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2 Chronicles 24-26
Joash had been defended and made king of Judah by the courageous and faithful Levites of God (see notes for 2 Chronicles 23). While his uncle, the high priest Jehoiada, lived, Joash remained true to his calling; "Joash did what was right in the eyes of The Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest."
"Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem; his mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did what was right in the eyes of The Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest. Jehoiada got for him two wives, and he had sons and daughters. After this Joash decided to restore the house of The Lord. And he gathered the priests and the Levites, and said to them, "Go out to the cities of Judah, and gather from all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year; and see that you hasten the matter." (2 Chronicles 24:1-5 RSV)
Joash oversaw the overdue maintenance of the Temple, the Holy Place where the young king had been given asylum during the murderous reign of Athaliah.
"So those who were engaged in the work labored, and the repairing went forward in their hands, and they restored the house of God [see Temples] to its proper condition and strengthened it. And when they had finished, they brought the rest of the money before the king and Jehoiada, and with it were made utensils for the house of The Lord, both for the service and for the burnt offerings, and dishes for incense, and vessels of gold and silver. And they offered burnt offerings in the house of The Lord continually all the days of Jehoiada." (2 Chronicles 24:13-14 RSV)
Jehoiada the high priest died of old age after a long life of good service to The Lord (see also YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD). Although not a king, righteous Jehoiada was buried with some of them in The City of David.
"But Jehoiada grew old and full of days, and died; he was a hundred and thirty years old at his death. And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, and toward God and his house." (2 Chronicles 24:15-16 RSV)
Jehoiada's death produced a power vacuum among those closest to the king. Unfortunately, it was filled by some corrupt "princes of Judah" who influenced until-then righteous Joash to become corrupt. The Lord sent Prophets to warn the king, but Joash made himself deaf to them.
"Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and did obeisance to the king; then the king hearkened to them. And they forsook the house of The Lord, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim [see Asherah] and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their guilt. Yet He sent prophets among them to bring them back to The Lord; these testified against them, but they would not give heed." (2 Chronicles 24:17-19 RSV)
In an act of Satanic savagery, Joash had the new high priest (an office created to portray the coming Messiah - see What Is Jesus Christ Doing Right Now?) Zechariah, the son of the high priest Jehoiada who had saved Joash's life and had him made king, murdered (interestingly, Joash is one of the three kings not listed in Matthew's genealogy of Christ, perhaps for his killing of the man whose purpose was to symbolize the Christ).
"Then the Spirit of God took possession of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people, and said to them, "Thus says God, 'Why do you transgress the commandments of The Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken The Lord, he has forsaken you.'"
Joash's fate was now sealed, "his servants conspired against him because of the blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest."
"At the end of the year the army of the Syrians came up against Joash. They came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus. Though the army of the Syrians had come with few men, The Lord delivered into their hand a very great army, because they had forsaken The Lord, the God of their fathers. Thus they executed judgment on Joash. When they had departed from him, leaving him severely wounded, his servants conspired against him because of the blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed. So he died; and they buried him in the city of David, but they did not bury him in the tombs of the kings." (2 Chronicles 24:23-25 RSV)
2 Chronicles Chapter 25
After the death of Joash, "Amaziah his son reigned in his stead" (2 Chronicles 24:27 RSV). Amaziah killed the men who had killed his father, but his sense of justice was warped - his father had been killed because he had murdered the high priest. That sort of hypocritical logic guided Amaziah through his entire reign.
"Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of The Lord, yet not with a blameless heart. And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand he killed his servants who had slain the king his father. But he did not put their children to death, according to what is written in the law, in the book of Moses, where The Lord commanded, "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, or the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall die for his own sin." (2 Chronicles 25:1-4 RSV)
Amaziah then sought to make himself a warlord; he assembled 300,000 troops from his own kingdom of Judah, plus 100,000 mercenaries from Israel. The warning from a prophet of God was not long in coming for the war-lusting king.
"Then Amaziah assembled the men of Judah, and set them by fathers' houses under commanders of thousands and of hundreds for all Judah and Benjamin. He mustered those twenty years old and upward, and found that they were three hundred thousand picked men, fit for war, able to handle spear and shield. He hired also a hundred thousand mighty men of valor from Israel for a hundred talents of silver.
Amaziah heeded the warning, or at least the parts that suited his ego. He discharged his mercenaries from Ephraim, but went to war with the rest of his own.
"Then Amaziah discharged the army that had come to him from Ephraim, to go home again. And they became very angry with Judah, and returned home in fierce anger.
Meanwhile, the mercenaries that Amaziah discharged decided to commit themselves to war anyway - not now with Judah, but against Judah. They slaughtered 3,000 people in a number of towns that had been left undefended because Amaziah had sent their defenders off on his ego war.
"But the men of the army whom Amaziah sent back, not letting them go with him to battle, fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria to Beth-horon, and killed three thousand people in them, and took much spoil." (2 Chronicles 25:13 RSV)
Amaziah by that time was beyond caring; he had descended into a common idol-worshipper. The Lord again warned him.
"After Amaziah came from the slaughter of the Edomites, he brought the gods of the men of Seir, and set them up as his gods, and worshiped them, making offerings to them. Therefore The Lord was angry with Amaziah and sent to him a prophet, who said to him, "Why have you resorted to the gods of a people, which did not deliver their own people from your hand?" (2 Chronicles 25:14-15 RSV)
Amaziah of Judah then provoked a war against Israel (see The Division Of Israel to understand how "Judah" and "Israel" became two kingdoms). The king of Israel attempted to dissuade Amaziah, but when Amaziah wouldn't listen, Israel devastated Judah.
"Then Amaziah king of Judah took counsel and sent to Joash the son of Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, "Come, let us look one another in the face."
Amaziah was eventually forced to flee, but was killed at Lachish.
"Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived fifteen years after the death of Joash the son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel. Now the rest of the deeds of Amaziah, from first to last, are they not written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel? From the time when he turned away from The Lord they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish. But they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there. And they brought him upon horses; and he was buried with his fathers in the city of David." (2 Chronicles 25:25-27 RSV)
2 Chronicles Chapter 26
Uzziah succeeded his father Amaziah as king of Judah. His reign of fifty-two years was good at times, although he, like almost all the rest, eventually became too full of himself to see that "as long as he sought The Lord, God made him prosper."
"And all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah. He built Eloth and restored it to Judah, after the king slept with his fathers. Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of The Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God; and as long as he sought The Lord, God made him prosper." (2 Chronicles 26:1-5 RSV)
Uzziah inflicted heavy defeats on the Philistines and some of the hostile Arab nations, with The Lord's help (see also "Strong Is He Who Has Come Down").
"He went out and made war against the Philistines, and broke down the wall of Gath and the wall of Jabneh and the wall of Ashdod; and he built cities in the territory of Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabs that dwelt in Gurbaal, and against the Meunites. The Ammonites paid tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread even to the border of Egypt, for he became very strong." (2 Chronicles 26:6-8 RSV)
Uzziah also strengthened the infrastructure of Judah.
"Moreover Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate and at the Valley Gate [see The Gates Of Old Jerusalem] and at the Angle, and fortified them. And he built towers in the wilderness, and hewed out many cisterns [see Wells and Cisterns], for he had large herds, both in the Shephelah and in the plain, and he had farmers and vinedressers in the hills and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil." (2 Chronicles 26:9-10 RSV)
Unfortunately, "when he was strong he grew proud" (see The Two Kinds Of Pride). The king took it upon himself to do what only particular Levites were authorized to do (see also The Lines Of Eleazar and Ithamar).
"But when he was strong he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was false to The Lord his God, and entered the temple of The Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of The Lord who were men of valor; and they withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to The Lord, but for the priests the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary; for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from The Lord God." (2 Chronicles 26:16-18 RSV)
Uzziah became angry, but his anger could not match The Lord's anger. Uzziah was defiled with leprosy for defiling the House of The Lord; "King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper dwelt in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of The Lord."
"Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests leprosy broke out on his forehead, in the presence of the priests in the house of The Lord, by the altar of incense. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they thrust him out quickly, and he himself hastened to go out, because The Lord had smitten him.
Fact Finder: How many kings were there of The Northern Kingdom of "Israel"? How many kings were there of The Southern Kingdom of "Judah"? Which royal line is that of The Messiah?