The Word Made Fresh
1In the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of King Amaziah began his reign over Judah. 2He was sixteen years old when his reign began, and he ruled fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. 3He followed in the way of the LORD as his father Amaziah had done, 4but the hilltop shrines remained, and people continued to sacrifice and bring offerings there. 5During his reign, the LORD struck him with leprosy, and he carried the disease for the rest of his life. He lived in separate quarters and his son Jotham was in charge of the palace and governed the people of the land. 6The rule of Azariah and the record of his kingship is written in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Judah. 7He joined his ancestors in death and was buried with them in the city of David, and his son Jotham succeeded him.
8In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah’s rule, Zechariah son of Jeroboam came to the throne in Samaria, and ruled Israel for six months. 9The LORD saw him do evil things during his reign, copying his ancestors. He corruptly followed the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat and caused Israel to sin. 10Shallum son of Jabesh led a coup against him and attacked him in public and killed him and became king in his place. 11The record of Zechariah’s reign is found in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel, 12and his brief reign fulfilled the LORD’s promise to Jehu that his sons would rule Israel to the fourth generation, and that is exactly what happened.
13Then Shallum son of Jabesh began his reign in the thirty-ninth year of King Uzziah of Judah, and he ruled for one month in Samaria. 14Menahem son of Gadi came up to Samaria from Tirzah and killed Shallum and began to reign in his place. 15Shallum’s deeds, beginning with his conspiracy against king Zechariah, are recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel.
16Menahem began his reign by capturing and ransacking Tiphsah and the surrounding lands from Tirzah on. He attacked them because they did not acknowledge his claim on the throne. He cut open all their pregnant women.
17Mehahem’s reign in Israel began in the thirty-ninth year of king Azariah of Judah. He ruled for ten years in Samaria. 18The LORD saw that his reign was wicked because he didn’t change any of the sinful rules of Jeroboam son of Nebat by which Israel was led to sin. 19King Pul of Assyria advanced toward Israel. Menahem gave him a thousand talents of silver to allow him to remain on the throne in Israel. 20He took the silver from the wealthy, about one and a fourth pounds of silver per family. The king of Assyria turned away and left Israel.
21The rest of the deeds of Menahem are written in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel. 22He died and joined his ancestors and his son Pekahiah came to the throne after him.
23Pekahiah son of Menahem became king of Israel in the fiftieth year of King Azariah of Judah and ruled in Samaria for two years. 24He committed evil deeds in the sight of the LORD and did not turn away from the practices of Jeroboam son of Nebat that made the Israelites sin. 25The captain of his royal guard, Pekah son of Remaliah, conspired with fifty Gileadites and attacked him, along with Argob and Arieh, in Samaria in the fortress beside the palace. He killed Pekahiah and became king in his place.
26The rest of the deeds of Pekahiah are written in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel.
27Pekah son of Remaliah began to rule Israel in the fifty-second year of King Azariah of Judah and ruled for twenty years. 28The LORD saw that he was evil, for he did not depart from the sinful ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat that led Israel astray. 29During his reign, King Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria invaded the land and captured Ijon, Abel-Beth-Maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee and all of the territory of Naphtali. He carried the people as captives to Assyria.
30Then it was that Hoshea son of Elah conspired against Pekah son of Remaliah, attacked and killed him and reigned in his place; it was in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah. 31The record of Pekah’s reign is recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel.
32Meanwhile, in the second year of Pekah’s rule in Israel, Jotham son of Uzziah began his reign in Judah. 33He was twenty-five years old when he came to the throne, and he ruled for sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother was Jerusha daughter of Zadok. 34He did what was right in the LORD’s sight just as his father Uzziah had done. 35Still, the hilltop shrines were not removed, and the people continued to bring sacrifices and offerings there. He is the king who built the north gate of the LORD’s temple. 36Jotham’s reign and his acts are recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Judah. 37That is when the LORD began to allow king Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah to make raids against Judah.
38Jotham died and was buried with his ancestors in the city of David. His son Ahaz ruled after him.
1-7: We return now to the reign of Azariah (also known as Uzziah) in Judah. He holds the record for tenure thus far, ruling for 52 years, his early years no doubt under the tutelage of his mother Jecoliah. Although he rules for over five decades his authority is truncated by a skin disease identified as leprosy. We are not told when he contracts the illness or how long it lasts, but we are told that he has to keep separate quarters and that his son Jotham administers the affairs of state. The text says that the LORD struck him with the disease but gives no explanation why. He, too, is a good king; he just can’t quite live up to David.
8-12: Now back to Samaria. Jeroboam dies and is succeeded by his son Zechariah. His reign only lasts for six months. He is assassinated by Shallum, and the dynasty of Jehu comes to an end as prophesied.
13-16: Shallum seizes power in Israel, but only for a month before he is deposed by a particularly vile man named Menahem. Menahem’s character is demonstrated all too clearly by his treatment of the unfortunate women of Tiphshah. The “Uzziah” in verse 13 is an alternate name for Azariah of Judah.
17-22: Menahem is able to hold on to power for 10 years. His rule is judged to be wicked, of course, and now we see that the instability created by all the assassinations has weakened the country. Assyria, now a strong and growing empire, puts the squeeze on Menahem who confiscates the wealth of the country to pay off the Assyrians. When he dies his son succeeds him, but his dynasty will be short-lived.
23-26: Pekahiah succeeds his father Menahem, but his reign is cut short by yet another assassination and coup. This time it is a military coup led by General Pekah, supported by a substantial element in the Israelite army.
27-31: Pekah manages to hold on to power for 20 years, but his military is no match for Assyria. Tiglath-Pileser conquers half his kingdom and exports the population. Apparently, there is not enough wealth in the country to buy off the Assyrians a second time. Pekah’s authority is weakened, and a conspiracy successfully unseats him. And kills him, too.
32-38: Back to Jerusalem. Jotham succeeds his father Uzziah (Azariah – see verse 7). Jotham reigns for 16 years and is judged to have been a good king, but nothing like David, of course. During his reign he has to fend off attacks from the Arameans and the Israelites. His son Ahaz succeeds him.
God is still in Israel’s picture, but in the background as one wicked king after another takes the throne. The point is, God is still in Israel’s picture. God won’t give up on them easily in spite of their having completely turned away from God. Let’s put it another way: God won’t give up on me and you either, even when we turn away from God and go happily and selfishly and sinfully on our way. God is in the background of our lives just as God was always in the background in Samaria.