1 - 9 Jotham King of Judah
1 Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jerushah the daughter of Zadok. 2 He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah had done; however he did not enter the temple of the LORD. But the people continued acting corruptly. 3 He built the upper gate of the house of the LORD, and he built extensively the wall of Ophel. 4 Moreover, he built cities in the hill country of Judah, and he built fortresses and towers on the wooded [hills]. 5 He fought also with the king of the Ammonites and prevailed over them so that the Ammonites gave him during that year one hundred talents of silver, ten thousand kors of wheat and ten thousand of barley. The Ammonites also paid him this [amount] in the second and in the third year. 6 So Jotham became mighty because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God. 7 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, even all his wars and his acts, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. 8 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. 9 And Jotham slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David; and Ahaz his son became king in his place.
Jotham succeeds his father Uzziah. He is twenty-five years old when he comes on the throne (verse 1) and then exercises the kingship for a period of sixteen years. It is not improbable that he shared the first part of his kingship with his father Uzziah during his leprosy and thereby was unable to exercise the actual reign.
The name of his mother and her origin are also mentioned. She must have been a woman who feared God and raised Jotham in the fear of the LORD. Throughout the entire period of his reign responsibility Jotham has done what is right in the sight of the LORD (verse 2). In fact, Jotham is one of the few persons in the Bible from whom we read nothing bad. From him we read only good things.
Therefore, if it says that he has done “according to all that his father Uzziah had done”, it refers to the first part of the reign of Uzziah. It is expressly stated that Jotham did not follow his father in evil. He did not enter the temple of the LORD, which his father did, and thereby indicates that he was warned by his father’s wicked example. He imitates his father in good, not in evil (cf. 3Jn 1:11a).
The people do not follow Jotham in the good. While Jotham has been warned by the wrong example of his father and God’s judgment on it, the people “continue” their pernicious practices. The word ‘continue’ is important. They don’t start to sin in the days of Jotham, but they continue with what they are already doing. It shows perseverance in sin, despite the warnings of prophets like Isaiah, Micah and Hosea and good examples of kings in their good days. The sinful condition of the people is sharply denounced by Isaiah (Isaiah 1-2).
Just like his father Uzziah in his good years, Jotham is also a builder and a warrior (verses 3-5). His first edifice, the upper gate, has to do with the house of the LORD (verse 3). Probably the upper gate is the connection between the palace and the temple, between the residence of the king and the residence of the LORD. It is indeed important that the connection is good. That is his first concern. That is how it should be with us.
His other buildings are cities, fortresses and towers (verse 4). Cities are living communities and castles and towers are to protect against hostile forces or predatory gangs. It is important that we enjoy fellowship with brothers and sisters and therefore do not forsake our own assembling together (Heb 10:24-25). Standing alone, we are an easy prey for the enemy. We must also always be vigilant, so that we do not become prey to the thinking of the world (Col 2:8).
Building and strengthening are good activities. We are responsible for building ourselves up on our most holy faith (Jd 1:20a). At the same time, there is a danger that we will rely on our buildings. The prophets warn of a building of walls and towers without trust in the LORD (Isa 2:15; Hos 8:14). In all our activities we should never forget that the true power and protection only comes from God.
Besides being a builder, Jotham is also a warrior (verse 5). He subdues the Ammonites and imposes taxes om them. He receives these three consecutive years, probably the last three years of his reign. The one hundred talents of silver, which Amaziah lost due to a wrong investment (2Chr 25:6-9), return here.
Every victory we achieve for the Lord produces both a direct result and a long-term result. Through every victory we become spiritually stronger and that works as long as we remain dependent on the Lord.
We see that with Jotham. It keeps going well with him. He strengthens his position, both internally and externally. This happens because he does everything in the knowledge that he lives before the LORD, his God (verse 6). The LORD is “his God”. In this case this indicates that he has a personal relationship with God. It can’t be otherwise but he is a man of prayer. He constantly asks the LORD how he should order his ways.
That also applies to us. Personal contact with the Lord in prayer is the secret of strength in our lives. Only then will our ways be directed toward Him and He can bless them. The ancestors of Jotham later went wrong because they have forgotten to live from that personal relationship with the LORD and from there to walk the path of faith.
With this observation, the chronicler has come to the end of his description of Jotham’s life. The rest of Jotham’s history can be found in the archives of the kings of Israel and Judah (verse 7). Under “all his wars” we can include those against the Ammonites (verse 5) and possibly also those against Syria and the ten tribes (2Kgs 15:36-37). The account of “his acts” will have been encouraging for the God-fearing Israelites to read. For these are acts which he has done “before the LORD his God” (verse 6). It is always good to read biographies of men and women who have lived before the Lord.
Then it is repeated what has already been said in verse 1 (verse 8). It emphasizes the value of this life for the LORD. After this valuable life, of which we only have a few events in Scripture, Jotham “slept with his fathers” (verse 9). He is buried “in the city of David”. There he is, still, waiting for the resurrection that will take place at the coming of the Lord Jesus.
Jotham is succeeded by his son Ahaz. This son is an evil man. He doesn’t resemble his father at all. We will see that in the next chapter.