Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah.Ch. 2 Kings 14:1-7. Reign of Amaziah, king of Judah. He slays his father’s murderers. His victory over the Edomites (2 Chronicles 25:1-4)
1. In the second year of Joash … king of Israel] See above on 2 Kings 13:1.
Joash son of Jehoahaz] R.V. Joahaz. This variation of the orthography is in the Hebrew.
reigned Amaziah … king of Judah] R.V. began Amaziah … king of Judah to reign. In verse 23 of this chapter the A.V. renders the same form of the verb (as is often done) by ‘began to reign’.
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.2. He was twenty and five years old] His father Joash died at about 47 years of age. So Amaziah was born when his father was twenty two.
his mother’s name was Jehoaddan] R.V. Jehoaddin. The R.V. follows the Kethib. The A.V. has the same form as in 2 Chron. The LXX. gives Ἰωαδίμ, and Josephus Ἰωδαδῆ.
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.3. yet not like David his father] The Chronicler merely gives ‘but not with a perfect heart’, making no mention of Amaziah’s resemblance to Joash, nor of his falling short of David.
according to all things as Joash his father did] R.V. had done. Of course this can only refer to the general resemblance not to the various parts of Amaziah’s conduct. The next verse, which is almost word for word the same as is said in 2 Kings 12:3 concerning Joash, shews how Amaziah walked in his father’s footsteps.
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.5. as soon as the kingdom was confirmed [R.V. established] in his hand] The change is in conformity with 2 Chronicles. It is worth notice that the conspirators made no attempt, as it seems, to divert the succession from the house of David, though they might have expected that the son would take revenge on his father’s murderers.
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.6. the children of the murderers he slew not] R.V. he put not to death. The Hebrew has a different verb here from that which is twice over used for ‘to slay’ in the previous verse.
according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses] The compiler of Kings either took this statement from his original record, or he inserted it in his narrative because he felt that it was an act which accorded with the legal command. In either case he looked upon the law as existing and observed in the days of Amaziah, and therefore that Deuteronomy 24:16, where this command is recorded, was existent before Amaziah’s days, and therefore long before the days of Josiah, to which date some propose to refer the composition of the fifth book of Moses.
wherein [R.V. as] the Lord commanded] The change is in accordance with the Hebrew, cf. Exodus 34:18. The relative is not here in its most usual form for the sense of ‘as’, but it could hardly be explained as=wherein. Another example of this less common use is in Jeremiah 33:22.
every man shall be put to death [R.V. shall die] for his own sin] The Kethib gives a different form of the verb in the last clause and the R.V. has followed this. The text in Deuteronomy 24:16 agrees with the translation of A.V. and no doubt this was the reason why that form was preferred here also, being given by the Keri.
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.7. He slew of Edom] The Chronicler in 2 Chronicles 25:5-10 gives an account of Amaziah’s military preparations, before the expedition against Edom. He tells us that he gathered and marshalled his men of war, from twenty years old and upward, to the number of 300,000 choice men. To these he hired mercenary troops out of Israel, another 100,000. But a man of God forbade him to take the Israelites with him, as the Lord was not with Israel. Though grieved at the loss of the hundred talents, which he had paid for this body of allies, Amaziah separated them and sent them back again, wherefore their anger was greatly kindled against Judah, and they returned home in great wrath. After this with his own troops only Amaziah undertook the war with Edom, in which he was successful. According to Josephus (Ant. IX. 9. 1) the first planned expedition was against the Amalekites and Gebalites as well as the Edomites. On Gebal, a city of Phœnicia, see note on 1 Kings 5:18.
in the valley of salt] The R.V. prints both ‘Valley’ and ‘Salt’ with capitals to mark it as a proper name. The LXX. has a transliteration of the two words Γεμελέδ. The Valley of Salt lay at the south of the Dead Sea, and was on the border of the Edomite territory. We read that the Edomites had revolted from Judah in the days of Joram (2 Kings 8:20-22), and it seems they had not as yet been reduced to subjection.
ten thousand] Beside the 10,000 slain in the battle, the Chronicler mentions 10,000 more who were taken captive, and cast headlong from the rock so ‘that they all were broken in pieces’ (2 Chronicles 25:12).
and took Selah [R.V. Sela] by war] Sela which signifies ‘a rock’ is probably the city which was known in later times as ‘Petra’. It was a city of Edom, not far from Mount Hor, about 2 days’ journey northward from the top of the gulf of Akabah. The Chronicler says nothing about Sela, but mentions ‘the rock’ as the place from which the 10,000 captives were cast down. It may have been from the height on which Sela stood and took its name, that the execution of the captives took place.
called the name of it Joktheel] This name, which is a trisyllable (Jokthe-él) is interpreted by Gesenius as ‘a Deo subactum’. It might with propriety be given by Amaziah to a city won by him after the direction which God had given him to put away the Israelite mercenaries. He would consider that the victory was a direct gift from God.
unto this day] That Sela continued to be called Jokteel at the time when the book of Kings was compiled is in the highest degree improbable. We know that Edom reconquered some of the lost territory very soon (2 Chronicles 28:17) and during the captivity made inroads into the south of Judah as far as Hebron (Joseph. Ant. xii. 8.6). But in this passage the compiler takes the words of an earlier writer, exactly as they stood, and that earlier record was made before Sela was recovered and before the name Joktheel had fallen into disuse.
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.8–16. Amaziah’s challenge to Joash king of Israel. Answer of Joash. Defeat of Amaziah. Death of Joash (2 Chronicles 25:17-24)
8. Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash] The Chronicler gives a history anterior to the challenge of Amaziah, which explains why the king who had been divinely guided before the Edomite expedition was left without the like guidance afterwards. We are told that Amaziah brought back from Edom the gods of the children of Seir and set them up to be his gods, and when a prophet was sent to rebuke him, he threatened the messenger of God with punishment. Upon this the prophet forbare, but left the king with the words, ‘I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this and hast not hearkened unto my counsel’. The Chronicler also says that before his challenge ‘Amaziah king of judah took advice’, which forces one to think of the counsellors whom Rehoboam listened to at the time of his accession, and by following whom he brought about the revolt of the ten tribes. It may be that the conduct of the Israelitish soldiers whom Amaziah had sent home (see note on verse 7) incited the king of Judah to take some revenge on Israel. In 2 Chronicles (2 Kings 25:13) we read that these men ‘fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria even unto Beth-horon, and smote three thousand of them and took much spoil’. The ‘three thousand’ of course means ‘of the inhabitants’. If this attack occurred while Amaziah was on his expedition against Edom, we can better understand his action.
Come, let us look one another in the face] A figurative expression equivalent to ‘Let us measure swords’, let us test each other’s power. It was under all circumstances rash for the smaller power, the king of two tribes, to challenge the king of ten. Moreover if Amaziah had been victorious over Edom, Jehoash had repulsed the Syrians and recovered those portions of the land which had been lost in the time of Jehoahaz.
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.9. the thistle … sent to the cedar] What Jehoash wishes to convey is that he feels himself utterly Amaziah’s superior, and that he can take no notice of his message. This he does by an apologue (cf. Jdg 9:8-15) in which he speaks not of war but of marriage. The application is however quite clear. The thistle, who asks for the daughter of the cedar, is trodden down by some passing beast and perishes unregarded, while the cedar stands unharmed. Words could hardly convey more strongly the low opinion which Jehoash entertained of Amaziah’s power.
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?10. and thine heart hath lifted thee up] The more usual expression is that ‘the heart is lifted up’. Cf. Deuteronomy 8:14; Deuteronomy 17:20; 2 Chronicles 26:16; Ezekiel 28:2. But when the heart is lifted up, the whole spirit of the man soars toward lofty aims.
glory of this] R.V. glory thereof. i.e. Of the Edomite conquest.
tarry [R.V. abide] at home] The change is to harmonize with the rendering in 2 Chronicles.
why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt] The ‘meddling’ implied by the verb is generally the meddling of contention. Cf. Deuteronomy 2:9 where the A.V. has ‘contend not with them’, and in verses 5 and 19 of the same chapter, where the same word occurs, the R.V. has adopted ‘contend’ instead of ‘meddle’. The order is there given in respect of those nations whom the Israelites are charged to let alone. Hence in this verse R.V. has on the margin ‘provoke not calamity’. Calamity is thus viewed as an enemy, with whom Amaziah was unwisely venturing to go to war.
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.11. But Amaziah would not hear] Bearing out the proverb ‘Quem Deus vult perdere prius dementat’.
Jehoash king of Israel went up] When the king of Israel saw that Amaziah would persist, he apparently made the first movement. For Beth-shemesh, where the engagement took place was in Amaziah’s territory, on the northern boundary of Judah. Jehoash therefore never allowed the army of Judah to enter the land of the Israelites.
Beth-shemesh] The name signifies ‘house of the sun’ and may contain some allusion to ancient idolatrous worship which prevailed there. (Cf. Jeremiah 43:13.) The place is mentioned before this time as that to which the ark was brought when it was sent home by the Philistines (1 Samuel 6:9; 1 Samuel 6:12). It was one of the cities allotted to the priests, and in 1 Kings 4:9 it is among the places selected for commissariat cities by Solomon. In the later history we find that the Philistines obtained possession of it (2 Chronicles 28:18).
And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.12. every man to their tents] See above on 2 Kings 13:5.
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’.
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.14. and he took all the gold and silver] The conquest appears to have been most complete. The Chronicler mentions the name of Obed-edom as the man who had charge at this time over the treasures of the house of the Lord.
and hostages] R.V. the hostages also. As in Chronicles. There is no other mention in the sacred history of persons taken as pledges for the fulfilment of the conditions of a peace. This circumstance marks the occasion as of unusual character, and makes it clear that terms were exacted from Amaziah for which the king of Israel held some distinguished persons of Judah, perhaps sons of the king, as security till they were fulfilled.
and returned to Samaria] Having so disposed the affairs of the southern kingdom as to secure the peace of his own, and probably having made it clear to the people of Judah that there was no hope for better days while Amaziah was their king.
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?15. the rest of the acts of Jehoash] The repetition of this sentence, which had been given in nearly the same terms in 2 Kings 13:12, shews us that the compiler probably used two documents, and copied from one in the former chapter, and from the other here. The words of this chapter are more in accord with the usual formula. In 2 Kings 13:13 the expression ‘and Jeroboam sat upon his throne’ is not so common as ‘Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead’.
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.17–22. Close of the reign of Amaziah. He is slain by his subjects. Succession of Azariah in Judah (2 Chronicles 25:25-28; 2 Chronicles 26:1-2)
17. Amaziah … lived after the death of Jehoash] It has been already noticed that this is not the usual way in which the continuance of a king’s reign is described. It may be that while Jehoash was on the throne of Israel Amaziah was kept in subjection, if not a prisoner, and even after that never came again to the full enjoyment of his power.
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.19. Now [R.V. And] they made a conspiracy] This was evidently the work of his own subjects. The Chronicler’s statement is that the conspiracy was commenced ‘after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the Lord’. But this we see was immediately after the conquest of the Edomites, when the king ‘brought the gods of the children of Seir’ into the land. There must then have been a feeling of hostility to Amaziah among the right-minded of his own people, even before the battle of Beth-shemesh. We cannot tell whether the conspiracy came to a head in a short time, or only gained strength when the forces of Judah had been so thoroughly overcome by the northern army. But everything points to a desire on the part of the people of Judah to put down Amaziah on the first possible opportunity.
and he fled to Lachish] Lachish was considerably south of Jerusalem, and Amaziah probably thought that from it he could more easily escape to Edom, or elsewhere, out of harm’s way. The place must have been of the nature of a fortress. For when the Israelites entered Canaan it had a king of its own, who joined in the league for the chastisement of the Gibeonites. The king is described as belonging to the Amorites who dwell in the mountains, so that it must have been in a hilly country (Joshua 10:6). We may note also that this city was made one of his fortresses by Rehoboam after the revolt of the ten tribes (2 Chronicles 11:9). Hence Amaziah after he escaped thither may have remained in security and held this place against the conspirators for a considerable time, living indeed, but hardly to be said to be reigning.
they sent after him] But we may conclude that his pursuers were not allowed to seize him without some resistance, which may have lasted a considerable time.
And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.20. they brought him on horses] Perhaps this means that they used Amaziah’s own chariot to convey the dead body to the royal city. ‘Horses’ in the plural number usually implies a chariot. There was clearly no desire on the part of the conspirators to offer any indignity to the king’s dead body. ‘The city of David’ here spoken of is called strangely in 2 Chronicles 25:28 ‘the city of Judah’.
And all the people of Judah took Azariah, which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.21. All the people of Judah took Azariah] The people were all of one mind. They had rid themselves of the idolatrous father, but there was hope in the sixteen year old son. In Chronicles the name of this king is spelt Uzziah. This variation also occurs in the next chapter of 2 Kings (2 Kings 15:13; 2 Kings 15:30; 2 Kings 15:32; 2 Kings 15:34). With this may be compared Azareel (1 Chronicles 25:18), which is found in verse 4 of the same chapter to be the person who is also called Uzziel. There is not much difference in the signification of the two forms.
He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.22. He built Elath] Elath (also written Eloth) was at the northern extremity of the Gulf of Akabah. It is said in 1 Kings 9:26 to have belonged to Edom, but at this time Judah was powerful enough to secure a road through Edom for trade purposes, and so extend the sway of their kingdom to the same point southward which they had occupied in the days of Solomon. Between that time and this, Elath had most likely fallen into decay. Hence the mention of ‘building’, which of course means restoration. (See on 2 Kings 15:35.)
and restored it to Judah] As it had been in the days of Solomon. We need not suppose that more was done than to secure a passage through Edom between Elath and Jerusalem. Edom was of small use to Judah, but a port on the Red Sea was a great acquisition.
after that the king slept with his fathers] This is another of those vague notices which indicate an unusual state of things in Judah at this period. It would almost seem as though Azariah had been put in authority, if not on the throne, before the death of his father, and that he had been making his plans beforehand, only waiting for his father’s death to carry them out. He was without doubt a popular monarch, for it is said (verse 21) that all Judah agreed on him for king.
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.23–29. Accession of Jeroboam II. king of Israel. His conquests and death (Not in Chronicles)
23. In the fifteenth year of Amaziah] Cf. verses 1 and 17. Amaziah reigned 29 years, and he lived 15 years after the death of Jehoash king of Israel. Therefore the numbers are in sufficiently close agreement, though we cannot be certain of the position which Amaziah occupied after his defeat by Jehoash at the battle of Beth-shemesh.
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.24. who made Israel to sin] R.V. wherewith he made &c. As before.
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.25. He restored the coast of Israel] Here, as before, ‘coast’ has no reference to ‘seaboard’. The territory which Jeroboam recovered was on the east of the Jordan, and so what is meant is that he acquired again the portions of Gilead and Bashan that had been lost under previous kings.
from the entering of Hamath] R.V. entering in of H. This rendering is as in A.V. of 1 Kings 8:65 and elsewhere. The ‘entering in of Hamath’ or ‘as men come to Hamath’ is frequently mentioned as a northern limit of the Israelite territory, Hamath being a chief city of Syria and under the rulers of Damascus. Cf. Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5; Jdg 3:3.
unto the sea of the plain] R.V. of the Arabah. The sea of the Arabah is the Dead Sea. Cf. Deuteronomy 3:17; Deuteronomy 4:49; Joshua 3:16; Joshua 12:3. The Arabah is the name given to the valley from the Sea of Galilee southward to the desert. The name is found in A.V. in Joshua 18:18, and has been introduced as a proper name in the R.V. constantly. The sea of the Arabah is defined in Joshua 3:16 as ‘the salt sea’. The district restored by Jeroboam was on the east of the Jordan, and extended from the valley of the Orontes where Hamath was situated, southward to the frontiers of the Moabites.
the Lord God of Israel] R.V. the God of I. As usual.
his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai] This must be the same person to whom the prophecy of Jonah is ascribed, for it is impossible to believe that there were two persons of this name, both prophets and both sons of Amittai. Jonah must therefore have prophesied before (or early in) the reign of Jeroboam II., the commencement of whose reign is placed about b.c. 823. Thus Jonah must be the earliest of those prophets, whose writings have been preserved. That there is nothing in the book of Jonah about the prophecy mentioned in this verse need not surprise us. That book is very brief and deals with but one episode in the prophet’s life. Yet a prophet, whose ministry God employed about distant Nineveh, may certainly be expected to have had messages also for his own countrymen. Hosea (2 Kings 1:1) and Amos (2 Kings 1:1) also prophesied in the days of Jeroboam II.
which was of Gath-hepher] The same place is called Gittah-hepher in Joshua 19:13. It was not far from Nazareth in the tribe of Zebulon. Jonah therefore was a prophet of the northern Kingdom. Jewish tradition makes him to have been the son of the widow of Zarephath, whom Elijah restored to life, and says also that it was he who attended Elijah when he set forth into the wilderness, and who was sent to anoint Jehu. All which things have no foundation but conjecture.
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.26. the affliction of Israel] Occasioned by the inroads of the Syrians, who had not only conquered the lands on the east side, but also at one time some considerable portions on the west of the Jordan. (Cf. above 2 Kings 13:3; 2 Kings 13:7.)
for there was not any shut up, nor any left [R.V. adds at large] nor [R.V. neither was there] any helper] For the change cf. 1 Kings 14:10 note. The expression means that there was no one, great or small, young or old, to whom they could look for aid.
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.27. And the Lord said not] i.e. As yet the doom of Israel was not fixed. There was yet a place of repentance left.
but he saved them] Jeroboam was the saviour spoken of in 2 Kings 13:5. See note there.
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?28. how he recovered Damascus] We are told (2 Samuel 8:6) that garrisons were placed in Damascus by David, and that the Syrians became servants to David. Having been once in the possession of the Israelites, the reconquest by Jeroboam II. may be spoken of as a recovery. A sort of occupation of Damascus was also granted by Ben-hadad to Ahab (1 Kings 20:34), when the Israelite king was permitted to make streets for himself in the Syrian city.
and Hamath, which belonged [R.V. had belonged] to Judah] We find (2 Samuel 8:9-11) that Toi the king of Hamath was one of David’s tributaries, and from 1 Kings 4:21-24 it is clear that in Solomon’s days Hamath was part of his possessions. In 2 Chronicles 8:4 we learn that Solomon built ‘store cities’ in Hamath. The revolt of the ten tribes gave Hamath a chance of freedom again, of which the people probably availed themselves, and remained independent till the conquest by Jeroboam here spoken of. This event brought the city into the hand of Israel.
And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.29. Zachariah [R.V. Zechariah] his son] This was the fourth in descent from Jehu, and according to the promise of God (2 Kings 10:30) that family was allowed so long a rule, but now the dynasty came to an end.