2 Kings 14:13
And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Bethshemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
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(13) Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah.—Comp, 2Kings 14:8. Thenius thinks the formal specification of Amaziah’s descent indicates that this narrative was derived from “the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.” At all events, it emphasises the importance of the incident, which is further indicated in the original by the order of the words: “And Amaziah king of Judah . . . did Jehoash king of Israel take . . .”

Came.—So the Hebrew margin. The Hebrew text has, brought him (way’bî’ô; a rare form). So Chronicles and the Vulg., but not the other versions. Jehoash brought Amaziah a prisoner to his own capital.

Brake down the wall.—Or, made a breach in the wall. No resistance appears to have been offered. Josephus relates that Amaziah was induced by menaces of death to order the gates to be thrown open to the enemy; a needless assumption, considering that the army had been routed and the king was a captive. He adds, that Jehoash rode in his chariot through the breach in the walls, leading Amaziah as a prisoner.

From the gate.—So Chronicles and the Syriac, Vulg., and Arabic here. The Hebrew text has, at the gate, which is due to the common confusion of the letters b and m (be, “in;” min, “from”). The following “unto” shows that “from” is right.

Of Ephraim.—This gate lay on the north side of the city, and was also called the “Gate of Benjamin.” It answers to the modern Damascus gate.

The corner gate.—This gate was at the north-west corner of the wall at the point where it trended southwards.

Four hundred cubits.—That is, about 222 yards. The insolence of a victorious enemy is sufficient to account for this conduct of Jehoash. It was also a forcible way of convincing Amaziah that even his strongest city was not proof against the prowess of Ephraim. Thenius thinks that Jehoash wanted to make room for the triumphal entry of his troops.

2 Kings 14:13-14. Jehoash took Amaziah king of Judah, &c. — Amaziah’s pedigree comes in here somewhat abruptly. The son of Jehoash, the son of Ahaziah — Because perhaps he had gloried in the dignity of his ancestors, or now smarted for their iniquity. And came to Jerusalem — Which tamely opened to him; probably because he demanded entrance in Amaziah’s name, and with his consent. And brake down the wall of Jerusalem — In reproach to them; and that he might, when he pleased, take possession of the royal city. Josephus says, that he drove his chariot in triumph through the breach. And he took all the gold and silver, &c. — He plundered Jerusalem, and took away all that was valuable, spoiling both the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, of all their treasures. And hostages — To ensure their peaceable conduct. And returned to Samaria — He did not keep Jerusalem, nor seek to gain the possession and dominion of that kingdom; partly, because he thought he could not keep it, considering the difficulty he found in defending his own from such potent and near enemies as the Syrians were, and the great affection which all Judah bore to David’s house; and partly, because God so inclined his heart, that he might make good his promise to David and his family.

14:8-14 For some time after the division of the kingdoms, Judah suffered much from the enmity of Israel. After Asa's time, it suffered more by the friendship of Israel, and by the alliance made with them. Now we meet with hostility between them again. How may a humble man smile to hear two proud and scornful men set their wits on work, to vilify and undervalue one another! Unholy success excites pride; pride excites contentions. The effects of pride in others, are insufferable to those who are proud themselves. These are the sources of trouble and sin in private life; but when they arise between princes, they become the misery of their whole kingdoms. Jehoash shows Amaziah the folly of his challenge; Thine heart has lifted thee up. The root of all sin is in the heart, thence it flows. It is not Providence, the event, the occasion, whatever it is, that makes men proud, secure, discontented, or the like, but their own hearts do it.The object of breaking down the wall was to leave Jerusalem at the mercy of her rival; and it must have been among the conditions of the peace that the breach thus made should not be repaired.

Gates in Oriental cities are named from the places to which they lead. The gate of Ephraim must therefore have been a north gate: perhaps also known, later on, by the name of the "gate of Benjamin" Jeremiah 37:13; Zechariah 14:10. The corner gate was probably a gate at the northwest angle of the city, where the north wall approached the Valley of Hinnom. The entire breach was thus in the north wall, on the side where Jerusalem was naturally the weakest. Josephus says that Joash drove his chariot through the breach into the town, a practice not unusual with conquerors.

11-14. But Amaziah would not hear—The sarcastic tenor of this reply incited the king of Judah the more; for, being in a state of judicial blindness and infatuation (2Ch 25:20), he was immovably determined on war. But the superior energy of Joash surprised him ere he had completed his military preparations. Pouring a large army into the territory of Judah, he encountered Amaziah in a pitched battle, routed his army, and took him prisoner. Then having marched to Jerusalem [2Ki 14:13], he not only demolished part of the city walls, but plundered the treasures of the palace and temple. Taking hostages to prevent any further molestation from Judah, he terminated the war. Without leaving a garrison in Jerusalem, he returned to his capital with all convenient speed, his presence and all his forces being required to repel the troublesome incursions of the Syrians. Came to Jerusalem; commanding entrance in Amaziah’s name, and with his consent, which he durst not deny.

The gate of Ephraim; which led to Ephraim.

Four hundred cubits; which was done, partly in scorn and contempt, and partly that he might re-enter and retake it, if they should attempt to renew the war.

And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Bethshemesh,.... And then they looked one another in the face indeed, but Amaziah must look very silly:

and came to Jerusalem; the metropolis of Judah, with his royal prisoner:

and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; in at the breach of which he went with his chariot, as Josephus says (e), in triumph:

from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits; the gate of Ephraim was to the north of the city, towards the tribe of Ephraim, from whence it had its name; and the corner gate was that which joined the northern and western walls together, or rather the northern and eastern walls; for Rauwolff says (f), there is still the corner gate in its old place, where the north and east walls meet on large and high rocks, and is still called by some the gate of Naphtali.

(e) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 9. sect. 3.((f) Travels, par. 3. ch. 3. p. 228. by Ray.

And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Bethshemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
13. took Amaziah] i.e. Took him prisoner. And there is some difficulty in deciding what became of Amaziah at this time and afterwards. In 2 Chronicles 25:23 it is added that Jehoash brought him to Jerusalem, and the Kethib (= they came) in this verse is intended to give that idea. Both A.V. and R.V. have translated the Keri (= he came). Josephus (Ant. IX. 9. 3) has given an account which makes Amaziah be brought as a captive into his own capital. ‘When the troops (of Judah) were scattered in alarm, Amaziah was left alone and was taken prisoner by the enemy. Then Jehoash threatened to put him to death unless he persuaded the people of Jerusalem to open their gates and admit him with his army into the city. And Amaziah through necessity and in fear for his life caused the enemy to be received. And Jehoash having broken down about four hundred cubits of the walls, drove in his chariot through the opening into Jerusalem, bringing Amaziah as his prisoner.’ This is a picture in which the imagination has added to the details of the sacred narrative. Yet the very formal way in which Amaziah is mentioned in this verse, both here and by the Chronicler, as ‘Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah’, seems to indicate that some crisis in the reign of this king is marked by the defeat at Beth-shemesh. Perhaps he was kept a prisoner till the death of Jehoash. The way in which it is said in verse 17 that Amaziah lived (not reigned) after the death of Jehoash, seems also, from its unusual nature, to mark an exceptional state of things.

from the gate of Ephraim] This portion of the wall was on the north of the city, opening towards the kingdom of Israel, and the demolition of a large part of the wall on that side was meant to leave the city exposed to the entry of the Israelites if they were desirous to come in. The gate was where now is ‘the Damascus gate’.

Verse 13. - And Jehoash King of Israel took Amaziah King of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah at Beth-shemesh - Josephus says (l.s.c.) that Amaziah was deserted by his troops, who were seized with a sudden panic and fled from the field - and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem. According to Josephus, Joash threatened his prisoner with death unless the gates of Jerusalem were opened to him, and his army admitted into the town; and it was upon Amaziah's representations that the surrender was made as soon as the Israelite army appeared before the place. The breach in the wall was therefore not the result of siege operations, but the act of a conqueror, who desired to leave his enemy as defenseless as possible. From the gate of Ephraim; i.e. the main gate in the northern wall of the city - that by which travelers ordinarily proceeded into the territory of the tribe of Ephraim. In later times it seems to have been called indifferently "the gate of Ephraim" (Nehemiah 8:16; Nehemiah 12:39) and "the gate of Benjamin" (Jeremiah 37:13; Zechariah 14:10). The great north road, which passed through it, led across the Benjamite into the Ephraim-its territory. Unto the corner gate. The, "corner gate" is generally thought to have been that at the north-western angle of the City wall, where it turned southward, but this is perhaps doubtful. The exact line of the city wall in the time of Amaziah is exceedingly uncertain. Four hundred cubits; six hundred feet, or two hundred yards. This seems to have been the entire distance between the two gates. As there were at least thirteen gates in the circuit of the walls (Nehemiah 3:1-31; Nehemiah 12:31-39; Zechariah 14:10), which were probably not mere extensive than those of the present town (3960 yards), the distance of two hundred yards between one gate and another would not be improbable, the average distance being about three hundred yards. 2 Kings 14:13Jehoash took king Amaziah prisoner, and then came to Jerusalem, and had four hundred cubits of the wall broken down at the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, and then returned to Samaria with the treasures of the palace and temple, and with hostages. the Chethb ויבאו is to be pointed ויּאו, the vowel ו being placed after א, as in several other cases (see Ewald, 18, b.). There is no ground for altering יביאהוּ after the Chronicles (Thenius), although the reading in the Chronicles elucidates the thought. For if Jehoash took Amaziah prisoner at Beth-shemesh and then came to Jerusalem, he no doubt brought his prisoner with him, for Amaziah remained king and reigned for fifteen years after the death of Jehoash (2 Kings 14:17). The Ephraim gate, which is generally supposed to be the same as the gate of Benjamin (Jeremiah 37:13; Jeremiah 38:7; Zechariah 14:10; compare Nehemiah 8:16; Nehemiah 12:39), stood in the middle of the north wall of Jerusalem, through which the road to Benjamin and Ephraim ran; and the corner gate was at the north-western corner of the same wall, as we may see from Jeremiah 31:38 and Zechariah 14:10. If, then, Jehoash had four hundred cubits of the wall thrown down at the gate Ephraim to the corner gate, the distance between the two gates was not more than four hundred cubits, which applies to the northern wall of Zion, but not to the second wall, which defended the lower city towards the north, and must have been longer, and which, according to 2 Chronicles 32:5, was probably built for the first time by Hezekiah (vid., Krafft, Topographie v. Jerus. pp. 117ff.). Jehoash destroyed this portion of the Zion wall, that the city might be left defenceless, as Jerusalem could be most easily taken on the level northern side.

(Note: Thenius takes a different view. According to the description which Josephus gives of this event (Ant. ix. 9, 3), he assumes that Jehoash had the four hundred cubits of the city wall thrown down, that he might get a magnificent gate (?) for himself and the invading army; and he endeavours to support this assumption by stating that the space between the Ephraim gate and the corner gate was much more than four hundred cubits. But this assertion is based upon an assumption which cannot be sustained, namely, that the second wall built by Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:5) was already in existence in the time of Amaziah, and that the gates mentioned were in this wall. The subjective view of the matter in Josephus has no more worth than that of a simple conjecture.)

- The treasures of the temple and palace, which Jehoash took away, cannot, according to 2 Kings 12:19, have been very considerable. התּערבות בּני, sons of the citizenships, i.e., hostages (obsides, Vulg.). He took hostages in return for the release of Amaziah, as pledges that he would keep the peace.

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