II Kings 14

 

 

THE REIGN OF AMAZIAH OVER JUDAH (vs. 1-20)

 

This chapter takes up the history of the kingdom of Judah from the end of ch.12.,

with which it is closely connected. The writer, after a few such general remarks

as those with which he commonly opens the history of each reign (vs. 1-4),

proceeds to relate:

 

  • the punishment by Amaziah of the murderers of his father (vs. 5-6);
  • the war of Amaziah with Edom (v. 7);
  • the challenge which he sent to Joash King of Israel, that king’s reply,

and the war which followed (vs. 8-16); and

  • the circumstances of Amaziah’s death (vs. 17-20). Between vs. 14

and 16 there is interposed a summary of the reign of King Joash of

Judah, which is little more than a repetition of ch.13:12-13, and is

 

1  In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz King of Israel reigned

Amaziah the son of Joash King of Judah.”   Again the chronology

is defective. If Joash of Israel ascended the throne in the thirty-seventh year

of Joash of Judah (ch. 13:10), and the latter reigned forty years (Ibid. ch. 12:1),

Amaziah cannot have become king till the fourth or fifth year of the Israelitish

Joash, instead of the second. The ordinary explanation of commentators is a

double accession; but this is unsatisfactory. It is best to allow that the

chronology of the later half of the Israelite kingdom is in confusion.

(a by-product of the age in which the leaders and the led played such a

Large role in the disorder – CY -2011)

 

2  He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned

twenty and nine years in Jerusalem.”  Josephus (‘Ant. Jud., 9.’ 9. § 3) and

II Chronicles 25:1  confirms these numbers. “And his mother’s name was

Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.”  Josephus (l.s.c.) calls her Jodade, but the LXX.

has, more correctly, Joadim.

 

3  And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like

David his father:” - Only one King of Judah hitherto, viz. Asa, had

obtained the praise that he “did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord,

as did David his father” (I Kings 15:11). All the others had fallen short more

or less; and Amaziah fell short in many respects. He was wanting in “a perfect

 heart” (II Chronicles 25:2), i.e. a fixed intention to do God’s will; he was

proud and boastful (v. 10); he gave way to idolatry in his later years

(II Chronicles 25:14), and he despised the reproof of the prophet who was

sent to rebuke his sin (Ibid. v.16).  Though placed among the “good kings’

by the authors of both Kings and Chronicles, it is, as it were, under protest,

with a distinct intimation that, although better than most of his predecessors,

he did not reach a high standard“he did according to all things as Joash

his father did.” There is something of Oriental hyperbole in this statement,

which must be understood in the spirit, not in the letter. The two kings were

differently circumstanced, and history did not “repeat itself” in their reigns.

The position of Joash with respect to Jehoiada finds no parallel in the

circumstances of the life of Amaziah. Still, the lives are parallel to some

extent. Both kings began better than they ended. Both were zealous for

Jehovah at first, but turned to idolatry at last. Both opposed themselves to

prophets, and treated their rebukes with scorn. Both roused conspiracy

against them by their misconduct, and were murdered by the malcontents.

Further, both were unsuccessful in war, had to withstand a siege of their

capitol, and bought off their enemy by the surrender of the greater part of

its wealth, including the treasures of the temple (compare ch. 12:18 with

v. 14).

 

4   “Howbeit the high places were not taken away:” - No king ventured to

touch the “high places” until the time of Hezekiah, by whom they were put

down (ch. 18:4). Even Asa did not remove them (I Kings 15:14). They were

remnants of an old ancestral worship which went back to the time of the

judges, and which had been connived at by judges and kings and prophets.

Local feeling was everywhere in their favor, since they provided for local

needs, and enabled men to dispense with the long and tedious journey to

the distant Jerusalem“as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense

on the high places.”

 

 

 

   Like Father – Like Son – Joash’s Influence on Amaziah (vs. 3-4)

 

Amaziah “did according to all things as Joash his father did.” (v. 3) - Like his

father, he was half-hearted. In his earlier years he kept to the worship of Jehovah,

and “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord,” yet not with any zeal

or energy. Afterwards he fell away, introduced idolatry (II Chronicles 25:14), and

when a prophet rebuked him for his evil courses, answered him with scoffs and

threatenings (Ibid. vs. 15-16).  His father Joash had done even worse after the

death of Jehoiada. He had not only sanctioned idolatries (Ibid. ch. 24:17-18), but

had had the servant of God who rebuked them put to death (Ibid. v. 21-22). This,

however, is not held by the sacred writer to be any justification or excuse for

Amaziah. The reasons are manifest:

 

  • NO MAN IS TO BE CALLED MASTER, NOT EVEN A FATHER.

            God gives men in His Law and in their conscience a standard of right,

            which they are to follow. He nowhere bids them take any man but the

            “God-Man, Jesus Christ” for pattern. He warns them that men are,

            all of them, more or less imperfect. He requires that parents shall be

            honored,” not imitated.

 

  • THE EVIL EXAMPLE OF A FATHER IS A WARNING TO SONS,

            WHICH SHOULD LEAD TO AVOIDANCE, NOT IMITATION.

            The sight of a drunken father should disgust sons with drunkenness.

            Blasphemous and violent words should so shock them as to suggest an

            exactly opposite behavior. Looseness of morals should breed in them a

            determination never to offend in a way so absolutely revolting. Given that

            simplicity which is natural to youth, and every fault of a father should so

            keenly wound and vex their souls as to bend them in the exactly contrary

            direction. Sin is so ugly, so offensive, so coarse, that in another it naturally

            disgusts us; and the more plainly it is revealed, the closer it is brought to

            us, the more are we naturally provoked and angered by it.

 

  • THE PUNISHMENT WHICH SIN DRAWS AFTER IT SHOULD

            COME ESPECIALLY HOME TO THOSE WHOSE HOMES ARE

            CURSED WITH IT, AND ACT AS A DETERRENT. Disease, decay,

            the loss of others’ respect, the severing of friendships, general dislike and

            aversion, in some cases contempt, dog the footsteps of sin, and mark it as

            a thing to be avoided. Sons are naturally sensitive with regard to their

            fathers’ honor, and keen to mark whether they are held in respect or not.

            There can be no natural deterrent from evil courses stronger than the

            perception that one with whom we are bound up is deteriorating from day

            to day, not merely in character, but in reputation, falling in men’s esteem,

            becoming a mark for their scorn. The father’s fall should thus not produce

            the son’s, but rather stimulate the son to rise to greater and greater

             heights of virtue.

 

5  And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his

Hand,” - Joash had been murdered in Jerusalem by conspirators (ch.12:20).

A time of trouble had, no doubt, supervened. The conspirators would not

wish to see Amaziah placed upon the throne, and may have opposed and

delayed his appointment. But their efforts proved fruitless. After a time,

the young king was confirmed (literally, “strengthened”), i.e. settled and

established in his kingdom, all opposition being overcome or dying away.

This seems to be what the writer means. He cannot intend a confirmation

by a foreign suzerain, which the phrase used might import (ch. 15:19),

when he has given no hint of any subjection of the kingdom to any foreign

power, or indeed of any serious attack on its independence – “that he slew

his servants” -  Jozachar and Jehozabad were “servants” of Joash,

apparently domestic servants employed in his palace, and are therefore

reckoned “servants” also of his successor -  “which had slain the king

his father.”  In the “house of Millo,’ where he lay sick. They “slew him

on his bed” (II Chronicles 24:25).

 

6  But the children of the murderers he slew not:” - It was the

ordinary usage in the East for the sons of traitors to share the fate of their

fathers. A Greek poet went so far as to say that a man was a fool who put

to death the father, and allowed the son to live. The practice had a double

ground. Sons, it might be assumed, would be cognizant of their father’s

intention, and would so be accessories before the fact. And the law of

claim, or “blood-feud,” would make it dangerous to spare them, since they

would be bound to avenge their father’s death on his destroyer. That the

practice prevailed among the Israelites appears from Joshua 7:24, where we

find the children of Achan involved in his fate, and again from ch. 9:26,

where we are told that Naboth’s sons suffered with their father. But it

was contrary to an express command of the Law, as the writer goes on to

show“according unto that which is written in the book of the Law of

Moses, (Deuteronomy 24:16) wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The

fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to

death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”

As usual, when one sacred writer quotes another, the quotation is not exact.

“But” (μai WKi) is inserted at the beginning of the final clause, and the form

of the verb in the same clause is modified. It seems to be intended that we

should be made to feel that it is the sentiment or meaning conveyed, and not

the phraseology in which it is wrapped up, that is of importance.

 

7   “He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand,” -  Edom had

revolted from Judah and recovered complete independence in the reign of

Jehoram, about fifty years previously (ch. 8:20). Since that time the two

countries had remained at peace. Now, however, Amaziah resolved upon a

great effort to resubjugate them. According to Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:9. § 1)

and II Chronicles 25:5, he levied an army of 400,000 men — 300,000 Jews,

and 100,000 hired Israelites — with which he marched against the three

nations of the Amalekites, the Idumaeans, and the Gabalites. Rebuked by a

prophet for want of faith in calling to his aid the wicked Israelites, he

consented to dismiss them, and made the invasion at the head of his own troops

only. These were carefully organized (Ibid.), and met with a great success. Ten

thousand of his enemies fell in battle, and an equal number were made prisoners.

These last were barbarously put to death by being precipitated from the top

of a rock (Ibid. v.12). “The valley of salt,” the scene of the battle, is probably

identified with the sunken plain, now called Es Sabkah, at the southern

extremity of the Dead Sea. This is a large flat of at least six miles by ten,

occasionally flooded, but dry in the summer.time. It is full of salt springs,

and is bounded on the west and northwest by a long ridge of pure salt,

known as the Khasm Usdum, so that the name “valley of salt” would be

very appropriate – “and took Selah by war,” - Selah with the article

(has-Selah) can only be the Idumaean capitol, which the Greeks called

Petra (Pe>tra or hJ Pe>tra), and which is one of the most remarkable sites

in the world. In the rocky mountains which form the eastern boundary of the

Arabah or sandy slope reaching from the edge of the Sabkah to the Red Sea,

amid cliffs of gorgeous colors, pink and crimson and purple, and ravines as

deep and narrow as that of Proffers, partly excavated in the rock, partly

emplaced upon it, stood the Edomite town, difficult to approach, still more

difficult to capture, more like the home of a colony of sea-gulls than that of

a number of men -  “and called the name of it Joktheel” -  i.e. “subdued by

God.” The name took no permanent hold. Selah is still “Sela” in Isaiah (16:1),

Obadiah (v. 3), and Jeremiah (49:16). It is known only as “Petra” to the

Greeks and Romans -  unto this day.”  i.e. to the time of the writer who

composed the account of Amaziah’s reign for the ‘Book of the Kings,’ and

whose words the author of Kings transcribes here as so often elsewhere.

 

8  Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of

Jehu, King of Israel, saying,” -  Amaziah had a cause of complaint against

Jehoash, or at any rate against his subjects, which does not appear in the

narrative of Kings. The author of Chronicles tells us that, when Amaziah

dismissed his Israelite mercenaries, they were offended, and vented their

anger by an inroad into his territories (ch. 25:13), where they killed three

thousand men and “took much spoil.” This was a clear casus belli,

(justification of war) if Amaziah chose to consider it such – “Come, let us

Look one another in the face.”  A rude message, if it was actually couched

In these terms. But perhaps the writer substitutes the gist of the message for

the language in which it was wrapped up. Josephus says that Amaziah

wrote a letter to Joash, and required him to submit himself and people to

the authority of the Jewish state, and thus restore the state of things which

had existed under David and Solomon. Otherwise the sword must decide

between them (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:9. § 2). Whatever its terms, pride and self-

confidence, the result of his success against Edom, were at the root of the

challenge.

 

9   “And Jehoash the King of Israel sent to Amaziah King of Judah,

Saying,” -  According to Josephus, the reply to the challenge was given in a

formal letter, of which he presents us with a copy- “ King Joash to King

Amaziah [sends greeting]: “Once upon a time there was in Mount Lebanon

a very tall cypress, and also there was a thistle. And the thistle sent to the

cypress, saying,’ Contract thy daughter in marriage to my son.’ And while

this was transacting, a wild beast passed by and trod down the thistle. Let

this be a warning to thee not to cherish immoderate desires, and not, because

thou hast had success against Amalek, to pride thyself thereupon, and so

draw down dangers both upon thee and upon thy kingdom.”  The force of

the original message is much weakened in this paraphrase.  “The thistle that

was in Lebanon” - “Thistle” is a better translation than as a meaner growth,

and secondly, as more likely to be trodden down by a wild beast. The monarch

 intends to say that the meanest thing in the vegetable world sent to the grandest,

claiming equality – “sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy

daughter to my son to wife:” - To ask a man’s daughter in marriage for one’s

self or for one’s son was to claim to be his equal – “and there passed by a

wild beast — literally, a beast of the field — that was in Lebanon (on

Lebanon as the haunt of wild beasts, see Song of Solomon 4:8, “and trode

down the thistle.”  So leveling with the dust the pride of the impertinent one.

We must not seek an exact application of all the details either of a fable or

of a parable. It is not required that metaphors should “run on all fours.”

 

10   “Thou hast indeed smitten Edom (see v. 7, and the comment), and thine

heart hath lifted thee up i.e., made thee proud, exalted thee above measure —

glory of this, and tarry at home”  i.e., rest content with the glory which thou

hast gained in thy Edomite war; make thy boast thereof, but do not affront fresh

dangers — “for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt” — literally, why wilt

thou meddle with misfortune? “that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and

Judah with thee?” Joash was as confident of success, if it came to war, as Amaziah.

His three victories over Syria (ch. 13:25) were, he thought, at least as good evidence

of military strength as Amaziah’s one victory over Edom.

 

11  But Amaziah would not hear.”  The message of Joash was not

conciliatory, but provocative. On hearing it, Amaziah (as Josephus says,

Ant. Jud.,’ 9:9. § 3) was the more spurred on to make his expedition.

“Therefore Jehoash King of Israel went up;” -  Joash, did

not wait for the attack of Amaziah, but anticipated his movements, and

carried the war into the enemy’s country.” Defensive warfare often

requires such an offensive movement – “and he and Amaziah King of

Judah looked one another in the face — e.g., came to an engagement

(compare v. 8) — at Beth-shemesh, which belongeth to Judah.”  Bethshemesh

was assigned to Judah by Joshua (19:38), and lay on its western frontier line. Its

position is marked by the modern Ain-Shems, which lies nearly due west of

Jerusalem, on the road from Hebron to Jaffa. Ain- Shems itself is an Arab village,

but “just to the west of it are the manifest traces of an ancient site.  The

position commands the approach from the Philistine plain; and we may

suspect that Joash, avoiding the direct line of approach, led his troops to

the attack through Philistia, as was so often done by the Syrians in their

attacks on the Maccabees.

 

12  And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every

man to their tents.” -  i.e. “to their homes” (see the comment on ch.13:5).

This was the first trial of strength between the two nations of which we have any

distinct account. It resulted in the complete discomfiture of Israel. There was

another great struggle in the time of Pekah and Ahaz, wherein Judah suffered

even more severely (II  Chronicles 28:6-8).

 

13  And Jehoash King of Israel took Amaziah King of Judah, the son of

Jehoash the son of Ahaziah at Beth-shemesh-  Josephus

says (l.s.c.) that Amaziah was deserted by his troops, who were seized with

a sudden panic and fled from the field — “and came to Jerusalem, and

brake down the wall of Jerusalem” -  According to Josephus, Joash

threatened his prisoner with death unless the gates of Jerusalem were

opened to him, and his army admitted into the town; and it was upon

Amaziah’s representations that the surrender was made as soon as the

Israelite army appeared before the place. The breach in the wall was

therefore not the result of siege operations, but the act of a conqueror, who

desired to leave his enemy as defenseless as possible – “from the gate of

Ephraim” -  i.e. the main gate in the northern wall of the city — that by

which travelers ordinarily proceeded into the territory of the tribe of

Ephraim. In later times it seems to have been called indifferently “the gate

of Ephraim” (Nehemiah 8:16; 12:39) and “the gate of Benjamin”

(Jeremiah 37:13; Zechariah 14:10). The great north road, which

passed through it, led across the Benjamite into the Ephraim-its territory.

unto the corner gate,” -  The, “corner gate” is generally thought to have

been that at the north-western angle of the City wall, where it turned

southward, but this is perhaps doubtful. The exact line of the city wall in

the time of Amaziah is exceedingly uncertain – “four hundred cubits.” –

Six hundred feet, or two hundred yards. This seems to have been the entire

distance between the two gates. As there were at least thirteen gates in the

circuit of the walls (Nehemiah 3:1-31; 12:31-39), which were probably not

more extensive than those of the present town (3960 yards), the distance of

two hundred yards between one gate and another would not be improbable,

the average distance being about three hundred yards.

 

14  And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that

were found in the house of the Lord,” -  As Joash of Judah had, fifteen or

twenty years previously, stripped the temple of its treasures to buy off the

hostility of Hazael (ch. 12:18), there could not have been at this time very much

for Joash of Israel to lay his hands on. Still, whatever there was passed into the

possession of the Israelite king – “and in the treasures of the king’s house” –

Neither can this have amounted to much, unless the booty taken from Hazael after

his defeats (v. 25) was very considerable – “and hostages, and returned to

Samaria.” 

 

15  Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might, and how

he fought with Amaziah King of Judah, are they not written in the book of the

chronicles of the kings of Israel?   16 And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and

was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned

in his stead.”  These verses are repeated with very slight alterations from ch.13:11-12.

Curiously, on both occasions they are out of place. It is scarcely worth while to

consider how they came into the text at this point, since no explanation could be more

than a conjecture. In point of fact, they are redundant.

 

17   “And Amaziah the son of Joash King of Judah lived after the death of

Jehoash son of Jehoahaz King of Israel fifteen years.”  This note of time is

based on v. 2, which makes Amaziah begin to reign in the second year of Joash of

Israel, and hold the throne for twenty-nine years. If he really began to reign in the

fourth year of Joash, he would have survived him only thirteen years (see the

comment on v. 2).

 

18  And the rest of the acts of Amaziah” -  — especially the circumstances

of his war with Edom, as related in II Chronicles 25:5-13, his idolatry (Ibid. v14),

and the rebuke which he received from one of God’s prophets (Ibid. vs.15-16) in

consequence — “are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the

kings of Judah?

 

19  Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem:” -

The author of Chronicles connects this conspiracy with the idolatry of

which Amaziah was guilty (II Chronicles 25:27); but, though his

subjects may have been offended by his religions changes, and have

become alienated from him in consequence, the actual conspiracy can

scarcely have been prompted by an act which was fifteen, or at any rate

thirteen, years old. It is more likely to have sprung out of dissatisfaction

with Amaziah’s military inaction from and after his defeat by Joash. While

Jeroboam II was carrying all before him in the north, recovering his border,

pushing it as far as Hamath, and even exercising a suzerainty over Damascus

(vs.25,28), Amaziah remained passive, cowed by his one defeat, and took no

advantage of the state of weakness to which he had reduced Edom, but sat with

folded hands, doing nothing. The conspirators who removed Amaziah, and placed

his son Azariah, or Uzziah, upon the throne, may be credited with the wish and

intention to bring the period of inaction to an end, and to effect in the south what

Jeroboam was effecting in the north. It is true that Azariah was but sixteen years

of age (v. 21; compare II Chronicles 26:1), but he may have given indications of his

ambition and capacity. Sixteen, moreover, is the time of manhood in the

East, and the conspirators had probably waited until Azariah was sixteen in

order that his competency to reign should not be disputed. As soon as he

was on the throne he initiated the warlike policy which they desired (see

v. 22) -  and he fled to Lachish;” -  Lachish, one of the south-western

Judaean towns (Joshua 15:39), was at all times a fortress of importance. It

resisted Joshua (10:3, 31), and was taken by storm. It was fortified by

Jeroboam against the Egyptians (II Chronicles 11:9). It was besieged and taken

by Sennacherib (ch. 18:14). The position is marked by the modern Um-

Lakis, on “a low round swell or knoll,” between Gaza and Beit-Jibrin,

about thirteen miles from Gaza and nearly thirty-five from Jerusalem - “but

they sent after him to Lackish, and slew him ther.”  So  II Chronicles

25:27) and Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:9. § 3); but details are wanting.

 

20  And they brought him on horses;” -  literally, on the horses,

which must mean “on his horses.” Probably Amaziah had fled to Lachish in

the royal chariot, and his body was now brought back in it to Jerusalem.

The conspirators were evidently minded to treat the royal corpse with all

respect“and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of

David; i.e. the city on the eastern hill, which David took from the Jebusites

(see the comment on I Kings 2:10).

 

                             SUCCESSION OF AZARIAH

                                                AND

            RESUMPTION OF THE WAR WITH EDOM (vs. 21-22)

 

Though reserving his account of the reign of Azariah to the next chapter (vs. 1-7), the

writer is led by the circumstances of Amaziah’s death to mention at once the fact of

his son Azariah’s succession, and the first important act of his reign, the resumption

of war with Edom. He then breaks off suddenly, in order to interpose an account of

the reign of Jeroboam II., who was contemporary with Amaziah during fourteen

years of his reign.

 

21  And all the people of Judah took Azariah,” -  This is a new

expression, and implies a new, perhaps a tumultuary, proceeding. The

people, uncertain probably of the intentions of the conspirators, and fearful

that they might set up a king not of the house of David, took the initiative,

went to the royal palace, and finding there a son of Amaziah — whether

his eldest son or not, we cannot say — proclaimed him king and placed

him upon the throne. II Chronicles 26:1  agrees. Josephus is silent – “which was

sixteen years old,” -  Young certainly, considering that his father was fifty-four

(see v. 2), but not necessarily “a younger son,” since Amaziah’s earlier children may

have been daughters, or he may have married late in life. It is not doubted that

Manasseh was Hezekiah’s eldest son, yet he was only twelve when Hezekiah died

at the same age as Amaziah, viz. fifty-four – “and made him king instead of his

father Amaziah.”  There are two forms of the king’s name, Azariah and

Uzziah. The difference between them is not so great in the Hebrew, where

they both begin with the same letter; but still it is considerable. One name is

not a mere contraction of the other. Some suppose that the king changed

one name for the other upon his accession; others, that he was called

indifferently by either, since they were very similar in meaning. “Azariah” is

he whose help is Jehovah;” “Uzziah,” “he whose strength is Jehovah.”

Uzziah” is the predominant form, occurring four times in II Kings, twelve

times in II Chronicles, three times in Isaiah, once in Hosea, once in Amos,

and once in Zechariah; while “Azariah” occurs only in II Kings (eight times)

and in I Chronicles 3:12 (once). Josephus uses the form “Ozias

(equivalent to, Uzziah), and so does St. Matthew (Matthew 1:8-9).

 

22  He built Elath, and restored it to Judah,” -  On the position of

Elath, or Eloth, and its importance, see the comment on I Kings 9:26.

It had been the headquarters of Solomon’s fleet (Ibid. 9:26), and

again of Jehoshaphat’s (Ibid. ch. 22:48; II Chronicles 20:36); but

had been, of course, recovered by the Edomites when they revolted (ch.8:22).

Azariah’s re-occupation seems to imply an intention on his part of, renewing the

old Red Sea trade. By “built ‘ in this passage we must understand “rebuilt” or

(as in II Chronicles 11:6) “fortified.” – “after that the king slept with his

fathers.” -  His further military successes will be considered in the comment on

his reign, as sketched in the next chapter.

 

 

  REIGN OF JEROBOAM THE SON OF JOASH OVER ISRAEL (vs. 23-29)

 

This reign, the most important of those belonging to the kingdom of Israel since that of

Ahab, is treated with great brevity by the writer, whose interest is far more in Judah

than in Israel. Seven verses only are devoted to him. The result of his wars is given

without any account of the wars themselves. And the great fact of his ruling over

Damascus only comes in by a sort of afterthought (v. 28). The usual formulas are

followed in introducing his reign and dismissing it.

 

23  In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash King of Judah — this

note of time agrees with those in ch.13:10 and vs. 1, 17, but not with that in ch.15:1

(see the comment on that passage) — Jeroboam the son of Joash King of Israel

began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.” Josephus says

forty years., Many moderns extend the term to fifty-one years. Some suppose that

Jeroboam was joint-king with his father in Amaziah’s third year, solo king from his

fifteenth. But it is better to acknowledge the general confusion of the chronology, and

to regard it as uncertain, unless where a synchronism is distinctly made out. Such

assured synchronisms are the following:

 

  • The synchronism of Ahab with Jehoshaphat:
  • the synchronism of Jehoram, Ahab’s son, with the same;
  • the synchronism of Jehu’s first year with the first year of Athaliah;
  • the synchronism of Amaziah with Joash of Israel;
  • the synchronism of Pekah with Ahaz;
  • the synchronism of Hoshea’s last year with Hezekiah’s sixth;
  • the synchronism of Amaziah’s fourteenth year with Jeroboam II.’s first,

      being twice asserted in two distinct forms (vs. 17 and 23), is, at any rate,

      highly probable.

 

Numbers which occur once only in ancient writers can seldom be implicitly

trusted, since the liability of numbers to corruption is excessive.

 

24   “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not

from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.” –

(compare ch.10:29 with 13:2, 11, where the same is said of his father, grandfather,

and great-grandfather). The judgments which had fallen upon Jehu and Jehoahaz

on account of these sins did not teach any lesson to Joash or Jeroboam II.

The fatal  taint, which was congenital with the Israelite monarchy, could never

be purged out, but clung to it to the end.

 

25   “He restored the coast of Israel from the entering in of Hamath  - By

the entering in of Hamath is to be understood the opening into the Coele-

Syrian valley a little north of Baalbec, where the ground begins to slope northwards,

and the streams to flow in the same direction to form the Orontes. Hamath itself

was between eighty and ninety miles further to the north, on the middle Orontes,

about N. lat. 35° 22’. The “entering in of Hamathwas always reckoned the

northern boundary of the Holy Land (see Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5; Judges 3:3;

I Kings 8:65). It corresponded with the watershed between the Orontes and

the Litany – “unto the sea of the plain,” -  The “sea of the plain” is

undoubtedly the Dead Sea, the plain (ha-Arabah) being used as a sort of

proper name for the lower Jordan valley, like El-Ghor at the present day

(see Deuteronomy 3:17; Joshua 3:16; 12:3). The territory recovered no doubt

included all the trans-Jordanic region as far south as the river Arnon; but the

recovery of dominion over Moab, and even over Ammon, which some have

seen in this passage is scarcely contained in it -  “according to the word of the

Lord God of Israel, which He spake by the hand of his servant Jonah,

the son of Amittai (compare Jonah 1:1). Jonah’s date is determined by

this passage. He was contemporary with Hosea and Amos, and earlier than

Micah. His prophecy concerning Jeroboam is probably assigned to the

early part of that king’s reign – “the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher.”

Gath-hepher is mentioned in Joshua, under the name of Gittah-hepher, as a

city of Zebulon (ch.19:13), not far from Mount Tabor. It is conjecturally

identified with El-Meshhed north of Nazareth, where the tomb of Jonah is shown.

 

26  For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter:” -

(compare ch. 13:4, 23). The repetition is perhaps to be accounted for by the desire

of the writer to explain how it came to pass that so great a deliverance was granted

to Israel under a king who maintained the worship of the calves. He views it as the

consequence of God’s infinite compassion, and of the extreme bitterness of Israel’s

sufferings under the Syrians (compare ch.13:7 and Amos 1:3) – “for there was

not any shut up, nor any left (see the comment on v.10), nor any helper for

Israel.” Apart from Jehovah, Israel had no one to come to her aid. Judah would

not help her, for Judah had just suffered at her hands (vs. 11-14); still less would

Philistia, or Moab, or Ammon, who were her constant enemies. Her isolation

rendered her all the more an object for the Divine compassion.  (As I write

this [Feb. 3, 2011] Egypt is in great turmoil with the periphery issues of militant and

terroristic groups, vying for control, that are for the inhalation of Israel  figuring

in the scenario.  Are we living in the time that the same compassion of the Great God

of the Universe  will come to the forefront as stated in the book of Ezekiel?  (see

Ezekiel 38:8-12, 14-23; with v. 28 being Sodom revisited”!   For the effects

I recommend arkdiscovery.com with the associated information on Sodom and

Gomorrah – CY - 2011 

 

27  And the Lord said not that He would blot out the name of Israel from

under heaven:” -  God’s decision under the circumstances was not, as it well

might have been, considering Israel’s ill desert, to blot out forthwith the very

name of Israel from the earth. On the contrary, He gave the nation a breathing-space,

a gleam of light, a second summer before the winter set in — a further opportunity

of repenting and turning to Him with all their hearts if they would only have taken

advantage of it, a chance of redeeming the past and reestablishing themselves

in His favor. (Dear Reader, has He not did the same for the United States and the

World today?  Especially in light of the last comment which I made in the last verse!!!

CY – 2011) He might well have destroyed them at this time if He had looked only to

considerations of justice, if in His wrath He had not thought upon mercy - “but He

saved them” -  i.e. He gave them the deliverance promised first by Elisha (ch.13:17),

and then by Jonah the son of Amittai (v. 25) — deliverance from Syria, recovery of

their borders, and triumph over their enemies. He gave them all this “by the hand

of Jeroboam the son of Joash.”  Joash began the salvation, but it was reserved

for Jeroboam to complete it. He was the true “savior  (ch.13:5), the true

accomplisher of the work, for which his father only paved the way. Thus one

Jeroboam founded the kingdom; another refounded it, restored its ancient glories,

and gave it its old dimensions.

 

28  Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might,

how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus and Hamath, “ -  It has

been suggested that these words mean no more than that Jeroboam took territory

from Damascus and Hamath — from Damascus the trans-Jordanic territory which

Hazael had conquered from Jehu (ch.10:33); from Hamath some small portion of

the Coele-Syrian valley, about the head-streams of the Orontes and Litany. But

there does not seem to be any sufficient reason for giving the words used

this narrow signification. Damascus was conquered and annexed by David

(II Samuel 8:6), and held for a time even by Solomon (I Kings 11:24), of

whose kingdom Hamath also seems to have formed part (Ibid. ch. 4:21-24;

II Chronicles 8:4; 9:26). The word “recovered” is, therefore, a suitable one.

The prophecy of Amos, no doubt, represents Damascus as independent

(Amos 1:3-4); but this may have been written before Jeroboam conquered it.

Hamath’s subjection seems to be implied (Ibid. 6:2,14). How long the subjection

continued is a different question. Probably, in the troubles that followed the death

of Zachariah (ch. 15:10-14), the yoke was thrown off. In the Assyrian Inscriptions,

Damascus appears under its own king about B.C. 786, and it was certainly

independent in B.C. 743. At the latter date Hamath also appears as the capitol of

an independent kingdom under its own monarch – “which belonged to Judah,

for Israel,” -  This is a difficult passage.  Perhaps the best translation is

“ how he recovered Damascus and Hamath to Judah through Israel”? Attaching

them to Israel was a sort of recovering of them to Judah, to which (i.e. the Judah

of David and Solomon) they had once belonged – “are they not written in the

book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?”

 

29  And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel;”

 - his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had been actually among the kings

of Israel; but all the kings, his predecessors, were probably reckoned among his

ancestors“and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead (see the comment

on ch.15:8). By Zachariah’s accession the promise given to Jehu (ch.10:30), that

his “children to the fourth generation should sit on the throne of Israel,”

was literally fulfilled. No other royal house occupied the Israelitish throne for more

than three generations.

 

 

            Additional Notes on the Reign of Jeroboam II (vs. 23-29)

 

After the usual statement that Jeroboam “did evil in the sight of the Lord, and

departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to

 sin,” we have some brief notices of his reign:

 

  • THE REVIVED FORTUNES OF ISRAEL.

 

ü      Jeroboams successes in war. This able monarch continued the

      work of Joash. In fulfillment of the promise that God would give

      Israel a savior, (ch. 13:5) Jeroboam was enabled to complete the

      recovery of the cities and territories of Israel from the Syrians.

      “He restored the coast of Israel from the entering in of

      Hamath unto the sea of the plain,” (v. 25) - that is, he extended

      the boundaries of the kingdom as widely as they had ever reached

      in the days of its greatest prosperity.

 

ü      The cause of this — Gods pity for Israel. This remarkable turn

      in the fortunes of Israel was strange when it is remembered that

      Jeroboam was not a man who had the fear of God before him. The

      explanation is that already given (ch.13:23), the pity which God had

      for Israel, His desire to give it one more chance before blotting out its

      name, (“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some

       men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing

      that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”

       II Peter 3:9).  His respect for the covenant with the fathers, and,

      subordinately, His regard to the prayer of Jehoahaz (ch.13:4-5).

      If, as the result of this revival of the nation’s fortunes, piety did not also

      revive, destruction would come all the more speedily. In raising up this

      powerful king to save Israel, we see God’s faithfulness to His promise.

 

  • PROPHETIC ACTIVITY. We have allusion in the text to the prophetic activity

      of Jonah, the son of Amittai, the same who was sent to Nineveh, and we know

      that in this reign other prophets, notably Hosea and Amos, exercised their

      ministry. The writings of the latter prophets, show us how, amidst the sunshine

      of revived prosperity, the condition of the people did not improve, but grew

      more and more corrupt. But God’s faithfulness and care and love for His

      people are shown in sending such prophets to warn them (ch.17:13-14;

      II Chronicles 36:15-16). What could exceed the tender pathos of

            a ministry like Hosea’s, or the fidelity and earnestness of a testimony like

            that of Amos, who bearded the highest in the land to bear witness against

            them (Amos 7:10)? Yet the people would not hear, but attributed their

            prosperity to their idols, and worshipped them more than ever, while

            immorality, violence, and the loosening of all bonds between man and man

            abounded more and more (Hosea 4:1).

 

  • THE EVE OF COLLAPSE. Jeroboam died, and was succeeded by his

            son Zachariah. This was the fourth generation of the house of Jehu, and it

            will be seen that he reigned only six months. From this time Israel went

            rapidly to its ruin. The height of prosperity reached in the reign of

            Jeroboam was but the last flicker of the light before final extinction. A little

            over thirty years after Jeroboam’s death — forty at most — the words of

            the prophets were fulfilled, and the kingdom of Israel was destroyed,

            and its people carried away by the Assyrian.

 

 

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