1 - 4 Amaziah Becomes King of Judah
1 In the second year of Joash son of Joahaz king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah became king. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. 3 He did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done. 4 Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.
So far, we have seen the events in the ten tribes realm mainly in connection with Elijah and Elisha. What remains is the history of Israel and Judah to their end. Nevertheless, there are occasional revivals. The main idea of the remaining chapters, however, is pride and the subsequent fall (Pro 16:18). It is about the lessons we can learn from this.
There are regular alternations between the northern and southern realms. We have now first again a king from the house of David before us, Amaziah. As with other kings, the name of this king’s mother is also mentioned (2Kgs 8:26; 12:1). The mothers of these kings are important and are therefore mentioned. Their influence on the forming of the spiritual character of kings is great. This influence is greatest in the first five years of education.
Jehoaddin, the mother of Amaziah, is one of the two women whom Jehoiada gave to Joash (2Chr 24:3). She must have been a woman who feared God. Her name means ‘LORD, how long yet’. She was probably born under the reign of the wicked Athaliah and her parents gave her that name at a time of great anger.
Immediately after mentioning the name of his mother we read that Amaziah “did right in the sight of the LORD”. We read this because he had such a mother. It is said of several kings. Yet there is a difference. Of Amaziah is also said to have done “not like David his father”. That too is said of some of the kings of Judah. Some other kings did. They stood out above the others. Amaziah acts more like his father Joash has done, who has done well as long as Jehoiada lived. With Amaziah things also go wrong later, just like they went wrong with Joash in his later life.
He also allows the high places to exist. It is the high places where the LORD is served and which remain after the temple is built. That should not have happened, they should have been removed, because they had had their time. This weakness turns to become a trap. The higher the position, the deeper one can fall. This applies not only to young people, but certainly also to the elderly.
5 - 7 First Government Actions of Amaziah
5 Now it came about, as soon as the kingdom was firmly in his hand, that he killed his servants who had slain the king his father. 6 But the sons of the slayers he did not put to death, according to what is written in the book of the Law of Moses, as the LORD commanded, saying, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the sons, nor the sons be put to death for the fathers; but each shall be put to death for his own sin.” 7 He killed [of] Edom in the Valley of Salt 10,000 and took Sela by war, and named it Joktheel to this day.
The first act of Amaziah’s reign described is that of carrying out a righteous judgment. He kills the servants who killed his father (2Kgs 12:21). When exercising the judgment, Amaziah takes into account an important principle, which is that everyone is punished for his own sin. The king is the highest judge. Amaziah adheres to the Word of God and does not impose any greater punishment. He did not, what would have been conceivable, ‘avenge’ himself on his father’s murderers. He kills, according to what is “written in the book of the Law of Moses”, only the criminals and not their families (Deu 24:16). Discipline must always take place according to God’s Word and not according to our feelings.
Another act of Amaziah is to defeat Edom. In 2 Chronicles 25 there are more details about this battle against Edom and what the consequences are (2Chr 25:5-16). There we see that he not only has an army from Judah, but also hired many soldiers from the ten tribes realm. If a prophet calls him to account, he sends them all away. Then he achieves that great victory.
8 - 14 Amaziah Defeated by Jehoash
8 Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, “Come, let us face each other.” 9 Jehoash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, “The thorn bush which was in Lebanon sent to the cedar which was in Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son in marriage.’ But there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trampled the thorn bush. 10 You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has become proud. Enjoy your glory and stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you, even you, would fall, and Judah with you?” 11 But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah. 12 Judah was defeated by Israel, and they fled each to his tent. 13 Then Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and tore down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate, 400 cubits. 14 He took all the gold and silver and all the utensils which were found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasuries of the king’s house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria.
In his pride and overconfidence Amaziah challenges Jehoash. Why does he do that? This is also clear from 2 Chronicles 25. When Amaziah returns to Edom after his victory, he also takes with him the idols of Edom and bows down for them. That is no longer the service on the high places to the LORD, but idolatry.
The LORD sends a prophet to him who speaks to him about this. However, he is not listening. Instead, having become arrogant by the great victory over Edom, he fights with Jehoash, king of Israel. His heart is darkened by the idolatry. Because of this he is deaf to God’s prophet. He can no longer think well and comes to the folly described here.
Jehoash is also arrogant, which is expressed in the fable he tells. He compares Amaziah with a thistle and himself with a cedar. The animals of the field are the soldiers of Jehoash. They will defeat the thistle, Amaziah and his army. That is what has happened. At the same time, the fable is also a reprimand for Amaziah. A believer is reprimanded by an unbeliever. However, Amaziah persists in his haughty plan, with a dramatic effect on him and his people.
Here stand two proud kings opposite each other, one is a believer, the other is an unbeliever. From Amaziah we read that he did what was right in the sight of the LORD (verse 3); from Joash we read that he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD (2Kgs 13:11). The victory is given by the LORD to the unbelieving Jehoash. If the righteous do wrong, he will find God in his way. We see that in the defeat that Amaziah suffers.
The believer has to do with God’s ways of government. God judges His own on earth; He judges the unbelievers after the end of their lives. If a believer goes a wrong way, he cannot count on the help of the LORD and must experience His discipline. The help experienced by the unbeliever will testify against him when he is judged forever.
Judah is beaten by Israel and Amaziah is captured by Jehoash. Amaziah is the first king of the house Judah who is captured by a king of Israel. Jehoash also makes a breach in the wall of Jerusalem. That’s the first time something like that has happened. Jehoash is the only king of Israel who in all the wars between the two and ten tribes broke through as far as Jerusalem.
Once Jehoash is in Jerusalem, he plunders the city. He takes everything which is of value with him and returns to Samaria laden with booty.
15 - 20 Death of Jehoash and Amaziah
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 So Jehoash slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son became king in his place. 17 Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel. 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 They conspired against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish and killed him there. 20 Then they brought him on horses and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.
The death of Jehoash has already been reported (2Kgs 13:12-13). This happens again now because of the intertwining of his history with the history of Amaziah in verses 8-14. After the death of Jehoash, Amaziah lives another fifteen years. In this we see the grace of God that gives Amaziah another fifteen years after his shameful defeat to come to humility and conversion.
Whether he has really repented is not mentioned. His end is as insulting as that of his father Joash. He too becomes the victim of a conspiracy.
21 - 22 Azariah Made King
21 All the people of Judah took Azariah, who [was] sixteen years old, and made him king in the place of his father Amaziah. 22 He built Elath and restored it to Judah after the king slept with his fathers.
After the death of Amaziah, Azariah, also called Uzziah (2Chr 26:1), becomes king. The names Azaria and Uzziah have almost the same meaning. Azaria means ‘in the LORD is help’ and Uzziah means ‘whose strength is the LORD’. Because he is only six-ten years old and there can be no ordinary procedure of succession because of the sudden and minor death of his father, he is made king by “all the people of Judah”.
The only act mentioned here of Azariah is that he expands, or reinforces, Elath and brings it back to Judah. With this, Azariah seems to complete the subjugation of Edom to Israel. Elath is an important port city in the area of Edom (1Kgs 9:26). The mention of this act gives rise to the idea that it also marks the power of his reign.
23 - 27 Jeroboam II King over Israel
23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel became king in Samaria, [and reigned] forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 25 He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. 26 For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, [which was] very bitter; for there was neither bond nor free, nor was there any helper for Israel. 27 The LORD did not say 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.
Now we go back to the northern ten tribes realm. After Joash’s death, his son Jeroboam became king. We don’t know why Joash named his son and heir to the throne Jeroboam. It is remarkable that he names his son after the man who gave Israel two alternative places of worship with on each of those places a golden calf.
That Jeroboam made Israel sin, a refrain that we hear from every king who ruled over the kingdom of the ten tribes, apparently didn’t concern Joash at all. On the contrary, it seems that he venerated Jeroboam and therefore gave his son the same name. To distinguish him from the first king of the ten tribes realm, this Jeroboam is called Jeroboam II in comments.
The ten tribes realm has blossomed under Jeroboam II. Seen superficially, it seems that he gets the blessing of God. There is an exceptionally great prosperity under his reign. He also reigns for a long time, longer than any other king has reigned over the ten tribes realm. He is the third generation after Jehu. His son reigns only for a few months, and then it is over with the reign of the family of Jehu.
Then we hear of the prophet Jonah. Prophets act when the people have departed from God. That is also the case here. Usually the prophets call for repentance and threaten with God’s judgment if they do not repent. That is not the case here. The message of the prophet Jonah is different. He prophesies that there will be prosperity.
Of this Jonah we also have a book in the Bible. The prophecy he made in that time, however, is not in his Bible book. His prophecy refers to the near future and not, as is customary for God’s prophets whose book is in the Bible, to the distant future. In this time the service of the writing prophets begins. The prophet Isaiah began prophesying in the days of Uzziah. Amos and Hoshea also started prophesying in these days (Amos 7:9-15).
The reason for sending Jonah is that the LORD sees the misery of Israel and that they have no helper. The misery in which the people find themselves is the consequence of their abandonment of the LORD. Therefore He must let this misery come upon His people. But in spite of His judgment He will not erase the name of the people from under heaven.
Through a man like Jeroboam II the LORD gives his people deliverance. Here again it is the grace of God Who uses a man who does not take Him into account. The prosperity of Jeroboam II is not a sign of God’s approval, but only of His compassion.
28 - 29 Death of Jeroboam II
28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam and all that he did and his might, how he fought and how he recovered for Israel, Damascus and Hamath, [which had belonged] to Judah, 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 became king in his place.
In a few verses the entire government of Jeroboam is described. God is not impressed by everything he has done and is not detailed about it. We do not get a summation of all his deeds. These are in the books that people keep, but not in God’s Word.