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Amaziah’s policies 14:1-6
Amaziah’s only act of goodness that the writer of Kings included was his obedience to the Mosaic Law in the matter of not executing children for their fathers’ crimes (Deuteronomy 24:16). Kings of other ancient Near Eastern countries commonly practiced such executions. Amaziah instead trusted God to control the potential rebels.
6. Amaziah’s good reign in Judah 14:1-22
Amaziah of Judah reigned over Judah for 29 years (796-767 B.C.). He began reigning when Jehoash was king over Israel and died during the reign of Jehoash’s son and successor Jeroboam II. The prophet Joel may have ministered in Judah during his reign. [Note: Proponents of this view include Freeman, p. 148; and Gleason A. Archer Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 305.]
Amaziah’s wars 14:7-14
God blessed Amaziah by allowing him to subdue the Edomites who had revolted from Judean control during the reign of Judah’s king Jehoram (cf. 2 Chronicles 25:5-16). The Valley of Salt lay south of the Salt (Dead) Sea in the Arabah. Sela was the capital of Edom at this time.
Amaziah’s heart became proud because of this victory. He concluded that his superior power had gained it rather than God’s might. This led him to challenge Israel in battle. King Jehoash’s parable (2 Kings 14:9-10) hurt Amaziah’s pride (cf. Jotham’s fable, Judges 9:8-15). Instead of backing down he insisted on a confrontation. God permitted this situation to punish Amaziah, because after subduing the Edomites, he had brought some of their idols into Jerusalem and worshipped them (2 Chronicles 25:14; 2 Chronicles 25:20). The army of Israel took Amaziah prisoner (2 Kings 14:13-14). It was probably then that Amaziah’s son Azariah began to reign in Jerusalem as his father’s coregent (790 B.C.). McFall believed Azariah’s coregency began in 792 or 791. [Note: Leslie McFall, "A Translation Guide to the Chronological Data in Kings and Chronicles," Bibliotheca Sacra 148:589 (January-March 1991):3-45.] Azariah continued as coregent until his father Amaziah died (in 767 B.C.).
Jehoash’s death 14:15-16
The writer seems to have included this second mention of Jehoash of Israel’s death here (cf. 2 Kings 13:12-13) because of the unusual situation that existed after the Israelites took Amaziah prisoner. When Jehoash died in 782 B.C., they released Amaziah who returned to Judah.
Amaziah’s death 14:17-22
The text does not identify Amaziah’s conspirators, but they were evidently Judahites who wanted to restore pure worship to their nation (2 Chronicles 25:27). Lachish was a former royal city on Judah’s western border. The king received an honorable burial. Elath was an Edomite port-city on the Gulf of Aqabah that Azariah restored after his father’s death. Perhaps Amaziah’s defeat of the Edomites made this event possible.
Amaziah’s life is an example of how one who follows God’s Word and consequently experiences His blessing can become proud when he or she forgets that his or her blessings come from God’s grace.
7. Jeroboam II’s evil reign in Israel 14:23-29
Jeroboam II’s reign of 41 years was the longest in Israel’s history (793-753 B.C.). For the first 12 of these years he was coregent with his father Jehoash. [Note: Edwin R. Thiele, "Coregencies and Overlapping Reigns Among the Hebrew Kings," Journal of Biblical Literature 93:12 (1974):192-93.] He began ruling during the reign of Judah’s Jehoash, outlived Jehoash’s successor Amaziah, and died during the reign of Amaziah’s son Azariah (Uzziah).
The writer, whose interests were primarily theological, passed over Jeroboam II’s significant political accomplishments.
"The era of Jeroboam (northern kingdom) and Azariah (southern kingdom) would mark a significant change in the fortunes of God’s people. These would be days of unparalleled prosperity for the twin kingdoms, both economically (as attested by the Samarian Ostraca) and politically." [Note: Patterson and Austel, p. 231.]
Jeroboam II restored Israel’s borders to approximately what they had been in Solomon’s day and extended Israel’s influence over her neighbors to an extent unparalleled in the history of the Northern Kingdom. Hamath lay northeast of Israel, and the Sea of the Arabah was the Salt (Dead) Sea (2 Kings 14:25). The prophet Jonah had predicted Israel’s territorial extension. He, along with Hosea (Hosea 1:1) and Amos (Amos 1:1), ministered in Israel during Jeroboam II’s reign. Wiseman believed that Jonah visited Nineveh during the reign of Assur-dan III (772-755 B.C.). [Note: Wiseman, p. 249.] Gath-hepher and Nazareth stood on the north and south sides respectively of the same Galilean hill (2 Kings 14:25).
2 Kings 14:26 means no one escaped from Israel’s previous national affliction in Jeroboam II’s day, neither servants nor free people. This probably means that everyone in Israel was suffering before Jeroboam II began to improve conditions. Damascus and Hamath belonged to Judah under Solomon (2 Kings 14:28) in the sense that he controlled them.
Even though Jeroboam had a long and politically impressive career, spiritual conditions in his day were bad. The books of Hosea and Amos throw more light on this period of Israel’s history. Unfaithfulness and selfishness marked the people. For these reasons Yahweh sent very bitter affliction on Israel in Jeroboam II’s reign. Times of material prosperity have usually proved to be more difficult for God’s people to handle successfully than times of adversity.
As Israel declined spiritually, God strengthened Assyria politically and militarily. The two periods of Israel’s greatest decline correspond exactly to the two periods of Assyria’s greatest growth, namely, during the Omride dynasty and shortly after Jeroboam II’s reign. This reflects precisely what God had said He would do if His people forsook Him (Deuteronomy 28:1; Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 28:43-44; Deuteronomy 28:49-57). One writer correlated Assyria’s rise to power with Israel’s apostasy. [Note: Paul Gilchrist, "Israel’s Apostasy: Catalyst of Assyrian World Conquest," in Israel’s Apostasy and Restoration: Essays in Honor of Roland K. Harrison, pp. 99-113.] The cause and effect relationship is unmistakable.
"With the death of Jeroboam . . . the history of the northern state becomes a tale of unmitigated disaster. Her internal sickness erupting into the open, Israel found herself racked with anarchy at the very moment when she was called upon to face in resurgent Assyria the gravest threat of her entire history. Within twenty-five short years she had been erased from the map." [Note: John Bright, A History of Israel, p. 252.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 14". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany