Around 841 B.C., God anointed Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, as king of Israel and instructed him to “strike down the house of Ahab.... For the whole house of Ahab shall perish” (2 Kings 9:7-8). Jehu proceeded to kill King Joram, the son of Ahab (9:24), Jezebel, the wife of Ahab (9:33), all 70 sons of Ahab who were living in Samaria, and “all who remained to Ahab in Samaria” (10:1-10,17).
God also used Jehu for “Ahaziah’s downfall” (2 Chronicles 22:7). Ahaziah was the king of Judah and “the son-in-law of the house of Ahab” (2 Kings 8:27). According to 2 Kings 9:27, Ahaziah witnessed Joram’s death, “and fled by the road to Beth Haggan” (“the garden-house,” ASV). Jehu, the newly anointed king of Israel, commanded his men to “shoot him [Ahaziah] also in the chariot.” It appears they succeeded in striking Ahaziah “on the way up to Gur near Ibleam” in Samaria (9:27). [NOTE: Translators added the phrase “and they shot him” (NKJV) or “they wounded him” (NIV) in an attempt to help the reader connect Jehu’s command to shoot Ahaziah with the phrase “on the way up to Gur.”] Ahaziah then “fled to Megiddo, and died there” (9:27). Afterwards, “his servants carried him in the chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him” (9:28).
Some wonder how the account of Ahaziah’s death as recorded by the chronicler coincides with 2 Kings 9:27-28. According to 2 Chronicles 22:8-9,
[W]hen Jehu was executing judgment on the house of Ahab, and found the princes of Judah and the sons of Ahaziah’s brothers who served Ahaziah, that he killed them. Then he searched for Ahaziah; and they caught him (he was hiding in Samaria), and brought him to Jehu. When they had killed him, they buried him, “because,” they said, “he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the Lord with all his heart.”
How does this information match up with Ahaziah being shot, fleeing to Megiddo, and dying there (2 Kings 9:27)?
First, one must remember that the biblical writers were not concerned with giving every piece of information about a particular event that someone centuries later might desire to know (cf. John 21:25). The Holy Spirit had specific purposes for what His inspired penmen wrote. Although Bible students might like to know exactly when, where, why, and how a particular event took place, students must respect the marvelous brevity of God’s Word (cf. Miller, 2004).
Second, a person cannot logically assume that two or more concise accounts contradict each other simply because there are differences within the accounts. In fact, differences should be expected when two different people tell the “same” story, especially when the stories are told at different times and for different reasons. In the case of Ahaziah’s final days, one writer focused on Ahaziah’s eventual death in Megiddo (2 Kings 9:27), while the other stressed Ahaziah’s arrest (2 Chronicles 22:9). It is very possible that the series of events unfolded in the following manner.
- Ahaziah fled from Jezreel after Jehu killed Joram.
- Ahaziah escaped to Samaria and hid.
- Jehu’s men caught Ahaziah and brought him to Jehu.
- Jehu commanded his men to “shoot him also in the chariot...by Ibleam.”
- Once Jehu’s men struck Ahaziah “in the chariot,” Ahaziah “fled to Megiddo” (likely with one of his servants driving the chariot), where Ahaziah died.
- Jehu allowed Ahaziah’s servants to carry his body back to Jerusalem in order to bury him with his fathers.
If the events leading up to the death of Ahaziah had been recorded one-by-one, an entire book likely could have been written. What we have, however, is one verse in 2 Kings and one verse in 2 Chronicles. From these accounts, the Bible student learns that Ahaziah was in Jezreel, Samaria, Gur by Ibleam, and Megiddo prior to his death. Exactly when and how he got from one place to another, one cannot be certain. Still, it is unnecessary to assume that the differences in the two accounts of Ahaziah’s death represent a legitimate contradiction. As it is with so many alleged Bible contradictions, the error is on the part of the skeptic who reads too much into the text. Does 2 Kings 9:27 disallow for Ahaziah’s hiding in Samaria? No. Does anything 2 Chronicles 22:9 forbid Ahaziah from dying in Megiddo? No. As is seen so often in the Gospel accounts (e.g., Matthew 14:21; Mark 6:44), the differences in these two verses can be explained simply by acknowledging that supplementation does not equal contradiction.
Miller, Dave (2004), “Is There Proof of Bible Inspiration?,” Reason & Revelation, 3:24-R, June, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2544.
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