Azariah Reigns in Judah
15 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, began to reign. He 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. Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. And the LORD touched the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death, and he lived in a separate house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the household, governing the people of the land. Now the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? And Azariah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Jotham his son reigned in his place.
Zechariah Reigns in Israel
In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah the son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria six months. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him and struck him down at Ibleam and put him to death and reigned in his place. Now the rest of the deeds of Zechariah, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. (This 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 came to pass.)
Shallum Reigns in Israel
Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah king of Judah, and he reigned one month in Samaria. Then Menahem the son of Gadi came up from Tirzah and came to Samaria, and he struck down Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria and put him to death and reigned in his place. Now the rest of the deeds of Shallum, and the conspiracy that he made, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. At that time Menahem sacked Tiphsah and all who were in it and its territory from Tirzah on, because they did not open it to him. Therefore he sacked it, and he ripped open all the women in it who were pregnant.
Menahem Reigns in Israel
In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem the son of Gadi began to reign over Israel, and he reigned ten years in Samaria. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart all his days from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. Pul the king of Assyria came against the land, and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that he might help him to confirm his hold on the royal power. Menahem exacted the money from Israel, that is, from all the wealthy men, fifty shekels of silver from every man, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back and did not stay there in the land. Now the rest of the deeds of Menahem and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? And Menahem slept with his fathers, and Pekahiah his son reigned in his place.
Pekahiah Reigns in Israel
In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned two years. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. And Pekah the son of Remaliah, his captain, conspired against him with fifty men of the people of Gilead, and struck him down in Samaria, in the citadel of the king’s house with Argob and Arieh; he put him to death and reigned in his place. Now the rest of the deeds of Pekahiah and all that he did, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Pekah Reigns in Israel
In the fifty-second year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twenty years. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser king 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. Then Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah and struck him down and put him to death and reigned in his place, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah. Now the rest of the acts of Pekah and all that he did, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Jotham Reigns in Judah
In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerusha the daughter of Zadok. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah had done. Nevertheless, 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. Now the rest of the acts of Jotham and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? In those days the LORD began to send Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah. Jotham slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father, and Ahaz his son reigned in his place.
2 Kings 15 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It may seem for some this lineage of the kings just never ends. It’s easy to gloss over and read as we wonder what the point is or even what is there here for me to grasp onto for today? Truly, one goal of the writer was to show how Israel had begun and how they ended before going into captivity. It shows the downward spiral even of leadership for the most part. Yes, there are few righteous kings who almost gave a ‘stay’ of them doing alright, but as we read ‘did evil in the sight of the Lord’ over and over again, there are truths to be found – even in the lineage.
Azariah, the king of Judah is also known as Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26. He was one who came into leadership as the Jerusalem wall had been broken down after being defeated. He reigned 52 years, which is quite remarkable when you think about the reign of so many of the others. During that time frame he rebuilt the wall, he actually refortified the city with weapons to stop another such thing from happening and brought independence from the northern kingdom. It is also noted he held a devotion to God, which helped on all of these matters. Some say Judah had not enjoyed peace and prosperity like this since the days of Solomon.
That said, like so many of the other kings who had gone before, he failed to rid the land, destroy all the high places of worship. Consider just a moment why this would be. In some respect, it could have been a political move in allowing them. In other options it could have been it was such a huge task or so thought to be, he simply turned a blind eye.
But the reality is King Azariah simply followed in the ways of his father and grandfather and how they led. Let’s give them that they were good men, good kings, for the most part. But they both failed as good models on some key issues. By the end of Azariah’s reign he had watched a lot of things happen. He had seen even through his childhood of decisions that were made important and those which were shifted to the side. This modeled behavior was picked up by Azariah. And where he failed was he didn’t seek out counsel or help or even someone who was a better model.
Our own histories dictate a lot. It hits us on fronts of how we respond, how we react, how we live and what we believe. We can’t change our histories. But we can change how we go forward. Oh, believe me, from firsthand experience I know this is no easy task. It’s brutal actually. But for each of us to rise above things sometimes we must seek out better models where previous ones failed. Jesus is the perfect example of who to strive to be like. We also need godly people in our lives we allow to speak into ours and confront, challenge and love us through hard times.
The catch to all this is – Azariah had good men in his past but they didn’t do the right thing. He picked up on their decisions and actions, which were modeled before him. In reality, he passed these same things on to his own children and yes the people of Judah. The same is true for us. Many times our responses to things have come from how it was modeled to us, right? Well, what we don’t think about very often is we right now are modeling a life for Christ right before these who will follow. So what are they catching? Our stories matter but we are also writing stories today that affect the future.
2 Kings 15 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
If you get bored and skim through 2 Kings 15, you will miss a very significant detail in verse 19.
Pul, king of Assyria, came against the land, and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver so that his hand might be with him to strengthen the kingdom under his rule.2 Kings 15:19 NASB
Menahem was the king of Israel which he accomplished by assassination. He was a brute of a king. We read about how he dealt with those who opposed him in verse 16.
As Menahem was on his way from Tirzah, he completely destroyed the city of Tappuah, its inhabitants, and the surrounding territory, because the city did not surrender to him. He even ripped open the bellies of all the pregnant women.2 Kings 15:16 GNB
Yes, you read that correctly. He ripped open pregnant bellies of women. This was probably a visual expression of what happens when a city doesn’t “open up” to what the king wanted. So, we know that Menahem was a very evil brute.
The War Machine
The reason verse 19 is important is because it’s the first we’ve heard about Assyria since way back in Genesis 10. In the coming chapters, Assyria will grow into an unstoppable war machine. Pul, also known as Tiglath-Pileser III, was well-known for reforming the aggressive and powerful Assyrian army. Many historians believe that the Assyrians were probably among the first factions in history to make use of uniformed appearances for their military forces. Outside of being beneficial from a tactical standpoint, the uniformity in their armor gave them a patriotic zealousness that strengthened their morale and bonded their warriors.
The Assyrian army also employed a pairing system for archers which allowed one soldier to fire while the other blocked for both of them. They later employed a “spear bearer” who would be in charge of protecting the archer from any ground attacks while he was reloading. The efficiency of this strategy would prove to be invaluable in their battles.
Money For Power
Why is all this important? Menahem knew the strength of the Assyrians, and so when they came against Israel, he paid them off. Ironically, he used them as leverage against his own people in order to strengthen his own position as king.
Tiglath Pileser, the emperor of Assyria, invaded Israel, and Menahem gave him thirty-eight tons of silver to gain his support in strengthening Menahem’s power over the country. 20 Menahem got the money from the rich men of Israel by forcing each one to contribute fifty pieces of silver. So Tiglath Pileser went back to his own country.2 Kings 15:19-20 GNB
Menahem gathered up money from rich men in Israel and paid Pul 38 tons of silver to become a vassal king. This is the equivalent of roughly 17 million dollars today. His payment meant that he would be under the authority of the Assyrians in order to avoid war, however, it also meant that he had the power to support his legitimacy as king. Of course, the people hated Menahem, but they could do little about it. The threat of allowing the Assyrian army to flatten them was enough for the rich men to cough up their money.
In the end, this was the difference between the kings who relied on God and those who sacrificed the welfare of their own people to benefit themselves personally. Menahem taxed the people heavily in order to buy his way out of this war. It was a far cry from the days of King David who relied solely on the Lord to defeat the enemies threatening Israel.
Here is one last interesting fact. Remember the story of Jonah and the big fish? That story took place in Nineveh, a city within Assyria during the time when Pul would have reigned. These Assyrians would have been the very people that Jonah despised when he warned of God’s pending judgment set to occur if there was no repentance!