2 Kings 14 – The Reigns of Amaziah and Jeroboam II
A. The reign of Amaziah over Judah.
1. (1-4) A summary of his reign.
In the second year of Joash the son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, became king. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like his father David; he did everything as his father Joash had done. However the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.
a. He did what was right in the sight of the LORD: Amaziah, son of the great reformer Joash, continued the generally godly reign began by his father.
i. “He made a good beginning in thus adhering closely to the law. Happy would it have been for him and for his kingdom had he continued as he began.” (Knapp)
b. Yet not like his father David; he did everything as his father Joash had done: Compared to Joash, Amaziah faithfully continued his policies. Yet some of those policies allowed compromises, such as the allowing of continued sacrifices and incense offerings on the high places. Compared to David – the greatest merely human king to reign over the people of God – Amaziah did not match up favorably.
i. “The constantly repeated story of limitation in loyalty is told again.” (Morgan)
2. (5-6) An example of Amaziah’s obedience.
Now it happened, as soon as the kingdom was established in his hand, that he executed his servants who had murdered his father the king. But the children of the murderers he did not execute, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, in which the LORD commanded, saying, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; but a person shall be put to death for his own sin.”
a. He executed his servants who had murdered his father the king: This was both just and in the best interest of Amaziah. It was good for him to eliminate those who found the assassination of the king a reasonable way to change the kingdom.
i. It also fulfilled God’s command to punish murderers with execution, first given in Genesis 9:5-7.
b. But the children of the murderers he did not execute, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: It was the standard practice of the ancient world to execute not only the guilty party in such a murder, but also his family. Amaziah went against the conventional practice of his day and obeyed the word of God instead (Deuteronomy 24:16).
i. “Wherein he showed some faith and courage, that he would obey this command of God, though it was very hazardous to himself, such persons being likely to seek revenge for their father’s death.” (Poole)
3. (7) His victory over the Edomites.
He killed ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt, and took Sela by war, and called its name Joktheel to this day.
a. He killed ten thousand Edomites: This shows the military might of Amaziah, and that he successfully subdued the weaker nations surrounding Judah.
b. And took Sela by war: Some believe this was the ancient rock city in the desert also known as Petra; others believe it was a different place. One way or another, this was a significant victory for Amaziah.
i. 2 Chronicles 25:5-16 gives more background to this event. Amaziah gathered a huge army in Judah to go against Edom – three hundred thousand choice men, able to go to war, who could handle spear and shield. He also hired 100,000 mercenary soldiers from Israel. But a prophet came and warned him not to use the soldiers from Israel, because God was not with that rebellious and idolatrous kingdom. Amaziah was convinced to trust God, send the mercenaries from Israel away, and accept the loss of the money used to hire them. God blessed this step of faith, and gave them a convincing victory over the Edomites.
ii. Amaziah trusted God for the victory over Edom; but immediately after the victory his heart turned from God: Now it was so, after Amaziah came from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the people of Seir, set them up to be his gods, and bowed down before them and burned incense to them. (2 Chronicles 25:14)
4. (8-12) His defeat at the hands of Jehoash of Israel.
Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, “Come, let us face one another in battle.” And Jehoash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, “The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son as wife’; and a wild beast that was in Lebanon passed by and trampled the thistle. You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Glory in that, and stay at home; for why should you meddle with trouble so that you fall— you and Judah with you?” But Amaziah would not heed. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went out; so he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another at Beth Shemesh, which belongs to Judah. And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his tent.
a. Come, let us face one another in battle: Proud from his success against Edom, Amaziah decided to make war against the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
i. Again, 2 Chronicles 25:5-16 gives more background to this event. When Amaziah sent away the Israelite mercenaries, they were not happy – even though he paid them for not fighting against Edom (they probably counted on receiving much more from the spoil of battle). As they returned to Israel, they raided the cities of Judah from Samaria to Beth Horon, killed three thousand in them, and took much spoil (2 Chronicles 25:13). This was the political motivation for Amaziah’s attack against Israel.
ii. He had reason to believe he would be successful. He had recently assembled a 300,000 man army that killed 20,000 Edomites in a victory over Edom (2 Chronicles 25:5, 11-12). Jehoahaz seemed very weak, having only 50 horsemen, 10 chariots, and 10,000 foot soldiers after being defeated by the Syrians (2 Kings 13:7).
b. The thistle that was in Lebanon: The reply of Jehoash king of Israel was both wise and diplomatic. With this little story and its application, he counseled Amaziah to glory in his previous victory over Edom but then to stay at home.
i. “The thistle, imagining himself to be equal with the cedar, presumptuously suggested a marriage alliance between them. The difference between the two was made obvious when a wild beast passed through and crushed the thistle underfoot. Of course the beast was powerless to injure the cedar.” (Dilday)
c. Why should you meddle with trouble so that you fall – you and Judah with you: Amaziah should have listened to this word from Jehoash, but he didn’t. He provoked a fight he should have avoided, and did not consider both the likelihood of success and the effect his defeat would have on the whole kingdom of Judah.
5. (13-14) The result of Amaziah’s foolish war against Israel.
Then Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, the son of Ahaziah, at Beth Shemesh; and he went to Jerusalem, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate— four hundred cubits. And he took all the gold and silver, all the articles that were found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king’s house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria.
a. Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah: Because of his foolish attack against Israel, Amaziah lost his freedom and for a time became a prisoner of the king of Israel.
i. Amaziah had a mighty army and Jehoash had a weak army. Yet God gave Israel the victory over Judah to rebuke the idolatry of Amaziah. It came from God, that He might give them into the hand of their enemies, because they sought the gods of Edom. (2 Chronicles 25:20)
ii. “His name means ‘strength of Jah’; but we read, ‘he strengthened himself’’ (2 Chronicles 25:11); his character of self-sufficiency thus belying his name – a thing not uncommon in our day.” (Knapp)
b. He went to Jerusalem, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem: Because of his foolish attack against Israel, Amaziah saw the defenses of Jerusalem broken down. Not only did they lose the battle at Beth Shemesh, but they were also in a weaker position to face future attacks.
c. And he took all the gold and silver: Because of his foolish attack against Israel, Amaziah lost the treasure of the people of God. It wasn’t just a loss of his personal wealth (the treasuries of the king’s house), but also of the gold and silver of God’s people. Amaziah didn’t have the wisdom to see how losing this battle would hurt others as well as himself.
i. This even extended to hostages who were taken from Jerusalem to Samaria. The decision to attack Israel was his alone, but the price paid for the foolish attack was paid by the whole kingdom of Judah. It is a sober warning to all leaders, to consider how their foolish decisions affect many other people.
ii. “The quarrel of Amaziah was certainly just, yet he was put to the rout; he did meddle to his hurt; he fell, and Judah fell with him, as Jehoash had said.” (Clarke)
6. (15-22) Amaziah is rejected as king over Judah for his son.
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did— 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? So Jehoash rested with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel. Then Jeroboam his son reigned in his place. Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel. Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And they formed a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish and killed him there. Then they brought him on horses, and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the City of David. And all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah. He built Elath and restored it to Judah, after the king rested with his fathers.
a. They formed a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: The embarrassing loss against Israel undermined Amaziah’s support among the leaders of Judah.
i. He lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash (which probably prompted his release from imprisonment in Israel). “But it was a kind of a lifeless life… He lay all the while under the hatred and contempt of his subjects.” (Trapp)
b. He fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish and killed him there: Amaziah tried but was unable to escape the conspirators. He was assassinated, just like his father was (2 Kings 12:20-21).
i. “Lachish was the first of the cities of Judah to adopt the idolatries of the kingdom of Israel (‘the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee,’ Micah 1:13), and it was natural for the idolatrous Amaziah to seek an asylum there.” (Knapp)
ii. “Some commentators believe the assassins who put Amaziah to death in verse 19 may have been the very children whom Amaziah had spared. They, in turn, were exacting vengeance for Amaziah’s executions.” (Dilday)
c. And all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father: This was the start of the illustrious reign of Azariah (also known as Uzziah). He was the greatest king of Judah after David.
i. “The election of Amaziah’s son Azariah may refer to an earlier time when ‘all the people had taken Azariah, when he was sixteen years old, and made him king while Amaziah had been a prisoner.” (Wiseman)
B. The reign of Jeroboam II in Israel.
1. (23-27) A summary of his reign and God’s assistance to Jeroboam.
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. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin. He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher. For the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter; and whether bond or free, there was no helper for Israel. And 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.
a. He did evil in the sight of the LORD: Jeroboam II was a wicked king, who continued the politically-motivated idolatry of his namesake Jeroboam the son of Nebat. During his reign the prophets Jonah and Amos spoke for God.
b. He restored the territory of Israel… for the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter: Out of great mercy, God showed kindness to a disobedient Israel ruled by an evil king.
i. “It seems to suggest amazement in his mind as he contemplated the patience of Jehovah with the sinning nation.” (Morgan)
c. According to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet: This is almost certainly the same Jonah who is famous for his missionary trip to Nineveh. Apparently he also had a ministry among his own people, not only among the people of Nineveh.
i. “God sent them Jonah to encourage them, and to assure them of better days.” (Clarke)
2. (28-29) Summary of the reign of Jeroboam II.
Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did— his might, how he made war, and how he recaptured for Israel, from Damascus and Hamath, what had belonged to Judah— are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Jeroboam rested with his fathers, the kings of Israel. Then Zechariah his son reigned in his place.
a. His might, how he made war, and how he recaptured for Israel, from Damascus and Hamath, what had belonged to Judah: The reign of Jeroboam II was a time of economic, political, and material prosperity for Israel. Yet it was not because of their own merit or goodness, but because of God’s great mercy to Israel.
i. Archaeology confirms the economic might of Jeroboam II. In the age prior to Jeroboam II, the houses in Israel’s cities were roughly the same size. But archaeologists find a change starting in the eighth century b.c. – ancient cities like Tirzah have a neighborhood of large, expensive houses and another neighborhood of small, crowded structures, smaller than the houses from previous years. The larger houses are filled with the marks of prosperity, and the oppressive rich of Israel thought they could find safety there – but God’s judgment came against those houses as well (Amos 3:13-15).
ii. “The resultant prosperity, however, which ended in the wrong use of power in luxury and the oppression of the poor, was denounced by the contemporary prophets, especially Amos (2:6-7; 8:4-6); Isaiah (3:18-26; 5:8-13) and Micah (2:2).” (Wiseman)
iii. In the days of King Jehoahaz of Israel, God promised to send a deliverer to Israel, one who helped them to escape from under the hand of the Syrians (2 Kings 13:4-5). It is likely that Jeroboam II was this promised deliverer.
b. From Damascus: Though the hand of the LORD was behind these events, God used the strength of the Assyrian Empire to bless Israel. For most of its history, the Northern Kingdom of Israel struggled against Syria, her neighbor to the north. But around the year 800, the mighty Assyrian Empire defeated Syria, and neutralized this power that hindered Israel’s expansion and prosperity. With Syria in check, Israel enjoyed great prosperity during the reign of Jeroboam II.
i. The Book of Amos shows that Israel did not handle this prosperity well, and the wickedness under the prosperity of Jeroboam II heaped judgment up for themselves.
ii. “Israel was blessed with the ministries of both Hosea and Amos during Jeroboam’s reign. From their writings it will readily be seen that though there was political revival under his rule, there was no real moral or spiritual awakening among the people.” (Knapp)
iii. “When Jeroboam II died in 752 b.c., he left behind a strong kingdom but, unfortunately, one whose core foundation was so spiritually rotten that the edifice of state would not long withstand the rising tides of international intrigue and pressure.” (Patterson and Austel)
c. Then Zechariah his son reigned in his place: Zechariah was the fourth generation of the Jehu dynasty, and it was prophesied that the dynasty of Jehu would continue for four generations (2 Kings 10:30).
i. “From the time of Jeroboam’s death, declension set in, ending less than seventy years later in its final overthrow and dissolution. Prophetic ministry was from this time greatly increased. ‘Such is the way of our gracious God,’ an unknown writer says, ‘that when judgment is near to approach, then testimony is multiplied.’” (Knapp)
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