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Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in PAphek, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither till thou have consumed them. cast he them from his presence as yet."
24 So Hazael king of Syria died; and Ben-hadad his son reigned in his stead.
25 And Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz, took! again, out of the hand of Ben-hadad, the son of Hazael, the cities which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war: three times did Joash beat him, and recovered the cities of Israel.
18 And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed. 19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it; whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.!
20 And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.
21 And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
22 But Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.
23 And the LORD was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with 'Abraham, Isaac,
p1 Kings 20. 26. g ver. 25. went down. r c. 8. 12. ver. 3. . Ex. 2. 24, 25. Gen. 17. 2-5. Ex. 32. 13. Neh. 9. 32. Ps. 106. 45.
as if he had been a child that never drew a bow before, Elisha put his hands upon the king's hands, to signify that in all his expeditions against the Syrians, he must look up to God for direction and strength; must reckon his own hands not sufficient for him, but go on, in a dependence upon divine aid; He teacheth my hands to war, Ps. 18. 34.-144. 1. The trembling hands of a dying prophet, as they signified the concurrence and communication of the power of God, gave this arrow more force than the hands of the king in his full strength. The Syrians had made themselves masters of the country that lay eastward, ch. 10. 33. Thitherward therefore the arrow is directed, and such an interpretation given by the prophet of the shooting of this arrow, though shot in one respect, at random, as made it, [1.] A commission to the king to attack the Syrians, notwithstanding their power and possession. [2. A promise of success therein: it is the arrow of the Lord's deliverance, even the arrow of deliverance from Syria. It is God that commands deliverance; and when he will effect it, who can hinder? The arrow of deliverance is his. He shoots out his arrows, and the work is done, Ps. 18. 14. "Thou shall smite the Syrians in Aphek, where they are now encamped, or where they are to have a general rendezvous of their forces, till thou have consumed those of them that are vexatious and oppressive to thee and thy kingdom."
(2.) To strike with the arrows, v. 18, 19. The prophet having in God's name assured him of victory over the Syrians, he will now try him what improvement he will make of his victories, whether he will push them on with more zeal than Ahab did, when Ben-hadad lay at his mercy. For the trial of this, he bids him smite with the arrows on the ground; "Believe them brought to the ground by the arrow of the Lord's deliverance, and laid at thy feet; and now show me what thou wilt do to them when thou hast them down, whether thou wilt do as David did when God gave him the necks of his enemies, beat them small as the dust before the wind," Ps. 18. 40, 42. The king showed not that eagerness and flame which one might have expected upon this occasion, but smote thrice, and no more. Either out of foolish tenderness to the Syrians, he smote as if he were afraid of hurting them, or, at least, of ruining them; willing to show mercy to them that never did, nor ever would, show mercy to him or his people. Or, perhaps, he smote but thrice, and very coldly, because he thought it but a silly thing, that it looked idle and childish for a king to beat the floor with his arrows; and thrice was often enough for him to play the fool, merely to please the prophet. But, by contemning the sign, he lost the thing signified, sorely to the grief of the dying prophet, who was wroth with him, and told him he should have smitten five or six times. Not being straitened in the power and promise of God, why should he be straitened in his own expectations and endeavours? Note, It cannot but be a trouble to good men, to see those they wish well to, stand in their own light, and forsake their own mercies; to see them lose their advantages against their spiritual enemies, and so give them advantage.
V. 20-25. We must here attend,
I. The sepulchre of Elisha: he died in a good old age, and they buried him; and what follows, shows,
1. What power there was in his life to keep off judgments; for, as soon as he was dead, the bands of the Moabites invaded the land; not great armies to face them in the field, but roving skulking bands, that murdered and plundered by surprise. God has many ways to chastise a provoking people. The king was apprehensive of danger only from the Syrians, but, behold, the Moabites invade him. Trouble comes sometimes from that point whence we least feared it. The mentioning of this, immediately upon the death of Elisha, intimates, that the removal of God's faithful prophets is a presage of judgments coming. When ambassadors are recalled, heralds may be expected.
2. What power there was in his dead body; it communicated
This chapter continues the history of the succession in the kingdoms both of Judah and Israel. I. In the kingdom of Judah, here is the entire history (as much as is recorded in this book) of Amaziah's reign; his good character, (v. 1-4 ;) the justice he executed on the murderers of his father, (v. 5, 6) his victory over the Edomites, (v. 7;) his war with Joash, and his defeat in that war, (v. 814;) his fall, at last, by a conspiracy against him, (v. 17-20;) and the beginning of the history of Azariah, v. 21, 22. 11. In the kingdom of Israel, the conclusion of the reign of Joash, (v. 15, 16,) and the entire history of Jeroboam his son, the second of that name, v. 23-29. How many great men are made to stand in a little compass in God's book!
life to another dead body, v. 21. This great miracle, though very briefly related, was a decided proof of his mission, and a confirmation of all his prophecies. It was also a plain indication of another life after this; when Elisha died, there was not an end of him, for then he could not have done this. From operation we may infer existence. By this it appeared that the Lord was still the God of Elisha, therefore Elisha still lived, for he is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And it may, perhaps, have a reference to Christ, by whose death and burial the grave is made to all believers a safe and happy passage to life. It likewise intimated that though Elisha was dead, yet, in the virtue of the promises made by him, Israel's interests, though they seemed quite sunk and lost, should revive and flourish again. The neighbours were carrying the dead body of a man to the grave, and, fearing to fall into the hands of the Moabites, a party of whom they saw at a distance near the place where the body was to be interred, they laid the corpse in the next convenient place, which proved to be Elisha's sepulchre. The dead man, upon touching his bones, revived, and it is likely, went home again with his friends. Josephus relates the story otherwise; That some thieves, having robbed and murdered an honest traveller, threw his dead body into Elisha's grave, and it immediately revived. Elijah was honoured in his departure, Elisha was honoured after his departure. God thus dispenses honours as he pleases, but, one way or other, the rest of all the saints will be glorious, Is. 11. 10. It is good being near the saints, and having our lot with them both in life and death.
II. The sword of Joash king of Israel; and we find it successful against the Syrians.
1. The cause of his success was God's favour; (v. 23,) The Lord was gracious to them, had compassion on them in their miserics, and respect unto them. The several expressions here of the same import, call upon us to observe and admire the triumphs of divine goodness in the deliverance of such a provoking people. It was of the Lord's mercies, that they were not consumed; because he would not destroy them as yet. He foresaw they would destroy themselves, at last, but, as yet, he would reprieve them, and give them space to repent. The slowness of God's processes against sinners must be construed to the honour of his mercy, not the impeachment of his justice. 2. The effect of his success, was, Israel's benefit. He recovered out of the hands of Ben-hadad the cities of Israel which the Syrians were possessed of, v. 25. This was a great kindness to the cities themselves, which were hereby brought from under the yoke of oppression; and to the whole kingdom, which was much strengthened by the reduction of those cities. Thrice Joash beat the Syrians, just as often as he had struck the ground with the arrows, and then a full stop was put to the course of his victories. Many have repented, when it was too late, of their distrusts, and the straitness of their desires.
NOTES TO CHAPTER XIV.
V. 1-7. Amaziah is the king whom here we have an account of, the son and successor of Joash: let us take a view of him, 1. In the temple; and there he acted, in some measure, well, like Joash, but not like David, v. 3. He began well, but did not persevere. He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, kept up his attendance on God's altars, and his attention to God's word, yet not like David. It is not enough to do that which our pious predecessors did merely to keep up the usage, but we must do it as they did it, from the same principle of faith and devotion, and with the same sincerity and resolution. It is here taken notice of, as before, that the high places were not taken away, v. 4. It is hard to get clear of those corruptions, which, by long usage, have gained both prescription and a favourable opinion.
2. On the bench; and there we have him doing justice on the
gan to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem: and his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.
3 And 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.
4 Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.
5 And 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.
6 But 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.
7 He slew of Edom, in the valley of Salt, ten thousand, and took 'Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheels unto this day.
8 Then 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.
9 And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Le
e c. 12. 3. d c. 12. 20. e Deut. 24. 16. f Ez. 18. 4, 20. or, the rock, Ob. 3. Josh. 15, 38.2 Chr. 25. 17, &c. i 2 Sam. 2. 14. Judg. 9. 8, &c. Deut. 8. 14. 2 Chr. 32. 25. Ez. 28. 2, 5, 17. Hab. 2. 4.
traitors that murdered his father; not as soon as ever he came to the crown, lest it should have occasioned some disturbance, but he prudently deferred it till the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, v. 5. To weaken a factious party gradually, when it is not safe to provoke, often proves the way to ruin it effectually. Justice strikes surely by striking slowly, and is often executed most prudently, when it is not executed presently. Wisdom here is profitable to direct. Amaziah did thus, (1.) According to the rule of the law, that ancient rule, that he that sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Never let traitors or murderers expect to come to their graves like other men: let them flee to the pit, and let no man stay them. (2.) Under the limitation of the law. The children of murderers he slew not, because the law of Moses had expressly provided that the children should not be put to death for the fathers, v. 6. It is probable that this is taken notice of, because there were those about him, that advised him to that rigour, both in revenge, because the crime was extraordinary, the murder of a king; and in policy, that the children might not plot against him, in revenge of their father's death. But against these insinuations he opposed the express law of God, (Deut. 24. 16,) which he was to judge by, and which he resolved to adhere to, and trust God with the issue. God visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, because every man is guilty before him, and owes him a death; so that if he require the life for the father's sin, he does no wrong, the sinner having forfeited it already by his own: but he does not allow earthly princes to do thus; the children, before them, are innocent, and therefore must not suffer as guilty. 3. In the field; and there we find him triumphing over the Edomites, v. 7. Edom had revolted from under the hand of Judah in Joram's time, (ch. 8. 22,) now he makes war upon them to bring them back to their allegiance; kills 10,000, and takes the chief city of Arabia the Stony, called Selah, a rock, and gave it a new name. We shall find a larger account of this expedition, 2 Chr. 25. 5, &c.
V. 8-14. For several successions after the division of the kingdoms, that of Judah suffered much by the enmity of Israel. After Asa's time, for several successions, it suffered more by the friendship of Israel, and by the alliance and affinity they made with them. But now we meet with hostility between them again, which had not been for some ages before.
I. Amaziah, upon no provocation, and without showing any cause of quarrel, challenges Joash into the field; (v. 8,) "Come, let us look one another in the face; let us try our strength in battle." Had he challenged him to a personal duel only, the error had remained with himself, but each must bring all their forces into the field, and thousands of lives on both sides must be sacrificed to his capricious humour. Hereby he showed himself proud, presumptuous, and prodigal of blood. Some think that he intended to avenge the injury which the dismissed disgusted Israelites, had lately done to his country, in their return, (2 Chr. 25. 13,) and that he had also the vanity to think of subduing the kingdom of Israel, and reuniting it to Judah. A fool's lips thus enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. They that challenge, are chargeable with that beginning of strife, which is as the letting forth of water. He that is eager either to fight, or to go to law, may perhaps have enough of it quickly, and be the first that repents it.
II. Joash sends him a grave rebuke for his challenge, with advice to withdraw it, v. 9, 10. 1. He mortifies his pride, by comparing himself to a cedar, a stately tree, and Amaziah to a
banon 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.
10 Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry tat home; for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall," even thou, and Judah with thee?
11 But 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 "Beth-shemesh, which belongeth to Judah. 12 And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.
13 And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, the son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
14 And 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.
15 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might, and how he fought with
tal thy house. m Prov. 3. 30. 15, 18. 25.8. n Josh, 19. 38. 1 Sam. 6. 9, &c. 1 smitten. o Neh. 8. 16. p Jer. 31. 38. Zech. 14. 10. q 1 Kings 7. 51. c. 13. 12.
thistle, a sorry weed; telling him, he was so far from fearing him, that he despised him, and scorned as much to have any thing to do with him, or make any alliance with him, as the cedar would to match his daughter to a thistle. The ancient house of David he thinks not worthy to be named the same day with the house of Jehu, though an upstart. How may a humble man smile to hear two proud and scornful men set their wits on work, to vilify and undervalue one another! 2. He foretels his fall; a wild beast trode down the thistle, and so put an end to his treaty with the cedar; so easily does Joash think his forces can crush Amaziah, and so unable does he think him to make any resistance. 3. He shows him the folly of his challenge; "Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, a weak, unarmed, undisciplined body of men, and therefore thinkest thou canst carry all before thee, and subdue the regular forces of Israel with as much ease; thine heart has lifted thee up." See where the root of all sin lies; it is in the heart, thence it flows, and that must bear the blame: it is not providence, the event, the occasion, whatever it is, that makes men proud, or secure, or discontented, or the like, but it is their own heart that does it, "Thou art proud of the blow thou hast given to Edom, as if that had made thee formidable to all mankind." Those wretchedly deceive themselves, that magnify their own performances, and, because they have been blessed with some little success and reputation, conclude themselves fit for any thing, and no less sure of it. 4. He counsels him to be content with the honour he had won, and not to hazard that, by grasping at more, that was out of his reach; Why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, as fools often do, that will be meddling? Prov. 20. 3. Many would have had wealth and honour enough, if they had but known when they had enough; he warns him of the consequence, that it would be fatal not to himself only, but to his kingdom, which he ought to protect.
III. Amaziah persisted in his resolution, and the issue was bad, he had better have tarried at home, for Joash gave him such a look in the face as to put him to confusion; challengers commonly prove to be on the losing side. 1. His army was routed and dispersed, v. 12. Josephus says, When they were to engage, they were struck with such a terror, that they did not strike a stroke, but every one made the best of his way. 2. He himself was taken prisoner by the king of Israel, and then had enough of looking him in the face. Amaziah's pedigree comes in here somewhat abruptly, (the son of Joash, the son of Ahaziah,) because, perhaps, he had gloried in the dignity of his ancestors, or because he now smarted for their iniquity. 3. The conqueror entered Jerusalem, which tamely opened to him, and yet he brake down their wall, (and, as Josephus says, drove his chariot in triumph through the breach,) in reproach to them, and that he might, when he pleased, take possession of the royal city. 4. He plundered Jerusalem, took away all that was valuable, and returned to Samaria, laden with spoils, v. 14. It was said of Joash, that he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and of Amaziah, that he did that which was right; and yet Joash triumphs thus over Amaziah; and why so? Because God would show, in Amaziah's fate, that he resists the proud; or because, whatever they were otherwise, Joash had lately been respectful to one of God's prophets, (ch. 13, 14,) but Amaziah had been abusive to another, (2 Chr. 25. 16;) and God will honour those who honour him in his prophets, but those who despise them, and him in them, shall be lightly esteemed. V. 15-22. Here are three kings brought to their graves in these few verses.
Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
16 And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead.
19 Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there.
17 And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoa-ing of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, accordhaz king of Israel fifteen years. ing 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.
18 And the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
26 For 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.
27 And 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.
28 Now 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.
29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.
20 And they brought him on horses; and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers, in the city of David.
21 And all the people of Judah took Azariah," which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.
22 He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.
23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash
1. Joash king of Israel, v. 15, 16. We attended his funeral once before, ch. 13. 12, 13. But because the historian had occasion to give a further account of his life and actions, he❘ again mentions his death and burial.
2. Amaziah king of Judah; 15 years he survived his conqueror the king of Israel, v. 17. A man may live a great while after he has been shamed, may be thoroughly mortified, (as Amaziah, no doubt, was,) and yet not dead; his acts are said to be found written in his annals, (v. 18,) but not his might, for his cruelty when he was a conqueror over the Edomites, and his insolence when he challenged the king of Israel, showed him void of true courage. He was slain by his own subjects, who hated him for his male-administration, (v. 19,) and made Jerusalem disagreeable to him, the ignominious breach made in their walls being occasioned by his folly and presumption; he fled to Lachish; how long he continued concealed or sheltered there, we are not told, but, at last, he was there murdered, v. 19. No further did the rage of the rebels extend, for they brought him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him there among his
3. Azariah succeeded Amaziah, but not till 12 years after his father's death, for Amaziah died in the 15th year of Jeroboam, (as appears by comparing v. 23 with v. 2,) but Azariah did not begin his reign till the 27th of Jeroboam, (ch. 25. 1 ;) for he was but four years old at the death of his father, so that, for 12 years, till he came to be 16, the government was in the hands of protectors; he reigned very long, (ch. 15. 2,) and yet the account of his reign is here industriously huddled up, and broken off abruptly, v. 22. He built Elath, which had belonged to the Edomites, but, it is probable, was recovered by his father, (v. 7,) after that the king slept with his fathers, as if that had been all he did, that was worth mentioning; or rather, it is meant of king Amaziah, he did it soon after he died.
V. 23-29. Here is an account of the reign of Jeroboam the second; I doubt it is an indication of the affection and adherence of the house of Jehu to the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that they called an heir-apparent to the crown by his name, thinking that an honourable name, which, in the book of God, is infamous and stigmatized as much as any other.
I His reign was long, the longest of all the reigns of the kings of Israel, he reigned 41 years; yet his contemporary Azariah, the king of Judah, reigned longer, even 52 years. This Jeroboam reigned just as long as Asa had done, (1 Kings 15. 10) yet one did that which was good, and the other that which was evil. We cannot measure men's characters by the length of their lives, or of their outward prosperity; there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked.
II. His character was the same with that of the rest of those kings; he did that which was evil, (v. 24,) for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam; he kept up the worship of the calves, and never left that, thinking there was no harm in it, because it had been the way of all his ancestors and predecessors: but a sin is never the less evil in God's sight, whatever it is in ours, for its being an ancient usage; and a frivolous plea it will be against doing good, that we have been accustomed to do evil.
king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.
III. Yet he prospered more than most of them; for though, in that one thing, he did evil in the sight of the Lord, yet, it is likely, in other respects, there was some good found in him, and therefore God owned him,
1. By prophecy; he raised up Jonah the son of Amittai, a Galilean, (so much were they mistaken, that said, Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet, John 7. 52,) and by him intimated the purposes of his favour to Israel, notwithstanding their provocations, encouraged him and his kingdom to take up arms
24 And 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.
25 He restored the coast of Israel from the enter
a Jon. 1. 1; called Jonas, Matt. 12. 39, 40. b Deut. 32. 36. c Deut. 9. 14. Rom. 11. 2, &c. d c. 13. 5. e 2 Sam. 8. 6. 1 Kings 11. 24. 2 Chr. 8. 3. f After an inter regnum of 11 years, c. 15. 8.
for the recovery of their ancient possessions, and (which would contribute no little to their success) assured them of victory. It is a sign that God has not cast off his people, if he continue faithful ministers among them; when Elisha was gone, who strengthened the hands of Joash, Jonah was sent to encourage his son. Happy is the land that has a succession of prophets running parallel with a succession of princes, that the word of the Lord may endure for ever; of this Jonah we read much in that little book of scripture, that bears his name; it is probable that it was when he was a young man, and fit for such an expedition, that God sent him to Nineveh, and that it was when he had yet been but a little conversant with the visions of God, that he flew off and fretted as he did; and if so, this is an undoubted evidence of the forgiveness of his faults and follies, that he was afterward employed as a messenger of mercy to Israel. A commission amounts to a pardon, and he that had himself found mercy, notwithstanding his provocations, could the better encourage them with the hope of mercy notwithstanding theirs. Some that have been foolish and passionate, and have gone about their work very awkwardly at first, yet afterward have proved useful and eminent; men must not be thrown away for every fault.
2. By providence; the event was according to the word of the Lord, his arms were successful, he restored the coast of Israel, recovered those frontier towns and countries that lay from Hamath in the north, to the sea of the plain, that is, the sea of Sodom, in the south, all which the Syrians had possessed themselves of, v. 25. Two reasons are here given why God blessed them with those victories, (1.) Because the distress was very great, which made them the objects of his compassion, v. 26. Though he saw not any signs of their repentance and reformation, yet he saw their affliction, that it was very bitter; they that lived in those countries which the enemies were masters of, were miserably oppressed and enslaved, and could call nothing their own; the rest, we may suppose, were much impoverished by the frequent incursions the enemy made upon them to plunder them, and continually terrified by their threatenings, so that there was none shut up or left, both towns and countries were laid waste, and stripped of their wealth, and no helper appeared. To this extremity were they reduced, in many parts of the country, in the beginning of Jeroboam's reign, when God, in mere pity to them, heard the cry of their affliction, (for no mention is made here of the cry of their prayers,) and wrought this deliverance for them by the hand of Jeroboam. Let those whose case is pitiable, take comfort from the divine pity: we read of God's bowels of mercy, (Is. 63. 15. Jer. 31. 20,) and that he is full of compassion, Ps. 86. 15. (2.) Because the decree was not yet gone forth for their utter destruction; he had not as yet said, he would blot out the name of Israel, (v. 27,) and because he had not said it, he would not do it: if it be understood of the dispersion of the ten tribes, he did say it, and do it, not long after; (reprieves are not pardons ;) if of the utter extirpation of the name of Israel, he never said it, nor will ever do it, for that name still remains under heaven in the GospelIsrael, and will, to the end of time; and because they, at present, bare that name, which was to have this lasting honour, he showed them this favour, as well as for the sake of the ancient honour of that name, ch. 13. 23.
Lastly, Here is the conclusion of Jeroboam's reign; we read (v. 28) of his might, and how he warred; but (v. 29) he slept with his fathers; for the mightiest must yield to death, and there is no discharge in that war.
Many prophets there had been in Israel, a constant succession of them in every age, but none of the prophets had left any of their prophecies in writing, till those of this age began to do it, and their prophecies are part of the canon of scripture;
In this chapter, I. The history of two of the kings of Judah is briefly recorded.
1. Of Azariah, or Uzziah, v. 1-7. 2. Of Jotham his son, v. 32-38. 11. The
of whom, except one, went down slain to the
history of many of the kings of Israel that reigned at the same time, is given us and their murderers were their successors. I. Zechariah, the last of the house of Jehu, reigned six months, and then was slain, and succeeded by Shallum, v. 8-12. 2. Shallum reigned one month, and then was slain, and succeeded by
Menahem, v. 13-15. 3. Menahem reigned ten years, (or tyrannized rather
such was his barbarous cruelty, v. 16, and unreasonable exactions, v. 20,) and
then died in his bed, and left his son to succeed him first, and then suffer for him, v. 16-22. 4. Pekahiah reigned two years, and then was slain, and succeeded by Pekah, v. 23-26. 5. Pekah reigned twenty years, and then was slain, and succeeded by Hoshea, the last of all the kings of Israel, (v.27-31;)for things were
now working and hastening apace toward the final destruction of that kingdom. Ν IN the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, began Azariah son Amaziah king of Judah to reign.
2 Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem and his mother's name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem.
3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done;
4 Save that the high places were not removed; the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places.
5 And the LORD smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king's son was over the house, judging the people of the land.
6 And the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
7 So Azariah slept with his fathers; and they
a c. 14. 21. 2 Chr. 26. 1. à This is the 27th year of Jeroboam's partnership in the kingdom with his father, who made him consort at his going to the Syrian wars. It is the 16th year of Jeroboam's monarchy. c Called Uzziah, ver. 13, 30, &c.
it was in the reign of this Jeroboam, that Hosea (who continued very long a prophet) began to prophesy, and he was the first that wrote his prophecies, therefore the word of the Lord by him is called the beginning of the word of the Lord, Hos. 1.2. Then that part of the word of the Lord began to be written; at the same time, Amos prophesied and wrote his prophecy; soon after, Micah, and then Isaiah, in the days of Ahaz and Hezekiah; thus God never left himself without witness, but, in the darkest and most degenerate ages of the church, raised up some to be burning and shining lights in it, to their own age by their preaching and living, and a few by their writings to reflect light upon us on whom the ends of the world are come.
NOTES TO CHAPTER XV.
V. 1-7. This is a short account of the reign of Azariah. 1. Most of it is general, and the same that has been given of others; he began young and reigned long, (v. 2;) did, for the most part, that which was right, v. 3. It was happy for the kingdom, that a good reign was a long one: only he had not zeal and courage enough to take away the high places, v. 4. 2. That which is peculiar, that God smote him with a leprosy, (v. 5,) is more largely related, with the occasion of it, 2 Chr. 26. 16, &c. where we have also a fuller account of the glories of the former part of his reign as well as of the disgraces of the latter part of it. He did that which was right, as Amaziah had done; like him, he began well, but failed before he finished. Here we are told, (1.) That he was a leper; the greatest of men are not only subject to the common calamities, but also to the common infirmities, of the human nature; and if they be guilty of any heinous sin, they lie as open as the meanest to the most grievous strokes of divine vengeance. (2.) God smote him with this leprosy, to chastise him for his presumptuous invasion of the priests' office; if great men be proud men, some way or other, God will humble them, and make them know he is both above them, and against them, for he resisteth the proud. (3.) That he was a leper to the day of his death; though we have reason to think he repented, and the sin was pardoned, yet, for warning to others, he was continued under this mark of God's displeasure as long as he lived, and perhaps it was for the good of his soul, that he was so. (4.) That he dwelt in a several house, as being made ceremonially unclean by the law, to the discipline of which, though a king, he must submit; he that presumptuously intruded into God's temple, and pretended to be a priest, is justly shut out from his own palace, and shut up as a prisoner or a recluse, ever after. We suppose that his several house was made as convenient and agreeable as might be; some translate it a free house, where he had liberty to take his pleasure: but, however, it was a great mortification to one that had been so much a man of honour, and a man of business, as he had been, to be cut off from society, and dwell always in a several house: it would almost make life itself a burden, even to kings, though they have never any to converse with but their inferiors; the most contemplative men would soon be weary of it. (5.) That his son was his viceroy in the affairs both of his court, for he was over the house, and of his kingdom, for he was judging the peo
10 And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.
11 And the rest of the acts of Zachariah, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
12 This was the word of the LORD which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.
13 Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned a full month in Samaria.
14 For Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, and came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.
15 And the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
16 Then Menahem smote Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the coasts thereof from Tirzah : because they opened not to him, therefore he smote
and 2 Chr. 26. 1. d ver. 35. € 2 Chr. 26. 19. fThere having been an interregnum for 11 years. gas prophesied, Am. 7. 9. A c. 10. 30. Matt. 1. 8, 9. called Ozias; and ver. 1, Azariah. a month of days. k 1 Kings 4. 24. ple of the land; and it was both a comfort to him, and a blessing to his kingdom that he had such a son to fill up his room. V. 8-31. The best days of the kingdom of Israel were while the government was in Jehu's family; in his reign, and the next three, though there were many abominable corruptions and miserable grievances in Israel, yet the crown went in succession, the kings died in their beds, and some care was taken of public affairs: but now that those days are at an end, the history which we have in these verses, of about 33 years, represents the affairs of that kingdom in the utmost confusion imaginable; wo to them that were with child, (v. 16,) and to them that gave suck in those days, for then must needs be great tribulations, when, for the transgression of the land, many were the princes thereof.
I. Let us observe something, in general, concerning these unhappy revolutions, and the calamities which must needs attend them, these bad times, as they may truly be called.
1. God had tried the people of Israel both with judgments and mercies, explained and enforced by his servants the prophets, and yet they continued impenitent and unreformed, and therefore God justly brought these miseries upon them; as Moses had warned them, If ye will yet walk contrary to me, I will punish you yet seven times more, Lev 26. 21, &c.
2. God made good his promise to Jehu, that his sons, to the fourth generation after him, should sit upon the throne of Israel; which was a greater favour than was shown to any of the royal families either before or after his. God had said it should be so, (ch. 10. 30,) and we are told in this chapter (v. 12,) that so it came to pass. See how punctual God is to his promises; these calamities God long designed for Israel, and they deserved them, yet they were not inflicted till that word had taken effect to the full; thus God rewarded Jehu for his zeal in destroying the worship of Baal and the house of Ahab; and yet, when the measure of the sins of the house of Jehu was full, God avenged upon it the blood then shed, called the blood of Jezreel, Hos. 1. 4.
3. All these kings did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, for they walked in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat; though at variance with one another, yet, in this, they agreed, to keep up idolatry, and the people loved to have it so; though they were emptied from vessel to vessel, that taste remained in them, and that scent was not changed. It was sad indeed, when their government was so often altered, (yet never for the better,) that among all those contending interests, none of them should think it as much their interest to destroy the calves as others had done to support them.
4. Each of these (except one) conspired against his predecessor, and slew him, Shallum, Menahem, Pekah, and Hoshea; all traitors and murderers, and yet all kings a while; one of them ten, another twenty, and another nine years; for God may suffer wickedness to prosper, and to carry away the wealth and honours a while, but, sooner or later, blood shall have blood, and he that dealt treacherously, shall be dealt treacherously with one wicked man is often made a scourge to another, and every wicked man, at length, a ruin to himself. 5. The ambition of the great men made the nation miserable,
it; and all the women 'therein that were with child he ripped up.
17 In the nine and thirtieth year of Azariah king of Judah began Menahem the son of Gadi to reign over Israel, and reigned ten years in Samaria.
18 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
25 But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his, conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king's house, with Argob and Arieh, and with him fifty men of the Gileadites: and he killed him, and reigned in his room.
26 And the rest of the acts of Pekahiah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
27 In the two and fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign toover Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years.
28 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
19 And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land and Menahem gave "Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him, confirm the kingdom in his hand.
20 And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fitty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria: so the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.
Here is Tiphsah, a city of Israel, barbarously destroyed, with all the coasts thereof, by one of these pretenders, (v. 16;) and, no doubt, it was through blood that each of them waded to the throne; nor could any of these kings perish alone. No land can have greater pests, nor Israel worse troubles, than such men as care not how much the welfare and repose of their country are sacrificed to their revenge, and affectation of dominion.
6. While the nation was thus shattered by divisions at home, the kings of Assyria, first one, (v. 19,) and then another, (v. 29,) came against it, and did what they pleased. Nothing does more toward the making of a nation an easy prey to a common enemy, than intestine broils, and contests for the sovereignty; happy the land where that is settled.
7. This was the condition of Israel, just before they were quite ruined, and carried away captives, for that was done in the ninth year of Hoshea, the last of these usurpers. If they had, in these days of confusion and perplexity, humbled themselves before God, and sought his face, that final destruction might have been prevented, but when God judgeth, he will overcome; these factions, the fruit of an evil spirit sent among them, hastened that captivity; for a kingdom, thus divided against itself, will soon come to desolation.
II. Let us take a short view of the particular reigns.
1. Zachariah, the son of Jeroboam, began to reign in the thirty-eighth year of Azariah, or Uzziah, king of Judah, v. 8. Some of the most critical chronologers reckon that between Jeroboam and his son Zachariah, the throne was vacant 22 years, others 11 years, through the disturbances and dissensions that were in the kingdom; and then it was not strange that Zachariah was deposed before he was well seated on the throne; he reigned but six months, and then Shallum slew him before the people, perhaps, as Cæsar was slain in the senate; or he put him to death publicly as a criminal, with the approbation of the people, to whom he had, some way or other, made himself odious: so ended the line of Jehu.
2. But had Shallum peace, who slew his master? No, he had not, (v. 13,) one month of days measured his reign, and then he was cut off; perhaps to this the prophet, who then lived, refers, (Hos. 5. 7,) Now shall a month devour them with their portions. That dominion seldom lasts long, which is founded in blood and falsehood. Menahem, either provoked by his crime, or animated by his example, soon served him as he had served his master, slew him, and reigned in his stead, v. 14. Probably, he was general of the army, which then lay encamped at Tirzah, and, hearing of Shallum's treason and usurpation, hastened to punish it, as Omri did that of Zimri in a like case, 1 Kings 16. 17.
3. Menahem held the kingdom ten years, v. 17. But whereas we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel were merciful kings, (1 Kings 20. 31,) this Menahem (the scandal of his country) was so prodigiously cruel to those of his own nation, which hesitated, a little, at submitting to him, that he not only ruined a city, and the coasts thereof, but, forgetting that he himself was born of a woman, ripped up all the women with child, v. 16. We may well wonder that ever it should enter into the heart of any man, to be so barbarous, and to be so perfectly lost to humanity itself. By these cruel methods he hoped to strengthen himself, and to frighten all others into his interests; but it seems he did not gain his point, for when the king of Assyria came against him, (1.) So little confidence
29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel, came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.
30 And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.
31 And the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
After an anarchy for some years, c. 17. 1. Hoa. 10. 3, 7. 15. The 4th year of Ahaz, the 20th after Jotham had begun to reign: (Uaker.)
had he in his people, that he durst not meet him as an enemy, but was obliged, at a vast expense, to purchase a peace with him. (2.) Such need had he of help to confirm the kingdom in his hand, that he made it part of his bargain with him, (a bargain which, no doubt, the king of Assyria knew how to make a good hand of, another time,) that he should assist him against his own subjects that were disaffected to him. The money wherewith he purchased his friendship, was a vast sum, no less than 1000 talents of silver, (v. 19,) which Menahem exacted, it is probable, by military execution, of all the mighty men of wealth, very considerately sparing the poor, and laying the burden (as was fit) on those that were best able to bear it : being raised, it was given to the king of Assyria, as pay for his army, 50 shekels of silver for each man in it. Thus he got clear of the king of Assyria for this time; he stayed not to quarter in the land, (v. 20,) but his army now got so rich a booty with so little trouble, that it encouraged them to come again, not long after, when they laid all waste; thus was he the betrayer of his country, that should have been the protector of it.
4. Pekahiah, the son of Menahem, succeeded his father, but reigned only two years, and then was treacherously slain by Pekah, falling under the load both of his own and of his father's wickedness. It is repeated concerning him, as before, that he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam still that is mentioned, to show that God was righteous in bringing that destruction upon them, which came not long after, because they hated to be reformed, v. 24. Pekah, it seems, had some persons of figure in his interest, two of them are here named, (v. 25,) and with their help he compassed his design.
5. Pekah, though he got the kingdom by treason, kept it 20 years, (v. 27 ;) so long it was before his violent dealing returned upon his own head; but it returned at last. This Pekah, son of Remaliah, (1.) Made himself more considerable abroad than any of these usurpers, for he was, even in the latter end of his time, (in the reign of Ahaz, which began in his 17th year,) a great terror to the kingdom of Judah, as we find, Is. 7. 1, &c. (2.) He lost a great part of his kingdom to the king of Assyria; several cities are here named, (v. 29,) which were taken from him; all the land of Gilead on the other side Jordan, and Galilee in the north, containing the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun, were seized, and the inhabitants carried captive into Assyria. By this judgment God punished him for his attempt upon Judah and Jerusalem; it was then foretold, that within two or three years after he made that attempt, before a child, then born, should be able to cry My father and my mother, the riches of Samaria should be taken away before the king of Assyria, (Is. 8. 4;) and here we have the accomplishment of that prediction. (3.) Soon after this, he left his life to the resentments of his countrymen, who, it is probable, were disgusted at him for leaving them exposed to a foreign enemy, while he was invading Judah; this Hoshea took advantage of, and, to gain his crown, seized his life, slew him, and reigned in his stead. Surely he was fond of a crown indeed, who, at this time, would run such a hazard as a traitor did: for the crown of Israel, now that it had lost the choicest of its flowers and jewels, was lined more than ever with thorns, had, of late, been fatal to all the heads that had worn it, was forfeited to divine justice, and now ready to be laid in the dust; a crown, which a wise man would not have taken up in the street, yet Hoshea not only ventures upon it, but ventures for it, and it cost him dear.