Jehosheba is definitely not a household name, which is a shame and is only mentioned in one story of the Bible but her act of bravery is one of the greatest in the Bible. Her story is found in 2 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 22: 10 -12. In the KJV two variations of her name are used but the meaning of her name is “Jehovah sworn.” I will apply that meaning to God’s love and promise to David to have one of his heirs on the throne of Israel.
Her story starts with Jehoshaphat’s fixation with the fallen Northern Kingdom of Israel (See – A Warning For Today). Jehoshaphat chose for his son and heir, Jehoram, a wife (Athaliah) from the family of Ahab king of Israel. It is probable that she was the daughter of Jezebel, it is implied but not stated but it would add a deeper twist to the story. Jehoram followed after Israel’s sins and was killed by Jehu when he killed the family of Ahab (2 Kings 9). When this happened Athaliah started to kill off the royal family (her grandchildren) so she could be the ruler of Judah. Jehosheba bravely takes her youngest nephew and hides him from her mother. She has already seen her uncles killed by her father so when her mother starts killing her nephews she intervenes. I have no doubt that Athaliah would have killed her own daughter and I am sure the Jehosheba knew that also. For six years Jehosheba and her husband Jehoiada, the priest, hides her nephew until he is seven. This really is a brave, defiant act for righteousness and allowed the promise of God to David to be fulfilled.
FYI: The “sheba” part of Jehosheba is connected with the number seven. “Jeho” is from the name of God Jehovah.
Jehoshaphat was a godly king who did good and tried to have his people follow in the ways of the Lord. He took measures to protect against Israel (2 Chronicles 17:1), had the people taught from the Book of the Law by priest (vs. 9), rid the land of false worship (vs. 6), reformed the judicial system (19:4-10), lead Judah’s army against a huge invading army (20: 1-30), and took care of his family (21:3). I think it is fair to say that he loved God and personally choose the “high road” but he did have a really alarming mindset.
This mindset shows itself in four things Jehoshaphat did. In 2 Chronicles 18:1 he aligned himself/Judea with Israel (the Northern Kingdom) by marriage; he allowed/arranged the marriage of Jehoram to Athaliah (Ahab’s daughter). In 2 Chronicles 18: 2 he agreed to go with Ahab to get Ramoth Gilead back from Aram and he went with Joram in 2 Kings 3 to attack Moab. Then in 2 Chronicles 20: 36 it talks about a trade agreement with Ahaziah Ahab’s son. (In the passages below I combined Kings and Chronicles where these books cover the topic. The book of Kings talk about both Israel and Judah while Chronicles primarily covers the kings of Judah.)
I and II Kings with I and II Chronicles From the Conservative Version
1Ki 22:45 2Ch 20:34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he showed, and how he warred, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah and written in the history of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is inserted in the book of the kings of Israel.
1Ki 22:46 And he put away out of the land the remnant of the sodomites, who remained in the days of his father Asa.
1Ki 22:47 And there was no king in Edom; a deputy was king.
2Ch 20:35 And after this Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined himself with Ahaziah king of Israel. The same did very wickedly.
2Ch 20:36 And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish.
1Ki 22:48 2Ch 20:36 Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold in Ezion-geber, but they did not go, for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber.
1Ki 22:49 Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not.
2Ch 20:37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou have joined thyself with Ahaziah, LORD has destroyed thy works. And the ships were broken so that they were not able to go to Tarshish.
1Ki 22:50 2Ch 21:1 And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father. And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles 19: 2 states the problem, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord.” (NIV) Right away many Christians would say what about evangelism or how can we ever be a witness to the unsaved? I think with a little meditation it is easy to see this is not what Jehoshaphat was doing, he was “yoking” himself to people who had rejected much of the Laws of God on purpose and set up another religious experience. The most destructive of these four acts was the marriage alliance with the royal family of Baal-worshipping Ahab and Jezebel. The three “business deals” are bad because it mixed the unbelievers into his nation that he was trying to change to follow God. So the warning is to pastors and heads of households – watch what you allow/bring into your lives and that of your charges. In a future post, I will look at the results of Jehoshaphat’s choices.