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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah.
The history of Judah is resumed 2 Kings 14:1-22, followed by a brief account of the contemporary history of Israel under Jeroboam II 2 Kings 14:23-29. The earlier narrative runs parallel with 2 Chronicles 25.
2He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.
Joash of Judah reigned forty years 2 Kings 12:1, and Joash of Israel ascended the throne in his namesake's thirty-seventh year 2 Kings 13:10; hence, we should have expected to hear that Amaziah succeeded his father in the fourth rather than in the second year of Joash (of Israel). The usual explanation of the discrepancy is to suppose a double accession of the Israelite Joash - as co-partner with his father in the thirty-seventh year of his namesake, as sole king two years afterward.
3And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did.
He did ... as Joash - There is a curious parity between the lives of Joash and Amaziah. Both were zealous for Yahweh in the earlier portion of their reigns, but in the latter part fell away; both disregarded the rebukes of prophets; and both, having forsaken God, were in the end conspired against and slain (compare 2 Chronicles 24:25; 2 Chronicles 25:27).
4Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.
5And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, that he slew his servants which had slain the king his father.
The phrase, "confirmed in his hand" 2 Kings 15:19, usually expresses the authorisation of a new reign by an imperial superior (see 2 Kings 15:19 note); but here it describes the result when the troubles consequent upon the murder of Joash had passed away. The new king's authority was generally recognized by his subjects.
6But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
The children of the murderers he slew not - This seems to be noted as a rare instance of clemency (compare 2 Kings 9:26 note). It is strange at first sight, that, when the Law contained so very plain a prohibition (marginal references), the contrary practice should have established itself. But we must remember, first, that the custom was that of the East generally (see Daniel 6:24); and secondly, that it had the sanction of one who might be thought to have known thoroughly the mind of the legislator, namely, Joshua (see Joshua 7:24-25).
7He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day.
Amaziah's Idumaean war is treated at length by the writer of Chronicles (marginal reference).
The "Valley of Salt" is usually identified with the broad open plain called the Sabkah, at the southern end of the Dead Sea - the continuation of the Ghor or Jordan gorge. At the north-western corner of this plain stands a mountain of rock-salt, and the tract between this mountain and the sea is a salt-marsh. Salt springs also abound in the plain itself, so that the name would be fully accounted for. It is doubted, however, whether the original of the word "valley," commonly used of clefts and ravines, can be applied to such a sunk plain as the Sabkah; and it is certainly most unlikely that 10,000 prisoners would have been conveyed upward of eighty miles (the distance of the Sabkah from Petra), through a rough and difficult country, only in order to be massacred. On the whole, it is perhaps most probable that the "Valley of Salt" yet remains to be discovered, and that its true position was near Selah or Petra (see Judges 1:36 note). Amaziah gave to Petra the name Joktheel, "subdued by God," in a religious spirit as an acknowledgment of the divine aid by which his victory was gained. The name failed to take permanent hold on the place, because the Edomites, on not long afterward recovering their city, restored the old appellation (2 Chronicles 28:17; compare Isaiah 16:1, and Amos 1:11).
Unto this day - The writer of Kings evidently gives the exact words of his document, composed not later than the reign of Ahaz, before whose death the Edomites had recovered Petra.
8Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face.
Amaziah's success against Edom had so elated him that he thought himself more than a match for his northern neighbor. The grounds of the quarrel between them were furnished by the conduct of the hired, but dismissed, Israelite soldiers (see the marginal reference).
Let us look one another in the face - i. e. "let us meet face to face in arms, and try each other's strength" 2 Kings 14:11-12.
9And Jehoash the 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 thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.
The Oriental use of apologues on the most solemn and serious occasions is well known to all, and scarcely needs illustration (compare marginal reference). It is a common feature of such apologues that they are not exact parallels to the case whereto they are applied, but only general or partial resemblances. Hence, there is need of caution in applying the several points of the illustration.
10Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry at home: for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?
Glory of this ... - literally, "Be honored;" i. e. "Enjoy thy honor ... be content with it." "Why wilt thou meddle with misfortune?"
11But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah.
Jehoash did not wait to be attacked. Invading Judaea from the west, and so ascending out of the low coast tract, he met the army of Amaziah at Beth-shemesh (see Joshua 19:21 note), about 15 miles from Jerusalem.
12And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.
The author of Chronicles notes that Amaziah's obstinacy, and his consequent defeat and captivity, were judgments upon him for an idolatry into which he had fallen after his conquest of Edom 2 Chronicles 25:14, 2 Chronicles 25:20.
13And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Bethshemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
The object of breaking down the wall was to leave Jerusalem at the mercy of her rival; and it must have been among the conditions of the peace that the breach thus made should not be repaired.
Gates in Oriental cities are named from the places to which they lead. The gate of Ephraim must therefore have been a north gate: perhaps also known, later on, by the name of the "gate of Benjamin" Jeremiah 37:13; Zechariah 14:10. The corner gate was probably a gate at the northwest angle of the city, where the north wall approached the Valley of Hinnom. The entire breach was thus in the north wall, on the side where Jerusalem was naturally the weakest. Josephus says that Joash drove his chariot through the breach into the town, a practice not unusual with conquerors.
14And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria.
This is the only distinct mention of "hostages" in the Old Testament. It would seem that the Oriental conquerors generally regarded the terror of their arms as sufficient to secure the performance of the engagements contracted toward them.
15Now 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?
These two verses (repeated from 2 Kings 13:12-13) are out of place here, where they interrupt the history of Amaziah's reign.
16And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead.
17And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years.
18And the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
19Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there.
20And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.
They brought him on horses - i. e. they conveyed his body back to Jerusalem in the royal chariot. The combination of relentless animosity against the living prince with the deepest respect for his dead remains is very characteristic of an Oriental people.
21And all the people of Judah took Azariah, which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.
All the people of Judah - The words imply that the conspiracy was one in which the general mass of the people did not participate. There was no confusion and trouble as on the occasion of the murder of Joash. Azariah ("the strength of Yahweh"), and Uzziah ("whom Yahweh assists"), were mere variants of one name.
22He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.
Elath, or Eloth (marginal reference 1 Kings 9:26), was near Ezion-Geber, in the Gulf of Akabah. It had been lost to the Jews on the revolt of Edom from Joram 2 Kings 8:22. Uzziah's re-establishment of the place, rendered possible by his father's successes 2 Kings 14:7, was one of his first acts, and seems to imply a desire to renew the commercial projects which Solomon had successfully carried out, and which Jehoshaphat had vainly attempted 1 Kings 22:48.
23In 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, and reigned forty and one years.
Jeroboam - This is the only instance, in the history of either kingdom, of a recurrent royal appellation. We can scarcely doubt that Jeroboam II was named after the great founder of the Israelite kingdom by a father who trusted that he might prove a sort of second founder. Perhaps the prophecy of Jonah (see 2 Kings 14:25) had been already given, and it was known that a great deliverance was approaching.
24And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
25He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, 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 prophet, which was of Gathhepher.
He restored the coast of Israel - Jeroboam, in the course of his long reign, recovered the old boundaries of the holy land to the north, the east, and the southeast. The "entering in of Hamath" is spoken of as the northern boundary; the "sea of the plain," or the Dead Sea, is the southern boundary (see the marginal references): here Israel adjoined on Moab. The entire tract east of Jordan had been lost to Israel in the reign of Jehu and that of Jehoahaz 2 Kings 10:33; 2 Kings 13:3, 2 Kings 13:25. All this was now recovered: and not only so, but Moab was reduced Amos 6:14, and the Syrians were in their turn forced to submit to the Jews 2 Kings 14:28. The northern conquests were perhaps little less important than the eastern 2 Kings 14:28.
The word of the Lord ... which he spake - Some have found the prophecy of Jonah here alluded to, or a portion of it, in Isaiah 15:1-9; Isaiah 16:1-14 (see 2 Kings 16:13); but without sufficient grounds.
This passage tends to fix Jonah's date to some period not very late in the reign of Jeroboam II, i. e. (according to the ordinary chronology) from 823 B.C. to 782 B.C. On Gath-hepher, see the marginal reference and note.
26For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.
The affliction of Israel - That which the Israelites had suffered for two reigns at the hands of the Syrians 2 Kings 10:32-33; 2 Kings 13:3, 2 Kings 13:7,2 Kings 13:22.
There was not any shut up, nor any left - A phrase implying complete depopulation (see the marginal reference note; 1 Kings 14:10), but here meaning no more than extreme depression and weakness.
27And the LORD said not 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.
And the Lord said not - Though the Israelites were brought thus low, yet the fiat did not as yet go forth for their destruction. God did not send a prophet to say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven; but on the contrary sent two to announce that they should be delivered from their present enemies, and obtain triumphs over them (see 2 Kings 14:25; 2 Kings 13:17-19).
That he would blot out ... - This is a Mosaic phrase, found only here and in Deuteronomy 2 Kings Deuteronomy 9:14; Deuteronomy 29:20.
28Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
He recovered Damascus - Jeroboam probably gained certain advantages over Benhadad, which induced the latter to make his submission and consent to such terms as those extorted by Ahab 1 Kings 20:34.
Hamath was probably among the actual conquests of Jeroboam. It was brought so low in his reign, as to have become almost a by-word for calamity (compare Amos 6:2).
Which belonged to Judah, for Israel - i. e. these cities were recovered to Judah, i. e. to the people of God generally, through or by means of being added to Israel, i. e. to the northern kingdom.
A few further facts in the history of Jeroboam II are recorded by the prophet Amos (compare Amos 7:10, etc.).
29And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.