Bible Commentary for 2 Kings Chapters 8 thru 25
2 Kings Chapter 8
Elisha had warned the Shunammite woman to take her family to live as an alien in another land because of an impending famine that would last for seven years. She went to the land of the Philistines. At the end of the seven years, she returned only to find that her land has been taken over by someone else. She went to the king to request that it be returned to her.
At this time, the king of Israel was speaking to Gehazi, Elisha’s aide, in order to learn as much as he could about Elisha’s miracles. He had just finished telling the king about the woman whose son Elisha had raised from the dead when she approached. Gehazi recognized her and told the king that this was the woman he had been telling him about. Jehovah’s hand is in this matter can be seen because Gehazi could give credence to her story so that the king would act immediately in her behalf. When she told the king about her property being taken, he immediately appointed an official to see that she received not only her property back, but she was to receive the profits that had been gained during her absence.
Jehovah sent Elisha to Damascus because Ben-hadad was sick. When the king heard that Elisha was in his city, he sent Hazael with gifts to the prophet so that he could learn if he would revive from his sickness. Elisha told Hazael that Ben-hadad would get well but Jehovah had also told him that Hazael would take the throne and would bring devastation upon Israel. He said as much to Hazael who did not appear to take his words seriously; however, as soon as he heard Elisha’s words, he began to plan how he would make this come true earlier than it ordinarily would have. When Hazael returned to Ben-hadad, he told him that Elisha said he would get well. The next day he killed the king and began to rule in his place.
In Judah, Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, began to rule. He was thirty-two years and he ruled for eight years. He was married to Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah, and he followed her in worshipping Baal. During his day Edom revolted against Judah’s control and set up their own king to rule over them, but they were not able to completely throw off Judah's yoke. Jehoram died from a disease of the intestines and his son Ahaziah began to rule in his place. He was twenty-two years old when he began his rule and he ruled for one year. He also walked in the ways of Israel because his mother, Athaliah, influenced him. When Joram, king of Israel, went to fight the Arameans at Ramoth Gilead, he was wounded and returned to Jezreel to recover. Ahaziah went there to visit him while he was convalescing. This would prove to be his un-doing.
2 Kings Chapter 9
During this war, Elisha sent a prophet to Ramoth Gilead with a flask of oil to anoint Jehu as the next king of Israel. He found him sitting with the other army officials and he asked to speak privately with him. When Jehu came into the house, the prophet poured the oil on his head and told him that Jehovah was anointing him king of Israel and that he should carry out Jehovah’s command concerning the house of Ahab, that is, his entire house should be completely eradicated so as to avenge Jehovah's prophets and servants. Afterwards, the prophet ran out of the house as Elisha had told him to do. When Jehu told his fellow officers what the prophet had said, they immediately proclaimed him king. He told them to keep all the people in the city because he did not want them running to tell Joram what had just occurred. He then began to determine what he needed to do in order to accomplish Jehovah’s word against the house of Ahab.
He decided to ride to Jezreel and as he neared the city, the king sent messengers to meet him to learn why he was coming there. He sent the messengers to his rear and continued to ride towards the city. Finally the king got into his chariot and met Jehu and asked him if he had come in peace. Jehu answered no, not as long as Jezebel’s influence was abounding. Joram turned to run away but Jehu shot him in the heart with an arrow. Ahaziah saw this and he fled back towards Judah. Jehu told his aide to throw Joram’s body into the tract of land that belonged to Naboth to fulfill Jehovah’s word to Ahab. Jehu pursued Ahaziah and struck him down also. He died at Megiddo and was taken back to Jerusalem and was buried there.
Jehu then went into Jezreel and as Jezebel heard he was coming, she dressed herself up and sat in a window to wait for him. When he came through the gate, she asked if it had gone all right with Zimri, the killer of his lord. Her reference to him as ‘Zimri’ indicated that this name had become synonymous with 'usurpers' whose rule would last only a short time When Jehu saw her sitting in the window he called to anyone in the room with her that if they were with him, they should let her drop from the window to the ground. Three eunuchs responded and threw her out of the window. Jehu, ignoring her body on the ground, went into the palace to eat and drink. Later he told some of the men to go and bury her body as she had been the daughter of a king. But when they went out to move the body, the only thing left of her was her head, palms and feet. The dogs had eaten her in fulfillment of Jehovah’s words to Elijah. (1 Kings 21:23) She would not be buried nor would a headstone be put up so that people would be able to say, “There lies Jezebel.”
2 Kings Chapter 10
Jehu is aware that there were still seventy sons of Ahab living in Samaria. So he sent a letter to the ones in charge of these sons saying that if they felt that they had a strong position, they should put one of the sons on the throne and be ready to fight for his right to rule. They did not have this kind of confidence so they responded that they would do whatever he wanted them to do. He then told them that they should send the heads of these sons to Jezreel to show their obedience. They did as he told them to do. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, page 557 says this: “When the heads of the royal princes had been collected Jehu had them put into two piles at the entrance of the …gate of Jezreel where they remained overnight. In the ancient Near East the practice of piling the heads of conquered subjects at the city gate was an effective way of demonstrating subjugation.”
On his way to Samaria, Jehu encountered a group of relatives of Ahaziah on their way to Samaria to pay their respects to Ahab’s family. Jehu has all forty-two of them put to death as they were part of the house of Ahab. Further on, he encountered Jehonadab, who is the forefather of a family of Rechabites that Jehovah had used to contrast how disobedient Judah was to him and how obedient the Rechabites were to a command laid upon them by their forefather, Jonadab. (Jeremiah chapter 35) Jehu asked him if he was with him in ridding Israel of Baal worship. Jehonadab was in full agreement and was invited to come with him as he eradicated pagan worship in Israel. After arriving in Samaria, Jehu killed any remaining members of Ahab’s family thus fulfilling Jehovah’s word. (1 Kings 21:21)
The reason for Jehonadab's interest in what Jehu was about to do is explained this way in the NIV Bible Commentary, page 549: "Jehonadab was the leader of an ascetic group that lived an austere, nomadic life in the desert, drinking no wine and depending solely on the Lord for their sustenance. Separatist to the core and strong patriots, they lived in protest to the materialism and religious compromise in Israel. Accordingly, Jehonadab was extremely interested in Jehu's reputed desire to purge the nation of its heathenism. Perhaps he hoped that in Jehu a sense of national repentance and longing for the Lord God of Israel would now take place."
Jehu then began to purge Baal worship from Israel. He told the people that he was about to show them how to really worship Baal. He was going to have a great sacrifice to Baal and he wanted all of Baal’s prophets to be present. He sent throughout Israel proclaiming this solemn assembly. The house of Baal was filled completely and the appropriate attire was given to all in attendance. No worshipper of Jehovah was allowed to attend. Jehu put eighty of his men outside and told them to be prepared to put to death these worshippers when the signal was given.
After the burnt offerings were made, Jehu called his men to come inside and strike down all worshippers of Baal. They left no one alive. Then they completely destroyed all of the pagan pillars and idols and pulled the temple to the ground. Latrines were later built on this spot. Jehu had eradicated Baal worship from Israel, and Jehovah was pleased with this. So He told him that his descendants would rule in Israel to the fourth generation. Jehu however did not rid Israel of the golden calves that Jeroboam had set up.
During Jehu’s rule, Jehovah began to reduce Israel’s territory. All of the territory east of the Jordan, the land of the Gadites, Reubenites and the one-hale tribe of Manasseh was taken by Hazael. Elisha was aware that this would happen when he told Hazael that he would become king of Aram. Finally Jehu died after ruling Israel for twenty-eight years and his son, Jehoahaz began to rule in his place.
2 King Chapter 11
The account now returns to Judah and the events that occurred after the death of Ahaziah. Athaliah, after her son’s death, realized that she was now in position to take over the rulership of the kingdom of Judah. Her other sons had been killed by raiding Philistines and Arabians. (1 Chronicles 21:17) She would now need to put to death her own grandchildren. Before she was able to completely destroy the royal family, a sister of Ahaziah, though not Athaliah’s daughter, took the youngest son, Joash, and hid him. Her name was Jehosheba and she was the wife of the high priest, Jehoiada. Joash was hidden in the house of Jehovah for six years while Athaliah ruled Judah. In the seventh year of her rule, Jehoiada enlisted the help of the royal bodyguards, military officials and temple personnel, all those who had not supported Athaliah as queen. He told them that a legal heir to the throne was alive and what he was going to do to place him on the throne.
On the day set to crown the young king, he had the men placed strategically around the temple and the king. He had armed these men with the weapons that David had dedicated to Jehovah and so were stored in the temple area. He then brought the king into the area near the altar, anointed him, put a crown on his head and presented him with his personal copy of the Law. Then everyone shouted “Long live the king.” When Athaliah heard the shouting from the temple, she went out to see what was happening. When she saw the young king, she tore her robes and shouted ‘treason, treason.’ Jehoiada ordered the military officials to take her out of the temple area and onto the palace ground and there kill her as well as anyone who tried to help her.
Afterwards Jehoiada had the people re-commit to the covenant stating that they would worship Jehovah only. Then they went out and tore down the temple of Baal and smashed the altars and idols even killing the priest who was serving at this temple. Jehoiada then took the king from the temple to the palace and sat him on the throne. He was seven years old when he began to rule.
2 Kings Chapter 12
Joash became king in the seventh year of Jehu and he ruled for forty years. He was faithful to Jehovah as long as high priest Jehoiada was there to instruct him. However, Judah still used the high places for worship of Jehovah.
Under the influence of Jehoiada, Joash repaired the temple that had fallen into disrepair during the reigns of Jehoram, Ahaziah and Athaliah. He used monies brought to Jehovah such as that collected for the census (Exodus 38:25, 26), that received for personal vows and that brought as voluntary offerings. The priests were originally going to do the work but by the twenty-third year of Joash, they had not done any of the work. When questioned by Joash as to why nothing had been done, they had no answer but they agreed that they should pay skilled workers to do the repairs. Rather than have the priest collect the money, Joash put a chest with a hole in the top at the gate of the temple and the monies that the people brought were put into it. When it was full, the money was collected and given to those overseeing the repair work to pay the workers with. The money was used exclusively for this rebuilding work. After this work was completed, then the money left over was used to replace the sacred articles of gold and silver. These articles had to be replaced because Athaliah's sons had looted the temple and taken these articles for use in the worship of Baal. (See 2 Chronicles 24:7)
During Joash’s rule, Hazael came against Jerusalem and Joash took all the dedicated articles from the temple and paid him to withdraw from Judah. Later, two of his officials conspired against him and killed him. His son Amaziah became king in his place.
2 Kings Chapter 13
In the twenty-third year of Joash, Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, became king in Israel and he ruled for seventeen years. During his reign, Jehovah allowed Israel to be dominated by the Arameans under Hazael and his son Ben-hadad because Jehoahaz did not remove the golden calves from Bethel and Dan. The oppression was so severe that his army had been reduced to a mere shadow of what it had been. Jehoahaz finally humbled himself before Jehovah and Jehovah heard him and He promised to provide them relief, but it did not come in his day. Still Israel continued in the worship of the golden calves and of the Asherah pole left in Samaria. Jehoahaz died and his son Jehoash began to rule. This occurred in the thirty-seventh year of Joash, king of Judah, and he ruled for sixteen years.
During the reign of Jehoash, Elisha became ill and was near death. Jehoash went to see him and wept over him. He referred to Elisha using the same expression that Elisha himself had used when Elijah was taken from Israel in the chariot. His use of this expression “My Father! My Father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” may have meant, according to the footnote in the NIV Study Bible for verse 14, “that he recognized that Elisha was of greater significance for Israel’s military success than Israel’s military forces were.”
Elisha then gave him the opportunity to show his faith in Jehovah as the one who gives the victory. He told him to take the bow and an arrow and shoot it out the east window in the direction of Aram. When he shot the arrow, Elisha called it ‘Jehovah’s arrow of victory against Aram.’ The king would defeat Aram at Aphek. He then told the king to shoot the arrows into the ground. He shot three arrows into the ground and then he stopped. Elisha told him that if he had shot five or six arrows into the ground, he would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it but as it was, he would only defeat them three times. Elisha then died. Jehoash’s response to Elisha’s urgings showed that he was not very enthusiastic for the task he would be given.
The last miracle that Jehovah performed in reference to Elisha was also designed to help Jehoash strengthen his faith that Jehovah could revive or deliver Israel just as Elisha had foretold. This account describes an incident whereby a group of Israelites were burying a man when they saw a raiding party of Moabites approaching them. They put the man in the first tomb they came to and they fled from the raiders. The tomb belonged to Elisha and as soon as the man’s body touched Elisha’s bones, he came to life.
Even though Jehovah allowed the Arameans to oppress Israel, He would not let them completely destroy them because He had compassion for the covenant He concluded with their forefathers. When Hazael died and his son, Ben-hadad succeeded him as king, then Elisha’s words to Jehoash were fulfulled. He defeated him three time and recovered the Israelite towns that the king of Aram had taken from his father, Jehoahaz.
2 Kings Chapter 14
In the second year of Jehoash, king of Israel, Amaziah began to rule in Judah in place of his father, Joash. He was twenty-five years old and he ruled for twenty-nine years. The recurring theme that the high places were not removed and the people continued to offer sacrifices on them is restated. This seems to have been a major failing of the kings of Judah as was the failure to remove the golden calves that Jeroboam set up a major failure of Israel’s kings.
Amaziah put to death the men who had murdered his father, Joash, but he did not put their sons to death in harmony with God’s law given to Moses. (Deuteronomy 24:16) He also gained control over the rebelling Edomites by defeating ten thousand of them in the Valley of Salt. Edom was important to Judah because through Edom, they had access to the southern trade routes.
Because of this victory over the Edomites, Amaziah became haughty and challenged the king of Israel to face him in war. Jehoash responded to his challenger by relating a parable. He described Amaziah’s action to a thistle demanding a marriage alliance with a cedar in Lebanon. Then a wild beast came along and trampled the thistle. He warned Amaziah to stay at home so that he would not cause trouble for himself and his country, Judah. But Amaziah's arrogance would not allow him to back down. Jehovah allowed this because Amaziah had brought back the gods of the Edomites to Judah and he proceeded to worship them. Jehovah’s anger burned against him and he sent a prophet to him but he refused to listen to the prophet. (See 2 Chronicles 25:14-16) So Jehovah allowed him to listen to his advisers who urged him to go to war with Israel.
Jehoash, king of Israel, attacked him at Beth Shemesh in Judah, defeated him and took him captive. He brought him to Jerusalem and used him to get into the city. He then tore down about 600 feet of the wall of Jerusalem, took gold and silver articles from the temple and the royal palace, took more hostages and returned to Samaria. It is unclear whether Jehoash took Amaziah to Samaria or released him before leaving Jerusalem. Jehoash died and was succeeded by his son, Jeroboam. Amaziah lived another fifteen years after Jehoash died. Some Judeans conspired against him and he fled to Lachish but was found by them and put to death. His son Azariah began to rule in his place.
In the fifteenth year of the rule of Amaziah, Jeroboam became king in Israel and he ruled for forty-one years. During his reign, all of Israel’s territory was restored including Hamath and Damascus and the territory east of the Jordan. This was in accordance with the word of Jehovah that he gave through the prophet Jonah, an unrecorded prophecy. Amos and Hosea also prophesied during his reign. Jehovah had mercy on Israel because they were oppressed and had no deliverer. A comment concerning this period of time in the history of these two kingdoms is given in the NIV Bible Commentary, Volume I, page 554. It says this: “The era of Jeroboam (northern kingdom) and Azariah (southern kingdom) would mark a significant change in the fortunes of God’s people. These would be days of unparalleled prosperity for the twin kingdoms, both economically and politically. Indeed, together they would acquire nearly the same territorial dimensions as in the day of the united monarchy.” When Jeroboam died, he was succeeded by his son Zechariah.
2 Kings Chapter 15
Azariah, also known as Uzziah, began his sole rule in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam. (There are so many difficulties that scholars encounter in attempting to explain how Uzziah could have begun his sole reign in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam's rule and these still persist to this day.) Azariah (Uzziah) followed Jehovah’s ways except he did not remove the high places where the people still carried on worship. He ruled in Judah for fifty-two years (part of this time his son had control of the government) and Judah experienced great prosperity during his rule. Because of his arrogance in attempting to usurp the duties of the priest in the temple, Jehovah struck him with leprosy and he ended his days as a leper in a separate house and his son Jotham ruled in his place. We will be given a more detailed account of Uzziah’s reign in 2 Chronicles chapter 26.
Zechariah began his rule in the thirty-eighth year of Azariah (Uzziah) and he ruled for six months. He did not follow Jehovah but chose, as did his predessors, to follow in the sin of Jeroboam. Shallum, son of Jabesh, assassinated him and began to rule in his place. Jehovah’s word to Jehu was now fulfilled, that is, that his descendants would rule on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation. Shallum became king in the thirty-ninth year of Azariah (Uzziah) and he ruled one month. Menahem killed him and succeeded him as king.
Menahem ruled in Israel for ten years and he continued in the sins of Jeroboam. According to Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews, Menahem was commander-in-chief of the Israelite army and believed that he should be king instead of Shallum. After putting Shallum to death, he came to the city of Tiphsah but the inhabitants of this city refused to open their gates to him as they did not support him as king. His vicious attack on this city was probably intended to intimidate any other town that might not want to support him. During his reign, the Assyrians came up against him and he agreed to become a vassal to them. The Assyrian king required a payment of one thousand talents of silver before he would withdraw from him. Menahem taxed the wealthy of his kingdom to raise this sum of money. When he died, his son Pekahiah succeeded him as king.
Pekahiah became king in the fifthieth year of Azariah and he ruled for two years before being assassinated by Pekah, one of his chief officers. A footnote in the NIV Study Bible says this of Pekah. “Differences over foreign policy probably played an important role in fomenting Pekah’s revolution. Pekahiah undoubtedly followed the policy of his father Menahem in seeking Assyria’s friendship (see verse 20). Pekah advocated friendly relations with the Arameans of Damascus in order to counter potential Assyrian aggression.” Pekah took fifty men from Gilead and came to the citadel of the palace, killed Pekahiah and began to rule in his place.
Pekah became king in the fifty-second year of Uzziah, committing evil before Jehovah throughout his reign. In his day Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria came into Israel and began taking Israel’s territory and deporting the people to Assyria. Israel now begins to experience the curse Jehovah pronounced in Deuteronomy 28:49-52. Pekah would later become involved in a threat to overthrow the Judean king. He was killed by Hoshea who became king in his place. Pekah had ruled Israel for twenty years.
When Jotham became the sole ruler in Judah, it is said to have occurred in the second year of Pekah. In order for this to be true, many scholars believe that Pekah had set up a rival government in the Transjordan two years before he came to Samaria and killed Pekahiah and began ruling from Samaria. Jotham began to rule when his father became a leper and his rule lasted sixteen years. He continued to walk in the ways of Jehovah except that the high places remained. He did extensive building of cities in Judah and he did much repair work on the walls of Jerusalem and at the temple. (See 2 Chronicles 27:1-9) When he died, his son Ahaz began to rule.
2 Kings Chapter 16
Ahaz began his rule in the seventeenth year of Pekah and he ruled for sixteen years. He did evil in Jehovah’s eyes as he followed all the ways of the kings of Israel and of the nations that Jehovah had driven out of the land. He sacrificed his son in the fire, which was a detestable thing to Jehovah. (Leviticus 18:21)
Pekah, king of Israel and Resin, king of Aram, came up against Ahaz but they were not able to defeat him because Jehovah would not allow this to happen. Jehovah knew that their aim was to replace the Judean rulers and put someone on the throne who would support their goals. He sent the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz to assure him that the two kings would not succeed. (See Isaiah 7:1-17) Ahaz, however did not trust Jehovah, so he took all the gold and silver found in the treasuries of the temple and the palace and sent them to the king of Assyria asking him to stop these two kings from attacking him. He now become a vassal to Assyria. The Assyrian king agreed to help him and did so by attacking Damascus, defeating them, deporting its people and killing Resin, the king.
The Assyrian king summoned all his vassals to Damascus and Ahaz went to meet him. While in Damascus he saw an opportunity to ingratiate himself to the king of Assyria. He saw an altar in Damascus that impressed him and he sent the plans for building it to Uriah the high priest and he wanted it built immediately. The high priest complied with the king’s wishes. When Ahaz returned to Judah, he began offering sacrifices on this new altar. He then ordered the priests to make all of the offering on this new altar and he mover the bronze altar off to the side. He would use it only if he needed to approach Jehovah. He made other changes in the way Jehovah had prescribed for His service at the temple, even closing the doors of the temple. The situation in Judah now is that both its king and its priests are in apostasy. When Ahaz died, his son Hezekiah ruled in his place.
2 Kings Chapter 17
Hoshea, son of Elah, after killing Pekah, ruled Israel for nine years. He was a vassal to the king of Assyria but had rebelled and no longer paid him tribute. The king of Assyria learned that he had been courting the favor of the king of Egypt, so Shalmaneser took him and put him in prison and with his entire army, invaded Israel laying siege to Samaria. In three years, he defeated Samaria and took all of the people captive deporting them to Assyrian controlled cities. Although previously Jehovah had not wanted to destroy Israel or banish them from before his presence (13:23), He had now reached the limit of His patience with them. He fulfilled towards them the words of Moses recorded at Leviticus 26:32-35 and Deuteronomy 28:63-67. All of the curses of the Law Covenant came upon them as they had committed all of the sins that Jehovah had warned them not to do. He had sent his prophets to warn them, but they refused to listen to them. They angered Jehovah continually with their detestable practices in imitation of the nations that Jehovah had dispossessed from the land. The land would now vomit them out of it, but at this time it would not lay desolate so as to completely fulfill Jehovah’s word. (Leviticus 18:24-30)
The king of Assyria brought people from other nations that he controlled and settled them in Israel’s towns. The settlers were pagan and Jehovah showed his disapproval by sending lions among the people. They reasoned that it was because they did not know how to worship the god of the land. So they asked the king to send one of the priest of the land who had been taken into exile back in order to teach the people how to worship the god of the land. A former priest of one of the shrines that Jeroboam installed returned to Samaria supposedly to teach the people about Jehovah. Not having served Jehovah himself, he was not familiar with true worship so what he taught them was a corrupted version of true worship. The things that he taught the people did not change them because they continued to worship as they had done in their native lands. They did not worship Jehovah in harmony with His laws, decrees and commands, they only said that they were doing it. (Ezra 4:2)
2 Kings Chapter 18
In the third year of Hoshea, king of Israel, Hezekiah became king in Jerusalem and he ruled for twenty-nine years. He did what was right in Jehovah’s eyes as his forefather David had done. He cleared Judah of every vestige of false worship even destroying the high places that had been in the land since Solomon’s day. He destroyed the copper snake that Moses had made in the wilderness because the people had been burning incense before it. Because Hezekiah trusted in Jehovah completely, he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him as his father had done. Jehovah was with him in everything that he did even helping him defeat the Philistines.
In the fourth year of his reign, the king of Assyria came against Samaria and in his sixth year, Assyria destroyed Israel and deported its people. In his fourteenth year, Sennacherib, a new king of Assyria, came against Judah and captured all of its fortified cities. Hezekiah then relented and paid the king what he demanded, three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. The king of Assyria wanted more, he wanted Judah to surrender to him. He sent three top officials with a contingent of troops to put Jerusalem under siege. First though they would attempt to talk Hezekiah into surrendering peacefully. Hezekiah sent his three top officials to speak to the Assyrians, who stood outside the walls of Jerusalem speaking so that the people would hear them. They said that Hezekiah was putting his trust in the wrong places. Egypt could not be trusted nor could the god he claimed to worship be trusted as he was the one who sent them and certainly his own army was of no help. Eliakim, Shebna and Joah then asked them to speak in Aramiac so that the Judahites living on the walls could not understand what the Assyrians were saying, but they refused. It was their aim to demoralize the people and scare them into submission.
So they called out even louder in Hebrew to the people that they should not let Hezekiah deceive them into thinking that their god was going to deliver them. They should listen to the king of Assyria as he was the one who would take them to a place of peace and security. The only other alternative they had was death. The commanders then spoke of all of the other nations whose gods had not been able to deliver them from Assyria so how could they think that their god could do any differently. Eliakim, Shebna and Joah then, with torn garments, reported what had been said to Hezekiah.
2 Kings Chapter 19
Hezekiah, when he heard the report, tore his robes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple. He also sent Eliakim, Shebna and Joah to Isaiah the prophet to learn what Jehovah’s word was in reference to the words spoken by the Assyrians ridiculing the living God. Isaiah sent word back to Hezekiah saying that Jehovah had heard those blasphemous words of the Assyrians and that He had the situation completely under control. Sennacherib would hear a report that would cause him great fear and he would return to his own country and there he would be killed.
Because of a threat from Egypt, Sennacherib withdrew from Judah but he continued his demoralizing efforts against Hezekiah. He sent a letter to Hezekiah where he again emphasized the uselessness of his waiting for his god to deliver him. Every other nation that had depended on their gods were now no longer in existence. After reading this letter, Hezekiah went to the temple and approached Jehovah in prayer. He acknowledged Jehovah as the only true God who sits enthroned between the Cherubim and who is ruler of all the kingdoms on earth. Hezekiah urged him to listen and see the words that Sennacherib had sent to insult Him. Yes, he had devastated these other kingdoms, but that occurred because their gods were not real but were of wood and stone made by the hands of men. He pleaded that Jehovah would deliver them so that all of the kingdoms on earth would know that He alone was God.
Jehovah sent Isaiah to Hezekiah to tell him that He had he had heard his prayer and to tell him what Jehovah had decreed against the Assyrian king. Judah is spoken of here as a ‘Virgin Daughter’ because she would not be violated by the Assyrians. She would mock and toss her head as the Assyrians fled from her. Did he not know that in his pride he had insulted the Holy One of Israel sending his messengers to brag about his exploits? Has he not heard that Jehovah had long ago foretold what Sennacherib would do and now He was causing it to come to pass? Sennacherib was only an instrument being used by Jehovah. Jehovah knew all there is to know about him. He would treat him the same way he had treated others who exhibited such insolence and raging against Him, and He would lead them back to where they came from. (See Isaiah 10:5-14) The Bible History Commentary of the Old Testament, page 577 tells us that “on some ancient monuments the Assyrian conquerors pictured themselves as leading their captives with a line that passed through rings that had been placed in the victims noses.”
Hezekiah was given a sign that these things would come to pass. Judah would eat from the ground the produce that grew of itself for two years and they would plant vineyards and sow seed in the third year. Jehovah would pour out his blessings on the land. Jehovah also assured him of the survival of Judah in that “a remnant would take root below and bear fruit above.” (See Isaiah 10: 20-23) He then told Hezekiah that the Assyrians would not shoot an arrow into the city, come before it with a shield, or build a siege ramp against it. He would not enter the city because He, Jehovah, would defend it because of His name and because of David. That very night, an angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. (See Isaiah 10:16-19) After this Sennacherib withdrew and returned to his own land. Some twenty years later, two of his sons killed him with the sword and escaped to Ararat. His son Esarhaddon succeeded him as king.
2 Kings Chapter 20
Hezekiah became ill and was told by Jehovah that he would not recover. He went to Jehovah in prayer and pleaded with Him with many tears to remember how he had walked faithfully before Him and how he had done what was good in His eyes. Jehovah heard his prayer and sent the prophet Isaiah back to tell him that He would heal him and would add fifteen years to his lifespan. A poultice of figs was applied to Hezekiah’s ulcerated sores and he recovered.
The king of Babylon, Merodach Baladan, sent a letter and gifts by messengers when he learned that Hezekiah was sick. When these messengers arrived, Hezekiah was very hospitable to them. He showed them all the treasures in his storehouses. There was nothing he did not show them. Hezekiah may have known that the king of Babylon's only interest in him was as an ally against the Assyrians and he wanted to assure the king of Babylon that he could contribute to any war effort. This displeased Jehovah and he sent the prophet Isaiah to him. The prophet told him that everything that he and his fathers had stored up would someday be taken to Babylon. Some of his descendants would even become servants of the king of Babylon in his palace. Hezekiah accepted this counsel but he was glad that he would be able to live the remainder of his life peacefully. When he died, his twelve-year old son, Manasseh, became king in his place and ruled in Judah for fifty-five years.
2 Kings Chapter 21
When Manasseh began to rule, he completely eradicated all the good works his father had accomplished. He practiced all of the sins of the Canaanites whom Jehovah had driven from the land. He rebuilt the high places, erected altars to Baal, put an Asherah pole in the temple, bowed down to the stars, built pagan altars in the temple courtyard, sacrificed his son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination and shed much innocent blood in Jerusalem. (See Numbers 35:33, 34) He led Judah so far astray that it was said of them that they were worse than the pagan nations that Jehovah had driven from the land.
Jehovah said through his prophets that He would bring such a disaster on Judah and Jerusalem that the ears of those who heard of it would tingle. (1 Samuel 3:11) He would use the same type of discipline against Jerusalem that he used against Samaria. He would wipe Jerusalem as one wiped a dish, cleansing it of filth. He would forsake the remnant of His inheritance and hand them over to their enemies to be looted and plundered. Therefore Manasseh took Judah on a course that led to their being completely abandoned by Jehovah and no one nor any act could change this judgement. There would be no atoning for this people even though Manasseh later repented and removed all of the idolatrous images he had made. When he died, his son Amon reigned in his place.
Amon ruled for two years and the followed in the steps of his father, Manasseh, and did not do what was right in Jehovah’s eyes. His officials conspired against him and killed him in his palace, then these conspriators were put to death by the people and they put Josiah , his son, on the throne.
2 Kings Chapter 22
Josiah was eight years old when he began to rule and he ruled for thirty-one years. He is compared to David as one who walked steadfastly in the way of Jehovah. In the eighth year of his reign, Josiah began to seek Jehovah and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah of idolatry. (2 Chronicles 34:3) It is noteworthy to mention here that Jehovah commissioned the prophet Jeremiah in the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign. (Jeremiah 25:2)
In the eighteenth year of his reign, he began the work of repairing the temple. Hilkiah, the high priest, found the Book of the Law in the temple and he gave it to Shaphan, the king's secretary who told Josiah about it. The king had him read the words in the Book of the Law to him. After hearing what was in the book, he tore his garments. He then sent Hilkiah, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan and Asaiah to the prophetess, Huldah, to inquire of Jehovah with reference to the words written in the Law. He knew that Jehovah was very angry with Judah because they had not obeyed the words of this Law.
The prophetess told them what Jehovah said. Yes, He was going to bring disaster on Judah and its people because they had forsaken Him and had worshipped other gods and His anger would not be quenched. But because Josiah had responded to these words by weeping and humbling himself when he learned what was going to happen to the people because of their disobedience, He would not bring this disaster during his lifetime. The men returned to Josiah and told him what the prophetess had said.
2 Kings Chapter 23
Josiah called all the people to come to the temple and he read to them all the words of the Book of the Law. Then he had them pledge to obey all the words of Jehovah written in the Law. He ordered the priests to remove from the temple all of the vestiges of idolatry put in the temple by his grandfather and these items were taken outside Jerusalem and burned. The ashes would be taken to Bethel. He did away with all the pagan priests that had been appointed by the kings of Judah. He barred the Levitical priests who had offered sacrifices on the high places to the Baals from serving in the temple but they could eat the food of the offerings with their fellow priest. (Leviticus 21:22, 23) He took the Asherah Pole from the temple and ground it to powder and spread it over the graves of the people. He tore down the places used by the male prostitutes in the temple. All the priests were ordered to desecrate any and all of the high places found in the land. He destroyed the shrines that were at the city gate. He desecrated Topheth, the place where the people had been offering their children in the fire to the god Molech. He removed the sacred horses and chariots that were stabled in the courtyard of the temple and had been used in the worship of the sun. He pulled down the altars built on the roof of an upper room probably dedicated to worship of the heavenly bodies. He desecrated the high places that Solomon had built for worship of Ashtoreth, Chemosh and Molech. He then covered these sites with human bones to defile them.
He then went to Bethel and demolished the high place there that had been built by Jeroboam. There were tombs on the hillside and he had the bones removed and burned on the altar to defile it, but he did not disturb the tomb of the prophet who Jehovah had used to foretell what Josiah would do to this high place at Bethel. (See 1 Kings 13:2, 3) He continued further into the Northern Kingdom and destroyed and defiled many more high places as well as the priests who ministered at them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.
In his eighteenth year, Josiah ordered that the Passover be celebrated in accordance with the way it was prescribed in the Book of the Law. It had not been celebrated this way since the days of the judges. He also rid the land of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods used by the people, and any other detestable thing that could be seen in Judah in harmony with the words of the Book of the Law. Josiah had shown himself to be outstanding among the kings of Israel and Judah because he had turned wholeheartedly to Jehovah when he learned His requirements through the Book of the Law.
No matter how much Josiah did to purge idolatry from the land and to turn the people’s attention back to Jehovah, the sins committed by the kings who came before him that had caused Jehovah’s great anger to come against His own people and against the city where He had put His name could not be atoned for.
Later Josiah took his army to Megiddo to intercept the Egyptian army that was on its way to the Euphrates River to help the Assyrian army in their fight against the Babylonians. He was killed by the Egyptians and was brought back to Jerusalem to be buried. Jeremiah wrote laments for him and all Judah commemorated his death by singing these laments. (2 Chronicles 35:25) His son Jehoahaz began to rule in his place.
With the defeat of Josiah by the Egyptians, Judah became a vassal to Egypt. Pharaoh Neco sent for Jehoahaz when he was encamped at Riblah and found that he was not cooperative, so he took him prisoner and sent him to Egypt to live out the remainder of his life. (Jeremiah 22:10-12) He had ruled for only three months. Pharaoh Neco then put his brother, Eliakim, on the throne and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Neco then imposed a heavy tribute on Judah, which Jehoiakim paid by taxing the people.
2 Kings Chapter 24
During Jehoiakim’s rule, Judah became a vassal to the king of Babylon after the Babylonians defeated the Egyptians and took all of the territory belonging to them. After three years, Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon and the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem to besiege it. He took some of the articles from the temple and some of the royal family captive including Daniel, Hananiah, Michel and Azariah. He took them back to Babylon and they served in his palace in fulfillment of the words of Isaiah to Hezekiah. (Daniel 1:1-7; 2 Kings 20:16-18) Jehovah also began to fight against Jehoiakim by sending raiding bands of Babylonians, Arameans, Moabites and Ammonites against Judah. He sent them because it was His purpose to destroy Judah due to the sins committed by Manasseh in filling Jerusalem with innocent blood, something that He could not forgive. (Numbers 35:33, 34; Psalms 106:38) Jehoiakim died at the hands of these raiders but no statement is made about his burial. (See Jeremiah 22:18, 19) His son, Jehoiachin, became king in his place.
When Jehoiachin had ruled for three months, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it. He took Jehoiachin, his family, his officials, his attendants and his nobles captive. He took all the treasures from the royal palace and the temple, even the gold articles that Solomon had made. He took all the craftsmen, artisans, officers and the fighting men, ten thousand in all, captive. He deported them to Babylon and left only the poorest people in the land. (Jeremiah 22:24-30) The prophet Ezekiel was included among these exiles. (Ezekiel 1:1,2) He put another of Josiah’s sons, Mattaniah, on the throne and changed his name to Zedekiah.
Zedekiah did not obey Jehovah during his eleven years of rule. He rebelled against the king of Babylon whom he has sworn to obey and this caused him to return to Jerusalem in order to bring an end to them because Jehovah had decreed that He would thrust them from His presence.
2 Kings Chapter 25
In the ninth year of Zedekiah’s rule, Nebuchadnezzer brought his whole army against Jerusalem. He encamped around it and built siege works against it. The city remained under siege for eighteen months, until the eleventh year of Zedekiah. As a result, there was a severe famine in the city. The army broke through the walls of Jerusalem and Zedekiah and his army fled. But the Babylonian army were caught up with them and Judah's army scattered from him. He and his sons were taken to Nebuchadnezzer at Riblah where the king of Babylon killed his sons, blinded him and took him to Babylon. He was put in prison and died there. The Babylonian army also brought the high priest, Seriah, the second priest, Zephaniah, the doorkeepers, the officer in charge of the fighting men, the officer in charge of conscription of the men and sixty of his men to Nebuchadnezzer and they were all put to death.
In Nebuchadnezzer's nineteenth year as king, in the fifth month, the chief of the Imperial Guard came to Jerusalem and burned the temple, the royal palace and all the houses and important building in Jerusalem. The entire army participated in pulling down the wall around Jerusalem. Whatever articles remained in the temple were removed and all the bronze articles were broken into pieces and taken to Babylon. All the people who were not killed were taken into exile except the poorest people who Nebuchadnezzar left in the land to tend the vineyards and fields.
Nebuchadnezzer put Gedaliah over the people he left behind. When the army officers and fighting men who had scattered during the siege heard that there were people still in Judah, they returned and Gedaliah assured them that if they would serve the king of Babylon they would have nothing to fear.
Two months later, in the seventh month, Ishmael, a member of the royal house of Judah, and ten men came to Mizpah and killed Gedaliah and the Babylonians who were with him. They then took the people who were with Gedaliah captive with the intent of taking them to the Ammonites. The army officers and fighting men were not with the people when Ishmael came. But when they learned about this, they went after Ishmael and freed the people but Ishmael and his men escaped and returned to the Ammonites. The prophet Jeremiah was among the people freed and they asked him to go to Jehovah to find out what they should do. When Jeremiah told them what Jehovah had said, they refused to believe him because they were determined to go to Egypt. Jehovah then warned them that the sword of the Babylonians would follow them into Egypt, but they refused to listen. So they went into Egypt taking Jeremiah with them. (Jeremiah chapters 41-44)
The land of Judah was now left desolate, without inhabitant. The words recorded at Leviticus 26:33-35 would now be fulfilled. It reads: “I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.”
In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin, a new king came to power in Babylon and he released Jehoiachin from prison. He gave him a seat of honor among the other kings who attended him and he ate at the king’s table for the remainder of his life. (Psalms 106:44-46)
NOTE: All cited scriptures in this commentary are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise stated.
***©2005 by YORWW Congregation
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