Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign.Ch. 2 Kings 15:1-7. Reign of Azariah king of Judah. He is smitten with leprosy and lives apart. His death (2 Chronicles 24:1-23)
1. In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam … began Azariah] This statement cannot be made to accord with the numbers given in the previous chapters. In 2 Kings 14:1 it is said that Amaziah the father of Azariah began to reign in the second year of Joash king of Israel. Now Joash (2 Kings 13:10) reigned sixteen years. Therefore he lived fourteen years contemporary with Amaziah. And the latter lived (2 Kings 14:17) after Joash’s death fifteen years more. Hence his whole reign was twenty-nine years. Again in the fifteenth year of Amaziah, Jeroboam II. began to reign (2 Kings 14:23). Hence Amaziah must have died and Azariah ascended the throne of Judah in the fourteenth or fifteenth year of Jeroboam, and not in the twenty-seventh as here stated. The explanation given in the margin of A.V. that the twenty-seven years are made up of the time when Jeroboam reigned alone, and several years in which he was consort with his father in the kingdom while Joash was engaged in the Syrian wars has nothing in Scripture to warrant it. Nor does it seem to have been the custom for a king to make his son partner in the sovereignty. If in any case such a plan had been resorted to, it would surely have been adopted when this king Azariah became a leper. But while it is expressly stated, in verse 5 below, that the king’s son Jotham was set over the household and judged the people of the land, there is no mention of a co-regency. The numbers in the verse before us present a difficulty which has not yet been solved.
Azariah] In verses 13, 30, 32 and 34 of this chapter called Uzziah. On this change cf. 2 Kings 14:21 note.
Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem.2. his mother’s name was Jecholiah] R.V. Jecoliah. This is the form in 2 Chronicles 26:3.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done;3. he did that which was right in the sight] R.V. eyes. i.e. His obedience to God’s law was partial, like that of his father, for he also allowed the high-places to remain and to be used for worship: and the close of Azariah’s reign was marked by further falling away, just as Amaziah’s had been before.
Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places.4. save that [R.V. Howbeit] the high places] The rendering is thus made to agree with verse 25 of this chapter, where the Hebrew is the same. The Chronicler at this point supplies us with many particulars of Azariah’s history unnoticed in Kings. Azariah, he says, ‘sought God in the days of Zechariah’, a prophet, who appears to have been, the king’s counsellor. He made war with success upon the Philistines, the Arabians and the Mehunim. The Ammonites became tributary to him, and he fortified Jerusalem. He built many towers, and digged many wells, had much cattle and many labourers in husbandry, ‘for he loved husbandry’. He had also a large and well-ordered army of more than three hundred thousand men, and at their head were two thousand six hundred mighty men of valour. The king provided largely for their equipment with both defensive and offensive armour, and he also contrived many cunning engines of war, so that ‘his name spread far abroad, for he was marvellously helped till he was strong’.
And the LORD smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king's son was over the house, judging the people of the land.5. And the Lord smote the king, so that he was a leper] The more political history in Kings tells us nothing about the reason why Azariah was smitten. The Chronicler however says that the king’s successes caused his heart to be lifted up, and he presumed to go into the temple, and to take upon him the priest’s office of burning incense. He was withstood by the priest (also called Azariah) and by fourscore other priests, but in his anger he persisted, and then it was that the leprosy rose up in his forehead. Whereupon he hasted to go forth from the temple because the Lord had smitten him.
and dwelt in a several house] The noun here is connected with the adjective that signifies ‘free’ and which is used of manumitted slaves. It has been suggested that the meaning here is that the place was one where those lived who could no longer mix with their fellows, and take part in the ordinary business of life. But in that case the building would be a public one or it would not have been so called. It appears therefore better to consider that the house was ‘free’ in the sense of ‘standing apart’, not mixed up among other dwellings. It was perhaps some place in the country to which the king confined himself after the disease had broken out upon him. The R.V. gives ‘lazar-house’ on the margin, but we must not suppose that the king went into a home devoted to such sufferers. He would live alone. The LXX. makes a sort of transliteration of the word but does not translate. The Vulgate has in domo libera seorsum.
For the English word ‘several’ in the sense of ‘separate’, cf. Pilkington’s Works (Parker Society) p. 64 where the author speaks of people ‘buried not in hallowed churchyards by any bishops, but in a several place appointed for the same purpose without the city’, and further down on the same page he describes a burial-ground as ‘an honest place to be kept several from beasts and unreverent using the same’.
the king’s son was over the house] R.V. household. From 1 Kings 4:6 where Ahishar is spoken of as being over Solomon’s household, and 2 Kings 19:2 where the same office is assigned to Eliakim in the time of Hezekiah, it is clear that the post was one of great dignity, but it was in no way connected with a regency. Eliakim is mentioned as the most prominent person among those who were sent to confer with Rabshakeh, and to consult the prophet Isaiah, but the duties he performed were those of a subject. And though Jotham is here said to have judged the people of the land, we cannot from this conclude that he was joint ruler with his father.
And the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?6. the rest of the acts of Azariah] The record of these is said by the Chronicler (2 Chronicles 26:22) to have been written, first and last, by Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz. We know from Isaiah 6:1 that the great vision of the Lord in His glory was seen by Isaiah in the year of Azariah’s death, so that the prophet was living at the time when the history of the reign was completed, and we can see from other notices that the prophets not unfrequently became the historians of the period in which they lived. Cf. 1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29; 2 Chronicles 12:15; 2 Chronicles 13:22; 2 Chronicles 20:34; 2 Chronicles 26:22.
So Azariah slept with his fathers; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.7. and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David] His body, as appears from 2 Chron., was not laid with the rest of the kings in the royal sepulchre, but apparently in the same piece of land. ‘They buried him with his fathers in the field of burial which belonged to the kings: for they said; He is a leper’.
Jotham his son reigned] We can scarcely suppose that this notice would have been thus set down in the ordinary formula after Azariah’s death, if Jotham had been joint ruler all the time of his father’s leprosy. The smiting of the king must have been in the latter part of his reign. The conquests, buildings, agriculture, and military organization described by the Chronicler (see above on verse 4) must have needed many years to bring to the perfection they attained. Therefore, though Azariah’s reign was fifty-two years long, we need not think of him as a leper for more than the last ten years. As Jotham succeeded his father at twenty-five he would only have been fifteen when he was placed over the household. This may perhaps make ten years appear too long a time to assign to his father’s leprosy.
In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zachariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria six months.8–12. Zechariah king of Israel. He is slain, after six months, by Shallum, who succeeded him (Not in Chronicles)
8. Zachariah [R.V. Zechariah] the son of Jeroboam] This was as is noticed below, in. verse 12, the fourth generation of the family of Jehu. The sovereignty had been promised them no longer.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.9. who [R.V. wherewith he] made Israel to sin] And the same change is necessary in verses 18, 24 and 28 of this chapter.
And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.10. Shallum the son of Jabesh] Nothing more is known of him than is given in this verse. The death of the last scion of the house of Jehu by the sword appears to be foretold in Amos 7:9, ‘I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword’.
before the people] i.e. Publicly. Hence it would seem that the conspiracy of Shallum had large popular support. But the LXX. here has plural verbs ‘they conspired’, ‘they smote’ and ‘they slew’ and writes the two words translated ‘before the people’ as though they were one proper name Κεβλαὰμ. Hence some have thought that Shallum had a fellow-conspirator of whom this was the name. The words occur in such a combination and sense nowhere else, and the preposition, rendered ‘before’, is not found except in the Chaldee portions of the Old Testament. But there is nothing in the Hebrew to warrant the changes of the LXX., though Ewald, and after him the late Dean Stanley, adopted them as representing a more correct text. Stanley says (Jewish Church 2:308) ‘Zechariah was, it would seem, succeeded by a king, whose very name is almost lost to us, Kobolam, and Kobolam was succeeded by Shallum’. There needs a great deal of manipulation of even the text of the LXX. to extract any such statement from it. A much more reasonable conjecture is to make Κεβλαὰμ (though found nowhere else) the name of the place where Zachariah was murdered.
And the rest of the acts of Zachariah, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.11. And [R.V. Now] the rest of the acts of Zachariah] We can see from the language of the prophet Amos that the corruption of Israel was very great at this time, and that the nation appeared incorrigible. In these excesses Zechariah no doubt bore his share. Hence the shortness of his reign.
This was the word of the LORD which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.12. the word of the Lord which he spake unto Jehu] For the promise, see above, 2 Kings 10:30.
thy sons] The R.V. brings the words ‘to the fourth generation’ forward in the verse and places them after ‘sons’ thus making the sentence conform, as it does in the original, to the order of the words in the promise (2 Kings 10:30).
Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned a full month in Samaria.13–15. Shallum king of Israel. He is slain, after a month, by Menahem (Not in Chronicles)
13. a full month] R.V. the space of a month. The margin of A.V. gives, ‘Heb. a month of days’. The rendering of R.V. corresponds with that of A.V. in Genesis 29:7 for the same words. The Hebrew for ‘of days’ is added adverbially, as we use ‘time’ in such phrases as ‘in a month’s time’ = ‘in a month’ ‘in a year’s time’ &c.
For Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, and came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.14. Menahem the son of Gadi] It has been suggested that Menahem was an officer of king Zechariah and advanced from Tirzah, where he was stationed, to Samaria to avenge the murder of his master. This may have been so, but if the expression ‘before the people’ in verse 10 be correct, it would appear as if Zechariah had few to take his part.
Tirzah] Was made a royal residence by Jeroboam I. (1 Kings 14:17). The site of Tirzah has not been identified, but its beauty is extolled in Song of Solomon 6:4. We learn from 1 Kings 16:17 that it was a fortress capable of standing a siege, and so may have been a military post, and Menahem an officer there.
and reigned in his stead] These words are not represented in the LXX.
And the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.15. And [R.V. Now] the rest &c.] As above in verse 11. It may be noticed that Menahem’s conduct in slaying Shallum is not called ‘a conspiracy’. Menahem seems to have been a man of much ferocity, and probably carried out his plans without helpers.
Then Menahem smote Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the coasts thereof from Tirzah: because they opened not to him, therefore he smote it; and all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.16–22. Menahem king of Israel. He smites Tiphsah. Pul, king of Assyria, comes against Israel but is bought off. Death of Menahem (Not in Chronicles)
16. Menahem smote Tiphsah] Tiphsah is mentioned 1 Kings 4:24 as at one boundary of the dominion of Solomon. The place there intended is Thapsacus on the west side of the Euphrates, and is famous in classic history as the point at which Cyrus with his 10000 Greeks crossed that river. If that be the place here spoken of, we must understand Menahem to have carried his victorious arms from Samaria to the Euphrates. For a king who had put himself on the throne by force, at a time when Israel was thoroughly disorganised, this seems inconceivable. For this reason most people consider the place here mentioned to have been within the kingdom of Israel. Josephus (Ant. IX. 11. 1) calls it Thapsa, and speaks of it as a place which refused to admit the usurper. If this be so, it is mentioned nowhere else, and this seems to be by far the most natural explanation.
and the coasts [R.V. borders] thereof] That is, all the country round about this offending town.
from Tirzah] Menahem’s proceeding appears to have been this. After the slaughter of Shallum in Samaria, he returned to Tirzah, and, making that his headquarters, went forth thence to reduce the country to subjection.
they opened not to him] Josephus says they closed their gates and barred them against him. At a time when the king was changing every few months the citizens might naturally feel unwilling to admit a new claimant for the rule, till they were certain of what was happening elsewhere.
ript up] This savage conduct is mentioned (2 Kings 8:12) among the enormities which Hazael was likely to perpetrate, and in the prophets (Hosea 13:16; Amos 1:13) it is specified as part of the sufferings of Samaria from her invaders, and as inflicted by the Ammonites on the women of Gilead. But nowhere except here do we find such cruelty exercised by an Israelite. It marks the time as one of great degradation and barbarity.
In the nine and thirtieth year of Azariah king of Judah began Menahem the son of Gadi to reign over Israel, and reigned ten years in Samaria.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.18. all his days] These words are unrepresented in the LXX.
And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.19. And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land] R.V. There came against the land Pul &c. The sentence has no conjunction, and so R.V. represents the original better. In the LXX. we find ‘In his days’ put as an introduction to the sentence, and the name of Pul represented by Φουὰ, or Φουλὰ or Φοὺλ.
In his work on ‘the Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament’, Prof. Schrader (p. 133. Engl. Trans. Vol. 1. p. 230) identifies Pul with Tiglath-pileser, and his grounds for so doing may be thus stated. Azariah king of Judah was a contemporary of Menahem king of Israel (2 Kings 15:17). The Bible makes them both also contemporaries with Pul king of Assyria, while the inscriptions speak of them as contemporary with Tiglath-pileser the second. In Berosus’ Chaldæan history Pul is mentioned as a Chaldæan, Tiglath-pileser in the inscriptions calls himself king of Chaldæa. The name which in Berosus is ‘Phulus’ appears in the canon of Ptolemy as Πῶρος. This Porus became king of Babylon b.c. 731, in which year we learn from the inscriptions that Tiglath-pileser received homage from the Babylonian king, Merodach-baladan, and became thus lord paramount in Babylon. In the year 727–726 Tiglath-pileser dies, and at the same time a change of ruler takes place in Babylonia by the retirement of Porus. Pul or Por does not appear among the Assyrian kings unless it be under another name, and the only prince with whom the history allows him to be identical is Tiglath-pileser. Pul and Por are really the same name, changed by well-known phonetic laws. Hence it seems not improbable that Pul, Πῶρος, and Tiglath-pileser are names of one and the same person.
Another supposition is that Pul is the name of one of Tiglath-pileser’s generals, who was in charge of the expedition against Israel. But he is in this verse very expressly called king of Assyria, and the Bible narrative continually makes it clear when an official person, not the king himself, is in command. For an example cf. Isaiah 20:1.
came against the land] i.e. Was making a hostile advance, and would have invaded Israel but for the bribe.
a thousand talents of silver] This represents a very large sum. Omri only gave two talents of silver (1 Kings 16:24) for the ground on which he built Samaria; and in Hezekiah’s time the king of Assyria’s demands were only for 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold (2 Kings 18:14). But we can have no doubt from the writings of the contemporary prophets that the northern kingdom was rich at this time. Amos speaks of their houses of ivory (2 Kings 3:15), of their houses of hewn stone and their pleasant vineyards (2 Kings 5:11), how they lay upon beds of ivory, ate of the choicest, had music in their feasts, drank wine in bowls and anointed themselves with the best ointments (2 Kings 6:4-6): all indications of excessive wealth.
that his hand might be with him] The desire of Menahem was to secure Pul as an ally, and to gain his help against other adversaries; a very natural aim under the circumstances. To obtain this he no doubt acknowledged the Assyrian as his superior, and did homage to him, as well as paying him this large bribe.
to confirm the kingdom in his hand] These words, which make clear Menahem’s object, are unrepresented in the LXX.
And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.20. Menahem exacted the money] Fifty shekels=one maneh, was the sixtieth part of a talent of silver. Hence the mighty men of wealth must have numbered 60,000, a number which tells of the richness of the time. The population of Israel in David’s time had 800,000 soldiers (2 Samuel 24:9).
stayed not there] He had evidently made his approach to the very border, and perhaps over it.
And the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
And Menahem slept with his fathers; and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead.22. Pekahiah his son] Ten years of stern rule had enabled Menahem to secure the throne for his son, though the latter had but a short tenure of power.
In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his, conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king's house, with Argob and Arieh, and with him fifty men of the Gileadites: and he killed him, and reigned in his room.23–26. Reign of Pekahiah king of Israel. He is slain by Pekah, the son of Remaliah, who succeeds him (Not in Chronicles)
25. Pekah … a captain of his] R.V. his captain. The word is the same which in 2 Kings 7:2 is used for the captain (A.V. lord) on whose hand the king of Israel leaned. Probably Pekah occupied some such position about the king, which gave him the opportunity of attacking his master, for the murder was perpetrated ‘in the castle of the king’s house’. From the mention of the fifty men of the Gileadites who took part with him in the conspiracy, it has been conjectured that Pekah was himself a native of that wild land, the home in former days of Jephthah and of Elijah. His conduct is of the kind to be expected from one nursed in such wild localities.
in the palace [R.V. castle] of the king’s house] The word is rendered ‘palace’ everywhere in A.V. except Proverbs 18:19 ‘like the bars of a castle’. But here and in 1 Kings 16:18 (see note there) the sense requires some word expressive of security and protection from a foe. Hence the change in R.V. We know so little of the construction of the royal houses of Israel that it is difficult to be precise about what is meant. But it seems most likely that the king when he knew that Pekah and his fifty comrades were bent on his murder would take refuge in the most fortified place he could reach.
with Argob and Arieh] Doubtless two friends who had remained with Pekahiah to the last.
of the Gileadites] The LXX. has in some MSS. the words ἀπὸ τῶν τετρακοσίων=of the four hundred. I have found no means of explaining the reading. Before ‘fifty’ in this clause R.V. inserts were.
and he killed [R.V. slew] him and reigned in his room] R.V. stead. The words are exactly the same in the original as the closing words of verse 10 above. Both should be alike in the English.
And the rest of the acts of Pekahiah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
In the two and fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years.27–31. Pekah king of Israel for twenty years. Invasion of Israel by Tiglath-pileser. Pekah is slain by Hoshea (Not in Chronicles)
27. Pekah the son of Remaliah] This king is chiefly remarkable because of the attempts which he made against the kingdom of Judah, and which gave rise to the prophecies recorded in Isaiah 7-9. On the history of these attacks on the sister kingdom, see notes on 2 Kings 16:5-9. Isaiah often speaks of Pekah as ‘the son of Remaliah’ only, without mention of his own name, so that we are led to conclude that Remaliah must have been some well-known person.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.29. Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria] This is the second Assyrian king of this name; the first having flourished in the twelfth century b.c. For some of the facts connected with his history see note on verse 19 above. According to the Assyrian canon Tiglath-pileser reigned 18 years, from b.c. 745 to b.c. 727, and the conquests mentioned in this verse are supposed to have been made in b.c. 734.
Ijon] In the north of Palestine, in the tribe of Naphtali. It has been mentioned previously (1 Kings 15:20) as ravaged by Benhadad’s captains. The towns here enumerated were exposed to the first attack of any enemy from the north.
Abel-beth-maachah] R.V. maacah. This city like Ijon lay in the extreme north of Israel, and was also plundered by Benhadad’s officers. It is spoken of as ‘a city and a mother in Israel’ (2 Samuel 20:19). It is elsewhere called Abel-maim.
Janoah] This place is mentioned nowhere else, and its site has not been determined. But, from the connexion in which it here occurs, it must have been situate in the northern part of the tribe of Naphtali.
Kedesh] This town was one of the cities of refuge, and situate in the tribe of Naphtali. Hence it is called Kedesh-Naphtali (Jdg 4:6). Here Barak lived, and in later times (1Ma 11:63; 1Ma 11:73) it is mentioned as the scene of a battle between Jonathan Maccabæus and the troops of Demetrius. The name indicates that from the first it was a ‘holy’ place.
Hazor] Another fortified city of the tribe of Naphtali. It stood on the high ground overlooking Lake Merom. It was a very important place before the Israelites entered Canaan (Joshua 11:10). Jabin was the king thereof whose general Sisera was defeated by Deborah and Barak (Jdg 4:2; Jdg 4:17). It was strengthened by Solomon for the defence of his kingdom on the north (see 1 Kings 9:15, note).
Gilead] The mountainous country on the east of the Jordan, extending from Bashan on the north to Moab and Ammon on the south.
Galilee] This name, though afterwards given to a wide district, was at first only applied to a portion of the country round about Kedesh-Naphtali. In it were the twenty cities which Solomon gave to Hiram king of Tyre, for helping him in his building of the temple, and his own house (1 Kings 9:11). In the verse before us Galilee must refer only to the northern part of the district afterwards so named.
all the land of Naphtali] We can see, from this addition, where the ravages of Tiglath-pileser were made. He came into the northern portion of Israel on the west of Jordan, and on the east of the river overran a larger district, which from its mountainous character was more sparsely populated and so more easily reduced.
carried them captive to Assyria] This event is placed from the evidence of the Assyrian inscriptions in b.c. 734. To carry away great numbers of the population of a conquered district and settle them elsewhere was frequent with the Assyrian monarchs.
And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.30. Hoshea the son of Elah] Josephus (Ant. IX. 13. 1) says Hoshea was a friend of Pekah. He is mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions (Smith, Assyrian Discoveries, p. 285), and it appears from that record as if he had been set up by the Assyrian king. Perhaps Hoshea, having conspired and slain Pekah, put himself as a vassal under the protection of Assyria. The inscription speaks of the tribute which he was to pay to the Assyrians. Though the death of Pekah is here mentioned we have a further account of his attempts against Judah in the next chapter.
in the twentieth year of Jotham] As Jotham is said below in verse 33 to have reigned only sixteen years, there must be some mistake in the numbers either here or there. The occurrence of such variations makes the task of fixing the chronology very difficult, and probably no satisfactory solution will be discovered, to the several questions which arise on this subject, until more is known of the contemporary history. If ever the annals of Assyria and Egypt be brought into trustworthy order, the points of contact with Jewish affairs will help to settle some dates and to clear up what seems now irremediably obscure
And the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel began Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign.
Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done.32–38. Jotham king of Judah. Commencement of the plots of Israel against Judah (2 Chronicles 27:1-9)
34. according to all that his father Uzziah had done] The Chronicler notes the great exception ‘Howbeit he entered not into the temple of the Lord’. As this sin of Uzziah had not been recorded by the compiler of Kings, it is natural that he should not allude to it in the notice of Jotham.
Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the LORD.35. Howbeit the high places] In 2 Chronicles it is merely said ‘the people did yet corruptly’.
He built the higher [R.V. upper] gate of the house of the Lord] By ‘build’ is only meant ‘restore’ or ‘beautify’. The gate existed before. The temple stood on a slope, of which the northern side was the highest and the gate on that side was the one of which Jotham made some restoration. The account of his buildings is somewhat fuller in 2 Chronicles. ‘On the wall of Ophel he built much. Moreover he built cities in the hill-country of Judah, and in the forests he built castles and towers’. His success in war, also unnoticed by the compiler of Kings, is dwelt on by the Chronicler. He fought with the Ammonites and conquered them, and the children of Ammon paid him in that year a hundred talents of silver, ten thousand measures of wheat, and the same quantity of barley, and they continued the payment for a second and a third year. ‘So Jotham became mighty because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God’.
Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
In those days the LORD began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah.37. In those days] In the days of Jotham the confederacy between Israel and Syria against Judah was formed, though the effects were not felt to the full till the days of Jotham’s son Ahaz. In Isaiah 7 we find that Rezin king of Syria, and Pekah king of Israel, had come up against Jerusalem to fight against it, and were minded to set up a king in Judah of their own choosing, who is there spoken of as ‘the son of Tabeel’. At that time for the consolation and encouragement of Ahaz the oracle concerning ‘Immanuel’ was sent to him through Isaiah.
the Lord began to send] Though He began to send enemies upon Judah, yet the Lord did not, as Isaiah’s prophecy shews us, leave His people without hope, but in the midst of their chastisement He was thinking upon mercy, and spake by the mouth of the prophet concerning that greatest mercy, the sending of His Son.
Rezin the king of Syria] The name of this king appears several times in the Assyrian records. His country had before this time been made tributary to Assyria. The policy of Rezin appears not only to have embraced a conquest of Judah in alliance with Pekah, but also, after making himself more powerful in that way, the shaking off the yoke of Assyria. For this reason the Assyrian power was the more easily induced to help Ahaz in resisting Israel and Syria. The history of that help is given in the next chapter where the acts of Pekah against Judah are more fully dwelt upon.
And Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.