Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Amaziah was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.XXV.
THE REIGN OF AMAZIAH.(Comp. 2Kings 14:1-20.)
DURATION AND CHARACTER OF THE REIGN. EXECUTION OF THE MURDERERS OF JOASH (2Chronicles 25:1-4).
(1, 2) Amaziah . . . the Lord.—So 2Kings 14:2.
But not with a perfect heart.—This is a brief equivalent of the words of the older text: “only not like David his father: according to all that Joash his father had done, he did.” The reference to Joash is omitted, perhaps because that king appears to less advantage in the Chronicles than ill Kings. In fact, the chronicler’s estimate of both princes is less favourable than that of the older historian. Such differences are perfectly natural, and it is needless to attempt to “reconcile” or eliminate them.
Now it came to pass, when the kingdom was established to him, that he slew his servants that had killed the king his father.(3) The kingdom was established to him.—Or, The sovereignty (power) was confirmed to him. Vulg., “cumque roboratum videret sibi imperium.”
But he slew not their children, but did as it is written in the law in the book of Moses, where the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers, but every man shall die for his own sin.(4) But he slew not their children.—The verse coincides almost exactly with 2Kings 14:6. Literally, And their sons he put not to death; but according to what is written in the Torah, in the book of Moses, which Jehovah commanded, &c. The reference is evidently to Deuteronomy 24:16, which is more exactly repeated in Kings than here.
But every man shall die for his own sin.—Literally, But, each for (in) his own sin, shall they be put to death. Kings has the singular.
Moreover Amaziah gathered Judah together, and made them captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, according to the houses of their fathers, throughout all Judah and Benjamin: and he numbered them from twenty years old and above, and found them three hundred thousand choice men, able to go forth to war, that could handle spear and shield.AMAZIAH’S MILITARY STRENGTH, AND CONQUEST OF EDOM
This section is for the most part peculiar to Chronicles. In Kings the conquest of Edom is recorded in a single verse (2Kings 14:7).
(5) And made them captains over thousands.—Rather, And made them stand (marshalled them) according to father houses, to wit, according to the captains of thousands and according to the captains of hundreds of all Judah and Benjamin.
Three hundred thousand.—A total immensely below that of the forces of Jehoshaphat (2Chronicles 17:14-18), and not much more than half that of Asa’s (2Chronicles 14:8). All these high numbers are no doubt suspicious; but a certain relative propriety is observable in the present instance, inasmuch as the country had suffered great losses by the disastrous wars of Jehoram, Ahaziah, Joash.
Able to go forth to war.—Literally, going out in the host. (See Num. l.c.)
That could handle spear and shield.—Grasping lance and target, i.e., heavy-armed warriors. (Comp. 1Chronicles 12:8.)
He hired also an hundred thousand mighty men of valour out of Israel for an hundred talents of silver.(6) He hired also . . . out of Israel—i.e., from the northern kingdom. The number has probably suffered in transmission. Thenius pronounces the fact historical, although not recorded in Kings.
An hundred talents of silver.—Worth about £40,000 of our money, reckoning £400 to the talent. What such a sum would represent in the days of Amaziah cannot be determined with certainty.
But there came a man of God to him, saying, O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the LORD is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim.(7) The Lord is not with Israel.—Comp. 2Chronicles 19:2; 2Chronicles 20:37; also 2Chronicles 16:7.
But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help, and to cast down.(8) But if thou wilt go.—Rather, But go thyself; in contrast with the prohibition, “Let not the army of Israel go.”
Do it, be strong for the battle.—Compare 1Chronicles 22:16 : “Arise! act!”
God shall make thee fall.—Before these words, the expression wĕlō’, “and not,” must have dropped out of the text. “Venture on the expedition by thyself. with a good courage,” says the prophet, “and God will not let thee stumble before the foe.”
For God hath power.—For there is strength in God, to help and to make to stumble. (Comp. 2Chronicles 20:6; 1Chronicles 29:12; Psalm 9:3.) The ancient versions were evidently embarrassed by the passage. The LXX. render: “Because if thou think to prevail through them, then will the Lord rout thee before thy foes; because it is from the Lord both to be strong and to rout.” Vulg.: “But if thou thinkest that wars depend on the strength of an army, God will make thee to be overcome by the enemy.” Syriac: “Because thou art going to make war, the Lord will cast thee down before thy foes; because thou hast not praised the Lord, who is the helper and uplifter.” It is noticeable that no version inserts the required negative; the omission, therefore, is ancient.
And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.(9) What shall we do?—Literally, What to do? i.e., What is to be done? what must we do?
The army.—The troop (gĕdûd) of mercenaries.
Then Amaziah separated them, to wit, the army that was come to him out of Ephraim, to go home again: wherefore their anger was greatly kindled against Judah, and they returned home in great anger.(10) To wit, the army.—The troop (le prefixed, as sign of the accusative).
To go home again.—To go to their own place.
Home in great anger.—To their own place in a heat of anger (Isaiah 7:4). Obviously the dismissed force would be incensed at treatment which seemed to indicate distrust of their honour, and robbed them of the possible fruits of victory. On their way home they revenged themselves by plundering and slaughtering in the cities of Judah (2Chronicles 25:13).
And Amaziah strengthened himself, and led forth his people, and went to the valley of salt, and smote of the children of Seir ten thousand.(11) And Amaziah strengthened himself.—Shewed himself strong or courageous, took courage; as the prophet had bidden him do (2Chronicles 25:8). (Comp. 2Chronicles 15:8.)
And went to the valley of salt.—Comp. 2Kings 14:7 : “He it was who smote Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand; and he took Sela in the war, and called its name Joktheel, unto this day.” The valley of salt lay to the south-east of the Dead Sea (2Samuel 8:13; 1Chronicles 18:12).
And other ten thousand left alive did the children of Judah carry away captive, and brought them unto the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, that they all were broken in pieces.(12) And other ten thousand left alive.—Rather, And ten thousand the sons of Judah took alive. The LXX. renders well: καὶ δέκα χιλιάδας ἐζώγρησαν οἱ υἱοὶ Ιουδα.
And brought them unto the top of the rock.—Or, of Sela. Sela, “the crag,” was the Edomite capital, known to after ages as Petra, “the rock.” The “Head of Sela” may be the name of a cliff overhanging the town. This savage massacre of prisoners is not mentioned in Kings; but it is quite credible, in view of the well-known atrocities of ancient warfare. (Comp. 1Chronicles 20:3; Psalm 137:9; 2Kings 8:12; Amos 1:11; Amos 1:13; 1Kings 11:15-16 : Joab “cut off every male in Edom.”) It is, however, remarkable that the chronicler does not mention the capture of Sela itself. Thenius, therefore, supposes that the statement of this verse is really the result of an attempt to restore an illegible text of 2Kings 14:7.
But the soldiers of the army which Amaziah sent back, that they should not go with him to battle, fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria even unto Bethhoron, and smote three thousand of them, and took much spoil.(13) But the soldiers of the army.—Literally, Now the sons of the troop whom Amaziah had caused to return from marching with him to the war, they fell upon, &c.
From Samaria even unto Beth-horon.—“Samaria” is probably corrupt. Otherwise we must suppose that the mercenaries first returned home, and then, by order of king Joash, started afresh from Samaria, and invaded the northern districts of the kingdom of Judah. For “Beth-horon,” see Note on 1Chronicles 7:24.
And smote . . . of them.—Of their inhabitants.
Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them.AMAZIAH ADOPTS THE EDOMITE FORM OF WORSHIP, AND SPURNS A PROPHETIC WARNING (2Chronicles 25:14-16).
(14) From the slaughter.—From smiting.
Brought the gods.—The Assyrian inscriptions often refer to this custom of carrying off the idols of conquered countries. Esarhaddon states that he restored the gods of Hazael, king of Arabia, at that prince’s entreaty, after engraving on them “the might of Asshur” and his own name. Assurbanipal recovered an image of Nana, which an Elamite sovereign had carried off one thousand six hundred and thirty-five years previously.
The children of Seir.—Bnê Seir, the tribal designation of the Edomites (1Chronicles 1:38).
Set them up to be his gods.—Not necessarily abandoning the worship of Jehovah. (Comp. the conduct of Ahaz, 2Chronicles 28:23; 2Kings 16:10, et seq.; also 2Kings 17:27-33.) Thenius says this contradicts 2Kings 14:3; and it may be allowed that the chronicler portrays Amaziah in a darker light than the older account. This only proves independence of judgment and the possession of additional information. Thenius and Bertheau further suppose that the chronicler, from his theocratic standpoint, merely inferred the idolatry of Amaziah from his ill success against Israel. It is more likely that it was mentioned in one of the histories which the compiler had before him.
Bowed down himself.—Literally, And before them would he bow himself, and to them would he offer incense; relating his habitual practice.
Wherefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Amaziah, and he sent unto him a prophet, which said unto him, Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which could not deliver their own people out of thine hand?(15) Could not deliver.—Delivered not. (Comp. the boast of Sennacherib concerning the gods who had failed before him: 2Kings 18:33-35.) The king’s object may have been to win their favour, and so retain his hold on what was regarded as their peculiar territory. One of these gods might be Hadad (comp. 1Chronicles 1:46; 1Chronicles 1:50; 2Kings 5:18; 2Kings 6:24); another might have been Kôsh. (Comp. the Edomite royal names Qa-us-ma-la-ka, i.e., Kosmalak, “Kosh is king,” and Qa-us-gab-ri, i.e., Kosgabri, “Kosh is my warrior;” names which are like the Hebrew Elimelech and Gabriel respectively.) The Hebrew proper name, Kish, may be the same as Kôsh. Lastly, the name of a king of Edom mentioned by Sennacherib, Mâlik-rammu, i.e., “Moloch is exalted,” indicates that Moloch also was worshipped in Edom.
And it came to pass, as he talked with him, that the king said unto him, Art thou made of the king's counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten? Then the prophet forbare, and said, I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not hearkened unto my counsel.(16) As he talked with him.—When he spake unto him.
Art thou made of the king’s counsel?—Literally, A counsellor to the king have we appointed thee?
Why shouldest thou be smitten?—Wherefore should they smite thee?
Hath determined.—Hath counselled. The prophet appropriates the king’s own word, and implies his participation in Divine, if not in royal, counsels.
Because.—The conduct of Amaziah was proof that God had “counselled to destroy him.”
Thou hast done this.—Spurned my warning. Others say: because thou hast adopted the Edomite gods.
Unto my counsel.—Again repeating the king’s expression.
Then Amaziah king of Judah took advice, and sent to Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us see one another in the face.AMAZIAH CHALLENGES JOASH OF ISRAEL TO BATTLE, AND SUFFERS DISASTROUS DEFEAT (2Chronicles 25:17-24). (Comp. 2Kings 14:8-14.)
And sent to Joash.—See 2Kings 14:8 : “Sent messengers.” The rest of the verse is the same in both passages.
Let us see.—Let us look one another in the face; as combatants do.
And Joash 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.(18) And Joash king of Israel.—This verse is the same as 2Kings 14:9. (See Notes there.)
Thou sayest, Lo, thou hast smitten the Edomites; and thine heart lifteth thee up to boast: abide now at home; why shouldest thou meddle to thine hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?(19) Thou sayest.—Slightly altered from 2Kings 14:10. Thou sayest, or thou thinkest, is added here. The word in Hebrew meaning Lo (hinnēh) is perhaps a corruption of the word meaning smiting (hakkēh) :“Thou hast indeed smitten.”
To boast.—To get glory (hakbîd). Only so used here. Kings, “thine heart lifteth thee up. Be honoured (i.e., enjoy thine honours), and abide at home” (hikkā-bēd). The difference is one of points only, and may be due to a copyist.
But Amaziah would not hear; for it came of God, that he might deliver them into the hand of their enemies, because they sought after the gods of Edom.(20) But Amaziah would not hear.—And Amaziah hearkened not.
For it came of God . . . gods of Edom.—This remark is added by the chronicler, accounting for the infatuation of Joash by reference to the divine predetermination of events. (Comp. 2Chronicles 25:16; and 2Chronicles 24:24; 2Chronicles 10:15; the Syr. and Arab. omit.)
That he might deliver them into the hand.—Heb., into hand; LXX., “into hands;” Vulg., “into the hands of the enemy.” Perhaps the original reading was, into his hand, i.e., the hand of Joash.
Because they sought.—For they had sought.
And Judah was put to the worse before Israel, and they fled every man to his tent.(22) And Judah was put to the worse.—So 2Kings 14:12. The Syriac and Arabic omit this verse.
And Joash the king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, at Bethshemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits.(23) Jehoahaz.—Several Hebrew MSS. read Ahaziah, as in 2Kings 14:13, with which the rest of the verse agrees: see the Notes there. (See Note on 2Chronicles 21:17.)
The corner gate.—So 2Kings 14:13, rightly. Our Hebrew text has, “gate of the turning one,” or “gate that turneth;” which would require some word indicating the direction of the turning. (Comp. Ezekiel 8:3, “gate that turneth northward.”) Some MSS., and all the versions, agree with Kings. It is merely a matter of different points. (Comp. also 2Chronicles 26:9.)
And he took all the gold and the silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of God with Obededom, and the treasures of the king's house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria.(24) And he took.—So 2Kings 14:14. The verb has fallen out here. The omission is ancient, as it appears in the LXX. The Vulg. gives the verb returned at the end of the verse a transitive form, and renders “he carried back to Samaria” all the things enumerated. The Syriac reads, “and he took the silver,” &c.
With Obed-edom.—Added by the chronicler, in harmony with what he has stated about the custody of the sacred treasures (1Chronicles 26:15, seq.); but probably derived from an ancient document. Obededom was the name of a Levitical clan.
And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years.END OF THE REIGN (2Chronicles 25:25-28.)
(Comp. 2Kings 14:17-20.)
(25) And Amaziah.—Identical with 2Kings 14:17. (See Notes there.)
Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, first and last, behold, are they not written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel?(26) First and last.—The former and the latter. The chronicler adds his usual formula.
Behold, are they not written.—The Hebrew is faulty here. “Behold, they are written” is the customary phrase in the Chronicles (2Chronicles 20:34; 2Chronicles 24:27); “are they not written” being that of Kings. In the Hebrew text here the two phrases are blended. Some- MSS., and the Syriac, Vulg., and Arabic read, “Behold, they are written.” But it is possible that hinnām (“behold they”) is here a corruption of hēm (“they”); and that the reading of Kings should be followed, with other Hebrew MSS. and the Targum.
Now after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the LORD they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem; and he fled to Lachish: but they sent to Lachish after him, and slew him there.(27) Now after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the Lord.—This clause is added by the chronicler, not so much with the aim of assigning a date, as of asserting the real connection between Amaziah’s defection from Jehovah, and the calamities that overtook him. Virtually he calls attention to the fulfilment of the prophecy of 2Chronicles 25:16.
And they brought him upon horses, and buried him with his fathers in the city of Judah.(28) Upon horses.—See 2Kings 14:20.
In the city of Judah.—A transcriber’s mistake for city of David, as it is in Kings and all the old versions, as well as some Heb. MSS.