2 Chronicles 25 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

2 Chronicles 25
Pulpit Commentary
Amaziah was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.
Verse 1. - Twenty and five years old... reigned twenty and nine years. Glance at notes on vers. 1, 15, 17 of foregoing chapter, from which it appears that, as Joash died aetat. forty-seven, and Amaziah was now twenty-five, he must have been born when his father was twenty-two years old, and Jehoaddan correspondingly likely to have been one of the two wives Jehoiada selected for Joash, at the age, on other data, of twenty-one years. Of Jerusalem. This affix to the mother's name may perhaps carry credit to the memory of Jehoiada, for having been careful to select a woman of the honoured city rather than of any provincial or even less worthy city.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart.
Verse 2. - Not with a perfect heart. This is illustrated by his coming "to set up the gods of Edom" (vers. 14-16, 20); also by what the parallel supplies, that he resembled Joash rather than David, and did not suppress "the high places, sacrifices, and in-cense-burning" (2 Kings 14:3, 4). In almost all cases, the not perfect heart speaks of that which began well, but did not "endure unto the end."
Now it came to pass, when the kingdom was established to him, that he slew his servants that had killed the king his father.
Verse 3. - Was established to him; Hebrew, חָזְקָה. This is kal conjugation of the verb, which we found in piel in ver. 5 of foregoing chapter, and there rendered "repair." The kal force of the word is simply to "be strong" (Genesis 41:57; Joshua 17:13; 2 Kings 14:5). The hiph., to "make strong," or "confirm," as it is rendered here, is found in 2 Kings 15:19. Again and again the disorders of the kingdom and the violent deaths of prophets and kings must have greatly contributed to nervous apprehensions, in fact only too just, when a new king ascended the throne. In the parallel and in passage last quoted the words, "in his hand," follow the verb. Amaziah both needed to get his own hand in, according to modern phrase, and to get things well into his hand. His servants. It may be held surprising that they should have been found "in the place," or should now be his servants at all. The explanation may be either that their guilt had not yet been known, or, if known, had not been fixed upon them.
But he slew not their children, but did as it is written in the law in the book of Moses, where the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers, but every man shall die for his own sin.
Verse 4. - Slew not their children. Emphasis (the emphasis of mention, at any rate) is laid upon this, perhaps partly to show that Amaziah did in some measure walk by "the Law of the Lord," and partly because of numerous cases that had grown up to the opposite (2 Kings 9:8, 26; Joshua 7:24, 25, where, however, very possibly all were more or less aiders and abettors of the wickedness). For Moses' clearly written rehearsal of "the commandment of the Lord," on this subject, see the marginal references, Deuteronomy 24:16; Jeremiah 31:29, 30; Ezekiel 18:4, 19, 20.
Moreover Amaziah gathered Judah together, and made them captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, according to the houses of their fathers, throughout all Judah and Benjamin: and he numbered them from twenty years old and above, and found them three hundred thousand choice men, able to go forth to war, that could handle spear and shield.
Verse 5. - This and the following five verses are entirely omitted in the parallel, which contents itself with giving in its ver. 7, in fewer words, but with the supplement of other matter, what is contained in our ver. 11. Found them three hundred thousand. Compare Asa's "five hundred and eighty thousand" (2 Chronicles 14:8), and Jehoshaphat's "eleven hundred and sixty thousand" (2 Chronicles 17:14-19; see note, however, on these verses, and the improbability of numbers so high). The Hebrew text of the second clause of this verse simply says, "he set them" (יַעֲמִידֵם), or placed them according to... fathers' houses, under captains, etc., glancing most naturally at Numbers 1:2-2:34. Twenty years old and above (comp. 1 Chronicles 27:23).
He hired also an hundred thousand mighty men of valour out of Israel for an hundred talents of silver.
Verse 6. - Out of Israel. The next verse tells us that "all the children of Ephraim" (which was strictly the northern Israel's chief tribe) are hereby designated. It is not quite clear that this Israel is exactly conterminous with the Israel of 2 Chronicles 13:3, the identity of which, however, with Joab's Israel (2 Samuel 24:9) is very probable. The boundaries of the strict tribe of Ephraim, whose ancestor was Joseph's younger son, are described in Joshua 16:5. The tribe were located as nearly as possible in the centre of the land. Ephraim, however, is here, as in many other places, as the name of the royal tribe, so named upon the whole of the northern kingdom (Isaiah 9:8; Isaiah 17:3; Isaiah 28:3; several times in almost every chapter of Hosea, and for a typical instance, cf. Hosea 14:8).
But there came a man of God to him, saying, O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the LORD is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim.
Verse 7. - (See foregoing chapter, ver. 19.) The name of this man of God does not transpire. To wit, with. These three words, all in italic type, if entirely omitted, and not even the preposition adopted, as in the Revised Version, into the ordinary type, will leave the intention of the writer clearer rather than less clear.
But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help, and to cast down.
Verse 8. - It is hard to feel satisfied as to the correct rendering of this verse. The drift of the next verse, which shows Amaziah a convert to the strong exhortation of the man of God, makes either alternative allowable under the present text very untimely. and not very much in accord with what we should look for at the lips of the man of God. The very conceivable way out of the difficulty is to read לא, hyphened to אם (all the rather that no vau is present in בּלֺא, as the present text is), and proceed to supply בּא or בּוא again before אַתָּה, crediting some copyist with confusion of eye through these having come close together in his manuscript. The rendering will then be straightforward, and prepare the way for Amaziah's yielding conformably with the tenor of the next verse. "But if not" (i.e. if thou wilt not be guided by my remonstrance as to Ephraim), "go thou, be on the alert, exert all the strength possible for the battle, and yet nevertheless God will cause thee to stumble." And the remaining sentence may bear this significance, "For God hath power to help thee though alone, or to cast thee down though supported by an extra hundred thousand." If such alteration or conjectural restoration of the text be not accepted, we may harmonize the facts of the case with the most utter faithfulness of lip on the part of the prophet, by translating, "For in very truth, if thou go at all, and though thou make the best preparations, God shall make it go ill with thee." And Amaziah is persuaded to this point, that he will neither risk the lives of them of Ephraim vainly, nor risk the likelier displeasure of God on himself. He yields only partly, and therefore is nothing benefited. The difficulty is left untouched, that the prophet did not simply in toto forbid Amaziah to go, and that, saving them of Ephraim, he saves them to be a second scourge for the back of Amaziah, though he took his prophet's advice so far, and lost his own money. A careful and devout observer of human life and perverseness, when once these commit themselves to the vain struggle with God, and equally vain attempt to haggle with his providence as to how much to yield and how much to resist and with. hold, cannot but be struck with the photograph here thrown off, and that it is a faithful one, of hard facts that have met together disastrously times without number in men's lives. The sum, then, of the matter of our vers. 7, 8 may amount to this: "Under no circumstances take Israel, and if thou go thyself with all best preparations, yet know that God shall destroy thee."
And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.
Verse 9. - This verse is consummate in the two touches by which it sets forth the phase of earth's calculatingness respecting the perishable, and Heaven's swift disposal of any such trifling difficulty.
Then Amaziah separated them, to wit, the army that was come to him out of Ephraim, to go home again: wherefore their anger was greatly kindled against Judah, and they returned home in great anger.
Verse 10. - It appears that, though this contingent from Israel's land was a hired force, yet for some reason their heart was in their calling, perhaps in anticipation of plunder. It may well be that they asked why they were discharged; and whether the right answer were given them, that the Lord dwelt not among them, or some wrong answer, it evidently did not improve matters, but rankled in their hearts till it found relief (vers. 13, 22), as they concluded that either their ability or fidelity, or both, were called in question. The 'Speaker's Commentary' very aptly cites the keen resentment and mortification that the Athenians are recorded to have felt in similar circumstances as told in Plutarch's 'Lives:' "Cimon," §17. Separated them. This is the verb occurring several times in the first verses of Genesis 1. (יַבְדִּילֵם); there it is always followed by the preposition בֵּי, when speaking of the separating of two things from one another. Though this be meant here, it is not what is exactly said, and the prefix preposition לְbefore the substantive (לְהַגְּדוּד) may, as Keil says, be regarded as designating the appositional accusative to that affixed in the shape of the pronoun "them" to the verb.
And Amaziah strengthened himself, and led forth his people, and went to the valley of salt, and smote of the children of Seir ten thousand.
Verse 11. - Strengthened himself. The hithp, conjugation of our already familiar verb חָזַק; it was not a healthy strengthening, and this may be considered denoted in the fact that the work was all his own, and that he wrought himself up. The valley of salt. Commonly supposed to be the plain south of the Salt Sea, but according to Stanley ('Sinai and Palestine,' Appendix. § 2. 5, pp. 482, 483), more probably a "ravine near Petra" (1 Chronicles 18:12; 2 Samuel 8:13). (For the association of Seir with Edom, see Genesis 36:17-20; 2 Chronicles 20:10.)
And other ten thousand left alive did the children of Judah carry away captive, and brought them unto the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, that they all were broken in pieces.
Verse 12. - The top of the rock. The parallel uses the Hebrew word without translation, Selah (הַסֶּלַע). There is little doubt that this is Petra (Conder's 'Handbook to the Bible,' 305; Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' 87-92). The parallel tells us the interesting fact that Amaziah, perhaps under the influence of a spasmodic touch of devout-hess or gratitude, changed the name of Selah, or rather endeavoured to change it, to Joktheel, which Gesenius translates "subjugated of God." This name had already occurred in Joshua 15:38. The new name, however, did not last, as the Edomites recovered soon the country of (2 Chronicles 28:17; Amos 1:11; Isaiah 16:1, 2) Arabia Petraea, of which Selah or Petra was the capital. Left alive. The Revised Version correctly renders, carry away alive. The cruelty of the Edomites receives many illustrations (see last references, and Ezekiel 25:12-14; Obadiah 1:1-15).
But the soldiers of the army which Amaziah sent back, that they should not go with him to battle, fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria even unto Bethhoron, and smote three thousand of them, and took much spoil.
Verse 13. - The soldiers... sent back... fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria to Beth-horon. There is probably something to read between the lines here, to wit, that the soldiers returned to their master add king (Joash of Israel), and were by him remitted to this work. The mention of Samaria before Beth-horon (see map) indicates it, and the words "sent back" may be held to imply, at least, that they first went back - that the disappointment of spoil was the chief part of their aggravations, so that now the rather they got their much spoil, and note made thereof, and that - since not so much the instructive and so far forth more excusable revenge on the part of the disappointed soldiers, but the deliberate plan and order of their king had brought about this devastation of Amaziah's domains, in this fact we have the key of what we read in our vers. 17, 18, etc., and of the very cool manner in which Amaziah challenged Joash. The cities of Judah attacked were apparently those that once had belonged to Ephraim. Smote three thousand of them; i.e. of the people of them.
Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them.
Verse 14. - Brought the gods of the children of Seir... to be his gods. Amaziah's devout gratitude to God, and acknowledgment of him in the name Joktheel, was soon gone, and at the very last, grown confident, he loses all, and realizes the fulfilment of the "man of God's" prophetic denunciations.
Wherefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Amaziah, and he sent unto him a prophet, which said unto him, Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which could not deliver their own people out of thine hand?
Verse 15. - He sent unto him a prophet. We are again not told whom. The tone of the prophet, and the words given us as his in the latter half of ver. 16, would lead us to think it was the same "man of God;" but we cannot assert it, and had it been the same, it would more probably have transpired. The history now often reminds us of 2 Chronicles 24:16.
And it came to pass, as he talked with him, that the king said unto him, Art thou made of the king's counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten? Then the prophet forbare, and said, I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not hearkened unto my counsel.
Verse 16. - The chapter well keeps up in this verse its graphic character, though the culminating instances of it are yet to come. Forbear. The faithful prophet is "wise as the serpent, harmless as the dove." He does forbear, but not till the application of his speech, and all that was needful is most outspokenly (more so than before he had heard the usual coward fashion of the tyrant's threat) pronounced. His forbearing, therefore, is open to no charge of moral cowardice and unprophet-like infidelity.
Then Amaziah king of Judah took advice, and sent to Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us see one another in the face.
Verse 17. - Took advice; i.e. took counsel; as in foregoing verse, "Art thou made king's counsellor?" and as in same verse, "counselled" should read instead of "determined," The verb (יָעצ), in kal, niph., and once only in hithp., occurs just eighty times, always in this sense, and almost always so rendered in the Authorized Version, Let us see one another in the face. A refined analogy to this expression, with all its speaking significance, occurs in 2 Samuel 2:13; and, perhaps yet more remarkably, a strange some balance between vers. 14, 15, 17 of that chapter and our vers. 21, 22 may be noticed.
And Joash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon 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.
Verse 18. - The thistle... sent to the cedar. While other history shows frequently the abounding Eastern delight in this exact kind of composition, it will be remembered that it is not absent from Scripture, and that this is not the first recorded instance of it by three hundred and fifty years, for see Judges 9:7-15. The thistle; Hebrew, הַחוַח. The word occurs, beside the four times here and in the parallel, eight other times: 1 Samuel 13:6; 2 Chronicles 33:11; Job 31:40; Job 41:2; Proverbs 26:9; Song of Solomon 2:2; Isaiah 34:13; Hosea 9:6. Although, then, the word we have here is not the "bramble" (אָטָד) of Judges 9:15, which also is brought before us in its contrast with Lebanon's cedar, yet the bramble bush, chiefly in virtue of its characteristic thorn, best answers to the average suggestions of all the twelve instances of the use of our word.
Thou sayest, Lo, thou hast smitten the Edomites; and thine heart lifteth thee up to boast: abide now at home; why shouldest thou meddle to thine hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?
Verse 19. - If the contents of this verse do not fail to impress with a persuasion of the keen mental gift of Joash, they do not fall far short of warranting some persuasion of a certain moral sense and goodness about him also. He knows human nature well, and Amaziah's particular variety therein perfectly well. And many would have snapped at the opportunity of humbling such a man. But not so Joash; he enjoys, indeed, the opportunity of satisfying his own sarcasm and patronizingness, but would still spare Amaziah's people and save him from himself. This does not resemble, at any rote, the commonest, poorest, hungriest style of soul. To boast. Our text gives us here hiph. infinitive construct, where the parallel has niph. imperative. This lends the more effective shaft to the invective of Joash, though without material difference to the sense.
But Amaziah would not hear; for it came of God, that he might deliver them into the hand of their enemies, because they sought after the gods of Edom.
Verse 20. - The whole of the religious reflection, with its special post-Captivity significance of this verse, is wanting in the parallel, and finds no suggestion either thence or from common authorities. The parallel shows the statement, But Amaziah would not hear, followed up immediately by "Therefore Jehoash... went up." Our own verse, in the use of the plural pronoun them, and again they, takes some slight amount of the weight of guilt in the matter of the idolatry from the shoulders of the king, that it may be shared by the people, and no doubt chiefly again by the "princes" (2 Chronicles 24:17).
So Joash the king of Israel went up; and they saw one another in the face, both he and Amaziah king of Judah, at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah.
Verse 21. - Beth-shemesh. The Beth-shomesh of Judah, on the borders of Judah, Dan, and the Philistines, is to be distinguished from that on the boundary of Issachar (Joshua 19:22), and "the fenced city of Naphtali" (Joshua 19:38).
And Judah was put to the worse before Israel, and they fled every man to his tent.
And Joash the king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, at Bethshemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
Verse 23. - Joash... took; Hebrew, תָּפַּשׂ, "seized" (as Genesis 39:12), or "caught up" (as Deuteronomy 9:17), or "capture" (as Joshua 8:8). The gate of Ephraim (see Conder's 'Handbook to the Bible,' p. 343). It led out on the north or north-west side of the city. There is very little to identify it with the high gate of Benjamin (see ditto, p. 346). The corner gate. This is not the translation of our Hebrew text (שַׁעַר הַפּונֶה, which, see margin, means "that looketh"), but of the Hebrew text of the parallel (חַפִנָּה); see pp. 343-346 of Conder's 'Handbook to the Bible,' and map facing p. 334, 2nd edit. Four hundred cubits. Probably about a hundred and eighty yards.
And he took all the gold and the silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of God with Obededom, and the treasures of the king's house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria.
Verse 24. - No mention is made in the parallel of that custodian of treasures in the house of God, here called Obed-Edom, and who possibly was a descendant of the Obed-Edom of David's time (2 Samuel 6:10; 1 Chronicles 13:13); or an Obed-Edom "a porter" (1 Chronicles 15:18; 1 Chronicles 16:38; 1 Chronicles 26:4, S). The present verse is an interesting one for pointing out the exact differences, even to the minutest of them, in what the two writers (of Kings and Chronicles) respectively took from a common original; e.g. the writer of Kings has "he took;" leaves out "Obed-Edom;" has not the preposition "in" before "the house;" has "Jehovah" instead of "God;" has the preposition "in" before "treasures;" and has "Samaria-ward" (i.e. to Samaria) instead of only "Samaria;" the writer of Chronicles differing in each of these respects. All the gold... in the house of God. See 2 Kings 12:17, 18, from which we must conclude that Hazael had already had the pick both for quantity and for quality. The hostages also; the phrase runs in the Hebrew text, "and sons [or, 'the sons'] of the hostages" (הַתַּעֲרֻבות יְאֵת בְּנַי); the literal rendering of which is "children or sons of pledges," i.e. hostages. The word (and indeed the practice so prevalent elsewhere) is found only here and in the parallel.
And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years.
Verse 25. - Amaziah... lived after the death of Joash. The composition of the previous two verses dismisses delicately the fact that Joash, ignominiously bringing "Amaziah to Jerusalem" (ver. 23), contemptuously left him there, with a present of his life, though less his honour and much wealth.
Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, first and last, behold, are they not written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel?
Verse 26. - The book of the kings of Judah and Israel. The parallel has "the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah." Considering the amount and the character of the resemblance that we have noticed between the narratives in Kings and in our own text, and assuming that the work to which each compiler calls attention for the fuller elucidation of his subject of biography is the work which he has himself most largely laid under 'contribution, then we should justly feel in this instance that we had no feeble argument for the identity of the two works, called by rather different titles - by the writer of the pre-Captivity, "the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah," and by him of the post-Captivity, "the book of the kings of Judah and Israel."
Now after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the LORD they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem; and he fled to Lachish: but they sent to Lachish after him, and slew him there.
Verse 27. - Now after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the Lord. Let it be particularly noted that the entire of this sentence (which is a strong anachronism sui generis) is wanting in the parallel. It is, of course, in its matter intrinsically true, but none the less misleading in its form. The object of the writer cannot be doubted, as so many a cross-light is thrown upon it, in other places, viz. to connect the rise and the operativeness of the conspiracy with the .fact that (though not the exact date at which) the king had turned aside from Jehovah to idols. They made a conspiracy. When every deduction is made, it may be that the conspiracy was one that was long hatching, and one which began in embryo from the date of Amaziah's ignominious return to Jerusalem. Very certain it is that this would be historic certainty with the Paris of the past century or more. The French would have required a deadly explanation of such an affront, if brought upon them by any ruler of theirs. He fled to Lachish. In the Shefelah of Judah, and a strongly fortified place (2 Chronicles 11:9; Joshua 10:3, 32; Joshua 15:39; 2 Kings 14:19; 2 Kings 18:14; 2 Kings 19:8; Isaiah 36:2; Jeremiah 34:7; Micah 1:13). Eusebius places it seven Roman miles south of Eleutheropolis.
And they brought him upon horses, and buried him with his fathers in the city of Judah.
Verse 28. - They brought him upon horses; Hebrew text, "upon the horses," i.e. those same royal horses presumably with which he had fled to Lachish. This seems the most natural suggestion arising from the memorandum made here, and may indicate that they visited him with no additional gratuitous disrespect. In the city of Judah. Probably an incorrect text for that of 2 Kings 14:20, "the city of David," which is found in some of the manuscripts.

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