- This article concerns the king of the Southern Kingdom. For the king of the Northern Kingdom, see Jehoram of Israel. For other uses, see Jehoram (disambiguation).
King Jehoram or Joram (Hebrew יהורם המלך YHWH is exalted) (924-vr. 892-r. 889-d. 885 BC according to Ussher, or 880-vr. 853-r. 848- d. 841 BC according to Thiele) was the fifth king of the Southern Kingdom of Israel. He is remembered as a notorious fratricide and idolater who died so horribly that he was denied burial in the sepulchres of the kings.
Early life and family
Jehoram was the eldest of the seven sons of King Jehoshaphat and was born to him about ten years before Jehoshaphat began to reign. (His mother's name is not recorded.) He had two brothers named Azariah and four other brothers named Jehiel, Zechariah, Michael, and Shephatiah.
When he was seventeen years old (by either reckoning), Jehoram married Athaliah, daugher of King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom. This was part of the military alliance that his father made with that king. By her he had one son at this time, named Ahaziah. Athaliah was not his only wife, and might not have been the first, but she would become the most influential wife he had--to his detriment, and to that of the kingdom.
Jehoram is known to have had a number of sons and at least one daughter, named Jehosheba, who married Jehoiada, a Levite who ultimately became High Priest of the Southern Kingdom. The Bible describes Jehosheba as "sister" to Ahaziah. Most commentators regard her as a half-sister, the daughter of Jehoram by a wife other than Athaliah.
Viceroyship and Accession
About four years before his death, Jehoshaphat settled his estates. He gave Jehoram and his brothers several city governorships and various monetary settlements, and also made Jehoram his viceroy. Ussher says that this viceroyship ran concurrently with his lone reign (so that he reigned eight years altogether), but Thiele says that viceroyship and lone reign ran consecutively.
In either event, Jehoshaphat died, and Jehoram, to strengthen his own position, murdered all of his brothers and several other minor princes. Furthermore, without the countervailing influence of his father, he now came under the full influence of his wife Athaliah. She encouraged him to worship Baal, as her father did, and to allow Baalism to spread throughout the Southern Kingdom. His father Jehoshaphat had removed the high places; under Jehoram most if not all of these were rebuilt.
Jehoram was supposed to have been thirty-two years old when he began to reign. By the Ussher chronology, he was 32 years old when he became viceroy--and this was a true executive viceroyship, not a provincial one. By the Thiele chronology he was 32 years old at the start of his lone reign.
The Letter from Elijah
In the middle of his reign, Jehoram received a letter bearing the signature of "Elijah." The letter rebuked Jehoram for his murders and his apostasy, and said that his kingdom would suffer military defeat and economic hardship, and that he himself would suffer a gastrointestinal disease that would end with his death when his bowels fell out.
The authorship of this letter is a key point on which anti-Bible skeptics charge that the Bible is internally inconsistent. The three possible authors of that letter are:
- Another prophet having the same name as that of the great Elijah,
- Elijah's disciple and successor Elisha, or even
- Elijah himself, writing before the fact according to a previous vision from God.
Military and family disaster
Early in Jehoram's reign (after Jehoshaphat had died), Edom revolted from the Southern Kingdom. Jehoram led an army against that new kingdom and inflicted heavy casualties on it, but was unable to bring Edom back under Southern Kingdom dominion. This was according to the prophecy by Isaac to Esau that he, Esau, would "break Jacob's yoke from your neck." The city-state of Libnah, near the Judeo-Philistine border, revolted at the same time.
At an unspecified time during Jehoram's lone reign, a Philistine and Arab coalition raided the Southern Kingdom and plundered the royal palace. They carried away everything that they could lay their hands on, and either captured or killed all of Jehoram's wives (except Athaliah) and sons (except his youngest, Ahaziah, also called "Jehoahaz"). His daughter Jehosheba also survived the raid, perhaps because she was already married to Jehoiada by then.
Note that the Bible does not say that Ethiopia was a participant in this coalition, but rather that the Arab forces came from a region near to Ethiopia. These would probably have been Somali Arabs from the "Horn of Africa."
Two years before his death, Jehoram was stricken with a gastrointestinal disease that ended with his bowels falling out. The described progression is similar to that for ischemic colitis, which sometimes results when the supporting structures of the bowels (mesentery and mesocolon), within which run the blood vessels that serve them, somehow become twisted.
One year before he died, Jehoram made his surviving son Ahaziah his viceroy.
Death and Succession
Eventually Jehoram died miserably when his diseased bowels fell out. The people of Judah buried him in Jerusalem, but not in the sepulchres of the kings. His son Ahaziah reigned in his stead.
- James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 511, 526-32
- Authors unknown. "Entry for Jehoram." WebBible Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 18, 2007.
- Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, rev. ed. David O'Brien, Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986 (ISBN 031034770X), pp. 293-294
- Authors unknown. "Entry for Jehoram." The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. Retrieved June 18, 2007.
- II_Kings 8:16-27
- II_Chronicles 21
- Authors unknown. "King Jehoram of Judah - Biography." The Kings of Israel, hosted at http://www.geocities.com/ Retrieved June 18, 2007.
- II_Chronicles 18:1
- II_Chronicles 22:2
- David Holt Boshert, Jr., and David Ettinger, Jehoram King of Judah, Christ-Centered Mall. Retrieved June 18, 2007
- Genesis 27:40
- II_Kings 9:29