Internal Policy

Joram had succeeded to the throne of Israel when his elder brother Ahaziah had died childless after his short reign of two years.

Joram partly abolished the Baal-worship which had become widespread during the reign of his parents, but he showed no desire to return to the true worship of G‑d. He did not do away with the golden calves which Jeroboam had set up in his kingdom. Nor did he do away with other forms of idolatry or with the false prophets.

Indeed, he did hardly anything to ward off the terrible curse which hung upon his family.

War Against Moab

One of King Joram's first acts was to organize a war against the Moabites.

The Kingdom of Moab in the southeast of the land of Israel had for many years paid tribute to the Kingdom of Israel. But during the short reign of Ahaziah, the Moabites had revolted. Mesha, their king, had captured several cities in the tribe of Reuben, and slaughtered their inhabitants "in honor of his god Chemosh." King Joram was determined to punish them and suppress the rebellion.

Now Joram, like his father and brother, sought the aid of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, and received it cordially. "I am as thou; my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses," was Jehoshaphat's brotherly reply. Moreover, Jehoshaphat induced his vassal, the king of Edom, to join in the campaign against Moab.

Approaching Moab from the south, through Edom, the three kings with their armies took up positions from which to attack Moab. But they had not foreseen another formidable opponent—the drought. Their route through Edom had taken them across desert land, and they found themselves without water. Joram began to fear that the campaign was doomed and that disaster was imminent. Jehoshaphat, however, had more faith in G‑d and suggested that they inquire of one of G‑d's prophets what was to be done. Chief of the prophets at that time was Elisha, Elijah's faithful disciple and successor.

The two Jewish monarchs sought out Elisha and appealed to him for help. Elisha earnestly rebuked King Joram for following in his father's footsteps and continuing to spread idol-worship in the Kingdom of Israel. However, this was a rare opportunity to show the erring people G‑d's infinite kindness. And so the prophet told them that without their seeing wind or rain, water would be forthcoming and victory would be theirs. The soldiers were to dig trenches which would miraculously be filled with water for them and for their horses.

When the morning sun rose, it shone on pools of water. To the Moabites they looked red, as though they were pools of blood. Knowing that there was no water in the valley, they thought that the three kings must have quarreled and fought it out amongst themselves. The Moabites, therefore, came down incautiously "to gather the spoils," but they were met with thunderous battle cries and were defeated with terrible losses. Every Moabite city but one was destroyed, and Moab was laid waste. Mesha, the king of Moab, was besieged in his own capital. The besieging armies finally abandoned the siege. Although the war had been won and Moab was crushed and defeated, King Mesha of Moab still remained independent.