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8. Azariah’s good reign in Judah 15:1-7
Most Bible students know Azariah by his other name, Uzziah (2 Kings 15:13; 2 Kings 15:30; 2 Kings 15:32; 2 Kings 15:34; 2 Chronicles 26; Isaiah 1:1; Hosea 1:1, Amos 1:1; Zechariah 14:5; et al.). 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 (2 Kings 15:22; cf. 2 Chronicles 26:6-14). The combined territories over which he and Jeroboam II exercised control approximated those of David and Solomon.
Unfortunately he became proud, and in disobedience to the Mosaic Law performed functions that God had restricted to the priests (2 Chronicles 26:16-21). For this sin God punished him with leprosy (2 Kings 15:5). 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.
9. Zechariah’s evil reign in Israel 15:8-12
Zechariah 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 (2 Kings 15:12; cf. 2 Kings 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." [Note: House, p. 329.]
"The death of this last king of the dynasty of Jehu (2 Kings 15:12) 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 (2 Kings 1:4)." [Note: Wiseman, p. 252.]
10. Shallum’s evil reign in Israel 15:13-16
Shallum’s reign was even shorter than Zechariah’s. It lasted only one month (752 B.C.).
Menahem was the commander-in-chief of Jeroboam II’s army. [Note: Josephus, 9:11:1.] 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 (2 Kings 15:16) would move other Israelite leaders to support him.
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.
11. Menahem’s evil reign in Israel 15:17-22
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. 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 16:7; 2 Kings 16:10; 1 Chronicles 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. [Note: W. W. Hallo and W. K. Simpson, The Ancient Near East: A History, p. 137.] 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. Deuteronomy 28:32-33).
12. Pekahiah’s evil reign in Israel 15:23-26
In 742 B.C. Pekahiah 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 (2 Kings 15:25).
13. Pekah’s evil reign in Israel 15:27-31
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. [Note: See Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, pp. 118-40.] He wrote that in the fifty-second 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 (2 Kings 15:19-20). 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 Chronicles 28:5-8). He captured much of Israel’s territory (2 Kings 15:29) 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." [Note: Wiseman, p. 256.]
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. [Note: James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, p. 284.] Obviously Assyria was in control of affairs in Israel at this time.
14. Jotham’s good reign in Judah 15:32-38
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 added the upper gate of the temple (2 Kings 15:35), 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 (Jeremiah 20:2), the new gate (Jeremiah 26:10; Jeremiah 36:10), the north gate (Ezekiel 8:3), and the altar gate (Ezekiel 8:5). This shows his concern for Yahweh’s reputation in Judah (cf. 2 Chronicles 27:3-6).
The Syro-Ephraimitic alliance, to which the writer referred briefly in 2 Kings 15:37, features significantly in 2 Kings 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 (2 Kings 15:37). The reasons for this will follow in the discussion of Ahaz, Judah’s king (ch. 16). [Note: See B. Oded, "The Historical Background of the Syro-Ephraimitic War Reconsidered," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 34:2 (April 1972):153-65.]
15. Ahaz’s evil reign in Judah ch. 16
Ahaz reigned for 16 years (732-715 B.C.). Before that he was his father Jotham’s coregent for four years (735-732 B.C.). [Note: For explanation of the complexities of dating Ahaz’s vice-regency under Jotham (744-735 B.C.) and his coregency with Jotham (735-732 B.C.), see Merrill, Kingdom of . . ., pp. 402-5. See also Hubbard, p. 201.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 15". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany