Uzziah's good reign in Judah. (1-15) Uzziah's attempt to burn incense. (16-23)
Verses 1-15 As long as Uzziah sought the Lord, and minded religion, God made him to prosper. Those only prosper whom God makes to prosper; for prosperity is his gift. Many have owned, that as long as they sought the Lord, and kept close to their duty, they prospered; but when they forsook God, every thing went cross. God never continues either to bless the indolent or to withhold his blessing from the diligent. He will never suffer any to seek his face in vain. Uzziah's name was famed throughout all the neighbouring countries. A name with God and good people makes truly honourable. He did not delight in war, nor addict himself to sports, but delighted in husbandry.
Verses 16-23 The transgression of the kings before Uzziah was, forsaking the temple of the Lord, and burning incense upon idolatrous altars. But his transgression was, going into the holy place, and attempting to burn incense upon the altar of God. See how hard it is to avoid one extreme, and not run into another. Pride of heart was at the bottom of his sin; a lust that ruins many. Instead of lifting up the name God in gratitude to him who had done so much for him, his heart was lifted up to his hurt. Men's pretending to forbidden knowledge, and seeking things too high for them, are owing to pride of heart. The incense of our prayers must be, by faith, put into the hands of our Lord Jesus, the great High Priest of our profession, else we cannot expect it to be accepted by God, ( Revelation 8:3 ) . Though Uzziah strove with the priests, he would not strive with his Maker. But he was punished for his transgression; he continued a leper to his death, shut out from society. The punishment answered the sin as face to face in a glass. Pride was at the bottom of his transgression, and thus God humbled him, and put dishonour upon him. Those that covet forbidden honours, forfeit allowed ones. Adam, by catching at the tree of knowledge which he might not eat of, debarred himself of the tree of life which he might have eaten of. Let all that read say, The Lord is righteous. And when the Lord sees good to throw prosperous and useful men aside, as broken vessels, if he raises up others to fill their places, they may rejoice to renounce all worldly concerns, and employ their remaining days in preparation for death.
2 Chronicles 26:1-8 . UZZIAH SUCCEEDS AMAZIAH AND REIGNS WELL IN THE DAYS OF ZECHARIAH.
1. Then all the people of Judah took
2. He built Eloth--or, "He it was who built Eloth." The account of the fortifications of this port on the Red Sea, which Uzziah restored to the kingdom of Judah ( 2 Chronicles 33:13 ), is placed before the chronological notices ( 2 Chronicles 26:3 ), either on account of the importance attached to the conquest of Eloth, or from the desire of the historian to introduce Uzziah as the king, who was known as the conqueror of Eloth. Besides, it indicates that the conquest occurred in the early part of his reign, that it was important as a port, and that Hebrew merchants maintained the old trade between it and the countries of the East [BERTHEAU].
5. he sought God in the days of Zechariah--a wise and pious counsellor, who was skilled in understanding the meaning and lessons of the ancient prophecies, and who wielded a salutary influence over Uzziah.
6, 7. he went forth and warred against the Philistines--He overcame them in many engagements--dismantled their towns, and erected fortified cities in various parts of the country, to keep them in subjection.
Jabneh--the same as Jabneel ( Joshua 15:11 ).
7. Gur-baal--thought by some to be Gerar, and by others Gebal.
8. the Ammonites gave gifts--The countries east of the Jordan became tributary to him, and by the rapid succession and extent of his victories, his kingdom was extended to the Egyptian frontier.
2 Chronicles 26:9 2 Chronicles 26:10 . HIS BUILDINGS.
9. Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem, &c.--whence resistance could be made, or missiles discharged against assailants. The sites of the principal of these towers were: at the corner gate ( 2 Chronicles 25:23 ), the northwest corner of the city; at the valley gate on the west, where the Joppa gate now is; at the "turning"--a curve in the city wall on the eastern side of Zion. The town, at this point, commanded the horse gate which defended Zion and the temple hill on the southeast [BERTHEAU].
10. Also he built towers in the desert--for the threefold purpose of defense, of observation, and of shelter to his cattle. He dug also a great many wells, for he loved and encouraged all branches of agriculture. Some of these "were in the desert," that is, in the district to the southeast of Jerusalem, on the west of the Dead Sea, an extensive grazing district "in the low country" lying between the mountains of Judah and the Mediterranean; "and in the plains," east of the Jordan, within the territory of Reuben ( Deuteronomy 4:43 , Joshua 20:8 ).
in Carmel--This mountain, being within the boundary of Israel, did not belong to Uzziah; and as it is here placed in opposition to the vine-bearing mountains, it is probably used, not as a proper name, but to signify, as the word denotes, "fruitful fields" (Margin).
2 Chronicles 26:11-15 . HIS HOST, AND ENGINES OF WAR.
11-15. an host of fighting men, that went out to war by bands--He raised a strong body of militia, divided into companies or regiments of uniform size, which served in rotation. The enumeration was performed by two functionaries expert in the drawing up of military muster-rolls, under the superintendence of Hananiah, one of the high officers of the crown. The army consisted of 307,500 picked men, under the command of two thousand gallant officers, chiefs or heads of fathers' houses, so that each fathers house formed a distinct band. They were fully equipped with every kind of military accoutrements, from brazen helmets, a habergeon or coat of mail, to a sling for stones.
15. he made . . . engines, invented by cunning men . . . to shoot arrows and great stones--This is the first notice that occurs in history of the use of machines for throwing projectiles. The invention is apparently ascribed to the reign of Uzziah, and PLINY expressly says they originated in Syria.
he was marvellously helped till he was strong--He conducted himself as became the viceroy of the Divine King, and prospered.
2 Chronicles 26:16-21 . HE INVADES THE PRIEST'S OFFICE, AND IS SMITTEN WITH LEPROSY.
16-21. he transgressed against the Lord, This daring and wicked act is in both records traced to the intoxicating influence of overweening pride and vanity. But here the additional circumstances are stated, that his entrance was opposed, and strong remonstrances made ( 1 Chronicles 6:10 ) by the high priest, who was accompanied by eighty inferior priests. Rage and threats were the only answers he deigned to return, but God took care to vindicate the sacredness of the priestly office. At the moment the king lifted the censer, He struck him with leprosy. The earthquake mentioned ( Amos 1:1 ) is said to have been felt at the moment [JOSEPHUS].
21. dwelt in a several house--in an infirmary [BERTHEAU].
23. they buried him . . . in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings--He was interred not in, but near, the sepulcher of the kings, as the corpse of a leper would have polluted it.