Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah.XIV.
THE REIGN OF AMAZIAH IN JUDAH, AND OF JEROBOAM II IN ISRAEL.
(1-17) THE REIGN OF AMAZIAH. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 25)
(2) Jehoaddan.—The Hebrew text, which is supported by the LXX., has Jehoaddin (perhaps, “Jehovah is delight;” comp. Isaiah 47:8, and the Divine name Naaman).
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.(3) Yet not like David his father.—The chronicler paraphrases this reference to the ideal king of Israel: “yet not with a perfect heart.”
Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.(4) Howbeit.—The same word was rendered “yet” in the last verse. “Only,” or “save that” would be better.
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.(5) As soon as the kingdom was confirmed—i.e., as soon as he was firmly established on the throne; as soon as he felt his power secure. (Comp. 1Kings 2:46.)
Slew . . .—slain.—Literally, smote . . . smitten.
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.(6) The murderers.—Literally, the smiters.
According unto that which is written . . . law of Moses.—A quotation of Deuteronomy 24:16. This reference is from the pen of the Judæan editor.
Shall be put to death.—So the original passage and the Hebrew margin. Hebrew text, “shall die.”
This humane provision of the Jewish law contrasts favourably with the practice of other nations, ancient and modern. Readers of the classics will recollect the hideous story of the treatment of the young daughter of Sejanus (Tac. Ann. v. 9).
(6) Even with the kings of Israel.—Probably some words have fallen out, and the original text was. “and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.” (Comp, 2Kings 14:16.) The Syriac and Arabic have, “and was buried.”
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.(7) He slew.—Rather, he it was that smote.
The valley of salt.—Comp. 2Samuel 8:13. El-Ghôr, the salt plain of the Dead Sea, which Amaziah would traverse in marching against Edom.
Ten thousand.—The number slain in one conflict.
Selah.—Heb., the Sèlac, i.e., the crag. The Hebrew name of the famous rock-hewn town of Petra.
By war.—Or, in the battle. After the decisive engagement, Amaziah’s troops forced their way through the narrow defile leading to the Edomite capital, probably meeting no great resistance.
Joktheel.—A town of Judah bore this name (Joshua 15:38). The name probably means God’s ward, referring to the wonderful strength of the natural position of the town. Others explain, subjugated of God.
Unto this day—i.e., unto the time when the original document was written, from which the writer derived this notice.
The reduction of the capital implies that of the country. The defeat of Jehoram (2Kings 8:20, seq.) was thus avenged. Chronicles gives a more detailed account of the re-conquest of Edom, and its consequences (2Chronicles 25:5-16). it is there related that Amaziah hired a large force of mercenaries from the northern kingdom, but sent them home again at the bidding of a prophet. On their way back they attacked and plundered certain of the cities of Judah. The fall of Selah was followed by a massacre of captives. The gods of Edom, which Amaziah carried off, proved a snare to him. (See the Notes on the passage.)
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.(8) Then.—After the reduction of Edom. The more extended narrative which follows is plainly taken from a different source than that of the brief extract preceding it.
Come, let us look one another in the face.—A challenge to battle, the ground of which might be found in the outrages committed by the Israelite mercenaries on their homeward march. It appears likely, however, that Amaziah, intoxicated by his recent success, aimed at nothing less than the recovery of the Ten Tribes for the house of David. So Josephus (Antt. ix. 9, § 2), who gives what purport to be the letters which passed between the two kings on this occasion.
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.(9) The thistle.—Or bramble or briar. (Comp. Job 31:40; Song of Solomon 2:2.) The LXX. and Vulg. render “thistle;” the Syriac, “blackthorn” (Prunus silvestris).
Give thy daughter to my son to wife.—Perhaps hinting at Amaziah’s demand for the surrender of Israel (the “daughter” of Jehoash) to Judah (the “son” of Amaziah).
And there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon.—Rather, and the wild beasts that were in Lebanon passed over it. So LXX. and Vulg. It is obvious to compare with this brief but most pithy parable that of Jotham (Judges 9:8-15). The contrast between the northern and southern kingdoms in point of military strength and resources, and the disdainful tolerance with which the former regarded the latter, could hardly have found more forcible expression.
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?(10) Thou hast indeed smitten—i.e., thou hast thoroughly worsted; gained a brilliant victory over Edom. (The “indeed” qualifies “smitten.”)
Hath lifted.—Rather, lifteth.
Glory of this, and tarry at home.—Literally, be honoured, and abide in thine own house, i.e., be content with the glory thou hast achieved. Rest on thy laurels, and do not risk them by further enterprises which may not turn out so favourably. So the Vulg. Thenius explains: “Show thy might at home,” referring to the LXX. (Comp. 2Samuel 6:20).
For why shouldest thou meddle to thine hurt?—Rather, and why shouldst thou challenge or provoke (literally, attack, Deuteronomy 2:5) disaster?
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.(11) Looked one another in the face—i.e., encountered one another; joined battle.
Beth-shemesh.—The modern Ain-shems, north of which is a great plain now called Wâdy-es-Surâr, in which the encounter probably happened. Jehoash proposed to attack Jerusalem from the west, as Hazael also had intended (2Kings 12:17).
And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.(12) To their tents.—Hebrew text, to his tent; so the LXX. and Syriac. Hebrew margin, to his tents; so Vulg., and Targum, and Chronicles. The meaning is that the enemy disbanded, as usually after a great defeat. (Comp. 2Kings 8:21.)
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.(13) Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah.—Comp, 2Kings 14:8. Thenius thinks the formal specification of Amaziah’s descent indicates that this narrative was derived from “the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.” At all events, it emphasises the importance of the incident, which is further indicated in the original by the order of the words: “And Amaziah king of Judah . . . did Jehoash king of Israel take . . .”
Came.—So the Hebrew margin. The Hebrew text has, brought him (way’bî’ô; a rare form). So Chronicles and the Vulg., but not the other versions. Jehoash brought Amaziah a prisoner to his own capital.
Brake down the wall.—Or, made a breach in the wall. No resistance appears to have been offered. Josephus relates that Amaziah was induced by menaces of death to order the gates to be thrown open to the enemy; a needless assumption, considering that the army had been routed and the king was a captive. He adds, that Jehoash rode in his chariot through the breach in the walls, leading Amaziah as a prisoner.
From the gate.—So Chronicles and the Syriac, Vulg., and Arabic here. The Hebrew text has, at the gate, which is due to the common confusion of the letters b and m (be, “in;” min, “from”). The following “unto” shows that “from” is right.
Of Ephraim.—This gate lay on the north side of the city, and was also called the “Gate of Benjamin.” It answers to the modern Damascus gate.
The corner gate.—This gate was at the north-west corner of the wall at the point where it trended southwards.
Four hundred cubits.—That is, about 222 yards. The insolence of a victorious enemy is sufficient to account for this conduct of Jehoash. It was also a forcible way of convincing Amaziah that even his strongest city was not proof against the prowess of Ephraim. Thenius thinks that Jehoash wanted to make room for the triumphal entry of his troops.
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.(14) That were found.—This expression seems to hint that there was not much treasure to carry off. (Comp. 2Kings 13:18.)
Hostages.—Literally, the sons of sureties. Having humbled the pride of Amaziah, Jehoash left him in possession of his throne, taking hostages for his future good behaviour. Similar acts of clemency are recorded of themselves by the Assyrian kings of the dynasty of Sargon.
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?(15, 16) Now the rest . . .—Comp. 2Kings 13:12-13, where the reign of Jehoash is already summed up, though not altogether in the same phraseology. The compiler probably found 2Kings 14:15-16, in their present position in the document from which he derived the entire section, 2Kings 14:8-17; a document which was not the same as that upon which 2 Kings 13 depends, as appears from the differences of language in the two passages.
The two verses are almost necessary here as a suitable introduction of the statement of 2Kings 14:17, that Amaziah survived Jehoash by fifteen years.
And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years.(17) Fifteen years.—He came to the throne in the second year of Jehoash, who reigned sixteen years (2Kings 13:10), and reigned twenty-nine years (2Kings 14:2). The different data are thus self-consistent. Jehoash appears to have died very soon after his victory—perhaps in the following year.
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.(19) Now . . . but.—And . . . and.
They made a conspiracy.—The fact that no individual conspirators are mentioned appears to indicate that Amazialı’s death was the result of a general disaffection; and this inference is strengthened by the other details of the record. Thenius supppses that he had incensed the army in particular by some special act. Probably his foolish and ill-fated enterprise against Israel had something to do with it.
Lachish.—Now Um Lâkis. Of old it was a strong fortress. (Comp. 2Chronicles 11:9; 2Kings 18:14; 2Kings 19:8.) Amaziah’s flight thither seems to indicate either a popular rising in Jerusalem, or a military revolt.
They sent after him to Lachish.—This, too, may point to a military outbreak.
And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.(20) They brought him on horses.—Rather, they carried him upon the horses—i.e., perhaps in the royal chariot wherein he had fled from Jerusalem. Or, perhaps, the corpse was literally carried on horseback by the regicides.
The orderly method of proceeding, the burial of the king in the royal sepulchres, and the elevation of Azariah, seem to prove that the murder of Amaziah was not an act of private blood-revenge.
And all the people of Judah took Azariah, which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.(21) All the people of Judah.—Thenius explains, all the men of war, as in 2Kings 13:7.
Took.—The expression seems to imply that Azariah was not the eldest son. As Amaziah was fifty-nine years old at his death he probably had sons older than sixteen. Azariah was therefore chosen as a popular, or perhaps military, favourite.
Azariah.—See Note on 2Chronicles 26:1. Thenius thinks the soldiery gave Azariah the name of Uzziah. At all events, the king may have taken a new name on his accession, though which of the two it was we cannot; say. (Comp. 2Kings 24:17.) Sennacherib on investing Esarhaddon with sovereignty named him Asshurebil-mukin-pal.
He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.(22) He built Elath.—The pronoun is emphatic; he, in contrast with his father. “Built,” either rebuilt or fortified. The verse is in close connection with the preceding narrative. Amaziah perhaps had not vigorously prosecuted the conquest of Edom, having been greatly weakened by his defeat in the struggle with Jehoash. He may even have suffered some further losses at the hands of the Edomites; and this, as Thenius supposes may have led to the conspiracy which brought about his death and the accession of his son. The warlike youth Uzziah took the field at once, and pushed his victorious arms to the southern extremity of Edom, the port of Elath (2Kings 9:26), and thus restored the state of things which had existed under Solomon and Jehoshaphat.
After that the king slept—i.e., immediately after the murder of Amaziah. Thenius explains the verse with most success, but this clause is still somewhat surprising.
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.THE REIGN OF JEROBOAM II. IN SAMARIA
(23) Reigned forty and one years.—According to the statement of this verse, Jeroboam reigned fourteen years concurrently with Amaziah, who reigned altogether twenty-nine years (2Kings 14:2); and thirty-seven years concurrently with Azariah (2Kings 15:8), so that he reigned altogether not forty-one but fifty-one years. (The discrepancy originated in a confusion of the Hebrew letters נא, fifty-one, with מא, forty-one.)
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.(25) He restored.—Rather, He it was who restored the border, i.e., he wrested out of the hands of the Syrians the territory they had taken from Israel.
From the entering of Hamath—i.e., from the point where the territory of Hamath began. This was the originally determined boundary of Israel on the north (comp. Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5), and the prophet Ezekiel specifies it as the future limit (Ezekiel 47:16; Ezekiel 48:1). Israel’s territory first reached this limit under Solomon, who conquered a portion of the Hamathite domains (2Chronicles 8:3-4).
The sea of the plain—i.e., the Dead Sea (Numbers 3:17; Numbers 4:49; Joshua 3:16). The whole length of the Dead Sea is included (comp. Amos 6:14, where virtually the same limits are specified), and the country beyond Jordan. (Comp. Note on 1Chronicles 5:17.)
Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet.—Comp. Jonah 1:1. Ewald remarks that the activity of this prophet must have occupied a very large field, as tradition connects him with Nineveh. Hitzig and Knobel recognise the prophecy referred to here in Isaiah 15, 16. There is no difficulty in the supposition that Isaiah has “adopted and ratified the work of an earlier prophet,” as Jeremiah has so often done. (See Cheyne’s Isaiah, vol. i., p. 93.) But it is easier to prove that these chapters are not Isaiah’s, than that they belong to Jonah.
Gath-hepher.—Joshua 19:13. The present Meshed, Not far north of Nazareth.
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.(26) Affliction.—Better, oppression.
Bitter.—So the LXX., Syriac, and Vulg. Better, stubborn, and so, inveterate, unyielding, enduring. (Comp. Deuteronomy 21:18-20.) Targum, “hard;” Arabic, “strong” or “violent.”
For there was . . . left.—Comp. Note on 1Kings 14:10.
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.(27) Said not.—By any prophet.
Blot out the name.—The figure is taken from blotting out writing. (Comp. Numbers 5:23.) The Hebrews used inks that soon faded, and could easily be wiped off the parchment (Hence the partial obliteration of words and letters which is one of the causes of textual corruption.)
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?(28) How he recovered Damascus, and Hamath.—Jeroboam II. was probably contemporary with Rammân-nirâri, king of Assyria (B.C. 812-783). This king has recorded his exaction of tribute from Tyre and Sidon, “the land of Omri” (i.e., Israel), Edom, and Philistia; and a siege of Damascus, followed by the submission of Mari’, its king, and the spoiling of his palace. The prostration of his enemy thus accounts for the permanent success of Jeroboam, who was himself a vassal of Assyria.
He recovered.—This verb was rendered “lie restored” in 2Kings 14:25, and that is the meaning here.
Damascus and Hamath.—Not the entire states so named, which were powerful independent communities, but portions of their territory, which had belonged to Israel in the days of Solomon. (See Note on 2Chronicles 8:3-4.)
Which belonged to Judah.—This is really an epithet restrictive of the phrase, “Damascus and Hamath,” the sense being, “Judœan Damascus and Hamath.” (Comp, the Note on 2Kings 15:1.)
For Israel.—Heb., in Israel. The sense is obscure; but the particle “in” appears to refer to the re-incorporation of the Damascene and Hamathite districts with Israel. Ewald would cancel “which belonged to Judah,” and read “to Israel” (so the Syriac and Arabic. But the LXX., Vulg., and Targum support the existing text.) Others explain: He restored Damascus and Hamath to Judah (i.e., to the theocratic people) through Israel (i.e., the northern kingdom, to which the recovered districts were actually annexed). No explanation, however, is really satisfactory. It may be that by an oversight the Judæan editor wrote” to Judah, “instead of” to Israel and that some scribe added a marginal note “in Israel,” which afterwards crept into the text. It is curious to find certain districts of Hamath leagued with Azariah, king of Judah, against Tiglath Pileser. (See Note on 2Kings 15:1.)