Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2 Kings 15

Verse 1

REIGN OF AZARIAH, [UZZIAH,] KING OF JUDAH, 2 Kings 15:1-7.

1.The twenty and seventh year — This is probably an error in the text. For if Amaziah reigned twenty-nine years, (2 Kings 14:2,) and outlived Jeroboam’s father fifteen years, (2 Kings 14:17,) he must have reigned fourteen years before Jeroboam attained the throne. Hence it appears that Azariah began’ to reign in the fifteenth or sixteenth, instead of the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam. Some, however, understand that these twenty-seven years of Jeroboam include twelve years of partnership with his father Joash, as expressed in the margin. Others suppose an interregnum of eleven years between Amaziah’s death and Azariah’s succession. But neither of these suppositions are satisfactory. Keil plausibly suggests that the error in the text originated with some ancient copyist, who mistook שׂו, (15,) for כז, (27.) The name Azariah is variously written Azariahu, (Hebrews, 2 Kings 15:6-7;) Uzziah, (2 Kings 15:13; 2 Kings 15:30;) Uzziahu, (Hebrews, 2 Kings 15:32.) Some of these changes, if not all, have doubtless arisen, as Gesenius supposes, from the error of copyists. Uzziah is the more common form.

Verse 2

2.Two and fifty years — The reign of this king was a most eventful period in Judah and Israel. In his day lived the great prophets Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, Joel, and Jonah; and he lived to see six kings pass from the throne of Israel. The record of this reign is so much more fully given in Chronicles that the reader is referred to the notes there. See on 2 Chronicles 26.

Verse 5

5.The Lord smote the king — For burning incense, and thereby usurping priestly functions. See in Chronicles.

A several house — Some explain this a free house, or house of liberation; meaning a house for those who were dismissed from the Lord’s service, and so dishonourably free; or, according to others, free from the society of men. But Gesenius and Furst explain it as a house of sickness; that is, an infirmary or hospital.

Verse 8

REIGN OF ZACHARIAH, KING OF ISRAEL, 2 Kings 15:8-12.

8.The thirty and eighth year of Azariah — According to 2 Kings 14:23, Jeroboam began to reign in Amaziah’s fifteenth year, and as he reigned forty-one years, he must have died in Uzziah’s twenty-sixth or twenty-seventh year. Hence there must have been an interregnum in the kingdom of Israel of about eleven years, from the twenty-sixth or twenty-seventh to the thirty-eighth of Uzziah; or else, as is more probable, Jeroboam reigned not forty-one, but fifty-two or fifty-three years. This is further shown by the concurring dates given in 2 Kings 15:13; 2 Kings 15:17; 2 Kings 15:23; 2 Kings 15:27.

Verse 10

10.Smote him before the people — That is, openly; before the eyes of all. It would seem that Zachariah’s administration was so unpopular as to invite or occasion conspiracy. The Septuagint takes the words rendered before the people as a proper name — in Keblaam — and Ewald thinks we should disregard the in, and understand Keblaam as the name of another conspirator, who sought, like Shallum, to usurp the throne.

Verse 12

12.The word of the Lord’ unto Jehu — See 2 Kings 10:30, note. Keil here remarks how rapidly the kingdom of Israel, after the death of Jeroboam, hastened to its fall. “In sixty-two years from the death of Jeroboam to the conquest of Samaria by Shalmaneser, two anarchies, making up twenty years, prevailed, and six kings followed one another, of whom only one, Menahem, died a natural death, so that his son succeeded him on the throne. The remaining five were dethroned and murdered by rebels, so that, according to the just remark of Witsius, with the murder of Zachariah not only the sentence of Hosea, (Hosea 1:4,) ‘I will visit the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu,’ but also the sentence forming a parallel with it, ‘and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel,’ was carried into effect, inasmuch as with Zachariah the kingdom properly ceased in Israel.”

Verse 13

SHALLUM’S RULE, 2 Kings 15:13-15.

13.Shallum’ reigned a full month — Hardly deserving to be called a reign. It was a bold usurpation, and a short and disastrous possession of ill-gotten power.

Verse 14

14.Menahem’ went up from Tirzah — According to Josephus and most expositors, Menahem was the general of Zachariah’s army, and had his headquarters at Tirzah, the former residence of the kings of Israel, (see note on 1 Kings 14:17,) and when he heard of the assassination of the king, he marched immediately with all his forces to Samaria. and slew the usurper Shallum, and took the kingdom into his own hand.

Verse 15

15.Acts of Shallum’ in the book of the Chronicles — Though he ruled but thirty days, the scribes were careful to record his acts and the history of his conspiracy. How ample the records from which our historian drew, but how brief his narrative!

Verse 16

REIGN OF MENAHEM, 2 Kings 15:16-22.

16.Smote Tiphsah — Ewald, Thenius, and others, think this must have been a city in Palestine near Tirzah. But in the absence of any mention of a city of this name near Tirzah, it is better to understand the border city of Solomon’s kingdom, the Thapsacus of the Greeks, mentioned 1 Kings 4:24, where see note. Wordsworth well remarks: “In the state of confusion in which Israel was at this time, we need not be surprised that a restless and aspiring man, like Menahem, going forth from Tirzah, should have been able to carry his marauding and desolating conquests even to the banks of the Euphrates.”

The coasts thereof from Tirzah — These words do not sufficiently authorize us to maintain that Menahem wasted all the land between Tirzah and Tiphsah, but they clearly show that his conquests were not confined to Tiphsah. We understand that he set out on his expedition from Tirzah, and no doubt many parts of the country between that place and the Euphrates suffered from his march.

Because they opened not — The inhabitants of Tiphsah offered resistance to Menahem’s forces, and this so enraged him that he not only ravished the coasts thereof, but having taken the city, he perpetrated on its inhabitants, even to women and children, the most barbarous cruelties.

Verse 19

19.Pul’ came against the land — Perhaps this king of Assyria had become alarmed at Menahem’s successful expedition against Tiphsah, on the Euphrates, on the borders of his own dominion. Or possibly, as Rawlinson thinks, (see note on 2 Kings 14:5,) the kingdom of Israel was already in some way dependent on Assyria, and the war against Tiphsah was regarded by Pul as an act of rebellion.

Gave Pul a thousand talents — About seventeen thousand dollars. This present turned the Assyrian foe into an ally, and led him at once to confirm the kingdom in his hand, that is, to ratify Menahem’s government, and recognise him as the king of Israel.

Verse 20

20.Turned back — But according to 1 Chronicles 5:26, he carried away with him a number of Israelitish captives.

Pul is the first Assyrian king whose invasion of Israel is mentioned in the Bible, and it is deeply interesting to know that the recently exhumed monuments of the valley of the Euphrates and Tigris throw much light on the biblical history, and often strikingly confirm its statements. But antiquarian research has thus far failed to identify the biblical Pul with any king mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions. At one time Rawlinson thought the name might be an abbreviation of Vullush, but the discovery of the Assyrian Canon showed that three kings reigned between him and Tiglath-pileser, neither of whose names could possibly be represented by Pul. Accordingly, says Rawlinson, a high authority on this subject, “the Assyrian records do not merely omit Pul, but exclude him; and we have to inquire how this can be accounted for, and who the biblical Pul is, if he is not a regular and recognised Assyrian monarch.”

Some propose to identify him with Tiglath-pileser; others regard him as merely the general of the Assyrian army, but confounded in the Jewish records with the reigning monarch; but according to the latest views of the writer last quoted, “perhaps the most probable supposition is, that he was a pretender to the Assyrian crown, never acknowledged at Nineveh, but established in the western and southern provinces so firmly, that he could venture to conduct an expedition into Lower Syria, and to claim there the fealty of Assyria’s vassals. Or possibly he may have been a Babylonian monarch, who in the troublous times that had now evidently come upon the northern empire, possessed himself of the Euphrates valley, and thence descended upon Syria and Palestine. Berosus represented Pul as a Chaldean king, and the name itself, which is wholly alien to the ordinary Assyrian type, has at least one counterpart [Porus, in Ptolemy’s Canon] among known Babylonian names.” — Ancient Monarchies, vol. ii, p. 123.

Verse 23

REIGN OF PEKAHIAH, 2 Kings 15:23-26.

23.The fiftieth year — According to 2 Kings 15:17, Menahem must have died in the forty-ninth year of Azariah, so that perhaps several months elapsed before his son became the acknowledged king. Perhaps, as Keil suggests, his right to the throne was contested.

Verse 25

25.Smote him’ in the palace of the king’s house — Rather, as Gesenius, “the fortress of the king’s house, the innermost part, as the highest and strongest, q.d., the citadel. J.D. Michaelis, and after him most modern interpreters, here translate it the woman’s apartment, the harem; but there is no trace of this in the ancient interpreters, nor is there any reason for departing from the simple explanation above given.”

With Argob and Arieh — That is, as the Hebrew particle את here sufficiently indicates, Argob and Arieh were slain along with the king. They were probably two important persons of Pekahiah’s court, whom Pekah thought it not safe to leave alive after their master’s assassination.

With him — With Pekah.

Fifty men of the Gileadites — These men probably belonged to the royal army, and were under the command of Captain Pekah, and joined with him in the conspiracy.

Verse 27

REIGN OF PEKAH, 2 Kings 15:27-31.

27.Pekah’ twenty years — According to Bahr we should here read thirty years. Pekah’s reign is especially noted for its connexion with Syrian and Assyrian wars. After Tiglath-pileser’s first invasion Pekah, and Rezin king of Syria, made a league against Judah, and proposed to reduce Jerusalem, and make a “son of Tabeal” king there in place of Ahaz. 2 Kings 16:5; Isaiah 7:1-2; Isaiah 7:6. This led Ahaz to seek an alliance with Tiglath-pileser, who immediately marched against Damascus, captured the city, and carried its inhabitants into captivity. 2 Kings 16:9.

Verse 29

29.Tiglath-pileser — From the various sources of information concerning this Assyrian monarch we learn that he was a usurper, and by a successful revolution became the founder of a new dynasty. He reigned about eighteen years, and was engaged most of the time in wars to recover the losses which the kingdom seems to have suffered through the weakness of his predecessors. His principal campaigns were in Babylonia, Syria, and Palestine. Unfortunately the monuments of this king, though numerous, have been wantonly defaced, mutilated, and in many instances destroyed, by his successors, and used to build and adorn later structures. Still they yield much evidence to confirm the Scripture records. Of his league with Ahaz, and his smiting the Syrian power, see 2 Kings 16:7, ff.

Ijon — See note on 1 Kings 15:20.

Abel-bethmaachah — See note on 2 Samuel 20:14. Janoah is identified by some with the Janohah of the tribe of Ephraim, (see Joshua 16:6;) but as that lies far out of the line of Tiglath-pileser’s march, it is more commonly believed that this Janoah must have been in Northern Palestine, and not far from these other cities in connexion with which it is named; but no place of this name has yet been found in that locality,

Kedesh — See note on Joshua 12:22.

Hazor — See note on Joshua 11:1.

Gilead — The mountainous region east of the Jordan, (see note on Judges 10:17,) from which, according to 1 Chronicles 5:26, Tiglath-pileser carried away “the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.”

Galilee — This name, signifying a circle, seems to have been originally applied to a circular plain in the vicinity of Kedesh, and in the time of Joshua was limited to the region around that ancient sanctuary of Naphtali. Gradually the name came to indicate a larger region, till at this invasion of Tiglath-pileser it embraced all the land of Naphtali, for these words, not being connected by and with the preceding, we take to be explanatory of Galilee. At a later period Galilee became the name of one of the three provinces into which Palestine was divided, and embraced all northern Palestine between Samaria and Syria. Keil regards the enumeration of names in this verse as “purely historical, that is, following the actual order of the conquests.

Tiglath-pileser first took the several partly fortified cities adjacent to the Sea of Merom, then turned to Gilead, conquered this district, and on his return thence the remaining part of Galilee, namely, the whole land of Naphtali.”

Carried them captive — This was the second Assyrian captivity of any considerable number of Israelites, the first having been under Pul. (1 Chronicles 5:26;) but in the reign of the next king, Hoshea, all northern Israel was carried into exile. 2 Kings 17:6.

Verse 30

30.Twentieth year of Jotham — That is, as Usher explains, the twentieth year after Jotham had begun to reign; which was, however, the fourth year of Ahaz, for Jotham reigned only sixteen years. The historian dates from the year of Jotham, because his son Ahaz has not yet been named in his records. But Bahr regards these words as a “false and late addition.” His argument, however, is inconclusive.

Verse 37

REIGN OF JOTHAM, KING OF JUDAH, 2 Kings 15:32-38.

37.In those days — Evidently near the close of Jotham’s reign.

Began to send’ Rezin’ and Pekah — That is, the Syro-Israelitish war against Judah only began in Jotham’s day. It belonged rather to the reign of Ahaz. See notes on chap. 2 Kings 16:5-9.

The reign of Jotham is more fully detailed in 2 Chronicles 27, where see notes.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/2-kings-15.html. 1874-1909.