2 Kings 1 – “Ahaziah’s Fatal Mistake”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Ahaziah turns to a foreign deity to inquire about his health. Elijah kills one hundred of Ahaziah’s soldiers and tells him that he is about to die. Ahaziah dies shortly after.

II. Photo
Ahaziah is injured: “Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber at Samaria and was injured.” (v. 2a)

III. Important Verses
2: Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber at Samaria and was injured. So he sent messengers, whom he instructed: “Go inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury.”
3-4: But an angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go and confront the messengers of the king of Samaria and say to them, ‘Is there no God in Israel that you go to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Assuredly, thus said the LORD: You shall not rise from the bed you are lying on, but you shall die.’” And Elijah went.
9-10: Then he sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty men. He climbed up to him, and found him sitting at the top of a hill. “Man of God,” he said to him, “by order of the king, come down!” Elijah replied to the captain of the fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you with your fifty men!” And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.
16-17a: He said to him, “Because you sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron — as if there were no God in Israel whose word you could seek — assuredly, you shall not rise from the bed which you are lying on; but you shall die.” And [Ahaziah] died, according to the word of the LORD that Elijah had spoken.

IV. Outline
1. Moab rebels
2a. Ahaziah is injured in his house
2b. Ahaziah sends messengers to inquire of the god at Ekron
3-4. God sends Elijah to inform the messengers about Ahaziah’s coming death
5-8. The messengers relate Elijah’s message
9a. Ahaziah sends 50 men to Elijah
9b-10. The men are consumed by a heavenly fire
11a. Ahaziah sends another 50 men
11b-12. The men are consumed by a heavenly fire
13a. Ahaziah sends another 50 men
13b-14. The captain pleads for his life
15. An angel tells Elijah to travel to Ahaziah
16. Elijah informs Ahaziah of his impending death
17a. Ahaziah dies
17b. Jehoram becomes king
18. Summary statement

V. Comment
The book of 2 Kings begins with the story of Ahaziah’s death. It is important to ask: why was the book of Kings divided into two parts? McCarter writes (in regards to the book of Samuel): “In classical antiquity books were written on scrolls of more or less fixed length, and because the Book of Samuel, like that of Kings or Chronicles, was twice too long, it was divided into two in early [manuscripts] of the Septuagint (LXX) or Greek Bible… But the two books were originally one in the Jewish canon. The great Samuel scroll from Qumran (4QSamA) includes both, the Talmud regularly refers to a single Book of Samuel, and the marginal notes of the Masoretes assume a one-book arrangement.” (3) The tradition of the Septuagint was taken up by the Venetian printers of the 1500’s and is still accepted today.

In regards to the structure and theology of the book of Kings, Cogan and Tadmor write: “[The books of Kings] narrate the history of the Israelite monarchy from the last days of David, through the division of the United Kingdom into the rival kingdoms of Israel and Judah, down to the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile to Babylonia. From the point of view of structure, Kings is a complex composition which employs a synchronic method of narration, not unlike older Mesopotamian models, which coordinate the histories of Assyria and Babylonia. Following a generally chronological order, the narration alternates between the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah. The narrative framework consists of chronological formulae: a statement about the length of reign of a particular king and its synchronism with that of his counterpart in the rival kingdom – e.g., ‘Ahaziah son of Ahab became king in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; he reigned two years over Israel’ (1 Kgs 22:52)…

“For the author of Kings (henceforth, the historian), the historical approach, the choice of events reported, and the manner of presentation are governed by a single idea: the loyalty of the monarch to the God of Israel as worshipped in Jerusalem determines the course of history. In view of the catastrophic end of the northern kingdom and the pending doom foretold against Judah, the historian leveled severe criticism at the conduct of every monarch of Israel and most of those of Judah. In doing so, the historian chose to relate only those events that were pertinent to his message. For his was a didactic presentation addressed to a contemporary audience, if not also to future readers, its purpose to avert a recurrence of the calamities that befell the nation by avoiding a repetition of the misdeeds of the past. All the while, this predominant ideological component did not disturb the synchronic pattern of narration that was faithfully followed.” (3)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Cogan, Mordechai and Hayim Tadmor. “II Kings” The Anchor Bible v. 11 (USA: Doubleday, 1988).
Hobbs, T.R. “2 Kings” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 13 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1985).
McCarter, P. Kyle, Jr. “1 Samuel,” Anchor Bible vol. 8 (New York: Doubleday, 1980)
Photo taken from http://www.polarspas.ca/images/products/gazebos/lattice%20pavillion/gazebo_8sqd_lg.jpg