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A Study of the Bible

 

A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF KINGS

2 Kings 15 

Azariah's good reign in Judah 15:1-7 (cf. 2 Chron. 26)

1In the twenty-seventh year of King Jeroboam of Israel King Azariah son of Amaziah of Judah began to reign.
2He was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem.
3He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done.
4Nevertheless the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places.
5The LORD struck the king, so that he was leprous to the day of his death, and lived in a separate house. Jotham the king's son was in charge of the palace, governing the people of the land.
6Now the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah?
7Azariah slept with his ancestors; they buried him with his ancestors in the city of David; his son Jotham succeeded him..

Most Bible students know Azariah ("Yahweh Helps" or "Yahweh Has Helped") by his other name, Uzziah ("Yahweh Is Strong" or "Yahweh Is My Strength," vv. 13, 30, 32, 34; 2 Chron. 26; Isa. 1:1; Hosea 1:1, Amos 1:1; Zech. 14:5; et al.). "Azariah is evidently the throne-name, Uzziah an adopted name, or possibly a popular alias with play on the roots, 'help' in the first case, 'might' in the second, the latter as a result of the king's triumphs." His 52-year reign (790–739 B.C.) was longer than any other king of Judah or Israel so far. King Manasseh reigned the longest in Judah (55 years), and Azariah was second. Azariah reigned while seven of the last eight kings of the Northern Kingdom ruled, all but the last Israelite king, Hoshea. The first 23 years of his reign was a coregency with his father Amaziah, and the last 11 was another coregency with his son Jotham. Azariah was one of Judah's most popular, effective, and influential kings. He expanded Judah's territories, fortified several Judean cities, including Jerusalem, and reorganized the army (v. 22; cf. 2 Chron. 26:6-14). The combined territories over which he and Jeroboam II exercised control approximated those of David and Solomon. "Uzziah assumed sole rule of Judah some fifteen years after Jeroboam II became supreme head of Israel. Equally talented, he was able to follow the example set by Jeroboam in land acquisition and even, after the demise of Jeroboam, to attain a role yet more influential in the world." Unfortunately Azariah (Uzziah) became proud, and in disobedience to the Mosaic Law performed functions that God had restricted to the priests (2 Chron. 26:16-21). For this sin God punished him with leprosy (v. 5). "It is important to point out here that Uzziah's sin was not in his offering incense per se but in his doing so in the very temple itself and on the altar of incense. This was a privilege reserved to the priests of the Aaronic line. As the Davidic heir—the priest after the order of Melchizedek—he did, indeed, enjoy priestly prerogatives as had David and Solomon before him. But his role as messianic priest was not to be confused with the specific function of the Aaronic priest." History teaches us that few people have been able to maintain spiritual vitality and faithfulness when they attain what the world calls success. As with Solomon, Azariah's early success proved to be his undoing.

 

Zechariah's evil reign in Israel 15:8-12

8In the thirty-eighth year of King Azariah of Judah, Zechariah son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria six months.
9He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his ancestors had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin.
10Shallum son of Jabesh conspired against him, and struck him down in public and killed him, and reigned in place of him.
11Now the rest of the deeds of Zechariah are written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel.
12This was the promise of the LORD that he gave to Jehu, "Your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation." And so it happened.

"Zechariah" ("Yahweh Remembers") reigned only six months (753–752 B.C.) before his successor Shallum assassinated him. Zechariah was the fourth and last king of Jehu's dynasty (v. 12; cf. 10:30). The fact that the people made Shallum king after he killed Zechariah suggests that Zechariah was not popular. "Zechariah's reign also is noteworthy in that it begins an era of intrigue. Shallum becomes the first person of this current era to come to power through conspiracy and assassination." "The death of this last king of the dynasty of Jehu (v. 12) saw the end of the Northern Kingdom proper. In the last twenty years six rulers were to follow each other, but only one was to die naturally. Anarchy, rivalry and regicide led to terminal bloodshed which fulfilled Hosea's prophecies (1:4).”

 

Shallum's evil reign in Israel 15:13-16

13Shallum son of Jabesh began to reign in the thirty-ninth year of King Uzziah of Judah; he reigned one month in Samaria.
14Then Menahem son of Gadi came up from Tirzah and came to Samaria; he struck down Shallum son of Jabesh in Samaria and killed him; he reigned in place of him.
15Now the rest of the deeds of Shallum, including the conspiracy that he made, are written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel.
16At that time Menahem sacked Tiphsah, all who were in it and its territory from Tirzah on; because they did not open it to him, he sacked it. He ripped open all the pregnant women in it.

Shallum's reign was even shorter than Zechariah's. It lasted only one month (752 B.C.). "Menahem" ("Comforter") may have been the commander-in-chief of Jeroboam II's army. He was serving in Tirzah, Israel's former capital. Menahem regarded Shallum as a usurper to the throne. He evidently believed that as commander of the army he should have succeeded Zechariah. Menahem probably attacked Tiphsah in Israel because its inhabitants refused to acknowledge his claim to the throne. He probably hoped that his violent destruction of that town (v. 16) would move other Israelite leaders to support him. "What was involved was more than an ordinary grab for power; indeed, it was an attempt to reassert the domination of the old political base located at Tirzah." "The savage cruelty against pregnant women was typical of those days of the Assyrian terror; it was expected from Hazael (812), practiced on Israel by Ammon (Am. 1 13), and was to be part of Israel's final tragedy (Hos. 141[sic 1316])." As the history of Israel unfolds, the reader cannot help noticing how the kings increasingly behaved as their Gentile neighbors, who had no special regard for God's Law.

 

Menahem's evil reign in Israel 15:17-22

17In the thirty-ninth year of King Azariah of Judah, Menahem son of Gadi began to reign over Israel; he reigned ten years in Samaria.
18He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart all his days from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin.
19King Pul of Assyria came against the land; Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, so that he might help him confirm his hold on the royal power.
20Menahem exacted the money from Israel, that is, from all the wealthy, fifty shekels of silver from each one, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and did not stay there in the land.
21Now the rest of the deeds of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel?
22Menahem slept with his ancestors, and his son Pekahiah succeeded him.

Menahem began Israel's seventh royal family. His reign lasted 10 years (752–742 B.C.). Assyrian inscriptions have identified Pul as Tiglath-Pileser III (745–727 B.C.; cf. v. 29; 16:7, 10; 1 Chron. 5:26). Pul was the throne name that Tiglath-Pileser III took as Babylon's sovereign after he conquered that nation about 729 B.C.160 This is the first explicit mention of Assyria in Kings. Tiglath-Pileser was a very strong Assyrian ruler. He invaded Israel in 743 B.C. and consequently Israel experienced Assyria's controlling influence. Because of Israel's apostasy God delivered her over to the clutches of a foreign power that would one day swallow her up (cf. Deut. 28:32-33).

 

Pekahiah's evil reign in Israel 15:23-26

23In the fiftieth year of King Azariah of Judah, Pekahiah son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria; he reigned two years.
24He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin.
25Pekah son of Remaliah, his captain, conspired against him with fifty of the Gileadites, and attacked him in Samaria, in the citadel of the palace along with Argob and Arieh; he killed him, and reigned in place of him.
26Now the rest of the deeds of Pekahiah, and all that he did, are written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel.

In 742 B.C., "Pekahiah" ("Yahweh Has Opened the Eyes") began his two-year reign (742–740 B.C.). It ended when Pekah, one of his military officers, assassinated him in Samaria, in addition to Argob and Arieh, who were probably Israelite princes (v. 25).

 

Pekah's evil reign in Israel 15:27-31

27In the fifty-second year of King Azariah of Judah, Pekah son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria; he reigned twenty years.
28He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin.
29In the days of King Pekah of Israel, King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel-beth-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried the people captive to Assyria.
30Then Hoshea son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah son of Remaliah, attacked him, and killed him; he reigned in place of him, in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah.
31Now the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, are written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel.

Though the writer did not clarify this point, it seems that Pekah had been ruling over Israel in Gilead since 752 B.C., the year Menahem assassinated Shallum. This must be the case in view of the writer's chronological references.162 He wrote that in the fiftysecond year of Azariah, Pekah became king over Israel in Samaria. Apparently Pekah never accepted Menahem's claim to Israel's throne and set up a rival government on the east side of the Jordan River in Gilead. In 740 B.C. he assassinated Pekahiah in Samaria, moved there, and reigned until 732 B.C. Part of Pekah's reason for opposing Menahem seems to have been a difference in foreign policy. Menahem was willing to submit to Assyrian control (vv. 19-20). Pekah evidently favored a harder line of resistance since he made a treaty with Rezin, the king of Damascus, against Assyria. This resulted in Tiglath-Pileser invading Israel, along with Philistia and Aram, in 734–732 B.C. (2 Chron. 28:5-8). He captured much of Israel's territory (v. 29) and deported many Israelites to Assyria about 733 B.C. "This was to be the beginning of the elimination of Israel as an independent state." Israel's defeat encouraged Hoshea to assassinate Pekah and succeed him in 732 B.C. Tiglath-Pileser claimed to have had a hand in setting Hoshea on Israel's throne.164 Obviously Assyria was in control of affairs in Israel at this time.

 

Jotham's good reign in Judah 15:32-38 (cf. 2 Chron. 27)

32In the second year of King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel, King Jotham son of Uzziah of Judah began to reign.
33He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok.
34He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done.
35Nevertheless the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. He built the 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 Annals of the Kings of Judah?
37In those days the LORD began to send King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah against Judah.
38Jotham slept with his ancestors, and was buried with his ancestors in the city of David, his ancestor; his son Ahaz succeeded him.

 

Jotham's 16-year reign over Judah (750–735 B.C.) began while Pekah was in power in Gilead. He shared the last four of these years with his coregent son Ahaz. "Jotham" ("Yahweh is Perfect") added the upper gate of the temple (v. 35), an opening between the outer and inner courts on the north side of the temple near the altar of burnt offerings. Other names for it were the upper Benjamin gate (Jer. 20:2), the new gate (Jer. 26:10; 36:10), the north gate (Ezek. 8:3), and the altar gate (Ezek. 8:5). This shows his concern for Yahweh's reputation in Judah (cf. 2 Chron. 27:3-6). The Syro-Ephraimitic alliance, to which the writer referred briefly in verse 37, features significantly in 16:5-8 and Isaiah 7:1-17. Judah's neighbors to the north and east were eager to secure Judah's help in combating the growing Assyrian threat. They turned against Judah because Judah did not join them (v. 37). The reasons for this will follow in the discussion of Ahaz, Judah's king (ch. 16).