2 Kings 8:16-24; 2 Chronicles 21:1-11
Throughout history–from ancient times to modern–the death of a powerful leader has often initiated a cascade of political changes within the leader’s former sphere of influence, and the death of King Jehoshaphat of Judah was no different. The nation of Edom had been subjugated by King David of Israel (2 Samuel 8:13-14), and after the northern tribes of Israel broke away from the rule of David’s descendants in 930 B.C., Edom remained under the rule of Judah. By the end of the reign of King Jehoshaphat of Judah, however, the political landscape had changed significantly. Edom’s neighbor Moab had already declared independence from Israel after the death of King Ahab just a few years earlier in 853 B.C. (2 Kings 1:1; 3:5), and they had even survived an attempt by King Jehoram of Israel to bring them back under his rule (2 Kings 3; see map). Their success may have emboldened Edom to seize upon a new window of opportunity to reestablish their own sovereignty when King Jehoshaphat died in 848 B.C. Edom, too, would survive an attempt by another King Jehoram–King Jehoram (or sometimes Joram) of Judah–to bring them back under his rule, and this apparently led the Levitical city of Libnah to revolt from Judah as well. After Edom declared their independence, Jehoram set out with his chariots and his army to attack Edom at Zair (probably the same as Zoar), but the Edomites and their chariot commanders surrounded his forces, and Jehoram’s army fled home.