2 Chronicles 22:8—Were Ahaziah’s brothers slain or were they his brother’s sons?

Problem: Here we are told that it was king Ahaziah’s brother’s “sons” who were killed. But 2 Kings 10:13–14 says it was Ahaziah’s “brothers” that were slain.

Solution: The Hebrew term for “brother” can mean “near relative.” For example, Abraham’s nephew Lot was called his “brother” (Gen. 14:12, 16). Since Ahaziah, the youngest son, was born when his father was only 18, he could have had many nephews and cousins or “brethren.” Since the 2 Chronicles passage refers to his brother’s sons, the word “brother” can be taken in the strict sense here.

It is also quite possible that both statements are literally true. Since Jehu was commanded by God to exterminate the house of Ahab, and since Ahaziah “walked in the way of the house of Ahab,” it is conceivable that Jehu took it upon himself to destroy the house of Ahaziah also, including his brothers and his brothers’ sons. In fact, in the 2 Kings passage, the report of the killing of Ahaziah’s brothers (2 Kings 10:13–14) takes place after Jehu had killed Ahaziah (2 Kings 9:27), while the 2 Chronicles passage reports the killing of the sons of Ahaziah’s brothers before the killing of Ahaziah (2 Chron. 22:8–9).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.