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This chapter begins with the reign of Azariah king of Judah, ( 2 Kings 15:1-7), and then gives a short account of the several kings of Israel, to the last of them; of Zachariah, ( 2 Kings 15:8-12), of Shallum, ( 2 Kings 15:13,14,15) of Menahem, ( 2 Kings 15:16-22) of Pekahiah, ( Kings 15:23-26), of Pekah, succeeded by Hoshea, the last of them, ( Kings 15:27-31), and is included with the reign of Jotham king of Judah, ( 2 Kings 15:32-38).
Ver. 1 . In the twenty amd seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah the son on Amaziah king of Judah to reign .] Now Amaziah lived only to the fifteenth year of Jeroboam, ( 2 Kings 14:2,17,23) in which year, and not in his twenty seventh, it might be thought Azariah his son began to reign. There are various ways taken to remove this difficulty, not to take notice of a corruption of numbers, “twenty seven for seventeen”, which some insist on. Ben Gersom and Abarbinel are of opinion, that those twenty seven years of Jeroboam’s reign are not to be understood of what were past, but of what were to come before the family of Jehu was extinct; and that he reigned twenty six years, and his son six months, which made twenty seven imperfect years. Others suppose that Jeroboam reigned with his father eleven or twelve years before his death; and, reckoning from the different periods of his reign, this was either the twenty seventh year, or the fifteenth or sixteenth: and others, that the reign of Azariah may be differently reckoned, either from the time his father fled to Lachish, where he might remain eleven or twelve years, or from his death, and so may be said to begin to reign either in the fifteenth or twenty seventh of Jeroboam; or there was an interregnum of eleven or twelve years after the death of his father, he being a minor of about four years of age, which was the fifteenth of Jeroboam, during which time the government was in the hands of the princes and great men of the nation; and it was not till Azariah was sixteen years of age, and when it was the twenty seventh of Jeroboam’s reign, that the people agreed to make him king, (see 2 Kings 14:21) and which seems to be the best way of accounting for it.
Ver. 2 . Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign , etc.] By the consent of the people and princes of Judah, ( 2 Kings 14:21) and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem : exclusive of the eleven or twelve years of his minority, from his father’s death: and his mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem ; of whom there is no further account any where.
Ver. 3 . And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord , etc.] At the beginning of his reign, and in an external way: according to all that his father Amaziah had done ; who did not do what he did as David, sincerely and cordially, ( 2 Kings 14:3 2 Chronicles 25:2).
Ver. 4 . Save that the high places were not removed , etc.] That is, he did right, excepting in that instance, and which was the case of his father and other kings before him, and others afterwards, till Hezekiah came: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places ; (see Kings 12:3).
Ver. 5 . And the Lord smote the king , etc.] With leprosy; the reason of it was, because he intruded into the priest’s office, and went into the temple to burn incense on the altar of incense, ( 2 Chronicles 26:19,20), so that he was a leper unto the day of his death ; but how long it was to it from his being smitten cannot be said with certainty; Dr. Lightfoot f158 thinks he died the same year he was smitten: and dwelt in a several house : without Jerusalem, as the Targum; for lepers, according to the law, were to dwell separate without the camp or city, ( Leviticus 13:46) the word for “several” signifies “free” f159 ; here he lived alone, free from the company and conversation of men, free from the business of government, his son doing that for him, and in the country, where he might freely walk about, as lepers did, and take the air; the Jews say f160 , his house was among the graves, where he was free among the dead, as the phrase is, ( Psalm 88:5), but not likely; much better is what Abendana observes from R. Jonah, that the word, in the Arabic f161 language, signifies a little house, and so this might be in which he dwelt out of the city, in comparison of his palace: and Jotham the king’s son was over the house ; had the direction of the palace, and the management of all affairs in it: judging the people of the land ; administering justice in all cases, for which they came to him, and so filled up his father’s place; he did not depose his father, nor take upon him to be king, only did the business of one.
Ver. 6 . And the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah ?] In the history of the reigns of those kings; some of them are recorded in the canonical book of the Chronicles, ( 2 Chronicles 26:1-23) and some were written by the prophet Isaiah, ( 2 Chronicles 26:22).
Ver. 7 . So Azariah slept with his fathers , etc.] Or died, when he had reigned fifty two years: and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David ; but not in the sepulchres of the kings, but in the field of the burial, or the burying ground which belonged to them, because he was a leper, ( 2 Chronicles 26:23).
Benjamin of Tudela places his grave near the pillar of Absalom, and the fountain of Siloah, near the brook Kidron: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead ; who reigned sixteen years; a further account of him, and his reign, we have in the latter part of this chapter, after the reigns of several of the kings of Israel.
Ver. 8 . In the thirty eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zachariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria six months .] Since Azariah began to reign in the twenty seventh of Jeroboam, ( 2 Kings 15:1), and Jeroboam reigned forty one years, ( 2 Kings 14:23), his last year must be the fifteenth or sixteenth of Azariah, in which year Zachariah must have begun to reign, had he immediately succeeded his father in the throne; there must be therefore an interregnum of twenty two years at least, which might be owing to the dissensions among the princes and people about the succession, and a dislike to Zachariah on some account; however, after all, he must reign, though but six months, to fulfil the word of the Lord, (see 2 Kings 15:12).
Ver. 9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done , etc.] Even all his predecessors, from the time of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, from whose sin, in worshipping the calves, they departed not.
Ver. 10 . And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him , etc.] A friend of his, as Josephus calls him, encouraged by the dissatisfaction of the people to him: and smote him before the people, and slew him ; in a public manner, the people consenting to it, and approving of it, not liking Zachariah to be their king; and reigned in his stead ; though but a very short time.
Ver. 11 . And the rest of the acts of Zachariah , etc.] During his six months’ reign, and what he might do before in the interregnum: behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel : for be they more or fewer, good or bad, they were all recorded there which were of any moment.
Ver. 12 . This was the word of the Lord which he spake unto Jehu , etc.] Which was now fulfilled in the short reign of Zachariah: saying, thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation ; (see 2 Kings 10:30), and so it came to pass; as every word of the Lord does, not one fails; for after Jehu reigned Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam the second, and Zachariah, all descendants of Jehu.
Ver. 13 . Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah king of Judah , etc.] The same with Azariah: he is sometimes called by one name, and sometimes by the other, (see Kings 14:21), and he reigned a full month in Samaria : and no longer; so soon were the conspiracy against his sovereign, and the murder of him, punished.
Ver. 14 . For Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah , etc.] A city in the tribe of Manasseh, the royal city of the kings of Israel before Omri, of which (see Gill on “ Joshua 12:24”), whether Menahem was of this city, or was now besieging it with an army he had the command of, as Josephus suggests, is not certain; however, hearing what had befallen Zachariah, he came from hence: and came to Samaria; which, according to Bunting f165 , was six miles from Tirzah: and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead ; judging he had as good a right to the throne as Shallum had.
Ver. 15 . And the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel .] In which, no doubt, an account of the cause of the conspiracy, and of the persons assisting to him in it, was given, with other things done in his short reign.
Ver. 16 . Then Menahem smote Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the coasts thereof from Tirzah , etc.] The Jewish writers commonly take this Tiphsah to be without the land of Israel, the same with that in ( 1 Kings 4:24) on the borders of Syria, and near the Euphrates; but it seems to be some place nearer Samaria, and Tirzah; according to Bunting f166 , it was but six miles from Samaria: because they opened not to him, therefore he smote it ; they refused to open the gates of their city to him, and receive him, and acknowledge him as their king; therefore he exercised severity on the inhabitants of it, and the parts adjacent, as far as Tirzah, putting them to the sword: and all the women therein that were with child he ripped up : which was a most shocking instance of barbarity, and which he did, to terrify others from following their example. Ben Gersom interprets it of strong towers built on mountains, which he demolished, deriving “haroth”, which we render “women with child”, from rh , “a mountain”.
Ver. 18 . And he did that which was evil , etc.] The same character is given of him as of those before him, ( 2 Kings 15:9).
Ver. 19 . And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land , etc.] The land of Israel, he invaded it; a Jewish chronologer calls him Pulbelicho; and he is generally thought to be the same with Belochus or Belesis, governor of Babylon, who, with Arbaces the Mede, slew Sardanapalus, said to be the last of the Assyrian kings, and translated the empire to the Chaldeans; he ruling over Babylon and Nineveh, and Arbaces over the Medes and Persians; but Pul was not a Babylonian, but an Assyrian f168 , and the first king of the Assyrians, at least, the Scriptures speak of: we read no more of him; but one Metasthenes, a Persian historian, feigned and published by Annius, and so named by him instead of Megasthenes, calls him Phulbelochus, and says he reigned forty eight years: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver ; and a talent of silver, according to Brerewood was three hundred and seventy five pounds; but Bishop Cumberland calculates it at three hundred and fifty three pounds eleven shillings and ten pence half penny; 1,000 of them made a large sum of money, according to the former 375,000 pounds; and this he gave to him, not only to desist from the invasion of his land, but that his hand might be with him ; and not against him: and to confirm the kingdom in his hand ; which being got by usurpation, and supported by cruelty, was but tottering.
Ver. 20 . And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth , etc.] Who were most able to pay it, by which means he eased the poor, and might thereby attach them to him: of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria : that is, he required them to pay fifty shekels apiece to make up the above sum as a present to Pul; though the words in the original text lie more naturally thus, “to give to the king of Assyria fifty shekels of silver for one man”; that is, for every man in his army; which amounted to about six pounds a man: so the king of Assyria turned back ; to his own country: and stayed not there in the land ; in the land of Israel, neither to distress nor to help Menahem, for which he gave him the money.
Ver. 21 . And the rest of the acts of Menahem , etc.] We are referred to the same book of chronicles for them as for those of the rest of the kings, which seems to be a form the historian uses of them all.
Ver. 22 . And Menahem slept with his fathers , etc.] Died a natural death, and in peace, though an usurper and a tyrant: and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead ; the kingdom he had usurped continued in his family.
Ver. 23 . In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria , etc.] As it was in the thirty ninth of Azariah that his father began his reign, and he reigned ten years, they must end in the forty ninth of Azariah, and therefore there must be an interregnum of a year; perhaps the title of Pekahiah might be disputed, and it was a year before he could get settled on the throne: and reigned two years ; being slain by one of his captains, as after related.
Ver. 24 . And he did that which was evil , etc.] Besides other sins, he cleaved to that of worshipping the calves, a piece of state policy all the kings of Israel gave into.
Ver. 25 . But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his , etc.] The word signifies a “third” man, the third to the king, as some think; Josephus f172 calls him a “chiliarch”, one that had the command of a thousand men: conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king’s house ; Josephus says it was at a banquet: with Argob, and Arieh ; whom, according to Abarbinel, Pekah slew with the king, being mighty men, who were always about him; but they seem rather to be conspirators with Pekah, and assisting to him in smiting the king; the former of these, Ben Gersom thinks, was governor of Argob, a country on the other side Jordan, and the latter had his name from his fortitude, which signifies a lion: and with him fifty men of the Gileadites ; which may seem to strengthen the above notion concerning Argob, since the Gileadites were of the same side of Jordan, and were near Argob, (see Deuteronomy 3:13) and he killed him, and reigned in his room , as his father killed Shallum, and reigned in his stead.
Ver. 26 . And the rest of the acts of Pekahiah , etc.] The same form of expression is used as before, ( 2 Kings 15:21), of all the kings.
Ver. 27 . In the fifty second year of Azariah king of Judah Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria , etc.] Which was the last year of the reign of Azariah: and reigned twenty years ; which was a long reign for an usurper and murderer.
Ver. 28 . And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord , etc.] Not only in committing the above crimes of usurpation and murder, but idolatry, and particularly the worshipping of the calves, hinted at in the text.
Ver. 29 . In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria , etc.] Into the land of Israel; he is called by a Jewish chronologer f174 , Pul-Asir; so Phul-Assar by Metasthenes f175 , who says he reigned twenty five years; he very probably was the son of Pul the Assyrian king, mentioned ( 2 Kings 15:19), and is thought to be the same that Aelianus calls Tilgamos; some think he had the first part of his name from Diglath, or Diglito, by which the river Tigris is called in Pliny f177 , with which Assyria was washed; and that Pil, or Pul, is Baal, Bel, Jupiter, and Azar is Mars f178 ; of all which his name is composed: and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah ; of which (see 1 Kings 15:20), and Janoah ; a city in the tribe of Ephraim, ( Joshua 16:6) and Kedesh, and Hazor ; cities in Naphtali: ( Joshua 19:36,37) and Gilead ; a country beyond Jordan, which belonged to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh: and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali ; that is, upper Galilee, which lay in Naphtali: and carried them captive to Assyria ; which was the first captivity of Israel in which half their tribes were carried away.
Ver. 30 . And Hoshea the son or Elab made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead , etc.] Did by him as he had done by Pekahiah, ( 2 Kings 15:28), this was measure for measure, as the Jews say: and this he did in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah ; and yet Jotham is said to reign but sixteen years, ( 2 Kings 15:33), this must be reckoned therefore either from the time of his being viceroy, and judging Israel in his father’s lifetime, ( 2 Kings 15:5) or this was the fourth year of Ahaz, and the twentieth year, reckoning from the time Jotham began to reign, who is the rather mentioned, because as yet the historian had taken no notice of Ahaz.
Ver. 31 . And the rest of the acts of Pekah , etc.] Not recorded here, were to be read in the book of chronicles of the kings so often referred to.
Ver. 32 . In the second year of Pekah, the son of Remaliah king of Israel, began Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign .] Pekah began to reign in the fifty second year of Azariah, or Uzziah, which was his last year, ( 2 Kings 15:27), and which was the first of Pekah; Uzziah reigned full fifty two, and then Jotham succeeded, which was the beginning of the second of Pekah.
Ver. 33 . Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign , etc.] Alone, after the death of his father: and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem ; and his reign, upon the whole, was a good reign: and his mother’s name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok ; a person well known in those times; Dr. Lightfoot thinks he was high priest.
Ver. 34 . And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord , etc.] Jarchi, in ( 2 Chronicles 27:2), observes, from a writer of theirs, that in all the kings of Judah before him, even in the best, some sins were found; but in Jotham there was nothing scandalous and reproachful; and it is a high character Josephus gives of him, that there was no virtue wanting in him; he was pious towards God, just towards men, and careful of the public good; but the inspired historian chiefly respects matters of religious worship; he did not give into idolatry: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done ; that is, according to what was well done by him; he did not imitate him in going into the temple to burn incense, which is particularly excepted. ( 2 Chronicles 27:2).
Ver. 35 . Howbeit the high places were not removed , etc.] As they were not by his father, and the same is observed of the best of kings before: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still in the high places ; from which they could not be brought off by prophets or kings: he built the higher gate of the house of the Lord ; which was between the temple and the king’s palace, which led to it; this he repaired and beautified, or added something to it; or otherwise it was built by Solomon, and therefore called the new gate, ( Jeremiah 26:10 36:10) it is the same that was afterwards called the gate of Nicanor; the east gate, as say the Jewish writers f181 .
Ver. 36 . Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah ?] Of which mention is often made by the inspired historians; some of Jotham’s other acts are recorded in the canonical book of Chronicles, ( 2 Chronicles 27:1).
Ver. 37 . In those days , etc.] At the end of the days of Jotham, or after his death, things might be in design, and preparations made before, but nothing of what follows came to pass in his life, but in the times of his son; the Lord began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah : to make war with them as a scourge to Ahaz for his sins; of which is in the following chapter.
Ver. 38 . And Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father , etc.] Died, and was buried with the kings of Judah in their sepulchres: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead ; an account of whose reign we have in the next chapter.