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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 14

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7

Second Kings - Chapter 14 AND Second Chronicles - Chapter 25

Amaziah Reigns in Judah – Commentary on 2 Kings 14:1-7 AND 2 Chronicles 25:1-5

Amaziah, the son of Joash in Judah, became king after the assassination of his father. He was twenty-five years old and reigned a relatively long reign of twenty-nine years. His mother was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem, of whom nothing more in known. A good, but also sad, thing is recorded of Amaziah’s character. "He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart" (Chronicles), "not like David his father" (Kings). The implication seems to be that Amaziah was a morally good man, but lacked-all important heart righteousness before God. He followed the good example of Joash, his father, but like his father allowed those who desired to continue their private worship in the high places and to burn incense to their false gods. Amaziah was like too many today who give lip-service only to the Lord, thinking that is sufficient for their right standing with Him (Matthew 15:7-9).

Amaziah began his reign in strict conformity to the law of Moses, also. He took the assassins of his father and had them executed, but was careful to reject the pagan practice of destroying their families as well. This showed him a humane and God-fearing person (see De 24:16).

Amaziah further set about to strengthen Judah, probably to prevent another humiliating attack from outside sources, such as that of Hazael against his father. He mustered the able-bodied men of Judah and Benjamin above twenty years of age. He found there were 300,000 able to go to war and to bear spear and shield. He used them to attack Edom, in the valley of salt, south of the Dead Sea, and slew ten thousand of them. The place he took from Edom was Selah (rock, later called Petra), but he renamed it Joktheel (subdued of God).

2 Chronicles 25:6

Amaziah Goes to War, 2 Chronicles 25:6-16

2 Kings 14:7 (see comments above) is the only record in that book of Amaziah’s war with Edom. Considerably more detail is found here in the Chronicles account. It is apparent that Amaziah conscripted the men of Judah and Benjamin for the purpose of going to war with Edom: However, he does not seem to have felt that he yet had sufficient men for success, so hired a mercenary force from the northern kingdom of Israel, numbering 100,000. For their service Amaziah paid 100,000 talents of silver, or about $2,184,000 in today’s valuation.

God sent a prophet to accost the king for hiring these men from the ungodly northern kingdom. He was told that he could not expect to succeed with men who had renounced God and treated lightly His blessings. In fact, Amaziah was warned to be prepared for defeat by the Edomites if he persisted in carrying the Israelites from the north. Amaziah protested concerning the huge sum he had expended to hire them, and was informed by the prophet that God is able to provide much more than the lost silver in blessings for their obedience (cf. De 8:18). So the king was persuaded to separate the mercenaries from his army, and they returned to their homes in great anger.

So Amaziah rallied his men and led them to battle against Edom. The battle occurred in the valley of salt, immediately south of the Dead Sea, and ten thousand Edomites perished in the battle. Ten thousand more were captured and slaughtered in a horrible manner, thrown from the top of a lofty rock to fall crushed and mangled at its foot. So God did allow Amaziah a great victory, and the decimation of the men would make Edom unable to revolt against Judah for some time to come. Actually this was an attempted reconquest of the nation which had been subject to Judah at an earlier time, but was lost to them in the wicked reign of Jehoram, after which they never again were wholly subject to Judah 2 Chronicles 21:8-10).

The men of Israel, whom Amaziah sent homeward, thus denying them the spoil of battle which they desired, took their spoils from the cities of Judah on their return through them to Samaria. Three thousand were smitten, and much spoil taken from them, an act which would precipitate war eventually.

Meanwhile Amaziah was engaged in a very stupid and foolish act. He had captured the Edomite gods, and instead of destroying them as David would have done (2 Samuel 5:21), he brought them home to Jerusalem with him, set them up, and bowed himself in worship to them. God sent His prophet again, who chided him for worshipping the gods whose people he had shortly defeated. If they could not help the Edomites, their people, how amazing that Amaziah should think they could help him! But King Amaziah interrupted the prophet, demanding to know who had made him one of the king’s councellors. He was threatened with death if he persisted in lecturing the king.

So the prophet desisted from his preaching to the king, for his heart was not right with God, and he refused to hear. The prophet gave him a final warning. God had now determined to destroy King Amaziah because 1) he had turned to the false gods of Edom; 2) he rejected the Lord’s counsel through His prophet (cf. Jeremiah 6:10).

Verses 8-16

Judah and Israel at War –Commentary on 2 Kings 14:8-16 AND 2 Chronicles 25:17-24

Amaziah considered the spoiling of his cities by the mercenary soldiers as they returned to Samaria an act of war. Therefore he sent his declaration of war to Joash, the king of Israel, "to look one another in the face." Joash did not desire war with Judah and answered Amaziah with an insulting parable. In the parable there were four principals; Lebanon, a thistle, a cedar, and a wild beast. In Lebanon the thistle asked a ridiculous thing, that the cedar give his daughter to marry the thistle. Before the cedar could refuse such a preposterous request a wild beast passed by and trod down the thistle.

Lebanon, of course, represented the land of Israel with its two kingdoms. Judah was represented by the thistle and Israel (Ephraim) by the cedar. The wild beast was simply a power, any power, for the thistle was so insignificant. Amaziah’s victory, Joash said, had made him proud. He had indeed smitten Edom, but he should be satisfied with that and stay at home, for to meddle with the cedar, Israel, would be to his hurt of himself and his kingdom.

But Amaziah was determined to have war with Joash, not realizing that the Lord had forsaken him because of his worship of the Edomite idols and his rejection of His message by the prophet. The two armies met in battle at Beth-shemesh, northwest of Jerusalem in the territory of Amaziah. The men of Judah and Benjamin were put to the worse and fled away to return to their homes in defeat.

Joash captured Amaziah himself, conveying him a captive back to Jerusalem. There he destroyed the city wall for a distance of six hundred feet from the gate of Ephraim, the chief gate of the northern wall, to the corner. He took a spoil of all the silver and gold of the temple and the palace, with also the precious vessels of the temple. Amaziah was left, but hostages were taken with the spoil back to Samaria to insure Judah’s continued peaceableness. The words of another prophet well illustrate the condition of Amaziah in his self-confidence (Hosea 10:13).

A word of clarification needs to be made here. Verse 23 of the Chronicles account speaks of Amaziah as the son of Joash, who was the son of Jehoahaz. Amaziah was, of course, the son of Joash the king of Judah, whose father was Ahaziah. The Joash, king of Israel, against whom he was fighting was also the son of Jehoahaz, but that Jehoahaz was not Amaziah’s father. The confusion came about because the name of Amaziah’s father was stated in two different ways, both having the same meaning in the Hebrew, "held by Jehovah". In Ahaziah the "-iah" is "jah", Jehovah; in Jehoahaz the "Jeho-" is "Jah," also Jehovah. Either way it is supposed to indicate that the king was held in the hand of the Lord.

This passage concludes with another account of the end of the reign of Joash of Israel. He was buried with the kings of Israel in Samaria, and his son Jeroboam became the new king.

Verses 17-22

Amaziah’s Death – Commentary on 2 Kings 14:17-22 AND 2 Chronicles 25:25-28

Amaziah’s war with Joash and the kingdom of Israel was the one major event of his reign. When the inspired record of that episode is related there remains only the details of his death. He lived fifteen years after the death of Joash of Israel, who defeated him so disastrously. From the sequel it appears that many people in Judah were disillusioned with the king, perhaps blaming him for the sorry state into which the nation came following their humiliation at the hands of Joash.

After fifteen years the feeling against Amaziah was so intense that a conspiracy was formed to assassinate him. Amaziah discovered the plot and fled to the fortified city of Lachish, which was located about twenty-three straight-line miles southwest of Jerusalem, in the foothills leading to the Mediterranean plain. It was the first formidable obstacle to invaders out of Africa or the Sinaitic desert. Perhaps Amaziah thought to find protection in this place, but he failed. His murderers followed him there and killed him. His body was returned to Jerusalem on horses, and he was buried there with his fathers. How sad that death found him, evidently, still with an imperfect heart (Ecclesiastes 11:3).

The people of Judah enthroned Amaziah’s son, Azariah, in the stead of his murdered father. He is much better known in the Scriptures as Uzziah. Many of the writing prophets began, or continued, their ministries into his reign, which lasted for fifty years. He continued the subjugation of Edom begun by his father, including the building of Elath, the port city on the Red Sea’s eastern gulf, known as the Elanitic.

Verses 23-29

Jeroboam and Zachariah - 14:23-29

The son of Joash of Israel, who succeeded him as king, is referred to as Jeroboam II by Bible commentators. The Bible simply identifies as Jeroboam the son of Joash in distinction from Jeroboam the son of Nebat, "who made Israel to sin." This Jeroboam was no better than the earlier kings of his dynasty, that of Jehu. He was a true follower of old Jeroboam I, in that "he did evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin" (verse 24).

Jeroboam /l had the longest reign of any king of the northern kingdom, ruling (or misruling) for forty-one years. The historical facts recorded of Jeroboam II’s reign are meager indeed. However, much may be learned of conditions in Israel by reading the books of the prophets who preached during his reign, especially Amos and Hosea. They were prosperous times for the affluent and upper class, but bad for the downtrodden poor, who were abused by the rich. (See examples at Amos 2:6-8; Amos 6:1-6; Hosea 4:12-13; etc.).

However Jeroboam was successful at re-defining the frontiers of Israel, from the far north road to Hamath to the sea of the plain (Galilee). This came about through the preaching and prediction of God’s blessing through a well-known prophet, Jonah This is the same prophet Jonah who was swallowed by the great fish when he tried to escape preaching to the great city of Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian empire (see Book of Jonah). The inspired author of Kings says that the Lord looked on Israel’s affliction, and saw there was none to stem the tide. Yet He was merciful and not yet ready to give them up, and so He allowed Jeroboam to recover the lands which the Syrians had taken away.

The assertion in verse 28 that Damascus and Hamath had belonged to Judah is unclear. There is no account of Judah’s having possessed these places in the Scriptures, except that it may refer to time long before when those areas were controlled by David and Solomon, who were of the tribe of Judah, though they ruled over all the tribes. With these notices of Jeroboam II his reign is concluded. He was the fourth in the dynasty of Jehu and was briefly followed by his son, Zachariah.

Learn from these chapters: 1) Many "good" people are lost because they lack perfect hearts in God’s sight; 2) battles in the name of the Lord can be waged without the aid of the world; 3) God’s people may be insulted and threatened for warning the sinners of divine judgment; 4) the Lord is not obligated to bless those who presumptuously sin against Him; 5) rulers without God in their lives may find themselves also without friends among the people; 6) God’s longsuffering is apparent, even through His blessing of ungodly kings for the good of His people.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 14". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-kings-14.html. 1985.
 
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