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2 Chronicles 26:1-15 - Homilies By T. Whitelaw

Uzziah the prosperous.

I. A YOUTHFUL SOVEREIGN . ( 2 Chronicles 26:1-3 .)

1 . His names. Uzziah, "Might of Jehovah" ( 2 Kings 15:13 , 2 Kings 15:30 , 2 Kings 15:32 , 2 Kings 15:34 ; Isaiah 1:1 ; Isaiah 6:1 ; Amos 1:1 ; Zechariah 14:5 ); Azariah, "Whom Jehovah aids" ( 2 Kings 14:21 ; 2 Kings 15:1 , 2 Kings 15:6 , 2 Kings 15:8 , 2 Kings 15:17 , 2 Kings 15:23 , 2 Kings 15:27 ; 1 Chronicles 3:12 );—the former, the designation taken by or conferred upon him at or soon after his accession (Thenius, Bahr); the latter, his name before that event. But if the two appellations should not be regarded as equivalent (Keil), the likelihood is that Uzziah was his personal and Azariah his kingly title (Nagelsbach in Herzog, and Kleinert in Riehm), as the latter, Azri-jahu, is the name he ordinarily bears on the Assyrian monuments.

2 . His parents. Amaziah the son of Joash, and Jecoliah of Jerusalem. Of the latter nothing is known beyond her name and residence, except that she had been the wife, and was the mother, of a king. That Uzziah was not his father's firstborn son has been inferred (Bertheau, Ewald, Bahr), though precariously, from the statement that "all the people took him and made him king" (verse 1).

3 . The date of his accession. After his father's death, in the fifteenth year of Jeroboam II . of Israel ( 2 Kings 14:23 ). The theory that Uzziah's accession should be dated from his father's capture by Joash (Sumner) is not without support from certain circumstances stated in the narrative, as e.g. that Amaziah lived (not reigned) after the death of Joash fifteen years (ch. 25:25), and that Uzziah built Eloth after the death of his father (ch. 26:2), as if he had been sovereign before that event, Nevertheless, it is not adopted by Josephus ('Ant.,' 9.9. 3), and does not appear demanded by the text (consult Exposition).

4 . The length of his reign. Fifty-two years—with one exception (ch. 33:1) the longest throne-occupancy of any sovereign of Judah. Its close synchronized with the accession of Pekah to the throne of Israel by means of conspiracy and assassination ( 2 Kings 15:23-25 ).

II. A PROMISING RULER . (Verses 4, 5.)

1 . A worshipper of Jehovah. "He did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, according to all that his father Amaziah had done," i.e. until he declined into idolatry ( 2 Chronicles 25:14 ). "He was a good man, and by nature righteous and magnanimous, and very laborious in taking care of the affairs of his kingdom" (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 9.10. 3); but his devotion to religion, while sincere, was, like his father's, imperfect ( 2 Chronicles 25:2 ). "The high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places" ( 2 Kings 15:4 ). See the confirmation of this in the minor prophets ( Hosea 8:14 ; Hosea 12:2 ; Amos 2:4 ).

2 . A seeker after God. "And he sought God."

3 . A pupil of Zechariah. "Zechariah had understanding," and perhaps gave him instruction "in the vision [or, 'seeing'] of God." That this Zechariah was neither the priest whom Joash slew ( 2 Chronicles 24:20 ), nor the prophet who lived in the second year of Darius ( Zechariah 1:1 ), is apparent. That he possessed that special gift or capacity of beholding God in vision which pertained to the prophetic calling cannot be inferred from the Chronicler's statement, "since this beholding of God, of which the prophets were conscious only in moments of highest inspiration, cannot be thought of as a work of human activity and exercise" (Berthcau). Most probably he was one who, like Daniel ( Daniel 1:17 ), "had understanding in all visions and dreams," and who acted as Uzziah's counsellor and teacher.

III. A BRILLIANT WARRIOR . (Verses 2, 6, 7, 8.)

1 . The fortification of Eloth. (Verse 2.) His father's conquest of Edom ( 2 Chronicles 25:11 , 2 Chronicles 25:12 ) had either not been pushed as far as this important harbour-town upon the Red Sea (see on 2 Chronicles 8:17 ), or the town, though taken, had been given up and not annexed to Judah in consequence of Joash's defeat of Amaziah ( 2 Chronicles 25:23 ). On attaining to the throne, Uzziah rectified his father's oversight by capturing the town, erecting it into a fortress, and restoring it to Judah. Without it Edom was of little consequence to Judah. This exploit, which happened in the early part of Uzziah's reign, was probably that from which he derived his name Azariah ( 2 Kings 14:21 , 2 Kings 14:22 ); while its introduction at this stage in the narrative, before the chronological statement which follows it (verse 3), may have been due to a desire on the part of the Chronicler to introduce Uzziah to his readers as the well-known monarch who had conquered, recovered, and fortified Eloth (Berthcau).

2 . The war against the Philistines and Arabians. (Verses 6, 7.) These had together invaded Judah upwards of eighty years previously ( 2 Chronicles 21:16 ), and Uzziah may have purposed to inflict upon them chastisement for that aggression (Keil); but the assumption is as rational that Uzziah either dreaded or experienced a combination against himself similar to that which had assailed Jehoram, and that, either (in the former case) taking time by the forelock, he fell upon his enemies ere they could strike at him, or (in the latter case), meeting the emergency with courage, he repelled the attacks they made upon him. His success in dealing with the Philistines was complete. He broke down the walls of Gath (see on 2 Chronicles 11:8 ), which, formerly taken from the Philistines by David ( 1 Chronicles 18:1 ), had latterly been recovered, most likely in the reign of Jehoram; the wall of Jabneh, here mentioned for the first time, but probably the town in Judah named Jabneel in the days of the conquest ( Joshua 15:11 ), Jamnia in the period of the. Maccabees, at the present day Jabneh, eighteen miles north-west of Gath, "situated on a slight eminence on the west bank of the valley of Sorek ( Wddy es Surar ), about four miles from the sea coast" (Warren, in 'Picturesque Palestine,' 3:161); and the wall of Ashdod, one of the principal cities of the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 5:1 ), and now a village called Esdud, after which he erected cities in the domain of Ashdod and in other parts of Philistia. In like manner, he was entirely victorious over the Arabians in (Gur-baal—not the city Petra ( LXX . ) , but perhaps the town of Gerar (Targum)—and the Meunims, who dwelt in Mann ( 1 Chronicles 4:41 ).

3 . The submission of the Ammonites. These, whose settlements lay east of the Dead Sea, and who, in Jehoshaphat's time, had come up against Judah ( 2 Chronicles 20:1 ), were now so reduced that they rendered tribute to Judah, as the Moabites did under David ( 2 Samuel 8:2 ), and the Philistines and Arabians under Jehoshaphat ( 2 Chronicles 17:11 ).

4 . The extension of his fame to Egypt. Not merely the report of his splendid victories travelled so far as the land of the Pharaohs, but the boundaries of his empire reached to its vicinity. An inscription of Tiglath-Pileser II . shows that the northern people of Hamath attempted to free themselves from the Assyrian yoke by going over to Azariah.

IV. A GREAT BUILDER . (Verses 9, 10.) In addition to the fortress at Eloth and the cities in Philistia, he erected towers.

1 . In Jerusalem .

2 . In the desert, or wilderness. The place was "the steppe-lands on the west side of the Dead Sea" (Keil); the object, the protection of his flocks and shepherds against attacks from robber-bands, whether of Edomites or Arabians.

V. AN ENTHUSIASTIC HUSBANDMAN . (Verse 10.)

1 . An extensive cattle-breeder. He had much cattle in the re,on just mentioned, in the lowland between the mountains of Judaea and the Mediterranean, and in the fiat district on the east of the Dead Sea, from Arnon to near Heshbon in the north. For the use of these animals he hewed cisterns in each of these localities.

2 . An ardent agriculturist. He kept farmers and vine-dressers upon the mountains and in the fruitful fields. "He took care to cultivate the ground. He planted it with all sorts of plants, and sowed it with all sorts of seeds" (Josephus).

VI. AN ABLE GENERAL . (Verses 11-15.)

1 . He organized the army.

2 . He armed the soldiers. For all the host he prepared the necessary weapons for offensive and defensive warfare—for the first, spears, bows, and slings; for the second, shields, helmets, and coats of mail; or perhaps, for the heavy-armed troops, shields, spears, and helmets; and for the light infantry, bows and sling-stones. The mention of "sling-stones," it has been thought (Bertheau), was intended to indicate the completeness of his preparations, as in the late France-German war Marshal Leboeuf declared the French army to be ready for the projected campaign down to the "shoe-buckle." Besides furnishing each soldier with a set of weapons, Uzziah collected a store of such "that he might have them in readiness to put into the hands of his subjects on any exigency" (A. Clarke)

3. He fortified the capital This, which Joash of Israel ( 2 Chronicles 25:23 ) had weakened, he strengthened by placing on the towers and battlements of its walls ingenious machines—"engines invented by cunning men"—to shoot arrows and great stones withal, like the catapultae and ballistae of the Romans.

LESSONS .

1 . The beneficial influence of parental piety—it tends to reproduce itself in the children.

2 . The true Source of all prosperity, whether temporal or spiritual—God.

3 . The necessary condition of all permanent prosperity for individuals or communities—religion, seeking God.

4 . The unspeakable advantage to kings and subjects of having as their counsellors men who have understanding in the visions of God.

5 . The obvious wisdom of sovereigns and their people devoting attention to the cultivation of the soft.

6 . The lawfulness, in nations as in individuals, of taking due pre- cautions for safety.—W.

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