2 Kings 1:1
Ahaziah, Ahab’s son, is now king of Israel. He’s also a special kind of stupid. He hurts himself falling through a lattice in his palace, so he asks some servants to go to a foreign country and ask the prophets of the god Baal if he will recover. On the way, the servants run into Elijah. Elijah tells the servants that Ahaziah’s injury will not heal, because he sought to ask help from a foreign god instead of God god. When the servants go back and give Ahaziah the bad news, he sends an army commander and 50 men after Elijah. In return, Elijah sends down fire from God and consumes the men. So Ahaziah sends out more men. And Elijah burns them up with fire too. And Ahaziah sends out more men. Luckily, the commander of these men is smart and begs Elijah to have mercy on them. So Elijah allows himself to be taken to the king. Elijah tells Ahaziah that he will die in the bed where he lies, and he does. And then his son, Joram takes the throne.
Some time later, Elijah and Elisha are hanging out together, and God summons Elijah to another city, because God wants to take him up to heaven “in a whirlwind.” Elijah tried to leave Elisha behind, but Elisha will not leave his side. This goes on for a while, Elijah trying to ditch Elisha, but it never works. Finally, God tires of Elisha’s puppy-dog habits and separates the two with a “chariot of fire and horses of fire.” And while Elisha is distracted with the flaming chariot, God takes Elijah into that whirlwind thing. The spirit of Elijah stayed with Elisha, and he was able to part a river and walk through on dry land (Elijah did that too; I might have glossed over that.) When the other prophets saw that Elisha could do this, they bowed down to him. The prophets looked all over for Elijah, thinking God might have put him back down somewhere but couldn’t find him. Duh.
Here’s a fun story: Elisha’s walking around, as prophets do, and he came across a bunch of “youths.” The kids jeered Elisha, calling him “baldheaded.” Not overreacting at all, Elisha brought down a curse and killed the 42 youths. Fun guy, huh?
Anyway, there was a foreign kingdom, Moab, that had been forced to pay tribute to the King of Israel, currently Joram. But Moab revolted against King Joram. So Joram gathered an army, talked Jehoshaphat (king of Judah) into joining him and marched to Moab. Once there, God tricked the Moabites into thinking that the Israelites were all dead, so the Moabites went out to scavenge the dead bodies. The Israelites, of course, were not dead and routed the Moabites. Then they slaughtered everyone, destroyed all of the cities, threw stones on the their fields, cut down all of the tress, and stopped up all of the springs. How mankind survived this period of history is just completely beyond me….
After that war, a widow who had lost her husband begged Elisha’s help. She said that her husband’s creditors were coming to claim her son’s to pay their debts. Elisha rigged up a special oil jar that would continually fill other jars. She was able to sell her supply of oil to pay off her debts, and she and her family lived off of the rest.
Then Elisha did an even cooler miracle trick. There was an old woman who always invited Elisha in to eat with her and her husband. In thanks for the woman’s kindness, Elisha told her that in a year’s time, she would be pregnant. She was doubtful, but of course Elisha was right and she soon had a son. But before long her son died. The woman ran to Elisha and told him what had happened. Elisha went to the boy, prayed to God for the young child’s life and the boy was revived.
Elisha did some other cool stuff, feeding tons of people with a small amount of grain, curing food of plague, curing someone of leprosy, giving someone leprosy, Jesus-type stuff. He even performed miracles for foreigners, gaining followers for God outside of Israel.
Enough about prophets, back to the kings. We are up to Jehoram, King of Judah. He’s an ok guy, but he marries one of Ahab’s daughters, which is a no no, because Ahab was the Israeli king who allowed the worshipping of Baal. God really hates that guy. Jehoram dies, and we move onto his son, Ahaziah. Also an ok guy, but gets a bad wrap just for being related to Ahab.
Ahab was so naughty, that God decides he isn’t done with him, even though the guy is dead. God speaks to Elisha, who appoints another prophet to go to man named Jehu and anoint him as the new king of Israel, instead Ahab’s descendants. One teensy catch, Jehu has to kill Ahab’s entire family. This is, of course, not a big a deal, and Jehu gets to it immediately.
Jehu gathers an army and kills both Joram, King of Israel, and Ahaziah, King of Judah. I don’t know why both kings were together. I just don’t. Then Jehu went after Jezebel; he talked three of her eunuchs into throwing her out of her own window. That wasn’t good enough though, horses trampled her and dogs ate her flesh until little was left besides her skull. Jehu continued his rampage throughout the countryside, killing all who had any ties to Ahab or Ahaziah, the deceased King of Judah. He had the children of Ahab slaughtered, their heads sent to him in baskets. He left their heads in piles by the city gate. He then called all of the followers of Baal together, pretending to want to worship and sacrifice to the foreign god. Once all of Baal’s followers were together in the temple to sacrifice to him, Jehu sent in his men to slaughter all of them. As tough as he was on the followers of Baal, Jehu, like his father, worshipped golden calves instead of God. Still, God was fairly happy with him for ousting Baal form Israel. Then Jehu died and his son, Jehoahaz, took the throne.
Meanwhile, in Judah, when Ahaziah’s mother found out that the king was dead, she went on a rampage, killing all who had claim to the throne. A priest managed to save one of Ahaziah’s sons, Joash, and hid him away. Ahaziah’s mother claimed the throne for herself, but the priest brought Joash before the people and they crowned him as the king. Then the priest had Ahaziah’s mother dragged out of her palace and publicly executed. Joash was seven when he claimed the throne.
Joash seems to have been a pretty good king. He “walked in the ways of the Lord,” and raised money to fix the damage to Solomon’s temple, though he did not completely do away with the worship of foreign gods among his people. Then some of his commanders killed him, and his son Amaziah took over.
Back to Israel, Jehoahaz isn’t the greatest king. Even though he just helped destroy Ahab’s family and Baal, he and his people still insist on worshipping idols and foreign gods. God gets angry and causes them to be conquered and enslaved by another nation. Jehoahaz begs God to reconsider, and God takes mercy on the Israelites, freeing them. They of course, continue doing what they were doing, worshipping idols and stuff.
When Jehoahaz dies, his son Jehoash takes over. Jehoash is like his father and does evil in the eyes of the Lord. He wars with a bunch of people, including the Amaziah, King of Judah, and then he dies. His son, Jeroboam II succeeds him.
And Elisha dies. While he was being buried, the men digging the holes got scared when they saw riders coming at them. They dumped some dude’s body on top of Elisha’s body and ran for it. Luckily for the dead guy they hastily threw on top of Elisha, his body sprang to life as soon as he touched Elisha’s skin. The has to be the best miracle ever, because Elisha did while freaking dead.
Swtiching to Judah, Amaziah is currently reigning. He is like his father, mostly a good guy but does not end the worshipping of idols and foreign gods. He doesn’t do much except getting into war with Israel, who tore down part of the wall around Jerusalem and stole gold from the temple and palace. Afterward, Amaziah, like his father, was killed by his own conspiring commanders, and his son Azariah took the throne.
In Israel, Jeroboam II is king. He sucks, his people piss God off. They are defeated and forced into slavery until God feels bad for them, at which point He saves them. Again. Then Jeroboam II dies and Zachariah takes over. Zachariah sucks too, and he is assassinated in public by a guy named Shallum, who becomes the new king. Shallum reigned for only a month before he was, in turn, assassinated by a guy named Menahem. After claiming the throne, Menahem attacked a city for not opening its gates to him. He killed everyone in the city and surrounding vicinity, he even “ripped open the pregnant women.”
Menaham, you will not be surprised to find, was no better at being king than those before him. He did not walk in the ways of the Lord. He had to buy off the king of Assyria, in order for his people not to be made slaves, and then he died. His son, Pekahiah, followed him as king. Pekahiah was soon assassinated by Pekah, who claimed the throne.
Pekah was also a bad king, though he did gain some territory and cities for Israel. But he was also assassinated before long and a man named Hoshea became king. Hoshea continued the long line of awful Israeli kings. He failed to continue to make payments to the Assyrian king, as the last few kings had done. In response, the King of Assyria laid waste to all of Israel, sending the Israelis to live as slaves in Assyria. And I think this time God means business, because it is pointed out that Hoshea is the last King of Israel.
In Judah, things were going a bit better. Azariah was, like his father before him, a decent guy, but he also failed to rid Judah of foreign idols and gods. Because of this, God struck Azariah with leprosy, and he was forced to hide himself from his people. Meanwhile, his son Jotham ruled the people of Judah.
Jotham did slightly better than his father, he did not oust the foreign idols, but he did manage to rebuild part of the temple that had been destroyed when attacked by Amaziah, King of Israel. When Jotham died, his son Ahaz took the throne.
Ahaz is a dick, straight up. And did not walk in the ways of the Lord. In fact, he sacrificed his own son to foreign gods. In order to protect Judah from enemies and attackers, Ahaz paid the King of Assyria large sums of money, even going to Damascus to visit the foreign king at one point. While there, Ahaz drew sketches of the altars there and sent the sketches home, so that they could be recreated. Many parts of Solomon’s temple were removed or destroyed to make the temple more like those that Ahaz had seen in Assyria. When Ahaz died, his son Hezekiah succeeded him as king.
Holy boring, Batman. I think the second half of 2 Kings will be slightly most exciting, because the Israelites are in Assyrian bondage, and Hezekiah seems to rule in Judah for more than a paragraph. Keep your fingers crossed; I know I will.