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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
2 Kings 15

 

 

Verse 1

XV.

(1-7) THE REIGN OF AZARIAH (Uzziah), KING OF JUDAH. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 26)

(1) In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam.—An error of transcription for the fifteenth year ( שץ 15, מ, 27). The error is clear from 2 Kings 14:2; 2 Kings 14:17; 2 Kings 14:23. Amaziah reigned twenty-nine years (2 Kings 14:2), fourteen concurrently with Joash, and fifteen with Jeroboam. It was, therefore, in the fifteenth of Jeroboam that Uzziah succeeded his father.

Azariah.—An Azriyâhu (.Az-ri-ya-a-u), king of Judah, is mentioned in two fragmentary inscriptions of Tiglath Pileser II. (B.C. 745-727). The most important statement runs: “19 districts of the city of Hamath (Hammatti) with the cities of their circuit, on the coast of the sea of the setting of the sun (i.e., the Mediterranean), which in their transgression had revolted to Azariah, to the border of Assyria I restored, my prefects my governors over them I appointed.” The Eponym list records a three years’ campaign of Tiglath Pileser against the Syrian state of Arpad in B.C. 742-740. Schrader supposes that Azariah and Hamath were concerned in this campaign. (This conflicts with the ordinary chronology, which fixes 758 B.C. as the year of Azariah’s death.)


Verse 3

(3) And he did that which was right.—This statement is repeated word for word in Chronicles. Its exact meaning here, as in other instances, is that Azariah supported the legitimate worship, and lent his countenance to no foreign cultus. When the chronicler adds that he “sought God in the days of (the prophet) Zachariah,” and that “as long as he sought Jehovah, God made him to prosper,” he does not contradict the preceding general estimate of the king’s religious policy, but simply gives additional information respecting his life and fortunes.


Verse 5

(5) And the Lord smote the king.—The chronicler relates the reason—viz., because of his usurpation of priestly functions in the sanctuary. This happened towards the end of the reign. Jotham, the regent, was only twenty-five when Azariah died (2 Kings 15:33).

Smote.—Or, struck. So we speak of a paralytic stroke, and the word plague literally means stroke.

In a several house.—Rather, in the sickhouse (or, hospital)—i.e., a royal residence outside of Jerusalem (Leviticus 13:46; 2 Kings 7:3) set apart for such cases. (Strictly, in the house of freedom; because lepers were emancipated from all social relations and duties. Gesenius explains the word from an Arabic root said to mean prostration, weakness; but Lane gives for that term the special meaning smallness (or, narrowness) of the eye; weakness of sight. See his Arabic Lexicon, Bk. I., Pt. II., p. 772.

Over the house.—Not apparently as prefect of the palace (comp. 1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 18:3), but as dwelling in the palace instead of his father.

Judging the people of the land.—As his father’s representative. (Comp. 1 Samuel 8:6; 1 Samuel 8:20; 1 Kings 3:9.)

This passage is strong evidence against the assumption of joint sovereignties of princes with their fathers, so often made by way of escaping chronological difficulties in Hebrew history. Jotham is not co-regent but viceroy of Azariah until the latter dies.


Verse 6

(6) The rest of the acts of Azariah.—Such as his wars with the Philistines and Arabs, his improvements in the organisation of the army and the defences of the capital, his fondness for husbandry and cattle-breeding, and his success in all these directions, as well as his intrusion into the Sanctuary to offer incense at the golden altar. (See 2 Chronicles 25 and the Notes there.)


Verse 8

(8-16) THE REIGNS OF ZACHARIAH AND SHALLUM IN SAMARIA.

(8) In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah.—This agrees with the assumption that Jeroboam reigned fifty-one years (2 Kings 14:23).


Verse 9

(9) As his fathers—i.e., the dynasty of Jehu, of which he was the last member. Like all his predecessors, he upheld the illicit worship established by Jeroboam I.


Verse 10

(10) Son of Jabesh.—Not man of Jabesh Gilead, as Hitzig explains. The father’s name is always given in the case of usurpers.

Before the people.—Rather, before people—i.e., in public. So all the versions except the LXX. The open assassination of the king is noted, in contrast with the secrecy with which former conspiracies had been concerted. It is a symptom of the rapidly-increasing corruption of morals, which allowed people to look on with indifference while the king was being murdered. (The LXX. puts the Hebrew words into Greek letters thus: κεβλααμ. The word qobol—“before”—is Aramaic rather than Hebrew, and only occurs here. Ewald acutely conjectured that Qobol’âm—“before people”—was really the proper name of another usurper, comparing Zechariah 11:8, “the third king during that month;” but in that case the narrative is hardly coherent of complete. Grätz suggests the correction “in Ibleam.”


Verse 12

(12) This was the word of the Lord.—Thenius considers this remark as added by the Judæan editor to the short abstract of Zachariah’s reign.


Verse 13

(13) A full month.—Literally, as margin. Thenius says Shallum cannot have reigned a full month, as Zechariah 11:8 obviously refers to the three kings Zachrriah, Shallum, and Menahem.


Verse 14

(14) For.—And.

Menahem.—Tiglath Pileser II. records in his annals that in his eighth regnal year (i.e., B.C. 738) he took tribute of “Raçunnu (Rezin) the Damascene, and Menihimmè Samerinâ’a”—i.e., Menahem the Samaritan.

Gadi.—Or, a Gadite.

Went up from Tirzah.—Menahem was Zachariah’s general, who at the time was quartered with the troops at Tirzah, near Samaria (1 Kings 14:17). On the news of the murder of Zachariah, Menahem marched to tHe capital. The month of Shallum’s reign was probably taken up with preparations for hostilities on both sides. A battle at Samaria decided matters (Josephus). Perhaps, however, Menahem simply entered Samaria with a part of his forces.


Verse 16

(16) Then.—After slaying Shallum, and seizing the supreme power.

Tiphsah.—The name means ford, and elsewhere denotes the well-known Thapsacus on the Euphrates (1 Kings 4:24). Here, however, an Israelite city in the neighbourhood of Tirzah is obviously intended. The course of events was apparently this: after slaying Shallum, Menahem returned to Tirzah, and set out thence at the head of his entire army to bring the rest of the country to acknowledge him as king. Tiphsah resisting his claims, he made an example of it which proved efficient to terrorise other towns into submission. [Thenius would read Tappuah for Tiphsah by a slight change in one Hebrew letter. This agrees very well with the local indications of the text (comp. Joshua 17:7-8), though, of course, there may have been an otherwise unknown Tiphsah near Tirzah.]

The coasts thereof.—Literally, her borders (or, territories). (Comp. Joshua 17:8.)

From Tirzah—i.e., starting from Tirzah. This shows that the districts of Tirzah and Tiphsah (or, Tappuah) were conterminous.

Because they opened not to him.—Literally, for one opened not; an impersonal construction. The meaning is: the gates were closed against him. The to him is added by all the versions except the Targum.

And all the women.—Comp. 2 Kings 8:21; Hosea 13:16; Amos 1:13.


Verse 17

(17-22) THE REIGN OF MENAHEM. HIS TRIBUTE TO PUL, KING OF ASSYRIA.

(17) Reigned ten years.—And some months over. (Comp. 2 Kings 15:23.)


Verse 18

(18) He did that which was evil.—Ewald says that at the outset Menahem appeared to be guided by better principles, referring to Zechariah 11:4-8.

All his days.—In the Hebrew these words occur at the end of the verse. They are not found in any other instance of the common formula which the verse repeats (comp. 1 Kings 15:26; 1 Kings 15:34; 1 Kings 16:26; 1 Kings 22:53; 2 Kings 3:1; 2 Kings 10:31, &c), and almost certainly belong to the next verse.

From the sins.—Heb., from upon the sins, which is peculiar. The reading of the LXX., “from all the sins,” appears right.


Verse 19

(19) And.—As it stands, the verse begins abruptly. But the reading of the LXX. restores the connection: In his days Pul the king of Assyria,” &c. (Comp, 2 Kings 15:29.)

Pul.—This name has been read in the cuneiform (Pu-u-lu, i.e., Pûlu, an officer of Sargon’s). For the identity of Pul, king of Assyria, with Tiglath Pileser II., see Note on 1 Chronicles 5:26, and Schrader’s Die Keil-inschr. und das Alt. Test, pp. 227-240 (2nd edit., 1883). Prof. Schrader gives the following as the result of his elaborate and most interesting discussion: (1) Menahem of Israel and Azariah of Judah were contemporaries, according to the Bible as well as the Inscriptions. (2) According to the Bible, both these rulers were contemporary with an Assyrian king Pul; according to the Inscriptions, with Tiglath Pileser. (3) Berosus calls Pul a Chaldean; Tiglath Pileser calls himself king of Chaldea. (4) Pul-Porus became in 731 B.C. king of Babylon; Tiglath Pileser in 731 B.C. received the homage of the Babylonian king Merodach-Baladan, as he also reduced other Babylonian princes in this year, amongst them Chinzçros of Amukkan. (5) Poros appears in the canon of Ptolemy as king of Babylon; Tiglath Pileser names himself “king of Babylon.” (6) Chinzçros became king of Babylon in 731 B.C. according to the canon, and, in fact, along with (or, under) a king of the name of Pôros; the hypothesis that the vanquished king of Amukkan of the same name was entrusted by Tiglath Pileser with the vassal-kingship of Babylon is suggested at once by the coincidence of the chronological data. (7) In the year 727-726 B.C. a change of government took place in Assyria in consequence of the death of Tiglath Pileser, and in Babylonia in consequence of the death of Porus. (8) No king appears in the Assyrian lists by a name like Pul, which is anomalous as a royal designation; we can only identify Pul with some other name in the lists, and, on historical grounds, with Tiglath Pileser only. (9) Pul and Pôros are forms of the same name (comp. Bâbiru for Bâbilu in Persian inscriptions). (10) From all this, the conclusion is inevitable that Pul and Porus Pul and Tiglath Pileser, are one and the same person.

Came against the land.—Rather, came upon the land (Isaiah 10:28; Judges 18:27). The meaning here is, occupied it.

A thousand talents of silver.—About £375,000.

That his hand might be with him.—Pul (Tiglath Pileser) came at the invitation of Menahem to establish the latter in the sovereignty against other pretenders as a vassal of Assyria. (Comp. Hosea 5:13; Hosea 7:11; Hosea 8:9.) Tiff lath Pileser had first reduced Rezin king of Syria-Damascus, which was probably much weakened by the victories of Jeroboam II. (See Note on 2 Kings 15:14.)


Verse 20

(20) Exacted.—Literally, caused to go out; a word already used in the sense of to lay out, expend money (2 Kings 12:12). Probably, therefore, laid (vayyissâ), i.e., imposed, should be read here (Genesis 31:17).

Of.—Heb., upon.

The mighty men of wealth.—A later use of the Hebrew phrase, which, in older parlance, means “the heroes of the host” (Judges 6:12; 1 Samuel 9:1).

Fifty shekels.—The talent of silver was worth 3,000 shekels. The payment of 1,000 talents (3,000,000 shekels) therefore implies a total of 60,000 persons able to contribute. Fifty shekels were one maneh (Assyrian, mana; Greek, μνῦ, and Latin, mina). There was no great Temple treasury to draw from in the northern kingdom, and any palace hoards would have disappeared in the confusions attending the frequent revolutions of the time.

There.—Or, then (Psalms 14:5).


Verses 23-26

(23-26) THE REIGN OF PEKAHIAH
(Heb., Pĕkahyâh).

(23) In the fiftieth year.—The forty-ninth, if verse seventeen were exact.

(25) But . . . a captain of his.—And . . . his adjutant (or knight, 2 Kings 7:2).

The palace of the king’s house.—The same expression occurred in 1 Kings 16:18. The word armôn, rendered “palace,” is usually explained as meaning citadel or keep, from a root meaning to be high. (Comp. ἡ ἄκρα in Greek.) Ewald makes it the harem, which, as the innermost and most strongly-guarded part of an Oriental palace, is probably meant here. Thither Pekahiah had fled for refuge before the conspirators.

With Argob and Arieh.—Pekah slew these two persons, probably officers of the royal guard, who stood by their master, as well as the king himself.

The peculiar names are an indication of the historical character of the account. Argob suggests that the person who bore this name was a native of the district of Bashan so designated (1 Kings 4:13); Arieh (“lion”), like our own Cceur-de-Lion, betokens strength and bravery. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 12:8, “The Gadites, whose faces were as the faces of lions.”)

And with him fifty men of the Gileadites.—Or, and with him were fifty, &c. Pekah was supported by fifty soldiers, probably of the royal guard. Menahem himself was of Gadite origin (2 Kings 15:17), and so belonged to Gilead. He would therefore be likely to recruit his body-guard from among the Gileadites, who were always famous for their prowess. (Comp. Joshua 17:1; Judges 11:12; 1 Chronicles 26:31.) The two names Argob and Arieh agree with this supposition. The LXX. reads, in place of “the Gileadites,” ἀπὸ τῶν τετρακοσίων, “of the four hundred,” which reminds us of David’s six hundred Gibbôrîm (2 Samuel 15:18).

Josephus accounts for the short reign of Pekahiah by the statement that he imitated the cruelty of his father.


Verses 27-31

(27-31) THE REIGN OF PEKAH, SON OF REMALIAH, IN SAMARIA.

(27) Reigned twenty years.—This does not agree with the duration assigned to the reign of Jotham (2 Kings 15:33), and the year assigned as the beginning of Hoshea’s reign (2 Kings 17:1). For, according to 2 Kings 15:32, Pekah had reigned about two years when Jotham succeeded in Judah, and Jotham reigned sixteen years; and, according to 2 Kings 17:1, Pekah was succeeded by Hoshea in the twelfth year of Jotham’s successor, Ahaz. These data make the duration of Pekah’s reign from twenty-eight to thirty years. We must, therefore, either assume, with Thenius, that “the numeral sign for 30 ( ל) has been corrupted into 20 ( כ),” or, with Ewald, that “and nine” has been accidentally omitted after “twenty.”

(29) Tiglath-pileser.—This Assyrian sovereign, who reigned from 745 to 727 B.C. , is called in his own inscriptions, Tukulti- (or Tuklat) ‘abal-Esarra, which Schrader renders, “my trust is Adar”—literally, Trust is the son of the temple of Sarra. (See Note on 1 Chronicles 5:26.) “The idea we get of this king from the remains of these inscriptions corresponds throughout to what we know of him from the Bible. Everywhere he is presented as a powerful warrior-king, who subjugated the entire tract of anterior Asia, from the frontier mountains of Media in the east to the Mediterranean sea in the west, including a part of Cappadocia” (Schrader, K.A.T., p. 247).

Took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah . . . all the land of Naphtali.—Comp. 1 Kings 15:20.

Janoah.—Not the border-town between Ephraim and Manasseh (Joshua 16:6), as the context requires a place in the northernmost part of Israel.

Kedesh.—On the western shore of the waters of Merom (Joshua 21:37).

Hazor.—See 1 Kings 9:15.

Gilead.—See 2 Kings 14:25; 1 Chronicles 5:26. It was no long time since Jeroboam II. had recovered it for Israel. According to Schrader (K.A.T., pp. 254, seq.) the reference of the verse is to Tiglath Pileser’s expedition in B.C. 734, called in the Eponym list an expedition to the land of Pilista (Philistia). With this Schrader connects a fragment of the annals which begins with a list of towns conquered by Tiglath, and ends thus: . . . “the town of Gaal (ad) . . . (A) bil . . . of the upper part of the land of Beth-Omri (i.e., Samaria) . . . in its whole extent I annexed to the territory of Assyria; my prefects the sagans I appointed over them.” The fragment goes on to mention the flight of Hânûn, king of Gaza, to Egypt, and the carrying off of his goods and his gods by the conqueror. It is added, “The land of Beth-Omri . . . the whole body of his men, their goods, to the land of Assyria I led away, Pakaha (i.e., Pekah) their king I slew (so Schrader;? ‘they slew’), and A-u-si-ha (i.e., Hoshea) . . . over them I appointed. Ten (talents of gold, 1,000 talents of silver) 1 received from them.”

(30) Hoshea . . . slew him, and reigned in his stead.—See the inscription of Tiglath Pileser, quoted in the last Note, from which, as Schrader remarks, it is clear that Hoshea only secured his hold on the crown by recognition of the suzerainty of Assyria. The brief record of Kmgs does not mention this; but 2 Kings 17:3 represents Hoshea as paying tribute to Shalmaneser IV., the successor of Tiglath.

In the twentieth year of Jotham.—This is a suspicious statement, as not agreeing with 2 Kings 15:33, according to which Jotham reigned sixteen years only.


Verses 32-38

(32-38) THE REIGN OF JOTHAM IN JERUSALEM.
(Comp. 2 Chronicles 27)

(32) In the second year of Pekah.—Who came to the throne in the last year of Uzziah (Azariah, 2 Kings 15:27).

(34) According to all that his father Uzziah had done.—The chronicler qualifies this general statement by adding that Jotham did not, like his father, invade the Holy Place. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 27:2, with 2 Chronicles 26:16.)

(35) Howbeit the high places.—The chronicler generalises this statement: “And the people did yet corruptly.”

He built.—Rather, He it was who built For “the higher gate,” see Note on 2 Chronicles 27:3. Thenius considers that the term higher denotes rank rather than local position. (See Jeremiah 20:2; Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 8:5; Ezekiel 8:14; Ezekiel 8:16; Ezekiel 9:2; Ezekiel 40:38-43; and comp. 2 Kings 12:9.)

(36) Now the rest of the acts of Jotham.—Some of these are related in 2 Chronicles 27:4-6. We read there how Jotham built towns and castles, and towers of refuge, and how he fought victoriously against Ammon, and exacted from that nation a heavy tribute three years running. Ewald and Thenius admit the historical value of this brief narrative, which is indeed evident on the face of it.

(37) In those days—i.e., in the last year of Jotham. The attacks of the allies at first took the form of isolated raids. In the next reign the country was invaded by them in full force. (See 2 Kings 16:5, seq., and the Notes there.)

Rezin.—Comp. Rezon, Heb., Rĕzôn (1 Kings 11:23), the founder of the dynasty. The present name is spelt in the Hebrew of Kings and Isaiah (Isaiah 7:1) Rĕçín. The Assyrian spelling in the records of Tiglath Pileser, who conquered and slew Rezin, suggests that the right spelling was Raçôn (Assyrian, Bagunnu). The first and last kings of the Syrian monarchy thus bore similar names, both, perhaps, meaning “prince.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 15:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-15.html. 1905.

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