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2 Kings: Chapter 15

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1In the twenty‐seventh year of King Jeroboam of Israel King Azariah son of Amaziah of Judah began to reign. 2He 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. 3He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, just as his father Amazixah had done. 4Nevertheless the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. 5The LORD struck the king, so that he was leprous a Cn: Heb Aram to the day of his death, and lived in a separate house. Jotham the king's son was in charge of the palace, governing the people of the land. 6Now the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? 7Azariah slept with his ancestors; they buried him with his ancestors in the city of David; his son Jotham succeeded him.

8In the thirty‐eighth year of King Azariah of Judah, Zechariah son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria six months. 9He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his ancestors had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin. 10Shallum son of Jabesh conspired against him, and struck him down in public and killed him, and reigned in place of him. 11Now the rest of the deeds of Zechariah are written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel. 12This was the promise of the LORD that he gave to Jehu, “Your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” And so it happened.

13Shallum son of Jabesh began to reign in the thirty‐ninth year of King Uzziah of Judah; he reigned one month in Samaria. 14Then Menahem son of Gadi came up from Tirzah and came to Samaria; he struck down Shallum son of Jabesh in Samaria and killed him; he reigned in place of him. 15Now the rest of the deeds of Shallum, including the conspiracy that he made, are written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel. 16At that time Menahem sacked Tiphsah, all who were in it and its territory from Tirzah on; because they did not open it to him, he sacked it. He ripped open all the pregnant women in it.

17In the thirty‐ninth year of King Azariah of Judah, Menahem son of Gadi began to reign over Israel; he reigned ten years in Samaria. 18He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart all his days from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin. 19King Pul of Assyria came against the land; Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, so that he might help him confirm his hold on the royal power. 20Menahem exacted the money from Israel, that is, from all the wealthy, fifty shekels of silver from each one, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and did not stay there in the land. 21Now the rest of the deeds of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel? 22Menahem slept with his ancestors, and his son Pekahiah succeeded him.

23In the fiftieth year of King Azariah of Judah, Pekahiah son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria; he reigned two years. 24He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin. 25Pekah son of Remaliah, his captain, conspired against him with fifty of the Gileadites, and attacked him in Samaria, in the citadel of the palace along with Argob and Arieh; he killed him, and reigned in place of him. 26Now the rest of the deeds of Pekahiah, and all that he did, are written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel.

27In the fifty‐second year of King Azariah of Judah, Pekah son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria; he reigned twenty years. 28He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin.

29In the days of King Pekah of Israel, King Tiglath‐pileser of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel‐beth‐maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried the people captive to Assyria. 30Then Hoshea son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah son of Remaliah, attacked him, and killed him; he reigned in place of him, in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah. 31Now the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, are written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel.

32In the second year of King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel, King Jotham son of Uzziah of Judah began to reign. 33He was twenty‐five years old when he began to reign and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok. 34He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done. 35Nevertheless the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. He built the upper gate of the house of the LORD. 36Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? 37In those days the LORD began to send King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah against Judah. 38Jotham slept with his ancestors, and was buried with his ancestors in the city of David, his ancestor; his son Ahaz succeeded him.

Notes:

b Cn: Heb Aram

Text Commentary view alone

15.1–7 : The reign of Azariah.

Azariah (also called Uzziah; cf. 15.13,30,32,34 ; 785–733 BCE) was a faithful king, but he was at some point afflicted with leprosy and found himself unable to govern. The authors of Kings do not explain why he was so afflicted, (cf. 12.19–21n. ) while the Chronicler offers a reason (2 Chr 26.16–21 ).

5 :

The separate house is lit. “house of freedom,” either a euphemism or a metaphor for being relieved of responsibility in government. The people of the land, see 11.14n.

15.8–31 : Israel's last days.

With the death of Jeroboam II, we reach the “fourth generation” of the divine promise to Jehu ( 10.30 ) and return to the unstable government of the Northern Kingdom implied by 1 Kings 14.15 .

8–12 :

Zechariah (747 BCE) repeats the evil of his fathers and is assassinated by Shallum.

13–36 :

Shallum (747 BCE) holds on to power for a mere month before losing both crown and life to Menahem (747–737), whose power base is apparently in the old Israelite capital of Tirzah (1 Kings15.33; 16.8,15,23 ). In what will be the last action of an Israelite king claiming control of a Solomon‐like empire, Menahem attacks Tiphsah on the Euphrates River (cf. 1 Kings 4.24 ).

17–22 :

In a flash the recently reconstituted empire of Jeroboam disappears, as King Pul of Assyria (Tiglath‐pileser III, cf. v. 29 ) invades the land. Menahem pays to turn an enemy into a friend, as Asa had once bought Ben‐hadad's support against his enemy Baasha (1 Kings 15.16–19 ).

9 :

A thousand talents, about 34,000 kg (75,000 lb).

20 :

Fifty shekels, about 570 gr ( 1.25 lb).

23–26 :

Pekahiah (737–735 BCE), too, is the victim of conspiracy, as Pekah launches an attack on the royal palace. Argob and Arieh (“the lion,” a nickname perhaps) were perhaps the king's sons.

27–31 :

The figure of twenty years for the reign of Pekah is inconsistent with other dates in the Hebrew Bible and with evidence in Assyrian records, and cannot refer to the period of his sole reign; he probably ruled for a much shorter time, ca. 735–732. Pekah lives to see Tiglath&x2010;pileser (ruled 745–727) replace the Arameans as Israel's great foe. In his campaigns of 734–732 he annexed much of Israel's northern and eastern territory, and he deported to Assyria a significant percentage of the population. He also captured and destroyed Damascus, extending Assyrian control over the coast as far south as Gaza (see Map on p. 558 HB ).

15.32–16.20 : Jotham and Ahaz of Judah.

Jotham had already been exercising power in Judah because of his father's illness ( 15.5 ); he ruled ca. 759–743 BCE.

15.35 :

The upper gate of the Temple was presumably damaged in the course of Jehoash's incursion into Jerusalem in 14.13–14 .

37 :

This is the beginning of the so‐called Syro‐Ephraimite war, which features so prominently in Isa 7–9; see 16.5–9n.

16.1–4 :

With Jotham's son Ahaz (743/735–727/715 BCE; the data are unclear) we return to a period of officially sanctioned idolatry in Judah. The language is largely that of 1 Kings 14.23–24 , in which Judah's adherence to the fertility cult was first described (compare v. 3b with 14.24b ; and v. 4b with 14.23b ). A new element here is the sacrifice of the son in the fire (v. 3a ), which is an allusion to participation in the worship of Molech mentioned in 1 Kings 11.7 (see Ezek 16.20–21; 20.26–31; Lev 18.21; Jer 32.35 ).

5–9 :

The reason for the attack was apparently to force Judah to join a coalition to block the Assyrian advance. The Syro‐Ephraimite alliance besieges Ahaz in Jerusalem and Rezin (NRSV footnote) deprives him of Elath (only recently won back for Judah by Azariah, 14.22 ). In response Ahaz becomes a vassal of the king of Assyria and requests his help. The Arameans are deported to Kir, the original Aramean homeland, according to Am 9.7 (cf. Am 1.5 ).

10–20 :

The intervention of Assyria into Judean affairs is fateful in its consequences not simply in terms of politics, but also in terms of religion. A new altar for the Temple displaces the old (see 1 Kings 8.64 ), now to be used only for inquiry (v. 15 )—perhaps for sacrifice in relation to divination (the reading of entrails).

17–18 :

Other innovations follow (cf. 1 Kings 7.23–36 ), the motivation for which is unclear; because of the king of Assyria is vague and its interpretation is disputed.

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