In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign.2 Kings 15:1. In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam — After an interregnum of twelve years in the kingdom of Judah, either through the prevalency of the faction which cut off Amaziah the father, and kept the son out of his kingdom; or, rather, because Azariah was very young, it is thought only four years of age, when his father was slain, and the people were not agreed to restore him till he was in his sixteenth year: see on 2 Kings 14:21. Began Azariah to reign — Solely and fully to exercise his regal power.
Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done;2 Kings 15:3-4. According to all that his father had done — Like him beginning well, but not persevering. Save that — It should rather be read, howbeit, or nevertheless, (as in 2 Kings 14:4,) the high places were not removed — That irregularity, in the mode and place of worship, still continued.
Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places.
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.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.
And the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
So Azariah slept with his fathers; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.2 Kings 15:7. They buried him with his fathers, &c. — Not in the very sepulchre of the kings, because he was a leper, (2 Chronicles 26:23,) but in the same field, and very near to the same place, where his ancestors lay interred.
In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zachariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria six months.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.2 Kings 15:10. Shallum the son of Jabesh — Probably one of his chief captains; conspired against him — On what pretence is quite uncertain. And smote him before the people — Openly and impudently, which, it is likely, he presumed to do, either because he remembered that the promise of the kingdom, made to Jehu, was confined to the fourth generation, (2 Kings 10:30,) which he observed to be now expired; or because he perceived the people were generally disaffected to their king, and favourable to his attempt.
And the rest of the acts of Zachariah, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.2 Kings 15:11. The rest of the acts of Zachariah, &c. — We read of nothing that he did; therefore the meaning is, that his behaviour during the six months in which he reigned, how he managed things, and provoked this conspiracy, are recorded elsewhere.
This was the word of the LORD which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.2 Kings 15:12. This was the word of the Lord, Thy sons, &c. — How unfaithful soever they proved to God, he faithfully performed the promise which he made to Jehu, whose sons, to the fourth generation, succeeded him in the throne of Israel. But this Shallum put an end to that family, and fulfilled the prophecy of Hosea, (Hosea 1:4,) I will average the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. For though Jehu had a command from God to destroy the house of Ahab, yet because he did it not so much in obedience to God, and with a view to his glory, as to satisfy his own private ambition, and in a way of cruelty quite abhorrent to the divine nature, God cut his family short, as soon as he had fulfilled his promise, and avenged that blood by this man, who slew Zachariah, and the rest of his posterity, if there were any. At least, he made the kingdom to cease in his family, and, not long after, it ceased in all Israel, who were rooted out, and never restored to their own country, as Judah was.
Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned a full month in Samaria.2 Kings 15:13-14. He reigned a full month — That dominion seldom lasts long that is founded in blood and falsehood. Menahem, either provoked by his crime, or animated by his example, soon served him as he had served his master: he went up from Tirzah — A city in the tribe of Ephraim, where Jeroboam first dwelt; and smote Shallum — Probably he was general of the army, which then lay encamped at Tirzah, and hearing of Shallum’s treason and usurpation, he hastened to Samaria to avenge it, as Omri acted, in a like case, with regard to Zimri.
For Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, and came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.
And the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
Then Menahem smote Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the coasts thereof from Tirzah: because they opened not to him, therefore he smote it; and all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.2 Kings 15:16. Then Menahem smote Tiphsah — Either that Tiphsah mentioned 1 Kings 4:24, or another city of the same name. And the coasts thereof, from Tirzah — All the people dwelling between those places. Because they opened not to him — Refused to open the gates of their city, and submit to him as conqueror. All the women that were with child he ripped up — That by this example of severity he might affright all the rest of the people into obedience. The frequent mention of this kind of cruelty, shows how inhumanly barbarous the eastern people were in those ages.
In the nine and thirtieth year of Azariah king of Judah began Menahem the son of Gadi to reign over Israel, and reigned ten years in Samaria.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.2 Kings 15:19. Pul the king of Assyria came against the land — This is the first time that we find any mention of the kingdom of Assyria, since the days of Nimrod, who erected a small principality there, Genesis 10:11. And they were no great people, one would suppose, when the eighty-third Psalm was written, in which they are mentioned as auxiliaries to the children of Lot, against the Israelites, together with other small nations. But now they were become very powerful. This Pul, or Phul, was the first monarch of that nation that invaded Israel, and began their transportation out of their country. Some have been of opinion, with Bishop Patrick, Poole, and others, that he was the same with Belesis, the governor of Babylon, who, together with Arbaces the Mede, slew Sardanapalus, the last of the Assyrian monarchs, and translated the empire to the Chaldeans. But, according to Dr. Prideaux, Belesis was one generation later. It is supposed, therefore, that this Pul was the father of Sardanapalus, and the same king of Assyria who, when Jonah preached against Nineveh, gave great tokens of his humiliation and repentance. See Prideaux’s Con. A. 747, and Bedford’s Script. Chronology. Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver — A very considerable present indeed, being no less than f450,000 sterling. This sum he gave, not only with a view to turn away the army of Pul from him, but also to purchase his friendship and assistance against those of his own subjects who opposed him, and to confirm the kingdom in his hand. By which it appears, that his cruelty at Tiphsah was so far from establishing him as he expected, that it weakened and endangered him, so that he was obliged to call in a foreign power to his aid.
And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.2 Kings 15:20. Of all the mighty men of wealth — By exacting the money only of the rich, it is likely, he thought he should ingratiate himself with the common people, upon whom he laid no tax. Fifty shekels of silver, demanded of each man of wealth, were a sum equal to f7. 10s. of our money.
And the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
And Menahem slept with his fathers; and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead.
In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.2 Kings 15:24-25. He did that which was evil, &c. — He was the wicked son of a wicked father, and so perished by such a conspiracy as his father formed against Shallum. With Argob and Arieh — It does not appear from the text whether these persons were Pekah’s partners in this treason, or Pekahiah’s courtiers and officers now slain with him. With fifty men of the Gileadites — Who, it is probable, were Pekahiah’s body-guard.
But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his, conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king's house, with Argob and Arieh, and with him fifty men of the Gileadites: and he killed him, and reigned in his room.
And the rest of the acts of Pekahiah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
In the two and fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years.2 Kings 15:27. In the two and fiftieth year of Azariah Pekah began to reign — This is the fifth king that reigned over Israel during the reign of Azariah king of Judah. Pekah, however, reigned much longer than any of the preceding four. For though he also, like Shallum and Menahem, got the kingdom by treason and blood, he kept possession of it twenty years. So long it was before his violent dealing returned upon his own head. And he made himself more noted abroad than any of these usurpers; for even in the latter part of his time, in the reign of Ahaz, (which began in his seventeenth year,) he was a great terror to the kingdom of Judah, as we find, Isaiah 7:1. Mr. Locke justly observes, that the prophecies of Hosea, Joel, and Amos, come in here, who all prophesied about this time.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.2 Kings 15:29. In the days of Pekah came Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, &c. — He is supposed by some to have been the son and successor of Sardanapalus, who restored the kingdom of Assyria, and possessed it after it bad been dismembered by Belesis and Arbaces: but our learned Prideaux, who begins his valuable connection of the Old and New Testaments at this period, makes him to be the same with Arbaces, who, together with Belesis, headed the conspiracy against Sardanapalus, and fixed his royal seat at Nineveh, the ancient residence of the Assyrian kings, as Belesis fixed his at Babylon, and there governed his newly-erected kingdom for nineteen years. And took Ijon, &c., and Gilead, and Galilee, and all Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria — Thus Pekah lost a great part of his kingdom. And by this judgment God punished him for his attempt upon Judah and Jerusalem. For it was then foretold by Isaiah, that within two or three years after he had made that attempt, before a child then born should be able to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Samaria should be taken away before the king of Assyria; and here we have the accomplishment of that prediction. It may be proper to observe here, that the kingdom of the ten tribes was not destroyed at one time. The first invasion of their country, and prelude to their destruction, was made by Pul, who took away an immense booty, and drained them of their wealth; probably also carrying captive some of the people that dwelt on the east of Jordan. The second was by this Tiglath-pileser, who carried away the inhabitants of the northern parts, with the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh, 1 Chronicles 5:26. The third and last was by Shalmaneser, who took Samaria, and carried into captivity the rest of the Israelites, 2 Kings 17:1-23.
And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.2 Kings 15:30. Hosea made a conspiracy against Pekah, and smote him — It is probable that the people were provoked at him for leaving them exposed to a foreign enemy, while he invaded Judah; and that Hosea took advantage of their discontent and disgust to seize and slay him. Thus Pekah’s treason and violence returned upon himself at last. And reigned in his stead in the twentieth year of Jotham — The meaning is, that he began his reign in the twentieth year after the beginning of Jotham’s reign; or, which is the same thing, in the fourth year of Ahaz, son of Jotham.
And the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel began Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign.2 Kings 15:32. Began Jotham the son of Uzziah to reign — Why he should be called all along Azariah, and here, and 2 Kings 15:34, Uzziah, no account can be given, unless it was to show that he had two names. And it appears by the book of Chronicles, that the name Uzziah was as much used, when that book was written, as the other.
Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok.2 Kings 15:33-34. Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign — Namely, properly and alone; for he had reigned before this as his father’s deputy. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord — Josephus gives him a very high character; that he was pious toward God, just toward men, and laid himself out for the public good; that whatever was amiss he took care to have it rectified; and, in short, wanted no virtue that became a good prince. And though the high places were not taken away, yet, to draw the people from them, and keep them close to God’s holy place, he showed great respect to the temple, and built, or rebuilt rather, the higher gate, not indeed of the temple itself, but of one of its courts, probably that which led to the king’s palace, 2 Chronicles 23:20. “If magistrates,” says Henry, “cannot do all they would for the suppression of vice and profaneness, let them do so much the more for the support and advancement of piety and virtue, and bringing of them into reputation. If they cannot pull down the high places of sin, yet let them build and beautify the high gate of God’s house.”
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done.
Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the LORD.
Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
In those days the LORD began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah.2 Kings 15:37. In those days — That is, toward the end of Jotham’s reign; the Lord began to send against Judah, Rezin and Pekah — As he bid Shimei curse David, when he gave him an opportunity of doing it, without fear of punishment. Wicked men are the sword, the rod in God’s hand, which he makes use of as he pleases, to serve his own righteous counsels, though they be unrighteous in their intentions. This storm was gathered in the reign of pious Jotham, but he came to his grave in peace, and it fell upon his degenerate son Ahaz, whose heart, upon notice of it, was moved, as were the hearts of the people, as the trees of the wood are moved by the wind, Isaiah 7:2.
And Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.2 Kings 15:38. Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David — He died in the midst of his days, being only forty-one years of age. He was too great a blessing to be continued long to such an unworthy people. His death was a judgment, especially considering the character of his son and his successor.