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In this chapter we have the good reign of Amaziah king of Judah, his victories over the Edomites, and war with Jehoash king of Israel, by whom he was taken, who died quickly after, ( 2 Kings 14:1-16), but Amaziah lived fifteen years afterwards, and was slain by a conspiracy against him, and Azariah his son reigned in his stead, ( 2 Kings 14:17-22), and a short account is given of the reign of Jeroboam the second, king of Israel, ( 2 Kings 14:23-29).
Ver. 1 . In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah .] As Joash king of Israel began to reign in the thirty seventh of Joash king of Judah, ( 2 Kings 13:10), who reigned forty years, Amaziah must therefore begin his reign in the fourth of Joash king of Israel; this therefore must be understood of his second year after he reigned alone, for he reigned two or three years in his father’s lifetime.
Ver. 2 . He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem , etc.] Fourteen years contemporary with Joash king of Israel, who reigned sixteen years, ( Kings 13:10) and fifteen after him, ( 2 Kings 14:17), and his mother’s name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem ; of whom we nowhere else read, Ver. 3 . And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord , etc.]. At least externally, and at the beginning of his reign: yet not like David his father ; not with a perfect heart, with that sincerity and uprightness as he did, (see 2 Chronicles 25:2), he did according to all things as Joash his father did ; who at first reigned well, and then fell into idolatry, as this his son did.
Ver. 5 . And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was strengthened in his hand , etc.] That he was well settled on the throne, and had a share in the affection of the people, and the idolatry and murder his father had committed were worn off of the minds of the people, and the friends of the conspirators against him were become few or none: that he slew his servants that had slain the king his father ; charged them with the murder in a court of judicature, obtained a sentence against them, and had them executed.
Ver. 6 . But the children of the murderers he slew not , etc.] Which is an instance of his clemency and goodness, and of his strict regard to justice, and to the law of God; though he might fear, these, being spared, would one time or other revenge their fathers’ deaths; according to that which is written in the book of the law of Moses , (see Deuteronomy 24:16), wherein the Lord commanded, saying, the fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children , etc. to which command Amaziah was obedient.
Ver. 7 . He slew of Edom in the valley of Salt ten thousand , etc.] Of which valley, (see Gill on “ 2 Samuel 8:13”), the Edomites having revolted from Judah in the days of Joram, ( 2 Kings 8:20,22). Amaziah undertook to reduce them with an army of 300,000 choice men; and, besides these, hired also of Israel 100,000 valiant men, for one hundred talents of silver; but at the instance of a prophet of the Lord he dismissed the latter, and went against Edom only with his men, and slew of the Edomites 10,000, besides other 10,000 he took alive, and cast headlong from a rock, which came into his hands, (see 2 Chronicles 25:5-12), and took Selah by war ; which signifies a rock, the same with Petra, the metropolis of Arabia Petraea, the country of the Edomites. The city itself was not a rock, nor built on one, but was situated in a plain, surrounded with rocks and mountains, as Strabo and Pliny relate, from whence it seems to have its name; and by the Syrians called Recem, where Rocan a king of Midian reigned f149 , called in the Greek version of ( Numbers 31:8), Recon; though Vitringa is of opinion, that not Petra, the metropolis of Edom, is meant, but Maalehakrabbim, ( Joshua 15:3 Judges 1:36), which lay on the south border of Judea, near the salt sea: and called the name of it Joktheel ; which signifies “the obedience of God”; in memory of his obedience to the prophet of the Lord, in consequence of which he obtained this victory: and the name continued unto this day: the time of the writing this book.
Ver. 8 . Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz the son of Jehu king of Israel , etc.] The occasion of it was this, when Amaziah dismissed the hired soldiers of Israel they were displeased, and fell upon the cities of Judea from Samaria to Bethhoron, slew 3000 men, and took much spoil, ( 2 Chronicles 25:13), wherefore, when Amaziah returned from the slaughter of the Edomites, being elated with his victories, he sent the following message to the king of Israel, in order to revenge the injuries his soldiers had done; and perhaps retaining an old grudge for what Jehu, the grandfather of the king of Israel, had done to his ancestors, and it may be in hope of reducing the ten tribes to obedience to the house of David: saying, come, let us look one another in the face ; that is, in battle, as the Targum adds; it was a challenge to meet him in the field of battle, and fight with him, and try each other’s courage, and see who was the best man.
Ver. 9 . And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah the king of Judah , etc.] By the return of his messengers: saying, the thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon ; intending by this proverbial way of speaking to humble the pride of Amaziah; comparing him to a thistle or thorn, a low, mean, abject, weak, prickly, and troublesome shrub, and himself to a cedar, a tree high and lofty, strong, large, and spreading: saying, give thy daughter to my son to wife ; signifying, that if in a peaceable manner he had desired to contract affinity with him, and so establish mutual friendship, he should have despised him as being as much below him as the thistle is below a cedar; and therefore should still more despise and defy him, who addressed him in an hostile manner, and in such haughty language: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trod down the thistle ; and so there was an end put at once to its pride and ambition, and to its treaty with the cedar; intimating hereby, that his soldiers would as easily vanquish and destroy the army of Amaziah as a wild beast can destroy a thistle.
Ver. 10 . Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up , etc.] Swelled him with pride and vanity on account of the victory he had obtained over the Edomites; which pride was at the bottom of his message to him, and that goes before a fall: ( Proverbs 16:18) glory of this, and tarry at home ; be content with the glory of it, and boast of it at home, but do not swagger abroad, and insult thy neighbours: for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee ? suggesting to him, that he had better be quiet, since it would be to the harm, if not the ruin, of him and his kingdom.
Ver. 11 . But Amaziah would not hear , etc.] Being given up to a judicial hardness of heart through pride; for this was of God, and by his overruling providence, that he might be punished for his idolatry, in setting up the gods of Edom to be his gods, and offering to them, ( 2 Chronicles 25:14,20) therefore Jehoash king Israel went up ; from Samaria to the land of Judah, which was higher ground: and he and Amaziah looked one another in the face ; in the field of battle: at Bethshemesh , which belongeth to Judah; which is observed, not merely to distinguish it from another Bethshemesh in Naphtali, but to observe, that the king of Israel waited not for him to give him the challenge, but met his adversary in his own country, whither he carried the war, not suffering him to come into his.
Ver. 12 . And Judah was put to the worse before Israel , etc.] Could not face them; but, as Josephus says, a sudden fear and consternation seized them, and before they joined battle with the Israelites, turned their backs: and they fled every man to their tents ; to their cities, as the Targum, and left their king alone.
Ver. 13 . And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Bethshemesh , etc.] And then they looked one another in the face indeed, but Amaziah must look very silly: and came to Jerusalem ; the metropolis of Judah, with his royal prisoner: and broke down the wall of Jerusalem ; in at the breach of which he went with his chariot, as Josephus says f152 , in triumph: from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits ; the gate of Ephraim was to the north of the city, towards the tribe of Ephraim, from whence it had its name; and the corner gate was that which joined the northern and western walls together, or rather the northern and eastern walls; for Rauwolff says f153 , there is still the corner gate in its old place, where the north and east walls meet on large and high rocks, and is still called by some the gate of Naphtali.
Ver. 14 . And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord , etc.] In ( 2 Chronicles 25:24) it is added, “with Obededom”, who, and his family, had the care of them by lot, (see 1 Chronicles 26:15) and in the treasures of the king’s house ; which were also spoiled and plundered: and hostages ; either such as the king of Judah had taken from Edom, as pledges of their fidelity, that they might not rebel; or which the king of Israel took of Judah, even sons of the princes, as the Targum, for security, that they would give him no more trouble: and returned to Samaria ; without attempting to bring the kingdom of Judah into subjection to him, which he might suppose he could not hold, and having enough to do with the Syrians, his avowed enemies.
Ver. 15 . Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might , etc.] His valiant and mighty acts which he did in his wars with the Syrians, ( 2 Kings 13:25), and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah ; a short account of which is given in the preceding verses: are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel ? a book very often mentioned and referred to, as containing the history of the events and transactions of every reign.
Ver. 16 . And Jehoash slept with his fathers , etc.] Died as they died: and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel ; where they were: and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead ; which was Jeroboam the second.
Ver. 17 . And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years .] Which, with the fourteen he reigned contemporary with him, made the twenty nine years he reigned, ( 2 Kings 14:2). The Vulgate Latin version is, “twenty five years”.
Ver. 18 . And the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah ?] Not in the canonical book of Chronicles; though there are some things of him recorded there, which are not here; but in the annals of each reign, written by the king’s historian appointed for that purpose.
Ver. 19 . Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem , etc.] Against Amaziah; the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the principal men of it; perhaps those whose sons the king of Israel had carried away as hostages, which they imputed to the ill conduct of Amaziah, as well as the breaking of the wall of Jerusalem, and the pillaging of the temple, and the king’s palace: and he fled to Lachish ; a fortified city in the tribe of Judah, ( Joshua 15:39) but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there; in a private manner, as Josephus relates.
Ver. 20 . And they brought him on horses , etc.] That is, in a chariot or hearse drawn by horses; though the Jews suppose he was carried on horses, and that because he worshipped the gods of the Edomites, who were themselves carried on horses; and he was not carried on the shoulders of men, because he neglected to serve the God of Israel, whose mysteries were carried on the shoulders of men: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David ; and very probably in the sepulchre of the kings, though his father was not.
Ver. 21 . And all the people of Judah took Azariah , etc.] Called Uzziah in the next chapter, and so in the book of Chronicles; both names signifying much the same, the one “the help of the Lord”, the other “the strength of the Lord”: (which was sixteen years old;) yet as he began to reign in the twenty seventh year of Jeroboam, ( 2 Kings 15:1) and Jeroboam began to reign in the fifteenth yaer of Amaziah, ( 2 Kings 14:23), he could be but four years of age, for the solution of which, (see Gill on “ 2 Kings 15:1”): and made him king instead of his father Amaziah ; which was after his death, and not when he fled to Lachish, as Kimchi thinks.
Ver. 22 . He built Elath , etc.] A port which belonged to Edom, ( Deuteronomy 2:8 1 Kings 9:26) which very probably David took from them when he made them tributary, and which they retook when they revolted, and Amaziah got again when he defeated them; and this his son rebuilt and fortified: and restored it to Judah ; annexed it to the kingdom of Judah, as in the days of David and Solomon: after that the king slept with his fathers ; after the death of his father Amaziah.
Ver. 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 , etc.] So that he reigned fourteen or fifteen years contemporary with him; for Amaziah reigned twenty nine years: [and reigned] forty and one years ; Josephus says forty, giving only the round number.
Ver. 24 . And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord , etc.] Was guilty of idolatry: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin ; the worship of the calves is especially meant; he was in all respects of the same cast with his ancestor of the same name, from whom he had it, in veneration of him.
Ver. 25 . He restored the coast of Israel , etc.] The cities upon it, which had been taken away from them by their enemies: from the entering of Hamath ; which was the northern border of the land of Canaan, the entrance into it from Syria, (see Numbers 34:8), unto the sea of the plain : of Jordan, called sometimes the salt sea and the Dead Sea; the lake Asphaltites, as Josephus f157 , where formerly stood Sodom and Gomorrah: according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah the son of Amittai ; the same with him whose prophecy among the small prophets bears this name; and though his prophecy concerning Jeroboam’s success and victories is not there, nor anywhere else, recorded at length, yet needed not to be doubted of; this is the first of the prophets spoken of whose books are extant: which was of Gathhepher ; a city in the tribe of Zebulun, ( Joshua 19:13), which contradicts a notion of the Jews, that no prophet came out of Galilee, when the very first of those that were the penmen of the books of prophecies was from thence, (see John 7:52).
Ver. 26 . For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter , etc.] Being sorely oppressed by their enemies, especially the Syrians; and he was moved to have compassion upon them, and show mercy to them: for, there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel: they were in the most forlorn and helpless condition; (see Gill on “ Deuteronomy 32:36”).
Ver. 27 . And the Lord said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven , etc.] Had not as yet declared it by any of his prophets, that he would do it, as he afterwards did by Hosea, ( Hosea 1:4,9), and was fulfilled in the reign of Hoshea king of Israel, ( 2 Kings 17:1). but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash ; the instrument of their deliverance from the hands of their enemies, and of recovering their borders as afore time.
Ver. 28 . Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred , etc.] His valiant acts and warlike exploits: and how he recovered Damascus and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel ; which cities, in the times of David and Solomon, were tributary to Judah, but afterwards fell into the hands of the Syrians, from whom Jeroboam recovered them, and annexed them to the kingdom of Israel; or, as Kimchi, though Jeroboam was king of Israel, yet, having taken them, he restored them to the king of Judah, to whom they belonged: are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel ? where all events of any moment were registered.
Ver. 29 . And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel , etc.] Died, and was buried with them: and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead : who was of the fourth generation from Jehu, as was promised to him, ( 2 Kings 10:30).