Joram, King of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 29, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

The next two kings we’ll look at are interesting because one is from Israel and one is from Judah, and they basically share the same name. Both can be known as either Jehoram or Joram, depending on the source. For these posts, I’ll follow what the NIV uses – Joram for the king of Israel and Jehoram for the king of Judah.

Joram’s story can be found in 2 Kings 3. He became the king of Israel when Jehoshaphat was in the 18th year of his reign as the king of Judah. For those following along, Joram’s father Ahaziah became king of Israel in the 17th year of Jehoshaphat’s reign, so his reign only lasted for about a year.

Every king of Israel has done evil in the eyes of the Lord, and Joram is no exception. However, he wasn’t as bad as his father Ahaziah. “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father and mother had done. He got rid of the sacred stone of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them” (2 Kings 3:2-3). Jeroboam was the first king of Israel, and his legacy still continued, even 8 kings later!

The drama of Joram’s reign occurred with the people of Moab. The Moabites were defeated by King David back in 2 Samuel 8:2, but they regained much of their land after the death of King Ahab. In 2 Kings 1:1, we read that “After Ahab’s death, Moab rebelled against Israel,” and that fact is stated again in 2 Kings 3:5. But the Moabites were still subject to the nation of Israel, so they were required to pay a tribute each year – basically like a tax.

While Joram was king, Moab owed Israel a tax of 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. Mesha, the king of Moab, refused to pay the tax and instead rebelled against Israel. King Joram began to gather the army for battle, and he enlisted the army of Judah as well. King Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram was married to King Joram’s aunt, so he likely felt some allegiance to the northern kingdom. Plus, Jehoshaphat likely still wanted revenge for his own war with Moab from 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat’s help provided a better route for the combined armies to attack Moab. Not only did it provide a sneakier surprise attack, but it also enlisted the armies of Edom by going through that land’s desert.

So the armies are marching through the Desert of Edom. After marching for 7 days, they had no more water for the soldiers or their animals. Joram immediately got frustrated at God, that he would bring all 3 kings (of Israel, Judah, and Edom) out to the desert with their armies just to die of thirst! But Jehoshaphat brought up the idea of calling on a prophet of God to see what they would do.

The prophet Elisha was there, and Jehoshaphat recognized that God’s presence was with him. At first, Elisha dismisses them, wondering why the king of Israel is coming to him when the Joram clearly did not worship the one true God and Him alone. But even Joram recognized that it was God who brought the three kings together and out to the wilderness. Because of Jehoshaphat’s presence and his obedience to God, Elisha honors their request to inquire of the Lord.

Elisha prophesied that God would provide a miracle of water for them, plus deliver Moab into their hands. “This is what the LORD says: I will fill this valley with pools of water. For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also deliver Moab into your hands. You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones” (2 Kings 3:16-19). The next morning, that is exactly what happened!

The Moabites heard that the forces of Israel, Judah, and Edom were coming to fight against them, so their troops were readying for battle too. They looked out and saw all the lakes of water across the land, but instead of seeing water, they saw blood! They reasoned that only these three armies slaughtering each other could result in that amount of blood, so they got ready to go in for the plunder.

With Moab not being prepared for a battle, assuming their enemies had already killed each other, the combined army easily took them by surprise and slaughtered them. Israel took their land and killed most of the Moabites, including the king’s son who was to succeed him. But the king and some Moabites escaped and fled from Israel, with great anger against them.

God accomplished two miracles with just one act – he provided water for the troops and their animals, and He set the trap for the Moabites to walk into Israel’s ambush. Note that this did not happen because of Joram’s faith in God (since that was basically nonexistent) but because of Jehoshaphat’s faith. Even though Joram was an evil king who worshiped idols instead of God, he knew enough to align himself with Jehoshaphat who did follow God. Israel, Judah, and Edom were all blessed because of this.

Joram’s death is alluded to in 2 Chronicles 22:5-8. He was injured in a battle with Hazael king of Aram. While he was recovering from those injuries, his field commander Jehu started a coup and killed the house of Ahab, which presumably included Joram.

What can we learn from Joram’s reign in Israel? Even though he did not follow God himself (at least, not truly obediently), he aligned himself with the right people, namely Jehoshaphat king of Judah. Joram still had to answer for his disobedience and evil actions, but becoming allies with the God-honoring king of Judah helped his nation to allow them to defeat the rebellious people of Moab. Honoring God is best, of course, but hanging out with those who honor God is the next best thing.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.