Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament2 CHRONICLES 25
THE TRAGIC RECORD OF AMAZIAH'S REIGN IN JUDAH
VIII. AMAZIAH (800-783 B.C.)
We have already written about a dozen pages in 2 Kings 14 regarding the reign of Amaziah, taking due note of the additional information provided in this chapter. We shall do little here except print the chapter.
AMAZIAH SLAYS THE MURDERERS OF HIS FATHER
Amaziah was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem: and his mother's name was Jehoaddan, of Jerusalem. And he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, but not with a perfect heart. Now it came to pass, when the kingdom was established unto him, that he slew his servants that had killed the king his father. But he put not their children to death, but did according to that which is written in the law in the book of Moses, as Jehovah commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers; but every man shall die for his own sin.
He did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah
(2 Chronicles 25:2). The qualifying clause, not with a perfect heart is in effect an admission that his reign was evil. His doing right in God's sight apparently applies only to his sparing the children of his servants whom he executed for the death of his father.
The commandment of God through Moses, mentioned in 2 Chr. 25:4, is found in Deut. 24:16. (See our comments in the Commentary on 2 Kings 14 for the very great significance of this reference.)
AMAZIAH'S SINFUL PREPARATIONS FOR WAR AGAINST EDOM
Moreover Amaziah gathered Judah together, and ordered them according to their fathers' houses, under captains of thousands and captains of hundreds, even all Judah and Benjamin: and he numbered them from twenty years old and upward, and found them three hundred thousand chosen men, able to go forth to war, that could handle spear and shield. He hired also a hundred thousand mighty men of valor out of Israel for a hundred talents of silver. But there came a man of God to him, saying, O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for Jehovah is not with Israel, [to wit], with all the children of Ephraim. But if thou wilt go, do [valiantly], be strong for the battle: God will cast thee down before the enemy; for God hath power to help, and to cast down. And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, Jehovah is able to give thee much more than this. Then Amaziah separated them, [to wit], the army that was come to him out of Ephraim, to go home again: wherefore their anger was greatly kindled against Judah, and they returned home in fierce anger. And Amaziah took courage, and led forth his people, and went to the Valley of Salt, and smote of the children of Seir ten thousand. And [other] ten thousand did the children of Judah carry away alive, and brought them unto the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, so that they all were broken in pieces. But the men of the army whom Amaziah sent back, that they should not go with him to battle, fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria even unto Beth-horon, and smote of them three thousand, and took much spoil.
Jehovah is not with Israel, to wit, the children of Ephraim
(2 Chronicles 25:7). The man of God here made it plain that the rebellion of the northern tribes against the Davidic dynasty had forfeited their further identity as God's Chosen People. This is the reason that the Chronicler completely ignored, in as much as it was possible, the entire Northern Israel, focusing his attention completely upon the fortunes of Judah.
The top of the rock
(2 Chronicles 25:12). This was the height of Petra, the Edomite capital, near where the battle was fought.F1
Other Scriptures which relate the horrible cruelties of the Edomite wars with Israel are 1 Kings 11:15; Ezek. 25:12; and Obad. 1:14. The Edomites were descendants of Esau, Jacob's twin brother; and there is no more terrible an example of brother hating brother in human history.
AMAZIAH'S SINFUL WORSHIP OF EDOMITE GODS
Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them. Wherefore the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Amaziah, and he sent unto him a prophet, who said unto him, Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which have not delivered their own people out of thy hand? And it came to pass, as he talked with him, that [the king] said unto him, Have we made thee of the king's counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten? Then the prophet forbare, and said, I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not hearkened unto my counsel.
Ellison noted that, "Amaziah held the debased view that Jehovah was the supreme God, but yet was only one god among many gods."F2 His purpose in carrying away the gods of Edom (of whom we know nothing) was perhaps that of depriving the Edomites of any support they might have been supposed to give Edom. Amaziah's worshipping them and burning incense to them was a cardinal violation of the Law of Moses and the Decalogue, "Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them (images)" (Exodus 20:5).
Amaziah's victory over Edom had apparently completely turned his head. His subsequent behavior was that of a fool.
AMAZIAH DECIDES TO DECLARE WAR AGAINST NORTHERN ISRAEL
Then Amaziah king of Judah took advice, and sent to Joash, the son of Jehoahaz the son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face. And Joash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trod down the thistle. Thou sayest, Lo, thou hast smitten Edom; and thy heart lifteth thee up to boast: abide now at home; why shouldest thou meddle to [thy] hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?
And Amaziah. took advice
(2 Chronicles 25:17). Moffatt renders this, Let himself be counseled. The previous paragraph reveals that Amaziah rejected the Word of God's prophet; and therefore the counsel which he received here was not of God but of Satan.
Let us look one another in the face
(2 Chronicles 25:17). This was both intended and understood to be a declaration of war. Joash properly understood the arrogant and egotistical intentions of Amaziah and warned him of the fate that would overtake him; but Amaziah would not hearken to any sound advice.
AMAZIAH DEFEATED, CAPTURED, AND JERUSALEM PLUNDERED
But Amaziah would not hear; for it was of God, that he might deliver them into the hand [of their enemies], because they had sought after the gods of Edom. So Joash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Beth-shemesh, which belongeth to Judah. And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to his tent. And Joash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash the son of Jehoahaz, at Beth-shemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits. And [he took] all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of God with Obed-edom, and the treasures of the king's house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria.
See our discussion in the parallel account in Kings. This was a catastrophic defeat and humiliation for the arrogant Amaziah. He was left on the throne, purely by the contemptuous mercy and forbearance of the king of Israel, who might indeed have killed him.
CONSPIRACY AGAINST AMAZIAH, AND HIS MURDER
And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years. Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, first and last, behold, are they not written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel? Now from the time that Amaziah did turn away from following Jehovah 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 buried him with his fathers in the city of Judah.
Footnotes for 2 Chronicles 25
1: Albert Barnes, Chronicles, p. 408.
2: The New Bible Commentary, Revised, p. 390.