In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah.2 Kings 14:1-2. In the second year of Joash, king of Israel — After he began to reign alone: for he reigned two or three years with his father, of which see the note on 2 Kings 13:10. This, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, was the thirty-eighth year of his father Joash, king of Judah, three years before his death. For Joash had thrown himself into such a miserable condition by his apostacy, and the murder of Zechariah, (2 Kings 12:17; 2 Chronicles 24:25,) that he was become unfit to govern the kingdom. He reigned twenty and nine years — Fourteen of which he was contemporary with Joash, king of Israel, and fifteen with Jeroboam, the son of Joash, 2 Kings 14:17.
He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did.2 Kings 14:3-4. He did right in the sight of the Lord — In many respects, attending on God’s altars, and attending to his word: yet not like David his father — Or progenitor: not obeying in the same spirit of faith and devotion, and with the same sincerity, resolution, and perseverance. As Joash his father did — Who, for a time, served God aright; but afterward fell away to idolatry. Thus did Amaziah, 2 Chronicles 25:14. Howbeit, the high places, &c. — Though he did what was right, yet the high places were not taken away — For it is difficult to get clear of those corruptions which by long usage have gained prescription.
Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.
And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, that he slew his servants which had slain the king his father.2 Kings 14:5. As soon as the kingdom was confirmed, he slew his servants, &c. — It is implied in this, that his father’s murderers continued to be men of weight and interest at court, even after they had perpetrated that crime; for Amaziah retained them in his service for some time, nor durst venture to execute justice upon them till he was well settled in his authority. Probably the act they had done was in some sort approved by the generality of the people, to whom Joash had made himself hateful by his apostacy to idolatry, and his ingratitude to the house of Jehoiada.
But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.2 Kings 14:6. But the children of the murderers he slew not — In this he acted like a good man, and showed both faith and courage, in that he would obey the command of God, though it might be attended with great hazard to himself, and was not moved to cut off the children, through fear lest they should raise a faction against him, and take revenge for their fathers’ death. Very different is the custom pursued in many kingdoms, in which, if any one be guilty of high treason, not only he, but his children likewise, who neither partake nor are conscious of his traitorous practices, are equally devoted to destruction.
He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day.2 Kings 14:7. He slew of Edom — That is, of the Edomites, or the children of Seir, as they are called 2 Chronicles 25:1. The Edomites, after having been subject to Judah from the time of David, who subdued them, revolted in the days of Jehoram, (2 Kings 8:10,) and now Amaziah endeavoured to reduce them: and having, at the command of God, abandoned the help of the Israelites, although he had purchased it with a large sum, (2 Chronicles 25:7-10,) he and the men of Judah gained a great victory over them, and made the following slaughter. In the valley of Salt — Which was in the land of Edom. And took Selah — Or, the rock, as the word signifies. This city, called by other authors Petra, which also means a rock, was the metropolis of all that part of Arabia, termed from hence Arabia Petræa, or Arabia the rocky. And called the name of it Joktheel — Which word signifies, the obedience of God; so he named it, either, because, having taken it, he established in it, as some think, the laws and statutes of Moses; or rather, because he considered it as given him by God, as a reward of his obedience to God’s message by the prophet, requiring him to dismiss all the forces which he had hired of the Israelites.
Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face.2 Kings 14:8. Let us look one another in the face — Let us try our valour and strength in battle. Being flushed with his late great victory over the Edomites, and incensed by the injury which the dismissed, disgusted Israelites had lately done to his country in their return, (2 Chronicles 25:13,) he sent this challenge to the king of Israel. Perhaps he had the vanity to think he could subdue his kingdom, and reunite it to Judah. Had he challenged him merely to a personal duel, the error had remained with himself: but each of them must bring all his forces into the field, and thousands of lives must be sacrificed on both sides to his capricious humour! Hereby he showed himself proud, presumptuous, and prodigal of blood. They that challenge are chargeable with that beginning of strife which is as the letting out of water. And they that are fond either of fighting or going to law, may perhaps have enough of it quickly, and will probably be the first that repent it.
And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.2 Kings 14:9. Jehoash sent to Amaziah, saying, The thistle, &c. — By the thistle, a mean, despicable, and yet troublesome weed, he understands Amaziah, and by the cedar, himself, whom he intimates to be far stronger than he, and out of his reach. Considering the circumstances of the person addressed, who was a petty prince, flushed with a little good success, and thereupon impatient to enlarge his kingdom, no similitude could be better adapted than that of a thistle, a low, contemptible shrub, but, upon its having drawn blood of some traveller, grown proud and affecting an equality with the cedar, a tall stately tree, the pride and ornament of the wood, till, in the midst of all its arrogance and presumption, it is unhappily trodden down by the beasts of the forest, which Jehoash intimates would be Amaziah’s fate, if he continued to provoke a prince of his superior power and strength. See Calmet and Scheuchzer. Saying, Give me thy daughter to wife — Let us make a match, that is, let us fight; only he expresses his bloody and destructive work in a civil manner, as Amaziah had done, (2 Kings 14:8,) and as Abner did, 2 Samuel 2:14 : or, Let thy kingdom and mine be united under one king, as formerly they were; and let us decide, by a pitched battle, whether thou or I shall be that king. A wild beast trode down the thistle — And so put an end to his treaty with the cedar: and with no less ease shall my soldiers tread down thee and thy forces.
Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry at home: for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?2 Kings 14:10. Thou hast indeed smitten Edom — A weak, unarmed, undisciplined body of men; and therefore thou thinkest thou canst carry all before thee, and subdue the regular forces of Israel with as much ease. Thy heart hath lifted thee up — Here lies the root of all sin; it is in the heart; thence it proceeds, and that must bear the blame. It is not providence, the event, the occasion, whatever it is, that makes men proud, or secure, or discontented, or the like; but it is their own heart that doth it. Thou art proud of the blow thou hast given to Edom, as if that had made thee formidable to all mankind. Glory of this, and tarry at home — Content thyself with that glory and success, and let not thy ambition betray thee to thy ruin. For why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt? — As fools often do. Many would have wealth and honour enough, if they did but know when they have enough. That thou shouldest fall, and Judah with thee — He warns him of the consequence; that it would be fatal, not to himself only, but to his kingdom, which he ought to protect.
But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah.2 Kings 14:11-12. Amaziah would not hear — Being blinded and hardened by God to his destruction, as a punishment of his abominable and ridiculous idolatry, 2 Chronicles 25:10. Therefore Jehoash went up — Namely, into the kingdom of Judah, carrying the war into his enemies’ country. At Beth-shemesh, which belongeth to Judah — Which is added to distinguish it from Beth-shemesh in Issachar, and another in Naphtali. And Judah was put to the worse — Their army being routed and dispersed. Josephus says that, when they were to engage, they were struck with such a terror that they did not strike a stroke, but every one made the best of his way home. Probably they were not satisfied as to the ground and manner of the quarrel, were discouraged by the king’s idolatry, and smitten by God with a spirit of fear.
And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.
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.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.
And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria.
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?
And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead.
And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years.
And the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there.2 Kings 14:19-20. They made a conspiracy against him — That is, the people, and princes, and chief men among them did this; possibly those whose sons he had delivered up as hostages to Jehoash. It is likely this conspiracy was formed with the connivance, if not approbation, of the people, because the design was carried on openly, steadily, and irresistibly, as the following words show. “What provoked the people of Jerusalem, more than any other part of the nation, against their king, was the seeing their city spoiled of its best ornaments, exposed to reproach on account of the great breach made in their wall, and several of their children carried away as hostages for their good behaviour; all which they imputed to their king’s mal- administrations,” and hence they entered into this conspiracy against him. And he fled to Lachish — A strong city in Judah, toward the country of the Philistines. How long he continued concealed or sheltered there we are not told. Some commentators have conjectured, “that he lived in a state of exile in that city for twelve years, not bearing to continue in Jerusalem after the defeat which Jehoash had given him. But our learned Usher has placed this conspiracy in the last year of Amaziah’s reign; and Capellus supposes that it was set on foot by the great men of Jerusalem, on the specious pretence of being guardians to the young prince, and taking better care of him than his father was likely to do.” — Dodd. They — His rebellious subjects; sent after him to Lachish — Sent, some think, secret murderers, but, more probably, bands of soldiers, for this rebellion was carried on with a strong hand and open force. And they brought him on horses — Or, with horses, namely, in a chariot; and he was buried at Jerusalem — For the rage of the rebels was not extended beyond his death, nor did they deny him a burial with his ancestors.
And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.
And all the people of Judah took Azariah, which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.2 Kings 14:21. The people of Judah took Azariah — Called Uzziah, chap. 2 Kings 15:30, and 2 Chronicles 26:1. The two names signify nearly the same thing, the former meaning the help of God, and the latter, the strength of God. And made him king — Either in opposition to the conspirators, or to show their affection to the house of David, and signify that their quarrel was only personal against Amaziah, whom they considered as the author of all their late calamities. But, it must be observed, the people did not do this till twelve years after Amaziah’s death. For Amaziah died in the fifteenth year of Jeroboam, (compare 2 Kings 14:23 with 2 Kings 14:1,) but Azariah did not begin his reign till the twenty-seventh of Jeroboam, (2 Kings 15:1,) for he was but four years old at the death of his father: so that, for twelve years, till he came to be sixteen, the government was in the hands of protectors.
He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.2 Kings 14:22. He built Elath — Repaired and fortified it; for it was built before, Deuteronomy 2:8. And restored it to Judah — From whom it had revolted with the rest of Edom, in which land it lay, upon the Red sea. After that the king — Namely, his father Amaziah; slept with his fathers — The meaning is, that Amaziah did not perfect his conquest of Edom, but left some work there for his son to do.
In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.2 Kings 14:25. He restored the coast, &c., from Hamath — Which was the northern border of the kingdom of Israel; unto the sea of the plain — The Dead sea, which was once a goodly plain, and was their southern border. Which he spake by his servant Jonah — Or Jonas; one of the lesser prophets. The only mention that we have of this prophet is in this passage, and in the account of his famous mission to Nineveh, in considering which we shall say more concerning him. What the prophecies were by which he encouraged Jeroboam to proclaim war against the king of Syria, is nowhere recorded. But as we have not every thing which the prophets did write, so several prophets did not commit any of their predictions to writing. From this place, however, we learn, that God was so gracious to the Israelites, wicked as they were, as to continue a race of prophets among them, even after Elijah and Elisha were dead. See Patrick and Dodd. Happy that land which is thus favoured! which has a succession of prophets running parallel with a succession of princes; that the word of the Lord may endure for ever!
For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.2 Kings 14:26-27. The Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter — Whereby he was moved to pity and help them, though they were an unworthy people. They that lived in those parts of their country, of which their enemies were masters, were miserably oppressed and enslaved, and could call nothing their own: the rest, we may suppose, were much empoverished by the frequent incursions which their enemies made upon them, to plunder them; and were continually frightened with their alarms; so that there was none shut up or left, but both towns and country were laid waste and stripped of their wealth, and no helper appeared. To this extremity they were reduced in many parts of the country in the beginning of Jeroboam’s reign, when God, in mere pity to them, heard the cry of their affliction, (for no mention is here made of the cry of their prayers,) and wrought this deliverance for them by the hand of Jeroboam. Reader, is thy case piteous? Then take comfort from the divine pity. He has bowels of mercy, and is full of compassion! For the Lord said not that he would blot out the name, &c. — That is, not yet: he had not yet declared this, as afterward he did by the succeeding prophets, though not in these very words, Hosea 1:5-9. The decree was not yet gone forth for their utter destruction. If it be understood of the dispersion of the ten tribes, he did both say it and do it not long after: reprieves are not pardons. If of the utter extirpation of the name of Israel, he never said it, nor will ever do it: for that name still remains under heaven in the spiritual Israel, and will to the end of time.
And the LORD said not 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.
Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?2 Kings 14:28. And how he recovered Damascus and Hamath — These were cities of Syria, but were taken from the Syrians by David and Solomon, and probably by them incorporated with, and added to, the possessions of their own tribe, to which, from that time, they belonged: but afterward they were retaken by the Syrians, and were now recovered by this Jeroboam.
And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.2 Kings 14:29. And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, &c. — It was in the reign of this Jeroboam, that Hosea (who continued very long a prophet) began to prophesy, and he was the first that wrote his prophecies. At the same time Amos prophesied, and wrote his prophecy, and soon after Micah, and then Isaiah, in the days of Ahaz and Hezekiah. Thus God never left himself without witness: but, in the darkest ages of the church, raised up some to be burning and shining lights to their own age by their preaching and living; and a few by their writings to reflect light upon us, on whom the ends of the world are come.