2 Chr 25.1-28 tells us about Joash’s successor, Amaziah (strength of Yah). There is more information here than in 2 Kings 14 about Amaziah. He is the first king to reign after the murder of Zechariah in the Temple. He continued to reign in a godly way which was begun by his father, but not with a whole or loyal heart. In this he did not compare to David favorably. He killed the servants who killed his father, but not their children (Deut 24.16).
After this he prepares for battle against the Edomites. He counted 300,000 choice men, 25 years old and up from Judah and Benjamin. He also hired 100,000 mercenaries from Israel, but a prophet came forward and said that Amaziah was not to take the army of Israel with him, he said the Lord was not with the army of Israel. He couldn’t get the money back from paying the soldiers, but the prophet said God had much more to give him than that.
It made sense to have as large an army as he could, but it did not make sense spiritually. God had all power and authority anyway and he didn’t need an army at all. When he dismissed the Ephraimite troops they felt slighted and dishonored. They returned home in anger, and this shows why Yehovah didn’t want them.
But Amaziah was not discouraged with the loss of troops and he defeated the sons of Seir (Edomites) in the Valley of Salt (between Judah and Edom, south of the Dead Sea) and killed 10,000, and Judah captured another 10,000 and threw them off a cliff near Petra. Why they did this is not easy to say.
However, the army of Israel returned home, but returned and raided the cities of Judah from Samaria to Beth-horon. This shows how evil the released Israelites really were. They were determined to enrich themselves through plunder. This also teaches us that Amaziah was very foolish in trying to enlist the help of the Israelites. In our life, we need to be careful about who we align ourselves with because there will be consequences afterward which will follow us and cause damage. Sin can be forgiven but the consequences can be harsh.
After Amaziah returned, be brought the gods of the Edomites with him and set them up as his gods, and bowed down to them and burned incense to them. He failed to thank Yehovah in the process. Why would he worship gods who couldn’t save the Edomites? As a result, Yehovah sent a prophet to make that very point. But Amaziah rejected the word of the prophet, saying that he was not an advisor to the king. But the prophet said he knew that God had planned to destroy Amaziah because he would not listen.
Amaziah wanted to clothe his desire to defeat Israel in revenge by issuing what seemed to be an invitation to fight a battle, hoping he could unite the two kingdoms under himself. Amaziah knew that Yoash, king of Israel, would spurn the invitation, and then he could wage war against them. But Yoash was confident, as seen in his answer (v 18-19), and Amaziah miscalculated the strength of Israel. Yehovah directed Amaziah’s thoughts (v 20) to reject what Yoash said in order to punish him for his idol worship (v 16).
So, they faced each other in battle and Judah was defeated. Amaziah was captured and taken to Jerusalem (the battle was in Judah’s territory). Yoash tore down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim (called this because it opened up to Ephraimite territory and when they came to the Temple they would enter there) and the Corner Gate (also called the “Turning Gate”).
Because of his attack on Israel, he lost gold and silver to Yoash, but also the people. Sometimes our bad decisions hurt others. Amaziah was hated and the people conspired against him. He had turned away from the Lord to idolatry and he fled to Lachish, a city of idols (Mic 1.13). He thought that if he fled he would be safe, but he was wrong. But the assassins who wanted to kill Amaziah sent word to have him killed there, and he was. It says he was buried “in the city of Judah” (Jerusalem-2 Kings 14.20). If he wanted to unite the two states and rule over them from Jerusalem, this phrase is ironic.
2 Chr 26-1-23 begins a narrative dealing with the last ten kings of Judah. We have dealt with the eschatological implications of these kings in our study of 2 Kings 15 through 25 so we are not going over the prophetic implications of these kings again here. We refer you to 2 Kings 15-25 for that. However, we are going to bring out other concepts relating to the “Peshat” (literal) understanding of these chapters.
With the ascension of King Uzziah (strength of Yehovah), a basic change in the future of the Jewish people begins. Spiritually, the people are corroding into idolatry. The first indication we have that all is not right is seen in a prophecy given when Uzziah dies in Isa 6.1-13. Four great prophets (Hosea, Isaiah, Amos and Micah) will reveal this corrupt nature within the people.
Uzziah was the son of Amaziah and he began to reign when he as 16 years old. His mother’s name (the givorah) was Yecoliah (Yah is able, prevails) of Jerusalem. He sought the Lord during the lifetime of Zechariah (the son of the one Yoash killed-Isa 8.2), who had an understanding of the Lord and the Torah. As long as he did this, God prospered him and he reigned 52 years.
He made war on the Philistines, Arabians and the Meunites. The Ammonites brought tribute and his fame spread. Repairs were needed in Jerusalem because of the damage done in the previous reign, note the mention of the Corner Gate in v 9 and how it was damaged in 2 Chr 23.23. The Valley Gate is mentioned in Neh 2.13, 3.13 and Jer 31.40. This gate led to the Kidron Valley.
Uzziah also loved the soil and great strides were made in agriculture. He also had an army ready for war and he made “engines” that made it possible to throw stones and shoot arrows. But Uzziah became proudful to the point of ruin. This was the cause of his fall. He entered the Temple to offer incense on the Golden Altar called the Mizbeach Shell Zahav. He was warned not to do this by Azariah the priest, who also had 80 valiant priests with him.
So at this point, Uzziah became enraged with the priests and it is believed that he was about to strike the priests with the censor that held the incense. At that moment, Zara’at (Leprosy) began to break out on his forehead (the seat of the intellect and reason) and it is also where the High Priest wears the Tzitz, the golden plate bearing the name of Yehovah, and it sets him apart to God’s service through the concept of Kedusha. Uzziah usurped that honor for himself, and Yehovah struck him with zara’at to testify to the futility of doing that. At the same time there was an earthquake, which was described by Josephus and several other places in the Tanak. Prophetically, this may be prophetic of a coming earthquake right before the Birth-pains begin (the reign of Uzziah) which will destroy the Dome of the Rock, opening the way for the coming Temple to be built.
Realizing this was punishment from God, he was hurried out of the Heichal (Holy Place) where the altar of incense was. He lived in a separate house, being a leper, and he was cut off from the Temple. His son Yotham (Yehovah is perfect) became co-regent because Uzziah was unable to fulfill his kingly duties. The house of Uzziah was found between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and it was full of idols. It is two miles south of Rachel’s Hill, and 250 feet by 150 feet, with a casemate wall and a triple gate.
Yehovah still does these things today. We become haughty and speak against our brothers, and we want to “cut them off” from others with our words, like a leper. So, Yehovah makes us like one. Like Uzziah, we get insulted and rise up in pride and do harm to others. We think we have the right to stomp right into the Holy Place and come before God to “blow a little smoke” of our own.
There were other things that Uzziah did and these were documented by the Prophet Isaiah, but it is not likely that the Book of Isaiah is meant in v 22. Isaiah may have written another book that was not considered Scripture.
Uzziah died and was buried with his fathers that was “near them” because of his leprosy, not the actual tomb. The reign of Uzziah is a picture of the days leading up to the Chevlai Shell Mashiach or Birth-pains of the Messiah, and we have developed this out in our teaching on the these last kings of Judah in 2 Kings 15 through 25.
2 Chr 27.1-9 tells us about the reign of Yotham (Yehovah is perfect). He was a righteous king and reigned 16 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Yerushah (owned, inheritance) the daughter of Zadok. He was 25 years old when he began to reign in his own right. He did what was right in the eyes of Yehovah, but he did not enter the Temple like his father. He learned his lesson, but the people continued to act corruptly. This corruption did not begin during the reign of Yotham. He was concerned with the Temple and built up the Upper Gate and the Wall of Ophel. He built castles in the hills of Judah and the forests.
He fought the kings of the Ammonites, who David defeated, and prevailed. They wanted to overthrow the yoke of Judah over them at times but never succeeded There is no other mention of this war in the Tanak. He succeeded because he walked in the Torah. Yotham’s acts and wars were written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. For more information on the royal records, see the book “Divrei Ha Yamim II” by Mesorah Publications, p. 92. There is a chart given on the kings and what record refers to them. Upon Yotham’s death, his son Ahaz (has held) becomes king. His name is a diminutive of a later king named Yehoahaz, meaning “Yehovah has held.” His reign gives us a picture of the first year of the Birth-pains.
2 Chr 28.1-27 tells us about the reign of Ahaz, and he was not a good king. He was 20 years old when he became king and he reigned 16 years. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel (idolatry) and he made molten images for the Baals. He also burned incense in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom and burned his sons in fire to Molech. This valley was the site for this type of idolatry.
The Molech Cult burned a metal statue that represented the god until it was red hot. Then they would place a living infant on the outstretched hands of the statue, while beating drums drowned out the screams of the child until it was dead. Yehovah pronounced a death sentence on those who worship Molech in Lev 20.1-5. Even Solomon sanctioned this worship and built a temple to this idol in 2 Kings 11.7. This worship will plague Israel during the time of Manasseh and Josiah (2 Kings 23.10.
This valley is called “Tophet” (place of burning) and it was eventually converted into the city dump in Jerusalem. The west winds from the sea blew east and the smoke from the dump fires were blown away from the city. In Hebrew, the term “Gay Hinnom” means “Valley of Hinnom” because the Hinnom Valley wrapped itself around to the south of the city. The Tyropoeon and Kidron Valley meet there also. Gay Hinnom is where we get the word “Gehenna” from in Mk 9.43. This practice was “according to the abominations of the nations whom Yehovah had driven out before the sons of Israel.”
He also sacrificed and burned incense on the Bamot (pagan high places), on the hills and under every green tree. So, Yehovah brought the king of Syria against Ahaz, along with the king of Israel. They took much spoil and captives. Isa 7 says the goal of this war was to dethrone Ahaz, replacing the Davidic line with a Syrian king (Isa 7.6). But a prophet named Obed was sent to rebuke Israel for their crimes against their brothers, and Israel heeded his message and they repented (turned) from their sins. They took care of the captives and gave them up, along with the spoils.
To thwart this plot by Syria and Israel, Ahaz called upon Assyria for help (2 Kings 16). Syria and Israel defeated many cities in Judah but were laying siege to Jerusalem (2 Kings 16.5). Isaiah offered Ahaz a sign to show that the Lord would help, but Ahaz refused because he did not want to test Yehovah. He really wanted to trust in the king of Assyria.
But God gave him a sign anyway in Isa 7.14. Yehovah was not going to allow this plot against the Davidic line (and Messianic) to prosper. The dynasty would never be destroyed and there was going to be a remnant. But Judah was brought low because of Ahaz. Assyria came and he surrendered to them in order to defeat another. He refused to trust Yehovah (2 Kings 16.7).
Ahaz became even worse and more unfaithful to Yehovah. Times of trouble don’t necessarily drive people closer to God. This was the downfall of Ahaz. He suspended Temple worship and descended deeper into idolatry. He was probably the worst king of Judah and he died. They buried him in the city, but not in the tombs of the kings. His reign is a picture of the second year of the Birth-pains. His son Hezekiah began to reign in his place. His reign will be a picture of the third year of the Birth-pains.
We will pick up here in Part 8.