This article shows that Judah had two kings named Ahaziah that reigned about the same time. The Scripture passages that mention them are examined, and the specific king to which a passage refers to is identified.
(2Ch 21:16)KJV Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians:
(2Ch 21:17)Darby and they came up into Judah, and broke into it, and carried away all the substance that was found in the king's house, and his sons also, and his wives; so that there was no son left him, except Jehoahaz the youngest of his sons.
(2Ch 22:1)KJV And the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his stead: for the band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp had slain all the eldest. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah reigned.
(2Ch 22:2) Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.
By comparing 2Ch 22:1 and 2Ch 21:17, it can be concluded that Ahaziah of 2Ch 22:1 is the same as Jehoahaz of 2Ch 21:17. Note that in the original language the name יהואחז "Jehoahaz" is equivalent to אחזיהו "Ahaziah". Both names can be translated "the LORD has seized", consisting of יהו, an abbreviation of יהוה "the LORD", and אחז from the verb "to seize". The only difference between the two names is the order of the words יהו and אחז. Since in Hebrew the meaning of the two names is not affected by word order, Jehoahaz and Ahaziah are equivalent. Thus, Ahaziah in 2Ch 22:1 denotes the same person as Jehoahaz in 2Ch 21:17. Another example of a person whose Hebrew name is stated in more than one way is Jehoram. His name means "the LORD is exalted". Depending on how the name of the Lord was abbreviated, the name of the king was written either as יהורם "Jehoram" in 2Ch 21-22, 1Ki 22:50 (22:51), and 2Ki 8:16, 25, 29, or יורם "Joram" in 2Ki 8:21, 23-24, 11:2, 1Ch 3:10. Still another example is Jehoiachin. The name of this king could be translated, "the LORD establishes". He is denoted by the meaning of his name in several ways: יהויכין "Jehoiachin" in 2Ch 36:8, יויכין "Joiachin" in Eze 1:2, יכוניה "Jeconiah" in Jer 27:20, יכניהו "Jeconiah" in Jer 24:1, יכניה "Jeconiah" in Jer 28:4, and.כניהו "Coniah" in Jer 22:24.
A better translation of 2Ch 22:1 would be "And the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah, his least son, king in his stead: for the band of men ... had slain all the foremost sons ,,,. ." Moreover, a better translation of the ending of 2Ch 21:17 would be " ... except Jehoahaz, the least of his sons". Note that the literal meaning of the word commonly translated "eldest" in 2Ch 22:1 is "foremost". Moreover, while the word commonly translated "youngest" in 2Ch 22:1 and 2Ch 21:17 does have this meaning, it also means "small" and "insignificant", and the "insignificant" meaning fits better the context. (The translations presented here can be further justified as follows. The word translated "eldest" in 2Ch 22:1 is not גדלים "eldest", but ראשים "foremost". The adjective גדל denotes older sisters or brothers in 1Sa 17:13, 18:17, Ge 27:1, 29:16, Eze 16:46, 61, 23:4. However, the word translated "eldest" in 2Ch 22:1 does not seem to be used with this meaning anywhere else in the Old Testament. As for the word קטן, translated "youngest" in 2Ch 21:17 and 2Ch 22:1, it also means "small" and "insignificant". Just as קטן is the opposite of ראשים in 2Ch 22:1, so also we find that in 1Sa 5:17 and 1Ch 24:31 קטן is the opposite of ראש.)
In support of the statement above that 2Ch 22:1 and 2Ch 21:17 should not be translated as stating that Ahaziah was the youngest son of Jehoram, is also the fact that this Ahaziah was not a biological son of Jehoram. Though he was a son of Athaliah (2Ch 22:2), the wife of Jehoram, it is clear that Jehoram did not father Ahaziah. Jehoram became the father of Ahaziah when he married Athaliah, not by begetting him. Since Ahaziah was not a biological son of the king, he was not as important as the biological sons of the king. So 2Ch 22:1 indicates that the biological sons were the "foremost" sons, while Ahaziah was the "least" son. The fact that Ahaziah was not a biological son of Jehoram could be seen plainly by noticing that Ahaziah was somewhat older than Jehoram. In view of 2Ch 21:20, Jehoram was about 40 years old when he died. Moreover, following the Hebrew text, Ahaziah was 42 years old when he began to reign (2Ch 22:2).
(2Ch 22:3)KJV He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.
(2Ch 22:4) Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the LORD like the house of Ahab: for they were his counsellors after the death of his father to his destruction.
(2Ch 22:5) He walked also after their counsel, and went with Jehoram the son of Ahab king of Israel to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramothgilead: and the Syrians smote Joram.
(2Ch 22:6) And he returned to be healed in Jezreel because of the wounds which were given him at Ramah, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria. And Azariah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Jehoram the son of Ahab at Jezreel, because he was sick.
In 2Ch 22:6, following the Hebrew text, we have "Azariah the son of Jehoram king of Judah", which shows that Azariah was the king of Judah at that time. (In Hebrew, the phrase is ועזריהו בן יהורם מלך יהודה, which might seem to mean either "King Azariah of Judah, the son of Jehoram", or "Azariah, the son of King Jehoram of Judah". Based on other similar phrases, it can be shown that the former interpretation is meant. First, considering אמר אל רחבעם בן שלמה מלך יהודה "Say to Rehoboam the son Solomon king of Judah" (1Ki 12:23), the word מלך "king" does not refer to Solomon but to Rehoboam, since Solomon reigned over the entire Israel, not just over Judah. Second, in אז יעלה רצין מלך ארם ופקה בן רמליהו מלך ישראל "Then came Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel" (2Ki 16:5), the second word מלך "king" is not about Remaliah, but about Pekah, for Remaliah was not a king. (As indicated in 2Ki 15:25, Pekah reigned after conspiring successfully against King Pekahiah.) Third, in בשנת שלש להושע בן אלה מלך ישראל "in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah king of Israel" (2Ki 18:1), the word מלך "king" must refer to Hoshea, not Elah, since Elah was not a king. (As indicated in 2Ki 15:30, Hoshea reigned after conspiring successfully against the king Pekah.) Thus, היא השנה השביעית להושע בן אלה מלך ישראל "it was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah king of Israel" (2Ki 18:9) is similarly interpreted. Then, in view of the previous examples, it can be concluded that in עזריהו בן יהורם מלך יהודה "Azariah the son of Jehoram king of Judah", the word מלך "king" refers to Azariah.)
It should be noted here that the word כל "all" in 2Ch 22:1 admits exceptions. There are various passages in which this word is clearly not used as meaning "absolutely all", but rather "essentially all". For example, "all" in 2Ch 22:10 and 2Ki 11:1 does not include Joash (2Ch 22:11, 2Ki 11:2). Another is example is "all" in Ge 3:20, which does not include Adam. Moreover, the Lord did not use the word "all" as meaning "absolutely all" in Ge 6:13, 17, since he intended to save some by means of the ark of Noah (Ge 6:18-20).
Understanding "all" in 2Ch 22:1 to mean "essentially all" (see the paragraph above), 2Ch 22:1 does not say that Jehoram king of Judah had no surviving biological sons. Note that 2Ch 22:6 introduces "Azariah the son of Jehoram king of Judah" as a new person that was not previously mentioned. Since the Ahaziah of 2Ch 22:1 was least among the sons of Jehoram, Azariah must have been more important than Ahaziah, so he must have been one of the sons that was taken captive (2Ch 21:17). More importantly, he survived captivity, returned, and became king. Thus, it must be that Ahaziah of 2Ch 22:1 acted as a regent until Azariah was able to reign. By the time of 2Ch 22:6, Ahaziah was no longer reigning. Since the death of Ahaziah is not mentioned before 2Ch 22:6, it can be inferred that Ahaziah was alive when Azariah reigned.
(2Ch 22:7)KJV And the destruction of Ahaziah was of God by coming to Joram: for when he was come, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the LORD had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab.
(2Ch 22:8) And it came to pass, that, when Jehu was executing judgment upon the house of Ahab, and found the princes of Judah, and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah, that ministered to Ahaziah, he slew them.
(2Ch 22:9) And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom.
In the context of 2Ch 22:6, verse 2Ch 22:7 is about Azariah and indicates that Azariah was also known under the name of Ahaziah. Thus, Azariah can be identified with Ahaziah of 2Ki 8:26. In view of 2Ki 9:29 and 2Ki 8:25, it can be seen that he did not reign continuously over Judah. His first reign began in the eleventh year of Jehoram king of Israel (2Ki 9:29), and his second reign in the twelfth year of Jehoram king of Israel (2Ki 8:25). It could be inferred that sometime during the eleventh year, before the captivity mentioned in 2Ch 21:7, Jehoram king of Judah appointed Azariah as the heir to the throne, and Azariah began to reign. Moreover, the twelfth year would correspond to time when Azariah began to reign after returning from captivity. He was 22 years old at the time of 2Ki 8:26. In contrast, Ahaziah of 2Ch 22:1, the regent, was 42 years old when he began to reign (2Ch 22:2).
Since both Azariah and the regent are commonly denoted by the name Ahaziah, we will distinguish between the two by calling the king "the younger Ahaziah" and the regent "the older Ahaziah".
By the time of 2Ch 22:7, the younger Ahaziah was already affected by the judgment on the house of Ahab. This can be seen in 2Ch 22:7, where we read that it was from the Lord that he met the person appointed to cut off the house of Ahab. Since he met the person meant to cut him off, and since this was from the Lord, the implication is that Jehu acted successfully against him in that occasion and the younger Ahaziah died as a result of his encounter with Jehu. It follows that the one who died in the circumstances of 2Ch 22:9 must be the older Ahaziah. Another way to see that 2Ch 22:7 is about the younger Ahaziah and that he died after his encounter with Jehu is by considering 2Ki 9:22-28. Since 2Ki 9:27 is about the king of Judah, the younger Ahaziah is the one who died in the circumstances described in 2Ki 9:22-28.
Considering 2Ch 22:8-9, note that the name Ahaziah is repeated several times. We read, ובני אחי אחזיהו משרתים לאחזיהו ויהרגם ויבקש את אחזיהו "and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah ministering to Ahaziah, and he killed them, and he sought Ahaziah". If the same Ahaziah were meant in every instance, the text could have stated it in a simpler way, as in ובני אחי אחזיהו משרתים לו ויהרגם ויבקשהו "and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah ministering to him, and he killed them, and he sought him". Thus, the repetition of the name "Ahaziah" indicates that the second Ahaziah is not the same as the first. The facts lead to the same conclusion. The second occurrence of the name must refer to the younger Ahaziah, the king, for the king must have been the one that they were ministering to. However, "the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah" would apply better to the older Ahaziah, since he was from a generation that was old enough to have mature children. While the older Ahaziah and the younger Ahaziah had the some mother, they did not have the same father, and so there were some brothers of the older that were not brothers of the younger. As for the third occurrence of the name, it is about the older Ahaziah, for the younger Ahaziah died in the circumstances described in 2Ki 9:22-28, after he went out with Jehoram to Jehu (2Ch 22:7).
Now 2Ch 22:9 mentions that the older Ahaziah was a son of Jehoshaphat. However, he must have been an illegitimate son, or a concubine's son, for Jehoram was considered to be the firstborn of Jehoshaphat (2Ch 21:3), though he was younger than Ahaziah. Since Jehoram was ungodly, he was probably proud of marrying a woman by which his father had a son (cf. 2Sa 16:22, Ge 35:22, 1Ki 2:22).
Next, it will be shown that the following passages are about the younger Ahaziah.
(2Ki 8:24)KJV 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.
(2Ki 8:25) 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.
(2Ki 8:26) 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.
(2Ki 8:27) 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.
(2Ki 8:28) And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to the war against Hazael king of Syria in Ramothgilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram.
(2Ki 8:29) 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.
(2Ki 9:16) Then Jehu mounted his chariot and went to Jezreel, for Joram lay there. And Ahaziah king of Judah had come down to visit Joram.
(2Ki 9:21) And Joram said, Make ready. And his chariot was made ready. And Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite.
(2Ki 9:22) And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?
(2Ki 9:23) And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah.
(2Ki 9:24) And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot.
(2Ki 9:27) But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot. And they did so at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there.
(2Ki 9:28) And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his sepulchre with his fathers in the city of David.
Considering the age of Ahaziah in 2Ki 8:26, it is clear that the passage is about the younger Ahaziah. However, since the Hebrew text of 2Ki 8-9 has two different versions of the name Ahaziah, it might not be immediately obvious that the same person is meant in each case. One version of the name Ahaziah is אחזיהו "Ahaziahu", which is the form in which the name appears throughout 2Ch 21-22 and 2Ki 8. However, in 2Ki 9 we find both Ahaziahu and the shorter form אחזיה "Ahaziah". Both Ahaziah and Ahaziahu mean "the LORD has grasped". The two names are identical, except for using a different abbreviation of the name of the LORD. Since 2Ki 8:25-26 associates Ahaziahu with the younger Ahaziah, a question that might arise is whether the shorter form of the name is used for the older Ahaziah. This is not the case, as could be seen from several considerations. First, in 2Ki 9:23 we read, ויאמר אל אחזיהו מרמה אחזיה "And he said to Ahaziahu, ''Treachery, O Ahaziah!'" So King Joram addressed Ahaziahu with the shorter version of the name. Second, 2Ki 11:2 has, ותקח יהושבע בת המלך יורם אחות אחזיהו את יואש בן אחזיה "And Jehosheba the daughter of King Joram, the sister of Ahaziahu, took Joash the son of Ahaziah". Since both King Joram (Jehoram) of Judah and Joash are forefathers of the subsequent kings of Judah (1Ch 3:11), it must be that the shorter form of the name Ahaziah in 2Ki 11:2 refers to the younger Ahaziah, for the older Ahaziah was not a biological son of Joram. That Joram is a forefather of the subsequent kings can be seen also in Mt 1:8, stating that ιωραμ δε εγεννησεν τον οζιαν "and Joram begat Uzziah", indicating that Joram was a forefather of Uzziah. Note that Joram was the step-father of the older Ahaziah, and the Greek verb γενναω "to beget" is not used to describe the relationship between a man and his step-father (Mt 1:16). Thus, the younger Ahaziah must be a forefather of the subsequent kings. Then, since the short form of the name is used in "Joash the son of Ahaziah" (2Ki 11:2), it can be concluded that both the short and the long forms of the name Ahaziah have been applied to the younger Ahaziah.
Considering 2Ki 8:29, as shown above in the comments on 2Ch 22:6, the phrase "Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah" indicates that Ahaziah was the king of Judah at that time. Note that 2Ki 8:29 corresponds to 2Ch 22:6. Both 2Ch 22:6 and the context of 2Ki 8:29 indicate that the younger Ahaziah is meant here. Considering also 2Ki 9, note that verses 16, 21, and 27 indicate explicitly that the king of Judah is referred to. Thus, these verses refer to the younger Ahaziah. Considering 2Ki 9:23 in its context, it also refers to the younger Ahaziah. Thus, there is no reference to the older Ahaziah in 2Ki 8-9.
(2Ki 11:1)KJV And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.
(2Ki 11:2) But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king's sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain.
(2Ki 11:3) And he was with her hid in the house of the LORD six years. And Athaliah did reign over the land.
(2Ch 22:10) But when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah.
(2Ch 22:11) But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king's sons that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, (for she was the sister of Ahaziah,) hid him from Athaliah, so that she slew him not.
(2Ch 22:12) And he was with them hid in the house of God six years: and Athaliah reigned over the land.
Since the younger Ahaziah has been associated with 2Ki 8-9, we could assume that 2Ki 11:1 continues to refer to him and thus "her son" refers to him. Then, "her son" must refer to the same in 2Ch 22:10. Note that the phrase "her son" does not imply that she had only one son. That Athaliah had more than one son is mentioned, for instance, in 2Ch 24:7.
Comparing 2Ki 11:1-3 and 2Ch 22:10-12, "Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah" (2Ki 11:2) corresponds to "Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, (for she was the sister of Ahaziah,)" (2Ch 22:11). Therefore, the names יהושבע "Jehosheba" and יהושבעת "Jehoshabeath", which are closely related, must denote the same person.
2Ki 9 indicates that both versions of the name were used for the younger Ahaziah. It is interesting, however, to find both versions of the name in the same sentence in 2Ki 11:2. The text is, ותקח יהושבע בת המלך יורם אחות אחזיהו את יואש בן אחזיה "And Jehosheba the daughter of King Joram, the sister of Ahaziahu, took Joash the son of Ahaziah". Joash was also known as יואש בן אחזיהו "Joash the son of Ahaziahu" (2Ch 22:11). Since both versions of the name were used for the younger Ahaziah, it seems unlikely that the point of the two name versions in 2Ki 11:2 is to indicate that Joash was known both as "Joash son of Ahaziah" and "Joash son of Ahaziahu". Rather, it is likely that two different persons are meant. Then, the verse would indicate that Jehosheba was a sister of the older Ahaziah. In support of this point is the observation that Jehosheba was the wife of Jehoiada the priest (2Ch 22:11) and Jehoiada was old (note that by the time of 2Ch 24:15 he was very old). Therefore, it may be that Jehosheba was not very young, so she could have been from the generation of the older Ahaziah. Considering also 2Ch 22:11, since the context implies that the younger Ahaziah is referred to, it follows that Jehosheba was also a sister of the younger Ahaziah. As a sister of the younger Ahaziah, she would have had the same mother as he. Then, Jehoram would have been her step-father.
The events preceding 2Ki 11:1-3 and 2Ch 22:10-12 could be placed in the following order. After the younger Ahaziah was wounded, he eventually died in Megiddo (2Ki 9:27). Some time after Ahaziah was wounded, Jehu killed the princes of Judah who came to visit the king of Israel and his family (2Ch 22:8). Afterwards, Jehu found the older Ahaziah in Samaria and killed him (2Ch 22:9). Later, Athaliah found out that the older Ahaziah had died. Then, the dead body of the younger Ahaziah was brought to Jerusalem (2Ki 9:28). Note that Athaliah must have heard of the death of the older Ahaziah before 2Ki 9:28, for after 2Ki 9:28 she "arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah" (2Ki 11:1). It is unlikely that she would have done this if she thought that the older Ahaziah, the regent, was still alive. After the older Ahaziah was killed, "the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom" (2Ch 22:9). This could imply that he died after the younger Ahaziah.