Verse 26. "Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign" - In 2 Chron. xxii. 2, it is said, forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; this is a heavy difficulty, to remove which several expedients have been used. It is most evident that, if we follow the reading in Chronicles, it makes the son two years older than his own father! for his father began to reign when he was thirty-two years old, and reigned eight years, and so died, being forty years old; see ver. 17. Dr. Lightfoot says, "The original meaneth thus: Ahaziah was the son of two and forty years; namely, of the house of Omri, of whose seed he was by the mother's side; and he walked in the ways of that house, and came to ruin at the same time with it. This the text directs us to look after, when it calleth his mother the daughter of Omri, who was indeed the daughter of Ahab. Now, these forty- two years are easily reckoned by any that will count back in the Chronicle to the second of Omri. Such another reckoning there is about Jechoniah, or Jehoiachin, chap. xxiv. 8: Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign. But, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 9, Jehoiachin was the son of the eight years; that is, the beginning of his reign fell in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar, and of Judah's first captivity." - Works, vol. i., p. 87.
After all, here is a most manifest contradiction, that cannot be removed but by having recourse to violent modes of solution. I am satisfied the reading in 2 Chron. xxii. 2, is a mistake; and that we should read there, as here, twenty-two instead of forty-two years; see the note there. And may we not say with Calmet, Which is most dangerous, to acknowledge that transcribers have made some mistakes in copying the sacred books, or to acknowledge that there are contradictions in them, and then to have recourse to solutions that can yield no satisfaction to any unprejudiced mind? I add, that no mode of solution yet found out has succeeded in removing the difficulty; and of all the MSS. which have been collated, and they amount to several hundred, not one confirms the reading of twenty-two years. And to it all the ancient versions are equally unfriendly.
Verse 28. "The Syrians wounded Joram" - Ahaziah went with Joram to endeavour to wrest Ramoth-gilead out of the hands of the Syrians, which belonged to Israel and Judah. Ahab had endeavoured to do this before, and was slain there; see 1 Kings xxii. 3, &c., and the notes there.
Verse 29. "Went back to be healed in Jezreel" - And there he continued till Jehu conspired against and slew him there. And thus the blood of the innocents, which had been shed by Ahab and his wife Jezebel, was visited on them in the total extinction of their family. See the following chapters, where the bloody tale of Jehu's conspiracy is told at large.
I HAVE already had to remark on the chronological difficulties which occur in the historical books; difficulties for which copyists alone are responsible. To remove them by the plan of reconciliation, is in many cases impracticable; to conjectural criticism we must have recourse. And is there a single ancient author of any kind, but particularly those who have written on matters of history and chronology, whose works have been transmitted to us free of similar errors, owing to the negligence of transcribers?