Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
THE MONARCHY UNDER AZARIAH (UZZIAH) AND JOTHAM IN JUDAH, AND UNDER ZACHARIAH AND OTHERS UNTIL HOSHEA, IN ISRAEL
(2 KINGS 15–17)
A.—The reigns of Azariah and Jotham in Judah, and of Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah in Israel
2 Kings 15:1–38. (2 Chron. 26 and 27)
1IN the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel [,] began [omit began] Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign [became king]. 2Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign [became king], and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. 3And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according 4[like] to all that his father Amaziah had done; save that the high places were not removed; the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places. 5And the Lord smote [touched] the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house [house of sickness]1. And Jotham the king’s son was over the house, judging the people of the land. 6And 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? 7So 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.
8In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zachariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria six months. 9And 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. 10And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people2, and slew him, and reigned in his stead. 11And the rest of the acts of Zachariah, behold, they are written in the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel. 12This 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.
13Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign [became king] in the nine and thirtieth 14year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned a full month in Samaria. For [And] 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. 15And 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. 16Then Menahem [starting from Tirzah] smote3 Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the coasts [environs] thereof from Tirzah [omit from Tirzah]: because they opened not to him4, therefore he smote it; and all the women5 therein that were with child he ripped up.
17In the nine and thirtieth year of Azariah king of Judah began [omit began] Menahem the son of Gadi to reign [became king] over Israel, and reigned ten years in Samaria. 18And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not all his days [omit all his days] from the sins of Jeroboam the son 19of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. And [In his days—omit 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. 20And Menahem exacted [imposed] the money of [upon] Israel, even of [upon—omit even of] all the mighty men of wealth, of [upon] 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. 21And 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? 22And Menahem slept with his fathers; and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead. 23In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign [became king] over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years. 24And 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. 25But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his, conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the palace [citadel] of the king’s house, [together] with Argob and Arieh, and with him [i.e. Pekah there were] fifty men of the Gileadites: and he killed him, and reigned in his room. 26And 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.
27In the two and fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign [became king] over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years. 28And 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. 29In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee,6 all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria. 30And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned [became king] in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah. 31And 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.
32In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel began [omit began] Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign [became king]. 33Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign [became king], sand he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok. 34And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord: he did according [like] to all that his father Uzziah had done. 35Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher [upper] gate of the house of the Lord. 36Now 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? 37In those days the Lord began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah. 38And 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.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Kings 15:1. In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam. This chronological statement, although it appears in all the versions and in the massoretic text, is inconsistent with 2 Kings 14:2, 17, 23. Amaziah the father of Uzziah ruled in all 29 years (14:2), 14 years contemporaneously with Joash of Israel, and 15 years contemporaneously with his successor, Jeroboam II. (14:17, 23). Amaziah therefore died, and his son Uzziah succeeded him, in the 15th year of the reign of Jeroboam II., not in the 27th. In order to retain the number 27, it has been assumed that there was an interregnum of 11 or 12 years, although there is no mention of any such thing in the history. According to 2 Kings 14:20, 21, Uzziah succeeded immediately upon the death of his father, and moreover, if this supposition were to be adopted, we should have to alter all the other chronological statements in chaps. 14 and 15 Cf. the Excursus on the Chronology, below, after chap. 17. Evidently there has been an interchange of the numerical signs here, כז, 27, has been put for טו, 15, as Capellus and Grotius supposed, and as all the expositors, even including Keil and Von Gerlach, now assume. [Thenius, adopting this solution of the difficulty, calls attention to the testimony which it bears to the antiquity of the use of טו, instead of יה, to represent 15. The latter being the abbreviation for יהוה, was avoided, as is well known, when it should have occurred in the list of numerals to represent fifteen. If טו ever stood there, of course the inference is good, that, even at a very early time, the superstitious reverence for the name והוה had gone so far as to produce this change in the mode of writing the number. In fact, however, the change here from 27 to 15 is purely arbitrary. It must be defended by considerations drawn from the context. Any argument in its favor which is deduced from the greater or less resemblance of כז to טו is of little value. Other letters would have as great or greater resemblance. We ought to understand that, when we abandon the text as it stands, we make arbitrary changes, and we must justify them by critical grounds. We only deceive ourselves when we imagine that there is a resemblance between the numerals in the text and those we want to put there, and so persuade ourselves that we have found further support for our conjecture. That number must be put in the place of 27, which the best critical combinations require. The expositors almost all agree in reading 51 (53) for 41 as the duration of Jeroboam’s reign, and then in reading 15 for 27 here, because Zachariah succeeded in Uzziah’s 38th. See, however, the bracketed note on 2 Kings 14:22, and the Appendix on the Chronology.—W. G. S.] Azariah, or Uzziah, was devoted to the worship of Jehovah, as Amaziah was at the commencement of his reign; like him, however, he still permitted the worship upon the high places. See notes on 2 Kings 14:3 and 4. The chronicler says that he sought Jehovah so long as the prophet Zachariah lived (2 Chron. 26:5). [The chronicler does not charge him with idolatry at all. He accounts for his leprosy by telling how he trespassed upon the function of the priests. This he did from pride; nevertheless, it was rather too great zeal in the service of Jehovah than too little.—W. G. S.]
2 Kings 15:5. And the Lord touched the king, &c. This did not take place until after Uzziah had accomplished what is narrated in 2 Chron. 26:6–15. The ground which is there given (2 Kings 15:16) for the punishment with leprosy is, that he, being puffed up in consequence of his victories and of his powerful position, usurped priestly functions contrary to the law (Numb. 18:3, 7), and thereby violated the sanctuary. It is. hardly possible that he can have become a leper earlier than the last years of his long reign. His son Jotham, who ruled in his stead during his sickness, was only 25 years old when he became king in his own right by his father’s death (2 Kings 15:33).—בֵּית הַחָֽפְשִׂית does not mean: sick-house, or pest-house, as it is now generally translated, for חפשׁ means to be loose, free, that is, separated (Levit. 19:20). Neither does it mean house of freedom, or manumission (Hengstenberg, Keil), but house of separation, i. e., a house which stands in the open country, by itself, separate from others. Vulg: in domo libera seorsum. [See Grammatical note on the verse.] According to the Law (Levit. 13:46), the lepers had to dwell apart (בדד), outside of the city or the camp (2 Kings 7:3). Probably the house in which the leprous king lived was especially built for him.—And Jotham the king’s son was over the house, i.e., he filled one of the highest offices of the court (cf. 1 Kings 4:6; 18:3; 2 Kings 18:18)—judging the people of the land (cf. 1 Sam. 8:6, 20; 1 Kings 3:9), i. e., Vicarius erat regis, qui a populo segregatus fungi regiam potestatem non poterat (Grotius). As was said above (Pt. II., pp. 88 and 89), this passage bears strongly against the supposition that there occurred, in the Hebrew history, joint-regencies which are not specifically mentioned. Uzziah remained king until his death; up to that event, Jotham was not co-regent, but only the representative of his father.—In the city of David, 2 Kings 15:7. Instead of this the chronicler says (II., 26:23): “In the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper.” Bertheau remarks on this: “He was buried, according to this, near to the royal tombs (with his fathers), because they did not dare to put a king who had died of leprosy in the royal sepulchres, lest they should make them unclean.”
2 Kings 15:8. In the thirty and eighth year, &c. In regard to the correctness of this statement, see note on 2 Kings 14:23. The assassinations of kings which had been perpetrated before this, had taken place in secret, but this one was carried out in public, that is to say, boldly and without fear. The people saw it perpetrated without opposing it. The Sept. translate quite incorrectly: καὶ ἐπάταξεν αὐτὸν ἐν Κεβλαὰμ. Ewald considers קָבָל־עָם a proper name, because עָם has not the article [and because קָבָל does not “occur elsewhere in prose,” and because the Sept. take it as a proper name]. He believes it to be the name of the “third king during that month” [see Zach. 11:8]. He translates: “And Kobolam slew him.” Not to speak of any other objection to this, we should then expect to be told whose son he was, as in the similar cases, 2 Kings 15:14, 25, and 30. [Stanley is the only scholar who has followed Ewald in this invention. The facts referred to in support of it are not by any means without weight, but the invention of another king is too ponderous a solution for them. Yet it is remarkable to notice that a form from the root קבל forms a part of certain Assyrian proper names. (See the list of Assyrian kings at the end of vol. I. of Lenormant’s Manual of the History of the East, with foot-note thereon.) However, to take קָבָל־עָם as a proper name in the place before us renders the passage awkward and unnatural.—W. G. S.] Thenius arbitrarily pronounces 2 Kings 15:12 to be an addition by the “redactor.” It refers back very significantly to 2 Kings 10:30. Zachariah was the fourth and last descendant of Jehu upon the throne of Israel.
2 Kings 15:13. Shallum the son of Jabesh, &c. As the one month, during which Shallum reigned, falls in the thirty-ninth year of the reign of Uzziah, the six months, during which Zachariah was king (2 Kings 15:8), must be placed in the last part of the 38th year of Uzziah’s reign; probably some of them fall even in the beginning of the 39th. According to Josephus, Shallum was a friend (φίλος) of Zachariah, and put him to death by taking advantage of this relation. When Menahem, ὁ στρατηγός (i.e., the commander-in-chief), who was then in Tirzah, heard this, he started up with his entire force, and marched to Samaria, καὶ σνμβαλὼν εἰς μάχην ἀναιρεῖ τὸν Σέλλουμον; after he had made himself king, ἐκεῖνεν εἰς θαψὰν παραγίνεται πόλιν. Tirzah lay in the neighborhood of Samaria. See above, note on 1 Kings 14:17.—Then Menahem, 2 Kings 15:16, i.e., after he had made himself master of the throne. The verse contains a further continuation of 2 Kings 15:14, and tells more definitely what Menahem did, after he had killed Shallum, in order to become ruler of the country. This event does not belong to the reign of Menahem, for the story of that does not begin until the 17th verse, but it belongs to the incidents connected with his taking possession of the throne. It follows that Tiphsah is not the celebrated Thapsacus on the Euphrates (as it is in 1 Kings 5:4; see note thereon), as has often been supposed, and as Keil [and Rawlinson] yet maintain. Menahem could not, at any time, have undertaken an expedition against this far distant city, which formed the utmost limit of the kingdom of Solomon; least of all could he have undertaken this just after ascending the throne. He had enough to do to establish his usurped authority on a firm basis. Most commentators, therefore, correctly judge that Tiphsah was a city near Tirzah, of which, as of so many others which are mentioned but once, nothing further is known. The name תִּפְסַח, trajectus, ford, “may, in view of its appellative force, have been applied to many towns which lay near to fords” (Winer). There is not sufficient reason for believing that “תפסח is an error for תַּפּוּחַ,” a town on the border between Ephraim and Manasseh, Jos. 17:7, 8 (Thenius).—מִתִּרְצָה cannot be translated otherwise than as in 2 Kings 15:14. It does not therefore mean: “from Tirzah on,” i.e., to Tiphsah, but: “starting out from Tirzah,” and it is to be joined with יַכֶּה, not with גְּבוּלֶיהָ. The meaning of the passage is, therefore, this: When Menahem heard of the events which had happened in Samaria, he marched from Tirzah with his army, or a part of it, to Samaria, and there slew Shallum. Then he went back to Tirzah and marched out with his entire force to reduce the country to obedience to himself. In Tiphsah he met with obstinate resistance, but took the city by storm (Josephus: κατὰ κράτος), and chastised it and the surrounding territory in a horrible manner (Josephus: ὠμότητος ὑπερβολὴν οὐκαταλιπῶν οὐδὲ ἀγριότητος). He thereby frightened any others who might have been intending to resist, and so established himself on the throne. We have mention of a similar cruelty towards pregnant women in 2 Kings 8:12; Hos. 14:1 [E. V. xiii. 16]; Amos 1:13. If newspaper reports may be believed, a guerilla captain in Michoacan, Mexico, did the same thing in the year 1861.
2 Kings 15:17. In the nine and thirtieth year, &c. On the duration of Menahem’s reign, see note on 2 Kings 15:23. The closing words of 2 Kings 15:18: כָּל־יָמָיו are nowhere else added to the stereotyped formula which recurs in that verse, although they would hold just as true of any of the other kings of Israel as of Menahem. The Sept. join the words to the following verse, and translate: ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ ἀνέβη Φούλ. They therefore read בימיו, and Thenius and Keil, referring also to 2 Kings 15:29, agree in regarding this as the original reading of the text. By this change בָּא, at the commencement of 2 Kings 15:19, comes into a good connection of sense, and is not left abrupt; also there is no need for Hitzig’s emendation וּבָא.—Pul. (2 Kings 15:19) is the first Assyrian king who is mentioned in the Old Testament. In fact this is the first reference to the Assyrians in the history of the Israelites. Since they had to come through Syria in order to reach Palestine, it follows that they must have reduced that country to subjection, and extended their power on this side of the Euphrates; i. e., Assyria must have commenced to take the position of a great world-monarchy. [Assyria had begun to take the position of a world-monarchy, but it must be understood that these expeditions were raids rather than complete conquests. Tribute was imposed and then the defeated nation was left intact. It refused the tribute as soon as it dared and then a new expedition was made against it. It was only after a long period of this vassal relationship that a conquered country was incorporated as a province of the empire. Accordingly very few were ever thus treated at all. The expression for incorporation used in the inscriptions is to “treat them like the Assyrians.”—W. G. S.] Hosea (8:10) calls the king of Assyria “The king of princes.” [“King of kings” is a standing epithet of the Assyrian monarchs upon their monuments.] It has often been inferred from Hos. 5:13; 7:11; 8:9 that Menahem invited the Assyrians to support him against other aspirants to the crown (Thenius), and that Pul came “to help the king to restore order” (Ewald). This notion is controverted by the expression בָּא עַל־הָאַרֶץ, which is used of a hostile coming and attack, Gen. 34:25; Judges 18:21; Isai. 10:28; Job 2:11. In 1 Chron. 5:26, Pul’s coming is distinctly referred to as a hostile attack. Menahem induced the mighty enemy to withdraw from the country by a large sum of money, and then secured his alliance against internal and external foes. This last is what Hosea calls Israel’s going to Assyria. A thousand talents of silver are about two or two and a half million thalers [$1,440,000 or $1,800,000. The value of the talent is not surely and definitely known.] Menahem imposed this sum as a tax (יֹצֵא, he made the money go out) upon the “able ones” in Israel. גִבּוֹרֵי הַחַיִל are not here the mighty men of the army, but those who were strong in wealth (Job 20:15; Ruth 2:1). Either there were no treasuries then in Israel, or, if there were any, they were empty. Menahem did not include the poor in this tax, in order that he might not excite discontent, and might not have to use force to collect it. Each man fifty shekels of silver. As a talent contained 3,000 shekels, there must have been 60,000 “mighty men of wealth.” The interpretation, that Menahem paid to Pul 50 shekels for every soldier in his army (Richter), is incorrect. It is often inferred, though incorrectly, from 1 Chron. 5:26, that Pul, on his departure, took away Reuben and Gad and the half of Manasseh. This deed is ascribed there, as here, to Tiglath Pileser (see Bertheau on that passage). The assertion of the. Calw. Bibel that “this entire occurrence was prophesied in Amos 7:1–3,” has little or no foundation.
2 Kings 15:23. In the fiftieth year of Azariah, &c. As Menahem became king, according to 2 Kings 15:17, in the 39th of Uzziah, and ruled 10 years, we expect here the 49th year. Keil assumes that “some months passed between the death of Menahem and the accession of Pekahiah; probably because of the disorder which prevailed at the time, and which made this accession difficult.” We prefer to suppose that Menahem became king in the last months of the 39th year of Uzziah, and reigned for a month or two into his 50th, i.e., a few months over ten years. [This changes the form of the difficulty, but does not do away with it at all. If the facts had been as is here supposed, the Jewish mode of reckoning would have made Menahem’s reign 11 or 12 years in duration. There is a discrepancy which we cannot explain. We must either change the text, or pass it over, taking 10 years as the length of the reign and neglecting the other statement. The attempted explanations are futile.—W. G. S.] On שָׁלִישׁ, 2 Kings 15:25, see Exeg. note on 1 Kings 9:22. It is not apposition to Remaliah (as Luther took it), but to Pekah. The citadel of the king’s house is not the harem (Ewald). It is the fortified part of the palace into which Pekahiah fled when the conspirators approached (cf. 1 Kings 16:18). [So far as we know there was no part of the Oriental palaces which was, in any proper sense, fortified. The Assyrian palaces which have been exhumed consist of three independent yet connected buildings, a hall of audience or business, a servants’ house, and the harem. The last was the most strictly enclosed and carefully guarded, and was the strongest for defence. It was connected by an enclosed cloister with the first mentioned building. If we may judge from this of the arrangement of a Samaritan palace, the ארמון was the harem or included it.—W. G. S.] Josephus gives as the reason for his short reign of two years: τῇ τοῦ πατρός κατακολουθήσας ὠμότητι. Argob and Arieh were no doubt high officials, and influential friends of the king, whose opposition was to be feared, and whom Pekah, therefore, put to death together with (אֶת) the king. The following עִמּוֹ shows that they were not fellow-conspirators of Pekah (as many have supposed) who, with him, murdered the king. The fifty Gileadites probably belonged to the body-guard which was under the command of Pekah. The Gileadites, who were stout soldiers (1 Chron. 12:8; 26:31; Josh. 17:1), were employed in this department of the service.
2 Kings 15:27. In the two and fiftieth year, &c. On the chronological data in 2 Kings 15:27 and 30, see below, after chap. 17. The following may suffice here: Pekah is said (2 Kings 15:27) to have reigned only 20 years. But, according to 2 Kings 15:32, he reigned two years before Jotham. The latter reigned 16 years. According to 2 Kings 17:1, Pekah’s successor, Hoshea, came to the throne in the 12th year of Jotham’s successor Ahaz. But 2 + 16 + 12 = 30. We are therefore compelled to conclude that the time from the accession of Pekah to that of Hoshea was thirty years. All the commentators agree in this. Then, either Pekah ruled 30 instead of 20 years, or he reigned 20 years and there was an interval of 10 years before the accession of his successor, Hoshea, during which there was no king in Israel, and, as those who adopt this view agree, there was anarchy. 2 Kings 15:30, however, contradicts this latter hypothesis, for it is there said that Hoshea slew Pekah and reigned in his stead, not after an interval of 10 years, but as soon as he had killed him. The history does not hint at any period of strife or anarchy, although such a period must have presented incidents worth recording We do not hesitate, therefore, to assume here, as in 2 Kings 15:1, that an error in copying has been made. The error here, in writing ב, 20, for ל, 30, is one which could take place more easily than the one we discovered there (Thenius). All the other chronological data are consistent with 30 in this place, as we shall see below, on chap. 17. [See the translator’s addition below at the end of this Exeg. section.]
2 Kings 15:29. In the days of Pekah… came Tiglath Pileser. This Assyrian king was the successor of Pul. To which of the Assyrian dynasties he belonged, and whether he was the last of the dynasty of the Dercetadæ, are questions which do not interest us hero [?] (Keil on the passage). The signification of the name Tiglath-pileser (or, as the chronicler writes it, Tilgath-pilneser) is uncertain. According to Gesenius, Tiglath is equivalent to Diglath, the Tigris river, and pileser means lord: “Lord of the Tigris river.” According to Fürst, Tiglath means acer, fortis.—[This is the etymological meaning of Diglath, applied to the Tigris from its swiftness. See the dictionaries on חִדֶּקֶל.]—פִּל, arcere, and אֶסֶר, prince; together: “The chief, as mighty defender.” According to others, Diglath is the name for the goddess Derceto, or Atargatis. [The name is transcribed from the cuneiform by Lenormant: Tuklat-pal-ashir; by Smith: Tukulti-pal-zara; by Rawlinson: Tiglat-pal-zira. Rawlinson (Five Great Monarchies, II. 539) gives the etymology thus: Tiglat is worship, or adoration (Chald. תְּכַל, to trust in); pal is son (of this there is no doubt; it occurs in scores of names); zira is obscure; Sir. H. Rawlinson thinks that it means lord, “as Zirat certainly means lady.” However this last may be, Pal-zira, as a compound, was an epithet of the god Nin (= Hercules), and the king’s name would mean: “Worship to Hercules.” This is the only explanation yet offered which is anything more than a guess.—W. G. S.] On Ijon and Abel-beth-maachah, see notes on 1 Kings 15:20. Janoah cannot be the town on the border between Ephraim and Manasseh, which is mentioned Josh. 16:6 sq., for all the cities here mentioned were in the northern part of Palestine; it probably lay near those which have been mentioned. Kedesh was a free, levitical city in the tribe of Naphtali (Josh. 19:37; 20:7; 21:32); on the western bank of the sea of Merom (Robinson, Palest. III. 355). On Hazor see note on 1 Kings 9:15. Gilead with the article is not a city but the territory east of the Jordan which Jeroboam II. had recovered to Israel (2 Kings 14:25). On Galilee, or Galilah, see note on 1 Kings 9:11. All the land of Naphtali is an explanatory apposition to Galilah. The places are mentioned in the order in which they were conquered. The incident which is here narrated coincides with that in 2 Kings 16:9 (see Maurer on that verse) and belongs to the last years of Pekah’s reign. Perhaps it gave occasion to Hosea’s conspiracy against him. The chronological statement in 2 Kings 15:30: in the twentieth year of Jotham, cannot be correct, for Jotham only reigned 16 years. See further, notes on chap. 17.
2 Kings 15:32. In the second year of Pekah, &c. On the section 2 Kings 15:32–38 see the parallel narrative in 2 Chron. 27:1–9, which contributes further information in regard to Jotham. To the words: He did like to all that his father Uzziah had done, the Chronicler adds: “howbeit he entered not into the temple of the Lord,” i.e., into the inner sanctuary, by which it is meant to say that he did not usurp priestly functions as Uzziah had done (2 Chron. 26:16). He did not abolish the worship on the heights (2 Kings 15:4 and 2 Kings 14:4). He built the upper gate, i.e., he restored it, he rebuilt it more splendidly, for it could not well be meant to assert that he built it at this time, and that there had been none before. הַעֶלְיוֹן is not the highest gate, nor the chief gate, but “the upper one,” perhaps because it was toward the north, towards that part of the temple rock, which, as compared with the south side, was higher. (Bertheau, on 2 Chron. 17:3). [“King Solomon’s palace was evidently at a lower level than the temple, and therefore (2 Chron. 27:3) king Jotham may still have built much upon the wall.” (Jerusalem Restored, p. 222).] According to Ezek. 40:38 sq., the sacrifices were slain at this gate. (Cf. Ezek. 9:2; 8:5) This is probably the reason why Jotham made it especially beautiful. In Jerem. 20:2 it is called the gate of Benjamin. It must not be confused with the gate סוּר, 2 Kings 11:6, for this was adjoining the palace (see Exeg. note on that ver.).—In those days (2 Kings 15:37), i.e., towards the end of Jotham’s reign, Jehovah began to send against Judah the confederated Israelites and Syrians, i.e., he brought this chastisement upon Judah (Levit. 26:22; Amos 8:11). Rezin; “the name of the founder of the dynasty (1 Kings 11:23) [rather of the founder of the monarchy. There had been more than one dynasty.] appears again, slightly altered, in him who was to close it” (Thenius). The attacks were begun under Jotham; under his successor Ahaz (chap. 16) they first became threatening to the kingdom. As the Assyrians had already once penetrated into Palestine (2 Kings 15:19), and as Ahaz once more called on them for aid against Rezin and Pekah (2 Kings 16:7), we must suppose that the Syrians had, in the mean time, freed themselves once more from the Assyrian yoke (see notes on 2 Kings 15:19). This had probably become possible for them because the Assyrians, on account of the revolt of the Medes and Babylonians, were prevented for a time from maintaining their authority. Tiglath Pileser reconquered Damascus (2 Kings 16:9).
[SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE on the references to Assyrian history contained in chap. 15.—The references to contemporaneous history which occur in the text are of the highest value for the solution of the chronological difficulties, and for the elucidation of the history. Every such reference, therefore, requires our most careful attention. In the three years since the German edition of this volume was published most important contributions have been made to our knowledge, especially of Assyrian history. It is difficult to understand how the German author could lay aside all notice of the results which had been attained, even at that time, and refuse to take notice of them. The time has now certainly come when biblical scholars must give them attention, and a summary of the information we possess is given in a series of notes at the end of the Exegetical sections on the next few chapters. 7
Pul (2 Kings 15:19) is the first king of Assyria who is mentioned in the Book of Kings, though we know from the monuments and inscriptions that Ahab and Jehu both came in contact with the Assyrian world-monarchy. (See notes 5 and 12 on the Chronological Table, and p. 114 of PART II.) No such king is mentioned in any inscription which has yet been found, and no such one is named in the Canon (See Appendix on the Chronology, § 4). Rawlinson (Five Great Monarchies, II., p. 385 sq.) thinks that the identification with certain known kings of Assyria, which has been attempted, is unsatisfactory, but does not dispose definitely of the question. In the Manual, Pul is not mentioned among the kings of Assyria though he is mentioned in the section on “Judsæa.” Oppert offers a solution of the difficulty. He gives credit to the story of the “first destruction of Nineveh” by the Chaldeans and Medes. According to his identification of the eclipse mentioned in the Canon (App. on the Chron., § 4.), the date of this would be 789. The accession of Tiglath Pileser II. in 747–5 is beyond dispute. The gap between 789 and 747 is filled by inserting Pul, a Chaldean (the name is not Assyrian in form), who is supposed to have remained in Assyria after the destruction of Nineveh as ruler of the country. This, such as it is, is the best conjecture to account for the king mentioned in 2 Kings 15:19.
Tiglath Pileser II. (2 Kings 15:29) was, according to Rawlinson, a usurper, according to Lenormant, a descendant of the ancient Assyrian dynasty. His reign dates from 745–4, but he may have been engaged for two or three years before that time in securing the throne. He reigned until 727. He is said in the text to have come into Syria and Samaria in the reign of Pekah. This is the first instance we find of that policy of deportation which the Assyrians and Babylonians afterwards practised so much. It was not generally, or certainly had not been up to this time, the policy of the Assyrians to destroy the nationality of the nations which they subdued. (See bracketed note on 2 Kings 15:19.) They made expeditions against certain nations which they plundered and made tributary, but which they then left undisturbed so long as the tribute was paid. It was only after long vassalage, and repeated revolts and reconquests, that nations were incorporated as provinces in the Assyrian empire.
We are now promised from the Assyrian inscriptions a solution of one of the most perplexing discrepancies in the chronological statements of the text, and one which, if correct, at the same time supplies an omission in the historical narrative. It is said that Pekah reigned for 20 years (2 Kings 15:27), but it is stated also that he came to the throne in the 52d of Azariah, who reigned for 52 years. In 2 Kings 17:1, it is said that Hoshea (Pekah’s successor) came to the throne in the 12th of Ahaz. In the mean time Jotham reigned for 16 years. But 1 + 16 + 12 = 29 or 28 years interval for Pekah’s reign. This difficulty has never been solved; it has only been put aside by the assumption of an interregnum after the death of Pekah.
Oppert claims to have discovered the explanation in certain statements of the inscriptions. Lenormant adopts his results, but Rawlinson does not. “It is found that the reign of Pekah was interrupted for more than 7 years; that about 742 he was deposed by a second Menahem, probably a son of Pekahiah, who was placed on the throne by Tiglath Pileser II., king of Assyria, to whom he paid tribute as vassal. In 733 a new revolution dethroned him and restored Pekah. The latter, openly hostile to the Assyrians, whose vassal he had dethroned, made an alliance with Rezin, king of Damascus. These two princes, even in the time of Pekah’s first reign, had formed the design of overturning the throne of the House of David, and installing as king in Jerusalem a certain son of Tabeel (his own name is given in the inscription—Ashariah), a creature of their own (see 2 Kings 15:37, where they seem to have formed the plan before Jotham’s death, and Isai. 7:1–6), in order, probably, to oppose a more compact force to the Assyrians.” (Lenormant, I. 172; cf. also 389.) See note 15 on the Chron. Table. In the last column of the table the chronology of the events of this period is given according to this scheme. In the second alliance and revolt of Rezin and Pekah, in 733, they resumed the plan of attacking Judah. Ahaz called for Tiglath Pileser’s aid (see note after Exeg. on chap. 16), and that monarch marched into Damascus. He put Rezin to death, made Damascus a province, forced many of the chief inhabitants of Syria, northern, and trans-Jordanic Israel to emigrate into Armenia, and, though he left Pekah on the throne, reduced the kingdom of Israel to the district of Samaria. Pekah was present as a vassal at Tiglath Pileser’s court in Damascus in 730.
“Towards the end of 730, Muthon, king of Tyre, made an alliance with Pekah, king of Israel, and they both refused their tribute to the Assyrians. Tiglath Pileser did not consider this revolt of sufficient importance to require his own presence. He contented himself with sending an army into Palestine. On the approach of this force a conspiracy was formed in Samaria, headed by Hoshea, who, after killing Pekah, possessed himself of the crown. The Assyrian king confirmed him in this position, and Muthon, finding himself without an ally, attempted no resistance, and quickly submitted to pay his tribute.” (Lenormant, I. 391.)—For continuation see Supp. Note after the Exeg. section on chap. 16—W. G. S.]
HISTORICAL AND ETHICAL
1. This chapter contains rather a succinct review of several reigns than a detailed account of them. Although we have very little specific information in regard to the character and conduct of the kings mentioned, yet we have a statement about each one in respect to his attitude towards the fundamental law, or constitution, of Israel, that is, towards the covenant of Jehovah. This is always stated in a stereotyped formula. Hence we see that this point was the most important one, in the eyes of the author, in regard to any king, and that, in reviewing or estimating his reign, he laid most stress on this inquiry: How did he stand towards the covenant with Jehovah—the constitution of Israel? After the death of Jeroboam II. the decline of the Kingdom of the Ten Tribes went on without interruption. From the reign of Zachariah on, the kingdom was in the progress of dissolution. The author therefore hastens more rapidly over the period of these kings, of whom three, indeed, only reigned for a very short time, and gives only those facts in regard to them which bear either upon the chief question mentioned above, or upon the approaching catastrophe. For everything beyond this he refers to the original authorities. It is true that he follows the same course in regard to Uzziah and Jotham, who belonged, according to the Chronicler, to the number of energetic and efficient rulers, but this is to be explained, first, by the fact that he treats the history of Judah with less detail from the time of the division of the kingdom on, and, secondly, by the character of the activity of these two kings, which was directed almost exclusively to the external and political prosperity of the nation, not to the restoration and complete realization of the theocracy, which was, for this author, the matter of chief interest. From what the Chronicler gives in addition, we cannot see that the religious and moral life took any new élan under their rule, or reached any more vigorous development. Both were, it is true, favorable to the worship of Jehovah, but they lacked decided zeal for it, for “the people still sacrificed and offered incense upon the heights; “i.e., they did nothing to abolish a form of worship which could so easily lead to error. The external prosperity which they produced and fostered caused carelessness, luxury, forgetfulness of God, and immorality of every kind, just as the same causes had produced these vices in Israel under Jeroboam II. This we see from the descriptions of the prophets (see Isai. 2–5). A slow corruption and demoralization was making its way in Judah. It became evident, and bore fruit under the next king, Ahaz. His successor, Hezekiah, was the first to bring the Mosaic constitution into full and efficient working, hence the author narrates in detail the reign of this genuine theocratic king (cf. chaps. 18, 19, and 20).
[Ewald (Gesch. III. s. 634) thus describes the state of Judah under Uzziah: At this time the people turned their attention to money-getting “not so much, as had formerly been the case, in particular provinces and districts, but throughout the country, even in Judah, and not so much because a single king like Solomon favored commercial undertakings, as because the love of trade and gain, and the desire for the easy enjoyment of the greatest possible amount of wealth, had taken possession of all classes. All the scorn poured out by the prophets upon this haste to be rich, and all their rebukes of the tendency to cheat, which was one of the fruits of it, no longer availed to restore the ancient simplicity and contentment (Hos. 12:8; Isai. 2:7). The long and fortunate reign of Uzziah in Judah was very favorable to the growth of this love of gain and enjoyment. The quick interchange of money in the lower classes, and the fierce struggle for gain which gradually absorbed the entire people, stimulated the upper classes to similar attempts. Many were the complaints in Judah of the injustice of the judges, and of the oppression of the helpless (Amos 3:1; 6:1; Hos. 5:10; cf. also Ps. 12). There was a perverse and mocking disposition prevalent which led men to throw doubt upon everything and to raise objections to everything (Amos 6:3; 9:10; Hos. 4:4). It made them treat with harsh contempt the rebukes and exhortations of the best prophets, as we feel distinctly from the whole tone of the writings of Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah. It led them to desire to know heathen religions, and to introduce foreign divinities, even when the king himself held aloof from any such movement (Amos 2:4; Hos. 4:15; 6:11; 12:1; Isai. 2:8). It became more and more difficult to restrain these tendencies.”]
2. The only incident which is mentioned during the long reign of Uzziah is that God touched him (נגע), and that he was a leper until his death. It follows that this fact must have seemed to the author to be important before all others. Leprosy is not, for him, an accidental disease, but a divine judgment for guilt, as it is often described (Numb. 12:10; Deut. 24:8, 9; 2 Sam. 3:29; 2 Kings 5:27). He does not tell more particularly what the sin of the king was, perhaps because it was baleful to the king alone and personally, and not to the whole people, like the sin of Jeroboam. He rests with a simple reference to the original documents. [The author of the Book of Kings regards Uzziah’s sickness as a visitation of Providence, just as he regards any other affliction, or any piece of good fortune, as something sent by God. He does not know of any guilt on the part of Uzziah for which this was a judgment. He simply mentions it as a matter of interest in itself, and in its connection with the fact, otherwise unparalleled in the history of the monarchy (unless Uzziah was made king while his father was a captive), that the king’s son exercised royal functions during his father’s life-time. He does not hint at any belief on his part that this was a proof that the king had been guilty of some sin, and it does not behoove us to draw any such inference.—W. G. S.] On the contrary, the Chronicler (2 Chron. 26:16 sq.) gives a detailed explanation of the cause of this visitation. According to him the king, who had become arrogant and puffed up by his prosperity and by the power he had attained, was no longer contented with the royal authority, but. sought, as an absolute ruler, to combine with it the highest priestly authority and functions, as the heathen kings did. The institution of the levitical priesthood, however, formed an essential part of the theocratic constitution, and the monarchy, which was, moreover, not established until much later, was not justified in attempting to absorb the priestly office and to overthrow its independence. Uzziah’s guilt, therefore, did not consist in a single illegal action, but in an assault upon the constitution. A principle was at stake, whose violation would have opened a cleft in the theocratic constitution. According to Josephus, Uzziah went into the sanctuary (holy-place), on a great feast-day, before the entire people, ἐνδὺς ἱερατικὴν στολήν, and offered incense there upon the golden altar. [Thenius calls attention to the remarkable detail in the account of this incident in Josephus. Josephus says that the earthquake which is mentioned in Amos 1:1, and Zach. 14:5, as having occurred during Uzziah’s reign, took place at the moment of his quarrel with the priests; that it broke the roof of the temple, and that a ray of sun-light penetrated this, fell upon the head of the king, and produced the leprosy.] No former king had ventured to make such an assault upon the independent authority of the priesthood. Thenius says: “It is most probable that the powerful king desired to reassume the high-priest’s functions which had been executed by David and Solomon,” but this is decidedly false, for there is no hint anywhere that David and Solomon executed priestly functions in the holy place, or in the holy of holies; in fact, there is nothing in the whole Old Testament about any “chief-priestly authority of the kings.” (See notes on the passage 1 Kings 9:25.) It was not, therefore, “any improper self-assertion on the part of the priests against the king” (Ewald). They did right to resist him. On the other hand, it was a usurpation on the part of the king to attempt any such violence upon the rights and functions of the priesthood which God had appointed. It was as much the right as it was the duty of the priests not to allow any such invasion of their prerogatives, and if they resisted the powerful and revered monarch, their courage deserves to be honored. Moreover, it was not they, but Jehovah, who smote the king with leprosy, and he was now compelled to abandon not only the priestly, but also the royal functions.
3. Witsius (Decaphyl. p. 320) says of the five kings who followed Zachariah: non tam reges fuere quam fures, latrones ac tyranni, augusto regum nomine indigni; qui tyrannidem male partam neque melius habitam fœde amistrunt. They all persevered in the sin of Jeroboam, which was, from the very commencement of the kingdom, the germ of its ruin. It is to them that the prophet’s words apply: “They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes and I knew it not” (Hos. 8:4). Only one of them died a natural death and left the succession to his son, who, in his turn, could only retain the sceptre for a short time. Of the others, each one killed his predecessor in order to gain the crown, the authority of which was, in the mean time, shattered by these commotions. One of the most important factors in the history of this period is the conflict with the rising Assyrian monarchy, which came to assist the internal dissension in hurrying the nation to its downfall. Assyria was destined, in the purpose of God, to be the instrument for inflicting the long-threatened judgment. Invited, probably, by the internal weakness and distraction which commenced under Zachariah, Pul made the first invasion during the reign of Menahem; he could only be bribed to withdraw by a heavy tribute. The second Assyrian, Tiglath Pileser, came during Pekah’s reign; he could not be satisfied with money, but carried off a large portion of the inhabitants into captivity. The third, Shalmaneser, came during Hoshea’s reign, captured Samaria, and put an end to the kingdom forever (2 Kings 17:6). [See the bracketed addition at the end of the Exegetical section, above.]
4. Not a single event of the reign of Zachariah, which, in fact, only lasted for six months, is mentioned. It is, however, stated expressly that with him the house of Jehu expired, according to the word of the prophet, 2 Kings 10:30, and not by dying out, but in a violent and bloody way (Hos. 1:4; Amos 7:9). This was also an actual confirmation of the declaration in the fundamental law of Israel, that God visits the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation (Ex. 20:5; 34:7; Deut. 5:9); that is, the sin against the first and chief commandment: “Thou shalt have none other Gods before me, and shalt not make to thyself any graven image” [the first commandment, according to the Lutheran division]. This commandment was the foundation of the covenant with Israel and the centre of the Israelitish nationality. The meaning is, therefore, that the “sin of Jeroboam” will not be permitted by God to run on beyond the third or fourth generation (cf. Menken, Schriften, v. s. 35). No dynasty in Israel which followed the sin of Jeroboam lasted for more than three or four generations. The house of Jeroboam, like that of Baesha and Menahem, perished with its first member; the house of Omri with its third, and the house of Jehu with its fourth. Zimri, Shallum, Pekah, and Hoshea died without successors, while the house of David remained without [long] interruption upon the throne. Although single kings in the line were guilty of apostasy, yet the sin was never continued until the second generation. [On the physical calamities which marked the last years of Jehu’s dynasty, and on the death of Zachariah, see Stanley, II. 400–403.]
5. Shallum, the king of a month, had no historical importance further than this, that he murdered and was murdered. Both these facts go to show, what the author desires to show, the state in which the kingdom then was. The history makes special mention of only two events in the history of Menahem, although he reigned for ten years, but these two events are characteristic of him and of the state of the kingdom. The first is his campaign against Tiphsah, the city which would not admit him, that is, would not recognize him as king. We see from this that he was not at all beloved, and that the land was already distracted by parties. The fact that he there perpetrated a great massacre, and did not even spare the infant in its mother’s womb, and so raged against his own countrymen after the manner of the most savage foreign foes, shows that he was a bloody tyrant, who desired from the outset to fill all his opponents with terror. Machiavelli’s words (De principe, 8) apply to him: “He who violently and without just right usurps a crown, must use cruelty, if cruelty becomes necessary, once for all, in order that he may not find it necessary to recommence the use of it daily.” The second fact mentioned in regard to this reign, one which had decisive influence upon the fate of the whole nation, is the contact with Assyria. Menahem pressed from his subjects a large sum of money, in order not only to bribe the Assyrian king to leave his territory, but also to purchase his support and assistance against his subjects themselves. He was the first king of Israel who, in order to hold his people in subjection and establish his own authority, purchased the assistance of a foreign power. “In order to establish his authority, at the price of the independence of his people, he founded his power upon the Assyrian support” (Duncker). It was against this course that the prophet Hosea pronounced his intense denunciations (5:13; 7:11; 10:6). Instead of establishing the kingdom securely by these means, the king only hastened its ruin, for “it has always been thus in the history of the world; the protection of mighty nations has only been the first step towards oppression by them. Such protection has often been, as it was here for Israel, a punishment for those who sought it” (Calw. Bibel). Starke’s observation: “Menahem acts prudently here, not only in purchasing the departure of the invader with money, but also in laying the tribute as a tax upon his wealthy subjects,” entirely misses the historical connection. Ewald says: “Menahem seemed at first to be inspired with better principles, and it seemed as if the nation would take new life, under his rule, after three incapable rulers had been killed in a single month.” The fact of the three kings is asserted on the strength of Zach. 11:4–8, where “three shepherds” are mentioned, but it falls at once as destitute of foundation. “Kobolam” is a pure fiction (see Exeget. on 2 Kings 15:10). There is no hint in the text of any better principles at the beginning of Menahem’s reign; his conduct at Tiphsah rather bears testimony to the contrary. Also all the rest which Ewald brings together in regard to Menahem’s reign (Gesch. III. s. 599 sq. [3d Ed. s. 644]) rests upon passages in the prophets Zachariah, Isaiah, and Hosea, which do not contain any history. Winer justly characterizes it as: “a very ill-founded combination.”
6. The author does not mention a single event in the reign of Pekahiah. He only speaks of the end of it, which was significant in two respects. Menahem had bought at a heavy price the assistance of Assyria to confirm his royal authority, and to found a dynasty. As long as he lived he maintained himself on the throne. Hardly had his son succeeded him, however, before the vanity of the Assyrian support became apparent. In the second year it was all over with the new dynasty; it was not destined to last. Pekahiah was murdered, not by foreign foes, but by one of his familiar attendants with the help of a portion of the bodyguard which should have protected him. Such crimes can be perpetrated only where all the bonds of discipline and order, of fidelity and obedience, are loosed; hence the contemporary prophet Hosea says: “The Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land,” &c. (Hos. 4:1, 2).
7. In regard to Pekah again, we are not informed of a single act of his. The author tells us, however, that, during his reign, Tiglath-pileser conquered a large portion of the country and carried off the inhabitants. This was the upshot of Pekah’s long reign. This was the great event of the time, in comparison with which all else that occurred was insignificant. The reference to this event is meant to show us that with Pekah’s reign comes the beginning of the end. The war which Pekah carried on against Judah in alliance with Rezin, contributed to the same general result, as is shown in chap. 16 It is at any rate a proof of unusual and irrepressible energy that Pekah, in spite of the internal decay and decline of the kingdom, was able to maintain himself so long upon the throne. He had energy and a soldier’s courage. The manner in which he attained to the throne shows that he was a violent, ambitious, and perfidious man, who cared not for God or divine things. Isaiah never calls him by his name, but only refers to him contemptuously as the “son of Remaliah” (Isai. 7:4, 5, 9), probably because he was a man of vulgar origin. We can only guess what passages in the prophets apply especially to Pekah, since we have no historical data in the book before us upon which to attach them. The interpretation of Zach. 11:16 sq.; 13:7; cf. 10:3, as applying to Pekah, which Ewald proposes so confidently (Propheten des A. B. I. s. 319 sq. Geschichte III. s. 602 [3d ed. s. 648]), is arbitrary and forced. Schmieder’s opinion (in Von Gerlach’s Bibelwerk) that Hosea 7:4–7 refers to Pekah’s conspiracy against Pekahiah, although it is much more probable than Ewald’s notion mentioned above, is not by any means above serious doubts.
8. In the history of king Jotham of Judah no details are given aside from the regular data, except that he built the upper gate of the temple (on the north side of the outer court), and that, about the end of his reign, the attacks of Rezin and Pekah upon Judah began. The first of these has direct reference to the statement that the people still sacrificed on the high places, or, as the Chronicler expresses it, that “the people did yet corruptly” (2 Chron. 27:2). In order to put a stop to this “corruption,” to which the people was so much accustomed, Jotham “built” the gate, through which the sacrifices were brought in, anew; he desired thereby to induce the people to bring their sacrifices hither and not to the forbidden “high places.” This was at least an act inspired by loyalty to the theocracy. This king thereby confessed himself a servant of Jehovah, and the act is therefore especially mentioned. The second fact recorded had, as appears in chap. 16, more important consequences for Judah than anything else which happened during Jotham’s reign. Hence it deserved to be especially mentioned. It was not so much a chastisement for Jotham himself as for the people, who, under the prosperous reigns of Uzziah and Jotham, still continued to act “corruptly,” and inclined strongly to idolatry.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Kings 15:1–7. (Compare 2 Chron. 16) King Uzziah. (a) His prosperous reign of 50 years. (b) His unfortunate end.—It is the greatest blessing for a nation, when a God-fearing king lives long to rule over it. Hence we pray for those in authority.
2 Kings 15:4. How hard it is to abolish and do away with bad customs which have been handed down from generation to generation!
2 Kings 15:5. Uzziah’s guilt and punishment. Starke: We should not be over-bold to undertake duties which do not devolve upon us. He who covets more than he has any right to have loses even what he has.—Let each one remain in his own calling to which he is called, and not invade the functions of another calling, even if he has strength and opportunity to do so. We cannot break over the bounds which God has set without incurring punishment.—CALW. BIBEL: This is a warning example for those who behave as if they are capable of being all in all, whereas each one has his own gifts and his own calling. The might of kings does not reach into the sanctuary.—Think no man blessed until thou hast seen his end. The most fortunate, rich, and mighty king learned that “all flesh is grass,” and that “the world passeth away,” &c., 1 John 2:17.—PFAFF. BIBEL: God chastises often the great in this world with heavy misfortunes, in order to remind them of their own nothingness, and to humble them.—Separation from the world and from the current of affairs, and residence in solitude, may become a great blessing to him who recognizes in them a divine dispensation.—CRAMER: Children must take care of their sick and weak and aged parents; must take their places as far as they can, and honor them in word and deed (Sirach 3:9, 14). [The history of king Uzziah presents warning and instructive lessons especially for a time of prosperity, when greed of gain, love of luxury and ease, respect for wealth, with all the attendant vices of prosperity, are the characteristics of society. See the bracketed addition to Hist. § 1.—W. G. S.]
2 Kings 15:8–31. See Historical and Ethical. The last kings of the northern kingdom, or the monarchy in its decay, (a) The monarchy as the highest civil authority is ordained by God (Prov. 8:16); it is God’s ordinance. If it does not consider itself as such it cannot endure. The last kings of Israel were not chosen and instituted by God, nor even by the people; they raised themselves by force through robbery and murder (Hos. 8:4). They ruled, not by the grace of God, but by His wrath (Hos. 13:11). The monarchy in Israel had lost its foothold on the divine ordinance. All its kings persevered in the sin of Jeroboam, therefore it had no endurance. No dynasty endured beyond the third or fourth generation, some only to the second, the last ones not even to the first; while the house of David, in Judah, did not perish in spite of storms. Where one dynasty overthrows another, there the true, divinely instituted monarchy comes to an end, and people and kingdom perish with it. (b) The monarchy is the “minister of God to them for good” (Rom. 13:4); it is its calling to work out the welfare of the people. The last kings of Israel did not care for this, they only cared for power and dominion. Hence the people and the kingdom sank continually lower and lower. When kings only rule for their own sakes and not for the sake of their people, then they cease to be shepherds of their people (Jerem. 23:1–4), and the monarchy decays (Prov. 20:28; 25:5). Rulers who seized power by force and violence, have never been the deliverers and protectors of their people, but rather tyrants, who have led it down to its ruin. “In one demagogue,” says Luther, “there are hidden ten tyrants.”—As is the master, so is the servant; as is the head, so are the members. A succession of rulers, who attained to the throne by conspiracy, revolt, perjury, and murder, is the surest sign, not only that there is something rotten in the State, but also that there is nothing sound in the nation, from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head (Isai. 1:6; Hos. 4:1 sq.). The corruption in Israel extended, in the first place, from the head downwards. Jeroboam made Israel to sin. Then, however, it came from below upwards. The rebels and murderers who came to the throne came from the people. These kings were so hostile that the one killed the other, but they were of one accord in abandoning Jehovah, and persevering in the sin of Jeroboam. This was the cause of their ruin. When there is no fear of God in the heart, then the door is open to every sin and vice.
2 Kings 15:8–12. The end of the house of Jehu is a clear testimony to the fulfilment of the threats of the divine law (Exod. 20:5).—Before the people. It is a sign of general demoralization and corruption when sins and crimes can be perpetrated in public without causing horror and incurring condemnation.
2 Kings 15:13–15. As a rule, one successful revolt is only the prelude to another. A throne which is founded on sin, cannot sustain the attacks of storms.—WÜRT. SUMM.: We see in the case of Shallum, the murderer, who reigned but a month, how God, the just judge, exercises His retribution upon tyrants.
2 Kings 15:14–22. In the eyes of a domineering man there is no greater crime than that any one should refuse obedience to his will. Love of command is the vice which makes a man inhuman, and more cruel than a wild animal.—It is the way of all tyrants, great and small, that they are cruel and fierce to those over whom they have authority, but tremble and cringe before any who are greater than themselves.—Menahem, instead of turning to God as his protector and helper (Ps. 111:1 and 2), seeks help from the enemies of Israel. He buys this help with money forced from his subjects, but thereby prepares the ruin of his kingdom and people. Cf. Jerem. 17:5 and Hos. 13:8 seq. A friendship which is bought with money will not last.
2 Kings 15:23–26. A prince who is not faithful to his God cannot expect his servants to be faithful to him, but a king who, like David, is a man after God’s own heart, can say: “Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land,” &c. (Ps. 101:6, 7).—OSIANDER: Princes ought not to trust too implicitly to their servants—those whose duty it is to protect them may be the first to strike them.
2 Kings 15:27–31. To the “son of Remaliah” the words apply: “He that exalteth himself shall be abased” (Matt. 23:12).—OSIANDER: Tyrants generally rise very high that they may fall only so much the farther (Isai. 26:4–6).
2 Kings 15:32–38 (cf. 2 Chron. 27).—PFAFF. BIBEL: How beautiful it is to see children walk in the footsteps of their fathers when these were righteous. It is a glorious thing for a prince, instead of beautifying his palaces, and building ivory houses (Amos 3:15), to restore the temple gates, and so says to his people: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4).
2 Kings 15:37 and 38 CALW. BIBEL: We have here a distinct proof that neither the good conduct of a prince by itself, nor the good conduct of the people by itself, can make a nation happy. Prince and people must together serve the Lord, if the land is to prosper.—OSIANDER: When God wishes to punish the sins of a nation, he is wont to remove pious princes by death before the judgment begins.
2 Kings 15:5.—[חָפְשִׁית, for which 2 Chron. 26:21 has חָפְשׁוּת, is an abstract noun, “sickness.” Cf. Ew. § 165, a and b. בֵית הַהָפְשִׁית therefore means house of sickness, hospital. So Gesen., Thenius, Bunsen, and others. Hengstenberg and Keil understand it to mean, “house of freedom,” i.e., in which those dwell who are freed or released from human obligation. It is clear how artificial and forced such an explanation is. Bähr (see Exeg. on the verse) takes it as the English translators did, “separate,” but חפשׁ, although it means free, comes to that idea from another side. Its primary meaning is to be loosened, lax, and so free from bonds. Hence, by a connection of thought which is often found, it means, when applied to the body, having the natural conserving forces weakened and relaxed, i. e., to be weak, diseased, sick. There is here a certain sense of “free,” but not the one which is akin to separate. It is of the utmost importance, in following out the developments of the radical signification of a Hebrew root, not to depart from the true line of its development. The ramifications of different roots approach one another very often, at many points. It is all the more necessary not to pass over from one to the other. בית החפשׁית means “house of sickness,” a house belonging to the king, standing by itself, no doubt, as a matter of fact, and set apart as his residence under the circumstances of his disease.—W. G. S.]
2 Kings 15:10.—Before witnesses, or, in public. קָבָל [lengthened from קֳבָל, (which form Ges. gives in the H.-W.-B., and pronounces Quǒbāl) is to be pronounced Quobol (Böttcher, Ewald), and] is equivalent to the Chaldee קֳדָם, Dan. 2:31; 3:3,—Bähr.
2 Kings 15:16.—[Note the imperfect יַכֶּה after אז. Like the historical present it is used for graphic force, to follow dramatically the succession of events as they arose or came to pass. Ew. § 134, b.
2 Kings 15:16.—[פתח is impersonal, “because it was not opened,” or. “because no opening was made,” i.e. because the people did not open the gates for him.
2 Kings 15:16.—[The art. with the suff. is very rare. See, however, Levit. 27:23; Josh. 7:21; 8:33,—Ew. § 290. d.e.
2 Kings 15:29.—[ הַגָּלִֽילָה—Elsewhere in the O. T. it is always called הַגָּלִיל. It is not regarded as a fem. and hence the ultima is not accented, though the plural has the form גְּלִילוֹת,—Ew. § 173, h, 2 and 3, note 1. Böttcher sees in it a peculiarity of the “Ephraimitic” dialect (§ 34). In form הגלילה is a perfect feminine, but, as the other form was Judaic, that is, classical, the punctuators did not accent this as a feminine. Lehrb. § 616, 3.—W. G. S.]
Of works which are available to the English student for acquiring a more detailed acquaintance with history contemporaneous to that of the Israelitish monarchy, we may mention the following: a) Prof. Geo. Rawlinson’s Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient World. (4 Vols. Murray; London, 1864. 2d ed. 1871.) This work is based on the investigations and opinions of Sir H. Rawlinson. The first edition has been already to some extent superseded by later discoveries. b) Manual of Ancient History, by the same (Harpers, reprint, 1871). This is a small and convenient work. A large part of it is taken up with the history of Greece and Rome, and the history of the Oriental nations is so much epitomized that it is hardly available for any who are not already familiar with the history from other sources. It is not consistent in its chronology. It adopts the “short period” for Assyrian history, but has not ventured to depart from the received chronology for the Israelitish monarchy in order to bring them into accord. (See notes 5 and 15 on the Chronological Table at the end of this volume and the Appendix on the Chronology. Both these works are marked by a certain timidity and want of independence, c) Lenormant’s Manual of the Ancient History of the East; English edition edited by Chevallier (Asher: London, 2 vols.; Vol. I., 1869; Vol. II., 1870. This is the edition to which the references in this volume apply. Reprint by Lippincott). The French edition (Levy: Paris, 1869) is accompanied by an excellent historical atlas. This work is based chiefly upon the researches of Oppert, but contains also original investigations and independent judgment. It presents a very satisfactory statement of the present state of our knowledge, and is in style and method very available as a student’s manual. The caution needs to be borne in mind, however, in using it that assured facts and hypothetical conjecture are sometimes combined to produce a smooth narrative, and that the reader has little warning as to which is which. It is very conservative in its religious and theological attitude, and the English edition follows the E. V. sometimes even where it is certainly incorrect.
In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign.