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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible
2 Kings 14

 

 

Introduction

THE REIGN OF AMAZIAH IN JUDAH AND THE REIGN OF JEROBOAM IN ISRAEL

"The record of Amaziah is the story of how an arrogant heart lifted up in pride is abased, and how the Lord brought judgment upon arrogant pride."[1]


Verses 1-7

THE EARLY SUCCESS OF AMAZIAH IN WAR AGAINST EDOM

"In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel began Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah to reign. He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem: and his mother's name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. And he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, yet not like David his father: he did according to all that Joash his father had done. Howbeit the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was established in his hand, that he slew his servants who had slain the king his father: but the children of the murderers he put not to death; according to that which is written in the book of the Law of Moses, as Jehovah commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall die for his own sin. He slew of Edom in the Valley of Salt ten thousand, and took Sela by war, and called the name of it Jokthel unto this day."

This is one of the most important paragraphs in the O.T., because it is an unanswerable argument for the EXISTENCE of the Law of Moses long prior to the "Deuteronomist nonsense" so brazenly advocated by unbelieving critics. Of course, such critics go out of their way to deny what is written here. Honeycutt, for example, denied that 2 Kings 14:6 here reflects a statement in God's Word, declaring that, "It reflects the Deuteronomist conception of individualism."[2] On the contrary, as Stigers truthfully stated it, " 2 Kings 14:6 is a citation from the Law of Moses and is evidence that Deuteronomy is NOT a late composition as some critics hold."[3]

If the commandment of God as recorded in 2 Kings 14:6 had not actually existed in the Torah, or Pentateuch, during the reign of that proud, arrogant, rebellious ruler, king Amaziah, there is no possibility whatever that he would have spared the children of those who murdered his father.

Those who vainly attempt to make the law given in 2 Kings 14:6 a "later development" point out that Joshua had put to death the whole family of Achan; but the cases are not parallel. Achan's family could not have failed to know of his sin, and they were, therefore, participants after the fact in his guilt. And besides that, Moses was the great Lawgiver, not Joshua. Joshua also made a covenant with the Gittites contrary to the Law of Moses.

Our sacred text here flatly declares that the commandment mentioned in 2 Kings 14:6 came from the Law of Moses, but, in spite of that, Raymond Calkins wrote that, "The historian here quotes a law which only later came into existence."[4] All believers should reject such denials of Biblical text. For any believer to allow a fallible (and sinful) human being to deny what the Bible plainly declares is the modern equivalent of the mistake that Eve made when she allowed Satan to convince her that what the Lord had said was untrue.

Cook pointed out that there is a strange parallel in the lives of Amaziah and his father Joash. "Both were zealous for Jehovah in the earlier portions of their reigns, but in the latter part fell away. Both disregarded the rebukes of prophets; and both, having forsaken God, were in the end conspired against and slain."[5]

"He did according to all that Joash his father had done" (2 Kings 14:3). His father was an apostate from God, and so was Amaziah. In the parallel account in 2 Chronicles 25:14ff, it is written that he brought back the pagan gods from Edom and worshipped them. "That sin of Amaziah was so ridiculous as to be almost unbelievable. But how believable or rational is any sin?"[6]

"He slew in the Valley of Salt ten thousand, and took Sela by war" (2 Kings 14:7). That is not all that he did. Josephus tells us how he, "Took many prisoners alive, whom he brought to a great rock which is in Arabia, and he threw them down headlong."[7] It appears that Amaziah became almost insane with egotistical pride. Again from Josephus, "He was puffed up and began to overlook God who had given him the victory."[8] "Sela mentioned in this verse is the same as ancient Petra, the great stronghold of the Edomites."[9]


Verses 8-10

AMAZIAH FOOLISHLY DEMANDED WAR WITH ISRAEL

"Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, Come let us look one another in the face. And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon and trod down the thistle. Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thy heart hath lifted thee up: glory thereof, and abide at home; for why shouldest thou meddle to the hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?"

Our text in this narrative omits some of the important factors leading up to this declaration of war by Amaziah as revealed in 2 Chronicles 15 and in Josephus. When Amaziah was preparing to invade Edom, he paid a hundred talents in silver to hire some troops from the tribe of Ephraim. Upon the advice of a prophet he sent them back home, which dismissal they took as an insult; and during his campaign in Edom they raided cities in Judah. In the meantime, Amaziah's victory convinced him that he could reunite Israel under the Davidic dynasty; and Josephus tells us that, "Amaziah told the king of Israel that if he would not consent to such a restoration of united Israel, then he would have to fight for his dominion."[10]


Verses 11-14

AMAZIAH DEFEATED; JERUSALEM SACKED; HER TREASURES LOOTED

"But Amaziah would not hear. So Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah. And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to his tent. And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Bethsehmesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits. And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of the king's house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria."

The facts related here become much clearer in the light of the supplemental material in Josephus and in 2 Chronicles 25. The battle was fought at Bethshemesh, some fifteen miles west of Jerusalem. A great panic (Josephus says it was sent by God) among Amaziah's troops left the king unprotected and Jehoash captured him and threatened to kill him unless he gave him admittance to Jerusalem. Amaziah submitted; and Joash broke down two hundred yards of the city's walls to provide an adequate entrance for his army, which then proceeded to loot the temple and the king's house. Having thus humiliated Amaziah, Jehoash (Joash) contemptuously left him on his throne. One may be sure that powerful enemies of Amaziah within Judah then and there resolved to kill him.


Verse 15-16

RECAPITULATION REGARDING THE DEATH OF JEHOASH

"Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead."

These verses are the same as the two verses in 2 Kings 13:12-13. The accession of Jeroboam to the throne of Israel was an important event. His long reign became the high point of the Northern Israel's prosperity, and under his kingship the territory of Israel once more reached the dimensions of the Solomonic empire, an achievement which the prophet Jonah the son of Amittai had prophesied.


Verses 17-22

THE CONCLUSION OF THE REIGN OF AMAZIAH KING OF JUDAH

"And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years. Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem; and he fled to Lachish: but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there. And they brought him upon horses; and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David. And all the people of Judah took Azariah (Uzziah), who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with is fathers."

The big thing here is the conspiracy against Amaziah. There is no evidence whatever that the conspiracy was either led or encouraged by the children of the murderers of Amaziah's father whom Amaziah had spared on the basis of God's commandment mentioned in 2 Kings 14:6. 2 Chronicles 25:27 reveals that the element of Judah that was faithful to the worship of Jehovah was the center of that conspiracy. We read that, "From the time that Amaziah departed from the Lord, they formed a conspiracy against him." Thus, it was Amaziah's apostasy from the Lord in bringing in those pagan deities from Edom that precipitated the opposition that took his life. Keil did not believe that such a conspiracy could possibly have lasted fifteen years,[11] but to this writer it seems possible enough, even probable.

Amaziah evidently became aware of the conspiracy and fled to Lachish, probably on his way to Egypt. That town was the second largest in Judah and was located some 35 miles southwest of Jerusalem.

"They brought him upon horses" (2 Kings 14:20). Keil suggested that this means the hearse in which they brought him to Jerusalem was drawn by horses; but the text seems to indicate that his body was merely thrown over a horse, or conveyed on a stretcher resting upon a pair of horses, and thus transported to Jerusalem.

The next paragraph relates the accession of Jeroboam. It is related in 2 Kings 13:5 that Jehovah gave Israel `a saviour'; and it would appear that this ruler was indeed that `saviour.' However, he was an evil saviour.


Verses 23-27

THE "SAVIOUR" OF ISRAEL (JEROBOAM) IS ENTHRONED

"In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin. He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath unto the sea of Arabah, according to the word of Jehovah, the God of Israel, which he spake by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. For Jehovah saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter; for there was none shut up nor left at large, neither was there any helper for Israel. And Jehovah said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven; but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash."

REGARDING THE REIGN OF JEROBOAM

The date of this important administration over Israel is not known exactly. LaSor (New Bible Commentary, Revised) dated it, "From circa 782-752 B.C. with a co-regency from around 793 B.C.."[12] J. C. McCauley in Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia gave it as 782 to 753 B.C.[13] D. A. Hubbard in The New Bible Dictionary listed it as 793 to 753 B.C.[14] These three dates are essentially the same. W. J. Deane in The Pulpit Commentary dated his rule from 799 to 759 B.C.[16] Canon Cook, following what he called the "common chronology," dated Jeroboam from 823 to 782 B.C.[17] These opinions are sufficient to justify the analysis of Hammond that, "The chronology of the later half of the Israelite kingdom is in confusion."[18]

The great revelation of this chapter regarding the politically successful reign of Jeroboam II is the worthlessness of it in the sight of God. Great as it was in the eyes of men, it was here dismissed contemptuously with only a few lines, dominated by, "he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah."

"He restored the border of Israel ... from ... Hamath unto the sea of Arabah" (2 Kings 14:25). "These were the limits of David's glorious kingdom."[19] "The Sea of Arabah mentioned here was either the Gulf of Aqaba or the Dead Sea."[20]

"According to the word of Jehovah ... by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher" (2 Kings 14:25). There is no intelligent basis for the knee-jerk denial of false critics who deny that the Jonah mentioned here was the author of the prophecy that bears his name. F. J. Foakes Jackson wrote the customary biased opinion of critics that, "This prophet can hardly be the author of the Book of Jonah."[21] (See our discussion of this in the introduction to our Commentary on Jonah (Vol. 1, of the Minor Prophets Series).) Here let us note that Jackson offered no proof of his bald assertion, flatly denying what is written in Jonah 1:1, namely, that the Jonah who wrote that prophecy is exactly the same "Jonah the son of Amittai" who is mentioned here. All believers should be warned against those servants of Satan who dare to deny what is written in the Word, doing so, not upon the basis of any fact, but merely upon their false opinions.

Honeycutt noted that, "The prophetic words of Amos and Hosea are fitting commentaries upon the moral and religious plight of Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II."[22] See Amos 7:10ff.

In addition to the witness of those two prophets, there should also be added the witness of Jonah himself, the son of Amittai, who was the social lion of Samaria in the days of Jeroboam II, because he had prophesied the resurgence of Israel's glory during that reign. Jonah himself became the prophetic symbol of God's total rejection of racial Israel (beginning with the Northern kingdom). His being cast overboard at sea is revealed as an exact prophecy of God's terminal rejection of the Old Israel. See our commentary on Jonah. Also, Jonah's stubborn hatred of Nineveh and his anger when God spared them are prophetic indications of Israel's anger at God's calling of the Gentiles, and their utter refusal to be pleased with it.


Verse 28-29

A SUMMARY OF THE EVIL REIGN OF JEROBOAM

"Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zechariah his son reigned in his stead."

This formula, repeated over and over in the records of the kings of God's people, is an effective comment upon the worthlessness of human achievements unless they are accompanied by a moral and worshipful heart. In the last analysis, what difference does it make if a man succeeds greatly in the eyes of his contemporaries but utterly fails in the sight of God?

In a sense, Jeroboam was the last chance that Israel had to straighten up their lives, reject their sinful worship of the Canaanite idols, and to get right with God. Zechariah who succeeded Jeroboam was a weak ruler, and with him the phantom reigns of the kings of Israel began. God had promised that the dynasty of Jeroboam I would last four generations. It terminated in Zechariah the fourth generation whose reign lasted six months!

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Kings 14:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-kings-14.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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