Reign of Azariah, or Uzziah, king of Judah. (1-7) The latter kings of Israel. (8-31) Jotham, king of Judah. (32-38)
Verses 1-7 Uzziah did for the most part that which was right. It was happy for the kingdom that a good reign was a long one.
Verses 8-31 This history shows Israel in confusion. Though Judah was not without troubles, yet that kingdom was happy, compared with the state of Israel. The imperfections of true believers are very different from the allowed wickedness of ungodly men. Such is human nature, such are our hearts, if left to themselves, deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. We have reason to be thankful for restraints, for being kept out of temptation, and should beg of God to renew a right spirit within us.
Verses 32-38 Jotham showed great respect to the temple. If magistrates cannot do all they would, for the suppressing of vice and profaneness, let them do the more to support and advance piety and virtue.
2 Kings 15:1-7 . AZARIAH'S REIGN OVER JUDAH.
1-7. In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam--It is thought that the throne of Judah continued vacant eleven or twelve years, between the death of Amaziah and the inauguration of his son Azariah. Being a child only four years old when his father was murdered, a regency was appointed during Azariah's minority.
began Azariah . . . to reign--The character of his reign is described by the brief formula employed by the inspired historian, in recording the religious policy of the later kings. But his reign was a very active as well as eventful one, and is fully related ( 2 Chronicles 26:1-23 ). Elated by the possession of great power, and presumptuously arrogating to himself, as did the heathen kings, the functions both of the real and sacerdotal offices, he was punished with leprosy, which, as the offense was capital ( Numbers 8:7 ), was equivalent to death, for this disease excluded him from all society. While Jotham, his son, as his viceroy, administered the affairs of the kingdom--being about fifteen years of age (compare 2 Kings 15:33 )--he had to dwell in a place apart buried in the royal burying-field, though not in the royal cemetery of "the city of David" ( 2 Chronicles 26:23 ).
2 Kings 15:8-16 . ZECHARIAH'S REIGN OVER ISRAEL.
8-10. In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zechariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel--There was an interregnum from some unknown cause between the reign of Jeroboam and the accession of his son, which lasted, according to some, for ten or twelve years, according to others, for twenty-two years, or more. This prince pursued the religious policy of the calf-worship, and his reign was short, being abruptly terminated by the hand of violence. In his fate was fulfilled the prophecy addressed to Jehu ( 2 Kings 10:30 ; also Hosea 1:4 ), that his family would possess the throne of Israel for four generations; and accordingly Jehoahaz, Joash, Jehoram, and Zechariah were his successors--but there his dynasty terminated; and perhaps it was the public knowledge of this prediction that prompted the murderous design of Shallum.
13-17. Shallum . . . reigned a full month--He was opposed and slain by Menahem, who, according to JOSEPHUS, was commander of the forces, which, on the report of the king's murder, were besieging Tirzah, a town twelve miles east of Samaria, and formerly a seat of the kings of Israel. Raising the siege, he marched directly against the usurper, slew him, and reigned in his stead.
16. Menahem . . . smote Tiphsah--Thapsacus, on the Euphrates, the border city of Solomon's kingdom ( 1 Kings 4:24 ). The inhabitants refusing to open their gates to him, Menahem took it by storm. Then having spoiled it, he committed the most barbarous excesses, without regard either to age or sex.
2 Kings 15:17-21 . MENAHEM'S REIGN.
17. reigned ten years in Samaria--His government was conducted on the religious policy of his predecessors.
19. Pul the king of Assyria--This is the first Assyrian king after Nimrod who is mentioned in biblical history. His name has been recently identified with that of Phalluka on the monuments of Nineveh, and that of Menahem discovered also.
came against the land--Elsewhere it is said "Ephraim [Israel] went to the Assyrian" [ Hosea 5:13 ]. The two statements may be reconciled thus: "Pul, of his own motion, induced, perhaps, by the expedition of Menahem against Thapsacus, advanced against the kingdom of Israel; then Menahem sent him a thousand talents in order not only to divert him from his plans of conquest, but at the same time to purchase his friendship and aid for the establishment of his own precarious sovereignty. So Menahem did not properly invite the Assyrian into the land, but only changed the enemy when marching against the country, by this tribute, into a confederate for the security of his usurped dominion. This the prophet Hosea, less concerned about the historical fact than the disposition betrayed therein, might very well censure as a going of Ephraim to the Assyrians ( Hosea 5:13 , 7:1 , 8:9 ), and a covenant-making with Asshur" ( 2 Kings 12:1 ) [KEIL].
a thousand talents of silver--equal to $2,000,000. This tribute, which Menahem raised by a tax on the grandees of Israel, bribed Pul to return to his own country
2 Kings 15:22-24 . PEKAHIAH'S REIGN.
23. Pekahiah . . . son of Menahem began to reign--On comparing the date given with Azariah's reign, it seems that several months had intervened between the death of Menahem and the accession of Pekahiah, probably owing to a contest about the throne.
25. with Argob and Arieh, &c.--Many commentators view these as the captain's accomplices. But it is more probable that they were influential friends of the king, who were murdered along with him.
2 Kings 15:27-31 . PEKAH'S REIGN.
29. in the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser--This monarch, who succeeded Pul on the throne of Assyria, is the only one of all the kings who does not give his genealogy, and is therefore supposed to have been an usurper. His annals have been discovered in the Nimroud mound, describing this expedition into Syria. The places taken are here mentioned as they occurred and were conquered in the progress of an invasion.
30. Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy . . . and slew him--He did not, however, obtain possession of the kingdom till about nine or ten years after the perpetration of this crime [HALES].
in the twentieth year of Jotham--Jotham's reign lasted only sixteen years, but the meaning is that the reign of Hoshea began in the twentieth after the beginning of Jotham's reign. The sacred historian, having not yet introduced the name of Ahaz, reckoned the date by Jotham, whom he had already mentioned (see 2 Chronicles 27:8 ).
2 Kings 15:32-38 . JOTHAM'S REIGN OVER JUDAH.
33. Five and twenty years was he when he began to reign--that is, alone--for he had ruled as his father's viceroy ( 2 Kings 15:5 ).
35. the higher gate of the house of the Lord--not the temple itself, but one of its courts; probably that which led into the palace ( 2 Chronicles 23:20 ).
37. the Lord began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, &c.--This is the first intimation of the hostile feelings of the kings of Israel and Syria, to Judah, which led them to form an alliance and make joint preparations for war. war was not actually waged till the reign of Ahaz.