In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah.
Verse 1. - In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz King of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash King of Judah. Again the chronology is defective. If Joash of Israel ascended the throne in the thirty-seventh year of Joash of Judah (2 Kings 13:10), and the latter reigned forty years (2 Kings 12:1), Amaziah cannot have become king till the fourth or fifth year of the Israelitish Joash, instead of the second. The ordinary explanation of commentators is a double accession; but this is unsatisfactory. It is best to allow that the chronology of the later half of the Israelite kingdom is in confusion.
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.
Verse 2. - He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 9.' 9. § 3) and the author of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 25:1) confirm these numbers. And his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. Josephus (l.s.c.) calls her Jodade, but the LXX. have, more correctly, Joadim.
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.
Verse 3. - And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father. Only one King of Judah hitherto, viz. Asa, had obtained the praise that he "did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did David his father" (1 Kings 15:11). All the others had fallen short more or less; and Amaziah fell short in many respects. He was wanting in "a perfect heart" (2 Chronicles 25:2), i.e. a fixed intention to do God's will; he was proud and boastful (ver. 10); he gave way to idolatry in his later years (2 Chronicles 25:14), and he despised the reproof of the prophet who was sent to rebuke his sin (2 Chronicles 25:16). Though placed among the "good kings' by the authors of both Kings and Chronicles, it is, as it were, under protest, with a distinct intimation that, although better than most of his predecessors, he did not reach a high standard. He did according to all things as Joash his father did. There is something of Oriental hyperbole in this statement, which must be understood in the spirit, not in the letter. The two kings were differently circumstanced, and history did not "repeat itself" in their reigns. The position of Joash with respect to Jehoiada finds no parallel in the circumstances of the life of Amaziah. Still, the lives are parallel to some extent. Both kings began better than they ended. Both were zealous for Jehovah at first, but turned to idolatry at last. Both opposed themselves to prophets, and treated their rebukes with scorn. Both reused conspiracy against them by their misconduct, and were murdered by the malcontents. Further, both were unsuccessful in war, had to withstand a siege of their capital, and bought off their enemy by the surrender of the greater part of its wealth, including the treasures of the temple (comp. 2 Kings 12:18 with 2 Kings 14:14).
Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.
Verse 4. - Howbeit the high places were not taken away. No king ventured to touch the "high places" until the time of Hezekiah, by whom they were put down (2 Kings 18:4). Even Asa did not remove them (1 Kings 15:14). They were remnants of an old ancestral worship which went back to the time of the judges, and which had been connived at by judges and kings and prophets. Local feeling was everywhere in their favor, since they provided for local needs, and enabled men to dispense with the long] and tedious journey to the distant Jerusalem. As yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places; literally, were sacrificing and burning incense; i.e. continued the practice, which had come down to them from their ancestors. (On the morality and legality of the practice, see the comment on 1 Kings 3:2.)
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.
Verse 5. - And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand. Joash had been murdered in Jerusalem by conspirators (2 Kings 12:20). A time of trouble had, no doubt, supervened. The conspirators would not wish to see Amaziah placed upon the throne, and may have opposed and delayed his appointment. But their efforts proved fruitless. After a time, the young king was confirmed (literally, "strengthened"), i.e. settled and established in his kingdom, all opposition being overcome or dying away. This seems to be what the writer means. He cannot intend a confirmation by a foreign suzerain, which the phrase used might import (2 Kings 15:19), when he has given no hint of any subjection of the kingdom to any foreign power, or indeed of any serious attack on its independence. That he slew his servants. Jozachar and Jehozabad were "servants" of Joash, apparently domestic servants employed in his palace, and are therefore reckoned "servants" also of his successor. Which had slain the king his father. In the "house of Millo,' where he lay sick. They "slew him on his bed" (see 2 Chronicles 24:25).
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.
Verse 6. - But the children of the murderers he slew not. It was the ordinary usage in the East for the sons of traitors to share the fate of their fathers. A Greek poet went so far as to say that a man was a fool who put to death the father, and allowed the son to live. The practice had a double ground. Sons, it might be assumed, would be cognizant of their father's intention, and would so be accessories before the fact. And the law of claim, or "blood-feud," would make it dangerous to spare them, since they would be bound to avenge their father's death on his destroyer. That the practice prevailed among the Israelites appears from Joshua 7:24, where we find the children of Achan involved in his fate, and again from 2 Kings 9:26, where we are told that Naboth's sons suffered with their father. But it was contrary to an express command of the Law, as the writer goes on to show. According unto that which is written in the book of the Law of Moses. "The book of the Law of Moses" (סֵפֶר תורַת־משֶׁה) may be either the Pentateuch regarded as one book, or Deuteronomy, the particular" book" of the Pentateuch in which the passage occurs. In either case the passage is fatal to the theory of the late' composition of Deuteronomy, which is here found to have ruled the conduct of a Jewish king a hundred and fifty years before Manasseh, two hundred before Josiah, and two hundred and eighty before the return from the Captivity - the dates assigned to Deuteronomy by recent "advanced" critics. 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. As usual, when one sacred writer quotes another, the quotation is not exact. "But" (כִּוּ אִם) is inserted at the beginning of the final clause, and the form of the verb in the same clause is modified. It seems to be intended that we should be made to feel that it is the sentiment or meaning conveyed, and not the phraseology in which it is wrapped up, that is of importance.
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.
Verse 7. - He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand. Edom had revolted from Judah and recovered complete independence in the reign of Jehoram, about fifty years previously (2 Kings 8:20). Since that time the two countries had remained at peace. Now, however, Amaziah resolved upon a great effort to resubjugate them. According to Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 9:9. § 1) and Chronicles (2 Chronicles 25:5), he levied an army of 400,000 men - 300,000 Jews, and 100,000 hired Israelites - with which he marched against the three nations of the Amalekites, the Idumaeans, and the Gabalites. Rebuked by a prophet for want of faith in calling to his aid the wicked Israelites, he consented to dismiss them, and made the invasion at the head of his own troops only. These were carefully organized (2 Chronicles 25:5), and met with a great success. Ten thousand of his enemies fell in battle, and an equal number were made prisoners. These last were barbarously put to death by being precipitated from the top of a rock (2 Chronicles 25:12). "The valley of salt," the scene of the battle, is probably identified with the sunken plain, now called Es Sabkah, at the southern extremity of the Dead Sea. This is "a large flat of at least six miles by ten, occasionally flooded" (Tristram), but dry in the summertime. It is full of salt springs, and is bounded on the west and northwest by a long ridge of pure salt, known as the Khasm Usdum, so that the name "valley of salt" would be very appropriate. And took Selah by war. Selah with the article (has-Selah) can only be the Idumaean capital, which the Greeks called Petra (Πέτρα or ἡ Πέτρα), and which is one of the most remarkable sites in the world. In the rocky mountains which form the eastern boundary of the Arabah or sandy slope reaching from the edge of the Sabkah to the Red Sea, amid cliffs of gorgeous colors, pink and crimson and purple, and ravines as deep and narrow as that of Proffers, partly excavated in the rook, partly emplaced upon it, stood the Edomite town, difficult to approach, still more difficult to capture, more like the home of a colony of sea-gulls than that of a number of men. Petra is graphically described by Dean Stanley ('Sinai and Palestine,' pp. 88-92), and has also received notice from Robinson ('Researches,' vol. it. pp. 518-538), Highten ('Dictionary of the Bible,' vol. 3. p. 1191), and others. And called the name of it Joktheel; i.e. "subdued by God." The name took no permanent hold. Selah is still "Sela" in Isaiah (Isaiah 16:1), Obadiah (ver. Obadiah 1:3), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:16). It is known only as "Petra" to the Greeks and Romans. Unto this day; i.e. to the time of the writer who composed the account of Amaziah's reign for the 'Book of the Kings,' and whoso words the author of Kings transcribes here as so often elsewhere.
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.
Verse 8. - Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, King of Israel, saying. Amaziah had a cause of complaint against Jehoash, or at any rate against his subjects, which does not appear in the narrative of Kings. The author of Chronicles tells us that, when Amaziah dismissed his Israelite mercenaries, they were offended, and vented their anger by an inroad into his territories (2 Chronicles 25:13), where they killed three thousand men and "took much spoil." This was a clear casus belli, if Amaziah chose to consider it such. Come, let us look one another in the face. A rude message, if it was actually couched in these terms. But perhaps the writer substitutes the gist of the message for the language in which it was wrapped up. Josephus says that Amaziah wrote a letter to Joash, and required him to submit himself and people to the authority of the Jewish state, and thus restore the state of things which had existed under David and Solomon. Otherwise the sword must decide between them ('Ant. Jud.,' 9:9. § 2). Whatever its terms, pride and self-confidence, the result of his success against Edom, were at the root of the challenge.
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.
Verse 9. - And Jehoash the King of Israel sent to Amaziah King of Judah, saying. According to Josephus, the reply to the challenge was given in a formal letter, of which he presents us with a copy- King Joash to King Amaziah [sends greeting]: Once upon a time there was in Mount Lebanon a very tall cypress, and also there was a thistle. And the thistle sent to the cypress, saying,' Contract thy daughter in marriage to my son.' And while this was transacting, a wild beast passed by and trod down the thistle. Let this be a warning to thee not to cherish immoderate desires, and not, because thou hast had success against Amalek, to pride thyself thereupon, and so draw down dangers both upon thee and upon thy kingdom." The force of the original message is much weakened in this paraphrase. The thistle that was in Lebanon. "Thistle" is a better translation than "thorn-bush" (Keil), first, as a meaner, growth, and secondly, as more likely to be trodden down by a wild beast. The monarch intends to say that the meanest thing in the vegetable world sent to the grandest, claiming equality. Sent to the cedar - certainly "the cedar." and not "the cypress," as translated by Josephus - that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife. Nube pari was a Roman maxim; and the rule was one generally established throughout the ancient world. To ask a man's daughter in marriage for one's self or for one's son was to claim to be his equal. And there passed by a wild beast - literally, a beast of the field - that was in Lebanon (on Lebanon as the haunt of wild beasts, see Song of Solomon 4:8), and trode down the thistle. So leveling with the dust the pride of the impertinent one. We must not seek an exact application of all the details either of a fable or of a parable. It is not required that metaphors should "run on all fours."
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?
Verse 10. - Thou hast indeed smitten Edom (see ver. 7, and the comment), and thine heart hath lifted thee up - i.e., made thee proud, exalted thee above measure - glory of this, and tarry at home - i.e., rest content with the glory which thou hast gained in thy Edomite war; make thy boast thereof, but do not affront fresh dangers - for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt - literally, why wilt thou meddle with misfortune? - that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee? Joash was as confident of success, if it came to war, as Amaziah. His three victories over Syria (2 Kings 13:25) were, he thought, at least as good evidence of military strength as Amaziah's one victory over Edom.
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.
Verse 11. - But Amaziah would not hear. The message of Joash was not conciliatory, but provocative. On hearing it, Amaziah (as Josephus says, 'Ant. Jud.,' 9:9. § 3) was the more spurred on to make his expedition. Therefore Jehoash King of Israel went up. "Joash," as Bahr says, "did not wait for the attack of Amaziah, but anticipated his movements, and carried the war into the enemy's country." Defensive warfare often requires such an Offensive movement. And he and Amaziah King of Judah looked one another in the face - e.g., came to an engagement (setup. ver. 8) - at Beth-shemesh, which belongeth to Judah. Beth-shemesh was assigned to Judah by Joshua (Joshua 19:38), and lay on its western frontier line. Its position is marked by the modern Ain-Shems, which lies nearly due west of Jerusalem, on the road from Hebron to Jaffa. Ain-Shems itself is an Arab village, but "just to the west of it are the manifest traces of an ancient site" (Robinson, 'Researches,' vol. 3. p. 17). The position commands the approach from the Philistine plain; and we may suspect that Joash, avoiding the direct line of approach, led his troops to the attack through Philistia, as was so often done by the Syrians in their attacks on the Maccabees (see 1 Macc. 3:40 1 Macc. 13:12, 13 1 Macc. 15:40 1 Macc. 16:4-8, etc.).
And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.
Verse 12. - And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents; i.e. "to their homes" (see the comment on 2 Kings 13:5). This was the first trial of strength between the two nations of which we have any distinct account. It resulted in the complete discomfiture of Israel. There was another great struggle in the time of Pekah and Ahaz, wherein Judah suffered even more severely (see 2 Chronicles 28:6-8).
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.
Verse 13. - And Jehoash King of Israel took Amaziah King of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah at Beth-shemesh - Josephus says (l.s.c.) that Amaziah was deserted by his troops, who were seized with a sudden panic and fled from the field - and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem. According to Josephus, Joash threatened his prisoner with death unless the gates of Jerusalem were opened to him, and his army admitted into the town; and it was upon Amaziah's representations that the surrender was made as soon as the Israelite army appeared before the place. The breach in the wall was therefore not the result of siege operations, but the act of a conqueror, who desired to leave his enemy as defenseless as possible. From the gate of Ephraim; i.e. the main gate in the northern wall of the city - that by which travelers ordinarily proceeded into the territory of the tribe of Ephraim. In later times it seems to have been called indifferently "the gate of Ephraim" (Nehemiah 8:16; Nehemiah 12:39) and "the gate of Benjamin" (Jeremiah 37:13; Zechariah 14:10). The great north road, which passed through it, led across the Benjamite into the Ephraim-its territory. Unto the corner gate. The, "corner gate" is generally thought to have been that at the north-western angle of the City wall, where it turned southward, but this is perhaps doubtful. The exact line of the city wall in the time of Amaziah is exceedingly uncertain. Four hundred cubits; six hundred feet, or two hundred yards. This seems to have been the entire distance between the two gates. As there were at least thirteen gates in the circuit of the walls (Nehemiah 3:1-31; Nehemiah 12:31-39; Zechariah 14:10), which were probably not mere extensive than those of the present town (3960 yards), the distance of two hundred yards between one gate and another would not be improbable, the average distance being about three hundred yards.
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.
Verse 14. - And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord. As Joash of Judah had, fifteen or twenty years previously, stripped the temple of its treasures to buy off the hostility of Hazael (2 Kings 12:18), there could not have been at this time very much for Joash of Israel to lay his hands on. Still, whatever there was passed into the possession of the Israelite king. And in the treasures of the king's house. Neither can this have amounted to much, unless the booty taken from Hazael after his defeats (2 Kings 14:25) was very considerable. And hostages. This is a new feature in the warfare of the time; but hostages were given and taken from an early date by the Persians (Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 4:2. § 7; Herod., 6:99), the Greeks, and the Romans.
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?
Verses 15, 16. - 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. These verses are repeated with very slight alterations from 2 Kings 13:11, 12. Curiously, on both occasions they are out of place. It is scarcely worth while to consider how they came into the text at this point, since no explanation could be more than a conjecture. In point of fact, they are redundant.
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.
Verse 17. - And Amaziah the son of Joash King of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz King of Israel fifteen years. This note of time is based on ver. 2, which makes Amaziah begin to reign in the second year of Joash of Israel, and hold the throne for twenty-nine years. If he really began to reign in the fourth year of Joash, he would have survived him only thirteen years (see the comment on ver. 2).
And the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
Verse 18. - And the rest of the acts of Amaziah - especially the circumstances of his war with Edom, as related in 2 Chronicles 25:5-13, his idolatry (2 Chronicles 25:14), and the rebuke which he received from one of God's prophets (2 Chronicles 25:15, 16) in consequence - 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.
Verse 19. - Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem. The author of Chronicles connects this conspiracy with the idolatry of which Amaziah was guilty (2 Chronicles 25:27); but, though his subjects may have been offended by his religions changes, and have become alienated from him in consequence, the actual conspiracy can scarcely have been prompted by an act which was fifteen, or at any rate thirteen, years old. It is more likely to have sprung out of dissatisfaction with Amaziah's military inaction from and after his defeat by Joash. While Jeroboam H. was carrying all before him in the north, recovering his border, pushing it as far as Hamath, and even exercising a suzerainty over Damascus (vers. 25, 28), Amaziah remained passive, cowed by his one defeat, and took no advantage of the state of weakness to which he had reduced Edom, but sat with folded hands, doing nothing. The conspirators who removed Amaziah, and placed his son Azariah, or Uzziah, upon the throne, may be credited with the wish and intention to bring the period of inaction to an end, and to effect in the south what Jeroboam was effecting in the north. It is true that Azariah was but sixteen years of age (ver. 21; comp. 2 Chronicles 26:1), but he may have given indications of his ambition and capacity. Sixteen, moreover, is the time of manhood in the East, and the conspirators had probably waited until Azariah was sixteen in order that his competency to reign should not be disputed. As soon as he was on the throne he initiated the warlike policy which they desired (see ver. 22). And he fled to Lachish. Lachish, one of the south-western Judaean towns (Joshua 15:39), was at all times a fortress of importance. It resisted Joshua (Joshua 10:3, 31), and was taken by storm. It was fortified by Jeroboam against the Egyptians (2 Chronicles 11:9). It was besieged and taken by Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:14; Layard, 'Nineveh and Babylon,' pp. 149-152). The position is marked by the modern Um-Lakis, on "a low round swell or knoll," between Gaza and Beit-Jibrin, about thirteen miles from Gaza and nearly thirty-five from Jerusalem. But they sent after him to Lackish, and slew him there. So the author of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 25:27) and Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 9:9. § 3); but details are wanting.
And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.
Verse 20. - And they brought him on horses; literally, on the horses, which must mean "on his horses." Probably Amaziah had fled to Lachish in the royal chariot, and his body was now brought back in it to Jerusalem. The conspirators were evidently minded to treat the royal corpse with all respect. And he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David; i.e. the city on the eastern hill, which David took from the Jebusites (see the comment on 1 Kings 2:10).
And all the people of Judah took Azariah, which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.
Verses 21, 22. - SUCCESSION OF AZARIAH AND RESUMPTION OF THE WAR WITH EDOM. Though reserving his account of the reign of Azariah to the next chapter (vers. 1-7), the writer is led by the circumstances of Amaziah's death to mention at once the fact of his son Azariah's succession, and the first important act of his reign, the resumption of war with Edom. He then breaks off suddenly, in order to interpose an account of the reign of Jeroboam II., who was contemporary with Amaziah during fourteen years of his reign, Verse 21. - And all the people of Judah took Azariah. This is a new expression, and implies a new, perhaps a tumultuary, proceeding. The people, uncertain probably of the intentions of the conspirators, and fearful that they might set up a king not of the house of David, took the initiative, went to the royal palace, and finding there a son of Amaziah - whether his eldest son or not, we cannot say - proclaimed him king and placed him upon the throne. The author of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 16:1) agrees. Josephus is silent. Which was sixteen years old. Young certainly, considering that his father was fifty-four (see ver. 2), but not necessarily "a younger son," since Amaziah's earlier children may have been daughters, or he may have married late in life. It is not doubted that Manasseh was Hezekiah's eldest son, yet he was only twelve when Hezekiah died at the same age as Amaziah, viz. fifty-four. And made him king instead of his father Amaziah. There are two forms of the king's name, Azariah and Uzziah. The difference between them is not so great in the Hebrew, where they both begin with the same letter; but still it is considerable. One name is not a mere contraction of the other. Some suppose that the king changed one name for the other upon his accession; others, that he was called indifferently by either, since they were very similar in meaning. "Azariah" is "he whose help is Jehovah;" "Uzziah," "he whose strength is Jehovah." "Uzziah" is the predominant form, occurring four times in 2 Kings, twelve times in 2 Chronicles, three times in Isaiah, once in Hoses, once in Amos, and once in Zechariah; while "Azariah" occurs only in 2 Kings (eight times) and in 1 Chronicles 3:12 (once). Josephus uses the form "Ozias" (equivalent to, Uzziah), and so does St. Matthew (Matthew 1:8, 9).
He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.
Verse 22. - He built Elath, and restored it to Judah. On the position of Elath, or Eloth, and its importance, see the comment on 1 Kings 9:26. It had been the headquarters of Solomon's fleet (1 Kings 9:26), and again of Jehoshaphat's (1 Kings 22:48; 2 Chronicles 20:36); but had been, of course, recovered by the Edomites when they revolted (2 Kings 8:22). Azariah's re-occupation seems to imply an intention on his part of, renewing the old Red Sea trade. By "built ' in this passage we must understand "rebuilt" or (as in 2 Chronicles 11:6) "fortified." After that the king slept with his fathers. Keil is probably right in understanding this to mean "immediately after he had ascended the throne," or "as soon as ever his father was dead" (see the comment on ver. 19). His further military successes will be considered in the comment on his reign, as sketched in the next chapter.
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.
Verses 23-29. - REIGN OF JEROBOAM THE SON OF JOASH OVER ISRAEL. This reign, the most important of those belonging to the kingdom of Israel since that of Ahab, is treated with great brevity by the writer, whose interest is far more in Judah than in Israel. Seven verses only are devoted to him. The result of his wars is given without any account of the wars themselves. And the great fact of his ruling over Damascus only comes in by a sort of afterthought (ver. 28). The usual formulas are followed in introducing his reign and missing it. Verse 23. - In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash King of Judah - this note of time agrees with those in 2 Kings 13:10 and 2 Kings 45:1, 17, but not with that in 2 Kings 15:1 (see the comment on that passage) - Jeroboam the son of Joash King of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. Josephus says "forty years., Many moderns (Thenius, Bahr, and others) extend the term to fifty-one years. Some suppose that Jeroboam was joint-king with his father in Amaziah's third year, solo king from his fifteenth. But it is better to acknowledge the general confusion of the chronology, and to regard it as uncertain, unless where a synchronism is distinctly made out. Such assured synchronisms are the following:
(1) The synchronism of Ahab with Jehoshaphat:
(2) the synchronism of Jehoram, Ahab's son, with the same;
(3) the synchronism of Jehu's first year with the first year of Athaliah;
(4) the synchronism of Amaziah with Joash of Israel;
(5) the synchronism of Pekah with Ahaz;
(6) the synchronism of Hoshea's last year with Hezekiah's sixth;
(7) the synchronism of Amaziah's fourteenth year with Jeroboam II.'s first, being twice asserted in two distinct forms (vers. 17 and 23), is, at any rate, highly probable.
Numbers which occur once only in ancient writers can seldom be implicitly trusted, since the liability of numbers to corruption is excessive.
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.
Verse 24. - 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 (comp. 2 Kings 10:29 and 2 Kings 13:2, 11, where the same is said of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather). The judgments which had fallen upon Jehu and Jehoahaz on account of these sins did not teach any lesson to Joash or Jeroboam II. The fatal taint, which was congenital with the Israelite monarchy, could never be purged out, but clung to it to the end.
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.
Verse 25. - He restored the coast of Israel from the entering in of Hamath. By "the entering in of Hamath" is to be understood the opening into the Coele-Syrian valley a little north of Baalbec, where the ground begins to slope northwards, and the streams to flow in the same direction to form the Orontes. Hamath itself was between eighty and ninety miles further to the north, on the middle Orontes, about N. lat. 35° 22'. The "entering in of Hamath" was always reckoned the northern boundary of the Holy Land (see Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5; Judges 3:3; 1 Kings 8:65). It corresponded with the watershed between the Orontes and the Litany. Unto the sea of the plain. The "sea of the plain" is undoubtedly the Dead Sea, the plain (ha-Arabah) being used as a sort of proper name for the lower Jordan valley, like El-Ghor at the present day (see Deuteronomy 3:17; Joshua 3:16; Joshua 12:3, etc.). The territory recovered no doubt included all the trans-Jordanic region as far south as the river Aruon; but the recovery of dominion over Moab, and even over Ammon, which some have seen in this passage (Ewald, 'History of Israel,' vol. 4. p. 124), is scarcely con-rained in it. According to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai (comp. Jonah 1:1). Jonah's date is determined by this passage. He was contemporary with Hosea and Amos, and earlier than Micah. His prophecy concerning Jeroboam is probably assigned to the early part of that king's reign. The prophet, which was of Gath-hepher. Gath-hepher is mentioned in Joshua, under the name of Gittah-hepher, as a city of Zebulon (2 Kings 19:13), not far from Mount Tabor. It is conjecturally identified with El-Meshhed north of Nazareth, where the tomb of Jonah is shown.
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.
Verse 26. - For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter (comp. 2 Kings 13:4, 23). The repetition is perhaps to be accounted for by the desire of the writer to explain how it came to pass that so great a deliverance was granted to Israel under a king who maintained the worship of the calves. He views it as the consequence of God's infinite compassion, and of the extreme bitterness of Israel's sufferings under the Syrians (comp. 2 Kings 13:7 and Amos 1:3). For there was not any shut up, nor any left (see the comment on 1 Kings 14:10), nor any helper for Israel. Apart from Jehovah, Israel had no one to come to her aid. Judah would not help her, for Judah had just suffered at her hands (vers. 11-14); still less would Philistia, or Moab, or Ammon, who were her constant enemies. Her isolation rendered her all the more an object for the Divine compassion.
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.
Verse 27. - And the Lord said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven. God's decision under the circumstances was not, as it well might have been, considering Israel's ill desert, to blot out forthwith the very name of Israel from the earth. On the contrary, he gave the nation a breathing-space, a gleam of light, a second summer before the winter set in - a further opportunity of repenting and turning to him with all their hearts if they would only have taken advantage of it, a chance of redeeming the past and reestablishing themselves in his favor. He might well have destroyed them at this time if he had looked only to considerations of justice, if in his wrath he had not thought upon mercy. But he saved them; i.e. he gave them the deliverance promised first by Elisha (2 Kings 13:17), and then by Jonah the son of Amittai (ver. 25) - deliverance from Syria, recovery of their borders, and triumph over their enemies. He gave them all this by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash. Joash began the salvation, but it was reserved for Jeroboam to complete it. He was the true "savior" (2 Kings 13:5), the true accomplisher of the work, for which his father only paved the way. Thus one Jeroboam founded the kingdom; another refounded it, restored its ancient glories, and gave it its old dimensions.
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?
Verse 28. - 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. It has been suggested that these words mean no more than that Jeroboam took territory from Damascus and Hamath - from Damascus the trans-Jordanic territory which Hazael had conquered from Jehu (2 Kings 10:33); from Hamath some small portion of the Coele-Syrian valley, about the head-streams of the Orontes and Litany (so Keil and Bahr). But there does not seem to be any sufficient reason for giving the words used this narrow signification. Damascus was conquered and annexed by David (2 Samuel 8:6), and held for a time even by Solomon (1 Kings 11:24), of whose kingdom Hamath also seems to have formed part (1 Kings 4:21-24; 2 Chronicles 8:4; 2 Chronicles 9:26). The word "recovered" is, therefore, a suitable one. The prophecy of Amos, no doubt, represents Damascus as independent (Amos 1:3, 4); but this may have been written before Jeroboam conquered it. Hamath's subjection seems to be implied in Amos 6:2, 14. We may, therefore, well understand, with Ewald ('History of Israel,' vol. 4. p. 124) and Dr. Pusey ('Minor Prophets,' pp, 157, 209), that Jeroboam . ' subdued Damascus and even Hamath," and added them to his kingdom. How long the subjection continued is a different question. Probably, in the troubles that followed the death of Zachariah (2 Kings 15:10-14), the yoke was thrown off. In the Assyrian Inscriptions, Damascus appears under its own king about B.C. 786 (G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' p. 115), and it was certainly independent in B.C. 743. At the latter date Hamath also appears as the capital of an independent kingdom (ibid., pp. 118, 120) under its own monarch. Which belonged to Judah. Keil and Bahr render,"Hamath of Judah," regarding לִיהוּדָה as a genitive. Ewald proposes to read חֲמָת לְצובָה, "Hamath of Zobah" (comp. 2 Chronicles 8:3), or else to cut out ליחודה altogether. The passage is one of great difficulty. For Israel. It is questionable whether this meaning can be obtained from the present text, which is בְיִשׂרָאֵל. Bahr thinks that it can; but Ewald regards the change into לְיִשׂרָאֵל as one "of necessity." Might we not avoid all these alterations by translating simply - " how he recovered Damascus and Hamath to Judah through Israel"? Attaching them to Israel was a sort of recovering of them to Judah, to which (i.e. the Judah of David and Solomon) they had once belonged. Are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.
Verse 29. - And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, oven with the kings of Israel - his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had been actually among the kings of Israel; but all the kings, his predecessors, were probably reckoned among his ancestors - and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead (see the comment on 2 Kings 15:8). By Zachariah's accession the promise given to Jehu (2 Kings 10:30), that his "children to the fourth generation should sit on the throne of Israel," was literally fulfilled. No other royal house occupied the Israelitish throne for more than three generations.