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REIGN OF AMAZIAH, KING OF JUDAH, 2 Kings 14:1-22.
1. In the second year of Joash Amaziah’s father reigned in Jerusalem forty years. 2 Kings 12:1. In his thirty-seventh year Joash the son of Jehoahaz began to reign in Samaria. 2 Kings 13:10. Hence it would seem that Amaziah’s accession must have taken place in (not the second, but) the third or fourth year of Joash the son of Jehoahaz. To account for this difficulty some adopt the hypothesis of a co-regency, as stated in note on 2 Kings 13:1. But this is unnecessary, as the apparent discrepancy may be more easily accounted for by supposing that the first and last years of the forty years’ reign of Joash king of Judah were only parts of two years. Thus Keil: “These forty years may have amounted only to thirty-eight and a half or thirty-eight and three quarters, in case that Joash attained to the sovereignty a couple of months before Nisan, and his death occurred a few months after Nisan.”
3. He did according to all things as Joash That is, says Wordsworth, “he began well, and ended ill.” He had the true theocratic spirit, but not a perfect heart. Not only did he fail to remove the high places, but, according to 2 Chronicles 25:14, he worshipped and burned incense to the gods of Edom.
5. Slew his servants Jozachar and Jehozabad. See 2 Kings 12:21. Amaziah was wise to wait till the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, and he had all its forces at control. Rawlinson conjectures that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were, after the days of Jehu, dependencies of the king of Assyria, and when one after another of the Israelitish or Jewish kings came to the throne, he formally applied to the Assyrian monarch to be confirmed in his kingdom. This he infers from an Assyrian obelisk which represents Jehu as bringing tribute to the king of Assyria. See note on 2 Kings 10:32.
6. The children of the murderers he slew not In this he evidenced his desire to do right in the sight of God. He allowed judgment and reason to triumph over the passion for vengeance, at the same time that he showed respect for the law of God.
Book of the law of Moses The passage referred to is found in Deuteronomy 24:16, and this reference and quotation conclusively prove the existence and authority of the Pentateuch in the time of Amaziah.
Put to death for his own sin Personal guilt is neither transmissive nor transferable. Compare marginal references.
7. Slew of Edom The Edomites had cast off the yoke of Judah in the days of Jehoram, (2 Kings 8:20,) and had so strengthened themselves that, according to 2 Chronicles 25:5-6, Amaziah considered it necessary to lead an army of four hundred thousand men against them. See the parallel passage in Chronicles for a fuller record of this Edomite war.
Valley of salt The broad, open plain at the lower end of the Dead Sea, which virtually forms the southern termination of the Ghor, or great Jordan valley. It is appropriately called the Salt Valley from the salt mountain at its northwestern extremity, and the brackish springs and streams that are found in it. In this same valley David once smote the Edomites. See note on 2 Samuel 8:13.
Selah More properly written, as in Isaiah 16:1, Sela; Hebrew, שׂלע , or השׂלע , the rock. The capital city of the Edomites, situated in Mount Seir, two days’ journey south of the Valley of Salt, at the eastern base of Mount Hor. By the Greek writers it is called Petra. Strabo and Pliny describe it as a narrow valley, shut in by precipitous rocks and inaccessible mountains, but having a stream running through it fed by copious fountains and supplying water for the irrigation of gardens. After the Mohammedan conquest its site was long unknown, but, discovered A.D. 1812 by Burckhardt, it has since been many times visited and described by travellers. Its site and ruins are represented as among the most wonderful things of the Orient. It is a city whose most imposing remains consist of tombs and temples sculptured in the solid rock. And not the least remarkable thing, according to Robinson, is the colour of the rocks. “They present an endless variety of bright and living hues, from the deepest crimson to the softest pink, verging also sometimes to orange and yellow.” The principal entrance to the city is from the east, through a wild, deep chasm, called the Sik, varying in width from twelve to fifty feet. At a point where this chasm takes a sharp turn stands the celebrated structure called the Khazneh, which, says Palmer, “in beauty of form and colouring surpasses all the other tombs and temples. The facade is of a deep but delicate rose colour, and that of the uncut rock around it varies from every shade of red to chocolate.” This writer plausibly conjectures that it represents “the museum of Petra, the philharmonic institution of the place.” The other principal remains are the theatre, the tomb with three rows of columns, the ruined bridges, and the triumphal arch. “In looking at the wonders of this ancient city,” writes Robinson, “one is at a loss whether most to admire the wildness of the position and natural scenery, or the taste and skill with which it was fashioned into a secure retreat, and adorned with splendid structures, chiefly for the dead.”
Called the name of it Joktheel The name signifies subdued by God, but does not seem to have been commonly applied to the place for any considerable length of time, for it does not again occur, and Isaiah calls the place by its old name, Sela. 2 Kings 16:1. The phrase unto this day, indicates, therefore, that this record of Amaziah’s conquest was written during the Jewish rule over Edom, and before the time of Ahaz, when the Edomites had again thrown off the Hebrew yoke. 2 Chronicles 28:17.
8. Let us look one another in the face An idiomatic expression used in a hostile sense. Equivalent to, Let us see each other’s face by coming into close conflict on a field of battle. The Germans have a similar idiom, To view heads, and to view the whites in the eye.
In Chronicles we learn the occasion of this war of Amaziah against the kingdom of Israel. The Israelitish soldiers whom Amaziah hired and soon after dismissed were greatly offended at such treatment, and “fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria even unto Beth-heron, and smote three thousand of them, and took much spoil.” This was too great an injury for the king of Judah to pass by without notice, and his elation over his Edomite victory, and the native pride of his heart, urged him on.
9. The thistle… the cedar This answer of Jehoash reminds us of the fable of Jotham. Judges 9:8. The thistle here, like the bramble there, represents a low, worthless, and offensive thing, and is a stinging reflection on Amaziah and his kingdom. By the cedar the king of Israel pompously suggests to his foe his own magnificence and power, and afterwards plainly says that a war between them must needs result in Judah’s downfall. Both the thistle and the cedar are represented as in Lebanon, which may have been designed to suggest that a worthless king may sometimes be found in a lofty position, and thence through pride aspire to things beyond his sphere.
Give thy daughter to my son We need not suppose that Amaziah had asked Jehoash to give a daughter in marriage to his son, but it is possible that he had demanded satisfaction for the cities and spoil which the Israelitish soldiers had taken from Judah, or that he had pompously threatened to subdue the kingdom of Israel and unite it again with Judah.
There passed by a wild beast Image of an unexpected dispensation of judgment moving forth to the sudden destruction of the haughty schemer. The destroyer is represented as passing by, not as sent out by the cedar. So Jehoash might wish to suggest to Amaziah that in case he meddled with things beyond his province he would be suddenly smitten by some judgment of the Almighty. He does not proudly boast and presume to tread down Amaziah and Judah by his own warriors and martial prowess.
10. Thine heart hath lifted thee up The king of Israel, with keen insight, discerned the real ground of Amaziah’s pride and insolence. His recent victory had lifted him up filled him with pride, and he thought himself unconquerable.
Why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt Gesenius renders: Wherefore shouldest thou contend with calamity. רעה , here rendered hurt, is represented as the foe with whom he meddles, or contends. Why, he asks, shouldest thou engage in strife with misfortune?
11. Amaziah would not hear He listened neither to the counsel of Jehoash nor to the prophet whom the Lord sent to advise him, but, according to Chronicles, he took the advice of evil-minded persons, who counselled war.
Beth-shemesh The modern Ain Shems, fifteen miles southwest of Jerusalem. See notes on Joshua 15:10 and 1 Samuel 6:9.
12. Judah was put to the worse ינג Šis better rendered by, was smitten, as in the margin. Judah was utterly defeated.
13. Brake down the wall of Jerusalem The northern wall.
Gate of Ephraim The same, doubtless, as the gate of Benjamin, (Jeremiah 37:13; Zechariah 14:10,) and so called from being the principal entrance to the city in the direction of these tribes. Its location was probably not far from the modern Damascus gate. Compare Nehemiah 8:16; Nehemiah 12:39.
Corner gate Situated probably at the northwestern corner of the same wall. Compare Jeremiah 31:38; Zechariah 14:10.
Four hundred cubits About seven hundred feet.
14. Hostages Literally, sons of security. These were doubtless prominent men of Judah whom Jehoash demanded for the liberation of Amaziah. Having taken these to secure himself against further trouble with Amaziah he allowed the latter to remain in Jerusalem, where he continued to wear the title of king for fifteen years after the death of his conqueror.
Some have thought that on account of humiliation and repentance Amaziah was specially favoured by God, and spared so long after his defeat, but that Jehoash was suddenly cut off for his sacrilegious spoliation of the temple.
19. A conspiracy against him His turning after the gods of Edom, (see 2 Chronicles 25:27,) his defeat by Jehoash, the hostages taken of him, and the spoliation of the temple, all served to make the last half of his reign unpopular. The discontent of the kingdom culminated in conspiracy. So he perished like his father. 2 Kings 12:20.
Lachish Probably the modern Um Lakis, about thirty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem. See on Joshua 10:3. It is chiefly noted in connexion with the siege of Sennacherib. See on 2 Kings 18:14; 2 Kings 19:8.
20. Brought him on horses Hebrew, on the horses; that is, probably, on a chariot drawn by the same horses with which he had fled to Lachish.
21. Azariah Called also Uzziah. See note on 2 Kings 15:1.
22. Built Elath, and restored it to Judah This fragmentary notice of the chief triumph of Judah during Azariah’s reign seems to have been thrown in here to show that the son of Amaziah was chiefly distinguished, like his father, for his work in the territories of Edom. Elath, which Azariah is here said to have built that is, repaired and fortified is first mentioned in connexion with the journey of Israel through the desert, (Deuteronomy 2:8,) and again at 1 Kings 9:26, where see note. It was situated at the head of the eastern arm of the Red Sea, and the ancient site is now marked by extensive mounds of rubbish.
REIGN OF JEROBOAM, THE SON OF JOASH, 2 Kings 14:23-29.
23. Forty and one years This is probably an error, and should be fifty-two years. See note on 2 Kings 15:8.
24. Departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat Fit successor of that first king of Israel, whose name he bore; he was like him both in wickedness and enterprise.
25. Restored the coast Reconquered the territory that had been taken at different times from his predecessors, and made the kingdom as extensive as it was in the days of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
Entering of Hamath The northern border of the kingdom of Solomon, (1 Kings 8:65,) commonly identified with the southern opening into the great valley of Coele-Syria. See on Joshua 13:5.
Sea of the plain The Salt or Dead Sea. Compare Deuteronomy 3:17.
Word of the Lord God A communication or oracle granted, notwithstanding the king’s wickedness, for the comfort of Israel.
By the hand of… Jonah That is, through his agency or instrumentality. There can be no reasonable doubt that this Jonah, the son of Amittai, is the same prophet whose ministry to the Ninevites is recorded in the prophetical book that bears his name. Josephus says: “Jonah, a prophet, foretold to Jeroboam that he should make war with the Syrians, and conquer their army, and enlarge the bounds of his kingdom on the northern parts to the city of Hamath, and on the southern to the lake Asphaltitis; for the bounds of the Canaanites were originally these, according as Joshua, the general, determined. So Jeroboam organized an expedition against the Syrians, and overran all their country, as Jonah had foretold.”
Gath-hepher The same as Gittah-hepher, in the tribe of Zebulon. See on Joshua 19:13.
26. Not any shut up, nor any left On this idiomatic phrase, see 1 Kings 14:10, note. Israel had become reduced to great extremities; the prisoner and the free seemed gone, and thus was fulfilled in them a prophecy of Moses. Compare Deuteronomy 32:36.
Nor any helper No God-sent deliverer, or “saviour,” (comp. 2 Kings 13:5; 2 Kings 19:25,) to effectually deliver them from the oppression of the Syrians. Joash had thrice smitten Syria, but as the dying Elisha prophesied, he secured no permanent victory.
27. The Lord said not Not yet had gone forth the oracle of judgment, for still he cared for them in mercy because of his covenant with the ancient fathers. Compare 2 Kings 13:23. But there soon came a time when the Divine compassion ceased, and the prophets Hosea, Amos, Micah, and others, foretold the ruin of Israel.
Saved them by the hand of Jeroboam Notwithstanding his wickedness and devotion to the calf-worship at Beth-el and Dan, God used him as an instrument to smite the Syrian power.
28. He recovered Damascus David smote the Syrians of Damascus and made them tributary; (2 Samuel 8:6;) but in Solomon’s day Rezon established himself in Damascus and acted the part of an adversary to Israel, (1 Kings 11:23,) after which time Damascus was not recovered for Israel until the time of this Jeroboam. He brought the kingdom of Damascus, which had so long distressed both Judah and Israel, into subjection, and made it tributary to himself. Afterwards we find Syria and Israel in league against Judah. 2 Kings 15:37; 2 Kings 16:5.
Hamath, which belonged to Judah That is, it belonged to the united kingdom under David and Solomon when the seat of empire was in Judah and Jerusalem. David’s conquests, according to 1 Chronicles 18:3, extended to Hamath, and Solomon completed the conquest of this district and built store cities there. 2 Chronicles 8:3-4. But soon afterwards it seems to have recovered its independence. Hamath was one of the oldest cities of Palestine, and is often mentioned in connexion with its northern border. See on Joshua 13:5.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
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