One interesting thing about trying to chronologicalize the events set forth in Kings and Chronicles is that the details are not always exactly the same. In fact, there are times when they seem downright contradictory. The death of Ahaziah (that is, the king of Judah), namely how he died, is one of these times.
In this blog, I’ve tried not to avoid these kinds of issues or other issues that are sometimes “uncomfortable” to discuss. Before I address the issue of Ahaziah, I should set forth my thinking on dealing with these kinds of passages.
One thing to keep in mind is whenever you have two people relating the same event, it’s very rare that you’ll have complete agreement on the details. Very rarely will you have word for word agreement on any two accounts of the same event. You often see this when people give testimony in a courtroom. But it doesn’t mean that the event didn’t happen or that there is necessarily a contradiction in the testimony. So what I try to do is find ways to reconcile the testimony given. And if there’s a reasonable way to do so, I’ll go with it.
So how did Ahaziah die? Kings seems to imply that he was wounded, escaped to Megiddo and died there from his wounds shortly thereafter. He was then buried by his servants in Jerusalem. (II Kings 9:27-28). Chronicles seems to imply that Ahaziah was captured and executed by Jehu in Samaria. But what do the accounts really say?
It says in II Kings that when Jehu killed Joram, king of Israel, he also ordered the death of Ahaziah who was visiting Joram. Ahaziah was injured, but escaped to Megiddo. II Chronicles, however, gives us more information, that Jehu sent out a search parties to find Ahaziah, and that they found him in Samaria. So what happened?
Here’s one possibility. When Ahaziah was injured, he went to Megiddo first. Jehu heard from his search parties that Ahaziah was there and followed him. But when Ahaziah heard that Jehu was coming, he ran once again, this time hiding in Samaria. When Jehu arrived in Megiddo, he found that the bird had flown the coop, so he sent out more search parties. They eventually found Ahaziah, and had him brought to Jehu in Megiddo, and there Ahaziah was executed. Note that nowhere in Chronicles does it say that Ahaziah was killed in Samaria. It only says that he was found and captured there, and was then brought to Jehu. It doesn’t say where Jehu was when Ahaziah was brought to him. Kings on the other hand, doesn’t say anything about Ahaziah dying from his wounds. It merely says he died in Megiddo. At that point, either Jehu buried him there, and Ahaziah’s servants then later moved him to Jerusalem, or Jehu simply left Ahaziah in the care of Ahaziah’s servants, in which case when Kings says Jehu buried Ahaziah, it simply means he allowed him to be buried.
Is this what really happened? I don’t know. But it is a reasonable explanation.
So what’s my point? There are some difficult passages to reconcile in the Bible. Some are found here in Kings and Chronicles. Others are found in the gospels. But I think if we can remember that generally these accounts complement rather than simply copycat each other, we can resolve most of these supposed discrepencies with some thought.