Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
2 Chronicles 26:1
The statements as to Uzziah's attainment of dominion, the building of the seaport town Elath on the Red Sea, the length and character of his reign (Ch2 26:1-4), agree entirely with Kg2 14:21-22, and Kg2 15:2-3; see the commentary on these passages. Uzziah (עזּיּהוּ) is called in Ch1 3:12 and in 2 Kings (generally) Azariah (עזריה); cf. on the use of the two names, the commentary on Kg2 14:21. - In Ch2 26:5, instead of the standing formula, "only the high places were not removed," etc.) Kings), Uzziah's attitude towards the Lord is more exactly defined thus: "He was seeking God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God; and in the days when he sought Jahve, God gave him success." In לדרשׁ ויהי the infinitive with ל is subordinated to היה, to express the duration of his seeking, for which the participle is elsewhere used. Nothing further is known of the Zechariah here mentioned: the commentators hold him to have been an important prophet; for had he been a priest, or the high priest, probably הכּהן would have been used. The reading האלהים בּראות (Keth.) is surprising. ה המּבין ב can only denote, who had insight into (or understanding for the) seeing of God; cf. Dan 1:17. But Kimchi's idea, which other old commentators share, that this is a periphrasis to denote the prophetic endowment or activity of the man, is opposed by this, that "the seeing of God" which was granted to the elders of Israel at the making of the covenant, Exo 24:10, cannot be regarded as a thing within the sphere of human action or practice, while the prophetic beholding in vision is essentially different from the seeing of God, and is, moreover, never so called. בראות would therefore seem to be an orthographical error for ביראת, some MSS having ביראות or ביראת (cf. de Rossi, variae lectt.); and the lxx, Syr., Targ., Arab., Raschi, Kimchi, and others giving the reading בּיראת ה המּבין, who was a teacher (instructor) in the fear of God, in favour of which also Vitringa, proll. in Jes. p. 4, has decided.
2 Chronicles 26:6
Wars, buildings, and army of Uzziah. - Of the successful undertakings by which Uzziah raised the kingdom of Judah to greater worldly power and prosperity, nothing is said in the book of Kings; but the fact itself is placed beyond all doubt, for it is confirmed by the portrayal of the might and greatness of Judah in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isa 2-4), which date from the times of Uzziah and Jotham.
After Uzziah had, in the very beginning of his reign, completed the subjection of the Edomites commenced by his father by the capture and fortification of the seaport Elath (Ch2 26:2), he took the field to chastise the Philistines and Arabians, who had under Joram made an inroad upon Judah and plundered Jerusalem (Ch2 21:16.). In the war against the Philistines he broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod (i.e., after capturing these cities), and built cities in Ashdod, i.e., in the domain of Ashdod, and בּפּלשׁתּים, i.e., in other domains of the Philistines, whence we gather that he had wholly subdued Philistia. The city of Gath had been already taken from the Philistines by David; see Ch1 18:1; and as to situation, see on Ch1 11:8. Jabneh, here named for the first time, but probably occurring in Jos 15:11 under the name Jabneel, is often mentioned under the name Jamnia in the books of the Maccabees and in Josephus. It is now a considerable village, Jebnah, four hours south of Joppa, and one and a half hours from the sea; see on Jos 15:11. Ashdod is now a village called Esdud; see on Jos 13:3.
As against the Philistines, so also against the Arabians, who dwelt in Gur-baal, God helped him, and against the Maanites, so that he overcame them and made them tributary. Gur-baal occurs only here, and its position is unknown. According to the Targum, the city Gerar is supposed to be intended; Lxx translate ἐπὶ τῆς Πέτρας, having probably had the capital city of the Edomites, Petra, in their thoughts. The מעוּנים are the inhabitants of Maan; see on Ch1 4:41.
And the Ammonites also paid him tribute (מנחה), and his name spread abroad even to the neighbourhood of Egypt; i.e., in this connection, not merely that his fame spread abroad to that distance, but that the report of his victorious power reached so far, he having extended his rule to near the frontiers of Egypt, for he was exceedingly powerful. החזיק, to show power, as in Dan 11:7.
In order enduringly to establish the power of his kingdom, he still more strongly fortified Jerusalem by building towers at the gates, and the wall of the citadel. At the corner gate, i.e., at the north-west corner of the city (see on Ch2 25:23 and Kg2 14:13), and at the valley gate, i.e., on the west side, where the Jaffa gate now is. From these sides Jerusalem was most open to attack. המּקצוע, at the corner, i.e., according to Neh 3:19., Neh 3:24., on the east side of Zion, at the place where the wall of Zion crossed over at an angle to the Ophel, and joined itself to the south wall of the temple hill, so that the tower at this corner defended both Zion and the temple hill against attack from the valley to the south-east. ויחזּקם, he made them (there) strong or firm; not, he put them in a condition of defence (Berth.), although the making strong was for that end.
Moreover, Uzziah took measures for the defence of his herds, which formed one main part of his revenues and wealth. He built towers in the wilderness, in the steppe-lands on the west side of the Dead Sea, so well fitted for cattle-breeding (i.e., in the wilderness of Judah), to protect the herds against the attacks of the robber peoples of Edom and Arabia. And he dug many wells to water the cattle; "for he had much cattle" in the wilderness just mentioned, and "in the lowland" (Shephelah) on the Mediterranean Sea (see Ch1 27:28), and "in the plain" (מישׁור), i.e., the flat land on the east side of the Dead Sea, extending from Arnon to near Heshbon in the north, and to the northeast as far as Rabbath Ammon (see on Deu 3:10), i.e., the tribal land of Reuben, which accordingly at that time belonged to Judah. Probably it had been taken from the Israelites by the Moabites and Ammonites, and reconquered from them by Uzziah, and incorporated with his kingdom; for, according to Ch2 26:8, he had made the Ammonites tributary; cf. on Ch1 5:17. Husbandmen and vine-dressers had he in the mountains and upon Carmel, for he loved husbandry. After וגו אכּרים, לו היוּ is to be supplied. אדמה, the land, which is cultivated, stands here for agriculture. As to Carmel, see on Jos 19:26.
2 Chronicles 26:11
His army. He had a host of fighting men that went out to war by bands (לגדוּד, in bands), "in the number of their muster by Jeiel the scribe, and Maaseiah the steward (שׁטר), under Hananiah, one of the king's captains." The meaning is: that the mustering by which the host was arranged in bands or detachments for war service, was undertaken by (בּיד) two officials practised in writing and the making up of lists, who were given as assistants to Hananiah, one of the princes of the kingdom (יד על), or placed at his disposal.
The total number of the heads of the fathers'-houses in valiant heroes (לגבּורי with ל of subordination) was 2600, and under these (ידם על, to their hand, i.e., subordinate to them) an army of 307,500 warriors with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy. The army was consequently divided according to the fathers'-houses, so that probably each father's-house formed a detachment (גּדוּד) led by the most valiant among them.
Uzziah supplied this force with the necessary weapons-shield, lance, helmet, and coat of mail, bows and sling-stones. להם is more closely defined by לכל.
2 Chronicles 26:15
Besides this, he provided Jerusalem with machines for defence on the towers and battlements. חשּׁבנות from השּׁבון, literally excogitata, i.e., machinae, with the addition "invention of the artificers," are ingenious machines, and as we learn from the following וגו לירוא, slinging machines, similar or corresponding to the catapultae and ballistae of the Romans, by which arrows were shot and great stones propelled. Thus his name spread far abroad (cf. Ch2 26:8), for he was marvellously helped till he was strong.
2 Chronicles 26:16
Uzziah's pride, and chastisement by leprosy. His death and burial. - The fact that the Lord smote Uzziah with leprosy, which continued until his death, so that he was compelled to dwell in a hospital, and to allow his son Jotham to conduct the government, is narrated also in Kg2 15:5; but the cause of this punishment inflicted on him by God is stated only in our verses.
"When Uzziah had become mighty (כּחזקתו as in Ch2 12:1), his heart was lifted up (in pride) unto destructive deeds." He transgressed against Jahve his God, and came into the sanctuary of Jahve to offer incense upon the altar of incense. With a lofty feeling of his power, Uzziah wished to make himself high priest of his kingdom, like the kings of Egypt and of other nations, whose kings were also summi pontifices, and to unite all power in his person, like Moses, who consecrated Aaron and his sons to be priests. Then. and Ewald, indeed, think that the powerful Uzziah wished merely to restore the high-priesthood exercised by David and Solomon; but though both these kings did indeed arrange and conduct religious festal solemnities, yet they never interfered in any way with the official duties reserved for the priests by the law. The arrangement of a religious solemnity, the dedicatory prayer at the dedication of the temple, and the offering of sacrifices, are not specifically priestly functions, as the service by the altars, and the entering into the holy place of the temple, and other sacrificial acts were.
The king's purpose was consequently opposed by the high priest Azariah and eighty priests, valiant men, who had the courage to represent to him that to burn incense to the Lord did not appertain to the king, but only to the sanctified Aaronite priests; but the king, with the censer in his hand, was angry, and the leprosy suddenly broke out upon his forehead. When the priests saw the leprosy, they removed the king immediately from the holy place; and Uzziah himself also hurried to go forth, because Jahve had smitten him; for he recognised in the sudden breaking out of the leprosy a punishment from God. Azariah is called הראשׁ כּהן, i.e., a high priest, and is in all probability the same person as the high priest mentioned in Ch1 6:10 (see on the passage). לכבוד לך לא, "It (the offering of incense) is not for thine honour before Jahve." זעף, to foam up in anger. וּבזעפּו, and while he foamed against the priests, i.e., was hot against them, the leprosy had broken out. מעל־למּזבּח, from by = near, the altar. Thus was Uzziah visited with the same punishment, for his haughty disregard of the divinely appointed privileges of the priesthood, as was once inflicted upon Miriam for her rebellion against the prerogatives assigned to Moses by God (Num 12:10).
But Uzziah had to bear his punishment until his death, and dwelt the rest of his life in a separate house, while his son conducted the government for him. This is also recorded in Kg2 15:5 (cf. for החפשׁית בּית the commentary on that passage). The reason of the separation of the king from intercourse with others, by his dwelling in the hospital, is given in the Chronicle in the words: "for he was cut off (shut out) from the house of Jahve." This reason can only mean, that because he, as a leper, was shut out from the house of the Lord, he could not live in fellowship with the people of God, but must dwell in a separate house. For the rest, we cannot exactly say how long Uzziah continued to live under the leprosy; but from the fact that his son Jotham, who at Uzziah's death was twenty-five years old, conducted the government for him, so much is clear, viz., that it can only have lasted a year or two.
The history of his reign was written by the prophet Isaiah (see the Introduction).
2 Chronicles 26:23
At his death, Uzziah, having died in leprosy, was not buried in the graves of the kings, but only in the neighbourhood of them, in the burial-field which belonged to the kings, that his body might not defile the royal graves.