- Parent Category: FAQs
- Category: Bible Questions and Answers - other
- Published on Thursday, 19 November 2009 11:38
Commentators attempt to explain this in at least half a dozen ways (see John Gill’s "Expositor"). Here are two of the better suggestions.
1. The 42 years are an ironic connection with the house of Ahab. Omri, Ahab’s father, began his dynasty in Israel about 42 years before Ahaziah was 22 (1 Kings 16:23; 15:10; 22:42; 2 Kings 8:17). The four sentences that follow the statement that Ahaziah was 42 (literally, "a son of 42 years") all link Judah’s King Ahaziah with Israel’s wicked house of Ahab. "Also," used twice, shows Ahaziah’s similarity to Ahab’s wickedness (2 Chronicles 22:2-5). The 42 years then make a powerful statement that the character of Ahaziah embodied the wickedness of those 42 years in Israel. However, the expression, "a son of 42 years," is nowhere else used in this way.
2. 42 is a copyist’s error and should be 22. Commentators, while upholding the inerrancy of Scripture, generally support this view. The difference between the two numbers is a difference between two similar Hebrew characters. 22 appears in some very old manuscripts of the Septuagint, Arabic, and Syraic Scriptures. In fairness, these postdate the Hebrew manuscripts and the absence of 22 in predated Hebrew manuscripts provides no evidence of an error by the scribes renowned for accuracy in copying the Scriptures. This explanation relies on an unsupported supposition.
If forced to choose, I prefer the first.