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Azariah begins to reign over Judah, and acts well, but does not remove the high places, 2 Kings 15:1-4. He becomes leprous, and dies, after having reigned fifty-two years; and Jotham, his son, reigns in his stead, 2 Kings 15:5-7. Zachariah reigns over Israel, and acts wickedly; and Shallum conspires against him and slays him, after he had reigned six months, 2 Kings 15:8-12. Shallum reigns one month, and is slain by Menahem, 2 Kings 15:13-15. Menahem‘s wicked and oppressive reign; he subsidizes the king of Assyria, and dies, after having reigned ten years, 2 Kings 15:16-22. Pekahiah, his son, reigns in his stead; does wickedly; Pekah, one of his captains, conspires against and kills him, after he had reigned two years, 2 Kings 15:23-26. Pekah reigns in his stead, and acts wickedly, 2 Kings 15:27-28. Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, carries into captivity the inhabitants of many cities, 2 Kings 15:29. Hoshea conspires against and slays Pekah, after he had reigned twenty years; and reigns in his stead, 2 Kings 15:30, 2 Kings 15:31. Jotham beans to reign over Judah; he reigns well; dies after a reign of sixteen years, and is succeeded by his son Ahaz, 2 Kings 15:32-38.
In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam - Dr. Kennicott complains loudly here, because of “the corruption in the name of this king of Judah, who is expressed by four different names in this chapter: Ozriah, Oziah, Ozrihu, and Ozihu. Our oldest Hebrew MS. relieves us here by reading truly, in 2 Kings 15:1, 2 Kings 15:6, 2 Kings 15:7, עזיהו (Uzziah), where the printed text is differently corrupted. This reading is called true,
1.Because it is supported by the Syriac and Arabic versions in these three verses.
2.Because the printed text itself has it so in 2 Kings 15:32, 2 Kings 15:34 of this very chapter.
3.Because it is so expressed in the parallel place in Chronicles; and,
4.Because it is not Αζαριας , Azariah, but Οζιας , Oziah, (Uzziah), in St. Matthew‘s genealogy.”
There are insuperable difficulties in the chronology of this place. The marginal note says, “This is the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam‘s partnership in the kingdom with his father, who made him consort at his going to the Syrian wars. It is the sixteenth year of Jeroboam‘s monarchy.” Dr. Lightfoot endeavors to reconcile this place with 2 Kings 14:16, 2 Kings 14:17, thus: “At the death of Amaziah, his son and heir Uzziah was but four years old, for he was about sixteen in Jeroboam‘s twenty-seventh year; therefore, the throne must have been empty eleven years, and the government administered by protectors while Uzziah was in his minority.” Learned men are not agreed concerning the mode of reconciling these differences; there is probably some mistake in the numbers. I must say to all the contending chronologers: -
Non nostrum inter vos tantas componere lites.
When such men disagree, I can‘t decide.
He did that which was right - It is said, 2 Chronicles 26:5, that he sought the Lord in the days of Zechariah the prophet, and God made him to prosper; that he fought against the Philistines; broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod; prevailed over the Arabians and Mehunims; and that the Ammonites paid him tribute; and his dominion extended abroad, even to the entering in of Egypt; that he built towers in Jerusalem, at the corner gate, valley gate, and turning of the wall; and built towers also in the desert, and digged many wells; that he had a very strong and well-regulated military force, which he provided with a well-stocked arsenal; and constructed many military engines to shoot arrows and project great stones; and that his fame was universally spread abroad.
The Lord smote the king, so that he was a leper - The reason of this plague is well told in the above quoted chapter, 2 Chronicles 26:16.
That his heart being elated, he went into the temple to burn incense upon the altar, assuming to himself the functions of the high priest; that Azariah the priest, with fourscore others, went in after him, to prevent him; and that while they were remonstrating against his conduct, the Lord struck him with the leprosy, which immediately appeared on his forehead; that they thrust him out as an unclean person; and that he himself hurried to get out, feeling that the Lord had smitten him; that he was obliged to dwell in a house by himself, being leprous, to the day of his death; and that during this time the affairs of the kingdom were administered by his son Jotham. A poet, ridiculing the conduct of those who, without an episcopal ordination, think they have authority from God to dispense all the ordinances of the Church, expresses himself thus: -
But now the warm enthusiast cries,
The office to myself I take;
Offering the Christian sacrifice,
Myself a lawful priest I make:
To me this honor appertains,
No need of man when God ordains.
[Some go into the contrary extreme, and in effect say, no need of God when Man ordains.]
Though kings may not so far presume,
‘Tis no presumption in a clown,
And, lo, without a call from Rome,
My flail or hammer I lay down;
And if my order‘s name ye seek,
Come, see a new Melchisedek!
Ye upstart (men-made) priests, your sentence know,
The marks you can no longer hide;
Your daring deeds too plainly show
The loathsome leprosy of pride;
And if ye still your crime deny,
Who lepers live shall lepers die.
This is very severe, but applies to every man who, through pride, presumption, or the desire of gain, enters into the priest‘s office, though he have the utmost authority that the highest ecclesiastical officer can confer.
Smote him before the people - In some public assembly: he probably became very unpopular.
This was the word of the Lord - unto Jehu - God had promised to Jehu that his sons should sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation; and so it came to pass, for Jehoahaz, Joash, Jeroboam, and Zachariah, succeeded Jehu, to whom this promise was made. But because he executed the Divine purpose with an uncommanded cruelty, therefore God cut his family short, according to his word by Hosea, I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu; and I will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel, Hosea 1:4.
He reigned a full month - Menahem is supposed to have been one of Zachariah‘s generals. Hearing of the death of his master, when he was with the troops at Tirzah, he hastened to Samaria, and slew the murderer, and had himself proclaimed in his stead. But, as the people of Tiphsah did not open their gates to him, he took the place by assault; and as the text tells us, practiced the most cruel barbarities, even ripping up the women that were with child!
Pul, the king of Assyria - This is the first time we hear of Assyria since the days of Nimrod, its founder, Genesis 10:11.
Dean Prideaux supposes that this Pul was father of the famous Sardanapalus, the son himself being called Sardan; to which, as was frequent in those times, the father‘s name, Pul, was added, making Sardanpul of which the Greeks and Latins made Sardanapalus; and this Pul is supposed to be the same that reigned in Nineveh when Jonah preached the terrors of the Lord to that city.
That his hand - That is, his power and influence, might be with him: in this sense is the word hand frequently used in Scripture.
Each man fifty shekels of silver - Upwards of five pounds sterling a man.
Are they not written in - the chronicles - There are no chronicles extant, in which there is any thing farther relative to this king.
Smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king‘s house, with Argob and Arieh - Who Argob and Arieh were we know not; some make them men, some make them statues. Pekah had fifty Gileadites in the conspiracy with him.
Came Tiglath-pileser - He is supposed to have been the successor of Sardanapalus: Dean Prideaux makes him the same with Arbaces, called by Aelian Thilgamus, and by Usher Ninus junior; who, together with Belesis, headed the conspiracy against Sardanapalus, and fixed his seat at Nineveh, the ancient residence of the Assyrian kings; as did Belesis, who is called, in Isaiah 39:1, Baladan, fix his at Babylon.
Took Ijon - These places belonged to Israel; and were taken by Ben-hadad, king of Syria, when he was in league with Asa, king of Judah. See 1 Kings 15:20. They were regained by Jeroboam the second; and now they are taken from Israel once more by Tiglath-pileser. From 1 Chronicles 5:26, we learn that Pul and Tiglath-pileser, kings of Assyria, carried away into captivity the two tribes of Reuben, and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh; all that belonged to Israel, on the other side of Jordan. These were never restored to Israel.
Hoshea the son of Elah - in the twentieth year of Jotham - There are many difficulties in the chronology of this place. To reconcile the whole, Calmet says: “Hoshea conspired against Pekah, the twentieth year of the reign of this prince, which was the eighteenth after the beginning of the reign of Jotham, king of Judah. Two years after this, that is, the fourth year of Ahaz, and the twentieth of Jotham, Hoshea made himself master of a part of the kingdom, according to 2 Kings 15:30. Finally, the twelfth year of Ahaz, Hoshea had peaceable possession of the whole kingdom, according to 2 Kings 17:1.”
Now the rest of the acts of Jotham - These acts are distinctly stated in 2 Chronicles 27:1-9. He built the high gate of the house of the Lord, and he built much on the wall of Ophel. He built cities in the mountains of Judah; and in the forests he built castles and towers. He overthrew the Ammonites; and obliged them to give him one hundred talents of silver, ten thousand measures of wheat, and ten thousand of barley, for three consecutive years. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years. These are the particulars which we learn from the place in Chronicles quoted above; few of which are mentioned in this place. As to the higher gate of the house of the Lord, commentators are not well agreed: some think it was a gate which he then made, and which did not exist before, and is the same that is called the new gate, Jeremiah 26:10, which is very likely.
In those days the Lord began to send - It was about this time that the Assyrian wars, so ruinous to the Jews, began; but it was in the following reigns that they arrived at their highest pitch of disaster to those unfaithful and unfortunate people. However much we may blame the Jews for their disobedience and obstinacy, yet we cannot help feeling for them under their severe afflictions. Grievously they have sinned, and grievously have they suffered for it. And if they be still objects of God‘s judgments, there is revelation to believe that they will yet be objects of God‘s goodness. Many think the signs of the times are favorable to this ingathering; but there is no evidence among the people themselves that the day of their redemption is at hand. They do not humble themselves; they do not seek the Lord.