Joram's Evil Reign

As long as Jehoshaphat lived, his son had appeared to be pious and just. However, as soon as Joram, at the age of thirty-two, ascended the throne of Judea, Athaliah, the daughter of Jezebel, saw her opportunity to assert her dominating influence over him and the affairs of state. Like her mother, Athaliah was a fanatical worshiper of the Baal, and she brought her priests and idols with her into the holy city of Jerusalem. In her eager desire to throw over the traditions of the House of David, she did not even hesitate to order the murder of Joram's six brothers, and of some of the most noble blood of Judea, persuading the king that they might be a threat to his throne. The king was a willing tool in her hands, and he permitted himself to become altogether enveloped in the Phoenician cult so fanatically sponsored by his wife and her imported friends. He erected temples in honor of Baal and Ashtarte and seduced the people of Jerusalem into serving these foreign idols.

Joram's Punishment

At the height of his frivolous life, a letter from the Prophet Elijah reached him miraculously; in this letter the prophet denounced Joram's evil ways and announced the punishment which G‑d would inflict on him for having killed his brothers and misguided his people. Elijah's prophecy soon came true. The people of Edom, who had been subdued ever since King David had first conquered them, revolted, seeing that Judea was governed by a reign weakened by crime and idolatry. Joram's attempt to put down the revolt failed dismally. This failure was the signal for all the other small nations to throw off the yoke of Judea. The Philistines and Arabs stopped paying tribute, organized a large army composed of various rebellious tribes, and marched against Jerusalem. They captured the city and looted every house, including the royal palace. Joram's wives and children were taken prisoner and killed. Only his youngest son Ahaziah was saved.

This defeat ruined the firm political position Judea had held under King Asa and King Jehoshaphat. Joram himself suffered terribly from an incurable sickness. After two years of horrible suffering he died, in the eighth year of his reign over Judea. The people did not forget and forgive his evil rule. They did not bury him in the traditional resting-place of the dynasty of the House of David, and they did not even accord him the funeral honors given to previous monarchs.