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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

- 2 Kings

by Multiple Authors

Introduction To Second Kings

The author of 2 Kings is unknown. Whoever this inspired writer was he must have lived and wrote during the days of Judah’s Babylonian captivity due to the book ending during these days.

The book of 1 Kings begins with the historical record of David’s death and ends with Ahaziah’s two year reign over Israel (970 to 844 BC). 2 Kings begins with the death of Ahaziah and ends with the complete collapse of Judah, Jerusalem, the city’s walls and temple (i.e., approximately 300 years - 844 to 543 BC).

2 Kings records the historical account of Israel’s fall to Assyria during the days of Hoshea king of Israel (676 BC). Secondly, the book records the gradual demoralization of Judah and final collapse during the reign of Zedekiah (543 BC). The book reveals the high cost of sin. Jehovah had warned both Israel and Judah to repent of their wickedness yet after hundreds of years of virtually no response the Lord crushes his people. Assyria was God’s " rod of anger" against the southern kingdom of Israel (Isaiah 10:5) . Babylon was the Lord’s divine "battle axe" against the northern kingdom of Judah (Jeremiah 51:20). The sins of God’s people were numerous. They had put God on the shelf and served the gods of the nations round about them. They came to be concerned more about personal wealth and status rather than the promise God made through Abraham and David.

The book of 2 Kings zooms in on one particular problem that manifest the reason there were only three kings out of 32 that put their faith, confidence and trust in Jehovah. Though these two nations claimed to be followers of Jehovah they had, for the most part, placed their confidence, trust, and faith in the nations around them. Consider these events: Ahaziah, king of Israel, injures himself and rather than seeking out Jehovah the king seeks the advise of Baal-zebub (Lord of the Flies) the god of Ekron (2 Kings 1:2-4; 2 Kings 1:16). Ahaz, king of Judah, calls upon Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria to "save me out of the hand of the king of Syria" rather than calling upon the name of Jehovah (see 2 Kings 16:7-9). Furthermore, Ahaz erects and calls upon the gods of the Damascenes for help rather than calling upon the name of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 28:23). Hoshea, king of Israel, called upon So, King of Egypt, for help against Shalmaneser, king of Assyria (2 Kings 17:1-6). Zedekiah, king of Judah, calls upon Egypt for help against Babylon (Jeremiah 37:1-10). All of these actions, on the part of the kings of Israel and Judah, illustrated a lack of confidence, trust, and faith in Jehovah.

The apostle Paul commands, "Have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3). The Psalmist wrote, "It is better to take refuge in Jehovah than to put confidence in man. It is better to take refuge in Jehovah than to put confidence in princes" (Psalms 118:8-9). To put one’s trust and confidence in the riches of this world (Job 31:24-25; Zephaniah 1:18), governments of men (Psalms 118:9), or a friend and neighbor (Micah 7:5) above God is the height of foolishness. God demands man’s whole heart of trust, love, and confidence (see Deuteronomy 10:12-13 see also Matthew 22:37) . Let us place our trust and confidence in the Lord whether we are living in times of plenty or desperation (see Job 4:6; Psalms 65:5; Proverbs 3:26; Proverbs 14:26). Solomon wrote, "The fear of man brings a snare; But whoso puts his trust in Jehovah shall be safe" (Proverbs 29:25).

The time of the kings was 930 to 543 BC. Three hundred and eighty seven years passed in Israel and Judah’s history. During these years eleven kings ruled Israel and twenty one kings ruled Judah (counting Gedaliah the appointed governor of Judah). Out of thirty two kings there were only three (Asa, Hezekiah, and Josiah) who measured up to the standard set by David. These three kings ruled a combined time of one hundred years out of the total three hundred and eighty seven years of the kings in Judah and Israel. When the Assyrians challenged the idea of putting confidence and trust in Jehovah Hezekiah stands firm in his confidence in the Lord (see 2 Kings 18 :all and 19:14-19). Again, when the book of the law was found Josiah made a covenant with Jehovah to do all that within it indicating his trust and confidence in Jehovah (2 Kings 23:1 ff).

Though Asa, Hezekiah, and Josiah had made many spiritual reforms within Judah it was not enough to change the character of the people nor God’s determined wrath against the ungodly. The prophets Amos and Jeremiah reveal the state of ungodliness and moral depravity that both Israel and Judah and fallen to. We cannot understate or undervalue the grotesque manner in which God, in his fierce wrath, destroyed Israel and Judah for their ungodliness (see Lamentations 2:20-21; Lamentations 4:9-10). God mashes his people, sentences them to 70 years in Babylonian captivity, and all the while reiterates his promises of a future messiah and the promises of forgiving man of their sins (see Jeremiah 31:31 ff and many other passages). The overall lesson of 2 kings is that mankind should always put their faith, trust, and confidence in the Lord rather than others. Those who refuse to do so will be subject to his eternal wrath (see 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 14:19-20).

The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah

2 Kings 1:1 to 2 Kings 17:41

Second Kings Chapter One

Jehovah takes the life of Ahaziah for his gross Idolatry (2 Kings 1:1-18):

"And Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab" (2 Kings 1:1).

The book of II Kings opens with Ahab’s son Ahaziah on the throne of Israel and Jehoshaphat ruling the southern Kingdom of Judah.

Syria, the country to the North of Israel, has taken the place of the Philistines as principal enemy to God’s people. The war with Syria, in which Ahab lost his life, has severely weakened Israel. Moab has taken advantage of their weakness and has rebelled. David had previously subjugated Moab to Israel (2 Samuel 8:2) yet now they sought freedom from their tributary relationship.

"2 And Ahaziah fell down through the lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover of this sickness. 3 But the angel of Jehovah said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it because there is no God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? 4 Now therefore thus saith Jehovah, Thou shalt not come down from the bed whither thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed" (1:2-4).

The spiritual state of Israel is depicted when their king, Ahaziah, inquires of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron rather than Jehovah God. Baal-zebub was recognized as the "lord of flies" (ISBE v. 1, pp. 377). The word Beelzebub is found at Matthew 12:22-28 and means “Master of the flies” (ISBE; v. 1, pp. 447) or “Lord of filth or dung” (Thayer 100). Jehovah God hears the king’s plan and thereby sends Elijah to intercept the messengers as they were headed to Ekron. The prophet of God pronounces the king’s doom and then leaves.

"5 And the messengers returned unto him, and he said unto them, Why is it that ye are returned? 6 And they said unto him, There came up a man to meet us, and said unto us, Go, turn again unto the king that sent you, and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Is it because there is no God in Israel, that thou sendest to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore thou shalt not come down from the bed whither thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. 7 And he said unto them, What manner of man was he that came up to meet you, and told you these words? 8 And they answered him, He was a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite" (2 Kings 1:5-8).

Apparently the messengers had come back so quickly that Ahaziah knew that something had gone wrong. The messengers tell the king all that Elijah had said. Ahaziah would not come off the sick bed due to his inquiring of another god which is no God at all.

Ahaziah asks his messengers to describe the man who told them this message. The men explain that the prophet was hairy with a girdle of leather about his loins. The king knew immediately that it was Elijah (note: hairy garment to maintain a state Jehovah).

"9 Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he was sitting on the top of the hill. And he spake unto him, O man of God, the king hath said, Come down. 10 And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. 11 And again he sent unto him another captain of fifty and his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. 12 And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. 13 And again he sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight. 14 Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and consumed the two former captains of fifty with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in thy sight. 15 And the angel of Jehovah said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king" (2 Kings 1:9-15).

Ahaziah is obviously moved to anger with Elijah’s proclamation of the king’s death. The king sends three sets of fifty men with their captains to apprehend the prophet of God. Jehovah reigns fire down from heaven against the first two sets of men. The third set of fifty comes in a very humble and fearful approach.

Why did God allow this to take place? Keil and Delitzsch explain it as follows: “This summons to the prophet, to allow himself to be led as a prisoner before the king, involved a contempt not only of the prophetic office in the person of Elijah, but also of the Lord, who had accredited him by miracles as his servant. The two captains who were first sent not only did what they were bound to do as servants of the king, but participated in the ungodly disposition of their lord. They attacked the Lord with reckless daring in the person of the prophet, and the second captain, with his ’come down quickly,’ did it even more strongly than the first. This sin was punished, and that not by the prophet, but by the Lord Himself, who fulfilled the word of His servant. What Elijah here did was an act of holy zeal for the honor of the Lord, in the spirit of the old covenant, under which God destroyed the insolent despisers of His name with fire and sword, to manifest the energy of His holy majesty by the side of the dead idols of the heathen.

16 And he said unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down from the bed whither thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. 17 So he died according to the word of Jehovah which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram began to reign in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?" (2 Kings 1:16-18).

Ahaziah, like his father Ahab, put his trust and faith in the Baal gods of the surrounding nations rather than in Jehovah the one true God. Due to this lack of faith in the one true God, while exercising faith in gods that do not even exists, the Lord takes the life of Ahaziah king of Israel. Though the writer tells us of the rest of the acts of Ahaziah written in the Chronicles there is not really much found there.

Note the similarity of names regarding the kings of Judah and Israel (Jehoram or Joram).

2 Kings 1:1-8 Ahaziah consults Baalzebub. A new opening and a new king of Israel. Immediately the reader knows what kind of king the Deuteronomistic theologian judges Ahaziah to be—he consults an idol! What follows immediately is prophetic judgment and condemnation.

2 Kings 1:9-12 Death of two captains. For the Deuteronomistic theologian, the power of the prophet far surpasses the king’s. No mere soldiers can overpower the power of God. Rather, Elijah pronounces doom on the soldiers sent to capture him, the two groups of fifty and their captains (compare 1 Kings 18:13). The word of God through Elijah cannot be silenced; it is effective.

2 Kings 1:13-18 Death of the king. The third captain sent by Ahaziah recognizes Elijah’s power and pleads for his own safety. He knows what the king has failed to understand: Yahweh, God of power, is with Elijah. When Elijah meets Ahaziah in person, he repeats Ahaziah’s fate: the consequence of idolatry is death.

Second Kings Chapter Two

Elijah ascends to heaven on a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:1-14):

"And it came to pass, when Jehovah would take up Elijah by a whirlwind into heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for Jehovah hath sent me as far as Beth-el. And Elisha said, As Jehovah liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el. 3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that Jehovah will take away thy master from thy head to-day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. 4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for Jehovah hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As Jehovah liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho" (2 Kings 2:1-4).

Evidently, it was common knowledge among the prophets that Elijah was to be taken off the earth in a miraculous way.

Elisha knew of this and for this reason followed Elijah on his final journey over the Jordan.

"5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came near to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that Jehovah will take away thy master from thy head to-day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. 6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry here, I pray thee; for Jehovah hath sent me to the Jordan. And he said, As Jehovah liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. 7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood over against them afar off: and they two stood by the Jordan. 8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground" (2 Kings 2:5-8).

As Elijah and Elisha passed through Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho, they encountered other prophets who were referred to as “sons of prophets.” Evidently, there were “schools” of prophecy in these cities. We can look back to the days of Samuel for the origin of such schools. “Samuel took measures to make his work of restoration permanent as well as effective for the moment. For this purpose he instituted companies, or colleges, of prophets (1 Samuel 19:19-20 others; Bethel 2 Kings 2:3 etc.). Into them were gathered promising students, and there they were trained for the office that they were afterward destined to fulfill.”

Obviously, the prophets at these schools had attained knowledge, by divine revelation, that Elijah was to be taken by God as well. Elijah is apparently giving these prophets a glimpse of the Holy God at work by including them in his last moment on the earth. They all knew, by faith, that a miraculous event was about to transpire and Elijah wants them to see all that they can to make solid their confidence for their future work.

From Jericho, Elijah and Elisha traveled to the Jordan (50 of the prophets from the school traveled with them as well yet stood afar off). Elijah took his mantle (the cloak which signified the prophet’s office) and miraculously parted the Jordan River so that they both passed over on dry land.

"9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I am taken from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so" (2 Kings 2:9-10).

Elijah asks Elisha if he has any final request: Elisha said yes, give me a double portion of your spirit. Elijah said that this was a hard request, nevertheless, if Elisha sees him taken away he will know that it is God’s will to grant his request.

“The request of Elisha is evidently based upon Deuteronomy 21:17, where this denotes the double portion which the first-born received in the father’s inheritance. Elisha, resting his foot upon this law, requested of Elijah as a first-born son the double portion of his spirit for his inheritance. Elisha looked upon himself as the first-born son of Elijah in relation to the other ’sons of the prophets,’ inasmuch as Elijah by the command of God had called him to be his successor and to carry on his work.” The meaning therefore is that Elisha would perform twice as many miracles as did Elijah and nothing more.

"11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof! And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. 13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is Jehovah, the God of Elijah? And when he also had smitten the waters, they were divided hither and thither; and Elisha went over" (2 Kings 2:11-14).

As Elijah and Elisha walked along the way a chariot of fire with horses of fire appeared to them and swept Elijah away in a whirlwind. As Elijah ascends to the heavens, he drops his mantle to Elisha so that he would know that the office of prophet now belonged to him as God’s divinely appointed successor of Elijah.

Elijah’s departure reminds us of Enoch. The scriptures tell us, "Enoch walked with god: and he was not; for God took him" (Genesis 5:24). Enoch was apparently taken from the earth without experiencing physical death. He was also somewhat like Moses, who died yet God took his body (Judges 1:9). Elisha performs his first miracle by parting the Jordan River with the mantle given him by Elijah.

Elisha, the Prophet of God, Performs Three Miracles (2 Kings 2:15-25):

"15 And when the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho over against him saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him. 16 And they said unto him, Behold now, there are with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master, lest the Spirit of Jehovah hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. 17 And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not. 18 And they came back to him, while he tarried at Jericho; and he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?" (2 Kings 2:15-18).

When Elisha returns to the sons of the prophets they urge the prophet of God to go on a search for the body of Elijah. Elisha; however, warns them not to go for they would not find it. The prophets; however, urge Elisha to the point of him being weary with them and so they go out seeking the body of Elijah and find nothing. Elisha replies, "Did I not say unto you, Go not?"

"19 And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, we pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is bad, and the land miscarrieth. 20 And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him. 21 And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast salt therein, and said, Thus saith Jehovah, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or miscarrying. 22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spake" (2:19-22).

The second miracle of Elisha is conducted in Jericho. The men of the city approached Elisha with a dilemma. The water was undrinkable and caused the ground to not give good crops.

Elisha then took a new dish filled with salt and pored it into the waters of Jericho saying, “Thus saith Jehovah, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or miscarrying." The waters were immediately restored.

"23 And he went up from thence unto Beth-el; and as he was going up by the way, there came forth young lads out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou baldhead; go up, thou baldhead. 24 And he looked behind him and saw them, and cursed them in the name of Jehovah. And there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two lads of them. 25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria" (2 Kings 2:23-25).

The third miracle of Elisha occurred as he left Jericho for Bethel. “Young lads from the city” came to Elisha and began to mock him and make fun of his baldhead. Evidently Elisha was balding and the children took this as an occasion to make fun of him. Elisha turned and cursed the children by the name of Jehovah for their ridicule and caused two she bears to come up and kill 42 of the lads.

“This occurrence was intended to prove to the despisers of God that the Lord does not allow His servants to be ridiculed with impunity…All that is necessary is to admit that the worthless spirit which prevailed in Bethel was openly manifested in the ridicule of the children, and that these boys knew Elisha, and in his person insulted the prophet of the Lord…they were punished for the sins of their parents.”

Israel was in a state of wide open rebellion at this time. 2 Kings 1 indicates the state of debauchery in that the king seeks the advise of Baal-zebub (the lord of the flies and filth) rather than Jehovah. The stage is set for another squaring off between the prophets of God and the kings of Israel.

2 Kings 2:1-8 Elijah and Elisha. Elijah’s departure is developed literarily with great detail and leads to a climax. Elisha knows of their imminent separation and wants to be with Elijah as long as possible. Elisha follows the prophet southward, from Gilgal to Bethel, to Jericho, and even to the Jordan. Other prophets testify to Elijah’s departure and even follow the two as far as the Jordan. The symbolic role of Elijah’s cloak as an instrument of power again surfaces when it is used to divide the waters.

2 Kings 2:9-18 Elisha succeeds Elijah. The other side of the Jordan is the place of God’s intervention. Elijah is taken up in a flaming chariot drawn by flaming horses. When Elisha sees this, he knows that, according to Elijah’s word, prophetic power in good measure will be bestowed upon him. He tears his own cloak in two; he picks up Elijah’s and uses it to recross the Jordan, where he meets those who will now become his followers. Elijah is not to be found; the power of God that had been in him is henceforth to be sought in his successor, Elisha.

Many historical-critical scholars have suggested historical and literary confusion between the two men. This is partly because God had told Elijah to anoint Hazael and Jehu (1 Kings 19:15-16), but the texts later record that Elisha directs the anointing (see 2 Kings 8:13; 2 Kings 9:6). It is sometimes conjectured that the miracles now attributed to Elijah were originally ascribed to Elisha and that they have been altered, repeated, and rearranged in order to heighten the literary contrast between Ahab and Elijah.

2 Kings 2:19-22 Healing of the water. Proof of the efficacy of Elisha’s prophetic word is recorded immediately. Potentially fertile land needs pure water if the harvest and the people are to be healthy. Therefore, at the request of the people, Elisha throws salt into the water, and it is henceforth considered a source of well-being. The power of the prophet effects good.

2 Kings 2:23-25 The prophet’s curse. The power of the prophet can also effect harm, especially for those who do not take the prophet seriously. Such is the common interpretation of this episode: the cursing of small boys, leading to their death. The writer does not intend to depict the prophet’s heartlessness but rather the gravity of taking a prophet lightly.

Second Kings Chapter Three

Israel, Judah, and Edom war with Moab (2 Kings 3:1-27)

"Now Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years. 2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, but not like his father, and like his mother; for he put away the pillar of Baal that his father had made. 3 Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin; he departed not there from" (2 Kings 3:1-3).

Jehoram, son of Ahab, reigns in Israel after Ahaziah’s death (Ahaziah had no sons). The dates are somewhat confusing because 1 Kings 1:17 states that Jehoram began in the second year of Jehoshaphat’s son’s reign. The confusion is cleared when we understand that many of the king’s rules overlapped each others as they served together in a co-regency.

Though Jehoram was a son of the wicked King Ahab he was not quite as sinful as his father. Nevertheless Jehoram did that which was evil just not to the extent of his father. He actually has a moment of spirituality in that he removes the "pillar of Baal" that his father had made.

"4 Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep-master; and he rendered unto the king of Israel the wool of a hundred thousand lambs, and of a hundred thousand rams. 5 But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 And king Jehoram went out of Samaria at that time, and mustered all Israel. 7 And he went and sent to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying, The king of Moab hath rebelled against me: wilt thou go with me against Moab to battle? And he said, I will go up: I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses" (2 Kings 3:4-7).

Moab’s rebellion against Israel began during the days of king Ahaziah (before he fell through the lattice - see 2 Kings 1:1). Ahaziah was unable to do anything against Moab due to the accident. Moab had not only threatened Israel but also Judah (see 2 Chronicles 20:1 ff). Jehoram; however, determines to put Moab back in subjection.

Jehoram, son of Ahab, had something in common with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Jehoshaphat’s son, also named Jehoram, had married Ahab’s daughter. Jehoram, king of Israel, was actually Jehoshaphat’s in-law. Jehoshaphat agrees to help Israel against Moab.

Recall that Jehoshaphat had also helped Ahab, king of Israel, when they were at war with Syria (see 1 Kings 22:1 ff). We must note; however, that Jehoshaphat’s help given to the wicked was not approved of God (see 2 Chronicles 19:1-3). Jehoshaphat also helped Ahaziah, king of Israel, and once again Jehovah gave great warnings to the king (read 2 Chronicles 20:35-37).

Once again we find Jehoshaphat helping the wicked of Israel (3rd time) which was not God’s will. Sometimes family ties can be stronger in one’s mind that God’s will (see study # 6; Putting one’s Faith above Family).

"8 And he said, Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way of the wilderness of Edom. 9 So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom; and they made a circuit of seven days’ journey: and there was no water for the host, nor for the beasts that followed them. 10 And the king of Israel said, Alas! for Jehovah hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab. 11 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of Jehovah, that we may inquire of Jehovah by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah. 12 And Jehoshaphat said, The word of Jehovah is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him" (2 Kings 3:8-12).

Jehoshaphat was a spiritually minded man who considered Jehovah (see 2 Chronicles 17:3-6) (see study # 4; Jehoshaphat). When Jehoshaphat and Ahab went against Syria the king of Judah sought the advise of a prophet too (see 1 Kings 22:5). When Jehoshaphat and Judah went to war against Moab and Ammon the king sought the help of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 20:3 ff).

While Jehoram’s lack of faith and doomed disposition comes out in a time of trouble it is Jehoshaphat that calls for Elisha the prophet of God.

"13 And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have I to do with thee? Get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay; for Jehovah hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab. 14 And Elisha said, As Jehovah of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee. 15 But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of Jehovah came upon him. 16 And he said, Thus saith Jehovah, Make this valley full of trenches. 17 For thus saith Jehovah, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, and ye shall drink, both ye and your cattle and your beasts. 18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of Jehovah: he will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. 19 And ye shall smite every fortified city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all fountains of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones" (2 Kings 3:13-19).

The three kings come before Elisha for advise. Elisha speaks only to the king of Israel. Due to Jehoram’s wickedness Elisha would have nothing to do with him; however, because the good king Jehoshaphat was with him he would save Israel and Judah.

Not only would the omnipotent God supply Israel, Judah, and Edom with water but he would deliver Moab into their hands. Elisha tells the kings to destroy all cities, trees, fountains of water, and they were to "mar (ruin) every good piece of land with stones." Moab was to be laid waist with no opportunity to recover.

Another miracle attached to Elisha is the miraculous supply of water and the defeat of Moab.

"20 And it came to pass in the morning, about the time of offering the oblation, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water. 21 Now when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered themselves together, all that were able to put on armor, and upward, and stood on the border. 22 And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water over against them as red as blood: 23 and they said, This is blood; the kings are surely destroyed, and they have smitten each man his fellow: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil. 24 And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they went forward into the land smiting the Moabites. 25 And they beat down the cities; and on every good piece of land they cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the fountains of water, and felled all the good trees, until in Kir-hareseth [only] they left the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it. 26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew sword, to break through unto the king of Edom; but they could not. 27 Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall. And there was great wrath against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land" (2 Kings 3:20-27).

The trenches miraculously filled with water for the soldiers and animals of Israel, Judah, and Edom. When the Moabites saw the water in the early morning sunlight it looked as though it were blood. The Moabites concludes that the three kings must have fought among themselves and there was such a great slaughter that rivers of blood were flowing. The men of Moab charge into the camp of Israel only to find ready men who fought viciously against them. The battle was taken to Moab where Israel, Judah, and the Edomites began to destroy all the cities, trees, and fountains of water as Jehovah had commanded.

When the king of Moab saw the destruction of his kingdom he does the unthinkable. He sacrificed his own first born son in the sight of all in the battle. Upon seeing this, the armies of Judah, Israel and Edom fled. Keil and Delitzsch explain this as the people of God fearing Jehovah due to a violation of the Law of Moses. The law states that no one should cause another to make a human sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:3).

2 Kings 3:1-27 Campaign of Joram against Moab. Ahab’s son Joram succeeds his brother to the throne, another "chip off the old block." Though not as evil as his mother (Jezebel) and his father, in the Deuteronomist’s judgment, nevertheless, Joram is evil, like all the northern kings.

Continued peace between Judah and Israel during Jehoshaphat’s reign occasioned their alliance, this time along with the Edomites, against Moab (compare 1 Kings 22). Faced with a water shortage, the kings, at the request of the king of Judah, consult a prophet about their dilemma. They approach Elisha. He rejects Joram, who is too much like his father for Elisha’s taste, but for the sake of the king of the south he consults the Lord: they will have sufficient water and even be victors over the Moabites (vv. 17-18). Yahweh effects the victory. Through the miraculous misperception of the Moabites, the promise of the prophet is fulfilled.

Defeat in battle causes the Moabite king to seek Syrian aid, and when that recourse fails, he sacrifices his own child in hopes of winning his god’s favor over Israel. This horrifies the Israelites, who return to Israel. Perhaps even they fear the power of the Moabite god in his own land!

Second Kings Chapter Four

Elisha Performs Four more Miracles (2 Kings 4:1-44):

"Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear Jehovah: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two children to be bondmen. 2 And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me; what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thy handmaid hath not anything in the house, save a pot of oil. 3 Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbors, even empty vessels; borrow not a few 4 And thou shalt go in, and shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and pour out into all those vessels; and thou shalt set aside that which is full. 5 So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons; they brought [the vessels] to her, and she poured out. 6 And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed. 7 Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy sons of the rest" (2 Kings 4:1-7).

The widow’s oil: One of the sons of the prophets had died leaving behind a wife and two sons. Apparently the family had amassed a debt to creditors. The creditors were about to take her sons as slaves to satisfy her debt, which was perfectly legal for them to do (Leviticus 25:39-40). The woman sought after Elisha and told him her situation. She said the only thing she had of value was a small pot of oil.

Elisha tells here to go borrow many vessels from her neighbors and shut herself in her house. Take the small bottle of oil and poor it into the borrowed vessels. She did as Elisha said and the bottle of oil produced much more. She filled many pots with oil and then sold them to pay her debt and take care of her children.

"8 And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. 9 And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God, that passeth by us continually. 10 Let us make, I pray thee, a little chamber on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a seat, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither. 11 And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber and lay there. 12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. And when he had called her, she stood before him. 13 And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? Wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among mine own people. 14 And he said, What then is to be done for her ? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no son, and her husband is old. 15 And he said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door. 16 And he said, At this season, when the time cometh round, thou shalt embrace a son. And she said, Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thy handmaid. 17 And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season, when the time came round, as Elisha had said unto her. 18 And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers. 19 And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to his servant, Carry him to his mother. 20 And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. 21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out. 22 And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the servants, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again. 23 And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to-day? It is neither new moon nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well. 24 Then she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slacken me not the riding, except I bid thee. 25 So she went, and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel . And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is the Shunammite: 26 run, I pray thee, now to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well. 27 And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came near to thrust her away; but the man of God said, Let her alone: for her soul is vexed within her; and Jehovah hath hid it from me, and hath not told me. 28 Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? Did I not say, Do not deceive me? 29 Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thy hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child. 30 And the mother of the child said, As Jehovah liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he arose, and followed her. 31 And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he returned to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked. 32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. 33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto Jehovah. 34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon him; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. 35 Then he returned, and walked in the house once to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son. 37 Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground; and she took up her son, and went out" (2 Kings 4:8-37).

Elisha, by the power of God, raises the Shunammite’s son from the dead: A wealthy woman who lived between Jezreel and Mt. Carmel offered Elisha much assistance when he traveled. She even went to the trouble of building Elisha permanent quarters to stay in while he was on his way.

Elisha began to think about all the good this woman had done for him and wanted to repay her in some way. He spoke with his servant Gehazi regarding the matter and Gehazi told Elisha that the woman had never had a child. Elisha called the woman and told her that she would conceive. She was somewhat surprised and told Elisha there was no way because of her age (reminds us of Abraham and Sarah: Genesis 18:12-13).

The woman did conceive however and had a son. The boy grew into a man. One day as he was working in the field with his father and the other servants, he complained to his father about a terrible headache. His father sent him home to the mother and there he died in his mother’s lap.

The child’s mother then went to Elisha, who was at Mt. Carmel, and told him what had happened. Elisha sends Gehazi with his staff and tells him to lay it upon the boy’s face and he would come back to life. Gehazi does so but there came no life to the boy. Elisha then comes to the boy and lays over him and brings him back to life.

"38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal. And there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him; and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and boil pottage for the sons of the prophets. 39 And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage; for they knew them not. 40 So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof. 41 But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot" (2 Kings 4:28-41).

Bad Food turned to Good: There was a famine in the land and the prophets were hungry. Elisha told one of them to gather wild plants from the field and put it into the pot to cook. The servant did so however, when the prophets began to eat it they could tell that it was poisonous plants.

Elisha then called for some “meal” and added it to the pot and the food became miraculously eatable.

"42 And there came a man from Baal-shalishah, and brought the man of God bread of the first-fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat. 43 And his servant said, What, should I set this before a hundred men? But he said, Give the people, that they may eat; for thus saith Jehovah, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof. 44 So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of Jehovah" (2 Kings 4:42-44).

Feeding 100 sons of the prophets with 20 barley loaves: On another occasion, a man brought the prophets an offering of 20 barley loaves to eat. There were 100 prophets there that were in need of food. The 20 barley loaves was not enough to feed them. Elisha tells the man to give it to the 100 men and it will suffice.

The miracle was similar to that performed by Jesus when he fed the 5000 men plus the women and children with five loaves and two fishes (Matthew 14:16-21).

Synopsis of Second Kings Chapter 1-4:

Recall that Elisha had asked Elijah for a double portion of his spirit (i.e., the great ability to perform miracles - see 2 Kings 2:9). Elisha was much like Solomon in that he did not ask for fame or fortune he simply asked for that which would help God’s people most (see study # 3). Miracles would be the way that Israel would recognize the great oneness of God and be moved to repentance (see 1 Kings 18:37). Seven miracles of Elisha have been revealed to this point of our study. Israel had fallen away from God. It was the intention of God to perform these miracles in the sight of Israel that they may know that he is the only true and living God. He did this through Elijah and now through Elisha.

Jesus and his apostles performed miracles for the same reason (Mark 16:20 and John 20:30-31) . The miracles of Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, and the apostles are no longer needed today. The complete word of God has been delivered and thereby man has all that he needs to believe and make it to heaven (1 Corinthians 13 all).

2 Kings 4:1-7 The widow’s oil. Multiplication of a widow’s oil—a miracle Elijah had performed (see 1 Kings 17:14-16)—is performed also by Elisha. Her own husband had been a prophet, and she trusts the prophet’s power. Her complaint brings her deliverance.

2 Kings 4:8-37 Elisha and the Shunammite. Yahweh’s prophet has power over life and death. Elisha promises the barren Shunammite a child, and later raises that dead child back to life (compare 1 Kings 17:21-23). The woman had recognized Elisha as a prophet and had volunteered to provide for his needs; he rewarded her with a child. Now she seeks the prophet after her child’s death, again showing confidence in God’s representative; again she is rewarded. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, is introduced here. He was unable to bring life back into the child (v. 31).

2 Kings 4:38-41 The poisoned stew. A famine (compare 1 Kings 18:3) occasions Elisha’s next miracle. Just as salt had purified contaminated water (2 Kings 3:19-22), now meal purifies a poisoned stew. In each case the prophet intervenes and effects miraculous good on behalf of his people’s health.

2 Kings 4:42-44 Multiplication of loaves. This miracle complements verses 1-7, and together they parallel 1 Kings 17:14-16. Twenty barley loaves and ears of grain—food for the prophet, yes, but hardly enough to feed a famine-stricken people. Hardly enough, that is, unless the power of Yahweh is with you.

The close literary connection between the miracles performed by Elijah and Elisha, especially the multiplication of food and the raisings from the dead, and similar miracles of Jesus recounted in the synoptic Gospels cannot be ignored. The New Testament writers seem to have selected particular acts of Jesus to assert, especially to their Jewish converts, that the power of God worked through him.

Second Kings Chapter Five

The Healing of Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-27)

"Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him Jehovah had given victory unto Syria: he was also a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper" (2 Kings 5:1).

Israel had been at war with Syria during the days of king Ahab. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, had decided against God’s will to help Israel (1 Kings 22:1 ff; 2 Chronicles 19:1-3). Jehovah had sent his prophet Micaiah to prophecy against Ahab saying that the king would be killed during the war with the Syrians (1 Kings 22:19 ff). Now we find that Naaman, captain of the Syrian host, was given victory over Israel by the help of Jehovah. Israel, under the kingship of Ahab, had come to be very wicked. Jehovah apparently uses Syria and Naaman to punish them and move them to repentance. The following chapter is taken in Chronological order meaning that the current King of Israel would be Jehoram. Syria continued to pose a threat to Israel due to her sins.

Though Naaman was a mighty man of valor and held in great honor among the Syrians he was a leper. What a great contrast. Naaman’s leprosy diminished greatly the valor and honor he held. Leprosy is "A chronic, infectious, granulomatous disease occurring almost exclusively in tropical and subtropical regions, caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae, and ranging in severity from noncontiguous and spontaneously remitting forms to contagious, malignant forms with progressive anesthesia, paralysis, ulceration, nutritive disturbances, gangrene, and mutilation" (AHD 724).

2 And the Syrians had gone out in bands, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maiden; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. 3 And she said unto her mistress, Would that my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! Then would he recover him of his leprosy. 4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maiden that is of the land of Israel. 5 And the king of Syria said, Go now, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. 6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, And now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy" (2 Kings 5:2-6).

After Israel looses a battle with the Syrians they raid the land and take captives back to their land. One of these captives was a "little maiden" that looked after Naaman’s wife. The little maiden tells Naaman’s wife about Elisha, the "prophet that is in Samaria" who could heal Naaman of his leprosy.

News eventually comes to the king of Syria and the king sends great treasures to Israel and makes a request for the king of Israel to be responsible for healing Namaan of his leprosy.

"7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? But consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me. 8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel" (2 Kings 5:7-8).

Jehoram knew very well the dreaded and incurable disease of leprosy. The king of Israel believes Syria’s gifts and impossible request to be nothing more than another ploy to crush Israel further.

When Elisha hears of the request and the king’s response the prophet of God tells the king to send Namaan to him so that, "he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel." There is a similar statement to this found at Ezekiel 2:5; Ezekiel 33:33 (theme of 2 Kings).

A prophet is “one who speaks for a God and interprets his will to man... generally, an interpreter, declarer... one who possesses the gift of an inspired preacher and teacher.... the revealer of God’s counsel for the future, a prophet... a predictor of future events” (LS 704).

How would the people know that a prophet had been among them? The only way this could have happened is if what the prophet has to say comes to pass (cf. Deuteronomy 18:20-22). When Namaan saw his leprosy disappear as Elisha prophesied then he would know that Jehovah is Lord and Elisha is his prophet.

"9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. 11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of Jehovah his God, and wave his hand over the place, and recover the leper. 12 Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage" (2 Kings 5:9-12).

Elisha was confident that Jehovah would heal Naaman of the leprosy and that the Syrian would know that a prophet of God was in Israel. Elisha does not even come out to meet Naaman. The prophet sends a messenger to Naaman instructing him to wash himself in the Jordan River seven times. The whole ordeal was nothing as Naaman had expected. Naaman, in a fit of anger, said, "I thought he will surely come out to me, stand, and call on the name of Jehovah his God, and wave his hand over the place..." When Elisha did not do as Naaman "thought" then Naaman gave up on Jehovah.

People today have preconceived ideas about how God should work and what His word should say. Many people’s answers to issues of this life are, "thats the way I was raised...that is what I was always taught... I thought that the Bible meant this or that..." Rather than following God’s simple instructions many make a grave mistake by doing what they think rather than what God says. Naaman "thought" Elisha would do anything but what he instructed.

"13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, would thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? 14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (2 Kings 5:13-14).

Naaman’s servants reason with their master saying that the prophet of God did not ask him to do anything spectacular. What Elisha said was very simple; i.e., "Go wash seven times in the Jordan River." When Naaman finally agreed to comply with the instructions he came to be cleansed of his leprosy.

Naaman, like all people today, needed to learn that when compliance is given to God’s simple instructions then His divine grace will be given to the obedient. Consider other men in History who experienced God’s grace through their obedience to His instructions:

Noah: (Genesis 6:8) “but Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah.” Noah, by Godly fear, obeyed the commands of God (Hebrews 11:17). God gave him instructions and he followed them (Genesis 6:13 ff). “Thus did Noah: according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Genesis 6:22). Noah received God’s grace, salvation from the flood, through faithfully following his instructions.

Abraham: (Hebrews 11:8) “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Abraham received that which was promised to him by acting on faith. The favor was the inheritance; however, it was not received until he obeyed the voice of God (Romans 4:1-2; Romans 4:13; James 2:21).

Joshua: (Hebrews 11:30) “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about for seven days.” In Joshua 6:1-5, God tells Joshua that He has given Jericho into his hand. God’s favor or grace was the giving of Jericho. Notice that there was something on the part of Israel to do in order to receive God’s favor. When Israel complied with God’s instructions, the walls fell and they took the city by force. They received God’s favor by obedient faith.

The blind man: (John 9:7) Jesus said, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, he went away and washed, and came seeing.” The blind man received the favor or grace of God, his sight, when he complied with the instructions of Jesus. He received grace through faith!

Three thousand people in Jerusalem at Pentecost: (Acts 2) On the day of Pentecost 3,000 people had access by faith into grace. They wanted forgiveness of sins. They received God’s favor of forgiveness when they complied with His commands through the apostle Peter. The Lord commanded baptism for the forgiveness of sins. When they complied with the Lord’s instructions He forgave them of their sins.

"15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him; and he said, Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a present of thy servant. 16 But he said, As Jehovah liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. 17 And Naaman said, If not, yet, I pray thee, let there be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth; for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto Jehovah. 18 In this thing Jehovah pardon thy servant: when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, Jehovah pardon thy servant in this thing. 19 And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way" (2 Kings 5:15-19).

The honorable character of Namaan is now further revealed. Namaan could have left the Jordan River and returned to Syria without giving the prophet of God thanks but he didn’t. Namaan returns to Elisha and makes a famous proclamation of faith saying, "I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel." Naaman gives glory to God for miraculously healing him of his leprosy. Elisha had said that Naaman would come to know that there is a prophet of God in Israel and so he now does. Herein is the objective of 1 and 2 Kings. Israel and others needed to come to know and understand the one true God.

Naaman offers Elisha a gift for the merciful act of healing his leprosy; however, Elisha wants no part of it. Naaman then asks permission to take two mules burden in weight of soil from Israel that he may make sacrifices and worship Jehovah on it back in his own city.

Naaman then explains to Elisha his predicament as one who would have Syrian duties in the house of Rimmon. Rimmon was "a god worshiped in the 10th and 9th century BC by the Arameans, who probably pronounced his name Ramman. His temple in Damascus is mentioned in 2 Kings 5:18...the name Rimmon means ’thunderer’ or ’thunder-god’" (ISBE v. 4, page 196). Naaman’s character is once again examined as he was conscientious about having to worship in the temple of Rimmon as a Syrian. Naaman asks Jehovah to forgive him of this before he even did it. Elisha appears to have accepted Naaman’s confession.

The Foolishness of Gehazi (2 Kings 5:20-27):

"20 But Gehazi the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: as Jehovah liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him. 21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw one running after him, he alighted from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well? 22 And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there are come to me from the hill-country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets; give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of raiment. 23 And Naaman said, Be pleased to take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of raiment, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him" (2 Kings 5:20-23).

Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, displays a completely different character to that of Naaman. Namaan was an honorable man; however, Gehazi was a dishonorable man in that he lies and seeks the riches of this world.

Gehazi tells Naaman that Elisha had sent him to request gold and clothing yet Elisha had done no such thing. Naaman gives Gehazi twice as much as he had asked for.

"24 And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house; and he let the men go, and they departed. 25 But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither. 26 And he said unto him, Went not my heart with thee, when the man turned from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards and vineyards, and sheep and oxen, and men-servants and maid-servants? 27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow" (2 Kings 5:24-27).

Gehazi returns home only to find Elisha awaiting him with a question. Elisha asks his servant where he had been. Gehazi lies and says, "no where."

Elisha knew exactly where his servant was and what his lies were all about. Due to Gehazi’s greed Elisha strikes him with the leprosy that once belonged to Naaman

2 Kings 5:1-27 Cure of Naaman. Five persons are introduced in this episode: Naaman’s wife; the Israelite servant girl of Naaman’s wife; Naaman himself; Naaman’s master, the king of Syria; and, finally, the king of Israel. Four are identified by their relation to the leper, and they all support a request that the king of Israel cure him. Israel’s king, however, is powerless, as he himself admits. In contrast, Elisha, the prophet of God with the power of God, can heal.

Elisha commands Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan, but the leper had washed in other rivers before and refuses. He does not yet realize that the word of the prophet contains the power of God. He ignores the word of the prophet but later is persuaded by his servants, who re-echo the prophet’s words. He does what Elisha ordered and is cured (v. 14).

Naaman’s physical cure becomes the basis of faith in Israel’s God. He wishes to repay the prophet, or at least to buy some of Israel’s soil, on which he can, in the future, worship Yahweh in Syria. Elisha refuses the gifts but commends Naaman’s conversion.

Gehazi, however, is another story. The power of Yahweh had worked through Elisha to effect Naaman’s cure, but why not reap personal benefit from Yahweh’s power? Such would seem to be Gehazi’s motivation in asking Naaman for the silver talents and the festal garments—motivation strong enough to allow Gehazi to lie, first to Naaman, then to Elisha. But God’s knowledge and God’s power are both present to God’s prophet, who denounces Gehazi’s deceit and condemns him to Naaman’s leprosy. Infidelity can only yield a curse!

Second Kings Chapter Six

Elisha’s Miracles and more Wars with Syria (2 Kings 6:1-33):

"And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell before thee is too strait for us. 2 Let us go, we pray thee, unto the Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye. 3 And one said, Be pleased, I pray thee, to go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go. 4 So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down wood. 5 But as one was felling a beam, the axe-head fell into the water; and he cried, and said, Alas, my master! For it was borrowed. 6 And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither, and made the iron to swim. 7 And he said, Take it up to thee. So he put out his hand, and took it" (2 Kings 6:1-7).

The dwelling place of the “sons of prophets” was not sufficient for the amount of prophets that lived there. The prophet’s request permission of Elisha to build another dwelling place. Elisha agrees and the men go to work felling trees near the Jordan River.

While working near the banks of the River Jordan, one of the prophets swung his axe, in which he had borrowed, and the iron head slipped off falling into the River. The man was sorely distressed because of his great poverty. The axe was loaned to the man. Loosing it would mean replacing it and it is apparent the man could not do so. Elisha cut a stick off of a tree, placed it into the river and the head of the axe miraculously floated on the surface of the river. The prophet took hold of the floating axe and it was restored.

8 Now the king of Syria was warring against Israel; and he took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp. 9 And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are coming down. 10 And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of; and he saved himself there, not once nor twice. 11 And the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not show me which of us is for the king of Israel? 12 And one of his servants said, Nay, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber" (2 Kings 6:8-12).

Benhadad had camped in many secret parts of Israel to ambush God’s people. Every place he went in secret; however, Elisha revealed the Syrian’s location to Jehoram.

Benhadad was very frustrated. He demanded to know whom the traitor was that was revealing his whereabouts to the king of Israel. One of Benhadad’s servants explained that it was not one of the Syrians who had betrayed him, but it was Elisha the prophet of God. "

13 And he said, Go and see where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan. 14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. 15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, a host with horses and chariots was round about the city. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! How shall we do? 16 And he answered, Fear not; for they that are with us are more than they that are with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Jehovah, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And Jehovah opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha" (2 Kings 6:13-17).

When the king of Syria found out that Elisha had been revealing his secrets to the king of Israel he was furious. Benhadad sends horses, chariots, and a great host to take Elisha at Dothan.

When the Syrian army surrounded the encampment of the prophets at Dothan, Elisha’s servant asked how they would fair, Elisha made a memorable statement: Fear not; for they that are with us are more than they that are with them." It may have been a somewhat odd statement to Elisha’s servant seeing that those present were a few prophets. Then Elisha prayed to God that the servant’s eyes would behold the spiritual situation. God did so and the man saw, “the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."

A very similar statement is made in our New Testament Bibles. The apostle John wrote, "Ye are of God, my little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). The apostle Paul said, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8:31; Romans 8:37)... and again he said, "I can do all things in him that strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). As David defeated Goliath by the help of Jehovah so the people of God must know that a great and powerful help is at their disposal in the Lord (see 1 Samuel 17:46-47). Elisha’s confidence and faith in God did not waiver. He showed no fear of man though he was surrounded by the mighty Syrian army.

"18 And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto Jehovah, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. 19 And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. And he led them to Samaria. 20 And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, Jehovah, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And Jehovah opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. 21 And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite them? Shall I smite them? 22 And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master. 23 And he prepared great provision for them; and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel" (2 Kings 6:18-23).

As Benhadad’s army came upon the prophet, Elisha prayed that God would cause the soldiers to be blind. God answered Elisha’s prayer and the Syrian army was made blind.

Elisha then led the Syrians to Samaria (the trip from Dothan to Samaria was a 10 miles due south). When Jehoram saw the army he was amazed and asked Elisha if he should slay them with the sword. Elisha responds by saying, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master."

The point made by Elisha was that Jehoram never killed the men captive in battle why would he want to do so with these men? To kill the men would have been to frustrate the intention of the entire event. What an odd situation this was. The Syrians were the bitter enemies of Israel and now they are told to feed, water, and release them. The Syrians, as their captain Namaan, needed to see that Jehovah is the God of Israel, He is all powerful, and there is no other god. Elisha instructs that the men be fed and sent back to the king of Syria. When this was done, the Syrians put an end to their current campaign against Israel.

"24 And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria. 25 And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver. 26 And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king. 27 And he said, If Jehovah do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? Out of the threshing-floor, or out of the winepress? 28 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to-day, and we will eat my son to-morrow. 29 So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him; and she hath hid her son. 30 And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes (now he was passing by upon the wall); and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh. 31 Then he said, God do so to me, and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day. 32 But Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him; and the king sent a man from before him: but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away my head? Look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold the door fast against him: is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him? 33 And while he was yet talking with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil is of Jehovah; why should I wait for Jehovah any longer?" (2 Kings 6:24-33).

The armies of Syria came up and besieged Samaria. The siege lasted so long that the people of the city became extremely hungry. They were killing and eating unclean animals such as Donkeys. From there they went to eating the Donkey’s head and then they stooped to eat animals dung. This indeed was a severe famine. Israel was holding out however, most likely by the orders of Elisha the prophet of God on a promise of deliverance.

One day, Jehoram was walking the walls of the city surveying the situation, when a woman cried out to him in anguish. Jehoram answers her by saying that he cannot possibly help her seeing that there was no food anywhere. The woman then disclosed her real reason for addressing the king. She said that she had entered an agreement with another woman to eat both their sons. They would start by killing and boiling the flesh of her son and the next day they would kill and boil the flesh of the other woman’s son. The woman addressing the king had held up to her part of the bargain killing her son, boiling his flesh and allowing all to eat it. However when it came time to kill the other woman’s son she fled the scene. The woman obviously wanted Justice but Jehoram saw the utter horrifying condition the city was in. He fell to the ground rent his clothes and put on hairy mourning garments.

Jehoram decided this had gone on long enough and determined to cut off Elisha’s head. The text does not tell us; however, it is apparent that Elisha had foretold of these events. Elisha’s prophetic knowledge of the event brought him in association with the guilt in the eyes of the king. God told Elisha that the king had sent a messenger to cut off his head. He also knew that Jehoram had changed his mind and came after the messenger to stop him. Elisha and the elders held off the slayer until Jehoram arrived. Jehoram looks at Elisha and says basically that God has caused all this and he wants to know how much longer he could wait. In this statement we see a glimmer of hope in the words of the king yet he needed to be reassured. Elisha did this very thing in the next chapter.

One may ask, "Why would God permit such horrible things to happen to His people." The answer is obvious. Israel was no longer His people. They had rejected the Mosaic Law and were living in sin. God’s love is actually depicted in these events. He is chastising the people that they may return to Him. To return to God one must recognize Jehovah as the Lord God Almighty. God causes certain events to help the people see clearly that He alone is God. Secondly, the people would need to humble themselves by admitting that they had done wrong. God brings upon Israel these horrific events to change the minds of His people. If the Lord did nothing while Israel walked in sin they would never see their need to change. Parents today that do not chastise, admonish, and correct erring children are doing them a grave disservice. The greatest love is depicted when one tries to help others (see Proverbs 27:5; Hebrews 12:5-13) (good introduction / theme statements).

2 Kings 6:1-7 Recovery of the lost ax. Elisha performs another miracle, this one on behalf of one of the prophets. The prophet of God has the power of God and the knowledge of God (see 2 Kings 5:26-27) to effect good for those who are faithful to God.

2 Kings 6:8-13 Aramean ambush. Elisha is here depicted as a prophet of God with extraordinary knowledge, which he puts to good use on Israel’s behalf and against the Arameans. Proof of his power is the fact that the Arameans want to take him captive.

2 Kings 6:14-23 Blinded Aramean soldiers. The prophet of God can overcome any obstacle with the power of God. He can inspire confidence in his otherwise frightened servant; alone against an Aramean army, he can mediate their being blinded; he can himself lead a blinded army into their enemy’s capital; he can even persuade an Israelite king to feed and free Arameans. Further, he can so frighten the Arameans that he causes the raids to cease—raids whose effectiveness the knowledge of God is preventing in the first place. Elisha is in control—or so the Deuteronomistic theology of prophecy would have us believe.

2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:2 Siege of Samaria. War with Syria and famine in Israel describe a country under curse, a land far from fidelity to its God. Sometimes idolatry prompted child sacrifice; now the imminence of starvation has prompted even child cannibalism. The Israelite king blames Elisha for the famine and tries to kill him. Elisha’s response is to reassert the power of God: the famine will end the following day, yet the king’s adjutant who questioned the prophet’s word will die.

Jehovah saves Israel from the Syrians (2 Kings 7:1-20):

"And Elisha said, Hear ye the word of Jehovah: thus saith Jehovah, To-morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. 2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if Jehovah should make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof" (2 Kings 7:1-2).

As Benhadad of Syria pressed upon Samaria with a grievous siege the people thought all was lost. Jehoram has blamed Elisha for the great calamity. When it appears that the people of Samaria could go no lower in hunger and fear Elisha makes a proclamation of hope. The prophet of God tells the people that by this time tomorrow all will be able to buy food.

The captain of Jehoram’s army spoke words of little faith and doubt in the power of Jehovah God. Elisha tells him that it will happen and because of the captain’s doubt Elisha tells him that he will not eat any of the food. This captain stands as a representative of Israel and their lack of faith in Jehovah (see theme). Israel is put to shame by the faith of Namaan, a Syrian captain who gained faith in the Lord (see 2 Kings 5:8; 2 Kings 5:11-12; 2 Kings 5:15).

"3 Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? 4 If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there; and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die. 5 And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians; and when they were come to the outermost part of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no man there. 6 For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. 7 Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life" (2 Kings 7:3-7).

Four leprous men were at a point of starvation and desperation. They felt it would not matter if they died going into the Syrian camp to seek food. When they come into the camp they found no Syrians. The Lord had caused a great sound to come in the Syrian’s camp that made them believe a great army was approaching. The Syrians fled for their lives in fear leaving all their belongings behind.

"8 And when these lepers came to the outermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and they came back, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it. 9 Then they said one to another, We do not well; this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, punishment will overtake us; now therefore come, let us go and tell the king’s household" (2 Kings 7:8-9).

The four lepers began to eat and loot the camp hiding things as they went. After a while they begin to think of the consequences of not telling anyone about the circumstance and determine to go tell the king in Samaria.

"10 So they came and called unto the porter of the city; and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but the horses tied, and the asses tied, and the tents as they were. 11 And he called the porters; and they told it to the king’s household within. 12 And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive, and get into the city. 13 And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it; behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are consumed); and let us send and see" (2 Kings 7:10-13).

The lepers tell the porter of the city and he in turn tells the king of Israel that the Syrian’s have fled the area. The king can scarcely believe his ears. It is determined that five horsemen will travel to the Syrians to see whether the rumor was true.

The dire straights of Israel’s circumstance is depicted in the desperate move on the part of the four leprous men and now the five horsemen. The New International Readers Version Bible reads, " One of the king’s officers spoke up. He said, "A few horses are still left in the city. Have some men get five of them. They won’t be any worse off than all of the other Israelites who are left here. In fact, all of us will soon be dead. So let’s send the men to find out what happened." If they die they die what will be worse, dieing now or later?

"14 They took therefore two chariots with horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see. 15 And they went after them unto the Jordan: and, lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. And the messengers returned, and told the king. 16 And the people went out, and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of Jehovah" (2 Kings 7:14-16).

Two chariots go out of Israel to check the story of the lepers out. The men on the chariots found all that the lepers said to be true. The people now had flour and barley just as Elisha had prophesied. When Samaria found out about it they rushed out of the city to plunder the camp of the Syrians.

"17 And the king appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trod upon him in the gate, and he died as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him. 18 And it came to pass, as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be to-morrow about this time in the gate of Samaria; 19 and that captain answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if Jehovah should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? and he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof: 20 it came to pass even so unto him; for the people trod upon him in the gate, and he died" (2 Kings 7:17-20).

The captain who had doubted Elisha’s words was now appointed by the king to have charge of the gate seeing that the people were in a mad rush to get food and valuables from the Syrians. The captain was no match for the starving people. They rush through the gate trampling the captain to death and so Elisha’s words regarding the captain also come to pass.

One cannot help but ponder the two captains from two nations in these chapters. Naaman was the captain of the host of Syria (2 Kings 5:1). The captain of Jehoram’s host is not named. Namaan was called upon to believe in the power of Jehovah to do that which was unheard of; i.e., heal a man of leprosy. The captain of Jehoram’s army was called upon to believe that Jehovah could save Israel from the awful siege. Namaan was not an Israelite and he had no faith in Jehovah God yet he was willing to give God a try. The captain of Israel was an Israelite who was no doubt very familiar with Jehovah God yet he would not give God a chance. Namaan comes away healed and the captain of Israel’s army is killed. It is sad when those of the world seem to have greater faith in the power of Jehovah God today than the Lord’s own people.

2 Kings 7:3-13 The lepers at the gate. What great option is there between death by starvation and death by the sword? Such is the thinking of the lepers as they flee to the Aramean camp. Their courage is rewarded. The power of God, this time giving the impression of a large army and causing the enemy to flee, works on behalf of his people.

2 Kings 7:14-20 End of the siege. The flight of the Arameans signals the end of Israel’s captivity in Samaria and, in consequence, the end of their hunger. The Arameans’ supplies become spoils of war. Moreover, the word of Elisha to the king’s adjutant (see 2 Kings 7:2) is fulfilled; he is trampled at the city’s gate.

Behadad is Killed... more wars with Edom and Syria (2 Kings 8:1-29):

"Now Elisha had spoken unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thy household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for Jehovah hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years. 2 And the woman arose, and did according to the word of the man of God; and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. 3 And it came to pass at the seven years’ end, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines: and she went forth to cry unto the king for her house and for her land. 4 Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done. 5 And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored to life him that was dead, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life. 6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now" (2 Kings 8:1-6).

The record of Elisha, through the power of God, raising the Shunammite’s son from the dead is recorded at 2 Kings 4:32 ff.

Elisha foretold of a seven year famine which must have occurred before the healing of Namaan due to the fact that Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, was in the presents of the king telling him all the great miracles Elisha had done.

When Gehazi related the story of Elisha raising the dead Shunammite woman’s son, she was in the audience and called out to the king. Gehazi identified her as the Shunammite woman whose son had been raised. She asks the king to restore her land to her. Evidently she had been in the land of the Philistines for seven years awaiting the end of the famine as Elisha had directed. While she was away, others took her land. The king restored her land to her.

The significance of such historical records is obvious. All were to know that Jehovah was the one and only God (as Naaman had confessed - 2 Kings 5:15) (see theme).

"7 And Elisha came to Damascus; and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither. 8 And the king said unto Hazael, Take a present in thy hand, and go, meet the man of God, and inquire of Jehovah by him, saying, Shall I recover of this sickness? 9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ burden, and came and stood before him, and said, Thy son Benhadad king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover of this sickness? 10 And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou shalt surely recover; howbeit Jehovah hath showed me that he shall surely die" (2 Kings 8:7-10).

One cannot help but think about Ahaziah, the king of Israel, who had fallen through the lattice and injured himself to the point of not knowing if he would live. Rather than inquiring of Jehovah regarding the matter the king of Israel sends messengers to consult with Ballzebub, the god of Ekron (see 2 Kings 1:1-2). The fact that Benhadad calls upon Elisha illustrates the great affects God’s power and miraculous works through Elisha had on Syria. These events help us understand that God’s power and divinity was revealed to all nations either directly or indirectly through creation. The fact of the matter is that no man may ever stand before Jehovah and expect to escape His judgments (Romans 1:18-23) (see study # 10; No Excuse for any Race of Mankind).

Hazael came to Elisha with 40 camels loaded with the finest presents from Damascus, the Syrian capital. Hazael asks Elisha if Benhadad would recover or die. Elisha answered very intelligently. He said he would not die of the sickness (Elisha knew that Hazael would murder Benhadad). A facenating event transpires.

"11 And he settled his countenance steadfastly upon him, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept. 12 And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strongholds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child. 13 And Hazael said, But what is thy servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, Jehovah hath showed me that thou shalt be king over Syria. 14 Then he departed from Elisha, and came to his master; who said to him, What said Elisha to thee? And he answered, He told me that thou wouldest surely recover. 15 And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took the coverlet, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 8:11-15)

Let us recall that Jehovah had foretold that Hazael would be the king of Syria (1 Kings 19:15-18). Jehovah was to purge Israel of wicked people who had little to no faith in Him as was explained to Elijah. There would be; however, 7000 who would not bow their knees to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). No wicked man will ever escape the judgment of Jehovah God (see study # 11; The Wicked will not Escape God’s Judgment).

Elisha announced Hazael would be next king in Syria. Hazael was surprised and wandered how a “dog,” like him, could be king. Elisha stared intensely upon him to the point of Hazael being embarrassed. After starring at Hazael, the man of God began to cry. Hazael asked him why he was crying and Elisha revealed to him that God had showed him all that the new King of Syria would do. Hazael would be responsible for mass murders of unborn children, children, women and many men of war that were in Israel. The thought overwhelmed Elisha and he wept.

Hazael returns to Benhadad, tells him that the prophet said he would not die of the sickness. The next day, Hazael takes a wet cloth and places it over the face of Benhadad and suffocates him to death. He is now king in Syria.

"16 And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign. 17 Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 18 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife; and he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah. 19 Howbeit Jehovah would not destroy Judah, for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give unto him a lamp for his children always" (2 Kings 8:16-19).

Jehoram was the son of Jehoshaphat who reigned during the days of Elijah. Jehoram took to wife the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel whose name was Athaliah. Jehoram did that which was evil in the sight of God. He had transplanted Baal worship into Judah and murdered all his brothers after his father Jehoshaphat died (2 Chronicles 21:2-4).

Due to Jehoram’s wickedness Jehovah smote the king with "great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness, day by day" (2 Chronicles 21:15).

"20 In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves. 21 Then Joram passed over to Zair, and all his chariots with him: and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites that compassed him about, and the captains of the chariots; and the people fled to their tents. 22 So Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then did Libnah revolt at the same time. 23 And the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 24 And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead. 25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign. 26 Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri king of Israel. 27 And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, as did the house of Ahab; for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab. 28 And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth-gilead: and the Syrians wounded Joram. 29 And king Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick" (2 Kings 8:20-29).

Ahaziah replaces his father Jehoram as king over Judah and reigns for only one year. Ahaziah was the son in law of the house of Ahab and thereby he did that which was evil in the site of God.

Ahaziah and Joram of Israel joined forces to fight with Hazael, king of Syria. During the battle, Joram of Israel is wounded and taken back to Jezreel. As Jehoram is recovering, Ahaziah King of Judah came to visit him.

2 Kings 8:1-6 Prediction of famine. The woman who had been good to Elisha, to whom he had given a child and for whom he had raised her child back to life, again believes the prophet. Elisha warns of a famine and she flees the land. The famine lasts seven years, after which time she returns to claim her property in Israel. The encounter with the king reveals a believing king. Hearing Gehazi’s testimony and the woman’s own account, the king returns the woman’s possessions. Though always unnamed, she is a model of one who takes God and God’s word seriously.

2 Kings 8:7-15 Death of Ben-hadad foretold. Aram has to have taken notice of the power of Yahweh’s prophets before now. Elisha had thwarted the Aramean raids into Israel (see 2 Kings 6:12) and had led the Aramean army into Samaria (see 2 Kings 6:19). Now the king of Aram consults the prophet of Israel about his health (compare Ahaziah’s consulting idols in 2 Kings 1:2). Elisha uses this occasion to prophesy to Hazael that he will replace Ben-hadad as king.

The historical fact is that Ben-hadad was murdered by his servant, Hazael, who usurped the throne of Aram. The historical fact is, also, that Hazael waged war against Israel (see 1 Kings 18:17). However, the Deuteronomistic theologian does not accuse Elisha of precipitating the murder. Elisha merely names the end result and Hazael chooses the means.

2 Kings 8:16-24 Reign of Jehoram of Judah. Though king of Judah, Jehoram is like Ahab. He is married to Ahab’s sister (implied is the fact that she is "a chip off the old block," just as his sons Ahaziah and Joram were). Jehoram’s reign, judged on its own terms from a theological perspective, deserves termination, but God preserves the dynasty for the sake of Jehoram’s faithful ancestor, David. There are hard times, however, like the war with the Edomites and the loss of Libnah, political difficulties interpreted as religious condemnation. In spite of his sin, Jehoram is buried with his ancestors in the City of David, and his son Ahaziah succeeds him.

2 Kings 8:25-29 Accession of Ahaziah. Ahaziah’s mother was Ahab’s sister. Knowing only that, one can predict the Deuteronomist’s judgment on his reign! He does evil and is like Ahab. The Judah-Israelite alliance against Aram results in Joram’s being wounded in battle (1 Kings 18:17 predicted that Hazael would kill many Israelites). This occasions a visit by Ahaziah to Joram at Jezreel.

2 Kings 9:1-15 Anointing of Jehu. The story line is interrupted to legitimize Jehu as the successor of Joram. The prophetic message, this time delivered for Elisha by a guild prophet, places Jehu, Joram’s servant, on the throne of Israel. The prophetic pronouncement against the house of Ahab (1 Kings 21:21-22) and Jezebel (1 Kings 21:23) will now be fulfilled. The other army commanders affirm the anointing and form a conspiracy with Jehu against Joram.

The Zeal of Jehu (2 Kings 9:1-37):

"1 And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this vial of oil in thy hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. 2 And when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber. 3 Then take the vial of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith Jehovah, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not. 4 So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead. 5 And when he came, behold, the captains of the host were sitting; and he said, I have an errand to thee, O captain. And Jehu said, Unto which of us all? And he said, To thee, O captain. 6 And he arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of Jehovah, even over Israel. 7 And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Jehovah, at the hand of Jezebel. 8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab every man-child, and him that is shut up and him that is left at large in Israel. 9 And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. 10 And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled" (2 Kings 9:1-10).

Somewhere around 15 years previously Jehovah had pronounced to Elijah that Hazael would reign over Syria and that Jehu would be king in Judah (1 Kings 19:15 ff). The significance of the prophecy given to Elijah is now being realized. The wickedness of Israel and Judah would be punished by the sovereignty of Jehovah. The Lord uses both Hazael of Syria and Jehu of Judah to accomplish His divine purpose (i.e., to destroy the wicked out of the land).

The lesson is simple. There will always be those who love the Lord and those who will not bow their knees to Jehovah. The apostle Paul quotes from these times at Romans 11:1-5. Herein is the founding principles behind the New Testament principle of "election".

"11 Then Jehu came forth to the servants of his lord: and one said unto him, Is all well? Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee? And he said unto them, Ye know the man and what his talk was. 12 And they said, It is false; tell us now. And he said, Thus and thus spake he to me, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, I have anointed thee king over Israel. 13 Then they hasted, and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew the trumpet, saying, Jehu is king.

So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. (Now Joram was keeping Ramoth-gilead, he and all Israel, because of Hazael king of Syria; 15 but king Joram was returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) And Jehu said, If this be your mind, then let none escape and go forth out of the city, to go to tell it in Jezreel. 16 So Jehu rode in a chariot, and went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there. And Ahaziah king of Judah was come down to see Joram. 17 Now the watchman was standing on the tower in Jezreel, and he spied the company of Jehu as he came, and said, I see a company. And Joram said, Take a horseman, and send to meet them, and let him say, Is it peace? 18 So there went one on horseback to meet him, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? And Jehu said, What hast thou to do with peace? Turn thee behind me. And the watchman told, saying, The messenger came to them, but he cometh not back. 19 Then he sent out a second on horseback, who came to them, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? And Jehu answered, What hast thou to do with peace? Turn thee behind me. 20 And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not back: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously. 21 And Joram said, Make ready. And they made ready his chariot. And Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out to meet Jehu, and found him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite. 22 And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many? 23 And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah. 24 And Jehu drew his bow with his full strength, and smote Joram between his arms; and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot. 25 Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember how that, when I and thou rode together after Ahab his father, Jehovah laid this burden upon him: 26 Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith Jehovah; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith Jehovah. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of Jehovah" (2 Kings 9:11-26).

Joram and Ahaziah send out two different messengers to speak with Jehu; however, the new king was in no mood to talk to the wicked. Jehu drove his chariot hard and with purpose. Eventually, Joram and Ahaziah themselves come out to meet Jehu and ask him if he comes in piece. The new king speaks with words of faith and conviction saying, "What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?" The two wicked kings knew immediately that Jehu did not come in peace.

Joram tries to escape; however, Jehu draws back the bow with all his strength and strikes Joram through the heart with an arrow. Jehu then commands that the wicked king’s body be cast into the field of Naboth (Ahab had murdered Naboth and the Lord swore that the blood of his sons would be spilled in the plat of land that belonged to the murdered man).

"27 But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden-house. And Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot: and they smote him at the ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there. 28 And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his sepulcher with his fathers in the city of David" (2 Kings 9:27-28).

Jehu was not finished. The new king of Judah, with a spirit of conviction, overtakes Ahaziah, the king of Judah, and killed him while he was in his chariot.

Jehu permits Ahaziah to be buried in the city of David.

"29 And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah. 30 And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her eyes, and attired her head, and looked out at the window. 31 And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Is it peace, thou Zimri, thy master’s murderer? 32 And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? Who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs. 33 And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down; and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trod her under foot. 34 And when he was come in, he did eat and drink; and he said, See now to this cursed woman, and bury her; for she is a king’s daughter. 35 And they went to bury her; but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands. 36 Wherefore they came back, and told him. And he said, This is the word of Jehovah, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall the dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel; 37 and the body of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel, so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel" (2 Kings 9:29-37).

Jehu then came on into Jezreel and found Jezebel in a tower. Jezebel heard that Jehu was coming so she painted her eyes with makeup and caused herself to appear queenly. Jehu called out to her and she answered, Is it peace, thou Zimri, thy master’s murderer?” Jehu was the captain of the host. Jezebel’s use of Zimri was calculated to remind Jehu of the fate of Zimri who also killed the king and took his place. He only reigned for seven days before he died (see 1 Kings 16:10-18). There is no fear; however, in Jehu. Jehu did not even answer the worthless woman, he called for her eunuchs and they answered him by throwing her out the window whereas she fell to her death. Jehu then trampled her with his horses and went into the palace to eat.

After they had ate, Jehu told his servants to bury Jezebel seeing she was the King’s daughter. However, when the men found Jezebel’s body there was nothing left of it except the skull and hands. The dogs had eaten her and so the prophecy of Elijah concerning Jezebel came to pass (1 Kings 21:20-26) and Jehu recognized it as such (2 Kings 9:36).

Note the manner of Jezebel’s death. Jehovah mashes and grinds her into the ground with great wrath and indignation. God’s crushing of Jezebel leaves a lasting impression, upon the minds of us as readers, of his divine anger against the wicked.

2 Kings 9:16-26 Murder of Joram. Drama accompanies Joram’s murder. While being comforted by Ahaziah, king of Judah, his own army commander betrays him. But treason is easy, as attested by the fact that Jehu can so easily win over Joram’s drivers. The encounter of Jehu and Joram is depicted as the encounter of good and evil. Jehu, having been anointed by Elisha, vindicates the Lord for the evil that the house of Ahab has done. Moreover, Joram’s blood is spilled in a place symbolic of Ahab’s guilt, the vineyard of Naboth (see 1 Kings 21:21).

2 Kings 9:27-29 Death of Ahaziah. Ahaziah, whose mother was Athaliah, Ahab’s evil sister, must also be removed. Jehu orders his death and it is accomplished. Yet, because he belonged to the line of David, his body is returned to Jerusalem and buried there with his ancestors in the City of David.

2 Kings 9:30-37 Death of Jezebel. Punishment comes, finally, to the evil Jezebel. Just as Jehu won over Joram’s drivers, so now he wins over two or three eunuchs, who throw Jezebel out the window to her death. The manner of her death and the decomposition of her body are fitting theological judgments for evil such as hers. The word of the prophet—the power of Yahweh—is thereby executed (see 1 Kings 21:23).

Jezebel addressed Jehu as Zimri. Zimri was a chariot commander who killed his master, Elah, the king of Israel, thus terminating the house of Baasha (see 1 Kings 16). Now Jehu has terminated Ahab’s house. Yet Jehu is here understood as the Lord’s instrument in purging both Israel and Judah of their evil leadership.

Jehu Exterminates the household of Ahab in Jezreel and Samaria (2 Kings 10:1-17):

"Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, even the elders, and unto them that brought up the sons of Ahab, saying, 2 And now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master’s sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fortified city also, and armor; 3 look ye out the best and meet of your master’s sons, and set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house. 4 But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, the two kings stood not before him: how then shall we stand? And he that was over the household, and he that was over the city, the elders also, and they that brought up the children, sent to Jehu, saying, We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any man king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes" (2 Kings 10:1-5).

Jehu, after killing the kings of Israel and Judah, waste no time following the divine order of the Lord (i.e., "smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets..." [2 Kings 9:7]).

Jehu writes a letter to the elders of Samaria challenging them to set the best of Ahab’s sons upon the throne and prepare to fight. The elders; however, were fearful of Jehu and they tell him that they will not make anyone king but rather do as he would them to do.

"6 Then he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be on my side, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master’s sons, and come to me to Jezreel by to-morrow this time. Now the king’s sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, who brought them up. 7 And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king’s sons, and slew them, even seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent them unto him to Jezreel. 8 And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king’s sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entrance of the gate until the morning" (2 Kings 10:6-8).

Jehu writes a second letter to the elders stating that if they are truly with him they are to remove the heads of Ahab’s seventy sons and bring them to him. The elders and mighty men confer with Jehu’s letter and kill all Ahab’s sons and brought their heads in a basket to Jehu.

"9 And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye are righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him; but who smote all these? 10 Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of Jehovah, which Jehovah spake concerning the house of Ahab: for Jehovah hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah.So Jehu smote all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his familiar friends, and his priests, until he left him none remaining" (2 Kings 10:9-11).

The reoccurring theme of 2 Kings is the idea of Jehovah proving himself time and time again as the one true God who speaks and His words come to pass (see 2 Kings 5:8; 2 Kings 5:11-12; 2 Kings 5:15; 2 Kings 7:1-2; 2 Kings 8:4 and counting compared to Acts 17:16-31).

Jehu, standing before the severed heads of the seventy sons of Ahab, reminds the people of Jezreel about the words Jehovah spoke to Elijah concerning the household of Ahab (see 1 Kings 19:15 ff). The great lesson learned from 1 Kings 19:15 ff is further developed in 2 Kings. God will always have a remnant of people who will follow his every command. Those who reject the Lord will pay an eternal high price (great intro words).

Jehu was not a despotic man seeking the throne but rather a tool in the hands of Jehovah to fulfill His divine anger against the wicked. Jehu then proceeds to kill "all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel" (wives, children, friends, priest of Ahab)... "until he left him none remaining."

"12 And he arose and departed, and went to Samaria. And as he was at the shearing-house of the shepherds in the way, 13 Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, Who are ye? And they answered, We are the brethren of Ahaziah: and we go down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen. 14 And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing-house, even two and forty men; neither left he any of them" (2 Kings 10:12-14).

Jehu departs Jezreel and comes to Samaria, the capital city of Israel. No doubt the talk of the town was what Jehu did to the house of Ahab in Jezreel. The tension for Ahab’s house and all that pertained unto him must have been high.

Jehu meets up with forty two brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah and kills every one of them.

"15 And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him; and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thy hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot. 16 And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for Jehovah. So they made him ride in his chariot. 17 And when he came to Samaria, he smote all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the word of Jehovah, which he spake to Elijah" (2 Kings 10:15-17).

“Jehonadab the son of Rechab was the tribe-father of the Rechabites (Jeremiah 35:6). The rule which the latter laid down for his sons and descendants for all time, was to lead a simple nomad life, namely, to dwell in tents, follow no agricultural pursuits, and abstain from wine; which rule they observed so sacredly, that the prophet Jeremiah held them up as models before his own contemporaries, who broke the law of God in the most shameless manner, and was able to announce to the Rechabites that they would be exempted from the Chaldaean judgment for their faithful observance of their father’s precept (Jeremiah 35).”

Jehu was obviously in the know concerning these faithful people and so invited Jehonadab to travel with him to see his "zeal for Jehovah." Jehu comes to Samaria and "smote all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria.”

Jehu Exterminates the worshippers and priest of Baal (2 Kings 10:18-36):

"18 And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu will serve him much. 19 Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his worshippers, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtlety, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal" (2 Kings 10:18-19).

Jehu, in his zeal to perform the will of Jehovah, pulls a hoax upon the prophets, priest, and worshippers of Baal. Jehu tells the people that he intends to serve Baal more faithfully than Ahab ever did and so calls all to assemble for a supposed great sacrifice to Baal.

"20 And Jehu said, Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it. 21 And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was filled from one end to another. 22 And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments. 23 And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal; and he said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of Jehovah, but the worshippers of Baal only. 24 And they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt-offerings. Now Jehu had appointed him fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I bring into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him. 25 And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt-offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal. 26 And they brought forth the pillars that were in the house of Baal, and burned them. 27 And they brake down the pillar of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught-house, unto this day. 28 Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel" (2 Kings 10:20-28).

All worshippers of Baal assembled at Samaria for a great sacrifice to their god (note that these were Israelites... the supposed people of God). Jehu sets 80 men outside the house of Baal (it must have been a large house).

Jehu tells the 80 men to kill every one in the house of Baal and that if one were to escape they would have to exchange their own life for that escapee. All are killed and Jehu destroys the house of Baal completely.

"29 Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Beth-el, and that were in Dan. 30 And Jehovah said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, thy sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. 31 But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of Jehovah, the God of Israel, with all his heart: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, wherewith he made Israel to sin" (2 Kings 10:29-31).

At verse 16 Jehu speaks of his zeal for Jehovah and makes such zeal manifest in killing the kings of Israel and Judah as well as the entire household of Ahab and Baal. Jehu’s heart; however, was not in every respect with Jehovah.

Jehu permitted the calves at Dan and Bethel to remain and "took no heed to walk in the law of Jehovah with all his heart." The Lord acknowledges Jehu’s good work and vows to permit his sons to the forth generation to sit upon the throne of Israel.

Jehu’s faith and zeal in Jehovah did not move him to give himself completely over to Jehovah. The problem is clearly identified at Romans 10:1 ff.

"32 In those days Jehovah began to cut off from Israel: and Hazael smote them in all the borders of Israel; 33 from the Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the valley of the Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan. 34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 35 And Jehu slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead. 36 And the time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty and eight years" (2 Kings 10:32-36).

Jehovah had told Elijah that not only would Jehu slay the wicked but also Hazael the divinely appointed king of Syria (again see 1 Kings 19:15 ff). Those who escaped the sword of Jehu would be any not related to Ahab or worshippers of Baal. There yet remained wicked people in Israel that Hazael would take care of.

Jehu reigned in Israel for 28 years and his son, Jehoahaz, took his place.

2 Kings 10:1-11 Killing of Ahab’s descendants. Jehu is not content to have killed Joram, Ahaziah, and Jezebel; he must rid Israel of all the house of Ahab, seventy descendants. Just as the other army commanders joined Jehu in conspiracy (2 Kings 9:13-14), the drivers joined him (2 Kings 9:18-20), and the eunuchs supported him (2 Kings 9:33), so now the leaders in Samaria do his bidding by slaying all Ahab’s living relatives. Jehu sees their deaths—and the extermination of all of Ahab’s supporters—as the fulfillment of Elijah’s prophecy against the house of Ahab (1 Kings 21:21).

2 Kings 10:12-14 Ahaziah’s kinsmen. The termination of Ahab’s house and of the evil king of Judah, Ahaziah, is still not enough. Ahaziah was Athaliah’s son, and there were other sons; and Athaliah was Ahab’s sister. These are still living. The relatives going to visit Ahaziah’s family must also be terminated—all of them.

2 Kings 10:15-17 Jehu in Samaria. These verses reemphasize Jehu’s gathering of supporters (see 2 Kings 9:18-19; 2 Kings 9:32; 2 Kings 10:5), his killing of those who supported the house of Ahab (see v. 11), and the editor’s understanding that these deaths were a fulfillment of Elijah’s prophecy (see v. 10). Whether in Jezreel or in Samaria or elsewhere in Israel, all who supported the evil machinations of the house of Ahab are destroyed.

2 Kings 10:18-36 Baal’s temple destroyed. This is not the first time a character has used trickery to accomplish God’s purpose. Remember the prophet who lied (1 Kings 13)? Jehu must accomplish his mission to rid Israel of the evil that the house of Ahab has perpetrated in Israel, and this he does (see 1 Kings 19:17). His reward is that his sons will reign on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.

But Jehu is also guilty of walking in the sin of Jeroboam by tolerating the shrines at Bethel and Dan. The text judges that sin with reference to loss of the eastern segment of Israel’s land to Aram.

Athaliah’s Disgraceful Actions and Joash Ascends to the Throne of Judah (2 Kings 11:1-21):

"1 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal. 2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king’s sons that were slain, even him and his nurse, and put them in the bedchamber; and they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not slain; 3 And he was with her hid in the house of Jehovah six years. And Athaliah reigned over the land. 4 And in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the captains over hundreds of the Carites and of the guard, and brought them to him into the house of Jehovah; and he made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of Jehovah, and showed them the king’s Song of Solomon 5 And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that ye shall do: a third part of you, that come in on the sabbath, shall be keepers of the watch of the king’s house; 6 And a third part shall be at the gate Sur; and a third part at the gate behind the guard: so shall ye keep the watch of the house, and be a barrier. 7 And the two companies of you, even all that go forth on the sabbath, shall keep the watch of the house of Jehovah about the king. 8 And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand; and he that cometh within the ranks, let him be slain: and be ye with the king when he goeth out, and when he cometh in. 9 And the captains over hundreds did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded; and they took every man his men, those that were to come in on the sabbath, with those that were to go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest" (2 Kings 11:1-9).

Athaliah was Jehoram’s wife, Ahaziah’s mother, and the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (2 Kings 8:18-26).Upon hearing that Jehu had killed her son Ahaziah and all his brothers, she killed the remaining seed of Ahaziah who remained in Judah (her own grandsons and granddaughters). One young boy (Joash - 1 year old) escaped however, with the help of the high priest Jehoida’s wife Jehosheba (2 Chronicles 22:11). Athaliah then promotes herself to king over Judah.

"10 And the priest delivered to the captains over hundreds the spears and shields that had been king David’s, which were in the house of Jehovah. 11 And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the right side of the house to the left side of the house, along by the altar and the house, by the king round about. 12 Then he brought out the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, Long live the king. 13 And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the house of Jehovah: 14 and she looked, and, behold, the king stood by the pillar, as the manner was, and the captains and the trumpets by the king; and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew trumpets. Then Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason! Treason!" (2 Kings 11:10-14).

Joash was protected by three rotating shifts of Levite guards who were armed with the shields and spears David had originally put up in the house of Jehovah.

“The two divisions of those who were relieved on the Sabbath were to keep guard over the young king in the house of Jehovah, and therefore to remain in the inner spaces of the temple- court for his protection; whereas the three divisions of those who were entering upon duty were charged with the occupation of the external approaches to the temple.”

One group watched over the kings palace to see if any approached.

One group was to situate itself at the “foundation or Sur gate.”

This “suggest a gate in the outer court of the temple, at the hollow of either the Tyropoenon or the Kedron; for the context precludes our thinking of a palace gate.”

The third group was to be situated at the gate behind the runners. “This gate led from the temple-court to the royal palace upon Zion, and was therefore on the western side of the court of the temple.”

"15 And Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of hundreds that were set over the host, and said unto them, Have her forth between the ranks; and him that follows her slay with the sword. For the priest said, Let her not be slain in the house of Jehovah. 16 So they made way for her; and she went by the way of the horses’ entry to the king’s house: and there was she slain. 17 And

Jehoiada made a covenant between Jehovah and the king and the people, that they should be Jehovah’s people; between the king also and the people. 18 And all the people of the land went to the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of Jehovah. 19 And he took the captains over hundreds, and the Carites, and the guard, and all the people of the land; and they brought down the king from the house of Jehovah, and came by the way of the gate of the guard unto the king’s house. And he sat on the throne of the kings. 20 So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet. And Athaliah they had slain with the sword at the king’s house. 21 Jehoash was seven years old when he began to reign" (2 Kings 11:15-21).

Jehoida, the high priest, called for Joash to come out of the temple and there he put the crown on his head and pronounced him king.

All the people rejoiced and clapped their hands in approval. Athaliah heard the noise and ran out to the temple to see what was happening. When she realized the boy had been made king she cries, "Treason, treason."

Jehoida commanded that the armed Levites take her captive and kill her at the palace. Jehoida then calls upon the people of Judah to make a covenant between the people of Judah and God.

The results of this renewed faith in Jehovah turned against the house of Baal. Jehoida commanded that the temple be destroyed and its priest, Mattan, killed and so it was done.

2 Kings 11:1-20 Rule of Athaliah. Even those who know the books of Kings will fail to take serious note of Athaliah. In a patriarchal period such as this, no woman could legitimately rule. Jezebel may in fact have been stronger than Ahab (see 1 Kings 21), and Athaliah, Ahab’s sister, may in fact have ruled Judah for seven years, but the house of the male, be it Ahab or David, is always credited.

Just as the courage of certain women saved Moses (Exodus 2), so now Jehosheba, Ahaziah’s sister, saves Joash (the Davidic dynasty) from Athaliah’s murderous hand. The place of protection is none other than the temple, and the protector is the priest Jehoiada, who anoints Joash king of Judah. When Athaliah realizes what has happened—that a male descendant of David has been anointed king—she, and those who support her, are powerless. The death she inflicted on Ahaziah’s other sons now becomes her own fate.

Restoration of the Davidic line demands covenant renewal, a recommitment of king and people to the Lord, and a recommitment of the people to the king. Once Baal’s temple is destroyed (compare 2 Kings 10:18-28) the king, having reestablished the appropriate covenant relationship, moves from the Lord’s temple to his own palace and throne.

Joash takes it upon himself to Repair the House of Jehovah (2 Kings 12:1-16):

"In the seventh year of Jehu began Jehoash (Joash) to reign; and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Zibiah of Beer-sheba. 2 And Jehoash did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 Howbeit the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places" (2 Kings 12:1-3).

Jehoash is identified as the Joash of 2 Kings 11:2. Joash was only 7 years old when he began to reign as King over Judah (2 Kings 11:21). The year would have been around 831 BC.

The Word of God tells us that Joash was a good man who "did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah all his days wherein Jehoiada instructed him." With so many kings during these days Joash did not completely rout out the deep imbedded idolatrous practices that God’s people had assimilated into their society over the past 100 years or so.

"4 And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the hallowed things that is brought into the house of Jehovah, in current money, the money of the persons for whom each man is rated, and all the money that it cometh into any man’s heart to bring into the house of Jehovah, 5 let the priests take it to them, every man from his acquaintance; and they shall repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found. 6 But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house" (2 Kings 12:4-6).

The twenty third year of the reign of Joash would have put him at 30 years old. 2 Chronicles 24 tells us of Jehoiada taking two wives for the king that he may have sons and daughters before undertaking the repair of Jehovah’s house (24:3). Joash may have been around 20 when he was given the two wives to begat sons and daughters. Sometime after this, and before his 30th birthday, the king determines to repair the house of Jehovah. The son’s of Athaliah, Joash’s wicked grandmother who usurped the throne of Judah, had "broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of Jehovah did they bestow upon the Baalim" (2 Chronicles 24:7).

Joash sends out a request that the priests and Levites "Go out unto the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year; and see that ye hasten the matter. Howbeit the Levites hastened not" (2 Chronicles 24:5). When Joash was 30 (the 23rd year of his reign) he found that the breaches of the house of the Lord had not been repaired.

"7 Then king Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest, and for the other priests, and said unto them, Why repair ye not the breaches of the house? Now therefore take no more money from your acquaintance, but deliver it for the breaches of the house. 8 And the priests consented that they should take no more money from the people, neither repair the breaches of the house. 9 But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of Jehovah: and the priests that kept the threshold put therein all the money that was brought into the house of Jehovah. 10 And it was so, when they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king’s scribe and the high priest came up, and they put up in bags and counted the money that was found in the house of Jehovah. 11 And they gave the money that was weighed out into the hands of them that did the work, that had the oversight of the house of Jehovah: and they paid it out to the carpenters and the builders, that wrought upon the house of Jehovah, 12 and to the masons and the hewers of stone, and for buying timber and hewn stone to repair the breaches of the house of Jehovah, and for all that was laid out for the house to repair it. 13 But there were not made for the house of Jehovah cups of silver, snuffers, basins, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money that was brought into the house of Jehovah; 14 for they gave that to them that did the work, and repaired therewith the house of Jehovah. 15 Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to give to them that did the work; for they dealt faithfully. 16 The money for the trespass-offerings, and the money for the sin-offerings, was not brought into the house of Jehovah: it was the priests’" (2 Kings 12:7-16).

2 Chronicles 24:8-9 tells us that the king had commanded that a chest be placed outside the gate of the house of Jehovah and that a proclamation was made throughout Judah for all the people to pay "the tax that Moses the servant of God laid upon Israel in the wilderness."

Jehoiada bore a hole in the top of the chest and the people gave liberally. The house of God was repaired and with the extra money they made vessels and spoons of gold and silver to "minister and to offer" (2 Chronicles 24:14).

Joash avoids war with Syria (2 Kings 12:17-21):

"17 Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it; and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem. 18 And Jehoash king of Judah took all the hallowed things that Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own hallowed things, and all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of Jehovah, and of the king’s house, and sent it to Hazael king of Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem. 19 Now the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?" (2 Kings 12:17-19).

Hazael, king of Syria, had already began his Syrian conquest of Israel (2 Kings 10:32-33). Now we find this vessel of the sovereign Jehovah God moving against the Philistines and people of Judah. Recall that the Lord had told Elijah that He would use Hazael to bring down the wicked (see 1 Kings 19:15 ff). To avert trouble with Syria Joash collects all the "hallowed things" (treasures in the house of Jehovah) and gave them to Hazael to leave Judah alone. Hazael accepts the gift of submission and does not attack Judah.

What brought Judah to this weakened place? 2 Chronicles 24:15 reveals the death of Jehoiada at the age of 130 years old. The high priest had a son whose name was Zechariah. Zechariah took his father’s place as High priest. Zechariah had the spirit of the Lord upon him and he said to the people of Judah, because ye have forsaken Jehovah, he hath also forsaken you (2 Chronicles 24:20). When the people heard this, at the command of Joash, they stoned Zechariah. 2 Chronicles 24:21-22 states, Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son."

Hazael had brought his Syrian army down to Gath of the Philistines and subdued it. From this point, the Syrian army marched against Judah with a small army. God delivered a great army of Judah into the hands of the Syrians because of their wickedness (2 Chronicles 24:24). Joash turned over all the treasures of the house of God to the Syrians to keep them from utterly routing them.

What happened to the initial faith of Joash? The answer may partly be found in the fact that the godly influence and direction of the high priest Jehoida was gone. We may learn from this the power of surrounding yourself with good influences (godly people) (see 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8).

"20 And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and smote Joash at the house of Millo, on the way that goeth down to Silla. 21 For Jozacar the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, smote him, and he died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 12:20-21).

Shortly after the departure of the Syrians, there was a conspiracy against Joash and he was murdered. Joash was responsible for the death of Zechariah and the people would not let him get away with this. Joash’s son Amaziah reigned in his place.

2 Kings 12:1-21 Reign of Joash. Joash was seven when he began to reign, and he reigns for forty years. The Deuteronomist credits the good of his reign to the guidance of Jehoiada.

The account of the temple’s repair during Joash’s reign describes priests who are not administrators. Apparently Joash’s rapport with the priests leads to what he considers a convenient agreement: you keep whatever monies you receive, but you also keep up the temple. For twenty-three years the priests keep the money—period! Called to render an accounting, they beg off responsibility; they will no longer accept the funds, but neither will they be responsible for temple repair. Jehoiada’s leadership effects a compromise; he facilitates the collection of the money and its use for temple repair.

Joash’s reign has a flaw, however—the high places remain. Usually the high places that the Deuteronomistic historian condemns are associated with Israel. But Athaliah had been Ahab’s sister... In reality, the continued existence of syncretism in Judah, as well as remaining traces of the idolatry that had existed under Ahaziah, can be presupposed. Furthermore, there may still have been resistance in the countryside, even among Yahwists, to the centralization of worship in Jerusalem. The reader should not be surprised, then, to discover a limited punishment for Judah: Aram poses a threat to their well-being.

The fact that Judah buys off Aram with tribute may be a historical fact, as is Joash’s violent death. One may suggest, however, that the juxtaposition of the statements is intended to assert an implicit cause-and-effect relationship, from the theological perspective of the Deuteronomistic historian. Whatever his sins, Joash is David’s descendant; he is buried with his ancestors in the City of David, and his son Amaziah succeeds him.

The Evil reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoash over Israel (2 Kings 13:1-13):

"In the three and twentieth year of Joash the son of Ahaziah, king of Judah, Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years. 2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin; he departed not there from" (2 Kings 13:1-2).

The 23rd year of Joash would have been around the year 805 BC. Israel, once again, receives an evil king.

Note the emphasis placed upon the fact that Jehoahaz’s sins were done, "In the sight of Jehovah..." There is nothing that escapes the all seeing eyes of Jehovah (see Jeremiah 23:23-25). Over and over we see this statement made regarding the wicked kings of Israel and Judah (see study # 15; The Omniscience of God).

"3 And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, continually" (2 Kings 13:3).

Note that Jehovah’s anger was kindled against Israel due to their "evil" acts that were performed in the "sight of Jehovah." The Lord does not tolerate wickedness among his people. Our study of 1 and 2 kings has brought out the terror of the Lord against the ungodly. The Lord brings upon His own people death and destruction that some might be saved by his chastening hand (Isaiah 26:16) (see study # 16; The Lord Chastens those He Loves).

Once again we read of Hazael. While Judah had escaped the Syrians with bribery no such event would happen with Israel. It is somewhat fascinating to note that Hazael had actually murdered Benhadad, king of Syria as recorded at 2 Kings 8:15. He now names his own son Benhadad. It may have been that Hazael had already named his son Benhadad before he seized the opportunity to murder the king. The most likely explanation is given by the ISBE. "Benhadad seems to have become a general designation for the kings of Syria (Amos 1:4; Jeremiah 49:27) (vol. 1, pp. 458).

"4 And Jehoahaz besought Jehovah, and Jehovah hearkened unto him; for he saw the oppression of Israel, how that the king of Syria oppressed them. 5 And Jehovah gave Israel a savior, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians; and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents as beforetime. 6 Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, wherewith he made Israel to sin, but walked therein: and there remained the Asherah also in Samaria.) 7 For he left not to Jehoahaz of the people save fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria destroyed them, and made them like the dust in threshing. 8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 9 And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria: and Joash his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 13:4-9).

Jehoahaz, at one point, came to his senses and asks God for help. God helps him yet Jehoahaz would not repent. The Lord sent a savior to help. This savior came “in the two successors of Jehoahaz, in the kings Jehoash and Jeroboam, the former of whom wrested from the Syrians all the cities that had been conquered by them under his father (see verse 25 below), while the latter restored the ancient boundaries of Israel (2 Kings 14:25).”

The kings were not very creative when it came to naming their sons. The name Joash was the name of the previous king of Judah.

"10 In the thirty and seventh year of Joash king of Judah began Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years. 11 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah; he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin; but he walked therein. 12 Now the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, and his might wherewith he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 13 And Joash slept with his fathers; and Jeroboam sat upon his throne: and Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel" (2 Kings 13:10-13).

Joash did evil as did his father and those before him in Israel. During Joash’s reign, he warred with Amaziah, King of Judah (2 Kings 14:8-14).

Elisha’s Death and Burial (2 Kings 13:14-24):

"14 Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died: and Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over him, and said, My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof! 15 And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows; and he took unto him bow and arrows. 16 And he said to the king of Israel, Put thy hand upon the bow; and he put his hand upon it. And Elisha laid his hands upon the king’s hands. 17 And he said, Open the window eastward; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot; and he shot. And he said, Jehovah’s arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Syria; for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them" (2 Kings 13:14-17).

Elisha’s approaches death and has a final word with Joash, King of Israel.

Elisha told Joash to shoot an arrow out of the window and explained to him that this was Jehovah’s arrow of victory over Syria." Apparently the arrow would serve as a symbol of God’s help and intention to utterly consume the Syrians.

Once again, the theme of the book comes out. The arrow signified not only Jehovah’s help but that Jehovah is God.

"18 And he said, Take the arrows; and he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground; and he smote thrice, and stayed. 19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times: then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it, whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice" (2 Kings 13:18-19).

The one arrow Joash shot at Elisha’s command indicated Jehovah’s help and sure victory over Syria. Joash was to put his faith in Jehovah and the arrow was somewhat of a sign of God’s help. Elisha then tells Joash to shoot arrows (plural) to the ground after the king had shot an arrow out the window. Joash did so and shot the ground three times.

Elisha was disappointed and said he should have shot 5 to 6 times at the ground. Because Joash only shot the ground three times, Jehovah would only give him three victories over Syria. If the arrow meant victory then, through a spirit of zeal against Jehovah’s enemies, the king should have pounded many arrows in the ground which would have signified not just a few victories but a crushing of the enemy. Joash’s lackluster zeal was made manifest in his actions.

"20 And Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. 21 And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet. 22 And Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. 23 But Jehovah was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet. 24 And Hazael king of Syria died; and Benhadad his son reigned in his stead. 25 And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael the cities which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times did Joash smite him, and recovered the cities of Israel" (2 Kings 13:20-25).

Assyria would latter be recognized as God’s rod of anger against His own people yet eventually the Assyrians also were brought down due to sin (see Isaiah 10:5). Babylon was recognized as God’s battle axe to chasten Judah yet when the Lord was finished with the empire of wickedness they too fell (see Jeremiah 51:20). Hazael and Syria have been God’s sovereign tool to accomplish his divine will announced at 1 Kings 19:15 ff. The time for Syria’s end had now come.

Bands of Moabites invaded Israel while they warred with Syria. One of the Moabites had died in a battle with Israel and they tossed the body into Elisha’s tomb. The dead man was restored to life and again all knew the great power of God working through Elisha.

Though the Moabites and Syrians warred against Israel and caused them to be significantly weakened the Lord would not permit them to be exterminated. Jehovah remembered his divine covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob regarding the seed promise (Genesis 12:1 ff).

As Elisha had said, Joash smote the Syrians only three times.

2 Kings 13:1-9 Reign of Jehoahaz of Israel. One might think that this text was lifted from the Book of Judges. Jehoahaz’s sin leads to the Lord’s anger and oppression by Samaria. However, Jehoahaz entreats the Lord, who sends a deliverer, and the Israelites are liberated from Aram. The pattern, however, will quickly repeat itself (compare Judges 2:11-19). Once back in their land with relative security, the people continue to sin; their fate is lack of prosperity. When Jehoahaz dies, Jehu’s descendant continues the line (see 2 Kings 10:30).

2 Kings 13:10-25 Reign of Joash of Israel. If one were to read these verses logically, one would place verses 22-23 after verse 7; verses 24-25 after verse 19; and verses 12-13 after verse 21. Thus, the Israelites who did evil during Jehoahaz’s reign would merit the continued oppression of Aram; yet, the fact that Aram did not totally destroy Israel would also be theologically explained.

Joash’s encounter with Elisha again demonstrates the power of the prophet. That Joash takes the prophet seriously is a good sign (though he is desperate) and merits Israel’s military successes over Aram; on the other hand, his carrying out of the prophet’s word with less than full obedience—thus Elisha interprets the three arrows—accounts for the fact that the victory is limited. The text also hints of conflict between Israel and both Judah (compare 2 Kings 14:8-14) and Moab.

In spite of Joash’s encounter with Elisha, or perhaps because of his less than full success, he receives the traditional Deuteronomistic judgment for a northern king: he is evil, like Jeroboam. Joash is buried in Samaria, and his son succeeds him (see 2 Kings 10:30).

There is a certain confusion regarding this king’s name—Joash or Jehoash; the Hebrew text varies. The accounts recorded here about the king come, most probably, from at least two sources (note, for example, the duplication of verses 12-13 in 2 Kings 14:15-16).

Elisha, unlike Elijah, dies and leaves no specific successor. Yet, as with Elijah, an aura of the miraculous attends his passing. Because the power of the prophet is in his person—in his life and in his bones—one should not be too surprised that, for the Deuteronomistic historian, even contact with Elisha’s bones can restore life. To the end Elisha functions to mediate the power of God.

Amaziah reigns as King over Judah / Destroys the Edomites (2 Kings 14:1-7):

"In the second year of Joash son of Joahaz king of Israel began Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah to reign. 2 He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. 3 And he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, yet not like David his father: he did according to all that Joash his father had done. 4 Howbeit the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places" (2 Kings 14:1-4).

The year Amaziah began to reign in Jerusalem was about 791 BC. Amaziah obviously sought to do what was right in the sight of Jehovah yet he did not go all out in obedience as to destroy all the high places of idolatrous worship. Such efforts were commended yet he still fell short of David’s ways. David’s approach to serving as King appears to be the standard that other kings after him would need to meet. Though David sinned his heart of humility kept him in good favor with God (see Psalms 51).

"5 And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was established in his hand, that he slew his servants who had slain the king his father: 6 but the children of the murderers he put not to death; according to that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, as Jehovah commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall die for his own sin" (2 Kings 14:5-6).

Amaziah’s first order of business was to put to death the men who had conspired against his father Joash and murdered him.

One interesting point is that the Bible records the fact that Amaziah did not kill the conspirator’s sons. This was in accordance with the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 24:16). The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall die for his own sin." The prophet Ezekiel had said the same thing (Ezekiel 18).

"7 He slew of Edom in the Valley of Salt ten thousand, and took Sela by war, and called the name of it Joktheel, unto this day" (2 Kings 14:7).

Amaziah re-establishes control over Edom: Recall that the Edomites had revolted from Judah in the reign of Joram (2 Kings 8:20 ff). 2 Kings 14:7 tells us very little about the battle with the Edomites however 2 Chronicles 25:5-16 gives us more details:

Amaziah called together 300,000 men of war from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (2 Chronicles 25:5).

Secondly, Amaziah hired 100,000 men of war from Israel and paid them.

A prophet comes to Amaziah and tells him to send the troops of Israel home due to the fact that God was not with Israel.

Amaziah agreed and the 100,000 men of Israel were offended by the announcement even though they were paid. On their way back to Israel they attacked various cities of Judah killing 3000 people and taking away much spoils.

Amaziah fought with the Edomites and killed 10,000 men in battle and captured another 10,000 men. The prisoners of war were then taken to a high rock and thrown off the cliff to their death.

Amaziah takes the gods of the children of Edom back to Jerusalem and sets them up as his gods and even burns incense to them and worships (2 Chronicles 25:14). A prophet of God warns Amaziah against his actions and tells him God will destroy him.

Amaziah and Judah go to war with Israel (2 Kings 14:8-29):

"8 Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face. 9 And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trod down the thistle. 10 Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thy heart hath lifted thee up: glory thereof, and abide at home; for why shouldest thou meddle to [thy] hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?" (2 Kings 14:8-10).

Amaziah was riding a high, so to say, after defeating the Edomites. The King hears of the trouble that the 100,000 men of Israel had caused after he sent them away. Amaziah sends a message to Joash, King of Israel, challenging him to war.

Joash replies to Amaziah with a familiar fable (similar one used in Judges 9:8 ff). The meaning has been described as follows: “the thorn-bush putting itself upon an equality with the cedar is a figurative representation of a proud man overrating his strength, and the desire expressed to the cedar of a wish surpassing the bounds of one’s condition…the trampling down of the thorn- bush by a wild beast is only meant to set forth the sudden overthrow and destruction which may come unexpectedly upon the proud man in the midst of his daring plans.”

"11 But Amaziah would not hear. So Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Beth-shemesh, which belongeth to Judah. 12 And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to his tent. 13 And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits. 14 And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of the king’s house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria. 15 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 16 And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 14:11-16).

Joash of Israel responded to the challenge and so brings Israel to war against Judah at Bethshemesh. Judah was soundly defeated and plundered by Israel. Joash took Amaziah captive. Israel pressed on into the city of Jerusalem and tore down 400 cubits of its walls from “the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate."

“The Ephraim gate, which is generally supposed to be the same as the gate of Benjamin (Jeremiah 37:13; Jeremiah 38:7; Zecheriah 14:10; Nehemiah 8:16; Nehemiah 12:39), stood in the middle of the north wall of Jerusalem, through which the road to Benjamin and Ephraim ran; and the corner gate was at the northwestern corner of the same wall, as we may see from Jeremiah 31:38 and Zecheriah 14:10.”11 “Joash destroyed this portion of the Zion wall, that the city might be left defenseless, as Jerusalem could be most easily taken on the level northern side.”

"17 And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 19 And they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem; and he fled to Lachish: but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there. 20 And they brought him upon horses; and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David. 21 And all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. 22 He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers" (2 Kings 14:17-22).

A conspiracy is made against Amaziah and he is tracked down and killed. His killers bring his body back to Jerusalem and bury him. The people of Israel announce that Amaziah’s son Azariah (Uzziah), who was 16 years old, was to be king of Judah.

Azariah is called Uzziah in many other passages in the Bible such as 2 Chronicles 26:1-3; Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 6:1, Hosea 1:1 and Amos 1:1. Uzziah continued to fortify Judah against Edom (2 Kings 14:22).

"23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. 24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin. 25 He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath unto the sea of the Arabah, according to the word of Jehovah, the God of Israel, which he spake by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. 26 For Jehovah saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter; for there was none shut up nor left at large, neither was there any helper for Israel. 27 And Jehovah said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven; but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash. 28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zechariah his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 14:23-29).

Jeroboam II, king of Israel, comes on the scene of history during the year 776 BC and did that which was evil.

God had pity on Israel during these days and allowed Jeroboam to restore the boundaries of Israel that had been taken by Syria. God worked through Jonah the prophet during these days (the same prophet that would later be swallowed by a great fish). During the days of Jeroboam Assyria was gaining power and God sends Jonah to the city of Nineveh to preach repentance. The sermon was successful. Nineveh repents and is spared the wrath of God yet history bears out the fact that they eventually fall at the hands of Jehovah for their wickedness.

Nothing more is said of Jeroboam II other than he even restored Damascus and Hamath to Israel. His son Zechariah reigned in Israel after his death (735 BC).

2 Kings 14:1-22 Amaziah of Judah. Amaziah’s mother, Jehoaddin, was from Jerusalem. She, like Joash’s mother, Zibia, from Beersheba, was of southern origin, which suggests that Amaziah’s may be a more positive reign. He is victorious over the Edomites. Yet, like his father, he allows the high places to remain. He engages in an unsuccessful battle against Israel, which depletes the treasuries of both the temple and the palace. Jehoash’s advice to Amaziah—don’t fight with me because you’ll lose—given as an allegory, recalls Jotham’s parable (Judges 9:7-15).

Despite Amaziah’s violent death outside Jerusalem, he was of David’s line. Amaziah is buried in the City of David with his ancestors, and his son Azariah succeeds him.

2 Kings 14:23-29 Jeroboam II of Israel. Jeroboam II, like his namesake, is an evil northern king. Yet his reign is long and prosperous (we know this from 2 Kings and from the prophets Amos and Hosea). This combination of evil and a long prosperous reign is inconsistent with traditional Deuteronomistic theology, where prosperity is normally a consequence of good, and suffering a consequence of evil. However, the long prosperous reign of an evil king can be explained if it fulfills a prophetic promise: the power of the prophet’s word will always be accomplished. An interesting thing about verse 25, however, is that it notes the fulfillment of a prophecy that no preceding text has made. This is the first time in the Deuteronomistic History that Jonah, son of Amittai, is mentioned.

Kings of Judah, Israel, and Assyria (2 Kings 15:1-38):

"In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign. 2 Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. 3 And he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 4 Howbeit the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. 5 And Jehovah smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a separate house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the household, judging the people of the land. 6 Now the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 7 And Azariah slept with his fathers; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 15:1-7).

2 Kings gives us little information about Azariah (Uzziah); however, additional information is found at 2 Chronicles 26 and the book of Isaiah.

Consider these additional facts:

Isaiah and Hosea were the prophets of God over Judah and served as His divine mouthpiece during the days of Uzziah and even after his death (see Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 6:1; Hosea 1:1). Amos prophesied in Israel during the days of Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam II. Assyria had not yet concurred Israel at this time. The three prophet’s message was that both Israel and Judah would repent of their wickedness or face the wrath of God in the form of Assyria (for Israel) and ultimately Babylon for Judah.

Uzziah had initially "set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah" (2 Chronicles 26:5). Uzziah had much success warring against the Philistines, Arabians, and Ammonites (2 Chronicles 26:6-9). Uzziah had a mighty army of fighting men (2 Chronicles 26:11-14). 2 Chronicles 26:15 tells us that this king had skillful men invent engines that could shoot arrows and throw great stones. All the earth came to know Uzziah and his might in Judah.

Why did Jehovah smite Uzziah with leprosy? Uzziah’s heart came to be lifted up (in pride and arrogance) due to his great might and wealth (see 2 Chronicles 26:16-21). The king went a step too far in arrogance. Uzziah believed himself to be so great that he could set aside Jehovah’s commandments by offering up incense upon the altar of incense. The high priest Azariah and 80 other priest went after Uzziah in the temple and warned him of this trespass yet the king would not listen.

A great lesson for man to learn is that God is no respecter of persons. No man is above the law of God. Neither Moses (Numbers 20:1-12), David (1 Samuel 21:1-6; Matthew 12:3-6; 2 Samuel 12:10-14), Solomon (1 Kings 11:1 ff), or King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:18) were excused from meeting Jehovah’s standards perfectly. No matter what man’s approach and attitude his divinely appointed responsibility remains the same. Man is to know his place in this creation (Proverbs 30:1-5). We are created by God and must humbly and fearfully submit to His every standard. No man is to glory in anything save the Lord himself (see Jeremiah 9:23-24; John 12:42-43) (see study # 17; No Man is above the Law of God).

"8 In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zechariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria six months. 9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin. 10 And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead. 11 Now the rest of the acts of Zechariah, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 12 This was the word of Jehovah which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons to the fourth generation shall sit upon the throne of Israel. And so it came to pass" (2 Kings 15:8-12).

Zechariah’s reign as king of Israel lasted only six months (he too was evil).

The Lord had promised Jehu that his sons to the fourth generation would sit upon the throne of Israel due to his great zeal. The last of the four sons was Zechariah and he is murdered. The four generations reigned for 75 years and all did evil.

"13 Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned the space of a month in Samaria. 14 And Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, and came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead. 15 Now the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 16 Then Menahem smote Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the borders thereof, from Tirzah: because they opened not to him, therefore he smote it; and all the women therein that were with child he ripped up. 17 In the nine and thirtieth year of Azariah king of Judah began Menahem the son of Gadi to reign over Israel, and reigned ten years in Samaria. 18 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah: he departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin" (2 Kings 15:13-18).

1. IsraelJudah
Zechariah (reigned 6 months)Uzziah (reigned 52 years)
Shallum (reigned 1 month)
Menahem (reigned 10 years)
Pekahiah (reigned 2 years)
Pekah (reigned 20 years)Jotham (reigned 16 years)

The messages of Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos reveal the spiritual condition of Israel and Judah during the days of these kings (i.e., 762 - 692 BC). These days were "evil times" (Amos 5:13). The Lord proclaims to Israel, "I know how manifold are your transgressions, and how mighty are your sins" (Amos 5:12) and so God called them "the sinful kingdom" (Amos 9:8). Israel practiced idolatry (Amos 3:14) and lusted after riches (Amos 6:1-6). The wickedness of Israel came to be so great that Amos said, "prepare to meet thy God, O Israel" (Amos 4:12). The "end is come upon my people Israel" at the hands of the Assyrians (Amos 8:2; Isaiah 10:5).

The prophet Hosea said that Jehovah had a controversy with both Israel (Hosea 4:1) and Judah (Hosea 12:1-2). The people of God had come to practice idolatry (Hosea 4:12-17; Hosea 11:2), sexual immorality (Hosea 4:14), filled with pride (Hosea 5:5; Hosea 7:10), and they were drunkards (Hosea 4:11; Hosea 7:5). God’s wrath against the rebellious in Israel would come in the form of the Assyrian Empire (see Hosea 11:5-6). Jehovah’s objective of using Assyria as His divine rod of correction was that the wicked would acknowledge, confess, and repent of their sins (Hosea 5:15; Hosea 14:1-2).

These kings of Israel were living in the final days of the Northern Kingdom.

"19 There came against the land Pul the king of Assyria; and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand. 20 And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.

Now the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 22 And Menahem slept with his fathers; and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead. 23 In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years. 24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin. 25 And Pekah the son of Remaliah, his captain, conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the castle of the king’s house, with Argob and Arieh; and with him were fifty men of the Gileadites: and he slew him, and reigned in his stead. 26 Now the rest of the acts of Pekahiah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 27 In the two and fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years. 28 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin" (2 Kings 15:19-28).

Assyria is located in the upper Tigris River region. They began to gain military power during the years of 1275 BC under its king Shalmaneser I. “The Assyrians were an extremely cruel people. This fact is indicated both in the Bible and on Assyrian monuments.”13 Ancient Assyrian monuments picture enemies being impaled upon sharp post, people being beheaded and many captives being spread abroad.

Pul was likely the throne name of Tiglath-Pileser III (ISBE v. 3, pp. 1051). Tiglath-Pileser was a king with a mission to conquer the world. During his reign Assyria marched on and defeated Babylon, Arpad, Syria, Phoenicia, Zagros, the Medes, Davascus to Samaria, Gaza, Gilead, and ultimately Israel. It was during the three year siege of Arpad that Menahem and Rezin of Damascus brought tribute to the king to keep him from invading.

Menahem wants no part of Pul (Tiglath-Pileser) and thereby exacts a tax upon the wealthy citizens of Israel that he may pay off the king of Assyria. The plan works; however, it would not be long before Assyria would flex its muscles over Israel again as they were divinely directed to do so because of the sins of Israel (see Isaiah 10:5).

Pekahiah reigned next as king of Israel (2 years). Pekahiah’s captain, Pekah, conspires against the king and kills him and then reigns in his place. During Pekah’s days Assyria came up against Israel again.

"29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maacah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria. 30 And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah. 31 Now the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" (2 Kings 15:29-31).

Under the reign of Pekah, Tiglath-pileser once again invades Israel.

Israel and Syria, under the kings Pekah and Rezin, had obviously refused to pay tribute to the Assyrians. Their bold move cost them. The first deportation of Israelites occurs as Assyria defeats Israel.

"32 In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel began Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign. 33 Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Jerusha the daughter of Zadok. 34 And he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah; he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done. 35 Howbeit the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burned incense in the high places. He built the upper gate of the house of Jehovah. 36 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 37 In those days Jehovah began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah. 38 And Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 15:32-38).

Ahaz was the twelfth king of Judah. During the reign of Ahaz, Pekah was reigning in Israel (The Northern Kingdom). Pekah’s reign overlapped Ahaz’s father Jotham. Jotham, son of Uzziah, reigned in his father’s place for 16 years. He did that which was right, yet the high places of idolatry remained (2 Kings 15:34-35). Jotham was responsible for fortifying even further the city of Jerusalem and keeping the Ammonites in check (2 Chronicles 27:3 ff).

It was during the days of Jotham that the Syrians had recovered from the earlier defeats from Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:28) and the Assyrian army under the leadership of Pul. Assyria had engaged in trouble with the Babylonians and were somewhat weakened at this point, which gave Syria a chance to recuperate. With the alliance of Israel, the two nations (Syria and Israel) marched on Judah with the hope of gaining a strategic condition against Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 15:37 and Isaiah chapters 7-8). Note that it was "Jehovah" that "began to send against Judah Rezin and Pekah."

2 Kings 15:1-7 Azariah of Judah. The Deuteronomist’s judgment of Azariah’s reign, like the reign of his father, is mixed. His mother, Jecholiah, is from Jerusalem. Azariah does good in the Lord’s eyes; his reign is long (through the reigns of five northern kings). But the high places remain, and he becomes a leper. Azariah, of David’s line, is buried with his ancestors in the City of David and is succeeded by his son Jotham.

2 Kings 15:8-12 Zechariah of Israel. Jeroboam’s son stands in contrast to his strong father; he maintains the throne for only six months before falling victim to a conspiracy. The Deuteronomistic historian sees both his reign and its termination as the fulfillment of the Lord’s word to Jehu (see 2 Kings 10:30).

2 Kings 15:13-16 Shallum of Israel. Not much can be said about Shallum’s one-month reign. The instability of the throne is obvious. Another conspiracy and another king. Even before the Deuteronomistic theologian can evaluate Menahem, Shallum’s murderer and successor, the reader can predict what the judgment will be for a king who cruelly takes revenge on the innocent and on those who had been faithful to their king.

2 Kings 15:17-22 Menahem of Israel. Menahem receives the Deuteronomist’s condemnation, as one would expect. He is evil, like Jeroboam. He postpones the potential Assyrian threat and secures his throne by paying tribute to the Assyrian king—tribute he has exacted from his own people.

2 Kings 15:23-26 Pekahiah of Israel. Pekahiah is not spared the Deuteronomistic judgment accorded all northern kings. Menahem’s son maintains the throne for two years but is then murdered by his adjutant, Pekah.

2 Kings 15:27-31 Pekah of Israel. Pekah is also evil and is compared to Jeroboam. During his reign Israel continues to be troubled by Assyria. Tribute is no longer sufficient; Assyria takes over some Israelite land. Pekah is not strong enough to withstand Hoshea’s conspiracy.

2 Kings 15:32-38 Jotham of Judah. The first thing to note is another confusion in names—Azariah and Uzziah as designations for Jotham’s father—probably caused here, too, by the presence of two sources. Jotham, like his father, does good in the eyes of the Lord; he survives a sixteen-year reign and builds one of the gates of the temple. Yet the high places remain; Aram and Israel oppress Judah. When Jotham dies, he is buried with his ancestors in the City of David and is succeeded by his son Ahaz.

Ahaz, the Evil king that Ruled Judah for 16 Years (2 Kings 16:1-20):

"In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. 2 Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign; and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: and he did not that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah his God, like David his father. 3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations, whom Jehovah cast out from before the children of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree" (2 Kings 16:1-4).

The 17th year of Pekah, king of Israel, would have been around the year 697 BC. Judah had this ungodly king for 16 years (697 - 681 BC).

Ahaz lived in the shadow of success and wealth which his father and grandfather (Uzziah and Jotham) had earlier built up. Isaiah describes the times in chapters 2-6 as “a prevalence of luxury and self-security, of unrighteousness and forgetfulness of God, among the upper classes, in consequence of the increase of their wealth.”

Consider the wicked acts of Ahaz:

Ahaz walked in the ways of the sinful kings of Israel rather than following the ways of his fathers.

He made molten images to Baal in Judah (2 Chronicles 28:2).

He sacrificed his children in fire. “So far as the fact is concerned, we have here the first instance of an actual Moloch-sacrifice among the Israelites, i.e., one performed by slaying and burning.” This is parallel with statements in Ezekiel 16:21 and Jeremiah 7:31.

Thirdly, Ahaz sacrificed and burned incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree (see also 2 Chronicles 28:4).

"5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. 6 At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jews from Elath; and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there, unto this day" (2 Kings 16:5-6).

We now find why it is that Jehovah sent Rezin and Pekah against Ahaz and Judah (see 2 Kings 15:37. Due to Ahaz and Judah’s sinful behavior Jehovah sends adversaries to them to slay great numbers, take many captives (100’s of thousands are killed and taken captive), and despoil the nation (see 2 Chronicles 28:4-8).

2 Chronicles 28:9-15 explains further details of the great slaughter of the people of Judah. Jehovah sends a prophet named Obed to Samaria to tell the king and princes of their great trespass against the Lord and that they were to return the captives of Judah to their home. The prophet of God said, "and ye have slain them in a rage which hath reached up unto heaven. And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are there not even with you trespasses of your own against Jehovah your God?... send back the captives... for the fierce wrath of Jehovah is upon you" (2 Chronicles 28:9-11). Apparently the people of Israel were saying that their brethren from Judah were getting what they deserved for their sins against Jehovah yet they were not contemplating their own faults. How easy it is to see the faults of others yet be blinded to our own (see Matthew 7:1-3; Romans 2:3) (see study # 18; Hypocrisy).

"7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me. 8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria. 9 And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him; and the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin" (2 Kings 16:7-9).

The heavy toll of war against Judah made her vulnerable to vultures. The Edomites attacked Judah taking captives and so did the Philistines (2 Chronicles 28:16-18). 2 Chronicles 16:9 states that Jehovah did this to Judah due to Ahaz’s great sin. Ahaz, in a state of desperation, called upon Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, to "save" Israel. Rather than calling upon the name of Jehovah God Azah calls upon the arm of flesh.

Assyria, being paid a high price by Ahaz, went to war for Judah and made war with Syria killing Rezin their king. In all reality this was not a help to Ahaz. Tiglath-pileser was only helping his own cause. This is why, in 2 Chronicles 28:21, the record states, but it helped him not.”

"10 And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw the altar that was at Damascus; and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof. 11 And Urijah the priest built an altar: according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus, so did Urijah the priest make it against the coming of king Ahaz from Damascus. 12 And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king drew near unto the altar, and offered thereon. 13 And he burnt his burnt-offering and his meal-offering, and poured his drink-offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace-offerings, upon the altar. 14 And the brazen altar, which was before Jehovah, he brought from the forefront of the house, from between his altar and the house of Jehovah, and put it on the north side of his altar. 15 And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt-offering, and the evening meal-offering, and the king’s burnt-offering, and his meal-offering, with the burnt-offering of all the people of the land, and their meal-offering, and their drink-offerings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt-offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: but the brazen altar shall be for me to inquire by. 16 Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded" (2 Kings 16:10-16).

Ahaz, rather than calling upon the name of God for help, turns secondly to idols for help against his enemies. The foolish king considered the king of Assyria’s defeat over Syria to be a help and traveled to Damascus to thank him personally. As he arrived in Damascus, the depraved minded king saw the gods of the Damascenes and made a copy of it. Ahaz considered within his heart that since Syria stood strong in battle with their god then surely if the king of Israel sacrificed to this god he too would be helped (2 Chronicles 28:23.

Ahaz sent the copy to Urijah, the high priest, and commanded that a similar idol be constructed. Urijah complied with the request and made the image. Upon returning home, Ahaz saw the image and was pleased. He immediately offered burnt offerings on it.

"17 And king Ahaz cut off the panels of the bases, and removed the laver from off them, and took down the sea from off the brazen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stone. 18 And the covered way for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king’s entry without, turned he unto the house of Jehovah, because of the king of Assyria. 19 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 20 And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 16:17-20).

Ahaz went as far as taking the altar of burnt offerings that God had ordained in the temple and moved it the north side of his new altar. This “innovation was a sin against Jehovah, inasmuch as God Himself had prescribed the form for His sanctuary (cf. Exodus 25:40; Exodus 26:30; 1 Chronicles 28:19) so that any altar planned by man and built according to a heathen model was practically the same as an idolatrous altar.”

Ahaz went even further and shut up the doors of the house of Jehovah and mutilated the vessels of the temple such as the brazen sea (2 Chronicles 28:24).

The trespasses of Ahaz, provoked to anger Jehovah, the God of his fathers (2 Chronicles 28:25).

2 Kings 16:1-20 Ahaz of Judah. Ahaz merits condemnation of the Deuteronomistic historian for his idolatry and child sacrifice (compare Genesis 22). Judah is significantly weakened at this time. The Edomites have recaptured territories, and the Aram-Israelite coalition has attacked Judah, with the intention of removing Ahaz from the throne. Though their plan is unsuccessful, it forces a Judean-Assyrian alliance that, for all practical purposes, makes Judah a vassal of Assyria. The prophet Isaiah warned against such an alliance (Isaiah 7:1-16). The increase of Assyrian influence means not only the continued presence of syncretism, the high places, and idolatry, as well as the pillaging of the Lord’s temple, but also the replacing of Yahweh’s altar with an Assyrian one. From the Deuteronomistic theologian’s perspective, what greater insult could Yahweh be rendered?

Yet, in spite of everything, Ahaz is David’s descendant. Therefore, he is buried with his ancestors in the City of David and is succeeded by his son Hezekiah.

The Fall of Israel (2 Kings 17:1-41):

"In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel, and reigned nine years. 2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, yet not as the kings of Israel that were before him. 3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and brought him tribute. 4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. 5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away unto Assyria, and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes" (2 Kings 17:1-6).

Hoshea had conspired against Pekah and murdered him in the 4th year of Ahaz, king of Judah (2 Kings 15:30). Evidently, there was an 8-year power-struggle in Israel over the throne. Hoshea, according to 2 Kings 17:1, did not actually begin reigning in Israel until the 12th year of Ahaz.

During the days of Hoshea, Shalmaneser, King of Assyria, warred with Israel and defeated them. Israel was minimized to tributary to Assyria. This took place for approximately 6 years. Hoshea then decided to appeal to So, King of Egypt for help against Assyria (appealing to the arm of flesh rather than Jehovah God) (see study # 1). Shalmaneser gained intelligence of this move on the part of Hoshea and aggressively responded.

Shalmaneser besieged Samaria in Israel for three years and finally conquered Israel. Hoshea was taken captive and thrown in prison. The Israelites were exiled to various parts of Assyria.

"7 And it was so, because the children of Israel had sinned against Jehovah their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, 8 and walked in the statutes of the nations, whom Jehovah cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they made. 9 And the children of Israel did secretly things that were not right against Jehovah their God: and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fortified city; 10 and they set them up pillars and Asherim upon every high hill, and under every green tree; 11 and there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the nations whom Jehovah carried away before them; and they wrought wicked things to provoke Jehovah to anger; 12 and they served idols, whereof Jehovah had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing. 13 Yet Jehovah testified unto Israel, and unto Judah, by every prophet, and every seer, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. 14 Notwithstanding, they would not hear, but hardened their neck, like to the neck of their fathers, who believed not in Jehovah their God. 15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified unto them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the nations that were round about them, concerning whom Jehovah had charged them that they should not do like them. 16 And they forsook all the commandments of Jehovah their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, to provoke him to anger . 18 Therefore Jehovah was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. 19 Also Judah kept not the commandments of Jehovah their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. 20 And Jehovah rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. 21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drove Israel from following Jehovah, and made them sin a great sin. 22 And the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; 23 until Jehovah removed Israel out of his sight, as he spake by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day" (2 Kings 17:7-23).

Fall of Israel was due to their "sin against Jehovah their God." Israel had tried the patience of the Lord until they had exhausted it (see Isaiah 7:13):

1.    Walked in the statutes of other nations.

2.    Did secret sinful things against Jehovah

3.    Built them high places to burn incense to other deities.

4.    Practiced idolatry, made molten images, and worshipped Asherah and Baal.

5.    Sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fires of Moloch.

6.    Practiced witchcraft.

7.    Feared other gods.

All of these sins "provoked God to anger." Note that while Israel practiced these sinful things and hardened their hearts against God they continued to worship him (though Jehovah would not receive their worship) (see Isaiah 1:10-17; Hosea 8:13; Amos 4:4-5).

Jehovah exercised loving patience and did all He could do to get his children to return to Him yet they rejected him. The Lord sent prophets and gave them victories over their enemies yet they continued to turn to other nations and harden their hearts against the words of the prophets. Jehovah’s anger grew to a point of Israel exhausting His divine patience and forbearance for them. The Lord then "removed Israel from out of his sight" with the Assyrians (the rod of his divine anger - Isaiah 10:5). The Lord continues to this day to be patient and longsuffering with man yet like in the days of Israel His divine patience will one day run out and man will give an account for all his deeds (see Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:15).

"24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Avva, and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. 25 And so it was, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not Jehovah: therefore Jehovah sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast carried away, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the law of the god of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the law of the god of the land. 27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the law of the god of the land. 28 So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear Jehovah" (2 Kings 17:24-28).

Some years latter, Esarhadden repopulated Israel with other conquered peoples (Ezra 4:2). These exiled peoples mingled with the remaining Jews to form the race of people called the Samaritans (2 Kings 17:29).

When the new inhabitants came into Israel, Jehovah sent lions to kill the people. The Samaritans appealed to Esarhadden and he sent a priest into Israel to teach them the laws of Jehovah God.

“The priest sent by the Assyrian king was of course an Israelitish priest of the calves, for he was one of those who had been carried away and settled in Bethel, the chief seat of Jeroboam’s image-worship, and he also taught the colonists to fear or worship Jehovah after the manner of the land. This explains the state of divine worship in the land as described in vv. 29ff, ‘Every separate nation made itself its own gods, and set them up in the houses of the high places..’”

"29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. 30 And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31 and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burnt their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 So they feared Jehovah, and made unto them from among themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. 33 They feared Jehovah, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away" (17:29-32).

The land was over run with foreigners.

Worship was a mixture of deities from all over. Verse 33 states that they feared Jehovah and served their own gods. Such is not acceptable with God. Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). Consider these deities that those in the land of Israel were serving:

  • ·    Succoth-benoth: Idols of small temples.

  • ·    The Nergal (a cock idol)

  • ·    Ashima “the god of the people of Hamath, was worshipped, according to rabbinical statements, under the figure of a bald he-goat."

  • ·    Nibhaz (a dog)

  • ·    Tartak (a donkey)

  • ·    Moloch (children were living sacrifices in fire).

  • ·    Jehovah was worshiped through calves.

"34 Unto this day they do after the former manner: they fear not Jehovah, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law or after the commandment which Jehovah commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; 35 with whom Jehovah had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them: 36 but Jehovah, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm, him shall ye fear, and unto him shall ye bow yourselves, and to him shall ye sacrifice: 37 and the statutes and the ordinances, and the law and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods: 38 and the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods: 39 but Jehovah your God shall ye fear; and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. 40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner. 41 So these nations feared Jehovah, and served their graven images; their children likewise, and their children’s children, as did their fathers, so do they unto this day" (2 Kings 17:34-41).

Israel ignored the previous instructions by Jehovah in relationship to worshiping idols (see Exodus 20:5 etc. for God’s instructions regarding idolatry). Both Israel and Judah continued to worship Jehovah while bowing themselves down to other gods of wood, stone, and various metals.

Ecumenism never will be acceptable to Jehovah God. Man is commanded to follow God’s instructions alone to obtain salvation (Colossians 3:17). Though man may ignore or come up with his own ways of serving the Lord God’s laws remain the same.

“As in Jeremiah 2:5. A description of the worthlessness of their whole life and aim with regard to the most important thing, namely, their relation to God. Whatever man sets before him as the object of his life apart from God is (cf. Deuteronomy 32:21) an idolatry, and leads to worthlessness, to spiritual and moral corruption (Romans 1:21).”

2 Kings 17:1-41 Hoshea of Israel. Assyria destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel once and for all about 721 b.c.e. (see 2 Kings 18:9-12). It was standard Assyrian policy to take into exile many of the leading citizens of a conquered nation (for example, the priests) and to transplant foreign peoples into the subjugated territory. The aim was to prevent the development of opposition capable of effecting a conspiracy.

The text notes three stages in the development of postexilic syncretism in Israel. Since Yahweh is the God of the land, appropriate worship need be rendered to Yahweh alone. However, since the dominant population, at least in influence, is now non-Israelite, Yahweh is ignored. A compromise is reached when Yahwism is combined with the idolatrous practices of other peoples.

The Deuteronomistic theologian interprets Israel’s demise as fitting punishment for all the evil committed against the Lord. Both Israel and Judah have constantly and consistently turned a deaf ear to prophetic warnings. Now Israel, at the hand of Assyria, has paid for its infidelity. Moreover, the future seems ominous for Judah. The dynasty of David remains, but if it has more kings like Ahaz (see 2 Kings 16), one must ask, "For how long?"

The Kingdom of Judah After 721 b.c.e.

2 Kings 18:1 to 2 Kings 25:30

Hezekiah Reigns as King over Judah (2 Kings 18:1-12):

"Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah 3 And he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, according to all that David his father had done. 4 He removed the high places, and brake the pillars, and cut down the Asherah: and he brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made; for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it; and he called it Nehushtan. 5 He trusted in Jehovah, the God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among them that were before him. 6 For he clave to Jehovah; he departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which Jehovah commanded Moses. 7 And Jehovah was with him; whithersoever he went forth he prospered: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not" (2 Kings 18:1-7).

Judah has had good kings such as Joash; however, no one had measured up to the godliness of David as of yet (see 2 Kings 14:3). Hezekiah comes on the scene as king of Judah during the third year of Hoshea, king of Israel, and reigned 29 years (i.e., 682 - 653 BC). Hezekiah put his trust in Jehovah so much so that the word of God tells us that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah. Finally, Judah has a king that meets the standard set by David.

Consider Hezekiah’s religious reforms in Judah:

Removed the high places of worship and destroyed Asherah and brazen serpent that Moses had made (God’s people had been burning incense unto it and even gave it a name; i.e., Nehushtan meaning, a piece of brass).

Recall that Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father, had shut the doors of the temple of Jehovah (see 2 Chronicles 28:24). Hezekiah’s first order of business was to reopen the doors of the temple (2 Chronicles 29:3).

Hezekiah gathers the priests and Levites and gave them a speech (2 Chronicles 29:4-11). Hezekiah tells them that they are to carry all the "filthiness" out of the temple. The king tells the assembly that the reason Judah and Jerusalem have been attacked, defeated, and carried away captive is because they had not burned incense nor offered burnt-offerings in the holy place unto Jehovah. To turn away the fierce anger of Jehovah the king makes a covenant with the Lord to restore the worship and Mosaic system.

The king speaks words of wisdom to the priests and Levites saying, "My sons, be not now negligent…” God’s people today are priest (1 Peter 2:9). As priest, we too should not neglect doing all of God’s commands (John 14:15; 2 Timothy 1:13; Hebrews 2:1-4). The longer the people neglected Jehovah the longer His divine fierce wrath would be poured out upon them.

After hearing these words 14 Levites from the families of Kohath, Gershon, and Merarites sanctified themselves, cleansed the temple of Jehovah, and carried away the filth to the brook Kidron (2 Chronicles 29:15-16).

Hezekiah then calls for a rededication of the temple. The king had music, singers, burnt offerings, and sin offerings (70 bullocks, 100 rams, and 200 lambs were voluntarily offered... another 600 bullocks and 3000 small cattle were offered as thank-offerings (2 Chronicles 29:31-36). At the completion of the dedication and purification of the temple and people, they all rejoiced aloud.

Hezekiah’s next order of business was to celebrate the Passover (2 Chronicles 30:1 ff). The king sent out letters to all Israel and Judah to assemble themselves together for the feast. Many of Israel; however, "laughed them to scorn, and mocked them" (2 Chronicles 30:10). Others of the tribes of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun "humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem" (2 Chronicles 30:11). Leviticus 23:5 ff instruct Israel to partake of this feast, "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, is Jehovah’s passover" (Leviticus 23:5). Notice that Hezekiah partakes of the Passover during the second month and the fourteenth day (exactly one month latter than God’s divine instructed time) (2 Chronicles 30:15; 2 Chronicles 30:18). Hezekiah did not have time to gather everyone together and cleanse them before the set time of the feast. He greatly desired to completely reform all Judah and Israel to their former standing of fellowship and cleanliness with Jehovah. Hezekiah prays to God that such a service would be acceptable to the Lord and Jehovah hears, recognizes, and accepts the king’s prayer (see 2 Chronicles 30:18-20). This was not a violation of God’s command but rather a provision that the Lord offered for those who could not make the Passover that occurred on the 14th day of the first month (please read Numbers 9:6-13). This ought to be a great example of God’s people not only assembling together for worship but also the act of partaking of the Lord’s Supper. It was not the letter of the law that truly mattered but rather man’s heart’s desire to comply with the Lord’s commandments (Romans 2:29). No man could possibly keep the law perfectly yet as long as the desire to do so was there God was pleased (Romans 3:23). One may certainly draw parallels to our New Testament worship. The Lord does not require all his church to be assembled three times a year. The Lord has divinely appointed the local church to assemble on the first day of the week for worship which includes partaking of the Lord’s Supper (likened unto the Passover - see 1 Corinthians 5:7-8). Never did the Lord command that the saints meet twice on Sunday and serve the Lord’s Supper twice yet, for those who were unable to meet at one of the designated times, the church serves it a second time by way of provision. Likewise, for those who have work, travel, sickness, or things that come up that would cause them to miss a Bible study on Wednesday or Sunday they continue to have the opportunity the next week. Many brethren believe that the Hebrews 10:25 passage demands that Christians be at every Bible study and worship else they display a hardened heart of sin. These brethren fail to realize that the word "forsake" (Greek - egkataleipo) = is “to leave behind, to leave in the lurch… to leave out, omit… to be left behind in a race” (LS 221). “To leave in a place or situation, to leave behind; to forsake, abandon; to leave, as a remnant from destruction” (Moulton 113). “Leave behind… forsake, abandon, desert… do or carry on something in negligent manner” (AG 215-216). The Greek word is in the present tense active voice which indicates ongoing action (see Friberg pp. 680). This Greek word is found nine times in our NT and may be commonly defined as abandonment or deserting. A brother who misses an occasional Wednesday or Sunday study has not abandoned or omitted these studies out of his life. The Hebrew who had to miss the Passover feast was either unclean or on the road of travel. Some today say that we need to plan better. The point is that sometimes absence cannot be avoided.

The real matter is one’s heart. Our hearts desire is to be with the saints every time they assemble together. If this is my approach then more often than not I will likely be with the saints because that is where I want to be. My heart belongs to Jehovah first and foremost and He, being the knower of man’s thoughts and intents, will discern whether my judgments are acceptable or not.

Upon completion of the Passover the people rejoice greatly. The writer of 2 Chronicles tells us that such an event had not transpired since the days of Solomon (see 2 Chronicles 30:26).

As we move into 2 Chronicles 31 we find more reforms during the days of Hezekiah. The Passover infused God’s people with a zeal that had not been experienced in a great while. The people went throughout Judah and destroyed all pillars, high places, and Asherim that were found. The land was cleansed from the deeply engrained idolatry that had crept into the nation.

Hezekiah restored all the sacrifices, feast, and the morning and evening burnt-offerings. Hezekiah also restored the tithes so that the Levites and priests would be able to get back to their full time work of ministering unto the temple of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 31:4-10). The laws regarding tithes are revealed at Exodus 23:19; Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 26:2). The people responded so favorably to these offerings that storerooms had to be built to hold the excess.

"8 He smote the Philistines unto Gaza and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fortified city. 9 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it. 10 And at the end of three years they took it: in the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 And the king of Assyria carried Israel away unto Assyria, and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they obeyed not the voice of Jehovah their God, but transgressed his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of Jehovah commanded, and would not hear it, nor do it" (2 Kings 18:8-12).

At this point in history Judah and Israel were going in two different directions. Hezekiah caused Judah to be blessed while Israel continued to rebel against Jehovah. Now the sacred writer takes us back to 1 Kings 17:1-3 where Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, laid siege to Samaria for three years. Before this siege took place Hezekiah had made great strides in restoring Judah.

Israel was taken out of the sight of Jehovah due to her great sins of not hearing or doing what God commanded. Here were people who simply did not want to follow God as opposed to those who wanted to follow God yet were unclean or traveling as stated above.

Judah Invaded by Assyria (2 Kings 18:13-37):

"13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and took them. 14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of the king’s house. 16 At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of Jehovah, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria" (2 Kings 18:13-16).

Ten years after Assyria began their campaign against Israel they marched on Judah. Their new King was Sennacherib. Sennacherib began by taking all the surrounding cities of Judah and then threatened Jerusalem.

“The real object of his (Sennacherib’s) campaign was Egypt, which is also apparent form ch. 19:24, and is confirmed by Isaiah 10:24; for which reason Tirhaka marched against him (ch. 19:24..)” The quest for Egypt posed a test of Hezekiah’s faith and trust in Jehovah. Would Hezekiah call upon other nations for help? Would Hezekiah call upon the gods of other nations? Would Hezekiah call upon the name of Jehovah for help? (see study # 1).

Hezekiah attempted to stop the invasion of Judah by cutting off the water supply to the Assyrian troops (2 Chronicles 32:2-8 and Isaiah 22:8-11). Evidently his plan failed and he sends a messenger to Sennacherib stating that he has sinned. Hezekiah then asks Sennacherib what he may give him to end the strife. Sennacherib demanded an enormous sum of 300 talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.

Hezekiah seeks to appease Sennacherib, king of Assyria, by giving him all the silver and gold in the temple and the treasures of the king’s house. The gold and silver either did not measure up to the requested "300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold" that Sennacherib demanded or Sennacherib could have very well taken the gold and silver and marched on Jerusalem anyway.

"17 And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rab-saris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great army unto Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field. 18 And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder" (2 Kings 18:17-18).

The Assyrians had pushed far into Judah even unto Lachish (a city located about 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem). Sennacherib sends a military detachment to Jerusalem to lay siege against it. Apparently there was no amount of gold or silver to detour Sennacherib’s purpose of using Judah as a foothold against Egypt. The fact that a military detachment is sent to Jerusalem indicates Hezekiah’s continued refusal to submit to Assyrian rule (see verse 20 below).

Sennacherib sends three men to deliver a speech to the people of Jerusalem. Hezekiah replies by sending out three city officials to speak with them.

"19 And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? 20 Thou sayest (but they are but vain words), There is counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou hast rebelled against me? 21 Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him. 22 But if ye say unto me, We trust in Jehovah our God; is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem? 23 Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. 24 How then canst thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 25 Am I now come up without Jehovah against this place to destroy it? Jehovah said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it" (2 Kings 18:19-25).

Rabshakeh delivers his defiant and proud Assyrian speech (this event is also recorded by Isaiah at chapter 36). "Confidence" is the theme of this warfare and will determine the outcome. The kings before Hezekiah had placed their trust and confidence in other countries and other deities. Hezekiah and Judah’s place of "confidence" would determine the outcome of this war (theme of book) (see these passages for placing trust and confidence in God rather than men - Proverbs 29:25; 2 Corinthians 1:9; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).

Rabshakeh explains to the people of Judah that there is no one or God to put their trust in that will save them from the hand of the Assyrians. Rabshakeh tells Judah that if they place their trust in Egypt it would be like leaning upon a staff and having your hand pierced through with pain (Isaiah had also told God’s people the same thing at Isaiah 30:1-5). Furthermore, Rabshakeh explains, that Judah could not trust in Jehovah because He himself told the king of Assyria, "Go up against this land and destroy it."

Rabshakeh was critically mistaken about three important aspects:

First, Rabshakeh misunderstood Hezekiah’s destruction of the high places in Judah. The Assyrian believed this to be an act against Jehovah but in all reality it was an act on the part of Hezekiah that illustrated his great faith in God. The Assyrian could not fathom a god that would be worshipped aside from the "high places."

Secondly, Rabshakeh mistakenly lumped Judah in with Israel when he said that "Jehovah said unto me, Go up to this land and destroy it." While this was true of Israel it was not true of Judah (see Isaiah 10:5 ff).

"26 Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah, and Joah, unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and speak not with us in the Jews’ language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall. 27 But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? Hath he not sent me to the men that sit on the wall, to eat their own dung, and to drink their own water with you? 28 Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and spake, saying, Hear ye the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you; for he will not be able to deliver you out of his hand: 30 neither let Hezekiah make you trust in Jehovah, saying, Jehovah will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 31 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig-tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; 32 Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive-trees and of honey, that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, Jehovah will deliver us. 33 Hath any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 35 Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of my hand, that Jehovah should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? 36 But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. 37 Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh" (2 Kings 18:26-37).

Hezekiah’s messengers, being fearful that the people would crack under pressure if they heard the defiant words of Rabshakkeh, requested that the Assyrian speak in the Syrian tongue rather than the Hebrew language. Rabshakkeh, upon hearing this statement of perceived weakness, cried even louder in the Hebrew tongue so that all could hear him. Jerusalem is to surrender and be taken away to a land of new wine and honey. Interestingly, this is the same promise God had given Israel as a whole regarding Canaan if they would only surrender to Him.

Jerusalem comes to a crossroad. Surrender subjection and obedience to Assyria and be blessed with fruitful land and living or submit to Jehovah and enjoy the blessings He had ever promised them.

Rabshakeh had more defiant words for Jerusalem:

The Assyrian warns the people of Jerusalem not to permit Hezekiah to deceive them thinking that the king could save them in some way.

Rabshakeh also told Jerusalem not to permit Hezekiah to deceive them with false hope that Jehovah would some how save them. The Assyrian commands Jerusalem not to put their trust in Jehovah.

Then Rabshakeh makes a defiant statement regarding Jehovah’s ability to save Jerusalem. The Assyrian claims, "Hath any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?" The Assyrians considered Jehovah to be likened unto all the other gods of the nations they had defeated. Rabshakeh says, "Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of my hand, that Jehovah should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?"

Rabshakeh’s third and final error was to place Jehovah God on par with the gods of the other nations. Jehovah is the one and only Almighty God and the Assyrians were about to find this out the hard way.

2 Kings 18:1-12 Hezekiah. Hezekiah is very unlike his father; he is even compared to David! Not only is Hezekiah credited with destroying the remnants of Ahaz’s idolatry, but he even removes the bronze serpent that Moses made (see Numbers 21:9). His fidelity is rewarded with a twenty-nine-year reign, prosperity, victory over Philistine cities, and the securing of independence from Assyria in the early stages of his reign, at the very time when Israel is conquered.

2 Kings 18:13-37 Invasion of Sennacherib. Yet, Assyria remains a serious threat. The dialogue recorded here focuses on whom to trust: Hezekiah and his God, or the powerful king of Assyria (compare Isaiah 36 and 1 Kings 18). Hezekiah is made to look weak, whereas past Assyrian victories are recounted. By now the reader can predict the Deuteronomist’s judgment. Fidelity to the Lord and the covenant will yield success, no matter what the odds. Trust in a foreign power and an idolatrous people, however, can only bring doom.

Hezekiah puts his trust in Jehovah and the Assyrians are Routed (2 Kings 19:1-37):

"And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of Jehovah. 2 And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. 3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of contumely; for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. 4 It may be Jehovah thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to defy the living God, and will rebuke the words which Jehovah thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left" (2 Kings 19:1-4).

The king of Judah rents his clothes and puts sackcloth on to display a spirit of humility, sorrow, and grief over the defiant words of Rabshakeh the Assyrian. The king further reacts to the defiant speech by sending for the prophet Isaiah. The king’s messengers tell Isaiah of the Assyrian’s speech which was a matter of trouble, rebuke, and an insult (contumely) to the living God.

The king’s hope, trust and confidence is that the living God would take note of the defiant words of the Assyrians and "rebuke" them. Hezekiah request that the prophet Isaiah would pray for Judah, "the remnant that is left."

"5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah 6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith Jehovah, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Behold, I will put a spirit in him, and he shall hear tidings, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. 8 So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah; for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish. 9 And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee, he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying, 10 Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them, which my fathers have destroyed, Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden that were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah?" (2 Kings 19:5-13).

Isaiah receives the message and sends back to Hezekiah a message that tells him to not fear the arrogant Assyrians. The prophet of God explains that Jehovah is going to give Rabshakeh a report that will cause him to want to return to his homeland. Just what this report was and when it occurred is not disclosed.

Sennacherib gains intelligence of Tirhakah’s (King of Cush {Ethiopia}) military movements. The Ethiopians were advancing from the south to go to war against the Assyrians. Sennacherib knows that he will need a firm footing in Judah to be successful against the Ethiopians. Assyria could not afford to be in a war with both Judah and Ethiopia at the same time.

Sennacherib considered Judah a minor threat. He sought to intimidate Hezekiah with his letter of self-accolades (which were indeed fearful from man’s standards). Sennacherib desired Judah to role over and play dead so that he could get to the real battle with the Ethiopians and eventually Egypt. Little did he consider that Jehovah was the one and only real threat to him. He arrogantly overlooks Jehovah God and thus eventually pays with his own life. The tone of Sennacherib’s letter was that Hezekiah should give up his confidence in Jehovah God.

Like Goliath of old, Assyria stands boldly before the people of God demanding that they submit and not trust in Jehovah. Like David and Hezekiah of old God’s people today will continue to gain victories over Satan and his evil workers as they place their hope, confidence, and trust in Jehovah (see also 1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 John 5:4).

"14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up unto the house of Jehovah, and spread it before Jehovah. 15 And Hezekiah prayed before Jehovah, and said, O Jehovah, the God of Israel, that sittest above the cherubim, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. 16 Incline thine ear, O Jehovah, and hear; open thine eyes, O Jehovah, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, wherewith he hath sent him to defy the living God" (2 Kings 19:14-16).

Rather than turning to the Egyptians to join forces to defeat the Assyrians Hezekiah the king of Judah places his hope in Jehovah God. Hezekiah spreads the defiant Assyrian letter before Jehovah within the house of Jehovah and there he prays to the Lord God Almighty. Hezekiah prays that Jehovah would give ear to the defiant Assyrian letter.

Hezekiah recognizes Jehovah as:

1.    The God of Israel (as opposed to the false gods that gave the Assyrians no resistance in the former battles).

2.    The God that sits above the cherubim (the Ark of the Covenant).

3.    The only true God of all the kingdoms of the earth.

4.    The true God who has made the heavens and the earth.

"17 Of a truth, Jehovah, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone; therefore they have destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, O Jehovah our God, save thou us, I beseech thee, out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou Jehovah art God alone" (2 Kings 19:17-19).

A great contrast is here depicted as we compare Hezekiah’s character, in this most distressing moment, with his father Ahaz. Ahaz, in times of great distress, cried out unto Tiglath Pileser for help and salvation against Syria and Israel (see 2 Kings 16:5-7).

Hezekiah knew that the gods of the lands that the Assyrians had been conquering were no real gods at all. These gods offered absolutely no resistance to Assyria because they were "no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone; therefore they have destroyed them." Rabshaken speaks of these gods as though they were real yet inferior to the Assyrian’s gods. Hezekiah knows this and thereby prays that Jehovah would once again show the world (i.e., "all the kingdoms of the earth") that "thou Jehovah art God alone" (see Romans 9:17).

"20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard thee. 21 This is the word that Jehovah hath spoken concerning him: The virgin daughter of Zion hath despised thee and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. 22 Whom hast thou defied and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel. 23 By thy messengers thou hast defied the Lord, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the innermost parts of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir-trees thereof; and I will enter into his farthest lodging-place, the forest of his fruitful field. 24 I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet will I dry up all the rivers of Egypt.

Hast thou not heard how I have done it long ago, and formed it of ancient times? Now have I brought it to pass, that it should be thine to lay waste fortified cities into ruinous heaps. 26 Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as grain blasted before it is grown up. 27 But I know thy sitting down, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy raging against me. 28 Because of thy raging against me, and because thine arrogancy is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest. 29 And this shall be the sign unto thee: Ye shall eat this year that which grows of itself, and in the second year that which springs of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof. 30 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. 31 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of mount Zion they that shall escape: the zeal of Jehovah shall perform this" (2 Kings 19:20-31).

The prophet Isaiah sends word to Hezekiah that Jehovah had heard the king’s prayer and would respond accordingly. Here is God’s message to the King regarding Assyria’s arrogance and present threat. Assyria’s confidence was in their might and gods and thereby they would fall in faulty arrogance (see study # 1). Like the man who chatters like a master about matters he has little knowledge of so the Assyrians chattered about victory. They had stirred up Jehovah with their arrogance and faulty confidence.

Jehovah refers to Jerusalem as The virgin daughter of Zion and one that despised and laughs Assyria to scorn (vs. 21); meaning the city is “an inviolable (unbreakable) city to the Assyrians, i.e., one that they cannot conquer. Shaking the head is a gesture denoting derision and pleasure at another’s misfortune (cf. Psalms 22:8; Psalms 109:25, etc.).”

This despising of Assyria is given a cause:

  • ·    Assyria has blasphemed the name of Jehovah.

  • ·    Assyria has threatened Jerusalem.

  • ·    They had an arrogant estimation of themselves: They intended to pass by Judah as though it were ruled by children to destroy Egypt and Ethiopia.

  • ·    They failed to see that they were only tools in the hands of God (vs. 25). God had ever planed that he would use them for his own purpose yet now have they exalted themselves as though they have reached this great success of their own accord.

As a wild animal is restrained with a ring in his nose and the bridle controls a horse, so Jehovah shall lead Assyria back to their homeland disappointed (vs. 26).

God fully intends to restore the remnant of Judah (vs. 30-31) by delivering them out of the hands of the Assyrians because of Hezekiah’s prayer.

"32 Therefore thus saith Jehovah concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come unto this city, nor shoot an arrow there, neither shall he come before it with shield, nor cast up a mound against it. 33 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and he shall not come unto this city, saith Jehovah. 34 For I will defend this city to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. 35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of Jehovah went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. 37 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esar-haddon his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 19:32-37).

As the Assyrian army slept at night, God sent an angel of death to kill 185,000 soldiers in their sleep. The next morning Sennacherib awakes and to his horror he finds the dead army. He quickly returns to Ninevah and there is murdered by his own two sons Adrammelech and Sharezer (Isaiah tells us that these two men were Sennacherib’s sons).

Interestingly, the Assyrian god Nisroch did not help the king against Jehovah and it did not help the king against his own sons killing him. Nisroch was like all other so called gods. He was wood, stone, metal, and without any capabilities of existence at all. The victory belonged to the living God and those who put their trust in him. Sennacherib’s son Essarhaddon ruled Assyria in his father’s place.

2 Kings 19:1-19 Hezekiah and Isaiah. Having heard the message of the Assyrian king, Hezekiah proceeds to the temple of the Lord and consults Yahweh’s prophet Isaiah. Before Hezekiah has even heard the prophet’s consoling word, he imagines a happy outcome: Yahweh angry at Assyrian pride and punishing them accordingly. Isaiah confirms that there is no reason for Hezekiah to fear the Assyrian king. When the king of Assyria repeats his threats, Hezekiah again seeks the Lord (compare Isaiah 37:1-20).

2 Kings 19:20-37 Punishment of Sennacherib. Isaiah again consoles Hezekiah. "For the sake of David," the Deuteronomistic historian reminds the reader, Assyria will not destroy Jerusalem.

The power of the prophet’s word is quickly effected. Yahweh, Israel’s warrior, destroys many Assyrian troops, and the survivors flee. Nor does the Assyrian king escape punishment; rather, his own sons kill him. Whereas Yahweh’s temple had been a source of deliverance for Hezekiah and Judah, Nisroch’s temple becomes the site of Sennacherib’s murder (compare Isaiah 37:21-38).

Hezekiah’s serious Illness (2 Kings 20:1-11):

"In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Set thy house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live" (2 Kings 20:1).

The prophet Isaiah comes to king Hezekiah to give him Jehovah’s divine revelation regarding the outcome of the king’s sickness. Isaiah tells the king, "Thou shalt die, and not live." What would you do if such a diagnosis of an illness was given to you? Isaiah tells the king, "Set thy house in order."

Many of the world may determine to get all their financial loose ends tied and to make sure their will is properly aligned with their personal desires. The man or woman of God will be more concerned with fervent prayer and readying themselves to pass on into the hadean world clean and undefiled by sin that their eternal treasures would be made secure (Luke 18:22).

"2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto Jehovah, saying, 3 Remember now, O Jehovah, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. 4 And it came to pass, before Isaiah was gone out into the middle part of the city, that the word of Jehovah came to him, saying, 5 Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the prince of my people, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee; on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of Jehovah. 6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake" (2 Kings 20:2-6).

Consider the fact that Hezekiah was only 25 years old when he began to reign in Judah (see 2 Kings 18:2). 2 Kings 18:13 states that Hezekiah was in his fourteenth year as king when Sennacherib came up against Judah. 2 Kings 20:1 states, "in those days..." indicating the time frame of Hezekiah’s 14th year reigning as King of Judah. Hezekiah would have only been around 40 years old when he is told that he would die.

The king, recognizing that he was yet in the prime of life, tearfully prays unto Jehovah to remember how that he had walked in truth, perfect in heart, and filled with good in the sight of God. Hezekiah was not ready to die and leave the earth. Jehovah hears the king’s prayer and grants him 15 more years of life. The honest and truthful heart that prays with fervent tears will be heard of God.

"7 And Isaiah said, Take a cake of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered. 8 And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that Jehovah will heal me, and that I shall go up unto the house of Jehovah the third day? 9 And Isaiah said, This shall be the sign unto thee from Jehovah, that Jehovah will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps? 10 And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to decline ten steps: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten steps. 11 And Isaiah the prophet cried unto Jehovah; and he brought the shadow ten steps backward, by which it had gone down on the dial of Ahaz" (2 Kings 20:7-11).

Isaiah gives Hezekiah a choice of moving the shadow on Ahaz’s sundial backward or forward. This sundial was “a gnomon, a sun-dial which Ahaz may have received from Babylon, where sun-dials were discovered.”

Hezekiah thought that moving the shadow forward would be no big deal, however to move it backwards (a symbol of either the earth rotating backward or the sun moving back) would be a miraculous deed. Isaiah agreed and prayed to God and the Lord caused the shadow to return ten degrees on the sundial.

Jehovah continued to be revealed as the one true living God while Hezekiah lived and put his trust in Him.

Berodach-Baladan, king of Babylon, sends an embassy with presents to Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:12-15)

"12 At that time Berodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah; for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. 13 And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and showed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious oil, and the house of his armor, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not. 14 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? And from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon. 15 And he said, What have they seen in thy house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in my house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them" (2 Kings 20:12-15).

Babylon was a fast growing power during these days. To have presents sent to you from such a nation would indeed be flattering. Hezekiah receives the gifts and then makes a critical error of judgment. The king permits the Babylonian visitors to view all the secret wealth and armor that belonged do Judah.

Hezekiah permits pride and vanity to invade his heart and thereby sins against Jehovah. 2 Chronicles 32:25 tells us that Hezekiah did not return the good favor of Jehovah in this act of vanity (the Lord had healed him and Hezekiah turns around and sins against the Lord’s will). 2 Chronicles 32:26 states, "Not withstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of Jehovah came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah." The lesson is obvious and important. Jehovah’s required behavior and character is that of humility (lowliness of spirit) (see study # 23). Those who are vain are those who place confidence and value on the things of this world rather than in Jehovah God (see lesson # 1 and # 25; Vanity) (true confidence, value, and trust ought to be place in wisdom and eternity rather than man or this earth’s treasures - see Proverbs 11:28; Proverbs 13:7-8; Proverbs 23:23; Matthew 16:26).

"16 And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of Jehovah. 17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thy house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith Jehovah. 18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, whom thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. 19 Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of Jehovah which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, Is it not so, if peace and truth shall be in my days? 20 Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made the pool, and the conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 21 And Hezekiah slept with his fathers; and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 20:16-21).

Isaiah brought the pronouncement of doom upon Hezekiah and Judah for this act of Vanity. All that Judah was would be taken by Babylon. Hezekiah’s sons would taken away and made eunuchs to the king of Babylon. Such words of condemnation and judgment must have fallen violently upon the ears of the king. Due to his irresponsible actions doom was to be the future of Judah. One man’s sins can have lasting effects on future generations. The lesson is that each decision that man makes must be carefully thought out. A moment of foolishness, vanity, and pride can take years to undo. Daniel, Jeremiah, and Lamentations reveal the horrid manner in which Judah is conquered by Babylon.Hezekiah dies and his son Manasseh reigned in his stead

2 Kings 20:1-21 Hezekiah’s illness. Hezekiah’s relationship with the Lord is further developed by his cure. Although Isaiah had prophesied that Hezekiah would die from his illness, Hezekiah entreats the Lord, who hears his prayer and adds fifteen years to his life. The sign that the prophet’s revised word would be fulfilled is the miraculous movement of a shadow (compare Isaiah 38:1-8), an immediate indication of the effective power of Yahweh (compare 1 Kings 13:3-5).

With the emergence of Babylon as a world power, Assyria ceased to be a major threat to the nations of the ancient Near East. Such was the political reality. The Deuteronomistic History, however, uses this opportunity to foreshadow Babylon’s eventual victory over Judah with a prophetic proclamation to Hezekiah. Friendliness to Babylon, whether now by Hezekiah or later by Josiah, will not prevent Judah’s demise at their hands. Yet, Hezekiah himself will continue to be rewarded for his own fidelity; the doom will come only after his death (compare Isaiah 39). Hezekiah, of David’s line, is buried with his ancestors and is succeeded by his son Manasseh.

Manasseh’s Evil Reign over Judah begins at age 12 (2 Kings 21:1-26)

"Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; and he reigned five and fifty years in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, after the abominations of the nations whom Jehovah cast out before the children of Israel.

For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made an Asherah, as did Ahab king of Israel, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. 4 And he built altars in the house of Jehovah, whereof Jehovah said, In Jerusalem will I put my name. 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of Jehovah. 6 And he made his son to pass through the fire, and practiced augury, and used enchantments, and dealt with them that had familiar spirits, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of Jehovah, to provoke him to anger. 7 And he set the graven image of Asherah, that he had made, in the house of which Jehovah said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever; 8 neither will I cause the feet of Israel to wander any more out of the land which I gave their fathers, if only they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them. 9 But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do that which is evil more than did the nations whom Jehovah destroyed before the children of Israel" (2 Kings 21:1-9).

Hezekiah was about 55 years old when he died (he would have been 44 years old at the birth of Manasseh - Manasseh was everything his grandfather Ahaz was and worse. Sandwiched in between Ahaz and Manasseh was the godly king Hezekiah. What happened with Manasseh? Hezekiah had worked so hard to remove all filthiness out of Judah and Manasseh erases all his father’s work.

Manasseh did the following illustrating a lack of fear toward Jehovah God:

  • ·    Rebuilt the high places in Judah.

  • ·    Erected altars for Baal

  • ·    Made an Asherah idol and placed it within the house of Jehovah God (Remember: 2 Kings 21:7 states that this temple had been sanctified by Jehovah for his name alone (See also 2 Samuel 7:13 and 1 Kings 9:3).

  • ·    Worshipped all the host of heaven and served them.

  • ·    Erected altars to idols within the house of Jehovah.

  • ·    Erected altars to idols (host of heaven) within the two courts of the house of Jehovah.

  • ·    Sacrificed his sons in the fires of Moloch.

  • ·    Practiced augury (one who foretells events based on observing and interpreting events and omens).

  • ·    He used enchantments (magical spells)

  • ·    Used familiar spirits and wizards for advise rather than Jehovah.

Manasseh seduced Judah to commit gross sins against the name of Jehovah God.

"10 And Jehovah spake by his servants the prophets, saying, 11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, that were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols; 12 therefore thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, Behold, I bring such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. 13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab; and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14 And I will cast off the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; 15 because they have done that which is evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day" (2 Kings 21:10-15).

Due to Judah, who is referred to as Jehovah’s remnant (vs. 14), sinning against God He would destroy them to the point of utter destruction. The thought of what God would do to Judah caused peoples ears to tingle (vs. 12). “This denotes such a judgment as has never been heard of before, and excites alarm and horror.”23 Judah’s eventual destruction at the hands of the Babylonians is described by Jeremiah in Lamentations as mind bending and horrendous.

The destruction of Judah is described by the Lord in two ways:

Verse 13, I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab;” “The measure (line) of Samaria therefore denotes the measure which was applied to the destruction of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab denotes the extermination of the royal house of Ahab. The meaning is: I shall destroy Jerusalem as I have destroyed Samaria, and exterminate its inhabitants like the house of Ahab.”

Secondly, the destruction of Judah is described as follows in vs. 13, “I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down.” “A figurative representation of the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the utter extermination of its inhabitants.”

2 Chronicles 33:11 reports part of the fulfillment of the above statements. Jehovah uses the Assyrian army to invade Judah. Manasseh is taken captive back to Babylon like a wild animal with a ring in his nose. In his darkest hour of desperation, Manasseh calls out to Jehovah God and the Lord hears him (see study # 22 - see 1 Corinthians 6:11).

Manasseh is returned to Jerusalem due to his submitting to God and it is at this time that he is converted to Jehovah worship:

  • ·    He fortifies the city of David (2 Chronicles 33:14).

  • ·    He took away all the foreign gods (2 Chronicles 33:15).

  • ·    He removed the Asherah out of the house of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 33:15).

  • ·    He removed all the altars he had originally placed in the court of the temple of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 33:16).

He reconstructed the altar of Jehovah and offered sacrifices and gave thank offerings to Jehovah God (2 Chronicles 33:16).

Even though Manasseh had reformed himself, he had already done too much damage to the people. The people of Judah continued to practice all the idolatry that Manasseh had started (2 Chronicles 33:17).

"16 Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; besides his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah. 17 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and all that he did, and his sin that he sinned, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 18 And Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza: and Amon his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 21:16-18).

Note another error of Manasseh before we move on to his son Amon. Manasseh "shed innocent blood very much..." One would think that there was not much hope for such a wicked man to turn to Jehovah yet Manasseh did. It is possible Isaiah and Habakkuk were both part of the innocent blood that was shed (see Habakkuk 1:5). Manasseh dies and his son Amon reigns in his place.

"19 Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign; and he reigned two years in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. 20 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, as did Manasseh his father. 21 And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them: and he forsook Jehovah, the God of his fathers, and walked not in the way of Jehovah. 23 And the servants of Amon conspired against him, and put the king to death in his own house. 24 But the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead. 25 Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 26 And he was buried in his sepulchre in the garden of Uzza: and Josiah his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 21:19-26).

Amon’s reign lasted only 2 years in Jerusalem. Amon did that which was evil as did his father Manasseh from the beginning. Amon’s servants conspired against him and killed him. The people of Judah ban together and kill the conspirators and promote Josiah, Amon’s son, as king at the age of 8 years old.

2 Kings 21:1-18 Reign of Manasseh. Manasseh’s desecration of Jerusalem with innocent blood and his violation of the Lord’s temple with every possible expression of idolatry are unforgivable. The promise made to Solomon of the Lord’s continued presence in his temple and a Davidic descendant continually on the throne of Israel (see 1 Kings 9:3-5) was conditioned on the kings’ adherence to covenant fidelity. The Deuteronomistic theologian now calls on the word of God, through the prophets, to condemn Manasseh’s sin and to predict the dire consequences it will have on Judah. The end is coming.

The Deuteronomistic historian acknowledges the fact that Manasseh survived on the throne of Israel for fifty-five years, the longest recorded reign of any Davidic king, yet he was also judged theologically to be the most evil of them. Perhaps the subtle note that Manasseh was buried "in the palace garden, the garden of Uzza" (v. 18) rather than an explicit statement that he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David is his way of judging Manasseh most harshly. To be buried, first of all, and then to be buried with one’s ancestors was of prime importance to the Israelites. In spite of Manasseh’s evil, his son succeeded him; a Davidic king remained on the throne as long as the nation of Judah existed.

2 Kings 21:19-26 Reign of Amon. A "chip off the old block," Amon is condemned for doing evil similar to that which his father had done. However, Amon falls more easily into the curses such sin merits: his reign lasts only two years; he is murdered; and he is buried, like his father, in the garden of Uzza. The instability of the people can be seen by the murder of those who murder. In any case, Amon’s son Josiah is able to succeed him as king.

Josiah’s Spiritual Progress and Reign over Judah (2 Kings 22:1-20):

"1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. 2 And he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left" (2 Kings 22:1-2).

Josiah was not the youngest king at age 8 to reign over Judah. We recall that approximately 233 years prior to Josiah the seven year old king Joash reigned in Judah. Josiah is the second king (the first being Hezekiah) to be identified as walking in the ways of David.

"3 And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan, the son of Azaliah the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of Jehovah, saying, 4 Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the money which is brought into the house of Jehovah, which the keepers of the threshold have gathered of the people: 5 and let them deliver it into the hand of the workmen that have the oversight of the house of Jehovah; and let them give it to the workmen that are in the house of Jehovah, to repair the breaches of the house, 6 unto the carpenters, and to the builders, and to the masons, and for buying timber and hewn stone to repair the house. 7 Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand; for they dealt faithfully" (2 Kings 22:3-7).

The Chronicles tell of events that transpired before the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign (i.e., when the king was 26 years old). When Josiah was 16 years old, he began to seek after the God of David his father”(2 Chronicles 34:3).

When Josiah was 20 years old, he “began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the Asherim, and the graven images and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of the Baalim in his presence; and the sun-images that were on high above them he hewed down; and the Asherim, and the graven images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strewed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them. And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and purged Judah and Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 34:3-5).

When Josiah was 26 years old, he began to repair the temple of Jehovah. He sent his scribe Shaphan to the High priest Hilkiah that the collected funds may be given to the carpenters and builders of the temple.

"8 And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of Jehovah. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9 And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen that have the oversight of the house of Jehovah. 10 And Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. 11 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 13 Go ye, inquire of Jehovah for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found; for great is the wrath of Jehovah that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us" (2 Kings 22:8-13).

As the treasures were being moved out of the house, Hilkiah the High Priest, found the book of the Law of Moses in the Temple (2 Kings 22:8; 2 Chronicles 34:14).

“The book of the law (not a law-book or a roll of laws), cannot mean anything else, either grammatically or historically, than the Mosaic book of the law (the Pentateuch), which is so designated, as is generally admitted, in the Chronicles, and the books of Ezra and Nehemiah… The book of the law that was found was simply the temple copy, deposited, according to Deuteronomy 31:26, by the side of the ark of the covenant, which had been lost under the idolatrous kings Manasseh and Amon, and came to light again now that the temple was being repaired.”

Hilkiah gives the book of the law to Shaphan and Shaphan takes it to King Josiah. At this point, Shaphan reads the book to Josiah (2 Kings 22:10). This “does not signify that the whole was read,… To the king he most likely read, among other things, the threats and curses of the law against those who transgressed it (Deuteronomy 28), and possibly also Leviticus 26, because the reading made such an impression upon him (Josiah), that in his anguish of soul he rent his clothes.”

Josiah apparently did not even have a copy of the Law and was for the first time reading its contents.

"14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the second quarter); and they communed with her. 15 And she said unto them, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel: Tell ye the man that sent you unto me, 16 Thus saith Jehovah, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read. 17 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and it shall not be quenched" (2 Kings 22:14-17).

Nothing is known of this Prophetess other than what is mentioned in the text of 2 Kings 22. Huldah confirms all of Josiah’s fears regarding the punishment of Judah for their idolatry and rejection of God. Judah’s punishment was due to their "forsaking" Jehovah and serving other gods (see study # 20).

"18 But unto the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of Jehovah, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel: As touching the words which thou hast heard, 19 because thy heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before Jehovah, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith Jehovah. 20 Therefore, behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again" (2 Kings 22:18-20).

Though Judah would fall the prophetess of God delivers encouraging words to Josiah because of his reaction after having heard the law read. Josiah rent his clothes in mental anguish and displayed a spirit of fear and humility toward Jehovah. The tears and tender heart of Josiah was recognized by Jehovah and the Lord tells the king that he will see none of these evil days that come to Judah. The Lord measures man’s response to events of life and acts accordingly.

Josiah’s Religious Reforms (2 Kings 23:1-37):

"And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. 2 And the king went up to the house of Jehovah, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of Jehovah. 3 And the king stood by the pillar, and made a covenant before Jehovah, to walk after Jehovah, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and all his soul, to confirm the words of this covenant that were written in this book: and all the people stood to the covenant" (2 Kings 23:1-3).

Every person in Jerusalem and Judah was called to hear the reading of the Mosaic Law. After Josiah read the law, he renewed God’s covenant with the people taking an oath that they would follow all God’s commands (see study # 24; A Heart of Spiritual Purpose).

Josiah purposed to keep God’s laws with all his heart and soul. Reading the Law caused the people to understand that God demanded their hearts and obedience. Moses wrote, " Moses wrote, And now, Israel, what doth Jehovah thy God require of thee, but to fear Jehovah thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Jehovah thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 10:12-13 see also Matthew 22:37).

"4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the threshold, to bring forth out of the temple of Jehovah all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the Asherah, and for all the host of heaven, and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el. 5 And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. 6 And he brought out the Asherah from the house of Jehovah, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and beat it to dust, and cast the dust thereof upon the graves of the common people. 7 And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were in the house of Jehovah, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah. 8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba and he brake down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city. 9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of Jehovah in Jerusalem, but they did eat unleavened bread among their brethren. 10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. 11 And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of Jehovah, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the precincts; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. 12 And the altars that were on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of Jehovah, did the king break down, and beat [them] down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. 13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. 14 And he brake in pieces the pillars, and cut down the Asherim, and filled their places with the bones of men. 15 Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he brake down; and he burned the high place and beat it to dust, and burned the Asherah. 16 And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount; and he sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and defiled it, according to the word of Jehovah which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these things" (2 Kings 23:4-16).

He removed vessels in the house of Jehovah that were used in service to Baal and the Asherah. He killed the “idolatrous priest” who burned incense in the high places (vs. 5). He brought out the Asherah out of the temple of Jehovah. Evidently upon Manasseh’s reform and removal of the Asherah from the temple, Amon his son brought it back in. Josiah removes it and burns it (2 Kings 23:6). He ordered the Levitical priest to come back to Jerusalem that they might not be defiled (vs. 8).

Josiah burned up all the chariots that were used in worshipping the sun and stars (vs. 11). Josiah also took the idols from the house of Ahaz and beat them to powder. Josiah even went as far as exterminating the idolatrous practices in Samaria and killing all the idolatrous priests. Samaria at this time belonged to the Assyrians. It is not clear how Josiah did this since the land was not his. “The only reason that can have induced Josiah to do this, must have been that after the dissolution of the kingdom of the ten tribes he regarded himself as the king of the whole covenant nation.”

Josiah burned the altar at Bethel, which Jeroboam had made. He burned the Asherah and ground the stone monuments to Baal.

"17 Then he said, What monument is that which I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, who came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el. 18 And he said, Let him be; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria. 19 And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke Jehovah to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el. 20 And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there, upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them; and he returned to Jerusalem" (2 Kings 23:17-20).

Josiah took away all houses that were located in the high places and used for idolatry. “In order to desecrate the site for all time, Josiah had human bones taken out of the graves that were to be found upon the mountain, and burned upon the altar, whereby the prophecy uttered in the reign of Jeroboam by the prophet who came out of Judah concerning this idolatrous place of worship was fulfilled; but he spared the tomb of that prophet himself (cf. 1 Kings 13:26-32).”

"21 And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto Jehovah your God, as it is written in this book of the covenant. 22 Surely there was not kept such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of king Josiah was this passover kept to Jehovah in Jerusalem. 24 Moreover them that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the teraphim, and the idols, and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of Jehovah. 25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to Jehovah with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him" (2 Kings 23:21-25).

2 Chronicles 35:1-19 describes the details of this Passover and thus explains why it is considered to be distinguished from every Passover held between Samuel and the present time.

This passover was distinguished from others such as the one Hezekiah held, because:

  • ·    All took part in it: i.e., the whole nation of Israel and Judah.

  • ·    Secondly, It was kept in strict accordance with the precepts of the Mosaic Law where as previous feast such as the one Hezekiah kept, had discrepancies.

  • ·    Hezekiah kept it on the second month instead of the first

  • ·    Hezekiah allowed some to eat the Passover who had not had time to purify them.

"26 Notwithstanding, Jehovah turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations wherewith Manasseh had provoked him. 27 And Jehovah said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city which I have chosen, even Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there. 28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?" (2 Kings 23:26-28).

2 Kings 25 describes Josiah as a great and Godly king, however all his efforts of reforming God’s people did not take God’s anger away and neither did he succeed in a total reformation of Judah.

“Although the king was most religious, and the people obeyed him through fear, yet for all that the mind of the people was not changed, as is evident enough from the reproach of Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and other prophets, who prophesied about that time and a little after… deep inward apostasy of the people from the Lord, not only before and during Josiah’s reform of worship, but also afterwards.”

"29 In his days Pharaoh-necoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and Pharaoh-necoh slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him. 30 And his servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own sepulchre. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s stead" (2 Kings 23:29-30).

Pharaoh Necho went to war with the Assyrians and warned Josiah to stay out of the battle (2 Chronicles 35:21). Josiah would not listen and went up against Necho of Egypt. Archers kill Josiah in the battle. It is not clear why Josiah decided to meddle in the war between Egypt and Assyria. Keil and Delitzsch offer an explanation that may be as good as any. “What induced Josiah to oppose with force of arms the advance of the Egyptian to the Euphrates (may be) solely in Josiah’s conviction that Judah could not remain neutral in the war which had broken out between Egypt and Babylon, and in the hope that by attacking Necho, and frustrating his expedition to the Euphrates, he might be able to avert great distress from his own land and kingdom." Josiah knew that if Egypt was successful, Judah’s independence might be in jeopardy.

"31 Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 32 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that his fathers had done. 33 And Pharaoh-necoh put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of a hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold. 34 And Pharaoh-necoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim: but he took Jehoahaz away; and he came to Egypt, and died there. 35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaoh-necoh. 36 Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. 37 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that his fathers had done" (2 Kings 23:31-37).

Jehoahaz reigned only 3 months before Pharaoh Necho deposed him as king. Pharaoh bound him and took him prisoner to Egypt were he remained until his death. Necho placed Jehoahaz’s older brother Eliakim as new king of Judah and placed tribute of 100 talents of silver and one talent of gold on them. Secondly, Necho changed the name of Eliakim to Jehoiakim that he may show his superiority over the vassal king. Jehoiakim reigned 11 years over Judah and he did that which is evil.

2 Kings 22:1-7 Reign of Josiah. Josiah, like Hezekiah, merits comparison to David. Moreover, just as Joash restored the temple after the evil Athaliah’s reign, so Josiah sets out to do likewise (compare 2 Kings 11-12).

2 Kings 22:8 to 2 Kings 23:30 The book of the law. Josiah is in the process of renovating the temple when the book of the law is found. When he hears its content, he judges his own ancestors by its standards and becomes fearful for Judah’s future; the nation merits Yahweh’s curses. To further evaluate the book’s potential impact on Judah, he sends it to the prophetess Huldah, who will render the Lord’s judgment. The word she speaks is twofold: yes, Judah will be punished for its history of sin; however, because of Josiah’s distress over the Lord’s word, the nation will not be destroyed until after the king’s death (compare 1 Kings 21:29).

The reading of the book of the law in the presence of all the people recalls Moses’ command that such a reading be done (Deuteronomy 31:9-13). The covenant renewal ceremony recalls both Joshua 24:25-27 and 2 Kings 11:17-20. The covenant ceremony and the proclamation of the law symbolize Israel’s recommitment to Yahweh.

Josiah’s purification of the temple is as extensive as Manasseh’s desecration of it. Specific comment is also made concerning the removal of all the idolatrous remnants left over from the reigns of Solomon, Ahaz, and Manasseh in Judah, and even from that of Jeroboam in Israel. Josiah does, in fact, fulfill the word of the prophet recorded about him in 1 Kings 13:2. Moreover, the celebration of Passover—a return to the nation’s roots—is here reestablished (compare Exodus 12; Numbers 9; Deuteronomy 16; Joshua 5).

How can the Deuteronomistic theologian accommodate the good that Josiah effected in Judah with the imminent fall of the nation to Babylon? He repeats the prophetic condemnation of Manasseh (see 2 Kings 21:10-15), reminding the reader of the curses Judah would suffer for its neglect of the covenant (2 Kings 22:16). And Josiah dies before his nation falls.

Josiah dies at the battle of Meggido (609 b.c.e.). Judah has aligned itself with Babylon against an Egypt-Assyrian coalition; thus the king is killed at the hands of Egypt. This historical truth cannot be denied, in spite of the Deuteronomistic judgment of Josiah’s reign. However, Josiah is returned to Jerusalem to be buried and is succeeded by his son Jehoahaz.

Many scholars question whether the book of the law was found in the temple or compiled for the first time, from ancient laws, at this period. They also question whether Josiah established—again, for the first time—or reestablished the Passover. For the purposes of this commentary, it suffices to know that there are good arguments to support both positions.

2 Kings 23:31-35 Reign of Jehoahaz. The Deuteronomistic judgment on Jehoahaz is quite simple: he does evil, for which he is punished. His punishment is a three-month reign, exile to Egypt, and death in exile. His successor, although a Davidic descendant, is not his son but one of the sons of Josiah, his half-brother. Egypt’s power over Judah’s king is symbolized by the change in name—Eliakim to Jehoiakim; he is not to be understood as a servant of the Davidic covenant and of Yahweh but of Egypt. He does what a vassal should do: he collects tribute from the people to placate Pharaoh Neco.

Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, Attacks Jehoiakim and Judah (2 Kings 24:1-6)

"In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him" (2 Kings 24:1).

Nebuchadnezzar was the son of Nabopolassar, the founder of the Chaldaean monarchy. Jeremiah tells us of Nebuchadnezzar’s war with Pharaoh Necho of Egypt during the fourth year of Jehoiakim (see Jeremiah 46:1 ff). Afterwards, Nebuchadnezzar marches on Judah.

It was God’s desire that Nebuchadnezzar defeat Judah for the sins of Manasseah (2 Kings 24:3-4). The Lord would use Babylon as His divine battle axe against Judah (see Jeremiah 51:20). Resistance against Babylon would be futile and all those who tried would be defeated (see Jeremiah 21:5; Jeremiah 21:9ff; Jeremiah 38:1-3; Jeremiah 38:17-18 etc.). Jehoakim and Zedekiah’s resistance had no chance (see Jeremiah 52:3 ff).

"2 And Jehovah sent against him bands of the Chaldeans, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of Jehovah, which he spake by his servants the prophets. 3 Surely at the commandment of Jehovah came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did, 4 and also for the innocent blood that he shed; for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood: and Jehovah would not pardon. 5 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 6 So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers; and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 24:1-6).

Judah had been warned by Jeremiah that resistance to Babylon was futile time and time again during the reigns of Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah (see Jeremiah 1:1-3). When Jehoiakim resisted Nebuchadnezzar God sent bands of Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites to weaken Judah. 2 Kings 24:6 tells us that Jehoiakim slept with his fathers as though he died a peaceful death. However, Jeremiah gives us additional information, Jehoakim shall be buried like an ass, carried away and cast out far away from the gates of Jerusalem (22:19). At Jeremiah 36:30 the prophet writes, no son of his shall sit upon the throne of David, and his body shall lie exposed to the heat by day and to the cold by night.”

Jerusalem falls to Babylon and their inhabitants are Deported (2 Kings 24:7-20):

"7 And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land; for the king of Babylon had taken, from the brook of Egypt unto the river Euphrates, all that pertained to the king of Egypt. 8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign; and he reigned in Jerusalem three months: and his mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. 9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that his father had done" (2 Kings 24:7-8).

Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he began to reign. His rule lasts for only three months. Jehoiachin’s name goes down in history as an evil king.

"10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. 11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came unto the city, while his servants were besieging it; 12 and Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. 13 And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of Jehovah, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold, which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of Jehovah, as Jehovah had said. 14 And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths; none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land. 15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon; and the king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers, and the chief men of the land, carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. 16 And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the smiths a thousand, all of them strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon" (2 Kings 24:10-16).

Nebuchadnezzar came up against Judah during the reign of Jehoaichin. Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem and took the King and his family captive. This was the "first" fall of Judah and Jerusalem and marked the beginning of the seventy years in Babylonian captivity as prophesied by Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 25:11-12).

Nebuchadnezzar took all the treasures of the king’s palace and the temple of Jehovah. According to Keil and Delitzsch, the Babylonians peeled off the gold from the ark of God in the Most Holy Place of the temple. “This time he took the gold off the larger vessels, which were simply plated with that metal, such as the altar of burnt-offering, and the table of shew-bred and ark of the covenant, and carried it away as booty, so that on the third conquest of Jerusalem, in the time of Zedekiah, beside a few gold and silver basins and scoops (2 Kings 25:15) there were only the large brazen vessels of the court remaining (2 Kings 25:13-17; Jeremiah 27:18 ff).

"17 And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s father’s brother, king is his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah. 18 Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 19 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. 20 For through the anger of Jehovah did it come to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence. And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon" (2 Kings 24:17-20).

Nebuchadnezzar places the vassal king Mattaniah upon the throne of Judah and changes his name to Zedekiah. Zedekiah goes against Jehovah’s instructions to submit to Babylon as did Jehoiachin before him. The character of Zedekiah is an interesting study. Consider the following article:

O Deadly, Wounded, Wicked One

A Character Sketch of Zedekiah

During the years of Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jehoiakim, Jehoichin, and Zedekiah - Kings of Judah), God’s people had regressed into moral degeneracy to the point of exhausting the patience of God. There was no fear of God in their hearts (Jeremiah 5:22 ff); they were rebellious (Jeremiah 6:15-16), filled with pride (Jeremiah 8:6), and had totally put God out of their lives (Jeremiah 18:15). The Lord therefore prescribed 70 years of captivity at the hands of the Babylonians (cf. Jeremiah 25:11). Babylon would be God’s “battle axe” to punish His wicked people (Jeremiah 51:20).

The throne of David was occupied by the wicked king Jehoichin (554 BC). Jehoichin reigned in Judah a whopping 3 months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9). Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came up against Judah during the days of Jehoichin and besieged the city of Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:10 ff). Jehoichin was conquered and deported as a prisoner to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar took most of the treasures of the king’s palace and the house of Jehovah. The Babylonian king took the most affluent people of Jerusalem captive, among whom was Ezekiel (2 Kings 24:13-14; Ezekiel 1:1). The seventy years of captivity for the people’s sin had now begun (cf. Jeremiah 25:11).

History of Zedekiah

Nebuchadnezzar replaced Jehoichin, king of Judah, with his uncle Mattaniah. Mattaniah was the youngest son of Josiah (Jeremiah 1:3; Jeremiah 37:1). His name was changed to Zedekiah by Nebuchadnezzar to make him a vassal king, and he reigned for 11 years from 554 to 543 BC (2 Kings 24:18). The prophet Ezekiel refers to Zedekiah as the, "deadly, wounded, wicked one" (Ezekiel 21:25).

Zedekiah made a covenant with Nebuchadnezzar which was an agreement on the king’s part not to rebel against Babylon (cf. Ezekiel 17:11-14). A key commandment in the life of Zedekiah came directly from Jehovah God by the mouth of His prophet Jeremiah. The prophet stated, “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live” (Jeremiah 27:12; see also Jeremiah 38:17-18). Jeremiah had warned Zedekiah and all Judah that those who rebelled against Babylon would die by sword, famine, and pestilence (cf. Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 19:9; Lamentations 4:10). Zedekiah’s response to Jeremiah’s warnings is revealed at 2 Chronicles 36:13, and he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah his God; he humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of Jehovah.” This rebellion on the part of Zedekiah led to the Chaldean army besieging the city of Jerusalem in the ninth year of the king of Judah until the 11th and final year of his reign (2 Kings 25:1-2; Jeremiah 52; Jeremiah 4-5).

Zedekiah not only broke his covenant with Nebuchadnezzar, but he was also guilty of violating God’s command given through Jeremiah the prophet; i.e., surrender and do not resist the Babylonians (cf. Jeremiah 38:17 ff; Ezekiel 17:15 ff). Furthermore, Zedekiah compounded his problems with God in that he allied Judah with Egypt hoping to receive military aid (Jeremiah 37:1-10). When Egypt came up against the Chaldeans, Zedekiah regained hope. The king sent for Jeremiah and demanded that the prophet tell him some good news. Jeremiah crushed all optimism by pronouncing some of the gloomiest words revealed in God’s word. There would be no hope for Zedekiah as long as he rebelled against the laws of God (Jeremiah 37:1-10). After one year of the Babylonian siege, Zedekiah threw Jeremiah into prison for his negative proclamations (Jeremiah 32:1 ff). The siege continued to the bitter end (Jeremiah 39:1-10). Zedekiah was eventually captured by the Babylonians and had his eyes gouged out after seeing his sons and close associates assassinated (Jeremiah 52:6-11). Zedekiah continued in rebellion till the bitter end of his life (Jeremiah 52:11).

Lessons learned from the life of Zedekiah

We learn that if we do not humble ourselves before the commandments of God, we are doomed to everlasting failure (2 Chronicles 36:13) . God gave Zedekiah and all Judah the command not to resist Babylon through the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 27:12; Jeremiah 38:17 ff). Zedekiah hardened his heart against the Lord’s commandment to surrender to Babylon (Jeremiah 39:1 ff), listened to false prophets rather than the revelation of God (Jeremiah 28:1 ff), and even called upon Egypt for help in defeating God’s purpose (Jeremiah 37:1-7) . Zedekiah was cut out of the same mold as Pharaoh of Egypt during the days of Moses. God gave Pharaoh a command; i.e., “let my people go that they may serve me” (Exodus 9:13). Pharaoh, however, hardened his heart against God and refused to humble himself before the Lord (cf. Exodus 10:3). The lesson is simple. God gives many commands, and the hard hearted reject Him. The Lord tells us to worship upon the first day of the week, to do the work of the church, and to organize the church in a specified manner, yet many today reject God’s commands and run the church as they would like rather than as God has instructed. Stephen referred to those whose hearts are hardened at God’s commands as ones who “resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 8).

The prophet Jeremiah said, O Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walks to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10:23). Why not let God direct our steps to heaven rather than hardening our hearts against His commandments? Zedekiah chose to harden himself against God and so the scriptures refer to him as the “deadly, wounded, wicked one” (Ezekiel 21:25). How will you and I respond when faced with a commandment of God that reveals an authorized direction I am to take in this life?

2 Kings 23:36 to 2 Kings 24:7 Reign of Jehoiakim. With Babylon’s decisive victory over Egypt at the battle of Carchemish (605 b.c.e.), Judah’s enemy changed names. The threat that had been Egypt-Assyria was now, decisively, Babylon. In fact, Judah became Babylon’s vassal.

Jehoiakim’s vain attempt to overthrow the power of Babylon could only yield disaster. The Deuteronomistic historian uses this opportunity to explain Judah’s fall as prophetic fulfillment. The Lord has changed sides; God now supports all those nations that are against Judah, and this because of Manasseh’s sins (see 2 Kings 21:10-15). Yet, in spite of Jehoiakim’s evil, he is of David’s line; he rests with his ancestors and is succeeded by his son Jehoiachin.

2 Kings 24:8-17 Reign of Jehoiachin. Jehoiachin, whose mother, Nehushta, is from Jerusalem, himself does evil in the Lord’s eyes. His reign lasts only three months. Isaiah had foretold Jehoiachin’s exile to Babylon, along with the exile of others and the confiscation of the temple and palace treasuries (see 2 Kings 20:17-18). Again, the word of the Lord is effective. When Nebuchadnezzar places Jehoiachin’s uncle as puppet king on Judah’s throne, he changes his name, the same thing Pharaoh Neco had done to Eliakim and for similar reasons. Mattaniah (Zedekiah) is fully under Babylonian control.

The Complete Destruction of Jerusalem (2Ki 25:1-7):

"And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and encamped against it; and they built forts against it round about. 2 So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah" (2 Kings 25:1-2).

Zedekiah’s rebellion brought the full force of Babylon against Judah. Nine years into Zedekiah’s reign over Judah the Babylonians come with all their might to siege Jerusalem (see Jeremiah 39:1). Before Jerusalem was laid siege to the Babylonians took all the fortified cities of Judah with the exception of Lachish and Azekah (these two cities were besieged at the same time as Jerusalem (Jeremiah 34:7).

"3 On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. 4 Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden (now the Chaldeans were against the city round about); and the king went by the way of the Arabah. 5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. 6 Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him. 7 And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in fetters, and carried him to Babylon" (2 Kings 25:3-7).

The horrific events that transpired during the two year siege upon Jerusalem are not enumerated upon here. We recall that Jehovah had earlier said that the crushing of Jerusalem and Judah would be so horrible that men’s ears would tingle with terror when they heard of it (see 2 Kings 21:12). Jeremiah reveals the ghastly ordeal that transpired within the walls of Jerusalem while Babylon laid siege to the city. People were eating their children, their dung, and drinking their urine out of desperation and starvation. Many of Judah died slow agonizing deaths as the Lord mashed them for their ungodliness and refusal to turn back to him.

The Chaldean army laid siege to Jerusalem building towers and fortifications around the city for over a year (less than two years). Zedekiah refused to give in to the besiegers even though Jeremiah pleaded with him to do so (Jeremiah 21:7-8). Zedekiah “allowed things to reach their worst, until the famine became so intense, that inhumane horrors were perpetrated (cf. Lamentations 2:20-21; Lamentations 4:9-10), and eventually a breach was made in the city wall on the ninth day of the fourth month.” At the end of the approximate two-year siege, the Chaldeans forced their way through one of the walls of the city of Jerusalem. “From the more minute account of the entrance of the enemy into the city in Jeremiah 39:3-5 we learn that the Chaldeans made a breach in the northern or outer wall of the lower city, i.e., the second wall, built by Hezekiah and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 32:5; 2 Chronicles 33:14), and forced their way into the lower city.”

Upon seeing the forced entry, Zedekiah fled by night with his soldiers to the plains of the Jordan. The Chaldeans spotted the attempted escape and pursued the King to Jericho where they overtook him. Zedekiah’s men of war scattered away from him when the Chaldeans caught up to them. Zedekiah was captured, along with other princes and his own sons, and brought back to Babylon where Nebuchadnezzar put him on trial. Nebuchadnezzar pronounced the punishment: Zedekiah was to watch his own sons slaughtered in his presents and then his eyes were gouged out and kept as a prisoner.

“The Punishment pronounced on Zedekiah was the merited reward of the breach of his oath, and his hardening himself against the counsel of the Lord which was announced to him by Jeremiah during the siege, that he should save not only his own life, but also Jerusalem from destruction, by a voluntary submission to the Chaldeans, whereas by obstinate resistance he would bring an ignominious destruction upon himself, his family, the city and the whole people (Jeremiah 38:17 ff; Jeremiah 32:5; Jeremiah 34:3 ff.).”

The Destruction of Jehovah’s Temple in Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:8-30):

"8 Now in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem. 9 And he burnt the house of Jehovah, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great house, burnt he with fire. 10 And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about. 11 And the residue of the people that were left in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon, and the residue of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry away captive. 12 But the captain of the guard left of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen" (2 Kings 25:8-12).

Nebuzaradan, captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, burnt the house of Jehovah and the king’s palace to the ground. Nebuzaradan torches with fire every house of Jerusalem. The Chaldaean army successful destroyed the entire wall of Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan carried away all the people of Jerusalem as captives except the poorest of people.

"13 And the pillars of brass that were in the house of Jehovah, and the bases and the brazen sea that were in the house of Jehovah, did the Chaldeans break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon. 14 And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away. 15 And the firepans, and the basins, that which was of gold, in gold, and that which was of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away. 16 The two pillars, the one sea, and the bases, which Solomon had made for the house of Jehovah, the brass of all these vessels was without weight. 17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and a capital of brass was upon it; and the height of the capital was three cubits, with network and pomegranates upon the capital round about, all of brass: and like unto these had the second pillar with network. 18 And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the threshold: 19 and out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war; and five men of them that saw the king’s face, who were found in the city; and the scribe, the captain of the host, who mustered the people of the land; and threescore men of the people of the land, that were found in the city. 20 And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah. 21 And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away captive out of his land" (2 Kings 25:13-21).

Nebuzaradan took all the remaining treasures of the house of Jehovah and the king’s palace, broke them in manageable pieces and carried them back to Babylon. The High Priest of Judah, Seraiah (grandfather of Ezra the scribe - Ezra 7:1), Zepheniah the priest and others that were close to Zedekiah the king of Judah were all taken captive back to Babylon and there put to death.

"22 And as for the people that were left in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, governor. 23 Now when all the captains of the forces, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men. 24 And Gedaliah sware to them and to their men, and said unto them, Fear not because of the servants of the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you. 25 But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, so that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldeans that were with him at Mizpah. 26 And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces, arose, and came to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans" (2 Kings 25:22-26).

Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, placed Gedaliah over Judah as a governor. Ishmael, a military captain who likely escaped the Chaldeans when they pursued after Zedekiah, kills Gedaliah only two months after the siege and destruction of Jerusalem.

Ishmael then leads a band of fearful Jews back to Egypt for safety; however, according to Jeremiah 41:4-15 they never made it. Ishmael and eight other men eventually escape to Ammon with their life.

"27 And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison; 28 and he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon, 29 and changed his prison garments. And Jehoiachin did eat bread before him continually all the days of his life: 30 and for his allowance, there was a continual allowance given him of the king, every day a portion, all the days of his life" (2 Kings 25:27-30).

The final words of 2 kings gives us an idea of the goings on of Jehoichin. Jehoichin was a previous king of Judah whom Nebuchadnezzar had bound in chains and left in a Chaldaean prison. After Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon, a man by the name of Evil Merodach became king and he released Jehoichin from prison.

2 Kings 24:18 to 2 Kings 25:21 Reign of Zedekiah. Zedekiah does evil in the Lord’s eyes as his predecessor had done. In fact, he functions as Nebuchadnezzar’s puppet for a while, in spite of Babylon’s harsh treatment of Judah, but then he rebels. He is not strong enough, however, to rebel, either militarily (from a historical perspective) or by way of fidelity to Yahweh (from a theological perspective). The consequence is, as one might expect, disaster. Zedekiah is captured and blinded, his sons slain. Moreover, Jerusalem is totally devastated: the temple is dismantled and burned, as are the palace and the other large dwellings. The city walls are destroyed, and another wave of people are taken into exile. In addition, the exiles close to the king are killed.

2 Kings 25:22-26 Governorship of Gedaliah. Nebuchadnezzar’s delegate, according to this testimony, wants a peaceful situation in Judah and is willing to abide Judah’s former army commanders and the citizens who remain in the land. Among these, however, is one Ishmael, who leads a rebellion; a takeover, however, is impossible. As a result, since they have murdered the Babylonian governor, the Judeans are forced to flee to Egypt, for fear of Babylonian retaliation (compare Jeremiah 40-44).

2 Kings 25:27-30 Release of Jehoiachin. The granting of amnesty on the occasion of a new king’s inauguration was a relatively common practice in the ancient Near East. For this reason many think that the notation that Jehoiachin was released from prison is historically accurate. But, even so, why should these verses, a duplication of which is found at the end of the book of Jeremiah, end the Deuteronomistic History? Some scholars believe that the History was written to explain why Judah fell. Others hold that the History is a call to future fidelity: learn from the past for the present. Those who prefer this latter interpretation see these final verses as open to a new future. Yes, Judah had been destroyed; yes, the temple had been burned; yes, the Davidic dynasty, as it had been known, was at an end. But... the king had not been killed; the Davidic promise had not been totally snuffed out. In fact, Jehoiachin is given a seat above other kings and eats daily at the Babylonian king’s table. That this assertion has symbolic significance—whether or not it is historically true—is clear from a similar reference in the Deuteronomistic History (compare 2 Samuel 9:7).

If we were to follow the inspired record of Judah’s history further, we would see that hope does lie, long after the Exile, in a Davidic successor. The Gospel of Matthew, for instance, is quick to name Jesus as "son of David" (Matthew 1:1).

Concluding Thoughts on 2 Kings:

Israel and Judah are now suffering the rewards of disobedience. God used Assyria and Babylon as instruments of his wrath against his people. He had given them 100’s of years to repent and turn again to him yet the people continuously rebelled. The Lord sent Prophets yet they were murdered. Even the two brightest lights of Judah (Hezekiah and Josiah) could not turn the hearts of the people back to God. Their hearts had been turned into sour grapes of dullness and apathy toward God. Jehovah put up with them until he could stand them no longer. 2 Kings ends with God’s people in disarray of chaos. Captive in a foreign land yet God has not totally cast them off. His promises which began in Genesis 3:15 and culminated through Abraham in Genesis 12 were yet to be accomplished. God promised Abraham with a covenant agreement that through his seed all nations would be blessed. The fulfillment of this promise was to be in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:26-29). The book of 2 kings ends at about the year 542 BC. The time of the coming Messiah was etching ever closer.

 
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