The Word Made Fresh
1King Amaziah son of Jehoash began his reign in Judah in the second year of King Jehoash of Israel, son of Jehoahaz. 2He came to the throne at the age of twenty-five and ruled for twenty-nine years. His mother was Jehoaddan from Jerusalem. 3He was faithful to the LORD, though not as his forefather David. During his reign he followed the policies of his father Jehoash. 4The hilltop shrines were not removed and the people continued to worship there with burnt offerings and incense.
5Once he was securely in charge he put to death those who had murdered his father, 6but he did not kill their children. He obeyed the Book of the Law of Moses, where the LORD had said, “Parents are not to be put to death for the sins of their children, or children for the sins of their parents; each must be punished for their own sins.”
7He defeated ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and captured the city of Sela, renaming it Jokthe-El, the name it is known by today.
8Then he sent word to King Jehoash of Israel, saying, “Come, let us challenge one another face to face.”
9Jehoash sent this reply: “Once upon a time a thorny bush on Mt. Lebanon sent word to a nearby cedar tree, saying, ‘Let your daughter marry my son.’ But then a wild animal passing by trampled the bush. 10Yes, you defeated Edom and you’re all puffed up. Be content with your recent victory and stay home. Why should you risk being ruined, and all of Judah along with you?”
11But Amaziah paid no heed, so the two of them met in battle at Beth-Shemesh in Judah. 12Israel won the battle and the Judean army fled for home. 13King Jehoash took King Amaziah captive at Beth-Shemesh, then went and toppled the wall of Jerusalem from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate, about six hundred feet of it. 14He took all the gold and silver and all the containers from the LORD’s house and from the king’s treasury and some hostages as well, then returned to Samaria.
15The record of King Jehoash, including his mighty deeds and accomplishments, is written in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel. 16He died and was buried in Samaria with his ancestors. His son Jeroboam was king after him.
17Amaziah son of Jehoash king of Judah lived another fifteen years after the death of Jehoash of Israel. 18The record of his reign is contained in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Judah. 19He fled to Lachish to escape a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, but they followed him there and killed him. 20They sent horses to carry his corpse back to Jerusalem and buried him with his ancestors in the city of David. 21Then the people made his sixteen-year-old son Azariah king to succeed his father. 22Azariah is the king responsible for rebuilding Elath and restoring it to Judah after his father’s death.
23It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Amaziah son of Jehoash of Judah that Jeroboam son of Jehoash of Israel began to reign in Israel in Samaria, and he ruled for forty-one years. 24He was evil in the LORD’s judgment because he did not waver from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat who led Israel astray. 25He did restore Israel’s border from Lebo-Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah. This was in keeping with the LORD’s word to the prophet Jonah son of Amittai from Gath-Hepher. 26The LORD saw that Israel was in dire straits with no one left to help them, slave or free. 27But the LORD never threatened to wipe away the name of Israel from the earth, and the LORD saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash.
28The record of Jeroboam’s rule is written in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel. He fought and recovered Damascus and Hamath for Israel; they had belonged to Judah. 29Jeroboam died and joined his ancestors, the kings of Israel. His son Zechariah rose to the throne after him.
1-6: We come to the record of the reign of Amaziah king of Judah. He enjoys a fairly long rule of 29 years. His mother is Jehoaddin; the fact that her name is given is another indication that the office of Queen Mother is an important one. He is judged to have been a good king, although not as good as David, of course. Just as all the kings of Israel are judged to be bad because they kept the counter-religious cult instituted by Jeroboam, so the kings of Judah are judged to be good but not as good as David. Amaziah’s father Joash, you will recall, was murdered by a couple of his servants, Jozacar and Jehozabad (12:21). Even though Joash was assassinated, no coup was attempted, and the throne passed smoothly to his son Amaziah, who was only 25 years old at the time. But as time passed and his power solidified, he arrived at the point that he could do as he wished, and he wished to punish his father’s assassins, and he did. But, in an act of forbearance rare for a king, he did not wipe out the entire families of the assassins (see Deuteronomy 24:16), because he was indeed a man of integrity who took the Law seriously.
7: He conquered Edom, took over its capital, Sela, and changed its name to Jokthe-El, but in spite of the author’s claim the original name of Sela was the one that stuck (see, for example, Isaiah 42:11). Jokthe-El is never mentioned again in the Bible.
8-10: Flushed with his success in Edom, Amaziah summons King Jehoash of Israel to a contest, but Jehoash is not impressed and refuses to play.
11-14: Amaziah doesn’t give it up, though, and Jehoash has to send his army into Judah to confront Amaziah and his army. Israel is victorious. Amaziah is taken prisoner and Jerusalem is sacked. All the wealth of the temple is confiscated and some of the population is taken hostage. Apparently, Jehoash lets Amaziah go free, however, because we will read that he is still king of Judah when Jehoash dies. But you can bet that every year Amaziah has to pay tribute to his northern counterpart.
15-16: In the 14th year of Amaziah’s reign, King Jehoash of Israel dies, leaving his son Jeroboam king in his stead.
17-22: Again, no explanation is given, but Amaziah meets the same fate as his father. Obviously, things are going very badly for him in Jerusalem, and he has to flee, but he is followed and murdered at Lachish. It would seem that there are powerful forces in Judah (perhaps connected to the priesthood – remember Jehoiada?) who will not allow anything as petty as a king to challenge their powers. Once again, the assassins are not trying to overthrow the government, only to get rid of Amaziah. The people immediately crown his son Azariah king of Judah at the age of 16.
23-27: Meanwhile, Jeroboam of Israel is establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with. He rules for 41 years, a record so far, and manages to extend his borders to much of their former extent. The prophet Jonah of Amittai (of swallowed-by-a-whale fame) is credited with a prophecy that God would allow Jeroboam to restore Israel’s borders. We won’t find that particular prophesy in the book named for the prophet Jonah, however.
28-29: During the course of his long reign, Jeroboam even manages to regain Damascus and Hamath, a surprising and impressive achievement.
Aside from a brief mention of Jonah, we have entered a period of Israel and Judah’s history in which prophets played little or no role. In every generation, including ours, someone must speak for God, or the community is in danger of suffering, decline, and collapse. That is what will happen to Israel first, then Judah. Read on.