Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
4 Kings (2 Kings)
Amaziah begins to reign well; his victory over the Edomites, Kg2 14:1-7. He challenges Jehoash, king of Israel, Kg2 14:8. Jehoash's parable of the thistle and the cedar, Kg2 14:9, Kg2 14:10. The two armies meet at Beth-shemesh; and the men of Judah are defeated, Kg2 14:11, Kg2 14:12. Jehoash takes Jerusalem, breaks down four hundred cubits of the wall; takes the treasures of the king's house, and of the temple; and takes hostages, and returns to Samaria, Kg2 14:13, Kg2 14:14. The death and burial of both these kings, Kg2 14:15-20. Azariah, the son of Amaziah, made king; he builds Elath, vv. 21, 22. Jeroboam the second is made king over Israel: his wicked reign and death, vv. 23-29.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:1
In the second year of Joash - This second year should be understood as referring to the time when his father Jehoahaz associated him with himself in the kingdom: for he reigned two years with his father; so this second year of Joash is the first of his absolute and independent government. - See Calmet.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:5
As soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand - No doubt those wicked men, Jozachar and Jehozabad, who murdered his father, had considerable power and influence; and therefore he found it dangerous to bring them to justice, till he was assured of the loyalty of his other officers: when this was clear, he called them to account, and put them to death.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:6
But the children of the murderers he slew not - Here he showed his conscientious regard for the law of Moses; for God had positively said, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin, Deu 24:16.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:7
He slew of Edom to the valley of salt - This war is more circumstantially related in Ch2 25:5, etc. The Idumeans had arisen in the reign of Joram king of Judah, and shaken off the yoke of the house of David. Amaziah determined to reduce them to obedience; he therefore levied an army of three hundred thousand men in his own kingdom, and hired a hundred thousand Israelites, at the price of one hundred talents. When he was about to depart at the head of this numerous army, a prophet came to him and ordered him to dismiss the Israelitish army, for God was not with them: and on the king of Judah expressing regret for the loss of his hundred talents, he was answered, that the Lord could give him much more than that. He obeyed, sent back the Israelites, and at the head of his own men attacked the Edomites in the valley of salt, slew ten thousand on the spot, and took ten thousand prisoners, all of whom he precipitated from the rock, or Selah, which was afterwards called Joktheel, a place or city supposed to be the same with Petra, which gave name to Arabia Petraea, where there must have been a great precipice, from which the place took its name of Selah or Petra.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:8
Come, let us look one another in the face - This was a real declaration of war; and the ground of it is most evident from this circumstance: that the one hundred thousand men of Israel that had been dismissed, though they had the stipulated money, taking the advantage of Amaziah's absence, fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria to Beth-horon, and smote three thousand men, and took much spoil, Ch2 25:10-13. Amaziah no doubt remonstrated with Jehoash, but to no purpose; and therefore he declared war against him.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:9
Jehoash - sent to Amaziah - saying - The meaning of this parable is plain. The thistle that was in Lebanon - Amaziah, king of Judah, sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon - Jehoash, king of Israel, saying, Give thy daughter - a part of thy kingdom, to my son to wife - to be united to, and possessed by the kings of Judah. And there passed by a wild beast - Jehoash and his enraged army, and trode down the thistle - utterly discomfited Amaziah and his troops, pillaged the temple, and broke down the walls of Jerusalem: see Kg2 14:12-14. Probably Amaziah had required certain cities of Israel to be given up to Judah; if so, this accounts for that part of the parable, Give thy daughter to my son to wife.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:10
Glory of this, and tarry at home - There is a vast deal of insolent dignity in this remonstrance of Jehoash: but it has nothing conciliatory; no proposal of making amends for the injury his army had done to the unoffending inhabitants of Judah. The ravages committed by the army of Jehoash were totally unprovoked, and they were base and cowardly; they fell upon women, old men, and children, and butchered them in cold blood, for all the effective men were gone off with their king against the Edomites. The quarrel of Amaziah was certainly just, yet he was put to the rout; he did meddle to his hurt; he fell, and Judah fell with him, as Jehoash had said: but why was this? Why it came of God; for he had brought the gods of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burnt incense to them; therefore God delivered them into the hands of their enemies, because they sought after the gods of Edom, Ch2 25:14, Ch2 25:20. This was the reason why the Israelites triumphed.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:13
Took Amaziah king of Judah - It is plain that Amaziah afterwards had his liberty; but how or on what terms he got it, is not known. See on Kg2 14:14 (note).
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:14
And he took - hostages - התערבות hattaaruboth, pledges; from ערב arab, to pledge, give security, etc., for the performance of some promise. See the meaning of this word interpreted in the note on Gen 38:17 (note). It is likely that Amaziah gave some of the nobles or some of his own family as hostages, that he might regain his liberty; and they were to get their liberty when he had fulfilled his engagements; but of what kind these were we cannot tell, nor, indeed, how he got his liberty.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:15
How he fought with Amaziah - The only fighting between them was the battle already mentioned; and this is minutely related in Ch2 25:21-24.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:19
They made a conspiracy against him - His defeat by Jehoash, and the consequent pillaging of the temple, and emptying the royal exchequer, and the dismantling of Jerusalem, had made him exceedingly unpopular; so that probably the whole of the last fifteen years of his life were a series of troubles and distresses.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:21
Took Azariah - He is also called Uzziah, Ch2 26:1. The former signifies, The help of the Lord; the latter, The strength of the Lord.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:22
He built Elath - This city belonged to the Edomites; and was situated on the eastern branch of the Red Sea, thence called the Elanitic Gulf. It had probably suffered much in the late war; and was now rebuilt by Uzziah, and brought entirely under the dominion of Judah.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:25
He restored the coast of Israel - From the description that is here given, it appears that Jeroboam reconquered all the territory that had been taken from the kings of Israel; so that Jeroboam the second left the kingdom as ample as it was when the ten tribes separated under Jeroboam the first.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:26
The Lord saw the affliction of Israel - It appears that about this time Israel had been greatly reduced; and great calamities had fallen upon all indiscriminately; even the diseased and captives in the dungeon had the hand of God heavy upon them, and there was no helper; and then God sent Jonah to encourage them, and to assure them of better days. He was the first of the prophets, after Samuel, whose writings are preserved; yet the prophecy delivered on this occasion is not extant; for what is now in the prophecies of Jonah, relates wholly to Nineveh.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:28
How he warred, and - recovered Damascus - We learn from Ch1 18:3-11, that David had conquered all Syria, and put garrisons in Damascus and other places, and laid all the Syrians under tribute; but this yoke they had not only shaken off, but they had conquered a considerable portion of the Israelitish territory, and added it to Syria. These latter Jeroboam now recovered; and thus the places which anciently belonged to Judah by David's conquests, and were repossessed by Syria, he now conquered, and added to Israel.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 14:29
Jeroboam slept with his fathers - He died a natural death; and was regularly succeeded by his son Zachariah, who, reigning badly, was, after six months, slain by Shallum, who succeeded him, and reigned but one month, being slain by Menahem, who succeeded him, and reigned ten years over Israel. Amos the prophet lived in the reign of Jeroboam; and was accused by Amaziah, one of the idolatrous priests of Beth-el, of having predicted the death of Jeroboam by the sword, but this was a slander: what he did predict, and which came afterwards to pass, may be seen Amo 7:10-17. The interregnum referred to in the margin cannot be accounted for in a satisfactory manner.