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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 14

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-22


13:1-17:41 HISTORY TO THE FALL OF ISRAEL

After the anti-Baal revolution (13:1-14:22)

Jehu’s son Jehoahaz followed the sins of earlier Israelite kings, and so did his people. The Syrian attacks foreseen by Elisha were so severe that, had God not mercifully intervened, the whole population would have been left homeless and the entire army destroyed (13:1-9).
The next king, Jehoash, learnt from Elisha that he would win three battles against Syria. He would have won more, had he not lacked faith in God (10-19). During Jehoash’s reign Elisha died, but dramatic events at Elisha’s tomb showed that the God who had worked through him was still alive and powerful (20-21). Jehoash won three battles as Elisha had foretold, and thereby regained some of Israel’s lost territory (22-25).

After the murder of his father Joash, Amaziah came to the throne of Judah. Once firmly in control, he executed his father’s murderers (14:1-6). He planned to attack Edom, but when a census of his army revealed that he had not enough soldiers, he hired trained men from Israel. A prophet told him to send the Israelites back, for God would not give Judah’s army victory while it contained men from the ungodly northern kingdom. Angry at missing out on the chance to raid the Edomites, the northerners raided the cities of Judah instead. Amaziah, meanwhile, attacked and defeated Edom (7; 2 Chronicles 25:5-13).

Foolishly, Amaziah brought back to his palace some idols of the defeated Edomites. His military victory gave him such self-assurance that he thought he could act independently of God and ignore the warnings of God’s prophet (2 Chronicles 25:14-16). Confident in his increased military experience, he decided to attack Israel. The Israelite king warned him that Judah would be defeated, but Amaziah persisted. Judah was defeated, Amaziah was taken captive and Jerusalem was plundered (8-16; cf. 13:12). Later he was allowed to return to his throne, but apparently he was unpopular and, like his father, was assassinated (17-22).


Verses 23-29


An era of prosperity (14:23-15:7)

During the long reigns of Jeroboam II in the north and Azariah (or Uzziah) in the south, Israel and Judah experienced political stability and economic development such as they had not known since the days of David and Solomon. This was possible partly because political conditions in the region were favourable to Israel and Judah.
Syria had been used by God to punish Israel for its sins in following Baal. With the death of Hazael, Syrian power declined and Israel regained lost territory (see 13:24-25). Events further favoured Israel when Assyria, the rising power in the region, became involved with enemies to its north and for forty years did not bother Israel and Judah.

Under these conditions Jeroboam II expanded his kingdom from Hamath in the north to the Dead Sea in the south, as foretold by the prophet Jonah. This gave him control over many trade routes, which further helped Israel’s economy. But religiously he was a failure, and the evils of his reign were condemned by the prophets Amos and Hosea (23-29; cf. Amos 1:1; Amos 7:10-11; Hosea 1:1; Hosea 7:1-3).

Azariah (or Uzziah) in Judah began his reign well, mainly because of the godly instruction that he received from his teacher Zechariah (15:1-3; 2 Chronicles 26:1-5). He spread his rule west to the Mediterranean Sea, east over Ammonite territory, and south as far as the Red Sea and Egypt. This gave him control over important land and sea trade routes (see 14:22; 2 Chronicles 26:6-8). He fortified the capital city Jerusalem, improved agricultural and pastoral conditions in every region of the country, built up the armed forces and equipped his troops with the most modern weapons (2 Chronicles 26:9-15). His big mistake was to think that he could become religious head of the nation as well. God punished him with leprosy, and his son Jotham acted as joint ruler till Uzziah’s death (4-7; 2 Chronicles 26:16-23).

Jonah and the Assyrians

Israel’s prosperity during the era produced within many Israelites, even the prophet Jonah, a selfish, nationalistic spirit. Jonah had already successfully predicted Jeroboam II’s victories over a number of enemies (see 14:25), and no doubt he would have liked to see the downfall of Assyria. The capital of Assyria, Nineveh, was already threatened by an enemy from the north. But God told Jonah to go and warn Nineveh of the coming attack, and urge the people to repent of their sins so that they might avoid destruction (Jonah 3:4-5,Jonah 3:10).

At first Jonah refused to go, for he preferred to see Nineveh overthrown. He had to learn that God was the controller of all nations, and he would have mercy on any who turned from their sins, regardless of nationality. This was of particular importance in the case of the Assyrians, for God was preserving them to be his instrument to punish Israel.

The fiery preaching of Amos

Two hundred years earlier, in the time of Solomon, a distinct merchant class had begun to appear in Israel (see notes on 1 Kings 9:26-29). During the time of Jeroboam II and Uzziah (the eighth century BC), the merchants grew into a powerful group. Society was no longer built around the simple agricultural life. As commerce and trade developed, so did city life. This brought with it greed and oppression, as the upper classes exploited the poorer classes. Bribery was widespread, the courts were corrupt, and the poor were left with no way of obtaining justice.

Amos was the first of several prophets to speak out against these evils. He was a shepherd-farmer who knew how the poor suffered, because he himself had to deal with ruthless merchants and corrupt officials in selling his produce. In his fiery preaching he condemned the greed and luxury of the rich. He knew they had gained their wealth by cheating and injustice (Amos 2:6-7; Amos 3:10,Amos 3:15; Amos 6:4-6; Amos 8:4-6). They still carried out their religious exercises, but these were worthless in God’s sight as long as the worshippers persisted in wrongdoing (Amos 5:21-24; Amos 8:10).

Most of Amos’s attacks were directed against the northern kingdom (Amos 2:6; Amos 4:1; Amos 6:1; Amos 7:10). The people, it seems, took little notice. Amos clearly saw what Israel’s upper classes failed to see, namely, that the nation was heading for a terrible judgment from God (Amos 3:12; Amos 6:14; Amos 7:11).

Hosea’s experiences

Despite Amos’s accusations and warnings, social conditions in Israel worsened. This is seen from the writings of Hosea, who began to preach late in the reigns of Jeroboam II and Uzziah, and continued through the reigns of succeeding kings (Hosea 1:1). Like Amos, Hosea was concerned chiefly with Israel, though he referred also to Judah.

Hosea saw that Israel’s society was corrupt because its religion was corrupt. The priests were as bad as the merchants and officials. Baal worship, complete with its fertility rites and prostitution, was widely practised. Israel did not know the character of Yahweh (Hosea 4:1-6,17-19; 5:4,15; 6:6-10; 7:2-4; 9:15; 13:16; cf. Amos 2:7-8).

Since Israel’s covenant bond with Yahweh was likened to the marriage bond, Israel’s association with other gods was really spiritual adultery. Hosea began to understand what this meant to God when his own wife left him for other lovers. But her pleasures did not last and she was sold as a slave. All this time Hosea remained faithful to his marriage covenant, and when he found his wife a slave, he bought her back. It was a picture of the covenant love of God for his unfaithful people. They too would go into captivity, but after cleansing from the filth of their adulterous association with the Canaanite gods, God would bring them back to live in their land again (Hosea 2:5-10; Hosea 3:1-5).


Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 14". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/2-kings-14.html. 2005.
 
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