Page images

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.

king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.

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

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.

18 And the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

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.

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

[blocks in formation]

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.

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.

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 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. 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 Jeru-visions of God, that he flew off and fretted as he did; and if so, salem disagreeable to him, the ignominious breach made in their walls being occasioned by his folly and presumption; he filed 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 tectors; 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.

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

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, 1. The history of two of the kings of Judah is briefly recorded.

1. Of Azariah, or Uzziah, v. 1-7. 2. Of Jetham his son, v. 32-36. It. The

history of many of the kings of larael that reigned at the same time, is given us

in short, five in succession, ail of whom, except one, went down slain to the pit, and their murderers were their successors. 1. Zechariah, the last of the house of Jehu, reigned six months, and then was slain, and succeeded by Shallum, v. 8-12. 2. Shallan reigned one month, and then was slain, and succeeded by

buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.

8 In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zachariah, the son of Jeroboam, reign over Israel in Samaria six months.

9 And he did that which was evil in the sight

Menahem, v. 13-15. 3. Menahem reigned ten years. (or tyrannized rather of the LORD, as his fathers had done: he departed

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 auffer 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.

IN "the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, began Azariah son of 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. This is the 27th year of Jeroboam's partnership in the kingdoin with his father, who made him consort at his 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.


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

not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.

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. 25. 1. d ver. 35. e 2 Chr. 26. 19. There having been sa interregnum for 11 years. gas prophesied, Am. 7. 9. hc. 10.30. i Matt. 1. 8, 9. called Ozias; and ver. 1, Azariah. a month of days. & 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.

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, to 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 fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria: so the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.

21 And the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

22 And Menahem slept with his fathers and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead.

23 In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years.

24 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.

n Hos. 8. 9. c. 14. 5. ⚫ caused to

c. 8. 12. Am. 1. 13. m Chr. 5. 26. come forth. p Is. 7. 1, 4, 9. 9 Is. 9. 1. 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

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 over 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.

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.

r After an anarchy for some years, c. 17. 1. Hos. 10. 3, 7. 15. Ahaz, the 20th after Jotham had begun to reign: (Uaker.)

The 4th year of

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.

32 In the second year of Pekah, the son of

maliah king of Israel, began Jotham the one-IN the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Re

Uzziah king of Judah to reign.

33 Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: and his mother's name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok.

34 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done.

35 Howbeit, the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the LORD.

36 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

37 In those days the LORD began to send against Judah, Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah "the son of Remaliah.

38 And Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.


This chapter is wholly taken up with the reign of Ahaz; and we have quite enough of it, unless it were better. He had a good father, and a better son, and yet was

himself one of the worst of the kings of Judah. 1. He was a notorious idolater, king of Assyria to invade Syria and Israel, v. 5-9. III. He took pattern, from

v. 1-4. II. With the treasures of the temple, as well as his own, he hired the an idol's altar which he saw at Damascus, for a new altar in God's temple, v. 10-16. IV. He abused and embezzled the furniture of the temple, v. 17, 18. And so his story ends, v. 19, 20.

c Deut. 12. 31. Ps. 106, 35.

2 Chr. 27. 1, &c. At the end of Jotham's reign. c. 16. 5. to ver. 27. 2 Chr. 28. 1, &c. b Lev. 18. 21. Ps. 106. 37, 38. V. 32-38. We have here a short account of the reign of Jotham king of Judah, of whom we are told,

1. That he reigned very well, did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, v. 34. Josephus gives him a very high character, that he was pious toward God, just toward men, and laid out himself for the public good; that, whatever was amiss, he took care to have it rectified; and, in short, wanted no virtue that became a good prince. Though the high places were not taken away, yet, to draw people from them, and keep them close to God's holy place, he showed great respect to the temple, and built the higher gate which he went through to the temple. If magistrates cannot do all they would, for the suppressing of vice and profaneness, let them do so much the more for the support and advancement of piety and virtue, and bringing of them into reputation. If they cannot pull down the high places of sin, yet let them build and beautify the high gate of God's house.

2. That he died in the midst of his days, v. 38. Of most of the kings of Judah we are told how old they were when they began their reign, and by that may compute how old they were when they died; but no account is kept of the age of any of the kings of Israel, (that I remember,) only of the years of their reigns. This honour God would put upon the kings of the house of David above those of other families. And by these accounts it appears that there was none of all the kings of Judah, that reached David's age, 70, the common age of man. Asa's age I do not find, Uzziah lived to be 68, Manasseh 67, and Jehoshaphat 60; and these were the three oldest; many of them that were of note, did not reach 50. This Jotham died at 41. He was too great a blessing to be continued long to such an unworthy people. His death was a judgment, especially considering the character of his son and successor.

3. That in his days the confederacy was formed against Judah by Rezin, and Remaliah's son, the king of Syria, and the king of Israel, which appeared so very formidable in the beginning of the reign of Ahaz, that, upon notice of it, the heart of that prince was moved, and the heart of the people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind, Is. 7. 2. The confederates were unjust in the attempt, yet it is here said, (v. 37,) The Lord began to send them against Judah, as he bade Shimei curse David, and took away from Job what the Sabeans robbed him of. Men are God's hand, the sword, the rod, in his hand, which he makes use of as he pleases, to serve his own righteous counsels, though men be unrighteous in their intentions. This storm gathered in the reign of pious Jotham, but he came to his grave in peace, and it fell upon his degenerate son.


V. 1-4. We have here a general character of the reign of Ahaz, few and evil were his days: few, for he died at 36; evil, for we are here told,

1. That he did not that which was right, like David, (v. 2 ;) that is, he had none of that concern and affection for the instituted service and worship of God, which David was famous for. He had no love for the temple, made no conscience of his duty to God, nor had any regard to his law. Herein he was unlike David; it was his honour, that he was of the house and lineage of David, and it was owing to God's ancient covenant with David, that he was now upon the throne, which aggravated his wickedness, that he was a reproach to that honourable name

maliah, Ahaz, the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign.

2 Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father.

3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abomination of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel.

4 And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.

5 Then Rezin king of Syria, and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to war; and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him.

6 At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from 'Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day.

7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant, and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me.

8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures d Deut 12. 2. 1 Kings 14. 23. e Is. 7. 1, &c. fc. 14. 22. Eloth. Tilgach-pileser, 1 Chr. 5. 26, &c. 2 Chr. 28. 20, Tilgath-pilneser. g c. 15. 29. 4 c. 12. 18. and family, which therefore was really a reproach to him; (Degeneranti genus opprobrium-A good extraction is a disgrace to him who degenerates from it;) and that though he enjoyed the benefit of David's piety, he did not tread in the steps of it.

2. That he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, (v. 3,) who all worshipped the calves. He was not joined in any affinity with them, as Jehoram and Ahaziah were with the house of Ahab, but ex mero motu-without any instigation, walked in their way. The kings of Israel pleaded policy and reasons of state for their idolatry, but Ahaz had no such pretence, in him it was the most unreasonable impolitic thing that could be. They were his enemies, and had proved enemies to themselves too by their idolatry; yet he walked in their way.

3. That he made his sons to pass through the fire, to the ho nour of his dunghill deities. He burned them, so it is expressly said of him, 2 Chr. 28. 3, burned some of them, and perhaps made others of them, (Hezekiah himself not excepted, though afterward he was never the worse for it,) to pass between two fires, or to be drawn through a flame, in token of their dedication to the idol.

4. That he did according to the abomination of the heathen whom the Lord had cast out. It was an instance of his great folly, that he would be guided by those in his religion, and follow them, whom he saw fallen into the ditch before his eyes; and of his great impiety, that he would conform to those usages which God had declared to be abominable to him; and set himself to write after the copy of those whom God had cast out, thus walking directly contrary to God.

5. That he sacrificed in the high places, v. 4. If his father had but had zeal enough to take them away, it might have prevented the debauching of his sons: but they that connive at sin, know not what dangerous snares they lay for those that come after them. He forsook God's house, was weary of that place where, in his father's time, he had often been detained before the Lord, and performed his devotions on high hills, where he had a better prospect, and under green trees, where he had a more pleasant shade. It was a religion little worth, which was guided by fancy, not by faith.

V. 5-9. Here is, I. The attempt of his confederate neighbours, the kings of Syria and Israel, upon him. They thought to have made themselves masters of Jerusalem, and to have set a king of their own in it, Is. 7. 6. In that, they fell short, but the king of Syria recovered Elath, a considerable port upon the Red sea, which Amaziah had taken from the Syrians, ch. 14. 22. What can they keep, that have lost their religion? Let them expect, thenceforward, to be always on the losing hand.

2. His project to get clear of them. Having forsaken God, he had neither courage nor strength to make head against his enemies, nor could he, with any boldness, ask help of God, Lut he made his court to the king of Assyria, and got him to come in for his relief. Those whose hearts condemn them, will go any whither in a day of distress, rather than to God. Was it because there was not a God in Israel, that he sent to the Assyrian for help? Was the Rock of ages removed out of its place, that he stayed himself on this broken reed? The sin itself was its own punishment; for though it is true that he gained his point, (the king of Assyria hearkened to him, and, to serve his own turn, made a descent upon Damascus, whereby he gave a powerful diversion to the king of Syria, v. 9,) and obliged him to let fall his design against Ahaz, carrying the Syrians captive

of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the | sprinkled the blood of this peace-offerings, upon the king of Assyria.


9 And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him; for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin.

10 And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.


14 And he brought also the brazen altar," which was before the LORD, from the fore-front of the house, from between the altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of the altar. 15 And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning "burnt-offering, and the evening meat-offering, and the king's burnt-sacrifice, and his meat-offering, with the burnt-offering of all the people of the land, and their meat-offering, and their drink-offerings; 11 And Urijah the priest built an altar accord- and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt-offering to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus:ing, and all the blood of the sacrifice and the braso Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came zen altar shall be for me to inquire by. from Damascus.

12 And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar and the king approached to the altar, and offered 'thereon.

13 And he burnt his burnt-offering, and his meat-offering, and poured his drink-offering, and

• Dammesek. i Foretold, Am. 1. 5. k Ps. 106. 39. Num. 18. 3. 2 Chr. 26. 16, 19.

to Kir, as Amos had expressly foretold, (ch. 1. 5,) yet, considering all, he made but a bad bargain; for, to compass this,

(1.) He enslaved himself; (v. 7,) I am thy servant and thy son; that is, "I will be as dutiful and obedient to thee as to a master or father, if thou wilt but do me this good turn." Had he thus humbled himself to God, and implored his favour, he might have been delivered upon easier terms; he might have saved his money, and needed only to have parted with his sins: but if the prodigal forsake his father's house, he soon becomes a slave to the worst of masters, Luke 15. 15.

(2.) He impoverished himself; for he took the silver and gold that were laid up in the treasury both of the temple and of the kingdom, and sent it to the king of Assyria, v. 8. Both church and state must be squeezed and exhausted, to gratify this his new patron and guardian. I know not what authority he had thus to dispose of the public stock; but it is common for those that have brought themselves into straits by one sin, to help themselves out by another; and those that have alienated themselves from God, will make no difficulty of alienating any of his rights.

V. 10-16. Though Ahaz had himself sacrificed in high places, on hills, and under every green tree, (v. 4,) yet God's altar had hitherto continued in its place, and in use, and the king's burntoffering and his meat-offering, (v. 15,) had been offered upon it by the priests that attended it; but here we have it taken away by wicked Ahaz, and another altar, an idolatrous one, put in the room of it-a bolder stroke than the worst of the kings had yet given to religion. We have here,

16 Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded.

17 And king Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the laver from off them; and took down the sea from off the brazen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stones: ↑ the peace-offerings which were his. m 2 Chr. 4. 1. n Ex. 29. 39-41. o 1 Kings 7. 23, 28.

this altar, in compliance with an idolatrous prince. For hereby, 1. He prostituted his authority, and profaned the crown of his priesthood, making himself a servant to the lusts of men. There is not a greater disgrace to the ministry, than obsequiousness to such wicked commands as this was. 2. He betrayed his trust. As priest, he was bound to maintain and defend God's institutions, and to oppose and witness against all innovations; and for him to assist and serve the king, in setting up an altar to confront the altar which, by divine appointment, he was consecrated to minister at, was such a piece of treachery and perfidiousness, as may justly render him infamous to all posterity. Had he only connived at the doing of it, had he been frightened into it by menaces, had he endeavoured to dissuade the king from it, or but delayed the doing of it till he came home, that he might first talk with him about it, it had not been so bad; but so willingly to walk after his commandment, as if he were glad of the opportunity to oblige him, was such an affront to the God he served, as was utterly inexcusable.

III. The dedicating of it. Urijah, perceiving that the king's heart was much upon it, took care to have it ready against he came down, and set it near the brazen altar, but somewhat lower and further from the door of the temple. The king was exceedingly pleased with it, approached to it with all possible veneration, and offered thereon his burnt-offering, &c. v. 12, 13. His sacrifices were not offered to the God of Israel, but to the gods of Damascus, (as we find, 2 Chr. 28. 23;) and when he borrowed the Syrians' altar, no marvel that he borrowed their gods. Naaman, the Syrian, embraced the God of Israel, when he got earth from the land of Israel to make an altar of. IV. The removal of God's altar, to make room for it. Urijah was so modest, that he put this altar at the lower end of the court, and left God's altar in its place, between this and the house of the Lord, v. 14. But that would not satisfy Ahaz; he removed God's altar to an obscure corner, in the north side of the court, and put his own before the sanctuary, in the place of it. He thinks his new altar is much more stately, and much more sightly, and disgraces that; and therefore let that be laid aside as a vessel in which there was no pleasure. His superstitious invention at first justled with, but at length justled out, God's sacred institution. Note, Those will soon come to make nothing of God, that will not be content to make him their all. Ahaz durst not (perhaps for fear of the people) quite demolish the brazen altar, and knock it to pieces; but while he ordered all the sacrifices to be offered upon his new altar, (v. 15,) The brazen altar (says he) shall be for me to inquire by. Having thrust it out from the use for which it was instituted, which was to sanctify the gifts offered upon it, he pretends to advance it above its institution, which it is common for superstitious people to do. The altar was never designed for an oracle, yet Ahaz will have it for that use. The Romish church seem

I. The model of this new altar, taken from one at Damascus, by the king himself, v. 10. The king of Assyria having taken Damascus, thither Ahaz went, to congratulate him on his success, to return him thanks for the kindness he had done him by this expedition, and, as his servant and son, to receive his commands. Had he been faithful to his God, he had not needed to have crouched thus to a foreign power. At Damascus, either while viewing the rarities of the place, or rather while joining with them in their devotion, (for when he was there, he thought it no harm to do as they did,) he saw an altar that pleased his fancy extremely, not such a plain old-fashioned one as that which he had been trained up in an attendance upon at Jerusalem, but curiously carved, it is likely, and adorned with image work; there were many things about it which were significant, he thought, surprising, charming, and calculated to excite his devotion. Solomon had but a dull fancy, he thinks, compared with the ingenious artist that made this altar. Nothing will serve him but he must have an altar just like this; a pattern of it must be taken immediately; he cannot stay till he returns himself, but sends it before him in all haste, with orders to Urijah the priest to get one made exactly according to this model, and have it ready against he came home. The pattern God showed to Moses in the mount, or to David by the Spirit, was not compa-ingly magnifies Christ's sacraments, yet wretchedly corrupts rable to this pattern sent from Damascus. The hearts of idolaters walked after their eyes, which are therefore said to go a whoring after their idols; but the true worshippers worship the true God by faith.

II. The making of it by Urijah the priest, v. 11. This Urijah, it is likely, was the chief priest, who, at this time, presided in the temple service. To him Ahaz sent an intimation of his mind, (for we read not of any express orders he gave him,) to get an altar made by this pattern. And, without any dispute, or objection, he put it in hand immediately, being perhaps as fond of it as the king was, at least, being very willing to humour the king, and desirous to curry favour with him. Perhaps he might have this excuse for gratifying the king herein, that, by this means, he might keep him to the temple at Jerusalem, and prevent his totally deserting it for the high places and the groves. "Let us oblige him in this," (thinks Urijah,)" and then he will bring all his sacrifices to us; for by this craft we get our living." But, whatever pretence he had, it was a most base, wicked thing for him that was a priest, a chief priest, to make VOL. I.-115

them. But some give another sense of Ahaz's purpose; As for the brazen altar, I will consider what to do with it, and give order about it." The Jews say, that, afterward, of the brass of it he made that famous dial, which was called the dial of Ahaz, ch. 20. 11. The base compliance of the poor-spirited priest with the presumptuous usurpations of an ill-spirited king, is again taken notice of: (v. 16,) Urijah the priest did according to all that king Ahaz commanded. Miserable is the case of great men, when those that should reprove them for their sins, strengthen and serve them in their sins.

V. 17-20. Here is, 1. Ahaz abusing the temple: not the building itself, but some of the furniture of it. (1.) He defaced the bases on which the lavers were set, (1 Kings 7. 28, 29,) and took down the molten sea, v. 17. These the priests used for washing; against them therefore he seems to have had a particular spite. It is one of the greatest prejudices that can be done to religion, to obstruct the purifying of the priests, the Lord's ministers. (2.) He removed the covert for the sabbath; erected either in honour of the sabbath, or for the conveniency of the priests, (913)

« PreviousContinue »