JEHORAM


JEHORAM (יוֹרָם ,יְהוֹרָם; "YHWH is exalted"), the son of *Ahab, king of Israel from 850/1–842 B.C.E. or possibly from 853–842 B.C.E. According to II Kings 3:1, Jehoram reigned in the 18th year of the reign of *Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. However, according to II Kings 1:17 (in a prophetic story), Jehoram became king during the second year of the reign of *Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat. The contradiction between these two synchronisms is eliminated by the assumption that Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat was co-regent with his father at the end of the latter's reign, or that the beginning of Jehoram's reign is calculated according to Jehoshaphat's years as sole ruler. Those who accept the first supposition hold that Jehoram ruled for only nine or ten years, not twelve, as recorded in II Kings 3:1. The first event related about Jehoram (II Kings 3:4–24), which should date from the beginning of his reign, is his war against King *Mesha of Moab. Aided by allies, he attempted to subdue Mesha after the latter had freed himself from Israel (II Kings 1:1) and had even raided areas of Israel north of Arnon. In this war, described in the story of the prophet *Elisha (ch. 3), the allies attacked Mesha from the south, perhaps because he had in the meantime succeeded in fortifying his northern cities.

The army of Jehoram and his allies reached Kir of Moab and surrounded Mesha, but they did not succeed in conquering the city. Apparently, the Moabites, excited by the sacrifice offered by their king, defeated the army of the allies (II Kings 3:27), freeing themselves permanently from Israelite rule. It is difficult to determine the exact relations between Jehoram and *Aram. It is possible that as long as *Ben-Hadad II was alive, the alliance between Israel and Aram, known from the last years of *Ahab, remained valid. According to Assyrian annals, a coalition of the twelve kings of Hatti and the seacoast fought against Shalmaneser III in 849, 848, and 845 B.C.E. However, the records that mention these wars do not give the exact names of the allies, except for Adad-Idri (Ben-Hadad II) of Damascus and Irḥuleni of Hamath. It is a fair assumption that it was the same coalition as that of those who fought against Assyria in Qarqar in 853, mentioned in a more detailed record. King Ahab was one of the major participants in that battle. If this assumption is correct, barely two years passed during Jehoram's reign without war. With the death of Ben-Hadad in 843 and the reign of *Hazael, who founded a new dynasty, the political balance was upset. The Syrian alliance of the twelve kings was broken and Jehoram exploited this opportunity to attack Aram; he attempted to capture Ramoth-Gilead, the source of dissension between Israel and Aram – for he who held this area dominated the north of Gilead and the Bashan. Jehoram himself was wounded in battle and returned to Jezreel (9:16). While he was recovering, *Jehu, his commander in chief, rebelled against him and killed him (9:23–24).

In contrast to the struggle between the prophets and Jezebel during Ahab's reign, Jehoram permitted Elisha and the other prophets to act freely. Possibly under the influence of the prophets, Jehoram removed the pillar of the Tyrian Baal, which his father Ahab had erected (3:2), thus de-emphasizing the foreign cult of his mother Jezebel and allaying the dissatisfaction of the people. The numerous unsuccessful wars of Jehoram and the severe famine in the country at that time (4:38) formed the background to Jehu's rebellion, in which he killed Jehoram and destroyed the *Omride dynasty. Several scholars believe that Jehoram of Israel is mentioned in the Aramaic inscription attributed to Hazael that was found at Tel Dan.

[Hayim Tadmor]

In the Aggadah

Jehoshaphat's question, "Is there not here a prophet of the Lord?" (II Kings 3:11) was an allusion to Jehoram's doubt on this point (Num. R. 21:6). Nevertheless God gave victory to Jehoram in his war against Moab, because of his observance of the Sabbath (Mekh. SbY. p. 162). He was killed "between his arms" and "at his heart" (II Kings 9:24) in order to teach that he had sinned by hardening his heart and stretching out his hand to take interest from Obadiah (Ex. R. 31:4).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Maisler (Mazar), in: Tarbiz, 19 (1947/48), 123–4; Liver, in: Historyah Ẓeva'it shel Ereẓ Yisrael bi-Ymei ha-Mikra (1964), 221ff.; Luckenbill, Records, 1 (1925), 652, 655, 659; M.F. Unger, Israel and the Arameans of Damascus (1957), 139ff.; Bright, Hist, 228–9; A.H. Van Zyl, The Moabites (1960), 136ff., 180. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB; 1988), 98–100; W. Schniedewind, in: BASOR, 302 (1996), 75–90.


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