THE REIGN OF AMAZIAH.
DURATION AND CHARACTER OF THE REIGN. EXECUTION OF THE MURDERERS OF JOASH (2 Chronicles 25:1-4).
(1, 2) Amaziah . . . the Lord.—So 2 Kings 14:2.
But not with a perfect heart.—This is a brief equivalent of the words of the older text: “only not like David his father: according to all that Joash his father had done, he did.” The reference to Joash is omitted, perhaps because that king appears to less advantage in the Chronicles than ill Kings. In fact, the chronicler’s estimate of both princes is less favourable than that of the older historian. Such differences are perfectly natural, and it is needless to attempt to “reconcile” or eliminate them.
But every man shall die for his own sin.—Literally, But, each for (in) his own sin, shall they be put to death. Kings has the singular.
(2 Chronicles 25:5-13).
This section is for the most part peculiar to Chronicles. In Kings the conquest of Edom is recorded in a single verse (2 Kings 14:7).
(5) And made them captains over thousands.—Rather, And made them stand (marshalled them) according to father houses, to wit, according to the captains of thousands and according to the captains of hundreds of all Judah and Benjamin.
Twenty years old.—The military age: Numbers 1:2-3; 1 Chronicles 27:23.
Three hundred thousand.—A total immensely below that of the forces of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:14-18), and not much more than half that of Asa’s (2 Chronicles 14:8). All these high numbers are no doubt suspicious; but a certain relative propriety is observable in the present instance, inasmuch as the country had suffered great losses by the disastrous wars of Jehoram, Ahaziah, Joash.
Able to go forth to war.—Literally, going out in the host. (See Num. l.c.)
That could handle spear and shield.—Grasping lance and target, i.e., heavy-armed warriors. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 12:8.)
An hundred talents of silver.—Worth about £40,000 of our money, reckoning £400 to the talent. What such a sum would represent in the days of Amaziah cannot be determined with certainty.
To wit, with all the children of Ephraim.—Added as an explanation of the term Israel. Ephraim was the name of the northern kingdom (Hosea 5:11; Hosea 5:14; Hosea 6:4, and passim).
Do it, be strong for the battle.—Compare 1 Chronicles 22:16 : “Arise! act!”
God shall make thee fall.—Before these words, the expression wĕlō’, “and not,” must have dropped out of the text. “Venture on the expedition by thyself. with a good courage,” says the prophet, “and God will not let thee stumble before the foe.”
For God hath power.—For there is strength in God, to help and to make to stumble. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 20:6; 1 Chronicles 29:12; Psalm 9:3.) The ancient versions were evidently embarrassed by the passage. The LXX. render: “Because if thou think to prevail through them, then will the Lord rout thee before thy foes; because it is from the Lord both to be strong and to rout.” Vulg.: “But if thou thinkest that wars depend on the strength of an army, God will make thee to be overcome by the enemy.” Syriac: “Because thou art going to make war, the Lord will cast thee down before thy foes; because thou hast not praised the Lord, who is the helper and uplifter.” It is noticeable that no version inserts the required negative; the omission, therefore, is ancient.
The army.—The troop (gĕdûd) of mercenaries.
To go home again.—To go to their own place.
Home in great anger.—To their own place in a heat of anger (Isaiah 7:4). Obviously the dismissed force would be incensed at treatment which seemed to indicate distrust of their honour, and robbed them of the possible fruits of victory. On their way home they revenged themselves by plundering and slaughtering in the cities of Judah (2 Chronicles 25:13).
And went to the valley of salt.—Comp. 2 Kings 14:7 : “He it was who smote Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand; and he took Sela in the war, and called its name Joktheel, unto this day.” The valley of salt lay to the south-east of the Dead Sea (2 Samuel 8:13; 1 Chronicles 18:12).
And brought them unto the top of the rock.—Or, of Sela. Sela, “the crag,” was the Edomite capital, known to after ages as Petra, “the rock.” The “Head of Sela” may be the name of a cliff overhanging the town. This savage massacre of prisoners is not mentioned in Kings; but it is quite credible, in view of the well-known atrocities of ancient warfare. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 20:3; Psalm 137:9; 2 Kings 8:12; Amos 1:11; Amos 1:13; 1 Kings 11:15-16 : Joab “cut off every male in Edom.”) It is, however, remarkable that the chronicler does not mention the capture of Sela itself. Thenius, therefore, supposes that the statement of this verse is really the result of an attempt to restore an illegible text of 2 Kings 14:7.
Fell upon.—The verb used in 1 Chronicles 14:9; 1 Chronicles 14:13 : “Spread themselves.” Here it means attacked with a view to plunder (Job 1:17).
From Samaria even unto Beth-horon.—“Samaria” is probably corrupt. Otherwise we must suppose that the mercenaries first returned home, and then, by order of king Joash, started afresh from Samaria, and invaded the northern districts of the kingdom of Judah. For “Beth-horon,” see Note on 1 Chronicles 7:24.
And smote . . . of them.—Of their inhabitants.
(14) From the slaughter.—From smiting.
Brought the gods.—The Assyrian inscriptions often refer to this custom of carrying off the idols of conquered countries. Esarhaddon states that he restored the gods of Hazael, king of Arabia, at that prince’s entreaty, after engraving on them “the might of Asshur” and his own name. Assurbanipal recovered an image of Nana, which an Elamite sovereign had carried off one thousand six hundred and thirty-five years previously.
The children of Seir.—Bnê Seir, the tribal designation of the Edomites (1 Chronicles 1:38).
Set them up to be his gods.—Not necessarily abandoning the worship of Jehovah. (Comp. the conduct of Ahaz, 2 Chronicles 28:23; 2 Kings 16:10, et seq.; also 2 Kings 17:27-33.) Thenius says this contradicts 2 Kings 14:3; and it may be allowed that the chronicler portrays Amaziah in a darker light than the older account. This only proves independence of judgment and the possession of additional information. Thenius and Bertheau further suppose that the chronicler, from his theocratic standpoint, merely inferred the idolatry of Amaziah from his ill success against Israel. It is more likely that it was mentioned in one of the histories which the compiler had before him.
Bowed down himself.—Literally, And before them would he bow himself, and to them would he offer incense; relating his habitual practice.
Art thou made of the king’s counsel?—Literally, A counsellor to the king have we appointed thee?
Why shouldest thou be smitten?—Wherefore should they smite thee?
Hath determined.—Hath counselled. The prophet appropriates the king’s own word, and implies his participation in Divine, if not in royal, counsels.
Because.—The conduct of Amaziah was proof that God had “counselled to destroy him.”
Thou hast done this.—Spurned my warning. Others say: because thou hast adopted the Edomite gods.
Unto my counsel.—Again repeating the king’s expression.
(17) Then Amaziah . . . took advice.—And Amaziah took counsel (2 Chronicles 10:6). Different from the counsel which the prophet would have tendered him (2 Chronicles 25:16).
And sent to Joash.—See 2 Kings 14:8 : “Sent messengers.” The rest of the verse is the same in both passages.
Let us see.—Let us look one another in the face; as combatants do.
To boast.—To get glory (hakbîd). Only so used here. Kings, “thine heart lifteth thee up. Be honoured (i.e., enjoy thine honours), and abide at home” (hikkā-bēd). The difference is one of points only, and may be due to a copyist.
For it came of God . . . gods of Edom.—This remark is added by the chronicler, accounting for the infatuation of Joash by reference to the divine predetermination of events. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 25:16; and 2 Chronicles 24:24; 2 Chronicles 10:15; the Syr. and Arab. omit.)
That he might deliver them into the hand.—Heb., into hand; LXX., “into hands;” Vulg., “into the hands of the enemy.” Perhaps the original reading was, into his hand, i.e., the hand of Joash.
Because they sought.—For they had sought.
The corner gate.—So 2 Kings 14:13, rightly. Our Hebrew text has, “gate of the turning one,” or “gate that turneth;” which would require some word indicating the direction of the turning. (Comp. Ezekiel 8:3, “gate that turneth northward.”) Some MSS., and all the versions, agree with Kings. It is merely a matter of different points. (Comp. also 2 Chronicles 26:9.)
With Obed-edom.—Added by the chronicler, in harmony with what he has stated about the custody of the sacred treasures (1 Chronicles 26:15, seq.); but probably derived from an ancient document. Obededom was the name of a Levitical clan.
(Comp. 2 Kings 14:17-20.)
(25) And Amaziah.—Identical with 2 Kings 14:17. (See Notes there.)
Behold, are they not written.—The Hebrew is faulty here. “Behold, they are written” is the customary phrase in the Chronicles (2 Chronicles 20:34; 2 Chronicles 24:27); “are they not written” being that of Kings. In the Hebrew text here the two phrases are blended. Some- MSS., and the Syriac, Vulg., and Arabic read, “Behold, they are written.” But it is possible that hinnām (“behold they”) is here a corruption of hēm (“they”); and that the reading of Kings should be followed, with other Hebrew MSS. and the Targum.
In the city of Judah.—A transcriber’s mistake for city of David, as it is in Kings and all the old versions, as well as some Heb. MSS.