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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

2 Kings 15

Verse 5

The Lord smote the king, so that he was a leper - The circumstances under which this terrible affliction befel one of the greatest of the Jewish kings, are given at some length by the author of Chronicles (marginal reference), who supplies us with a tolerably full account of this important reign, which the writer of Kings dismisses in half-a-dozen verses.

A several house - “A house of liberation,” or, freedom. On the necessity, under which the Law placed lepers, of living apart from other men, see marginal reference Jotham became regent in his father’s room, and exercised the functions of judge (1 Kings 3:9 note), from the time that his father became a leper.

Verse 8

In the thirty and eighth year - Rather, according to the previous numbers 2 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 15:2, the 27th year of Azariah. Some suppose an interregnum between Jeroboam and Zachariah, which, however, is very improbable.

Verse 10

Before the people - i. e. openly and publicly. The Septuagint turns the original of the above words into a proper name, Keblaam, and makes him the actual assassin, but without much ground.

Verse 14

Tirzah, the old capital, once more appears as a place of importance, giving birth to the pretender, who alone of all these later kings died a natural death, and left the crown to his son 2 Kings 15:22. It would seem from the present passage to have been on lower ground than Samaria.

Verse 16

With respect to the supposed inability of Menahem to lead an expedition to Tiphsah (Thapsacus, see the marginal reference) on the Euphrates, we may note in the first place that such an expedition was a natural sequel to Jeroboam’s occupation of Hamath 2 Kings 14:28; and further, that it would have been greatly facilitated by the weakness of Assyria at this time, that empire having fallen into a state of depression about 780 B.C.

Verse 19

This is the first distinct mention which we find in Scripture of Assyria as an aggressive power. From the native monuments we learn that she had been for above a century pushing her conquests beyond the Euphrates, and seeking to reduce under her dominion the entire tract between that river and Egypt. Jehu had paid tribute. Some - arguing from the use of the phrase “confirmed the kingdom” (here, and in 2 Kings 14:5) - think that Jehoahaz had acknowledged Assyrian suzerainty, and consented that her monarchs should receive their investiture from the hands of the Ninevite king. But hitherto there had been no hostile invasion of Jewish or Israelite soil by an Assyrian army. Now, however, the Assyrians are at last formally introduced into the history. A series of aggressions is related in this and the four following chapters, culminating, on the one hand, in the destruction of the northern kingdom, on the other, in the complete failure of Sennacherib’s attempt upon Judaea and Egypt.

With respect to the present expedition, there are certain difficulties. The name of Pul does not appear among the Assyrian monumental kings, and it is absent from the copies of the Assyrian Canon, containing the entire list of monarchs from about 910 B.C. to 670 B.C. Assyria Proper, moreover, appears to have been in a state of depression for some 40 years before the accession of Tiglath-Pileser 2 Kings 15:29. It is probable that, during the depression of the Ninevite line, Pul, a Chaldaean and not an Assyrian king, established a second monarchy upon the Euphrates, which claimed to be the true Assyria, and was recognized as such by the nations of Syria and Palestine. His invasion was probably provoked by Menahem’s conquest of Thapsacus, which he would view as a wanton aggression upon his territory.

A thousand talents of silver - Compared with the tribute of Hezekiah soon afterward 2 Kings 18:14, this seems a large sum; but it is not beyond the resources of such a State as Samaria at the period. The tie which had bound Samaria to Assyria from the reign of Jehu to that of Jeroboam II, had ceased to exist during the period of Assyrian depression. Menahem now renewed it, undertaking the duties of a tributary, and expecting the support which Assyria was accustomed to lend to her dependencies in their struggles with their neighbors. Hence, the reproaches of Hosea (marginal reference “n”).

Verse 20

Menahem exacted the money - The kings of Israel had no such ready resource in difficulties as that possessed by the kings of Judah in the temple treasury 2 Kings 12:18; 2 Kings 16:8. Hence, the forced contribution from the people, the odium of which was diminished by confining the levy to the comparatively rich.

Each man fifty shekels - As the silver talent contained 3,000 shekels, the levy of fifty shekels a head must have extended to 60,000 persons.

Verse 21

Assyrian inscriptions show that Menahem was subsequently redfaced to subjection by Tiglath-Pileser 2 Kings 15:29.

Verse 25

A captain of his - A mere “captain,” a person, therefore, of very moderate rank. The low birth of Pekah is probably glanced at in Isaiah’s favorite designation of him as “Remaliah’s son” Isaiah 7:4-5, Isaiah 7:9; Isaiah 8:6.

From the fact that Pekah employed Gileadites to carry out his designs, it has been conjectured that he himself belonged to the trans-Jordanic region.

In the palace of the king’s house - Rather, “In the tower of the king’s palace;” or possibly “in the harem of the king’s palace” (1 Kings 16:18 note).

Verse 29

Tiglath-Pileser is the first among the Assyrian monarchs of Scripture whom we can certainly identify with a king mentioned in the monuments. According to the Assyrian Dr. he reigned from 745 B.C. to 727 B.C.; and the monuments show us this energetic and powerful prince (though, probably, an usurper), building and repairing palaces, levying armies, and carrying on successful wars against Merodach-Baladan in Babylonia, Rezin at Damascus, Hiram at; Tyre, the Medes, the Armenians, the natives of Northern Mesopotamia, and the Arabs who bordered upon Egypt. His Assyrian name, Tiglat-pal-zira, is composed of the elements tiglat, “adoration,” pal, “son,” and zira, a word of uncertain meaning.

Ijon and Abel-beth-maachah - On the position of some of the towns mentioned in this verse see the marginal reference and Joshua 19:36. Janoah is not the Janohah of Joshua 16:6 (modern Yanun, southeast of Nablous), but a city (Hunin?) near the Sea of Merom. Gilead is, probably, to be limited here to a small district of Peraea, lying to the east of Lake Merom, and in later times known as Gaulanitis (the reading of Septuagint here). If so, we must suppose two expeditions of Tiglath-Pileser against Pekah, the first mentioned here, and the second recorded in Chronicles and Isaiah (see the marginal reference “q;” 2 Kings 16:9 note).

Verse 30

Hoshea, the son of Elah - One of Pekah’s friends, according to Josephus.

The twentieth year of Jotham - According to 2 Kings 15:33 and 2 Chronicles 27:1, Jotham reigned only 16 years. See also the suggestion in the margin. Strangely enough, this first year of Hoshea is also called, not the fourth, but the twelfth of Ahaz 2 Kings 17:1. The chronological confusion of the history, as it stands, is striking.

Uzziah - i. e. Azariah. See 2 Kings 15:1-4.

Verse 31

The rest of the acts of Pekah - On these, see 2 Kings 16:5 note.

Verse 32

The writer here resumes the history of Judah from 2 Kings 15:7, to resume and conclude the history of Israel in 2 Kings 17:0.

Verse 34

Jotham imitated his father in all respects, excepting in his impious usurpation of the priestly functions (2 Kings 15:5 note; 2 Chronicles 27:2).

Verse 35

He built the higher gate - Jotham followed the example of his father in military, no less than in religious, matters (compare the marginal reference with 2 Chronicles 26:9). The “higher” or “upper gate” of the temple is thought to have been that toward the north; and its fortification would seem to indicate fear of an attack from that quarter.

Verse 37

The recent invasions of Pul and Tiglath-Pileser had effectually alarmed Pekah and Rezin, and had induced them to put aside the traditional jealousies which naturally kept them apart, and to make a league offensive and defensive. Into this league they were anxious that Judaea should enter; but they distrusted the house of David, which had been so long hostile both to Damascus and to Samaria. They consequently formed the design of transferring the Jewish crown to a certain Ben-Tabeal Isaiah 7:6, probably a Jewish noble, perhaps a refugee at one of their courts, whom they could trust to join heartily in their schemes (2 Kings 16:5 note).

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.