice (agency) as to how we will live and how that will effect us. The Savior will come again and the wicked will be destroyed while the righteous will be blessed with peace. If we choose to live in righteousness, as Josiah of Jerusalem (see 2 Kings 2223), we will have peace. If we choose to live in wickedness, as Zedekiah, we will have destruction brought upon us. We choose righteousness, when we choose to heed the warnings of our prophets, study the scriptures and pray, and choose to keep the commandments, following after the Savior, Jesus Christ.

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2 Kings Chapter 22

Hezekiah had been a righteous leader in Judah. On the other hand, his son Manasseh, was extremely wicked, and brought the people of Judah along with him into great sin. Manasseh’s son, Amos, followed in the wickedness of his father and continued to lead the people in idolatry. All of these had died and at this point, Josiah, the son of Amos, had become king. This chapter begins with:

1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath.
2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.

At the age of eight, Josiah became king of Judah. He ruled for 31 years, or until he was about 39 years old. He was not like his father Amos, but lived and ruled in righteousness like King David. (see also 2 Chronicles 34)

3 And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the Lord, saying,
4 Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people:
5 And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house,
6 Unto carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house.
7 Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully.

After 18 years had passed, Josiah being about 26 at the time, he sent a servant, named Shaphan, to the temple priest, Hilkiah, to take total of the money gathered from the people for the work of repairing the temple. This money was the tithes and offerings of their day. The priests had been faithful and did not require a reckoning of the money they were given to have the work done, because they could be trusted.

Tithes and offerings are for the purposes of building up the kingdom of God on Earth. Today, this money goes to the building and maintaining of temples and other church buildings around the world. The churches and temples are sacred places, consecrated for the faithful to gather, teach and uplift one another, worship God, covenant and serve. In ancient times, the temple of the Lord served the same purposes. It is right, that a faithful and righteous leader would desire to use the offerings of the people to rededicate the house of the Lord. If you would like to see more about temples in the LDS faith, I just saw this great, simple video about them: Mormon Temples

Trust in the work of the Lord, is so important to the uplifting and edification of all those who serve. Trust in God, of course, is of greatest importance. Those who serve in His kingdom, need to trust that God will keep his promises and covenants, and that He will be there to help them when they ask for help. Trust in others is also needed. So much of the work of the Lord, is Priesthood leaders, such as the prophets and high priests, giving callings and assignments to others, such as these priests in the temple, and then trusting that they will do their part in the work. When the work is accomplished the one who delegates is able to continue His work, others are able to come and participate in worship and service to the Lord, and most of all, those who were trusted and followed through, have opportunities to learn; grow in testimony, wisdom and knowledge; and become more as individuals. Additionally, we each individually, need to have trust in ourselves, that we are strong enough to do the work of the Lord. In one of the greatest paradoxes of the gospel, we are strong enough, when we become completely humble and submissive to the will of the Lord, becoming, in a sense, our weakest, in order to grow the most. Trusting the Lord, others and ourselves, is the only way that we can truly further the work of the Lord and reach our greatest potential as individuals.

8 And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.
9 And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord.
10 And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
11 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying,
13 Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.
14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

The book of the law was found in the temple and given to Shaphan, who read it and returned to Josiah to give a report of what had happened. He told Josiah that the money of the temple had been gathered and given to workers. He also showed the king that the book of the law had been found. He read it to Josiah. Josiah responded by renting his clothes. He told the Shaphan, his son Ahikam, a man named Achbor, and his servant Asahiah, to ask the Lord about the words of the book of the law, in behalf of Josiah and the people of Judah. Josiah was concerned for the people because their ancestors had so often willingly disobeyed the words of the book. The men went to Huldah the prophetess, to her home in the northwest part of Jerusalem, and communed with her.

What a huge blessing it must have been, to have found the record of the law. This was their scriptures, even the record of the law of Moses. Nations who loose the records of their laws, forget what that law is and create their own laws in order to make civilization work. The lessons from the past, especially those found in our own scriptures, show that the nations who are strongest, both physically and spiritually, are those who know the law because they keep the records and use them. People who are raised up without the laws, are so much more likely to fall away from the traditions of the past. (This is one of the themes we can read about this throughout The Book of Mormon.) The laws of God, such as the law of Moses for the ancient Israelites, had not changed. This law was still in complete effect at the time the book was given to Josiah. Because it had not been preserved by the kings, as they had been commanded when first given to Moses and passed on to Joshua, it had been forgotten. Josiah did not know the fulness of the law, until he was able to read it. Our scriptures our precious, but only if we read them and apply them to our lives.

15 And she said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,
16 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:
17 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.
18 But to the king of Judah which sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard;
19 Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord.
20 Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.

Huldah prophsied that evil would come to the people of Judah just as the book of the law had said it would, or rather all the evil and curses brought upon the wicked found in the record, because they had chosen to worship other gods of their own creation. The words of verse 17, sound as though the curses would come because the people deliberately turned to idolatry to upset the Lord. Their wickedness may have been more rebellion than being raised in ignorance of what was right. Their choice to practice wickedness would have strong consequences. However, to Josiah, the Lord had heard his humble weeping and she prophesied that he would die in peace and not be the one to see the destruction of his people. The men returned to Josiah and told him what she had spoken.

Josiah would be blessed for his choice to do what was right, once he had learned of it from the word of the Lord. Three things happened to him in order to receive these blessings. First, his heart was tender. This sounds like he had an open heart, softened to the word, sensitive to it and ready to receive it, because he was willing. Second, he humbled himself to the Lord. In Alma 32:14, Alma was teaching the Zoramites who were poor and brought to humility by their circumstances. He said, “And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?” Greater blessings come to those who are humbled when they learn the gospel, just as Josiah had done. In his humility, Josiah was concerned for others who would be destroyed, and was mourning for their loss. This humility and care for others, was seen by the Lord and blessings were promised as a result. If we are compelled into a situation where we become humble and then turn to the Lord with greater commitment, we will be blessed, but the greatest blessings and the most growth to our souls, comes in actively studying the word of God, and choosing for ourselves to have faith in that word and live what is taught. And third, Josiah heard or read the words and heard the spirit’s influence and inspiration. The word of the Lord will do nothing for us, if we read them, but refuse to hear what they can teach us. The blessing that was his, and can be ours if we follow this example and pattern, is peace. Peace is something that men desire for their lives, and he was promised to have this, even knowing what would come of his people.

As I read this chapter, I think back on a time in my life, after having three of my six children, when the hard drive that held all my digital photos and videos, had stopped working. I had lost all of them and experienced a mourning for something non-living, that I had never known was possible. (It seems a given to mourn for the loss of something living.)
I was beside myself with grief for weeks, as we did all that we could to possibly get something back. I felt as though I would not be able to remember my children as babies, and memories are so important to me. After several weeks, we got word, that the majority of the files had been recovered. My joy was so full. I know now, just how much I could mourn for the loss of non-living things of great value to me. This taught me to have greater gratitude for these things. Likewise, I am so grateful for the scriptures. I love them more than other things of this world, much like family photos, because of the happiness I feel as I study them. I am so glad that there are so many ways to have the scriptures available to us, because if they were lost to me now, I would be heartbroken. I know I would mourn them, because my memory will not always hold on to the words I study. I would forget them and yearn for the peace they bring. Knowing that the scriptures have not always been as available to mankind, and reflecting on just how short a time anyone in the world has even known about the Book of Mormon, enlarges my gratitude for being able to live today and have them. Finding the scriptures in the temple, truly was a blessing for Josiah and the people of Israel.

2 Kings Chapter 21

Hezekiah, was the king of Judah in a time when most of the land of Israel was taken over by other nations. Hezekiah had ruled in righteousness and had the blessing of the Lord’s protection for himself and the people of Jerusalem. At one point, he allowed himself to give into the temptation to be prideful and showed all his treasures to the Babylonians. In response, the Lord promised Hezekiah that the people of Judah would be taken captive into Babylon. These things would effect his descendants in the days of his sons. When Hezekiah died, his son, Manasseh, became king. This chapter begins as follows:

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzi-bah.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.
3 For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.
4 And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord said, In Jerusalem will I put my name.
5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.
6 And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
7 And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:
8 Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.
9 But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel.

At the age of twelve, Manasseh became king. He ruled until he was about 67 years old, or for about 55 years. He did not follow after the ways of his father, who had destroyed all the idols and repaired the temple of the Lord. Instead, he followed after the ways of many others who had ruled before Hezekiah, building the temples, altars and groves for other gods. He also built other altars within the temple of the Lord, which were designed to worship other gods there. He sacrificed his own sons and did all manner of wickedness associated with idolatry. He placed an idol in the temple, in the sacred place where great promises had been made to the faithful kings of the land, such as David and Solomon. He desecrated the Holy temple of the Lord. Manasseh led the people into greater evil than even the heathen nations that were found in the land before the children of Israel arrived there. (see also 2 Chronicles 33)

It is hard to think that the son of one who had lived so righteously, would live so wickedly. His father had only been an influence in his life for twelve years, he was young and I am sure that there were still many people who were wicked, who were able to influence his impressionable mind. It all would come down to his individual agency, or the kinds of choices he made, because of the influences he had. This teaches how important it is to influence our youth for good. Our youth will one day become those who lead the world. All future generations will be influenced by our children and their choices. We can make a difference in the future, by being the right kind of examples and giving our youth the tools they need to make good choices for themselves.

10 And the Lord spake by his servants the prophets, saying,
11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:
12 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.
13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of
Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.
14 And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies;
15 Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.
16 Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

Prophets were called by God, to speak to the people. The prophecy and word of the Lord, was that Manasseh had done greater wickedness than all those before him and had caused Judah to do these things along with him. Because of this, a great evil would come upon all of Judah and those who heard the prophecy would feel their ears tingle, a witness of its truth. The people of Judah would be destroyed and forsaken, delivered into the hand of their enemies to be killed or made slaves. The Lord also said that Manasseh had shed so much innocent blood, that it filled Jerusalem. A lot of blood can be shed by one man in a reign of 55 years.

17 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and all that he did, and his sin that he sinned, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
18 And Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.

These were not all of the acts of Manasseh, but more were recorded. Manasseh died and his son, Amon, became the king.

19 Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah.
20 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh did.
21 And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them:
22 And he forsook the Lord God of his fathers, and walked not in the way of the Lord.

Amon reigned from the age of 22 to 24, continuing in the wickedness of his father. He did not follow after God, but chose to follow after idols and continue to lead the people in idolatry.

23 And the servants of Amon conspired against him, and slew the king in his own house.
24 And the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead.
25 Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
26 And he was buried in his sepulchre in the garden of Uzza: and Josiah his son reigned in his stead.

His servants conspired against him and killed him. The people of Jerusalem killed those who had conspired against the king and then made Josiah, the son of Amon, the king.

This chapter causes me to think about the Lord’s timing. There had been many years now, in which great wickedness had been allowed to continue, even after the first prophecy of the destruction of the people of Jerusalem and Judah. In their great wickedness, I am sure they would not have believed it was ever going to happen, since they had been allowed to continue to live as they were. But, how often do the wicked believe in the prophecies of the Lord? Nevertheless, the Lord has always done things at the time that was right for his purpose. His purpose being to allow the greatest number of souls to be redeemed as possible, in order to have eternal life. Moses 1:39 reads, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” The prophets seem to have been proclaiming a warning call, giving the people of Jerusalem every opportunity to repent and return to the Lord. Likewise, there was also going to be a day when a Savior would come, and the timing of their destruction would influence the lives of all the generations that would someday come from these wicked and idolatrous people. The word of this prophecy would eventually be fulfilled , and only those who heeded the word of the Lord, would be able to avoid destruction. We can learn about at least one group who avoided this specific time of destruction in The Book of Mormon (see 2 Kings 24 and 1 Nephi 1). Recognizing this, should help us to see that we have the opportunity to heed the warnings of the prophets as well. Will we follow after the world and be led to destruction, or will we follow after the prophets and avoid it?

2 Kings Chapter 16

Israel and Judah had passed through the hands of many kings. Israel was typically led by those who were wicked and idolatrous. Judah was typically led by those who were trying to be good, but did not help the people to turn fully to the Lord. In Israel, Pekah ruled in wickedness, as the kings before him. A fair amount of the Israelite people had been captured and taken to Assyria. Meanwhile, Jotham ruled in Judah, and had done those things that were good in the sight of God. When he died, his son Ahaz became king. At this time, Pekah joined with Rezin, king of Syria, to go up against Judah.

1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign.
2 Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord his God, like David his father.
3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel.
4 And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.

Ahaz began to rule during the seventeenth year of Pekah’s reign in Israel. He was twenty years old at the time, and he reigned for sixteen years. Unlike his father, Ahaz did not rule in righteousness. He reigned in wickedness and idolatry, going so far as to sacrifice his own son to false gods, as was done to Baal. He used the high places that had been left by the kings before him, and performed sacrifices and made offerings there and all over Judah. This depth of idolatry, was the type that existed in the nations that the Israelites cast out, when Moses and Joshua led them into the promised land.

5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him.
6 At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day.
7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me.
8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria.
9 And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin.

Ahaz was beseiged by Rezin and Pekah, but they were unable to capture Judah. Elath was again taken from Judah by the Syrians, and the Jews were forced out of that area. Ahaz turned to Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, in hopes of being saved from his enemies. The Assyrians had already showed strength against Israel and had taken much of the people away, as mentioned above. Ahaz gave all the treasures of the temple and king’s house, and gave it as a gift to the king of Assyria, who decided to save Judah. Paying another country for help in times of war, was a normal thing. In a political sense, it meant that the Assyrians would have an allegiance from Judah, if not more. The Assyrians went against Damascaus, captured it and took the people to a place called Kir. They also killed Rezin.

10 And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.
11 And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus.
12 And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon.
13 And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar.
14 And he brought also the brasen altar, which was before the Lord, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the Lord, and put it on the north side of the altar.
15 And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering, and the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: and the brasen altar shall be for me to inquire by.
16 Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded.

Ahaz went to meet the Assyrian king in Damascus, and seeing the altar their, decided he wanted to make a new altar in Judah. He sent a description to Urijah the priest, who built a new altar for Ahaz. Ahaz returned, saw the new altar and made an offering upon it. King Ahaz made the sacrifice himself, unlike the traditions of the past in which the priests made the sacrifices. Ahaz moved the brazen altar of the temple. Then he gave a commandment to Urijah to make offerings on the new, great altar, and he changed the way that sacrifices were made in the temple, reserving the brazen altar for his own use.

17 And king Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the laver from off them; and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stones.
18 And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king’s entry without, turned he from the house of the Lord for the king of Assyria.

Then, Ahaz destroyed the brazen sea on the oxen, and he changed the things that had been built for the sabbath and king’s entrance. This brazen sea, would have been the baptismal font of the temple of Solomon, like those built in modern-day temples.

19 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
20 And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.

When Ahaz died, his son Hezekiah became king of Judah.

The adversary had a great hold upon the heart of Ahaz. This was a man who was saved by a powerful leader of a powerful nation. Then, when he went to see the king of Assyria, he saw the traditions of those who were more powerful then he was. He may have wanted greater power himself and coveted the same kind of things he saw. Because Ahaz was a powerful man himself, he was able to have what he wanted. A bigger altar and a more grand display when making sacrifices, was not going to bring Ahaz the true strength that he needed to be his greatest potential. Ahaz can be an example to us, for what we should not allow to happen in our lives. Seeing the traditions of those who are more powerful, may cause the prideful to seek after those traditions in order to be more powerful. In effect, turning away from God and what is right to seek after the honors of men. This is not the source of true power. Long-lasting power, even the eternal power of God, can only be given by God and only according to the faithfulness of the righteous. Ahaz might have been able to experience what he felt was great and satisfying, in making the changes to traditions and destroying things of the temple as they were, but that experience would have been fleeting. If we choose to follow after Christ and live his gospel now, even though it is without a lot of earthly honor or reward, we will have the greater reward eternally. This is what our loving Father in Heaven desires for all of His children.

This chapter causes me to reflect on lessons learned about dependence upon the arm of the flesh to be saved. In this instance, Ahaz was able to be rescued by Assyria, but at what cost? He gave great amounts of money, which was normal to do and really didn’t matter in the long run. The greater cost was that of becoming indebted to another country for that rescue. In our own lives, we cannot rely on the strength of men to continually be there for us. Men will eventually fail, but God does not and will not ever fail us. If we are in need, and are humble, we can turn to God and with faith, he will be our strength. Help may not come immediately, which can be seen all throughout the scriptures, but with patience and hope in the Lord, it will eventually come. Ahaz must have had the records of the kings before him. I wonder if there had been some knowledge of times long past to him, which showed that miracles happened to those who depended on the God of Israel. I can only guess that he would have looked at these miracles as legends and turned to what he could see was there for him physically in his own life. Yet, the stories of the bible are real history of men on earth. Ahaz did exist and he did depend on men and false gods. We can know that these things are true and that God is there for us, waiting to bless us for our faith, through sincere prayer and the choice to live faithful to the commandments. I am grateful for the blessings that I have received those times that I have turned to the Lord, rather than depending first on the wisdom and strength of men.

2 Kings Chapter 15

This section of the bible is appropriately named the books of kings, as the list of the kings of the people of Israel continues. Jeroboam was the son of Joash (Jehoash), who became the king of Israel. The previous chapter teaches that he did evil and was a wicked, idolatrous leader. When he died, his son Zachariah became the king. Meanwhile in Judah, during the first portion of the reign of Jeroboam, Amaziah ruled. He was described as a king who ruled in righteousness, but some of his actions brought the destruction and capture of much of Jerusalem. When he died, his young son, Azariah, became king of Judah. The list of the kings continues:

1 In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign.
2 Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem.
3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done;
4 Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places.

Azariah ruled from the age of sixteen, for fifty-two years. He ruled in righteousness, though he never removed the places where the people continued to make sacrifices and offerings.

5 And the Lord smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the house, judging the people of the land.
6 And the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
7 So Azariah slept with his fathers; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.

The king became a leper and remained that until his death. While he lived in a separated place, his son Jotham, was acting as the judge of the land. Azariah died and Jotham became the king of Judah.

8 In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zachariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria six months.
9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
10 And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.
11 And the rest of the acts of Zachariah, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
12 This was the word of the Lord which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.

During the reign of Azariah, Zachariah became king of Israel. He ruled in wickedness and idolatry. A man named Shallum conspired against him and killed him. Shallum became king of Israel. This was fulfillment of the words of the prophet given to Jehu. Jehu was the man, who had destroyed the house of Ahab and all that was connected to the following of Baal. Because he had done this, the Lord had promised him that his family would rule for four generations (see 2 Kings 10:30).

13 Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned a full month in Samaria.
14 For Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, and came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.
15 And the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.

At some point after Jotham was king in Judah, Uzziah (Azariah) became king. Uzziah had ruled for thirty-nine years, when Shallum became king of Israel. He was king for a month and was killed by Menahem, who then became king himself.

16 Then Menahem smote Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the coasts thereof from Tirzah: because they opened not to him, therefore he smote it; and all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.
17 In the nine and thirtieth year of Azariah king of Judah began Menahem the son of Gadi to reign over Israel, and reigned ten years in Samaria.
18 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
19 And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.
20 And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.

Menahem attacked Tiphsah and all its borders, because they did not serve him. He killed every pregnant woman there. Menahem was a wicked and idolatrous king, who led for ten years. The Assyrians came against Israel, and Menahem gave money the king of the Assyrians, that he could retain the kingdom of Israel. The king of Assyria took the money and left Israel. This would not be the last of them seeing the Assyrians come against them.

21 And the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
22 And Menahem slept with his fathers; and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead.

Menahem died and left the kingdom to his son, Pekahiah.

23 In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years.
24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
25 But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his, conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king’s house, with Argob and Arieh, and with him fifty men of the Gileadites: and he killed him, and reigned in his room.
26 And the rest of the acts of Pekahiah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.

When Azariah had been king in Judah, for fifty years, Pekahiah became king in Israel. He was king for two years, continuing the traditions of his father in wicked, idolatrous leadership. His captains son, Pekah, conspired against him and killed him in the palace. Pekah became king.

27 In the two and fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years.
28 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.
30 And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.
31 And the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.

Pekah became king during the fifty-second year of Azariah’s reign in Judah. He was king for twenty years. He was an idolatrous king who ruled in wickedness. The Assyrians began to carry away Israelites from several cities, captive to Assyria. A man named Hoshea conspired against Pekah and killed him. He became king during the reign of Jotham in Judah.

32 In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel began Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign.
33 Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok.
34 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done.
35 Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the Lord.

Jotham was king at the age of twenty-five, and he ruled for sixteen years. He was a righteous king, as his father. However, he also did not remove those places where the people made sacrifices and offerings. Jotham did, however, add a higher gate to the temple.

36 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
37 In those days the Lord began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah.
38 And Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.

Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Remaliah, king of Israel, began to stand against Judah. Jotham died and his son Ahaz became king of Judah. A bit of the story of Ahaz and Isaiah and how they dealt with Rezin and Pekah at this time, has been recorded in other scriptures (see Isaiah 7). The portion found in this record, continues in the next chapter. This is important to understanding the time when Israel was scattered.

This chapter is a list of kings who ruled in wickedness in Israel and those who ruled in righteousness in Judah. Nothing good is recorded of those who ruled in wickedness and followed after the evil, idolatrous ways of their fathers. All that seems to be written here of them, was death and destruction. While those who tried to rule in righteousness, seemed to have been blessed to rule for longer. The Israelite nation, both the northern and southern kingdom, were under attack by other nations, because they had not lived to be worthy of the promises of protection given to those who had first entered the promised land and were a covenant people of the Lord.

When we make covenants and strive to keep them completely, the Lord cannot hold back the blessings that are part of that promise. The covenant people of Israel, had been promised peace and safety. They had been promised to be a mighty nation, even the mightiest among nations. When they followed after righteousness, they were blessed with peace and prosperity in great abundance. Covenant, commandment-keeping people today, are promised with prosperity, and the perfect peace that can only come through the companionship of the Spirit of God. But, we must be vigilant in living the commandments to their fullest. We must put aside all that is wicked and evil in our lives. The people of Judah were led in righteousness, but not fully. There remained those things that could easily lead them away from God, because the high places were not removed from the land. Because they held back their full commitment to God, they were not blessed with the protection they truly needed. God will not force man to follow Him and He will justly allow for men to receive the consequences of their choices.

2 Kings Chapter 8

Elisha was the prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the time of the king Jehoram. He had performed several miracles which have been recorded. One of those miracles was to bring a child back to life (see 2 Kings 4:18-37). His mother was a Shunammite woman who had provided a bed and food for Elisha out of the kindness of her heart. This chapter tells more of her, and begins:

1 Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the Lord hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.
2 And the woman arose, and did after the saying of the man of God: and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.
3 And it came to pass at the seven years’ end, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines: and she went forth to cry unto the king for her house and for her land.
4 And the king talked with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done.
5 And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored a dead body to life, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.
6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now.

Elisha told the Shunamite woman to take her family and leave the land to dwell anywhere else, because there was going to be a famine for seven-years. She heeded the prophet and took her family and all who lived in her house, to the land of the Philistines. They remained there for seven years and then she returned and desired of the king, to reclaim her home and land. The king asked Gehazi, who served with Elisha, to tell him the miracles and work of Elisha. Gehazi told him about the time when Elisha brought the woman’s son back to life. It was at this time, that the woman asked for her home and land to be restored to her. Gehazi told the king that this was the woman and her son, whom Elisha had raised. The king asked the woman about this, and when she told him, he had one of his officers restore all that was hers, including all the crops that had grown during her time in the land of the Philistines.

7 And Elisha came to Damascus; and Ben-hadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither.
8 And the king said unto Hazael, Take a present in thine hand, and go, meet the man of God, and inquire of the Lord by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?
9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ burden, and came and stood before him, and said, Thy son Ben-hadad king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?
10 And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the Lord hath shewed me that he shall surely die.
11 And he settled his countenance steadfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept.
12 And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child.
13 And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The Lord hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria.
14 So he departed from Elisha, and came to his master; who said to him, What said Elisha to thee? And he answered, He told me that thou shouldest surely recover.
15 And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead.

Elisha traveled to Damascus. Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, was sick and heard that Elisha was in Damascus. He told his servant, Hazael, to take a gift to Elisha and to ask if the king would ever recover from his sickness. His servant obeyed and Elisha told him to return and tell the king that he would recover, but the Lord had revealed that he would die. Then Hazael had to compose himself, and Elisha cried. Hazael asked why he cried and Elisha told him that he knew the evil that the man would do to the people of Israel. He knew that he would destroy the protection of their cities with fire and kill their children and pregnant women. Hazael was taken back by this and asked how this would be, as he was a servant. Elisha told him that it had been revealed that he would become king of Syria. The revelation that he would become king, had been given to Elijah (see 1 Kings 19:15, 17) and Elisha had been made known of horrible things that would eventually come to his people by the work of Hazael. Hazael left and went to Ben-hadad. He told him that he would recover. Then the next day, Hazael covered the king’s face with a cloth dipped in water, and he died. Hazael became the king, just as Elisha had said.

16 And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign.
17 Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.
18 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for the daughter of Ahab was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.
19 Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children.

As Joram reigned in Israel, Jehoshaphat of Judah died and his son Jehoram reigned in Judah. He was king for 8 years. He ruled in wickedness, just a Ahab and his family, because he married Ahab’s daughter. However, the Lord did not destroy Judah, because of the covenant made with David.

20 In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves.
21 So Joram went over to Zair, and all the chariots with him: and he rose by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him about, and the captains of the chariots: and the people fled into their tents.
22 Yet Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time.
23 And the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
24 And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.

The land of Edom separated from Judah and raised their own king. This was the fulfillment of another revelation, which had been given through the patriarchal blessing of Esau (see Genesis 27:40). Joram took an army with him by night, and fought the Edomites. They fled to their homes, but there continued to be wars between them and Judah. In the Bible Dictionary, it says that the land of Edom had a great hatred for Israel and vice versa. Also at this time, Libnah revolted. Joram died and Ahaziah became king.

25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign.
26 Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel.
27 And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, as did the house of Ahab: for he was the son in law of the house of Ahab.

Ahaziah only reigned for one year over Judah, at the age of 22. He ruled in wickedness, just as Ahab had done, because he was married into the family of Ahab.

28 And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to the war against Hazael king of Syria in Ramoth-gilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram.
29 And king Joram went back to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.

Joram and Ahaziah gathered together, to go to war against the Syrians, but the Syrians wounded Joram. He left to heal from his wounds, and Ahaziah went to see him.

There does not seem to be much in the way of positive happenings in this portion of the story of Israel and Judah. There are lessons to be learned from the wars and contentions that wicked leadership brings upon a people. Both of these kingdoms were dwelling in unrighteousness and neither was at peace with other nations. In the past, those rulers who feared the Lord and served in righteousness, had been blessed with times of peace and prosperity. However at this point, Israel suffered from famine which would have been hard to bear. The famine was called by the Lord, or allowed to be something that was inflicted upon the people, possibly because of their wickedness and need for humbling and turning back to the Lord. The only positive thing, was the example of the Shunammite woman who continued to have faith in the words of the prophet. She had the blessing of being warned of life-changing difficulties, and heeded the warning. Through this choice, her family was preserved and eventually able to return to their land without suffering the ill effects of famine. We too can experience the blessings, such as with the Shunammite woman, or the difficulties of a contentious life, based on the choices we make to live righteously or unrighteously.

1 Kings Chapter 21

Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab, and queen of the northern kingdom of Israel. She was a follower of Baal and had led many away from the Lord. She hated the prophets, and had sought to kill Elijah after her priests had been destroyed. She was a wicked ruler and had brought a lot of trouble to the land and people of Israel. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
2 And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.
3 And Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.

There was a vineyard near the palace of Ahab in Jezreel. It was owned by a man named Naboth. Ahab wanted to have the vineyard for a garden, so he asked that Naboth give it to him and offered to give him a better vineyard, or to pay him for the land. Naboth declined because this had been the inheritance of land given to his family. Ahab returned home upset, laid down and would not eat anything.

In biblical times, an inheritance meant a great deal. The Lord had inspired the division of land, and each family had been given a portion. Despite all the personal apostasy and wickedness that had taken over among the people, they still held fast to the idea of a promised land of inheritance. It is unknown to us, what kind of a man Naboth had been, but it seems like he was trying to be a good man. A man who recognized that the land he had was a gift from God, which he should not give up for any man, even the king of Israel.

5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?
6 And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.
7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.
12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
13 And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.
14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.

Jezebel asked Ahab what was wrong because she noticed he was sad and not eating. Ahab told her what had happen. Jezebel asked him if he was not the king of Israel. She told him to get up, eat and be happy, because she would give him the vineyard he wanted. Jezebel sent letters to the elders and nobels of Jezreel, as if they were from Ahab. She wrote that the men were to fast and put Naboth in front of the people, with false witnesses to say that Naboth had blasphemed God and the king. She wrote that they were to stone him to death. The men followed the orders and stoned Naboth. Then they sent word to Jezebel, that Naboth was dead.

15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.
16 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Jezebel told Ahab that Naboth was dead and that Ahab could claim the vineyard in Jezreel. So, Ahab went down to the vineyard and took it for his own.

17 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.
19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.
21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,
22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.
23 And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

Elijah received revelation from the Lord, and was commanded to go to Ahab in the vineyard of Naboth, and prophesy to him. The Lord commanded him to ask if he had killed and taken possession of the land, and then he was to prophesy to Ahab that he would die where Naboth had been killed. When Elijah had done this, Ahab asked how he had found him there, and Elijah told him he found him because he had sold his soul to do evil. Elijah prophesied that Ahab and his posterity would be destroyed and cut off from Israel. He would be destroyed just as those who had done evil before him. He prophesied that Jezebel would die by the wall of Jezreel, and that all who died from their house, would be eaten by wild animals.

25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.
27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.

Ahab had been more wicked then any other king in Israel because his wife had led him away, but when he heard the prophecy against his family, he mourned and fasted. The Lord told Elijah that Ahab humbled himself, and because of this he would not destroy him, but that his posterity would be destroyed in the days of his son.

Ahab was a selfish man, who had a fit over not getting his way. He refused to eat when he was denied what he wanted. His enabling and wicked wife, was willing to do all that she could to give him what he wanted, even if it meant killing someone. This was done for ownership of a piece of land, which was most likely not truly needed by the king. I find it interesting to read of Ahab’s reaction after the prophecy from Elijah. Even though he had become a grossly wicked man, he sincerely humbled himself, when he realized what he would be done to himself and his family. Because of his humility, he was not going to be destroyed, but there were still consequences because a man was killed for him. It says nothing specifically of the prophesy against Jezebel here, but she had not humbled herself. She had planned the death of a man, and even though she did not carry it out herself, she had killed him. Her wickedness would bring her eventual destruction and the prophesy of her death would be fulfilled.

A lesson from this chapter, is that God knows if we are truly humbled. He is merciful, and will extend that mercy to those who are humble. None of us is perfect. We may not live as wickedly as Ahab did, but we do make choices that separate us from God. We need the mercy of the Lord. All men need to be humble and repent of those things that they know they have done against God, if they do not want to realize the promise of their own personal destruction. I am so grateful for God’s love and mercy. I am grateful that He knows me perfectly and will help me to become a better person.

1 Kings Chapter 14

Jeroboam was the idolatrous leader of the ten tribes of Israel after the nation of Israel was split into two kingdoms. Ahijah was a prophet of the Lord, who had prophesied that Jeroboam would become the king of the ten tribes. The prophesy also contained the promise of maintaining the kingdom, if Jeroboam was faithful to the Lord, but he had not been faithful. When the threat of loosing subjects was a possibility, he turned to false gods. Another prophet had told of death and destruction that would come at the altar of a temple of Jeroboam, to which Jeroboam was offended. The Lord had cursed him for trying to stop that prophet, and he still did not repent of his wicked ways. In the southern kingdom, Rehoboam ruled. Rehoboam had been the ruler of all of Israel, but in his pride and foolishness, he had tried to place greater burdens upon the people. His people had revolted and he had the majority of his kingdom taken from him. Rehoboam was left to rule over Judah. He did not rule in righteousness. This chapter begins a follows:

1 At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick.
2 And Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, which told me that I should be king over this people.
3 And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child.
4 And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age.

The son of Jeroboam became sick, so he sent his wife in disguise, to the prophet Ahijah. He sent her with a gift offering of bread and honey, and she was to ask what would happen to their son, Abijah. She went to Ahijah, but he was blind in his old age.

5 And the Lord said unto Ahijah, Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son; for he is sick: thus and thus shalt thou say unto her: for it shall be, when she cometh in, that she shall feign herself to be another woman.
6 And it was so, when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said, Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings.
7 Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel,
8 And rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes;
9 But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back:
10 Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.
11 Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the Lord hath spoken it.
12 Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die.
13 And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.
14 Moreover the Lord shall raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day: but what? even now.
15 For the Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the Lord to anger.
16 And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.

The Lord revealed to the prophet, that the wife of Jeroboam was coming to ask about her child, but that she would be in disguise. He was told to tell her he knew who she was. So when he heard her footsteps, he said to come in, announcing her as the wife of Jeroboam, then asked her why she hid her true identity, as he was a prophet who had heavy tidings to tell her. She must have recognized this was a man of God, since he was able to know who she was even though he could not see her and she was in a disguise. Ahijah told her to tell Jeroboam that God had chosen him to rule over his people, but instead of following after the Lord, he had made false idols. Since he had been an unrighteous leader, the house of Jeroboam was cursed to be cut off and taken away from Israel, or rather, destroyed completely. He was promised that the dead of his family would be eaten by the animals, possibly as a curse that showed they would have no respect given to their dead. The wife was told to return home, and as she did, her child would die. Also, that the people of Israel would mourn and bury him. This child would be the only one, or the last one of their family to be buried in a grave, because there was good in him. The prophecy continued, saying that a new king would rise up and cut off the house of Jeroboam, and the Lord would smite Israel and scatter them from the promised land, because they had done evil with their false gods and places of worship. The Lord would do these things to Israel, because Jeroboam had been a wicked ruler who led his people into this great sin.

17 And Jeroboam’s wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died;
18 And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by the hand of his servant Ahijah the prophet.
19 And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
20 And the days which Jeroboam reigned were two and twenty years: and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his stead.

So, the wife of Jeroboam went home and as she entered the threshold, her child died. Then, just as was foretold, he was buried and all of Israel mourned for him. Here it says that any more about Jeroboam is told in other records. He ruled for 22 years and then died, leaving his son, Nadab, to rule in his place.

21 And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess.
22 And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done.
23 For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.
24 And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.

Rehoboam was king of Judah, the southern kingdom, for 17 years. The people of Judah were not righteous, but were worse in sins then any of their ancestors. The land was full of idols and places for worship of their false gods. They had also been influenced by wicked nations and all the gross sins, including prostitution, that existed in the land before it was cleansed for the Israelites, had returned through this generation.

25 And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:
26 And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made.
27 And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king’s house.
28 And it was so, when the king went into the house of the Lord, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard chamber.

Solomon had built a grand and glorious temple and palace in Jerusalem. It was likely a tempting place for any other nation to attack. The Egyptians, under king Shishak, came against Judah, and took all the treasures of the temple and the king’s house. He took all of the golden armor that Solomon had made during his reign. So, Rehoboam made brass sheilds and gave them to the guards of the palace. They used them to protect the king.

29 Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
30 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days.
31 And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead.

Again, these verses say that the rest of the actions of Rehoboam were recorded in the chronicles of the kings. In short, Rehoboam and Jeroboam fought one another for the rest of their days. Rehoboam died and was buried in the city of David, where his fathers were laid to rest. His son, Abijam, reigned after him.

This is such a depressing chapter to me. Two men who loved wickedness more than God, led their people into great wickedness. The entire land of promise, was full of wickedness and becoming ripe for destruction. The once strong and prosperous land of Israel, was divided and falling into the hands of other nations. Prophecies were made against the people, which were of destruction and death, and these prophecies were being fulfilled as the Lord withdrew his protecting hand from his people. The promise given to the children of the Lord was that they would prosper in the land so long as they worshipped the Lord and turned not from Him and His ways. Additionally, they had been promised that if they turned away, the Lord would allow others to remove them from the land of promise. There are similar promises made to the disciples of the Lord today. If we choose to follow the example of Christ, we will be blessed to prosper in our own promised land, and if we fall away into temptation, God will allow us to have the blessings removed from us. Greater things come to those who choose to turn their hearts towards the Lord.

2 Samuel Chapter 21

David returned to leadership in Israel, with a divided nation between those in Judah and the rest of the tribes of Israel. However, they had managed to maintain a peace with their neighboring nations. The people in the land, were generally living according to their own desires and passions. It seems that the Israelite people would not have been considered devoted to the Lord at this time. Even David, had dealt with a lot of heartache and difficulty, because of his personal choices against the laws of the Lord. This chapter continues the story of David’s reign as king during this time of difficulty.

1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.
2 And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)
3 Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord?
4 And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you.
5 And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,
6 Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, whomthe Lord did choose. And the king said, I will give them.
7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the Lord’s oath that wasbetween them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.
8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:
9 And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

The kingdom of David had a famine that last three years. David asked God why they had this famine, and the Lord told him it was because Saul had killed the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites were a people that lived among the Israelites from the time that they first returned to the promised land. The Gibeonites were afraid that they would be killed by the great nation, and their mighty God, whom they had heard about, so they had promised to be their servants if they would allow them to live among them in peace. However, the Gibeonites had come to this agreement by deceiving the princes of Israel. This was not something that was an easy thing for the host of Israel to realize, and many of the congregation murmured against it. The Gibeonites were spared at that time, because of the oath made between them and the princes of Israel, but they were made servants of Israel because of their deceit. Apparently, Saul had try to kill them, even though they had an oath with the children of Israel. This wickedness had brought the famine upon the David’s kingdom.

This was in a day when oaths were taken so seriously by men, that breaking them could mean death. We do not hear of oaths made with this kind of weight behind them, in fact, it seems that more often than not, people make oaths with a back-up plan as to how they can get out of it. We have contracts signed, promises made, and word given, only to have several ways to back out afterwards. While, I am glad that we don’t have people fearing death at the breaking of a contract, I feel that their is great integrity in keeping promises and doing all that we can to fulfill contracts and oaths we have with one another. Truly strong character is shown in those who value promises with the same importance as those we read about in ancient times. Our world would be so much better today, if the words of another could more consistently be trusted and depended upon.

David went to the Gibeonites and asked what he could do to made amends for what Saul had done. In response, they said they did not want to be paid or have any Israelite killed. David offered to do anything they desired. The only thing they asked for, was for seven sons of Saul to be delivered to them for hanging, because he had been the man to go against them. David agreed, but he spared Mephibosheth, because he had made an oath with his father, Jonathan. Seven of the sons of Saul were given over to the Gibeonites, and they were hanged for the things that Saul had done. I cannot imagine how hard this would have been for David. It was not the custom of the Israelites to allow children to suffer for the sins of their parents (see Deuteronomy 24:16), but Saul himself was no longer there to make restitution for what he had done. This decision was probably not made lightly, and I can imagine that the families of those taken, would have been heartbroken.

10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.
11 And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.

The mother of two of those who were taken, laid on the rock where they had been hung, making sure that nothing happened to the bodies for several weeks. David learned of this thing she did, while she was in mourning.

12 And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh-gilead, which had stolen them from the street of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa:
13 And he brought up from thence the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged.
14 And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulchre of Kish his father: and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was entreated for the land.

Perhaps, because of learning what Rizpah had done for the bodies of those when loved, or perhaps for some unknown reason, David took the bones of Saul and Jonathan from Jabesh-gilead, and gathered them with the bones of those who had been given over to the Gibeonites. Saul and Jonathan were buried in the grave of Saul’s father, Kish. I expect that the bodies of the seven sons were allowed to be placed where their families wanted them to be. After these things were done, they asked God for the land, which I think might mean that they may have asked a blessing upon the grave sites, or the land where they were buried.

15 Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint.
16 And Ishbi-benob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David.
17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.
18 And it came to pass after this, that there was again abattle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant.
19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, a Beth-lehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.
20 And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man ofgreat stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.
21 And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David slew him.
22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

Then, Israel went to war again with the Philistines. David became faint from battle, which I imagine may have been caused by his age or health at this time. Knowing David was not able to fight, the son of Goliath, Ishbi-benob, wanted to kill David, but Abisahi helped David and killed the Philistine. The men of David told him he was not to go out to battle again, because they did not want to lose their king, the “light of Israel”. The battles with the Philistines continued, and the men of David continued to kill those who were the sons and family of Goliath.

The promises of God that were made to David after he had the man named Uriah killed, continued to effect his life. In this chapter, we can see that the sword would not depart from the house of David (see 2 Samuel 12:10). Not knowing how soon after the famine that these battles with the Philistines started again, it is possible that the Israelites were forced into battles while still dealing with the effects of it. These times must not have been great for the people of Israel, and I am sure it would have been hard to be their leader at this time. David, who could have turned to his own wisdom or that of his counselors, turned to the Lord. He knew that God could help him to know how to stop the famine and help his people. He continues to be an example of the importance of going to the Lord, and each time he did, he and his people were blessed by following the direction and counsel given. We too, should continually turn to the Lord for guidance and direction. When we do, trusting in the will of God, we can also be blessed with those things that we stand in need of at that time.

2 Samuel Chapter 20

After their success in a difficult battle against the army of David’s son, Absalom, David and his followers were able to return to their homes in Jerusalem. They had done so by an escort, made of of mainly the tribe of Judah. The other leaders of Israel were offended by this, and because of the unstable nature of the kingdom, this pushed them to the brink of a civil war. This chapter begins:

1 And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.
2 So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.

A man named Sheba, of the tribe of Benjamin, and a follower of Belial, led Israel away from David, claiming that their people had no place in the kingdom of David. Israel followed after Sheba, and Judah remained loyal to David. It seems that this was a time when more of Israel followed after their own hearts, than the Lord, because Sheba was a man who followed after false gods and led people away by making the issues of the kingdom about a man, David, not the Lord.

3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.

David returned to his home, but the women who had been left behind and taken by his sons, would no longer be treated as his wives. Instead they were cared for as needed, but treated as the widows of Absalom.

4 Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present.
5 So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him.
6 And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy lord’s servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us.
7 And there went out after him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
8 When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab’s garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out.
9 And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.
10 But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.
11 And one of Joab’s men stood by him, and said, He that favoureth Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab.
12 And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by him stood still.
13 When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.

Amasa, who was now the captain of David’s armies and was the cousin of Joab, was commanded to gather the men of Judah. He took longer than he was told to perform this duty. David was concerned that Sheba would do worse to their people, than Absalom had done, so he sent his army after him. All their men went after Sheba, to stop him from making a defense for himself. Amasa, dressed in the garments of the captain, which had belonged to Joab, led the troops. As he went, his sword fell from the sheath. Joab took advantage of this moment and asked Amasa if he was alright. Joab tricked Amasa and stabbed him. Then, the brothers, Joab and Abishai, went after Sheba. The men of Joab followed after him, leaving Amasa dead behind them. No one would touch the body, so a man moved it out of the way and covered it with a cloth, while the rest of the army went after Sheba.

14 And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Beth-maachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him.
15 And they came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.

Joab led them throughout the land of Israel, and found him in Abel. They went against the city and attempted to throw down its wall.

16 Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.
17 And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear.
18 Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter.
19 I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?
20 And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.
21 The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.
22 Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.

A wise woman came out of the city to speak with Joab, and he listened to her. She told him that in times past, people had come to seek counsel in their city. This stopped the fight against the city, and she pled with him not to destroy her, as a faithful and peaceful woman of Israel. Joab did not desire to destroy innocent people, so he told her that Sheba had gone against the king and was hiding in her city. If she would deliver Sheba to him, they would leave the city in peace. She said that she would see to it that the head of Sheba would be cast over the wall. She returned to her people, and they found Sheba and cut off his head. It was sent over the wall to Joab, and the army left and returned to their homes in Jerusalem.

23 Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites:
24 And Adoram was over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder:
25 And Sheva was scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:
26 And Ira also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David.

Joab returned to being captain over the army of Israel, with Benaiah, Adoram, Jehoshapaht, Sheva, Zadok, Abiathar, and Ira serving for David in their own capacities, along with him. He had managed to return things back to the way they were prior to his seeing to the death of the king’s son. Joab was a sly man, who used the opportunity to take his own advantage and gain power. Amasa had not followed through on his duty in a timely manner, which made him a target for removal from his position as captain of the armies. However, I don’t think this should have ever made it acceptable for another man to kill him in cold-blood, the way that Joab did. Joab proved himself a worthy leader of the army, but at a cost that was awful and unnecessary, in my opinion. I cannot imagine that this choice was going to bring him the blessings of the Lord, or of the king whom he served. It amazes me, the things that people will do for power.

The Israelite nation continued to be broken from within. I think that if the people had been a more righteous people, willing to turn to the Lord instead of trying to live whatever way pleased them, they would have been united and strong. I know that blessings will come to people who remain faithful, and that the Lord will allow the wicked to suffer for their choices, even to the point of cursing them. I believe that we will see this for the people of Israel, in the coming chapters.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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