II Chronicles 27
This chapter of nine verses is paralleled by the seven verses of II Kings
15:32-38. It consists of personal particulars respecting Jotham (vs. 1-2);
his building and his wars (vs. 3-6); a reference to his further doings (v. 7);
an exact repetition of a part of the first verse (v. 8); his death, burial,
and. successor (v. 9).
1 “Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and
he reigned sixteen years in
Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok.” Jerushah. This name in the parallel
is spelt with a final aleph instead of he. Nothing else is known of Jerushah,
nor of her father Zadok.
2 “And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD,
according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not
into the temple of the LORD. And the people did yet corruptly.”
Howbeit. This word purports to render the Hebrew רַק, which
might find a more telling reproduction in such a phrase as “and moreover.”
It has been said, wherein his father did right, so did he; and to his clear
advantage, where his father went wrong, he did not. The people did yet
corruptly. The parallel, in its v. 35, specifies in what this consisted, viz.
that they continued the high places, burning incense and sacrificing at them.
The early chapters of Isaiah depict forcibly the extent of this national
apostasy, and the heinous offensiveness of it in the Divine sight.
Uzziah and Jotham, Father and Son (vs. 1-2)
From the slight materials we have here, and those still more scanty in the
Book of Kings, we may glean:
FATHERHOOD. He did, indeed, enjoy a very good estate; the “lines fell
to him in pleasant places, and he had a goodly heritage.” (Psalm 16:6) He
had the highest position in the land, power, wealth, a large and noble
sphere for great natural ability and honorable ambition (ch. 26:6-15).
But more precious than all of these to the king’s heart, we may be sure,
was the possession of a true, loyal, godly son and successor. That which
touches us in our home affections either stirs within us the deepest and
purest joy or awakens the profoundest and most poignant grief. An
unworthy son, a “thankless child,” an heir who is likely to overturn all that
we have laboriously built up, will make the very sweetest enjoyments and
the fairest earthly possessions to lose ill their charm and be of no account
to us. But such a son as Jotham is to his father the crown of prosperity and
the comfort of adversity. From royal cares the king goes home to find, in
conjugal and in filial affection, a contentment and a peace, an exhilaration
and a joy, which no glittering gewgaws and no obsequious attentions are
able to command. We do not know how highly Uzziah prized the virtue
and the attachment of his son during his earlier and happier years, but we
may be well assured that, when the hand of God was upon him, and he was
separated from the society of men, he found in Jotham’s regency and in his
filial sympathy a priceless mitigation to his loss, an invaluable treasure in
his loneliness and his decline. Parents may think that their professional or
household duties make it impossible for them to afford time for the
teaching and training of their children, for the culture of their Christian
character; but they ought to know that, whatever their other claims may be,
they cannot afford to neglect their parental duty. (If a parent neglects
his work, it will forever be undone!) If they do neglect it, they
will leave undone that which will make them immeasurably poorer than
they might become a few years further on.
FATHER’S CHARACTER. He inherited great things from his father, the
king; but from his father, the servant of Jehovah, he gained one that
outweighed them all — the influence for good of a godly man. He “did
what was right… according to all that his father did.” It was very largely,
indeed, to his father’s example that he owed his own character for piety
and purity. And what is there in the most splendid surroundings, or in the
most attractive positions, that is to be compared with that? They will
perish, but that will endure; they will soon lose their charm, but it will
always he precious beyond all price; they are relatively, but that is
intrinsically and eternally, valuable. We may not have to thank our parents
for a fortune or a dowry — it matters little; we may have to thank them for
a bright and beautiful example — that matters much, indeed everything.
FATHER TAUGHT, “Howbeit he entered not [profanely and intrusively]
into the temple of the Lord.” God rebuked his father, Uzziah, for this
flagrant transgression, rebuking at the same time his pride of heart, his
spiritual decline (see homily on ch. 26:16-21, “A Clouded Close”).
Doubtless Uzziah himself understood the meaning of that heavy
blow, and bowed his heart beneath it; he “was in subjection to the Father of
spirits, and lived.” (Hebrews 12:9) In that lingering death of leprosy he found
life in penitence and in return to God. Jotham, his son, also learned the lesson;
and, instead of giving way to haughtiness of heart in the days when he was
“mighty” (v 6), he retained his integrity before the Lord.
Ø We may not plead our father’s deficiencies, excesses, or disobediences
as an excuse for our own. If they erred or sinned, they also suffered for
their error, for their guilt. And their experience should be a warning
which we should heed, and not an example which we foolishly follow.
Ø We should give God heartfelt thanks for all the gracious influences
which come to us in our home-life, and regard them as of the very
best gifts that come from his Divine hand.
Ø We should have it as a sacred and honorable ambition to confirm (and
not to destroy) the work of those who went before us. If we do thus
live, our fathers will be living on in us and through us, and if we
cannot immortalize their name, we can perpetuate their influence.
Ø We may hope that such filial devotedness will be rewarded by parental
rejoicing in those whom we shall leave behind, to whom we shall commit
the fruit of our labor.
3 “He built the high gate of the house of the LORD, and on the wall of Ophel
he built much.” The high gate. In the parallel, rendered in the Authorized
Version the “higher” gate, the Hebrew (חָעֶלְיון) being the same in both
places. The Revised Version shows “upper gate” in both places. It was
probably the gate which led from the palace to the temple’s outer court
(see ch. 23:20, and note there). On the wall of Ophel; Hebrew, הָעפֶל; i.e.
the ophel, which may be Anglicized “the swelling ground.” It was the extreme
south end of the spur which gradually narrowed southward, and which was the
continuation of the Bezetha hill, bounded by the brook Kedron on the east, and
the Tyropceon on the west. This extreme south part called the Ophel sank into
the bounding valleys to the Kedron precipitously and to the Tyropeon gradually.
Pp. 328-335 of Condor’s ‘Handbook’ (2nd edit.), and specially pp. 332-334,
well repay a thorough study. A ditch was cut across the narrowest part of the
ridge, which separated the temple hill itself from the Bezetha hill. In these parts
fortifications were built, and no doubt to such it is our text calls attention.
he built cities in the mountains of
built castles and towers.” The mountains of
Version, hill country of
(compare particularly Joshua 9:1, where the Har is evidently placed in
contrast with the Shefelah). Castles; Hebrew, בִּירָנִיּות (so ch. 17:12). The
meaning is that he built forts (Isaiah 2:15; Hosea 8:14).
5 “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.”
He fought… the King of the Ammonites. No allusion is made
to the matter of this verse in the parallel, which contains a statement of the
Syrian Rezin’s attack or threatened invasion of Judah; as well as Pekah’s,
of Remaliah King of
have just heard (foregoing chapter, v. 8). A general statement is all that is
made there of the gifts or tribute, they then had to pay. The present tribute
was a heavy payment, and enforced for three, years. The “wheat” and
“barley,” in which payment was largely made bespeak the fertile arable
quality of the Ammonite land, and this is noticed by travelers to the
6 “So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before
the LORD his God.” The virtue of the reflection of this verse is apparent.
Prepared; Hebrew, הֵכִין; Revised Version, ordered; with some others
(such as “set straight,” etc.), a good rendering in keeping with other
Old Testament renderings of words betokening moral habitude.
The Accumulation of Spiritual Power (v. 6)
“So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord
his God;” or, because “he made his ways firm before Jahveh.” Whatever
may be the exact rendering of the passage, and whatever may be the
precise shade of thought intended to be conveyed, it is clear that Jotham’s
might or his strength in the kingdom is referred to his continuance in the
service of the Lord. And thence we gain the truth that true power is to be
sought and found in permanent piety, in walking with an unfaltering step in
the ways of Divine wisdom and of human obedience. Power of the truest
and highest kind is not the endowment of a moment; it is not a suddenly
acquired possession; it is a growth, an accumulation; it is the “long result ‘
of a faithful service. It is:
“mighty” swordsman is the man who is strong at all points of attack and
defense; as the “mighty” speaker is he who has all possible qualifications
for interesting, convincing, and persuading men; so the “mighty” man of
God is he who has acquired all the various excellences which we are able
to secure. “Giving all diligence,” we are ‘to add to our faith virtue; and to
virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance,” etc. (II Peter 1:5-6).
“Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good
report,” we are to think upon and, of course, to pursue and to acquire.
(Philippians 4:8) We are to “build ourselves up on our holy faith.”
(Jude 1:20) And building up is a work that is not done in a day nor in a
year. It is a work of time. And the strong character thus formed is the
accumulated result of many spiritual activities, protracted over many years.
mighty man, in a spiritual sense, who is not:
Ø A large possessor of Divine wisdom. A superficial. knowledge of Divine
truth may serve for a while in simpler and subordinate positions; but he
who occupies an important post, to which large responsibilities and
delicate duties belong, must be furnished with a large measure of spiritual
sagacity. And this can only be gained by serving the Lord for many years
and in many ways. It is the acquisition of one whose “ways have been firm
before Jehovah;” who has been living before God, and learning of Him from
year to year, from period to period.
Ø A man of much self-command. A hasty or impulsive man is necessarily a
weak man. Only those who can control themselves can command their
fellows or direct affairs. Patience, self-possession, the ruling of our own
spirit — this is an essential condition of all real strength; and this, again, is
the work of long-continued struggle and discipline. It is the harvest of
strenuous effort and of earnest prayer; it is a steady, spiritual accumulation.
Ø One that has acquired skill and strength in exercise and activity. No
man can do a thing really well till he has first done it imperfectly and
tentatively. Excellency is always the fruit of practice, of patient, continuous
endeavor. And here, again, is gradual acquisition or accumulation.
Ø One that enjoys a good measure of esteem. It is the man of whom we
say, “We know the proof of him;” the man who has approved himself in
many a field of labor and in many a flood of trial; to whose words we
listen, whose will we obey, whom we permit to guide and rule us. And, of
all things, esteem is the product of consistency and beauty in life, of much
walking “in the ways of Jehovah.”
power, or might, is, to some extent, an endowment; it is a direct gift of
God. But it is far from being wholly so. In the kingdom, large or small,
over which we are placed, we may “become mighty;” we may rise to
influence; we may make our mark, which will not soon, if ever, be erased.
Ø By a thorough consecration of ourselves to Jesus Christ and His cause;
Ø by consistency and excellency — by blamelessness and beauty of life
Ø by earnestness of purpose and endeavor;
Ø by prayer for Divine communications (Ephesians 3:16;
Colossians 1:11); — we also may “become mighty” to bear our
witness, to overcome our foes, to do our work before we die.
7 “Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars, and his ways,
lo, they are written in the book of the kings
All his wars (see note on v. 5, and parallel, v. 37). The book of the kings
same chapter, entries of
the same chapter. (II Kings 15.), entries of
8 “He was five and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned
sixteen years in
and they buried him in the city of
stead.” This verse is identical with so much of v 1 as has to do with
same subject; that it is no mere careless repeated insertion, however, is
evidenced by the name Jotham in that verse, in the place occupied by was
in this verse.
The Blameless Reign of a Son who Followed All that was Good
Father’s Example, and Took Warning of what was Wrong in It.
The preacher may take occasion, from the apparently scant contents of this
chapter, to enlarge on the general subject of example as a force in human
life, pointing out its strong points and its weaker side; what is requisite to
give it a steady and equable influence, and how there is only one perfect
Example — an Example always and in all things and by all worthy to be
followed. Point may be given to the subject, as based on this chapter, by
observing how it reminds us that:
AND COPIED IN EVERY RESPECT. The most filial son may not look to
the wisest, kindest, and most religious father as an absolutely safe guide
and model in everything; and so, through the whole range and operation of
the relationships, and the influences in them for good even, which affect
our character and are prone to dominate our life.
GREAT MEN, OF THE SAINTLIEST-KNOWN CHARACTERS, OF
THOSE WHOM WE DESERVEDLY ADMIRE AND VENERATE —
MUST NOT BE MADE ANY SLAVISH MODEL, MUCH LESS
PERVERTED INTO AN IDOLATROUS ONE. Nay, how very common it
is, in such cases, to see that errors, defects, peculiarities, mannerisms, are
what are copied first, while the weightier qualities and objects of imitation
are overlooked! As if we imitate perfectly our human model, much is still
wanting of Divine perfection, and which in our measure it is quite possible
to incorporate; so, if we imitate slavishly, we are putting in what had better
be left cut, and are often caught putting it in, even at the expense of
omitting the worthier things.
SYMPATHY, AND AN ENCOURAGING INDUCEMENT TO
ATTEMPT WHAT WE KNOW FROM IT THAT OTHERS HAVE
DONE OR ATTAINED. It offers our thought and our moral nature a
stepping-stone; it leads us on by the analogy to take the advantage of
higher endeavour and of a higher model.
WE ARE FOLLOWING HUMAN EXAMPLES, SINCERE
ENDEAVOUR, CONSCIENTIOUS THOUGHT, AND HUMBLE
PRAYER WILL DO VERY MUCH TO FIT US. As in so much else these
three moderating and directing forces reap God’s blessing and gain safe
practical results, so assuredly they will here, in what is a delicate grace to
bloom and flourish in any circumstances, viz. that of discrimination. Jotham
was made wise in this respect above many others, and his brief but very
expressive and unique biography is therefore written without one single
reproach or blot.
Features of an Honorable Life: Jotham (vs. 1-9)
But little of Jotham’s reign is recorded in Scripture, and his name is seldom
on our lips. But he was a man of worth and wisdom; and, considering the
comparative brevity of his life, we may say that he contributed much to his
country. We learn from the account in II Kings 15:5:
for some time during his father’s illness, he, “the king’s son, was over the
house, judging the people of the land.” This was an admirable arrangement
for the country and for the young prince; for it had the advantage (which
the son could not fail to obtain) of the experience of Uzziah; and he was
learning the great art of ruling, while his responsibility was shared by one
much wiser and stronger than he. It is an excellent thing for the young, in
every sphere, to be placed where they can be gathering wisdom before they
carry the heavy burden of a weighty responsibility.
GOOD MAN. (v. 2.) (See previous homily on “Uzziah and Jotham,
father and son.”)
OUTWARD. First, “he built the high gate” of the temple (v. 3); that was
beginning at the very center, at “the house of the Lord,” which was
morally, if not geographically, the central spot in the kingdom. Then he
made some additions to the wall of
outward, he built fortified cities in the mountains, and castles in the forests
compeled it to pay tribute (v. 5). This is the true order. Let solicitude
and activity begin at the center; let them begin at the very center — at a
man’s own heart and character; let them move outward — to those in the
home circle, to the kindred, to the Church; and then to those still further
away — to fellow-countrymen, to fellowmen everywhere. A
circumscribed activity is altogether a mistake; but we must begin with
ourselves, becoming right at heart, and then we may and should move
outward in our sympathies and our endeavors.
GODLY CHARACTER. (v. 6.) (See succeeding homily.)
WELL AS BRIGHTENED BY MANY BLESSINGS.
Ø He could not effect all the reforms he would have liked to carry out, and
he had to witness some evil-doings which must have grieved his spirit.
“The people did yet corruptly” (v. 2).
Ø Foreign invasion began to threaten the kingdom (I Kings 15:37).
Ø He found himself sick unto death at an age (forty-one) when he might
have expected to do great things, and to be much to the people whom he
ruled. It was an honorable and useful life that Jotham lived; one to be
remembered and to be followed in its salient features. Like him:
o we should see that we inherit that which is the best from our fathers;
o pursue the right steadfastly, without swerving, even to the end;
o beginning at home, we should extend our influence as far as we can
o be prepared to lay down our weapons in the midst of our days. And
how much better to die, as Jotham did, leading all men to wish that
he had lived longer, than, as so many others have done, compelling
their best friends to wish that they had died sooner! It matters little
when the night of death comes; but it matters much that, during the
day of life, we do our work well and bear our burden with a brave
and patient heart.
A Brief Record of a Bright Reign (vs. 1-9)
Ø Of honorable parentage.
o His father Uzziah, though guilty in his lifetime of a great sin (ch. 26:16),
and dying under a cloud (ibid. v. 21), was essentially a sincere worshipper
of Jehovah. Good men may commit acts of wickedness, from the temporal
consequences of which they cannot, in their lifetime, shake themselves
free, (e.g. Moses, Jacob, David); yet are their characters and standing
before God not to be judged by these, but by the whole course of their
mother Jerushah, a native of
and the daughter of Zadok — if this was the high priest mentioned in
I Chronicles 6:53 (Bertheau) — was probably a woman of piety.
Incalculable is the influence of mothers in determining the characters
of sons (e.g. Jochebed, Eunice, Monica, Susanna Wesley).
Ø Of excellent character.
o He followed in his father’s steps in so far as these were good (v. 2),
which was all he was warranted to do (Acts 4:19). Religion is doubly
influential upon the young when recommended by the example of devout
fathers and mothers. Who would make others good, himself must be
good. Irreligious parents are not likely to succeed in the godly
upbringing of their children.
o He avoided the mistake his father had committed (v. 2). Mistakes of
ourselves or others are not actions to be repeated or patterns to be copied,
but beacons to be observed and paths to be shunned. Whether, had Uzziah
not been “stricken of the Lord,” but permitted to assume the priest’s
office, Jotham would have discontinued the practice as an unwarrantable
intrusion into a province that belonged not to kings, may be doubtful; it
was to his credit that he was able to interpret the lesson of God’s judgment
on his parent, and meekly acquiesce in the same (Psalm 119:75, 120).
o He persevered in the right way in spite of the sinful practices of his
people. These “did corruptly” (v. 2), i.e. worshipped idols, sacrificed,
and burnt incense in the high places (II Kings 15:35); and were sunk in
deplorable immorality (Isaiah 2:6-9, etc.; 5:7, etc.; Micah 1:5; 2:1, etc.).
Compare the phrase used of the Babylonian tower-builders on the
Jotham stood alone, or nearly so, in an extremely degenerate age;
ike Noah in the antediluvian world (Genesis
7:1), Lot in
(II Peter 2:8),
and Daniel in
one’s idea of both the nobility of his character and the strength of his
piety. It requires a strong man, intellectually and morally, to be singular,
and especially to be good, when goodness is unpopular and immorality
with irreligion holds the field. “This king was not defective in any virtue,
but was religious towards God and righteous towards men” (Josephus).
Ø The duration of his success. Throughout his entire reign of sixteen
years. If his father’s reign was longer and more brilliant, his was more
symmetrical and complete. If he was a more obscure monarch than his
father, he was probably as good a man.
Ø The nature of his success.
o His buildings were important.
§ He restored and beautified the upper gate of the temple (v. 3),
i.e. the northern gate, which led into the inner court (Ezekiel
8:3,5,14), and was called “upper” probably because it stood
upon higher ground than the gates upon the south (Ezekiel 9:2).
His reason for such architectural ornamentation most likely was,
either that it formed the principal entrance to the temple (Bertheau),
or that there the burnt offerings were washed; compare Ezekiel
40:38 (Bahr). In beginning with the temple, Jotham observed
the right order:
ü first the things of God, and then those of man;
ü first religion, and then business;
ü first the claims of Heaven, and then those of earth.
§ He added to the city fortifications. “On the wall of Ophel,”
which ran along the southern slope of the temple hill and joined
the temple wall at the southeastern corner, at the turning of the
wall (ch. 26:9), where his father before him had raised erections,
“he built much.” As Solomon’s palace, on the southern slope,
was considerably lower than the temple, Jotham may have had
a good deal of building.
the mountains of
fortified cities or garrisons; and in the forests or wooded hills,
where such “cities” could not be placed, he constructed “castles
and towers” (v. 4). Thus, while like a good man he honored God,
like a prudent sovereign he looked well to the safety of his
o His wars were victorious. “He fought with the Ammonites, and
prevailed against them” (v. 5), compelling them to resume payment of
the tribute which Uzziah had imposed upon them (ch. 26:8),
but which they had discontinued. If, after two payments, the tribute (“a
hundred talents of silver,” with “ten thousand measures
of wheat, and ten thousand of barley”) ceased, this was probably due
to the incursions of Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel (II Kings 15:37)
having enabled them to successfully assert their independence. Probably
in close connection with this subjection of the Ammonites was his
of whose population he made a registration according to their genealogies,
doubtless for the purpose of imposing an assessment (I Chronicles 5:17).
o His reputation was high. If barely realizing the ideal of uprightness or
perfection contained in his name (Jotham, equivalent to “Jehovah” is,
“upright,” or “perfect),” he yet maintained an untarnished escutcheon.
Though a man s funeral cannot always be accepted as an index to his
moral excellence (Luke 16:22), yet the circumstance that when Jotham
was interred in the royal mausoleum, “in the city of
a proof he had done nothing to forfeit the good opinion of his subjects.
Contrast the burials of;
§ Joash (ch. 24:25),
§ Uzziah (ch. 26:23), and
§ Ahaz (ch. 27:27).
Ø The explanation of his succces. Neither the wealth of his kingdom,
which was “full of silver and gold” (Isaiah 2:7), nor the size of his
army, “The land [in his day] was also full of horses, neither was there any
end of chariots” (ibid.), nor the splendor of his merchant navy, which consisted
of ships of Tarshish (ibid. v. 16), accounted for the remarkable prosperity of this
sovereign’s reign. If, on the one hand, these were rather signs and results of the
flourishing condition of the nation; on the other hand, they were ominous of,
and contributory to, the nation’s decay. Not only did these in no way diminish,
but, on the contrary, fostered and increased the worst characteristics of the
people — a love of luxury, which evinced itself amongst the women in a
passion for finery and dress (ibid. ch. 3:16-24), amongst the men in
licentiousness and oppression, witchcraft and soothsaying (ibid. ch. 2:6; 3:9),
amongst both in haughtiness and self-conceit (ibid. ch. 2:17), a thirst for war
(ibid. ch. 2:7), and an infatuation for idolatry (ibid. v. 8). The real secret of
lay in the piety of its king.
because Jotham “prepared [or, ‘ordered’] his ways before the Lord” —
a clear case of imputation of merit and of vicarious blessing. Jotham
systematically and studiously guided his personal and official actions
by a regard to the Divine Law, and Jehovah caused him to become mighty.
“Them that honor me I will honor” (I Samuel 2:30). No piety likely to be
either deep or permanent that does not spring from well-considered choice
and lead to scrupulous obedience. A good man may pray, “Order my steps in
thy Word” (Psalm 119:133), knowing that “it is not in man that walketh to
direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23), and that a good man’s steps are
ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23); if a truly good man, he will try to
answer his own prayer (Psalm 101:2), in doing which he has God’s
encouragement (Psalm 50:23). Rehoboam prepared neither his heart
nor his way, and consequently went astray (ch. 12:14).
Ø The best men are often the least known.
Ø A life short in years may be long in influence.
Ø The danger of inferring inward stability from outward prosperity.
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