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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
Almost the entirety of this chapter is additional to the narrative in Kings (marginal reference). It is not too much to say that we are indebted to Chronicles for our whole conception of the character of Uzziah, and for nearly our whole knowledge of the events of his reign.
1Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah.
Uzziah - This form of the name is found uniformly in Chronicles (except 1 Chronicles 3:12) and in the prophets. The writer of Kings prefers the form Azariah. Uzziah has been regarded as a phonetic corruption of the real name used by the common people.
2He built Eloth, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.
3Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Jecoliah of Jerusalem.
4And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did.
5And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.
Who had understanding in the visions of God - Another reading, supported by the Septuagint, and some ancient versions, is: "who instructed him in the fear of God."
6And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines.
Uzziah's expedition was the natural sequel to the Edomite war of Amaziah 2 Chronicles 25:11, which crushed the most formidable of all the tribes of the south. On Jabneh see Joshua 15:11 note; and on Ashdod see Joshua 13:3 note.
7And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gurbaal, and the Mehunims.
On the Mehunims or Maonites, see Judges 10:12 note.
8And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly.
9Moreover Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the corner gate, and at the valley gate, and at the turning of the wall, and fortified them.
10Also he built towers in the desert, and digged many wells: for he had much cattle, both in the low country, and in the plains: husbandmen also, and vine dressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry.
He built towers in the desert - Refuges for the flocks and the herdsmen in the wild pasture country on the borders of the holy land, especially toward the south and southeast.
Wells - The marginal translation is preferable. Judaea depends largely for its water-supply on reservoirs in which the rain-fall is stored. These are generally cut in the natural rock, and covered at top.
For he had much cattle ... - Some prefer, "for he had much cattle there, and in the low country, and on the dawns," with allusion to three pasture districts:
(1) The "wilderness," or high tract to the south and southeast, extending from the western shores of the Dead Sea to the vicinity of Beersheba;
(2) The "low country," or maritime plain on the west, between the hills of Judaea and the sea; and
(3) The "downs," or rich grazing land beyond the Jordan, on the plateau of Gilead. Uzziah's possession of this last-named district must have been connected with the submission of the Ammonites (see 2 Chronicles 26:8).
In the mountains, and in Carmel - These terms describe Judaea Proper - the hilly tract between the low maritime plain on the one side, and the wilderness and Jordan valley on the other. By "Carmel" we must understand, not the mountain of that name, which belonged to Samaria, but the cultivated portions of the Judaean hill-tract (see the margin).
11Moreover Uzziah had an host of fighting men, that went out to war by bands, according to the number of their account by the hand of Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah the ruler, under the hand of Hananiah, one of the king's captains.
12The whole number of the chief of the fathers of the mighty men of valour were two thousand and six hundred.
13And under their hand was an army, three hundred thousand and seven thousand and five hundred, that made war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy.
Compare 2 Chronicles 25:5. It will be seen that Uzziah had not added much to the military strength of the nation by his conquests. His army exceeds that of his father Amaziah by 7,500 men only.
14And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones.
The sling was used in war by the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Greeks, Romans, and others. Its employment by the Benjamites appears from Judges 20:16, and by the ten tribes, a century before Uzziah, from 2 Kings 3:25.
15And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong.
Uzziah's engines seem to have corresponded respectively to the Roman balista and catapulta. The balista, which threw stones, was known to the Assyrians as early as the time of Sardanapalus I, the contemporary of Jehoshaphat. The catapult is not represented either on the Assyrian or the Egyptian sculptures. It would seem on the whole most probable that both kinds of engines were invented in Assyria and introduced from thence into Palestine.
16But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
To his destruction - Rather, "to do wickedly." Uzziah appears to have deliberately determined to invade the priest's office (marginal reference "m"), thus repeating the sin of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram Numbers 16:1-35.
17And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men:
18And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God.
19Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar.
20And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him.
Death was denounced by the Law against those who invaded the office of the priest; and death had been the actual punishment of Korah and his company. Uzziah feared lest from him also the extreme penalty should be exacted, and therefore hasted to quit the sacred building where his bare presence was a capital crime.
21And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land.
A several house - See the marginal reference "q" note; and compare Psalm 88, which is supposed by some to refer to Uzziah.
22Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write.
The acts of Uzziah ... did Isaiah ... write - Most critics regard Isaiah as about 20 when Uzziah died. He must, then, have written his history of Uzziah's reign from documents and accounts of others, rather than from his own knowledge.
23So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.
In the field of the burial - i. e. in the same piece of ground, but in a separate sepulchre. As the Law separated off the leper from his fellows during life Leviticus 13:46, so Jewish feeling required that he should remain separate even in death.