Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok.XXVII.
REIGN OF JOTHAM.(Comp. 2Kings 15:32-38.)
LENGTH AND CHARACTER OF THE REIGN. PUBLIC WORKS
PUBLIC WORKS(2Chronicles 27:1-4).
(1) Jotham was twenty and five years old.—Word for word as 2Kings 15:33, only adding Jotham.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the LORD. And the people did yet corruptly.(2) Howbeit he entered not.—The chronicler adds this reservation upon the preceding general statement. The author of Kings, having said nothing of Uzziah’s sacrilege, had no need to make such an exception.
And the people did yet corruptly.—Still used to deal corruptly; a paraphrase of what we read in 2Kings 15:35, “the people still used to sacrifice and burn incense on the high places.” We know further, from the extant utterances of the prophets of those days, that a deep-seated moral corruption was sapping the strength of the nation. (Comp. Micah 3:10-12; Hosea 4:1-2.)
He built the high gate of the house of the LORD, and on the wall of Ophel he built much.(3) He built.—He it was that built (pronoun emphatic). He “built,” i.e., restored and beautified. The same statement occurs in 2Kings 15:35.
The high gate.—Rather, the upper gate; i.e., the northern gate of the inner or upper court (Ezekiel 9:2). The north being the holy quarter (Isaiah 14:13; Psalm 48:2), the north gate would be the principal entrance.
And on the wall of Ophel he built much.—The southern slope of the Temple hill was called the Ophel, i.e., “the mound.” Its wall would be the line of fortifications connecting Zion with Moriah, on which Uzziah had already laboured (2Chronicles 26:9), with the same object of securing the city against attacks from the south and east. Neither this detail nor the next three verses are found in the parallel account. The style and contents of the passage indicate a good ancient source.
Much.—Larōb, “to much;” one of the chronicler’s favourite words.
Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built castles and towers.(4) Moreover.—Literally, and cities built he in the hill region of Judah. (Comp. 2Chronicles 26:10.)
Castles.—Bîrânîyôth; a term explained at 2Chronicles 17:12. The contemporary prophets denounced the popular confidence in “fenced cities” as a kind of treason against Jehovah, who was Himself the shield and fortress of His people (Psalm 18:1; Isaiah 12:2). “Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth palaces; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof” (Hosea 8:14. Comp. Isaiah 2:15; Isaiah 17:3-4).
He fought also with the king of the Ammonites, and prevailed against them. And the children of Ammon gave him the same year an hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand measures of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. So much did the children of Ammon pay unto him, both the second year, and the third.(5) He fought also with the king of the Ammonites.—“He also,” like his father, “fought with the king of the sons of Ammon.” They no doubt had refused the tribute imposed on them by Uzziah; but Jotham quelled their resistance, and they paid him a fixed contribution for three successive years.
The same year.—In that year; the year of the revolt.
The land of Ammon is fertile of grain even at the present day.
So much . . . and the third.—Rather, This (tribute) did the bnê Ammon restore to him (i.e., after withholding it during the year of rebellion); and in the second year, and the third. After three annual payments, the tribute was again suspended, perhaps because the Ammonites took advantage of the outbreak of the Syro-Ephraite war, which took place towards the end of the reign (2Kings 15:37). There is no note of time in the text.
So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God.(6) So Jotham became mighty.—The chronicler’s customary phrase. “Strengthened himself,” “gained strength” (2Chronicles 13:21).
Because he prepared.—For he directed his ways (Proverbs 21:29; comp. also 2Chronicles 12:14; 2Chronicles 20:33). Jotham directed his ways “before,” i.e., in the chronicler’s usage, “to meet,” “towards” Jehovah his God. (Comp. 1Chronicles 12:17; 1Samuel 7:3.) “Direct your heart towards Jehovah.” Perhaps, however, “before” simply means “as in the sight of” Jehovah. (Comp. Genesis 17:1, “walk before me.”)
The verse is a moral reflection of the writer on the preceding facts.
Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars, and his ways, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.(7) And all his wars, and his ways.—See 2Kings 15:36, “And all that he did.” The chronicler seems to have varied the phrase, in order to hint at the Syro-Ephraite war, mentioned in 2Kings 15:37.
He was five and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem.(8) He was five and twenty years old.—A word for word repetition of 2Kings 15:33, omitting the last clause about the queen-mother. Perhaps in one of the chronicler’s sources this notice occurred at the beginning, and in another at the end of the reign. This would account for its repetition here, after having been already stated in 2Chronicles 27:1.