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The Reign Of Jehoash (Joash) King Of Israel c. 2Ki 798-782/1 BC (2 Kings 13:10 to 2 Kings 14:16 ).
The reign of Jehoash, King of Israel presents us with another interesting literary phenomenon, for the author first presents us with a brief summary of Jehoash’s reign, ending in the usual closing formula (2 Kings 13:10-13), and then goes on to describe his presence at Elisha’s deathbed (2 Kings 13:14-21), and his successful wars with Benhadad of Aram (2 Kings 13:22-25) and with Amaziah king of Judah (2 Kings 14:8-14), before ending for a second time, although in slightly altered fashion, with a similar closing formula to that in 2 Kings 13:12-13 (2 Kings 14:15-16). In between all this he opens up the reign of Amaziah, king of Judah (2 Kings 14:1 ff), something which he does not normally do until he has closed down the reign of the king of Israel during whose reign he came to the throne (thus confirming that the first closing formula in 2 Kings 13:12-13 is deliberate).
It is clear from all this that the author has done all this deliberately:
· Firstly because he wanted to continue following his previous pattern of closing off one reign before he opened up another (thus 2 Kings 13:12-13).
· Secondly because as with the taking of Elijah and the confirmatory call of Elisha in chapter 2, which was also placed outside the pattern of regnal formulae, he similarly wanted to put the record of Elisha’s death and its consequences to be outside the pattern of regnal formulae so as to highlight it and separate it off from the history of the kings. Both episodes were seen as in some way other worldly. (Both Elisha episodes include reference to the chariots and horsemen of Israel, giving them a clear heavenly connection).
· Thirdly because he nevertheless recognised at the same time that all that followed did also require to be closed off with a (parallel) closing formula about Jehoash, he introduced a further closing formula in 2 Kings 14:15-16, but in such a way that it was outside the regular pattern (it comes within the opening and closing formulae of Amaziah) and by making it teach a lesson about the reign of Amaziah. The whole section is actually very carefully thought out.
The Reign Of Amaziah, King Of Judah c. 796-767 BC (2 Kings 14:1-22 ).
As with many kings of Judah Amaziah’s reign was seen as ‘right in the eyes of YHWH’, although with a decided ‘but’. The ‘but’ explains why he was partly successful, and partly not. It is made clear that on the whole he walked in accordance with the law of Moses (not fully because he did not rid the land of ‘high places’), but that that did not prevent him from foolish pride which led to his downfall, and yet once again the loss of Judah’s treasures. It was probably this foolhardy escapade, and the subsequent loss of treasure, that began the dissatisfaction that would fester on, probably accompanied by more folly, until it resulted fifteen years later in the popular insurrection that led to his assassination and replacement by his capable son Azariah (Uzziah).
a In the second year of Joash son of Joahaz king of Israel began Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah to reign. 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 (2 Kings 14:1-2).
b And he did what was right in the eyes of YHWH, yet not like David his father. He did according to all that Joash his father had done. However, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places (2 Kings 14:3-4).
c And it came about, as soon as the kingdom was established in his hand, that he slew his servants who had slain the king his father, but the children of the murderers he did not put to death, in accordance with what is written in the book of the law of Moses, as YHWH 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).
d He slew of Edom in the Valley of Salt ten thousand, and took Sela by war, and called the name of it Joktheel, to this day (2 Kings 14:7).
e 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” (2 Kings 14:8).
f And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, “The thistle which was in Lebanon sent to the cedar which was in Lebanon, saying, “Give your daughter to my son to wife,” and there passed by a wild beast which was in Lebanon, and trod down the thistle. You have indeed smitten Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Glory in it, and remain at home, for why should you meddle to your hurt, that you should fall, even you, and Judah with you?” (2 Kings 14:9-10).
e 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 belongs to Judah. And Judah was put to the worse before Israel, and they fled every man to his tent (2 Kings 14:11-12).
d 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 broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits. And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels which were found in the house of YHWH, and in the treasures of the king’s house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria (2 Kings 14:13-14).
c 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? And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel, and Jeroboam his son reigned instead of him (2 Kings 14:15-16).
b And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years. Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? (2 Kings 14:17-18).
a 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, and they brought him on horses, and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David, and all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers (2 Kings 14:19-22).
Note that in ‘a’ Amaziah began to reign, and in the parallel he came to an ignominious end. In ‘b’ we learn of his behaviour, and in the parallel we are referred to the chronicles of the kings of Judah for further detail of his behaviour. In ‘c’ he avenged his father’s murder by putting to death his father’s murderers, and in the parallel Jehoash of Israel, who had fought with him and defeated him, died. In ‘d’ he was victorious against the Edomites, and in the parallel he was himself vanquished by the Israelites. In ‘e’ he called on Jehoash to ‘look him in the face’ and in the parallel the looking in the face took place and Amaziah was humiliated. Central in ‘f’ was Jehoash’s plea that he did not make a fool of himself.
2 Kings 14:1
‘In the second year of Joash son of Joahaz king of Israel began Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah to reign.’
Amaziah the son of Joash of Judah began to reign in the second year of Joash of Israel, the latter being the son of Joahaz (a shortened from of Jehoahaz). The apparent discrepancy that this raises can be removed by recognising that in Judah co-regencies took place regularly (ensuring the succession as well as blooding the ‘new king’). Dates are sometimes based on the commencement of such a co-regency, and sometimes on the basis of the sole reign.
2 Kings 14:2
‘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.’
Amaziah was twenty five years old when he began his reign, and he reigned for twenty nine years in Jerusalem, (the city that YHWH had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put His Name there, simply because David had chosen it. It was a tribute to His servant David, and Amaziah inherited the blessing). Jehoaddan, the name of the new queen mother, means ‘YHWH has given pleasure’.
2 Kings 14:3
‘And he did what was right in the eyes of YHWH, yet not like David his father. He did according to all that Joash his father had done.’
Like his father Joash he did what was right in the eyes of YHWH. In other words he ensured that the worship of YHWH was conducted in accordance with the Law of Moses, and that he and the people, at least outwardly, walked in obedience to the covenant. But it was not with the same zeal as his ‘father’ David, for David had stamped out worship in the syncretistic high places, and had ensured pure worship at two legal sanctuaries.
2 Kings 14:4
‘However, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.’
Like his father Joash, and a number of kings before him, Amaziah had not stamped down on the high places where illegal syncretised YHWH worship was carried out, often at hillside sanctuaries associated with Baal and Asherah.
2 Kings 14:5
‘And it came about, as soon as the kingdom was established in his hand, that he slew his servants who had slain the king his father,’
What he also did was honour his father’s name by seeking justice on his murderers, in accordance with the Law of Moses which prescribed the death penalty for murder. But it is clear that this was only possible after a period of civil war in which he was finally triumphant. The Jerusalem party, who had assassinated his father, having failed to obtain the backing which would enable them to take the throne, were probably finally ousted by the people of the land.
2 Kings 14:6
‘But the children of the murderers he did not put to death, in accordance with what is written in the book of the law of Moses, as YHWH 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.” ’
In carrying out the sentence he was careful to ensure that he obeyed the Law of Moses in what it said about not punishing the children for the father’s sin. This injunction was found in Deuteronomy 24:16. This demonstrated that a further good point concerning Amaziah was that he was seeking to follow the Law of Moses punctiliously. (Assyrian practise was that the family’s of assassins of kings died with them).
2 Kings 14:7
‘He slew of Edom in the Valley of Salt ten thousand, and took Sela by war, and called the name of it Joktheel, to this day.’
Furthermore it was apparent that YHWH was with him because he was able to invade Edom and slaughter ten military units in the Valley of Salt (although many men would probably flee from the units and escape the slaughter), which was the marshy plain in the Arabah south of the Dead Sea. Furthermore during that war he captured Sela (which means ‘the Rock’) permanently enough for it to be renamed Joktheel ‘to this day’. Renaming a city was a comparatively rare occurrence and indicated permanent occupancy. By this means he was seeking to redress the previous failure of Jehoram (2 Kings 8:20-22).
This invasion probably took place because, in view of the military problems that Judah had been having due to Hazael’s incursion, and the unrest that had led to Joash’s assassination, Edom had seen an opportunity of interfering with the trade routes, or even trying to take them over,. Important trade routes ran through the Negeb from the King’s Highway towards Egypt, and to the port of Elath on the Red Sea, which gave access to south Arabia, both of which could be affected by Edom.
It is doubtful if this Sela was the city of Petra, which was certainly also called Sela, because he does not appear to have gained control of Elath (see 2 Kings 14:22). Had he been so successful that he had captured Petra, that would hardly have been so. The name means ‘the Rock’, and could apply to a number of sites. Comparison with Judges 1:36 might indicate a site in the Arabah south of the Dead Sea, which may well have been a city overseeing the trade routes.
2 Kings 14:8
‘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.” ’
Having succeeded in his invasion of Edom Amaziah was now emboldened to take on Israel. He may have known how weak it was in the days of Jehoahaz and not have recognised how Jehoash of Israel had rebuilt its strength. Possibly his hope in sending the message was that Israel would surrender and tribute. In view of 2 Kings 14:11 to ‘look one another in the face’ could only signify the intention to do battle. (Chronicles explains a further reason for his animosity due to the behaviour of some Israelite mercenaries whom he had employed and then not used. But the author of Kings wants to lay full emphasis on the foolhardiness of Amaziah’s act, and the arrogance out of which it arose).
2 Kings 14:9-10
‘And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, “The thistle which was in Lebanon sent to the cedar which was in Lebanon, saying, “Give your daughter to my son to wife,” and there passed by a wild beast which was in Lebanon, and trod down the thistle. You have indeed smitten Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Glory in it, and remain at home, for why should you meddle to your hurt, that you should fall, even you, and Judah with you?” ’
Jehoash of Israel tried to warn him off, probably not so much out of consideration for him as in order not to have to waste his own resources in fighting against Judah when the driving out of Aram was his prime concern. His warning was in the form of a parable and followed a well known pattern (compare Judges 9:7-15). He was stressing to Amaziah both his arrogance and his smallness. Compared with Israel Judah was like a thistle contrasted with a cedar, a thistle that could easily be trodden down. Let him therefore continue to glory in his victory over Edom and not be foolish enough to take on someone as large as Israel, something which could only result in he himself being hurt. Again the author of Kings is seeking to bring out Amaziah’s foolhardiness..
2 Kings 14:11
‘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 belongs to Judah.’
But Amaziah was obstinate, and insisted on facing up to Israel in battle, so Jehoash went up to Beth-shemesh ‘which belongs to Judah’ (i.e. is in contrast with other cities named Beth-shemesh, for example in Naphtali) and ‘looked him in the face’. The fact that they met at Beth-shemesh in the north west of Judah may suggest that there was a border quarrel taking place between the two countries in that area which may have been part of the reason for Amaziah’s challenge. Again it could have had to do with the control of trade routes which were important means of wealth in those days.
2 Kings 14:12
‘And Judah was put to the worse before Israel, and they fled every man to his tent.’
The consequence was that Judah were defeated and had to flee the battlefield. Fleeing to their tents might be literal (fleeing back to their camp) or may indicate that they disbanded and made for their homes.
2 Kings 14:13
‘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 broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits.’
Having captured Amaziah, Jehoash then began to teach him a lesson. He went with him to Jerusalem and broke down part of the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate (four hundred cubits is around roughly two hundred metres or six hundred feet) .
2 Kings 14:14
‘And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels which were found in the house of YHWH, and in the treasures of the king’s house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria.’
Having done that he took all the gold, silver and valuable vessels in both the Temple and the king’s palace complex, and along with hostages for Judah’s good behaviour (who would be high level Jerusalem officials, princes and even wives), he returned to Samaria. This description of the denuding of Judah of its treasures is regularly the author’s way of expressing YHWH’s displeasure. There is in it also a warning against trusting in fleeting riches. See 2 Kings 12:18; 2 Kings 18:15; 1 Kings 15:18 where it happened to ‘good’ kings, and 2 Kings 16:8; 2 Kings 24:13; 1 Kings 14:6 where it happened to ‘bad kings’.
2 Kings 14:15
‘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?’
Further details of the campaign against Judah, and of Jehoash’s other exploits (some of which have already been described) were to be found in the official annals of the kings of Israel. This repetition of what had already been stated in 2 Kings 13:12 has the purpose of firstly relating the death of Jehoash to the death of Amaziah who survived him for a further fifteen years, and secondly of pointing to where the details of the battle with Amaziah, looked at from Israel’s point of view, could be found. (Amaziah’s annals, with which the author was also familiar, probably told a slightly different story).
2 Kings 14:16
‘And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel, and Jeroboam his son reigned instead of him.’
But judgment was to come on Jehoram in its own way, for eventually he ‘slept with his fathers’ and was buried in Samaria, leaving Amaziah to enjoy the continuation of his life for a further fifteen years. It seems clear that the author appeared to see this as YHWH’s punishment on Jehoash for his treatment of Amaziah.
2 Kings 14:17
‘And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years.’
This ties in with the fact that Jehoash of Israel reigned for sixteen years (2 Kings 13:10), Amaziah came to the throne in his second year and survived him for fifteen years, thus reigning for twenty nine years (2 Kings 14:2).
So Amaziah continued to live for a further fifteen years. This is against the idea that his assassination was directly related to this failure against Israel and the subsequent loss of the treasures of Judah. On the other hand those failures may well have sowed the beginnings of discontent, and may be a pointer to the fact of how foolishly he continued to act, with the result that certain powerful parties in Jerusalem felt that it was time that he was removed and replaced by the capable Ahaziah, who would already be reigning as co-regent.
2 Kings 14:18
‘Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?’
The details concerning the remainder of Amaziah’s acts were to be found in the official annals of the kings of Judah. It may be significant that we are not here advised to look in them for the details of his affray with Jehoash and Israel.
2 Kings 14:19
‘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.’
As a result of a conspiracy at the court Amaziah had to flee to Lachish, Judah’s second city, but so powerful were his opponents that he was not even safe in Lachish, and he was assassinated there.
2 Kings 14:20
‘And they brought him on horses, and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.’
Nevertheless his body was treated with due honour, and was brought back in solemn procession (‘on horses’) to Jerusalem where he was buried with his fathers in the city of David. This would probably have been more due to the influence of the ‘people of the land’ than to the conspirators.
2 Kings 14:21
‘And all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah.’
The fact that ‘all the people of Judah’ came together to make Azariah king probably indicates that they were not pleased at what had happened and came together to prevent a coup. They were determined that they would continue to be ruled over by a true son of David. The sixteen years old may refer to the age at which he had become co-regent. They had made him ‘king’ then, and they confirmed it now.
2 Kings 14:22
‘He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.
Subsequently Azariah achieved what his father had failed to achieve in spite of his partial victory over Edom, and that was to capture Elath, rebuild it and fortify it, and restore it to Judah. This would enable an important extension of trade with south Arabia which would add to Judah’s wealth. The point of putting this statement here was in order to demonstrate that he had succeeded where Amaziah had failed.
The Reigns of Jeroboam King of Israel and Azariah (Uzziah) King of Judah (2 Kings 14:23 to 2 Kings 15:7 ).
The next fourteen verses very much bring out the method and aims of the prophetic author of the Book of Kings. They describe the magnificent reigns of two of the most successful and long lived kings of Israel and Judah, Jeroboam II of Israel and Azariah (Uzziah) of Judah, kings in whose reigns Israel enjoyed wealth, power and prestige which were surpassed only in the days of David and Solomon. And yet they are dealt with summarily in only fourteen verses. Indeed almost the only thing that he tells us about Azariah (Uzziah) is that he was skin-diseased. Had it not been for the prophets Hosea and Amos, and 2 Chronicles 26:0, we would have known little about their reigns. Why then was this? It was because, having depicted the follies of Solomon, the prophetic author laid no great store in power and glory. In his view Solomon had demonstrated the foolishness of such things. What he was interested in was the activity of YHWH in history, and the obedience or otherwise of YHWH’s people to His covenant, combining that with a recognition of the downward trend of both nations, a trend which was leading them to disaster in spite of YHWH’s continuing efforts to bring them back to Himself. As he looked back he was out to explain what it was that had brought the people of God to such a low ebb. (But he also knew that the last word had not been said, for had not Jehoiachin the son of David been restored to favour in Babylon? (2 Kings 25:27-30). Thus the house of David was not yet dead. His lamp was still burning).
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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Kings 14". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/
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