2 Kings 15:5
And the LORD smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king's son was over the house, judging the people of the land.
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(5) And the Lord smote the king.—The chronicler relates the reason—viz., because of his usurpation of priestly functions in the sanctuary. This happened towards the end of the reign. Jotham, the regent, was only twenty-five when Azariah died (2Kings 15:33).

Smote.—Or, struck. So we speak of a paralytic stroke, and the word plague literally means stroke.

In a several house.—Rather, in the sickhouse (or, hospital)—i.e., a royal residence outside of Jerusalem (Leviticus 13:46; 2Kings 7:3) set apart for such cases. (Strictly, in the house of freedom; because lepers were emancipated from all social relations and duties. Gesenius explains the word from an Arabic root said to mean prostration, weakness; but Lane gives for that term the special meaning smallness (or, narrowness) of the eye; weakness of sight. See his Arabic Lexicon, Bk. I., Pt. II., p. 772.

Over the house.—Not apparently as prefect of the palace (comp. 1Kings 4:6; 1Kings 18:3), but as dwelling in the palace instead of his father.

Judging the people of the land.—As his father’s representative. (Comp. 1Samuel 8:6; 1Samuel 8:20; 1Kings 3:9.)

This passage is strong evidence against the assumption of joint sovereignties of princes with their fathers, so often made by way of escaping chronological difficulties in Hebrew history. Jotham is not co-regent but viceroy of Azariah until the latter dies.

2 Kings 15:5. The Lord smote the king, so that he was a leper — The cause of this stroke is related at large, 2 Chronicles 26:16-21. And dwelt in a several house — Separated from conversation with others by virtue of the law, recorded Leviticus 13:46, which, being the law of the King of kings, bound kings no less than subjects. The Jews, by the term several house, understand a house in the country; where he might have liberty to take his pleasure, but not to meddle with public affairs. Jotham, the king’s son, was over the house, &c. — That is, he lived in the palace, and managed all the affairs of the court and of the kingdom, governing in his father’s name as his vicegerent. It was in the twenty-seventh year of Azariah’s reign that he was smitten with the leprosy, and he continued a leper twenty-five years, during which time Jotham administered the government, his father being incapable of it.

15:1-7 Uzziah did for the most part that which was right. It was happy for the kingdom that a good reign was a long one.The Lord smote the king, so that he was a leper - The circumstances under which this terrible affliction befel one of the greatest of the Jewish kings, are given at some length by the author of Chronicles (marginal reference), who supplies us with a tolerably full account of this important reign, which the writer of Kings dismisses in half-a-dozen verses.

A several house - "A house of liberation," or, freedom. On the necessity, under which the Law placed lepers, of living apart from other men, see marginal reference Jotham became regent in his father's room, and exercised the functions of judge (1 Kings 3:9 note), from the time that his father became a leper.


2Ki 15:1-7. Azariah's Reign over Judah.

1-7. In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam—It is thought that the throne of Judah continued vacant eleven or twelve years, between the death of Amaziah and the inauguration of his son Azariah. Being a child only four years old when his father was murdered, a regency was appointed during Azariah's minority.

began Azariah … to reign—The character of his reign is described by the brief formula employed by the inspired historian, in recording the religious policy of the later kings. But his reign was a very active as well as eventful one, and is fully related (2Ch 26:1-23). Elated by the possession of great power, and presumptuously arrogating to himself, as did the heathen kings, the functions both of the real and sacerdotal offices, he was punished with leprosy, which, as the offense was capital (Nu 8:7), was equivalent to death, for this disease excluded him from all society. While Jotham, his son, as his viceroy, administered the affairs of the kingdom—being about fifteen years of age (compare 2Ki 15:33)—he had to dwell in a place apart by himself (see on [342]2Ki 7:3). After a long reign he died, and was buried in the royal burying-field, though not in the royal cemetery of "the city of David" (2Ch 26:23).

He was a leper; the cause whereof see 2 Chronicles 26:16.

Dwelt in a several house; separated from conversation with others by virtue of that law, Leviticus 13:46, which being the law of the King of kings, bound kings no less than subjects.

Over the house, judging the people of the land, i.e. he governed the king’s court and whole kingdom, in his name, and as his vicegerent.

And the Lord smote the king,.... With leprosy; the reason of it was, because he intruded into the priest's office, and went into the temple to burn incense on the altar of incense, 2 Chronicles 26:19,

so that he was a leper unto the day of his death; but how long it was to it from his being smitten cannot be said with certainty; Dr. Lightfoot (l) thinks he died the same year he was smitten:

and dwelt in a several house: without Jerusalem, as the Targum; for lepers, according to the law, were to dwell separate without the camp or city, Leviticus 13:46 the word for "several" signifies "free" (m); here he lived alone, free from the company and conversation of men, free from the business of government, his son doing that for him, and in the country, where he might freely walk about, as lepers did, and take the air; the Jews say (n), his house was among the graves, where he was free among the dead, as the phrase is, Psalm 88:5, but not likely; much better is what Abendana observes from R. Jonah, that the word, in the Arabic (o) language, signifies a little house, and so this might be in which he dwelt out of the city, in comparison of his palace:

and Jotham the king's son was over the house; had the direction of the palace, and the management of all affairs in it:

judging the people of the land; administering justice in all cases, for which they came to him, and so filled up his father's place; he did not depose his father, nor take upon him to be king, only did the business of one.

(l) Works, vol. 1. p. 99. (m) "in domo libero", V. L. Tigurine version, &c. (n) T. Hieros. apud Jarchium in loc. (o) "in exiqua domo resedit assidue", Castel. Lexic. col. 1345.

And the LORD {b} smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king's son was over the house, {c} judging the people of the land.

(b) His father and grandfather were slain by their subjects and servants, and he because he would usurp the priest's office contrary to God's ordinance was smitten immediately by the hand of God with the leprosy, 2Ch 26:21.

(c) As viceroy or deputy to his father.

5. And the Lord smote the king, so that he was a leper] The more political history in Kings tells us nothing about the reason why Azariah was smitten. The Chronicler however says that the king’s successes caused his heart to be lifted up, and he presumed to go into the temple, and to take upon him the priest’s office of burning incense. He was withstood by the priest (also called Azariah) and by fourscore other priests, but in his anger he persisted, and then it was that the leprosy rose up in his forehead. Whereupon he hasted to go forth from the temple because the Lord had smitten him.

and dwelt in a several house] The noun here is connected with the adjective that signifies ‘free’ and which is used of manumitted slaves. It has been suggested that the meaning here is that the place was one where those lived who could no longer mix with their fellows, and take part in the ordinary business of life. But in that case the building would be a public one or it would not have been so called. It appears therefore better to consider that the house was ‘free’ in the sense of ‘standing apart’, not mixed up among other dwellings. It was perhaps some place in the country to which the king confined himself after the disease had broken out upon him. The R.V. gives ‘lazar-house’ on the margin, but we must not suppose that the king went into a home devoted to such sufferers. He would live alone. The LXX. makes a sort of transliteration of the word but does not translate. The Vulgate has in domo libera seorsum.

For the English word ‘several’ in the sense of ‘separate’, cf. Pilkington’s Works (Parker Society) p. 64 where the author speaks of people ‘buried not in hallowed churchyards by any bishops, but in a several place appointed for the same purpose without the city’, and further down on the same page he describes a burial-ground as ‘an honest place to be kept several from beasts and unreverent using the same’.

the king’s son was over the house] R.V. household. From 1 Kings 4:6 where Ahishar is spoken of as being over Solomon’s household, and 2 Kings 19:2 where the same office is assigned to Eliakim in the time of Hezekiah, it is clear that the post was one of great dignity, but it was in no way connected with a regency. Eliakim is mentioned as the most prominent person among those who were sent to confer with Rabshakeh, and to consult the prophet Isaiah, but the duties he performed were those of a subject. And though Jotham is here said to have judged the people of the land, we cannot from this conclude that he was joint ruler with his father.

Verse 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 (2 Chronicles 26:2), but he carried on a successful war with the Philistines - took Garb, Jabneh (Jamnia), and Ashdod, and dismantled them (2 Chronicles 26:6), defeated the Arabians of Gur-Baal, and the Mehuuim or Maonites (2 Chronicles 26:7), forced the Ammonites to pay him a tribute, and caused his power to be known and feared far and wide (2 Chronicles 26:8). 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 (2 Chronicles 26:12-14). "His name spread far abroad, for he was wonderfully helped" (2 Chronicles 26:15). This marvelous prosperity developed in him a pride equal to that of his father, but one which vented itself differently, Azariab, 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 (2 Chronicles 26:16-18). 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" (2 Chronicles 26:20). 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 (comp. 2 Chronicles 26:21). 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" (Ewald, Gesenius, Winer); but there is no reason to believe that hospitals of any kind existed among the Israelites. The lepers mentioned in 2 Kings 7:3 are houseless. הַחָפְשִׂית בַּית 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," as Bahr says, "especially built for him." And Jotham the Mug'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. 2 Kings 15:5Beside the general characteristics of Uzziah's fifty-two years' reign, which are given in the standing formula, not a single special act is mentioned, although, according to 2 Chronicles 26, he raised his kingdom to great earthly power and prosperity; probably for no other reason than because his enterprises had exerted no permanent influence upon the development of the kingdom of Judah, but all the useful fruits of his reign were destroyed again by the ungodly Ahaz. Uzziah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Amaziah had done. For as the latter was unfaithful to the Lord in the closing years of his reign, so did Uzziah seek God only so long as Zechariah, who was experienced in divine visions, remained alive, and God gave success to his enterprises, so that during this time he carried on successful wars against the Philistines and Arabians, fortified the walls of Jerusalem with strong towers, built watch-towers in the desert, and constructed cisterns for the protection and supply of his numerous flocks, promoted agriculture and vine-growing, and organized a numerous and well-furnished army (2 Chronicles 26:5-15). But the great power to which he thereby attained produced such haughtiness, that he wanted to make himself high priest in his kingdom after the manner of the heathen kings, and usurping the sacred functions, which belonged according to the law to the Levitical priests alone, to offer incense in the temple, for which he was punished with leprosy upon the spot (2 Kings 15:5 compared with 2 Chronicles 26:16.). The king's leprosy is described in our account also as a punishment from God. יי ויננּע: Jehovah smote him, and he became leprous. This presupposes an act of guilt, and confirms the fuller account of this guilt given in the Chronicles, which Thenius, following the example of De Wette and Winer, could only call in question on the erroneous assumption "that the powerful king wanted to restore the regal high-priesthood exercised by David and Solomon" Oehler (Herzog's Cycl.) has already shown that such an opinion is perfectly "groundless," since it is nowhere stated that David and Solomon performed with their own hands the functions assigned in the law to the priests in connection with the offering of sacrifice, as the co-operation of the priests is not precluded in connection with the sacrifices presented by these kings (2 Samuel 6:17, and 1 Kings 3:4, etc.). - Uzziah being afflicted with leprosy, was obliged to live in a separate house, and appoint his son Jotham as president of the royal house to judge the people, i.e., to conduct the administration of the kingdom. - The time when this event occurred is not stated either in our account or in the Chronicles. But this punishment from God cannot have fallen upon him before the last ten years of his fifty-two years' reign, because his son, who was only twenty-five years old when his father died (2 Kings 15:33, and 2 Chronicles 27:1), undertook the administration of the affairs of the kingdom at once, and therefore must have been at least fifteen years old. החפשׁית בּית is taken by Winer, Gesenius, and others, after the example of Iken, to signify nosocomium, an infirmary or lazar-house, in accordance with the verb Arab. xfs̆, fecit, II debilis, imbecillis fuit. But this meaning cannot be traced in Hebrew, where חפשׁי is used in no other sense than free, set at liberty, manumissus. Consequently the rendering adopted by Aquila is correct, οἶκος ἐλευθερίας; and the explanation given by Kimchi of this epithet is, that the persons who lived there were those who were sent away from human society, or perhaps more correctly, those who were released from the world and its privileges and duties, or cut off from intercourse with God and man.
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