GOD REMAINS FAITHFUL TO HIS WORD AND TO HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE DESPITE THEIR FAILURE TO REMAIN LOYAL IN TRUSTING HIM
How many times did God come to the aid of His people and bail them out of desperate situations? How many gracious victories did He grant and how much prosperity did He shower down upon them? Yet they persisted in their downward spiral of pride and faithlessness and idolatry. In this chapter we have the interwoven records of the reigns of kings in both the Northern and Southern countries.
Constable: Amaziah’s life is an example of how one who follows God’s Word and consequently experiences His blessing can become proud when he or she forgets that his or her blessings come from God’s grace.
R. D. Patterson: Two dramatic events were to mark Amaziah’s reign:
(1) his God-given victory over Edom and
(2) his self-inflicted loss to Israel.
Dale Ralph Davis: In terms of content the chapter covers the reigns of Amaziah of Judah (vv. 1–22) and Jeroboam II of Israel (vv. 23–29). They are a study in contrast: the disintegration of Amaziah (a reasonably good start, followed by unteachable arrogance, humiliating defeat, and bloody conspiracy) is followed by the success of Jeroboam, who gives Israel her ‘October’. Amaziah only gets verses 1–7 and 18–22 strictly to himself. He actually stands in the shadow of Jehoash of Israel in verses 8–14—and Jehoash’s obituary appears a second time in verses 15–16/17 (cf. 13:12–13). When the Jeroboam section (vv. 23–29) is added, it looks like the writer’s primary interest is still the northern kingdom.
August Konkel: This whole segment is concerned with the fulfillment of the prophetic word. The three strikes of the arrows find their fulfillment in the three attacks against the Arameans (13:18, 25). More important, the promise to Jehu that his descendants will rule for four generations is shown to be true in spite of the idolatry of the northern kings (10:30). Amaziah faces the hostility of his countrymen from the start; though he does exercise constraint in securing his rule (13:5–6), following the directives of the covenant that the innocent not be punished, he can only be said to have done good to the measure of his father Joash. He finally dies by conspiracy in exile in Lachish (14:19), sharing in the judgment that befell his father. The Israelite kings, by contrast, experience success and the restoration of territory (13:25; 14:25) in spite of their apostasy. The first of these is assured by Elisha, the second by the prophet Jonah. In spite of its disobedience, Israel receives divine mercy—its destiny according to the word of the prophets.
I. (:1-7) AMAZIAH’S RIGHTEOUS REIGN IN THE SOUTH
A. (:1-4) Selected Touchpoints
1. (:1a) When Did He Become King?
“In the second year of Joash son of Joahaz king of Israel,”
2. (:1b) Who Was His Father?
“Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah became king.”
3. (:2a) How Old Was He When He Became King?
“He was twenty-five years old when he became king,”
4. (:2b) How Long Did He Reign?
“and he reigned twenty-nine years”
5. (:2c) Which Kingdom Did He Rule
6. (:2d) Who Was His Mother?
“And his mother’s name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem.”
B. (:3-4) Summary Evaluation
1. (:3) Righteous after the Pattern of His Father Joash
“And he did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done.”
2. (:4) Blemish on His Record
“Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.”
Peter Pett: Like his father Joash, and a number of kings before him, Amaziah had not stamped down on the high places where illegal syncretised YHWH worship was carried out, often at hillside sanctuaries associated with Baal and Asherah.
C. (:5-7) Strategic Conquests
1. (:5-6) Internal Conquests
a. (:5) Killed the Slayers of His Father
“Now it came about, as soon as the kingdom was firmly in his hand, that he killed his servants who had slain the king his father.”
b. (:6) Spared the Sons of the Slayers
“But the sons of the slayers he did not put to death, according to what is written in the book of the law of Moses, as the LORD commanded, saying, ‘The fathers shall not be put to death for the sons, nor the sons be put to death for the fathers; but each shall be put to death for his own sin.’”
Constable: One of Amaziah’s acts of goodness that the writer of Kings included was his obedience to the Mosaic Law in the matter of not executing children for their fathers’ crimes (Deut. 24:16). Kings of other ancient Near Eastern countries commonly practiced such executions. Amaziah instead trusted God to control the potential rebels.
2. (:7) External Conquests
“He killed of Edom in the Valley of Salt 10,000
and took Sela by war, and named it Joktheel to this day.”
John Schultz: The text refers further to Amaziah’s victory over the Edomites without giving any details. For that again we have to go to Second Chronicles, where we read: “Amaziah then marshaled his strength and led his army to the Valley of Salt, where he killed ten thousand men of Seir. The army of Judah also captured ten thousand men alive, took them to the top of a cliff and threw them down so that all were dashed to pieces.”
Peter Pett: Renaming a city was a comparatively rare occurrence and indicated permanent occupancy. By this means he was seeking to redress the previous failure of Jehoram (2 Kings 8:20-22).
August Konkel: There were two main centers in Edom, Petra in the south and Bozrah (Buseirah) in the north, between Sela and Punon. The initial conquests in the north are probably achieved with the assistance of the king of Israel, with the aim of dominating the southern portion of the King’s Highway on the east side of the Jordan rift. The conflict with Edom goes back to the days of Joash, when Edom gained independence (cf. 2 Kings 8:20–22). Control over Edom is temporary; by the time of Ahaz, Edom has regained its independence (16:6).
Wiersbe: Because he finally obeyed the Lord, Amaziah’s army defeated the Edomites. They killed ten thousand men in the Valley of Salt, where David had won a great victory (I Chron. 18:12). Then they destroyed ten thousand prisoners of war by casting them down from the heights of the city of Sela (Petra) that was cut right out of the mountain (Obad. 1-4). So elated was Amaziah with his achievement that he renamed the city “Joktheel,” which means “God destroys” (14:7).
II. (:8-14) AMAZIAH’S FOOLISH CHALLENGE OF JEHOASH OF ISRAEL
A. (:8-10) Brazen Challenge
“Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, ‘Come, let us face each other.’ 9 And Jehoash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, ‘The thorn bush which was in Lebanon sent to the cedar which was in Lebanon, saying, Give your daughter to my son in marriage. But there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trampled the thorn bush. 10 You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has become proud. Enjoy your glory and stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you, even you, should fall, and Judah with you?’”
David Guzik: 2 Chronicles 25:5-16 gives more background to this event. When Amaziah sent away the Israelite mercenaries, they were not happy – even though he paid them for not fighting against Edom (they probably counted on receiving much more from the spoil of battle). As they returned to Israel, they raided the cities of Judah from Samaria to Beth Horon, killed three thousand in them, and took much spoil (2 Chronicles 25:13). This was the political motivation for Amaziah’s attack against Israel.
Mordecai Cogan: “thistle” — A wild thorny plant which grows in unattended fields (cf. Job 31:40) and abandoned sites (Hos 9:6; Isa 34:13).
Constable: Amaziah’s heart became proud because of this victory. He concluded that his superior power had gained it rather than God’s might. This led him to challenge Israel in battle. King Jehoash’s parable (vv. 9-10) hurt Amaziah’s pride (cf. Jotham’s fable, Judg. 9:8-15). Instead of backing down he insisted on a confrontation. God permitted this situation to punish Amaziah, because after subduing the Edomites, he had brought some of their idols into Jerusalem and worshipped them (2 Chron. 25:14, 20). The army of Israel took Amaziah prisoner (vv. 13-14). It was probably at this time that Amaziah’s son “Azariah” (“Yahweh Has Helped”) began to reign in Jerusalem as his father’s coregent (790 B.C.).
Peter Pett: Jehoash of Israel tried to warn him off, probably not so much out of consideration for him as in order not to have to waste his own resources in fighting against Judah when the driving out of Aram was his prime concern. His warning was in the form of a parable and followed a well-known pattern (compare Judges 9:7-15). He was stressing to Amaziah both his arrogance and his smallness. Compared with Israel Judah was like a thistle contrasted with a cedar, a thistle that could easily be trodden down. Let him therefore continue to glory in his victory over Edom and not be foolish enough to take on someone as large as Israel, something which could only result in he himself being hurt. Again the author of Kings is seeking to bring out Amaziah’s foolhardiness.
John Schultz: Jehoash’s answer in the form of a parable is in the typical style of the time and area in the same way as Jesus’ teaching in parables was. The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary comments: “People in the East very often express their sentiments in a parabolic form, especially when they intend to convey unwelcome truths, or a contemptuous sneer. This was the design of the admonitory fable related by Joash in his reply. The thistle, a low shrub, might be chosen to represent Amaziah, a petty prince; the cedar, the powerful sovereign of Israel; and the wild beast that trod down the thistle, the overwhelming army with which Israel could desolate Judah. But, perhaps, without making so minute an application, the parable may be explained generally, as describing, in a striking manner the effects of pride and ambition, towering far beyond their natural sphere, and sure to fall with a sudden and ruinous crash. The moral of the fable is contained in 2 Kings 14:10.”
B. (:11-14) Humiliating Defeat
“But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah. 12 And Judah was defeated by Israel, and they fled each to his tent. 13 Then Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and tore down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate, 400 cubits. 14 And he took all the gold and silver and all the utensils which were found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasuries of the king’s house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria.”
Peter Pett: This description of the denuding of Judah of its treasures is regularly the author’s way of expressing YHWH’s displeasure. There is in it also a warning against trusting in fleeting riches. See 2 Kings 12:18; 2 Kings 18:15; 1 Kings 15:18 where it happened to ‘good’ kings, and 2 Kings 16:8; 2 Kings 24:13; 1 Kings 14:6 where it happened to ‘bad kings’.
MacArthur: Jehoash plundered both the temple at Jerusalem and the palace of Amaziah. The value of the plundered articles was probably not great, because Jehoash of Judah had previously sent the temple and palace treasures to pay tribute to Hazael of Damascus (12:17, 18). Jehoash probably took hostages from Jerusalem to Samaria to secure additional payments of tribute in view of the small war booty.
III. (:15-16) SUMMARY OF REIGN OF JEHOASH IN THE NORTH
A. (:15) Recorded Deeds
“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?”
B. (:16a) Death and Burial
“So Jehoash slept with his fathers
and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel;”
C. (:16b) Succession
“and Jeroboam his son became king in his place.”
IV. (:17-22) SUMMARY OF REIGN OF AMAZIAH IN THE SOUTH
A. (:17) Length of Reign after Death of Jehoash of Israel
“And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel.”
B. (:18) Recorded Deeds
“Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?”
MacArthur: His apostasy (2Ch 25:27), his disastrous war with Israel, the ruinous condition of Jerusalem, the plunder of the temple, and the loss of hostages lost him the respect of his people who rebelled and killed him.
C. (:19-20) Death and Burial
1. (:19) Death
“And they conspired against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish and killed him there.”
2. (:20) Burial
“Then they brought him on horses and he was buried at Jerusalem
with his fathers in the city of David.”
D. (:21-22) Succession
1. (:21) Coronation of Azariah
“And all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the place of his father Amaziah.”
2. (:22) Rebuilding of Elath
“He built Elath and restored it to Judah,
after the king slept with his fathers.”
V. (:23-29) JEROBOAM’S EVIL REIGN IN THE NORTH
A. (:23) Selected Touchpoints
1. (:23a) When Did He Become King?
“In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah,”
2. (:23b) Who Was His Father?
“Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel”
3. (:23c) Which Kingdom Did He Rule Over?
“became king in Samaria,”
4. (:23d) How Long Did He Reign?
“and reigned forty-one years.”
Donald Wiseman: The historian shows his selectivity by giving remarkably little space to this most illustrious, long-reigning (793–753 bc) and prosperous king of Israel. Jeroboam, the fourth king of the dynasty of Jehu, followed up the victories of Jehoash over Ben-Hadad III of Aram (2 Kgs 13:25). He was able to carry on Jehoash’s aggressive policy of expansion because the campaigns of Adad-nirari III had broken the heart of the Aramaean coalition and the Assyrians had now turned to campaigning in Urartu (Armenia) leaving Jehoash, whom they record as a vassal or tribute-paying servant of Assyria (see on 2 Kgs 13:10), free to become a powerful force in the area and to restore the northern boundary of Israel to what it had been in the days of David.
The resultant prosperity, however, which ended in the wrong use of power in luxury and the oppression of the poor, was denounced by the contemporary prophets, especially Amos (Amos 2:6–7; 8:4–6); Isaiah (Isaiah 3:18–26; 5:8–13) and Micah (Micah 2:2). They saw the state’s security as false (Amos 6:1–8) and behind it all an empty religious ritual (Amos 5:21–24).
B. (:24) Summary Evaluation
“And he did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin.”
Wiersbe: He was not a good king when it came to spiritual matters, but he brought prosperity to the nation and delivered it from its enemies. Even back in those ancient days, the average citizen didn’t care about the character of the nation’s leaders so long as the people had food on their tables, money in their purses, and no fear of being invaded by their enemies.
C. (:25-27) Significant Accomplishment by God’s Grace
1. (:25) Security by the Hand of the Lord
“He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher.”
2. (:26) Compassion of the Lord
“For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, which was very bitter;
for there was neither bond nor free, nor was there any helper for Israel.”
The Pulpit Commentary: 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 (vers. 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.
3. (:27) Mercy of the Lord
“And the LORD did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.”
Dale Ralph Davis: Yahweh is still the same exodus God who sees the affliction of his people (Exod. 3:7). One senses that Israel might be on the verge of being wiped out but that Yahweh is still loath to take them there.
Now then we see a corollary of our main point: prosperity may be a sign of Yahweh’s compassions but not of his commendation. It is easy to misread signs. . .
Observe that conventional formulas dominate Jeroboam’s entry. The only piece relating to Jeroboam’s achievement is verse 25a—verses 25b–27 explain why it was Jeroboam was able to achieve what he did. It was all due to Yahweh’s word and Yahweh’s mercy. These verses also need to temper our all too natural secularism. It is too easy for us to say that Jeroboam and Israel flourished because Assyria was in eclipse just then, and because Egypt was an international cipher at that time. Historicism would be happy with that but we should not be. Rather, those were the conditions in which Jeroboam prospered but the cause of his prosperity was the merciful, sovereign Yahweh who directs the fortunes of the Assyrias and Egypts of this age.
R. D. Patterson: In all this the faithfulness of God, despite Israel’s unfaithfulness (cf. Hos 2:2 – 3:5; 11:1 – 14:8; Amos 3:1-15) is evident. Because Israel had fallen into such desperate spiritual conditions (vv. 26-27), a merciful God had acted on behalf of his people. As he had granted them deliverance from external pressures by sending Adad-Nirari III of Assyria against the Arameans (cf. 13:5, 22-23) initiating a period of recovery under Jehoash (13:25; 14:14-15), so now in a grander way he culminated that deliverance with full victory over the Arameans, one that included Israel’s recovery of its former boundaries (vv. 27-28).
When Jeroboam II died in 752 B.C., he left behind a strong kingdom but, unfortunately, one whose core foundation was so spiritually rotten that the edifice of state would not long withstand the rising tide of international intrigue and pressure.
D. (:28-29) Overall Summary
1. (:28) Recorded Deeds
“Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam and all that he did and his might, how he fought and how he recovered for Israel, Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?”
2. (:29a) Death and Burial of Jeroboam
“And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel,”
John Bright: With the death of Jeroboam … the history of the northern state becomes a tale of unmitigated disaster. Her internal sickness erupting into the open, Israel found herself racked with anarchy at the very moment when she was called upon to face in resurgent Assyria the gravest threat of her entire history. Within twenty-five short years she had been erased from the map.
Peter Pett: And Jeroboam died peacefully and slept with his fathers, ‘even with the kings of Israel’. Unusually there is no mention of where he was buried, which may help explain the phrase ‘even with the kings of Israel’ which in 2 Kings 13:14 indicated being buried in Samaria. This may have been because as YHWH’s saviour the author did not want to describe Jeroboam as ‘buried in Samaria’, which serve to suggest that he saw such a fate as being in total contrast to the privilege of being ‘buried in Jerusalem’. It indicated being buried in pagan ground.
3. (:29b) Succession
“and Zechariah his son became king in his place.”