II Kings 15

 

 

 

            THE REIGN OF AZARIAH (UZZIAH) OVER JUDAH [vs. 1-7]

 

(This is confusing because Azariah and Uzziah are the same person – CY – 2011)

 

The writer now more and more compresses his narrative. Into a single chapter he

crowds the events of seven reigns, covering the space of nearly seventy years. He is

consequently compelled to omit several most important historical events, which are

however, fortunately supplied by the writer of Chronicles. Azariah’s reign, which here

occupies only seven verses, in II Chronicles 26:1-23 fills an entire chapter.

 

1   “In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam King of Israel began Azariah

son of Amaziah King of Judah to reign.” In ch.14:23 it is distinctly stated that

Jeroboam’s reign of forty-one years commenced in the fifteenth of Amaziah, who

from that time lived only fifteen years (Ibid. v.17). Either, therefore, Azariah must

have begun to reign in the fifteenth year of Jeroboam, or there must have been

an interregnum of twelve years between the death of Amaziah and the accession of

Azariah. As this last hypothesis is precluded by the narrative of  II Chronicles 26:1

and ch.14:20-21, we must correct the, “twenty-seventh year” of this verse into

the “fifteenth.” If we do this, corresponding changes will have to be made in vs. 8,

13, 23, and 27.

 

2  Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned two

and fifty years in Jerusalem.”  These numbers are confirmed II Chronicles

26:1-3) and by Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:10. § 4), who says that he reigned fifty-two

years, and died at the ago of sixty-eight.  “And his mother’s name was Jecholiah

of Jerusalem.”  Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:10. § 3) calls her “Achiala.”

 

3  And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all

that his father Amaziah had done;” -  (compare ch.14:3 and II Chronicles 26:4).

Josephus uses still stronger expressions. “Azariah was,” he says (l.s.c.), “a good king,

naturally just and high-minded, and indefatigable in his administration of affairs.”

According to II Chronicles 26:5, he “sought God in the days of Zechariah....

and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.”

 

4   “Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and

burnt incense still on the high places.” (compare the comment on ch. 14:4).

 

5   “And the Lord smote the king,” -  This comes in somewhat strangely, following

close upon a statement that the king “did that which was right in the sight of the

Lord.” We have to go to Chronicles for an explanation. By Chronicles it appears that,

in the earlier portion of his reign, Azariah was a good and pious prince, and that God

blessed him in all his undertakings. Not only did he recover Eloth (II Chronicles 26:2),

but he carried on a successful war with the Philistines — took Gath, Jabneh (Jamnia),

and Ashdod, and dismantled them (v. 6), defeated the Arabians of Gur-Baal,

and the Mehuuim or Maonites (v. 7), forced the Ammonites to pay him a tribute,

and caused his power to be known and feared far and wide (v. 8).  The standing

army which he maintained numbered 307,500 men, under 2600 officers, well armed

and equipped with shields, spears, helmets, breast-plates, bows, and slings

(vs.12-14). “His name spread far abroad, for he was wonderfully helped”

(v.15). This marvelous prosperity developed in him a pride equal to that of his father,

but one which vented itself differently, Azariah, deeming himself superior to all other

men, and exempt from ordinary rules, boldly invaded the priestly office, took a censer,

and entered into the temple, and proceeded to burn incense upon the golden altar that

was before the veil (vs.16-18). It was then that “the Lord smote the king.”  As, in

defiance of the high priest and his attendant train, who sought to prevent the lawless

act, Azariah persisted in his endeavors, God struck him with leprosy, his forehead

grew white with the unmistakable scaly scab, and in a moment his indomitable

pride  was quelled. The priests closed in upon him and began to thrust him out,

but no violence was necessary. Aware of what had happened, “he himself also

 hasted to go out, because the Lord had smitten him” (v.20). It is not very

clear why the writer of Kings passes over these facts; but certainly they are not

discredited by his silence. At any rate, those who accept the entire series of

conquests, whereof the writer of Kings says nothing, on the sole authority

of Chronicles, are logically precluded from rejecting the circumstances

accompanying the leprosy, which is acknowledged by the writer of Kings,

and viewed as a judgment from God. “So that he was a leper unto the day

of his death, and dwelt in a several house.” -  (compare v. 21 – all of the

previous references to this case are coming from II Chronicles 26 – CY - 2011).

Lepers had to be separated from the congregation — to “dwell alone” —

without the camp” (Leviticus 13:46). Ahaziah’s “several house” is regarded

by some as an “infirmary,” or “hospital for lepers”; but there is no reason to believe

that hospitals of any kind existed among the Israelites. The lepers mentioned in

ch. 7:3 (now we are back to II Kings)  are houseless. tyB" tycip]j;h" is best

translated “house of separation” and understood of a house standing by itself in the

open country, separate from others. Probably the house in which the leprous

king lived was, especially built for him.” (Reader, Pause and consider what

Azariah really did.  We do not need to be sacreligious lest a similar or worse

thing come upon us  but it would be better to have leprosy and be shut out

of society than to be similarly cast out of heaven because of “unatoned sin”

 [Matthew 8:11-12] - CY   2011) – “And Jotham the king’s son was

over the house — not over the “several house,” but over the royal palace

judging the people of the land.”  i.e. executing the royal functions,

whereof “judging” was one of the highest.  Azariah’s infirmity made a regency

necessary, and naturally his eldest son held  the office.

 

6  And the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not

written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?”   For Azariah’s

principal acts, see the commentary on the first clause of v. 5.

 

7   “So Azariah slept with his fathers; and they buried him with his fathers

in the city of David:” -  Here again the writer of Chronicles is more exact. Azariah,

he tells us (II Chronicles 26:23), was not buried in the rock-sepulcher which contained

the bodies of the other kings, but in another part of the field wherein the sepulcher

was situated. This was quite consonant with Jewish feeling with respect to the

uncleanness of the leper – “and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.” Jotham,

already for some years prince regent, became king as a matter of course on his

father’s demise.

 

 

            The Leper-King a Pattern and a Warning (vs. 1-7)

 

  • IN HIS EARLIER YEARS AZARIAH WAS A PATTERN KING.

      He “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord” (v. 3); he

      sought God” (II Chronicles 26:5); he consorted with “Zechariah,

      who had understanding in the visions of God;” and the result was

      that “God made him to prosper,” “God helped him against the

      Philistines and the Arabians and the Mehunim” (Ibid. v.7), and he

      was marvelously helped” (Ibid. v.15). So far, he is a pattern to us,

      the model of a good king, of one who is at once religiously minded and

      full of practical zeal and energy, who serves God without ceasing to serve

      man, “not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord”

      (Romans 12:11). But there is a reverse to the picture.

 

  • IN HIS LATER YEARS AZARIAH WAS A WARNING TO KINGS

            AND GREAT MEN GENERALLY. Azariah, like his father (ch.  14:10),

            became “lifted up” (II Chronicles 26:16). He was not content with his kingly

            power and greatness, his secular dignity and majesty; he would be first

            everywhere, and invaded the priestly office (Ibid. vs.16-19). It had pleased

            God, in the theocratic polity, which He had set up, to draw the sharpest

            possible line between the sacerdotal order and the rest of the community.

            None were allowed to sacrifice, or to burn incense, or even to enter into

            the sanctuary, but “the priests the sons of Aaron” the lineal

            descendants of the first and greatest of the high priests. Kings had their

            functions — great and high and (in a certain sense) sacred functions

            to rule, to judge, to determine on peace or war; to lead armies, if it so

            pleased them; to direct the whole policy of the nation. But one thing they

            might not do, and that was to assume the duties, which had been

            assigned to the priests and Levites, who had been appointed God’s

             special ministers, to minister to him in the congregation. The exclusive

            right of the priests to their functions had been vindicated in a most terrible

            and awful way, when, soon after the institution of the Levitical priesthood,

            its honors were coveted by great men who did not belong to the privileged

            body. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, with their company, were swallowed

            up, and “went down quick into hell,” because they claimed to be as “holy”

            as the priests (Numbers 16:3), and to offer incense before the door of the

            tabernacle of the congregation, each from his own censer. The lesson taught

            by the miracle had been taken deeply to heart; and even such mighty

            monarchs as David and Solomon had carefully abstained from setting aside

            the privileges of the priests, or infringing upon them in any way. But Azariah

            despised the teaching of the past, and the example set him by his

            predecessors. See him as Josephus depicts him! On a great festival day,

            when the people had all come together in crowds to keep the feast, he

            robed himself in priestly garments, and entering into the sacred enclosure

            declared his intention of going within the temple building, and himself

            offering incense on the golden altar that was before the veil. In vain did the

            eighty priests in attendance, headed by the high priest, resist him, and

            exhort him to lay aside his design and retire; Azariah, hot with passion,

            refused, and threatened them with death if they made more ado. Then,

            Josephus declares, the ground suddenly rocked with an earthquake (compare

                        Amos 1:1; Zechariah 14:5), and the roof of the temple gaped, and a

            sunbeam entering smote upon the head of the king, and at once leprosy

            spread over his face, and, overwhelmed with grief and shame, he departed

            (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:10. § 4). Here Azariah is a warning to kings:

 

ü      that they attempt not to minister the Word and sacraments;

ü      that they in no way trench upon the rights of the priests or

      other ministers; and further, he is a warning to great men,

      or such as think themselves great, in less exalted positions,

      that they rest content with the performance of their own

      proper duties and do not invade the office of others; either”

 

Ø      by dictating to ministers what doctrine they shall preach; or

Ø      by undue interference with schools, teachers, etc.; or

Ø      by any other form of arrogant and overbearing conduct.

 

Punishment will assuredly fall upon those who so act. They will lose men’s respect and

God’s approval. Failure will overtake them at the moment when they look to have their

efforts crowned with complete success. Well for them if it be simply failure, and not an

utter downfall. It often happens that he who covets more than he has any right or

claim to have, loses that which was lawfully in his possession.

 

 

                        REIGN OF ZACHARIAH OVER ISRAEL

                                                     AND

      THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE MADE JEHU (vs. 8-12)

 

The writer has nothing to record of Zachariah but his murder by Shallum after a reign

of six months. Vs. 8, 9, and 11 contain the usual formula. V. 10 gives the only event

that needed record. V. 12 recalls to the reader’s attention a previous passage, in

which a prophecy had been mentioned, whereof Zachariah’s reign was the fulfillment.

 

8  In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah King of Judah did Zachariah the

son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria” -  If Azariah began to reign in

the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam (v. 1), and Jeroboam died in his forty-first or

forty-second year (ch.14:23), Zachariah must have ascended the throne in the

fifteenth or sixteenth year of Azariah. Even if Azariah became king in the fifteenth

of Jeroboam, as has been shown to be probable (see the comment on v. 1),

Zachariah’s accession cannot have been earlier than Azariah’s twenty-sixth year.

An interregnum between the death of Jeroboam and the accession of Zachariah

is not to be thought of – “six months” -  So also Josephus (see ‘Ant. Jud.,’

9:11. § 1).

 

9   “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers

had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat,

who made Israel to sin.”  The customary formula, with nothing to emphasize it.

In the short space of barely six months, Zachariah could not do either much good

or much evil.

 

10  And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him,” -  Josephus calls

Shallum Zachariah’s “friend,” but otherwise adds nothing to the present narrative -

and smote him before the people” – The rendering of our translators is generally

accepted, though qobal, “before,” only occurs here and in Daniel. If we accept this

rendering, we must suppose that the act of violence was done openly, like Jehu’s

murder of Jehoram – “and slew him, and reigned in his stead.”

 

11  And the rest of the acts of Zachariah, behold, they are written in the

book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.  12 This was the word of the

Lord which He spake unto Jehu (ch. 10:30), saying, Thy sons shall sit on

the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation.” The direct promise was,

“Thy house shall hold the throne so long;” the implied prophecy, “They shall

not hold it longer.” There had not been wanting other indications of the coming

troubles. Hosea had declared that God would avenge the blood of Jezreel

upon the house of Jehu (Hosea 1:4). Amos had gone further, and had openly

proclaimed that God would “rise against the house of Jeroboam with the

sword (Amos 7:9). The threat had been understood as a threat against

Jeroboam himself (Ibid. v. 11), but this was a misinterpretation. The words

plainly pointed, to a revolution in the time of his son. And so it came to pass.”

The house of Jehu ceased to reign in the fourth generation of the descendants

of its founder. No considerations of prudence or of gratitude could keep the

nation faithful to any dynasty for a longer time than this. In breaking off from

the divinely chosen house of David, and choosing to themselves a king, the

Israelites had sown the seeds of instability in their state, and put themselves

at the mercy of any ambitious pretender. Five dynasties had already borne

rule in the two hundred years that the kingdom had lasted; four more were

about to hold the throne in the remaining fifty years of its existence. “Unstable

as water, thou shalt not excel,” though said of Reuben only (Genesis 49:4),

fairly expressed the character of the entire kingdom, with which Reuben cast in

its lot at the time of the separation.

 

 

    SHORT AND UNIMPORTANT REIGN OF SHALLUM (vs. 13-15)

 

Three verses suffice for the reign of Shallum, the son of Jabesh, who held the

throne for only thirty days. Hearing of his conspiracy, Menahem, the son of

Gadi — “the general,” as Josephus calls him (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 10:11. § 1) —

marched from Tirzah to Samaria, got Shallum into his power, and put him to

death (v. 14). The writer concludes with the usual formula (v. 15).

 

13  Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year

of Uzziah King of Judah:” This date follows from that of v. 8, and must stand

or fall with it. The true accession-year of Shallum was probably the twenty-

seventh of Uzziah -  “and he reigned a fall month in Samaria.” - literally, a

month of days — “thirty days” according to Josephus.

 

14  For Manahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah,” According to

Josephus (l.s.c.), he was commander-in-chief, and happened to be in Tirzah at

the time. Tirzeh was the royal city of the kingdom of the ten tribes from the later

part of Jeroboam’s reign to the building of Samaria by Omri (I Kings 14:17;

16:6, 8, 15, 23) -  and came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of

Jabesh in Samaria  Josephus says that there was a battle, in which

Shallum was slain — “and slew him, and reigned in his stead.”  15  And

the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made (v. 10),

behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the

kings of Israel.”

 

 

    REIGN OF MENAHEM

                                                       AND

        THE EXPEDITION OF PUL AGAINST SAMARIA (vs 16-22)

 

Two events only of Menahem’s reign receive notice from the writer.

 

  • His capture of Tiphsah, and severe treatment of the inhabitants (v.16).

 

  • The invasion of his land by an Assyrian monarch, called “Pul” or

Phul,” and his submission to that monarch’s authority. Pul’s

Retirement was bought by a large sum of money, which Menahem

collected from his subjects (vs. 19-20).

 

16  Then Menahem smote Tiphsah,” -  The only town of this name

known to history or geography is the famous city on the Euphrates

(I Kings 4:24), called by the Greeks Thapsacus. It has been thought that

Menahem could not have pushed his conquests so far, and a second

Tiphsah has been invented in the Israelite highland, between Tirzah and

Samaria, of which there is no other notice anywhere. But “Tiphsah,” which

means “passage” or “fordway,” is an unsuitable name for a city in such a

situation. It is thought that Zachariah had intended to carry on his father’s

warlike policy, and had collected an army for a great Eastern expedition,

which had its head-quarters at the royal city of Tirzah, and was under the

command of Menahem. As the expedition was about to start, the news

came that Shallum had murdered Zachariah and usurped the throne.

Menahem upon this proceeded from Tirzah to Samaria, crushed Shallum,

and, returning to his army, carried out without further delay the expedition

already resolved upon. The Assyrian records show that, at the probable

date of the expedition, Assyria was exceptionally weak, and in no

condition to resist an attack, though a little later, under Tiglath-pileser,

she recovered herself -  “and all that were therein, and the coasts thereof,

from Tirzah:” -  “from Tirzah” means “starting from Tir-zah,” as in v. 14.

It is to be connected with “smote,” not with “coasts” -  because they

opened not to him, therefore he smote it;” -  Determined resistance on the

part of a city summoned to surrender has always been regarded as justifying

an extreme severity of treatment. It is not clear that Menahem transgressed

the ordinary usages of war in what he did, however much he transgressed

the laws of humanity – “and all the women therein that were with child

he ripped up.” (compare ch.8:12, with the comment; and see also Isaiah

13:18; Hosea 10:14; 13:16; Amos 1:13).

 

17  In the nine and thirtieth year of Azariah King of Judah began

Menahem the son of Gadi to reign over Israel, and reigned ten years

in Samaria. So Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:11. § 1).

 

18  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he

departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat,

who made Israel to sin.”  The writer does not seem to regard Menahem as

either better or worse than his predecessors. The usual formula suffices to

describe the moral and religious aspect of his reign.

 

19  And Pul, the King of Assyria came against the land:” - The greatest

doubt has been entertained with regard to the identity of Pul, whose name

does not appear in the Assyrian Eponym Canon, or in any other purely

Assyrian document. But recently discovered Babylonian documents seem to

prove that Pul (Pulu) was the Babylonian name for Tiglath-pileser, who

reigned under that name in Babylon during his last two years, and appears

in the Canon of Ptolemy as “Porus.” Tiglathpileser, the great founder of the

later Assyrian empire, made himself king in B.C. 745, and proceeded to

consolidate the Assyrian power on every side, after a period of great

weakness and disorganization. He made several expeditions against

Babylonia, and several into Syria and Palestine. The expedition in which he

came into contact with Menahem is thought to have been that of his eighth

year, B.C. 738 - “and Menahem gave Pal a thousand talents of silver,”

A vast sum certainly, perhaps to some extent a punishment for the siege and

sack of Tiphsah. But not a sum that it would have been impossible to pay.

A King of Damascus, about fifty years previously, had bought off an

Assyrian attack by the payment of two thousand three hundred talents of

silver and twenty talents of gold – “that his hand might be with him to

confirm the kingdom in his hand.” -  i.e. that Pal might take him under his

protection, accept him as one of his subject-princes, and (by implication)

support him against possible rivals.

 

20   “And Menahem exacted the money of Israel,” -  Either he was

not possessed of any accumulated treasure, such as the kings of Judah

could commonly draw upon (I Kings 15:18; ch. 12:18; 16:8; 18:15-16), or he

thought it more prudent to keep his stores untouched, and obtain the money

from his subjects – “even of all the mighty men of wealth,” -  The context

shows this to be the meaning; and the rendering is justified by Ruth 2:1;

I Samuel 9:1 – “of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of

Assyria.”   Fifty shekels was a heavy tax.  To produce a thousand talents,

this tax had to be levied on some sixty thousand persons. Tiglath-pileser

mentions his receipt of tribute from “Minikhimmi of Tsammirin” (Menahem

of Someron or Samaria), but does not tell us the amount. “So the king of

Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.”  Kings

of Assyria usually returned home at the end of each campaign, and

wintered in their own territory.

 

21  And the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not

written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?” Nothing more

is known of Menahem the son of Gadi, since he certainly cannot be identical

with the prince of the same name who is mentioned as “Menahem of Samaria”

in the inscriptions of Sennacherib. This second Menahem is probably a

descendant of the first, who was allowed a sort of titular sovereignty ever

the conquered town.

 

22   “And Menahem slept with his fathers i.e., died — and Pekahiah his

son reigned in his stead. So Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:11. § 1), who calls him

“Phakeias.”

 

 

SHORT REIGN OF PEKAHIAH (vs. 23-26)

 

The short reign of Pekahiah was wholly undistinguished. He held the throne

for two years only, or perhaps for parts of two years, and performed no action

that any historian has thought worthy of record. Our author has nothing to

relate of him but the circumstances of his death (v. 25), wherewith he combines

the usual formulae (vs. 23, 24, 26).

 

23  in the fiftieth year of Azariah King of Judah” -  really in the thirty-

seventh year (see the comment on vs. 1, 8, and 27). Azariah is mentioned by

Tiglath-pileser as contending with him in the year in which he took tribute from

Menahem (‘Eponym Canon,’ pp. 117-120), which is thought to have been B.C.

738. Apparently, he too was forced to pay tribute (ibid., pp. 117, 118, lines 2, 3)

to the Assyrian monarch – “Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign

over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years.’

 

24   “and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed

not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.”

Josephus adds that he reigned with the same cruelty as his father, but we

cannot be sure that this is more than a conjecture, founded on the shortness

of his reign.

 

25   “But Pekah the son of Remaliah,” - Remaliah was probably a

man of some importance, since Pekah seems to have been almost better

known by his patronymic, Ben-Remaliah, “son of Remaliah,” than by his

own proper name (see Isaiah 7:4-5, 9; 8:6) -  “a captain of his — “captain of

a thousand,” according to Josephus (l.s.c.) — conspired against him, and

smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king’s house,” -  literally, in the

tower (or keep) of the kings house, the loftiest part, feasting there with his

friends, as Josephus says -  “with Argob and Arieh,” -  These seem to be

the “friends” of Josephus, who were with the king and shared his fate, not

fellow-conspirators with Pekah. The names are uncommon ones -  and with

him i.e. Pekah — fifty men of the Gileadites:” -  fifty men of “the Four

Hundred,” according to the LXX. “The Four Hundred” were probably the

royal body-guard, which at this time may have consisted of Gileadites -  “and

he killed him, and reigned in his room.”   It does not appear that Pekah had

any grievance. His crime seems to have been simply prompted by ambition.

26  And the rest of the acts of Pekahiah, and all that he did, behold, they

are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.”

 

 

 REIGN OF PEKAH (vs. 27-31)

 

The writer is again exceedingly brief.  Pekah’s reign was a remarkable one,

and might have furnished much material to the historian. In conjunction with

Rezin of Damascus, he made war upon Judaea, defeated Ahaz with great

loss (II Chronicles 28:6), and laid siege to Jerusalem (Isaiah 7:1). Ahaz

called in the aid or’ Assyria, and Tiglath-pileser made two expeditions into

Palestine — the one mentioned in v. 29, and another some years afterwards.

In the latter he seems to have had the assistance of Hoshea, who, with his

sanction, slew Pekah, and became king. The scanty notices of our author must

be supplemented from II Chronicles 28.; Isaiah 7:1-9; 8:1-8; and the

Assyrian inscriptions.

 

27  In the two and fiftieth year of Azariah King of Judah” -  rather, in the

thirty-ninth or thirty-eighth year (see the comment on v. 23). Pekahiah’s “two

years” may not have been complete – “Pekah the son of Remaliah began to

reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years.” -  The Assyrian

records make this number impossible. Tiglathpileser’s entire reign lasted only

eighteen years, yet it more than covered the entire reign of Pekah. When he

first invaded the kingdom of Samaria, Menahem was upon the throne

(‘Eponym Canon,’ p. 120, line 29); when he last attacked it, probably in

B.C. 730 — two years before his death in B.C. 728 — he set up Hoshea, or,

at any rate, sanctioned his usurpation (ibid., pp. 123, 124, lines 15-18).

Pekah’s entire reign must have come in the interval, which is certainly not

more than one of fifteen, probably not more than one of ten years.

 

28  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he

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

Israel to sin.”  Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:11. § 1) says that Pekah was an

irreligious king, and a transgressor of the Law. Isaiah shows how he

intrigued with foreigners against his brethren of the sister kingdom

(Isaiah 7:2-6). The writer of Chronicles tells of his fierce anger against

the Jews (II Chronicles 28:9), and of the dreadful carnage which he

sanctioned after the great battle.

 

29  “In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser

king of Assyria,” - Tiglath-pileser’s records are not in the shape of annals,

and are, moreover, in a very mutilated condition. He does not date events,

like most Assyrian kings, by his regal years. His first expedition into Syria

is thought, however, to have been in his third year, B.C. 743, but there is

no evidence that, on this occasion, he proceeded further south than

Damascus, where he took tribute from Rezin. Some years after this —

B.C. 738, according to Mr. G. Smith — he penetrated to Palestine, where

his chief enemy was Azariah King of Judah, who had united under his sway

most of the tribes as far as Hamath. After chastising Azariah, he extended

his dominion over most of the neighboring states and kingdoms; and it was

at this time that (as related in ver. 19) he took tribute from Menahem.

Subsequently (about B.C. 734) he made an expedition for the purpose of

conquest, which receives very scant notice, in one inscription only. This is

probably the expedition of the present passage – “and took Ijon, and

Abelbeth-maachah” - These were places in the extreme north of the Israelite

territory, in the vicinity of the Lake Merem, such as would naturally be

among the first to fall before an Assyrian invader (on their exact position,

see the comment on I Kings 15:20) –“and Janoah,” - Janoah is now

generally regarded as identical with the modern Hunin, a village close by

an ancient fortress of great strength” (Robinson, ‘Later Researches,’ p.

371), in the hill country northwest of Merom. It is in a direct line between

Abel-beth-maa-chah (Abil) and Kedesh (Cades), as we should expect from

the present passage -  “and Kedesh, and Hazor” -  Kedesh is beyond all

doubt the “Kedes” or “Cades,” of today — an important site in the same

mountain district, rather more than six miles south of Hunin, and four from

the “waters of Merom” (see Robinson, ‘Later Researches,’ pp. 366, 367).

Hazer was in the near neighborhood of Kedesh, towards the south

probably. The exact position is disputed. Robinson’s arguments in favor of

El-Khu reibch are weighty; but the engineers employed by the Palestine

Exploration Fund regard Khurbat-Harrah, between Kedesh and the Lake

Merom, as a still more probable situation -  and Gilead,” - Gilead,” in this

connection, can scarcely be “the whole of the land to the east of the

Jordan” (Keil, Bahr) — the territory of Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh, not of

Naphtali. It is more likely to be a small district near Merom, perhaps the

eastern coast of the lake (Gesenius), which was afterwards a part of

Gaulouitis – “and Galilee,” Hebrew hl;yliG;h" (see the comment on

I Kings 9:11). The inscription of Tiglath-pileser, which appears to allude

to this expedition, mentions “Galhi,” and “Abel” (probably Abel-beth-

maachah) as conquered at this time, and “added to Assyria.” The places

were, it says, on the border of the land of Beth-Omri (Samaria) (see the

‘Eponym Canon,’ p. 123, lines 6, 7) -  all the land of Naphtali, and

carried them captive to Assyria.”  Deportation of captives was

largely practiced by Tiglath-pileser, as appears from the ‘Eponym Canon,’

pp. 118-120, and 122.

 

30  And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the

son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead,”

By a mutilated notice in the records of Tiglath-pileser, it appears that the revolution

here related was the result of another invasion of the Israelite territory by that

monarch. “The land of Beth-Omri,” he says, “... the tribe... the goods of its people

and their furniture I sent to Assyria. Pekah their king [I caused to be put to death?]

and Hoshea I appointed to the kingdom ever them; their tribute I received, and

[their treasures?] to Assyria I sent” (‘Eponym Canon,’ pp. 123, 124, lines 15-

19). It is probably this invasion of which I Chronicles 5:26 speaks, as resulting

in the deportation of the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh

- “in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah. This date stands in

contradiction with v. 33, where Jotham’s entire reign is reckoned at sixteen years,

and apparently must be a corrupt reading.

 

31  And the rest of the acts of Pekah and all that he did (see the comment

at the beginning on this section), behold, they are written in the book of

the chronicles of the kings of Israel.”

 

 

                        THE REIGN OF JOTHAM (vs. 32-38)

 

Once more the writer turns from Israel to Judah, and proceeds to give an account of

the reign of Jotham the son of Azariah, or Uzziah, who was appointed regent in his

father’s place, when Uzziah was struck with leprosy (v. 5). The account given of the

reign is somewhat scanty, and requires to be supplemented from IIChronicles 27.

 

32  In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah King of Israel began

Jotham the son of Uzziah King of Judah to reign.”  In the second year of Pekah,

Azariah died, and Jotham became actual king; but his joint reign with his father

commenced very much earlier. His sole reign was probably a short one.

 

33  Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned

sixteen years in Jerusalem.”  i.e. sixteen years from his appointment to be

regent, as appears plainly from II Chronicles 26:23 and 27:1 (comp. Josephus,

Ant. Jud.,’ 9:10. § 4; 12. § 1) — “and his mother’s name was Jerusha, the

daughter of Zadok.”

 

34 “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord: he did according

to all that his father Uzziah had done.”  II Chronicles 27:2 says the same,

but adds, very pertinently, “Howbeit he entered not into the temple of the Lord

i.e. he did not repeat his father’s act of impiety. Josephus is still warmer in his

praises. “This king,” he says (l.s.c.), “was deficient in no manner of virtue; but was

at once pious in things pertaining to God, and just in those pertaining to men. He

was careful and watchful over the city; whatever needed reparation or adornment, he

labored to supply strenuously, as the porticoes in the temple and the gates thereof;

and where any part of the wall had gone to ruin, he raised it up again, and built

towers of vast size and difficult to capture. And in all other matters pertaining to

the kingdom, where there had been neglect, he applied great care and attention.”

 

35  Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people

sacrificed and burned incense, still in the high places. He built the

higher gate of the house of the Lord.”  The “higher gate” is thought to be

that towards the north, and its fortification implied a fear of attack from

that quarter. It must have become amply evident to the kings of Judah, at

any rate from the time of the attack on Menahem (v. 19), that the

independence of both kingdoms was menaced by Assyria, and that it was

of great importance that their principal fortresses should be placed in a

state of efficient defense. Azariah had paid great attention to the fortifying

and arming of Jerusalem (II Chronicles 26:9, 15), and his son now

followed in his footsteps. From (Ibid. 27:3)we learn that he not

only built the high gate of the temple, but also “on the wall of Ophel built

much,” Nor was he content with fortifying the capitol. He also “built cities

in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built castles and towers.”

Tiglath-pileser had made war on his father (‘Eponym Canon,’ pp. 117,

118). He felt that any day his own turn might come.

 

36  Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did,” -  The

principal event of Jotham’s reign was his war with Ammon. The writer of

Chronicles says, “He fought also with the king of the Ammonites, and

prevailed against them. And the children of Ammon gave him the same

year an hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand measures of wheat, and

ten thousand of barley. So much did the children of Ammon pay unto him,

both the second year, and the third” (II Chronicles 27:5). Josephus

(‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:11. § 2) gives nearly the same account, but regards the

payment as an annual tribute, intended to be permanent – “are they not

written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?”

 

37  In those days the Lord began to send against Judah Resin

the King of Syria,” -  Rezin’s name occurs in the Assyrian inscriptions early

in the reign of Tigiath-pileser, probably in the year B.C. 743. At that time

he pays to the Assyrians a heavy tribute, consisting of eighteen talents of

gold, three hundred talents of silver, two hundred talents of copper, and

twenty talents of spices. Subsequently, about the year B.C. 734, he is

found in revolt. His alliance with Pekah, here implied, is directly stated by

Isaiah 7:2. Begun in Jotham’s reign, it continued, and came to a head,

in the reign of Ahaz (see ch.16:5 and Isaiah 7:1-9; 8:6) – “and Pekah the

son of Remaliah.”  Pekah and Rezin intended to establish on the Jewish

throne a certain Ben-Tabeal (Isaiah 7:6), a creature of their own, with whose

aid they thought to offer an effectual resistance to Assyria.

 

38  And Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers

in the city of David his father: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.”

 It may be suspected that the full name of this king was Jehoahaz. Ahaz,

possession,” is a name never assigned to any other Israelite, and it is one not

likely to have been given by a religious father like Jotham. In the Assyrian

inscriptions the Jewish king contemporary with Rezin and Pekah is called

“Yahu-khazi.”

 

 

                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

   Worldly Prosperity Not Infrequently the Ruin of Kingdoms (vs. 8-31)

 

  • EXAMPLE OF SAMARIA. Scarcely ever was there a more prosperous

            reign than that of Jeroboam II. — a reign of forty-one years of continual

            success, uncheckered by a misfortune-Syria defeated, the old border

            everywhere recovered, Hamath occupied, Damascus brought into a subject

            condition. As usual, where there is military success, wealth flowed in, and

            with wealth, luxury. “Great houses” were built (Amos 3:15), “ivory

            houses;’ i.e. houses inlaid or paneled with ivory; distinct mansions were

            inhabited during the summer and during the winter time (Ibid.). The children

            of Israel passed their lives in Samaria, lying “in the corner of a bed,” and

            in Damascus lounging “upon a couch” (Ibid. v. 12).  Flagons of wine’

            were “loved” (Hosea 3:1); “whoredom and wine and new wine took

            away their heart” (Ibid. 4:11). And with this softness was blended, on the

            one hand, the seductive influence of a licentious religionism, on the other, the

            coarser and ruder vices to which luxury and self-indulgence inevitably lead.

            Patriotism disappeared, and self-seeking took its place. “Politically all

            was anarchy or misrule; kings made their way to the throne through the murder

            of their predecessors, and made way for their successors through their own.

            Shallum slew Zechariah (ch. 15:10); Menahem slew Shallum (Ibid. v. 14);

            Pekah slew the son of Menahem (Ibid. v. 25); Hoshea slew Pekah

            (Ibid. v.30). The whole kingdom of Israel was a military despotism, and,

            as in the Roman empire, those in command came to the throne. Society was

            corrupt to the core. The idolatries of the calves, of Baal, and of Moloch

            worked out their natural results, (NOW, Planned Parenthood, ACLU,

            forerunners?? – CY – 2011) and bore their bitter fruit. “Creature-

            worship,” as Paul points out (Romans 1:23-32), was the parent of every

            sort of abomination; and religion having become creature-worship, what God

            gave as the check to sin became its incentive. Every commandment of God

            was broken, and that habitually. All was falsehood (Hosea 4:1), adultery

            (Ibid. 4:11; Amos 2:7), blood shedding (Hosea 5:2; 6:8); deceit of God

            (Ibid. 4:2) producing faithlessness to man; excess and luxury were supplied

            by secret or open robbery (Ibid. 7:1), oppression (Ibid. 12:7), false dealing

            (Amos 8:5; Hosea 12:7), perversion of justice (Hosea 10:4; Amos 2:6),

            grinding of the poor (Hosea 12:7). Blood was shed like water, until one

            stream met another (Ibid. 4:2), and overspread the land with one defiling

            deluge. Adultery was consecrated as an act of religion (Ibid. v.14). Those

            who were first in rank were first in excess. People and king vied in

            debauchery (Ibid.7:5); and the sottish king joined and encouraged the

            free-thinkers and blasphemers of his court (Ibid. v. 3). The idolatrous

            priests loved and shared in the sins of the people (Ibid. vs. 8-9); nay,

            they seem to have set themselves to intercept those on either side of

            Jordan, who would go to worship at Jerusalem, laying wait to murder them

            (Ibid. 5:1; 6:9). Corruption had spread through the whole land, even

            the places once sacred through God’s revelations or other mercies to their

            fore-fathersBethel, Gilgal, Gilead, Mizpah, Shechem — were especial

            scenes of corruption or of sin (Ibid. 4:15; 5:1; 6:8-9). Every

            holy memory was effaced by present corruption. Could things be worse?

            There was one aggravation more. Remonstrance was useless (Ibid. 4:4);

            the knowledge of God was willfully rejected (Ibid. v. 6); the people

            hated rebuke (Amos 5:10); the more they were called, the more they refused

            (Hosea 11:2, 7); they forbade their prophets to prophesy (Amos 2:12); and

            their false prophets hated God greatly (Hosea 9:7, 9). All attempts to heal

            all this disease only showed its incurableness”

 

  • EXAMPLE OF TYRE. The prosperity of Tyre in the seventh and

            eighth centuries before our era was extraordinary. She was mistress of her

            sister cities, Sidon and Gebal and Arvad; she ruled over a hundred

            colonies; on her island-rock she was safe from Assyria; the trade of the

            world was in her hands. “Situate at the entry of the sea, a merchant of

            the people for many isles” (Ezekiel 27:3); full of worldly wisdom, the

            wisdom that gets increase of riches (Ibid. 28:3-5); rich beyond all

            conception in precious metals, and in gems (Ibid. v. 13), and in

            spices, and in broidered work (Ibid. 27:22, 24), and in ivory and

            ebony (Ibid. v.15), and in all manner of merchandise; approved,

            respected, called “the renowned city, strong in the sea” (Ibid.  26:17);

            she had reached the acme of her glory, of her wealth, of her

            greatness. But with what results to her moral tone and temper? Her heart

            was “lifted up” (Ibid. 28:5); her pride became excessive; she said in

            her heart, “I am of perfect beauty” (Ibid.  27:3) — “I am a god; I sit

            in the seat of God” (Ibid.  28:2). “Iniquity” of every kind was found

            in her (Ibid. v.15) — envy (Ibid. v. 2), and “violence” (Ibid. v.16), and

            corrupt wisdom (Ibid. v.17), and profanation of sanctuaries (Ibid. v.18),

            and even dishonesty in her traffic (Ibid). And with iniquity, as usual,

            came ruin. Because of her pride, and her envy, and her violence, and

            her other iniquities, God brought a fire into her midst, which devoured her

            and reduced her to ashes (Ibid. v. 18). The Babylonians were made

            God’s instrument to chastise her, and carry off her wealth, and break down

            her walls, and destroy her pleasant houses, and slay her people with the

            sword (Ibid. 26:11-12), and make her a byword among the nations

            (Ibid. 27:32) — a desolation, a hissing, and a terror (Ibid. v. 36).

 

  • EXAMPLE OF ROME. The ruin of Rome was undoubtedly wrought

            by that long career of unexampled military success, which began with the

            closing years of the Second Punic War, and continued till she was the

            world’s mistress. The wealth of Carthage, Macedonia, and Asia flowing

            into her coffers, destroyed the antique simplicity and severity of manners,

            stimulated ambition, provoked inordinate desire, and led to those terrific

            civil wars, in which the blood of the noblest and the bravest was shed like

            water, and “Rome fell ruined by her own strength” (Horace). It was not the

            influx of the barbarians that destroyed Rome; she fell from internal decay.

            The decline of Roman civilization dates from before the fall of the republic.

            It was then that population began to diminish, and the pure Roman blood

            to be mingled with the refuse of every nation. (Sound familiar in

            the United States – a la – immigration – CY – 2011) Slaves, freedmen,

            clients, glided into the tribes and gentes, and were followed by absolute

            foreigners, Greeks and Egyptians and Syrians, effete races in a state both

            of physical and moral degradation. “The Orontes flowed into the Tiber.”

            The very names of those in the highest position became grotesque

            and strange, such as Cicero and Cato would have pronounced manifestly

            barbarous. A decay of moral principles followed this admixture.

            Slavery prevailed, and slavery in ancient as in modern times was “a hotbed

            of vice and selfish indulgence, enervating the spirit and vital forces of mankind,

            discouraging legitimate marriage, and enticing to promiscuous and

             barren concubinage. The fruit of such hateful unions, if fruit there were,

            engaged little regard from their selfish fathers, and both law and usage

            continued to sanction the exposure of infants, from which the female sex

            undoubtedly suffered most. The losses of Italy from this horrid practice

            were probably the greatest; but the provinces also lost proportionally; the

            imitation of Roman habits was rife on the remotest frontiers; the conquests

            of the empire were consolidated by the attractions of Roman indulgence

            and sensuality; slavery threw discredit on all manual labor, and engendered

            a false sentiment of honor, which constrained the poorer classes of freemen

            to dependence and celibacy; vice and idleness went hand-in-hand, and

            combined to stunt the moral and physical growth of the Roman citizen,

            leaving his weak and morbid frame exposed in an unequal contest to the fatal

            influences of his climate” (Merivaie, ‘Roman Empire,’ vol. 8. pp. 353, 354).

            It was a race which had thus lost its stamina, and become effete and worn

            out, that succumbed to barbarian inroads which, a few centuries earlier,

            it  would have repulsed without any difficulty.

 

  • EXAMPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.  (I had planned to

      add this extra one about our own country, thus I included the examples of

      Tyre and Rome, when probably the Biblical example of Samaria would have

      sufficed.  I had planned to go into detail, but the above account of the decline

      of Rome should cover the bases.  I will just throw out some words and let the

      reader fill in the blanks:

 

ü      break up of the home

ü      promiscuity

ü      vulgarity

ü      drugs

ü      alcohol

ü      abortion

ü      American Civil Liberties Union

ü      unprincipled lawyers and corrupt judges (Psalm 11:3)

ü      total separation of church and state

ü      a general populace that has let their guard down (Jeremiah 5:31)

ü      slavery

ü      unforgiveness

ü      grudges

ü      materialism

ü      departure from Jehovah God

ü      secularism

ü      immigration

ü      loss of statesmen  (Isaiah 3:12-14a)

ü      secular media

ü      falsehood  (II Thessalonians 2:7-12)

ü      greed

ü      selfishness

ü      and many others which I have left out.  IT IS HAPPENING AND IT

      IS HAPPENING FAST.  [Matthew 24:32-34] – CY – 2011)

 

The theme of this web site is:  THE TIME IS SHORT (Amos 4:12)

 

 

 

 

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