Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:1
The history of Judah is resumed 2 Kings 14:1-22, followed by a brief account of the contemporary history of Israel under Jeroboam II Kg2 14:23-29. The earlier narrative runs parallel with 2 Chr. 25.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:2
Joash of Judah reigned forty years Kg2 12:1, and Joash of Israel ascended the throne in his namesake's thirty-seventh year Kg2 13:10; hence, we should have expected to hear that Amaziah succeeded his father in the fourth rather than in the second year of Joash (of Israel). The usual explanation of the discrepancy is to suppose a double accession of the Israelite Joash - as co-partner with his father in the thirty-seventh year of his namesake, as sole king two years afterward.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:3
He did ... as Joash - There is a curious parity between the lives of Joash and Amaziah. Both were zealous for Yahweh in the earlier portion of their reigns, but in the latter part fell away; both disregarded the rebukes of prophets; and both, having forsaken God, were in the end conspired against and slain (compare Ch2 24:25; Ch2 25:27).
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:5
The phrase, "confirmed in his hand" Kg2 15:19, usually expresses the authorisation of a new reign by an imperial superior (see Kg2 15:19 note); but here it describes the result when the troubles consequent upon the murder of Joash had passed away. The new king's authority was generally recognized by his subjects.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:6
The children of the murderers he slew not - This seems to be noted as a rare instance of clemency (compare Kg2 9:26 note). It is strange at first sight, that, when the Law contained so very plain a prohibition (marginal references), the contrary practice should have established itself. But we must remember, first, that the custom was that of the East generally (see Dan 6:24); and secondly, that it had the sanction of one who might be thought to have known thoroughly the mind of the legislator, namely, Joshua (see Jos 7:24-25).
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:7
Amaziah's Idumaean war is treated at length by the writer of Chronicles (marginal reference).
The "Valley of Salt" is usually identified with the broad open plain called the Sabkah, at the southern end of the Dead Sea - the continuation of the Ghor or Jordan gorge. At the north-western corner of this plain stands a mountain of rock-salt, and the tract between this mountain and the sea is a salt-marsh. Salt springs also abound in the plain itself, so that the name would be fully accounted for. It is doubted, however, whether the original of the word "valley," commonly used of clefts and ravines, can be applied to such a sunk plain as the Sabkah; and it is certainly most unlikely that 10,000 prisoners would have been conveyed upward of eighty miles (the distance of the Sabkah from Petra), through a rough and difficult country, only in order to be massacred. On the whole, it is perhaps most probable that the "Valley of Salt" yet remains to be discovered, and that its true position was near Selah or Petra (see Jdg 1:36 note). Amaziah gave to Petra the name Joktheel, "subdued by God," in a religious spirit as an acknowledgment of the divine aid by which his victory was gained. The name failed to take permanent hold on the place, because the Edomites, on not long afterward recovering their city, restored the old appellation (Ch2 28:17; compare Isa 16:1, and Amo 1:11).
Unto this day - The writer of Kings evidently gives the exact words of his document, composed not later than the reign of Ahaz, before whose death the Edomites had recovered Petra.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:8
Amaziah's success against Edom had so elated him that he thought himself more than a match for his northern neighbor. The grounds of the quarrel between them were furnished by the conduct of the hired, but dismissed, Israelite soldiers (see the marginal reference).
Let us look one another in the face - i. e. "let us meet face to face in arms, and try each other's strength" Kg2 14:11-12.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:9
The Oriental use of apologues on the most solemn and serious occasions is well known to all, and scarcely needs illustration (compare marginal reference). It is a common feature of such apologues that they are not exact parallels to the case whereto they are applied, but only general or partial resemblances. Hence, there is need of caution in applying the several points of the illustration.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:10
Glory of this ... - literally, "Be honored;" i. e. "Enjoy thy honor ... be content with it." "Why wilt thou meddle with misfortune?"
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:11
Jehoash did not wait to be attacked. Invading Judaea from the west, and so ascending out of the low coast tract, he met the army of Amaziah at Beth-shemesh (see Jos 19:21 note), about 15 miles from Jerusalem.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:12
The author of Chronicles notes that Amaziah's obstinacy, and his consequent defeat and captivity, were judgments upon him for an idolatry into which he had fallen after his conquest of Edom Ch2 25:14, Ch2 25:20.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:13
The object of breaking down the wall was to leave Jerusalem at the mercy of her rival; and it must have been among the conditions of the peace that the breach thus made should not be repaired.
Gates in Oriental cities are named from the places to which they lead. The gate of Ephraim must therefore have been a north gate: perhaps also known, later on, by the name of the "gate of Benjamin" Jer 37:13; Zac 14:10. The corner gate was probably a gate at the northwest angle of the city, where the north wall approached the Valley of Hinnom. The entire breach was thus in the north wall, on the side where Jerusalem was naturally the weakest. Josephus says that Joash drove his chariot through the breach into the town, a practice not unusual with conquerors.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:14
This is the only distinct mention of "hostages" in the Old Testament. It would seem that the Oriental conquerors generally regarded the terror of their arms as sufficient to secure the performance of the engagements contracted toward them.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:15
These two verses (repeated from Kg2 13:12-13) are out of place here, where they interrupt the history of Amaziah's reign.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:20
They brought him on horses - i. e. they conveyed his body back to Jerusalem in the royal chariot. The combination of relentless animosity against the living prince with the deepest respect for his dead remains is very characteristic of an Oriental people.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:21
All the people of Judah - The words imply that the conspiracy was one in which the general mass of the people did not participate. There was no confusion and trouble as on the occasion of the murder of Joash. Azariah ("the strength of Yahweh"), and Uzziah ("whom Yahweh assists"), were mere variants of one name.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:22
Elath, or Eloth (marginal reference Kg1 9:26), was near Ezion-Geber, in the Gulf of Akabah. It had been lost to the Jews on the revolt of Edom from Joram Kg2 8:22. Uzziah's re-establishment of the place, rendered possible by his father's successes Kg2 14:7, was one of his first acts, and seems to imply a desire to renew the commercial projects which Solomon had successfully carried out, and which Jehoshaphat had vainly attempted Kg1 22:48.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:23
Jeroboam - This is the only instance, in the history of either kingdom, of a recurrent royal appellation. We can scarcely doubt that Jeroboam II was named after the great founder of the Israelite kingdom by a father who trusted that he might prove a sort of second founder. Perhaps the prophecy of Jonah (see Kg2 14:25) had been already given, and it was known that a great deliverance was approaching.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:25
He restored the coast of Israel - Jeroboam, in the course of his long reign, recovered the old boundaries of the holy land to the north, the east, and the southeast. The "entering in of Hamath" is spoken of as the northern boundary; the "sea of the plain," or the Dead Sea, is the southern boundary (see the marginal references): here Israel adjoined on Moab. The entire tract east of Jordan had been lost to Israel in the reign of Jehu and that of Jehoahaz Kg2 10:33; Kg2 13:3, Kg2 13:25. All this was now recovered: and not only so, but Moab was reduced Amo 6:14, and the Syrians were in their turn forced to submit to the Jews Kg2 14:28. The northern conquests were perhaps little less important than the eastern Kg2 14:28.
The word of the Lord ... which he spake - Some have found the prophecy of Jonah here alluded to, or a portion of it, in Isa 15:1-9; Isa 16:1-14 (see Kg2 16:13); but without sufficient grounds.
This passage tends to fix Jonah's date to some period not very late in the reign of Jeroboam II, i. e. (according to the ordinary chronology) from 823 B.C. to 782 B.C. On Gath-hepher, see the marginal reference and note.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:26
The affliction of Israel - That which the Israelites had suffered for two reigns at the hands of the Syrians Kg2 10:32-33; Kg2 13:3, Kg2 13:7,Kg2 13:22.
There was not any shut up, nor any left - A phrase implying complete depopulation (see the marginal reference note; Kg1 14:10), but here meaning no more than extreme depression and weakness.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:27
And the Lord said not - Though the Israelites were brought thus low, yet the fiat did not as yet go forth for their destruction. God did not send a prophet to say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven; but on the contrary sent two to announce that they should be delivered from their present enemies, and obtain triumphs over them (see Kg2 14:25; Kg2 13:17-19).
That he would blot out ... - This is a Mosaic phrase, found only here and in Deuteronomy Kg2 9:14; 29:20.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:28
He recovered Damascus - Jeroboam probably gained certain advantages over Benhadad, which induced the latter to make his submission and consent to such terms as those extorted by Ahab Kg1 20:34.
Hamath was probably among the actual conquests of Jeroboam. It was brought so low in his reign, as to have become almost a by-word for calamity (compare Amo 6:2).
Which belonged to Judah, for Israel - i. e. these cities were recovered to Judah, i. e. to the people of God generally, through or by means of being added to Israel, i. e. to the northern kingdom.
A few further facts in the history of Jeroboam II are recorded by the prophet Amos (compare Amo 7:10, etc.).