The *Kingdom called Judah
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on 2 Chronicles chapters 10 to 36
This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
Verse 1 Rehoboam was already king over Judah (9:31). But he went to the city called Shechem for all *Israel to accept him as king. He expected them to agree to his rule because he was from David’s family. But they had come to discuss an agreement with him before they would accept him as king.
Shechem was about 30 miles (48 kilometres) north of Jerusalem. It was in the territory of Ephraim and on the border with Manasseh. Shechem was a centre for the northern *tribes of *Israel. After this event, it became their chief city. There is a modern town now where Shechem was. It is called Nablus.
Verses 2-3 Jeroboam had been an official of King Solomon’s. One day as he went from Jerusalem the *prophet Ahijah met him. Ahijah had a new coat. He took his new coat and he tore it into 12 pieces. Then he told Jeroboam to take for himself 10 pieces. Then Ahijah told him that the *LORD would divide Solomon’s *kingdom. The *LORD would give 10 of the 12 *tribes of that *kingdom to Jeroboam. But the *LORD told him that he must obey God’s laws. Then Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam ran away to Egypt (1 Kings 11:26-40). He stayed there until Solomon had died.
Jeroboam came back from Egypt and the *Israelites sent for him. They made him their leader in the discussions with Rehoboam.
Verse 4 Solomon had forced 30 000 *Israelites to be workers. They helped to build the *temple. These *Israelites worked for one month in every three months. So, there were 10 000 of them at work each month (1 Kings 5:13-14). They complained that the work was too hard. They asked Rehoboam to reduce the hard tasks that Solomon had put on them. If he did not force them to work so hard then they would serve him. They would accept him as their king.
Verse 5 Rehoboam did not answer their demands at once. At this time, he was fair and wise. He needed time to decide what his answer should be. He told them to return after three days. The people agreed to this and they went away.
Verses 6-7 Rehoboam asked for advice from the older men. Solomon had come to these men for advice. And they had experience of Solomon’s wisdom. They may have supported the strict decisions of Solomon. So, they were well able to give good advice.
Their advice was to give to the people a favourable answer. He should seem to them to be reasonable and not too strict. He should listen to what they said. And he should agree to reduce the tasks that Solomon had forced them to do. As king, he should be a servant to the nation. If he were a servant then they would always serve him (1 Kings 12:7).
Verses 8-11 Rehoboam did not accept the advice of the older men. He asked for the advice of those who were of his own age. These men had grown up with him. They had no experience of the hard life of many *Israelites. These younger men could see no reason for any change. They thought that to give a favourable answer would show Rehoboam to be weak. Rehoboam should seem to be stronger than Solomon was.
So, they advised him, ‘Say, “My little thing is thicker than my father’s body.” ’ Most translators of the Bible think that the little thing means his little finger. The idea is that Rehoboam’s weakness will be stronger than the strength of his father. He will be much more powerful than Solomon was.
Their advice was to promise the people much harder labour than before. Solomon used whips to make them work. Rehoboam will use whips with sharp points. The ordinary whip had just one string of leather. Rehoboam’s whip would be like the whip that they used on horses. It would have several strings of leather. To make it worse there would be metal bits at the end of each string.
Verses 12-15 The people came back to Rehoboam after the three days. Rehoboam answered their request in a cruel way. He told them what the younger men had advised him to say. He would not listen to the people.
Solomon and Rehoboam must share the blame for the fact that the *kingdom became two *kingdoms. Solomon had forced the *Israelites to do hard labour. And he had not been loyal to the *LORD. He began to *worship other gods. Rehoboam was to blame because he would not follow the wise advice. He made matters worse by his answer to the people. And he had not asked the *LORD for his advice.
But the result of this event was in the purposes of God. Because Solomon was not loyal to God, God had decided to divide the *kingdom. He promised to give 10 *tribes to Rehoboam. But he left the two *tribes with Rehoboam because of his promises to David (1 Kings 11:29-33).
Verses 16-17 Because of his attitude, the people of the 10 *tribes refused to accept Rehoboam as king. He did not want to help them and to ease their hard labour. So, they could not have him as their king. They decided to end the ties between themselves and David’s family. They went home. But Rehoboam was still the king over Jerusalem and Judah.
Verse 18 Rehoboam sent Hadoram to try to solve the problem. But Hadoram was the man responsible for the forced labour (1 Kings 5:14). So, he was not a wise choice for this task. Probably the people hated him before this time. However, when he came to the people they threw stones at him. In this way, they killed him.
Rehoboam was afraid that the people might attack him. So, he ran away back to Jerusalem.
Verse 19 The 10 northern *tribes of *Israel became a separate *kingdom. They would not have a *descendant of David as their king. Instead, they made Nebat’s son, Jeroboam king of the 10 *tribes (1 Kings 12:20).
Verse 1 The *prophecy of Ahijah became true (10:15). Only the two *tribes, Judah and Benjamin, were loyal to the family of David. From these two *tribes, Rehoboam got together an army of 180 000 men. His purpose was to become the king of all *Israel. He was ready to fight against Jeroboam and against the 10 *tribes.
Verses 2-4 The *LORD would not allow Rehoboam to fight against *Israel. He spoke by means of Shemaiah. And he told Rehoboam that the *LORD caused the *kingdom to split into two. So, if Rehoboam did fight then he would lose the battle. He could not win a fight against the plan of God.
The *LORD told the people in Judah and Benjamin not to go to war. He called the people of the 10 *tribes brothers to Judah and Benjamin. They were all *descendants of one family. Therefore, he told them to go home. The people obeyed God. And they went home. They did not attack Jeroboam.
By this time, Jeroboam had become the king of *Israel (the 10 northern *tribes). (See 1 Kings 12:20.)
Verses 5-12 Rehoboam could see two dangers. To the north, Jeroboam might attack his *kingdom. And to the south, there was Egypt. Egypt was probably friendly with Jeroboam. So, he made his cities stronger and more able to defeat an attacking army. The danger was more from Egypt than from Jeroboam. The 15 cities that he made stronger did not defend the northern boundary. But they are on the east, west and south borders of the *kingdom.
These cities were in Judah and Benjamin. In each city, Rehoboam put strong army captains. They had enough provisions in store in each place to last for a long time. And Rehoboam gave plenty of *weapons to them.
Also, Jeroboam made Shechem stronger and he lived there (1 Kings 12:25).
Verses 13-14 The *LORD had told Jeroboam that he should obey the commands of the *LORD (1 Kings 11:38). But Jeroboam *turned away from the *LORD.
He refused to let the *Levites in *Israel be the *LORD’s priests. He and his sons would not let them teach the people. So, the *Levites came from the northern *kingdom to Jerusalem and Judah. This meant that they left all their farms and property in the north. They came because they wanted to be loyal to their God.
Jeroboam’s purpose was to spoil the national unity of the former *Israel. The religion of the *Israelites had its centre in Jerusalem. The *Levites and the people would continue to *worship God. This is what Jeroboam thought. They would still look to the *temple in Jerusalem as the place where God met with his people. They would go to Jerusalem three times each year for the special *feasts. And maybe they would *turn again to the family of David. They might choose to serve Rehoboam and his *descendants rather than Jeroboam’s family. They might even kill Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:26-27).
So, Jeroboam tried to change the pattern of *worship in his *kingdom.
Verse 15 Jeroboam built high places for *worship. These were probably on the tops of hills. Then he appointed priests to serve at these places. The priests of the *LORD had to be from the family of Aaron. The *LORD appointed members of this family as his priests. But Jeroboam’s priests came from all sorts of families. Any person who *sacrificed a young *bull and 7 male sheep could become a priest (13:9).
Solomon went up to high places to *worship God (2 Chronicles 1:3). But then there was no *temple. Later, the high places probably became places where people put images of false gods. They became places to *worship false gods and people *turned from the *LORD. So, the *LORD’s judgement of kings depended on whether they tried to remove these places or not.
Jeroboam pretended that Jerusalem was too far for the people to go. So, he made two gold images of young *bulls. He put one of them in the city called Bethel. And he put the other one in the city called Dan. Bethel was in the south of his *kingdom. And Dan was in the extreme north of his *kingdom. These would be the new centres of religion for *Israel. So, he established a new *worship and he made new gods.
He made images of goats and young *bulls for the people to *worship. Before the *Israelites came, the people in that country *worshipped goat gods (Leviticus 17:7). Jeroboam had come from Egypt. In Egypt they *worshipped gods that were like *bulls.
Verses 16-17 There were people in every *tribe that would not *worship the new gods. They wanted to serve the real God of *Israel. These people went with the *Levites to Jerusalem. There they *sacrificed to the God of their *ancestors. They could not *sacrifice to God in any other place.
It seems that for three years these people came to Jerusalem. They accepted Rehoboam as the king. They helped to make the *kingdom called Judah stronger. And they lived good lives as David and Solomon had done.
Rehoboam did well for these three years. But for the next 14 years, he and the people were not as loyal to God.
Verses 18-20 Jesse had 8 sons. Eliab was the oldest of these sons (1 Samuel 17:13). He had a daughter or, more probably, a granddaughter called Abihail. David was another son of Jesse. David had a son called Jerimoth. Jerimoth and Abihail married and they had a daughter. And Mahalath married Rehoboam. By Mahalath, Rehoboam had three sons Jeush, Shemariah and Zaham.
Absalom, a son of David, had three sons and one daughter called Tamar (2 Samuel 14:27). The three sons died before their father Absalom (2 Samuel 18:18). Maacah was probably the daughter of Tamar. Tamar was the wife of Solomon’s son, Uriel (13:2).
Rehoboam married Maacah and she was his favourite wife. They had 4 children. One of these was Abijah who later became king.
God said that the king must not have many wives (Deuteronomy 17:17). Solomon did not obey this command and he had 700 wives of first rank and 300 other wives. These wives caused him to *turn away from the *LORD (1 Kings 11:3-4). Rehoboam was not as bad as his father was. But, like his father, he did not obey the *LORD’s command. He had 18 wives of first rank and 60 other wives.
Verses 22-23 Rehoboam loved Maacah more than he loved Mahalath. And he gave to Abijah, son of Maacah, the position that he should have given to his first son Jeush. In this, he did not obey God’s law (Deuteronomy 21:15-17).
The choice of Abijah as the chief prince might mean that Abijah ruled with his father. In the same way, David made Solomon king while David was still alive (1 Chronicles 23:1).
Such a decision might have caused a lot of trouble in the family. Rehoboam was wise to send his sons to different parts of his *kingdom. He gave to them authority over cities. He provided them with all that they needed. He even found wives for them. In this way, he made sure that they would not oppose his choice of Abijah.
Verses 1-4 For the first three years of his rule, Rehoboam encouraged the people to *worship the *LORD (11:17). He ruled over the people of the *tribes of Judah and Benjamin. And many people had come from the other *tribes to join up with them. They came because they wanted to serve the God of their *ancestors. There was peace and security for those three years.
But when Rehoboam became strong, he *turned from the *LORD. Also all the people in his *kingdom stopped obeying God’s law. They set up high places to *worship other gods. They made *Asherah poles on every high place. These poles were images of the female god *Asherah. And the people did all the bad things that other nations did (1 Kings 14:22-24).
Because of all this *sin, the *LORD did not protect Judah from the king of Egypt. In Rehoboam’s 5th year as king, King Shishak of Egypt came and he attacked Jerusalem. He punished Judah because they were not loyal to the *LORD.
Another name for Shishak was Shechonq. He was the first king of the 22nd series of kings of Egypt. He came with an enormous army and he fought against both Rehoboam and Jeroboam.
In Shishak’s army, there were men from the countries called Libya and Cush. These countries were in northern Africa. And there were men called Sukkiim. We are not sure who the Sukkiim were. They were probably a nation of people who lived in tents. The country called Cush was south of Egypt.
On the walls of Amun’s *temple in the town called Karnak in Egypt, there is a record of Shishak’s battles. The Bible does not record these battles except that he *captured strong cities.
When Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, Jeroboam ran away to King Shishak in Egypt (1 Kings 11:40). But that did not save him when Shishak attacked *Israel.
Verse 5 Shishak and his army came close to Jerusalem. All the leaders of Judah were afraid of him. So, they had come together in Jerusalem. Then Shemaiah the *prophet spoke to Rehoboam and to the leaders. He told them what the *LORD said. They were in such danger because they had *turned away from the *LORD. Because they had *turned from the *LORD he had *turned away from them. The *LORD would not protect them from Shishak. The *LORD would give them to Shishak.
This was a message that the *Israelites had failed to understand. Peace and security come when the people obey the *LORD. When they *turn to other gods then *disaster is the result.
Verses 6-8 The leaders heard what the *LORD said by Shemaiah. They had been proud but now they became humble. They realised that they had been wrong to *turn to other gods. They saw that the *LORD was right to punish them. And they *repented of all that they had done.
The *LORD sent Shemaiah with his answer. Because they had *repented, the *LORD would not allow Shishak to destroy Jerusalem. The *LORD would save these people. But he would make them serve Shishak for a short time. They had to learn the lesson from their wrong deeds. They would learn how much better it is to serve the *LORD than to serve other men.
Verse 9 Shishak did not destroy Jerusalem. But he took away all the valuable things from the *temple and from the royal palace.
Among those things, there were the gold *shields that Solomon had made. There were 200 large *shields and 300 small *shields. The amount of gold in these *shields was in either *shekels or *bekas (9:15-16). In *shekels, it would amount to about 5000 pounds (2200 kilos) weight of gold. In *bekas, it would be about 2500 pounds (1100 kilos) weight of gold.
Verses 10-11 Rehoboam could not afford the cost of gold to replace the *shields. So, he made *shields of *bronze, which cost much less than gold. They kept these *shields safe in a special guard’s room in the palace. The guards carried the *shields when they went with the king for ceremonies in the *temple.
Verse 12 Rehoboam was sorry and he *turned to the *LORD. Then the *LORD did not remove Rehoboam. And he did not destroy the *kingdom called Judah. After the departure of Shishak, things became normal again in Judah.
The anger of the *LORD means his punishment. But Rehoboam *repented and so God did not punish him.
Verses 13-14 Rehoboam was a strong king but he was not good towards the *LORD. He was king in Jerusalem for 17 years. But there is some doubt about Rehoboam’s age when he became king. He was a young man (10:8-10). He was weak. And he did not know what to do (13:7). These statements seem to suggest a man younger than 41 years of age.
For the first three years, Rehoboam obeyed the *LORD. From then on, he *turned away from the *LORD. He did on occasions *repent but it did not last.
Verses 15-16 Shemaiah and Iddo recorded the life of Rehoboam in the book of the family history. This book became the records of the kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29).
When Rehoboam died, they buried him with his *ancestors in Jerusalem. His favourite son Abijah became king.
Verses 1-2 Abijah became king of Judah in the 18th year of Jeroboam’s rule. He ruled for three years. The main event of his rule was the war with Jeroboam.
Verses 3-4a Jeroboam’s army was twice the size of Abijah’s army. Abijah’s army consisted of 400 000 men. The army of Jeroboam consisted of 800 000 men. There has been some doubt about these large numbers of soldiers. But the numbers seem to be reasonable. David counted 1 100 000 men ready for war when he was king.
Jeroboam had brought his army almost to the border with Judah. So, Abijah led his army into *Israel’s territory. *Mount Zemaraim was in the hill country of Ephraim. The town called Zemaraim was in the territory of Benjamin (Joshua 18:22). We think that *Mount Zemaraim was near the border between Judah and *Israel.
Abijah stood on a high place where he could see Jeroboam’s army. He called out to Jeroboam and the *Israelite army.
Verses 4b-5 He told the *Israelites that their king should be from David’s family. The *LORD had made David the king of all *Israel. And the *LORD had made a promise to David. He promised that David’s *descendants would be kings (1 Chronicles 17:14). So, to refuse David was in effect to refuse the *LORD. He reminded them that they should know about this.
The *LORD made a promise to David by salt. The use of salt was to show that the promise was for all time (Numbers 18:19). *Jewish tradition says that salt water never loses its taste of salt. So, salt was a sign of something that lasts for all time.
Abijah tried to persuade the *Israelites. He blamed Jeroboam for the fact that the *kingdom split into two.
Perhaps he hoped that in reaction to his speech they would not fight.
Verses 6-7 Abijah talks about Jeroboam. Jeroboam was not loyal to his master Solomon. He had *turned against the king that God had chosen. After the death of Solomon, Jeroboam came with some wicked men. And they used the fact that Rehoboam was young and weak. Abijah seems to suggest that he, Abijah, was both strong and the right king of all *Israel.
Verses 8-9 The *kingdom called Judah belongs to the family of David. It is the *LORD’s *kingdom. To fight against the *LORD’s *kingdom is to fight against the *LORD.
The *Israelites were proud of their large army. And they had their gods to help them. Jeroboam had made the gold *calves to be gods (1 Kings 12:28). They had sent away the priests and the *Levites who served the *LORD. They had appointed their own priests for their new gods. But they would not get any help from their gods. Their gods were not real. They were just images with no power.
Abijah suggests that because of this the *LORD would be against them. And God was against *Israel partly because of these *calves (Hosea 8:5-6).
God appointed the sons of Aaron to be priests. At that time, he required the *sacrifice of a young *bull and two male sheep (Exodus 29:1; Leviticus 8:2). Jeroboam required a young *bull and 7 male sheep for his priests. But he made priests of anyone who could provide for their own *sacrifices.
*Israel had *turned from God’s ways and they had followed the ways of other nations.
Verses 10-12 Abijah goes on to show the difference between Judah and *Israel (the northern *kingdom).
The *LORD is our God. Judah has no other gods. Judah has remained loyal to the *LORD. Still the priests and the *Levites carry out their duties in the *temple. They and the people in Judah do what the *LORD had told them to do. But the people in *Israel (the northern *kingdom) have *turned away from the *LORD.
This is Abijah’s opinion. But Judah had not been loyal to the *LORD in the past. Abijah himself was quite as bad as his father had been (1 Kings 15:3). He was not as loyal to the *LORD as he pretended.
The two *kingdoms were in the plan of God (1 Kings 11:31). So, Abijah used these arguments about religion for his own political purposes. But as the northern *kingdom had *turned from the *LORD, his argument was good.
Abijah said that the *LORD was the leader of Judah. The *LORD’s priests sounded their *trumpets (Numbers 10:9). And by this, the *LORD had called them to defend their *kingdom. So, the *LORD would defeat *Israel and Judah would win the battle.
He was right. The *LORD would cause Judah to win. But it was because of his promise to David (1 Kings 15:4-5). It was not because Abijah and Judah were loyal to the *LORD.
Abijah warned the *Israelites not to fight against Judah. If they did, they would fight against the *LORD God of their *ancestors. And they could not win the fight against him.
Verses 13-18 Jeroboam and *Israel did not listen to Abijah. While Abijah spoke, Jeroboam sent some soldiers round the base of the hill. They went behind the army of Judah. Jeroboam’s main army was in front of the army of Judah. But now he had some of his army behind the army of Judah. The army of Judah found that the enemy had surrounded them.
The soldiers of Judah turned round. They saw the army of *Israel in front and behind them. They would not be able to escape from the larger *Israel army. Jeroboam’s army attacked from the front and from the back. But Judah’s soldiers cried out to the *LORD for help. The priests sounded their *trumpets.
The sound of the *trumpets gave courage to Judah’s soldiers (Numbers 10:9). And they shouted loud war cries. Then they attacked the enemy.
With the sound of the *trumpets and the shout of the army, the *LORD helped Judah. The *LORD defeated the *Israel army. 800 000 soldiers came with Jeroboam but the army of Judah killed 500 000 of them. More *Israelites died than the whole number of Judah’s army. We do not know how many soldiers of Judah died in the battle. But the *Israel army had to realise that Judah had beaten them.
As Abijah had said, the *LORD God of their *ancestors was with Judah and against *Israel. Judah depended on the help of the *LORD their God. The size and strength of the enemy does not matter if the *LORD is with his people.
Verse 19 Abijah *captured three towns from the northern *kingdom. One of these was Bethel. Jeroboam had set up one of the two gold *calves there. Bethel was the centre of *worship in the south part of Jeroboam’s *kingdom (1 Kings 12:28-29).
13:20-14:1a Jeroboam did not become strong again after the defeat. Also, Abijah made an agreement with the king of Aram (see 1 Kings 15:19). Aram was a nation to the north of *Israel. So, Jeroboam had strong enemies to the north and to the south. But Abijah became more powerful after Judah had won the battle with *Israel.
Jeroboam lived for two years after the death of Abijah. The *LORD punished Jeroboam and so he died. We do not know how he died. But the *LORD had given a *prophecy to Ahijah. Jeroboam had *turned away from the *LORD and he caused *Israel to *sin. Therefore, the *LORD would cause all the family of Jeroboam to die. There would be nobody left of his family (1 Kings 14:10-11).
Abijah was as bad as his father was (1 Kings 15:3). He married 14 wives, which was against the word of God (Deuteronomy 17:17). After he had been king for just three years, he died. They buried him with his *ancestors in Jerusalem (David’s city)
There was a record of his life, which Iddo the *prophet wrote.
Verse 1b Asa the son of Abijah became king when his father died. He ruled as king of Judah for 41 years.
Out of Asa’s 41 years as king, the writer chose 4 main events for his record. In the first 10 years, Asa removed false gods from Judah. And the *LORD gave to him a time of peace (14:1a-8). Then Asa fought with and he defeated Zerah (14:9-15). After that, Asa led his people to follow the *LORD (chapter 15). And in the final section, Asa asked for help from the king of Aram against Baasha of *Israel (chapter 16).
Verses 2-6 Asa was a good king because he was loyal to the *LORD. But later he did not ask the *LORD for help. When the *prophet told him about his mistake, he refused to *repent (16:9-10).
He removed the *altars for foreign gods. He removed the high places where people *worshipped false gods. And he removed the images of gods from all the cities in Judah. But it seems that the people began to *worship at the high places again. And later he did not remove those high places for *worship (15:17).
The stone columns were from the time before the *Israelites came to the country. The people believed that the local gods lived in the columns.
Asa cut down the *Asherah poles. The workers in wood made these images of *Asherah and they became gods for the people. *Asherah was a female god and she was the wife of the male god Baal.
Asa then ordered the people to *worship the *LORD. They should pray to him alone and not to other gods.
There was peace for the first 10 years of Asa’s rule. He used that time to make the cities in Judah strong for defence.
Verse 7 They were safe in the country that the *LORD had given to them. And they enjoyed a time of peace. Both of these good things were because they obeyed the *LORD. But the country was small and weak. So, Asa asked the people to make the country able to defend itself.
The people in Judah did as Asa had asked. In each of the cities, they built defences. They built walls and *towers. They made strong gates with bars.
Verse 8 Asa had an army of 580 000 men. There were 300 000 men from Judah and 280 000 men from Benjamin. The soldiers from Judah had large *shields and *spears. The men from Benjamin had small *shields, bows and arrows. This large number does not mean that they were a professional army. They were men who were capable with these *weapons. They were ready. And Asa could use them if there was a need.
Verses 9-10 We are not sure who Zerah was. He was from Cush. Some translations have Ethiopia but it is not the country that we now call Ethiopia. Another name for the country that he came from was Nubia. This country was to the south of Egypt. (It was part of the modern country called Sudan.)
Zerah probably led the army on behalf of King Osorkon 1st of Egypt. (Osorkon became king when Shishak died.) There is another theory that Zerah was Osorkon 2nd. He was the 3rd king after Shishak.
Zerah came with a large army of 1 000 000 men and 300 *chariots to attack Judah. They came to Mareshah. Mareshah was a city in the territory of Judah.
The 1 000 000 may not be a definite number. It may just mean a very large number. But the size of this army was nearly twice the size of Judah’s army.
Near Mareshah there was a valley called Zephathah. Asa took his army there. And the two armies prepared for battle.
Verse 11 Asa could see that his army could not win against the much larger army. So, he prayed to the *LORD his God. Asa knew that nobody except God could help him against such a strong enemy. It did not matter to the *LORD how strong the enemy was. Nothing was too hard for the *LORD. So, Asa and Judah had to depend on the *LORD.
Asa did not run away from a battle that he could not win without help. But he trusted in the *LORD and he went forward to fight. He expected the *LORD to answer his prayer. He expected the *LORD to help Judah to win. If Zerah won, it would be against the God of *Israel. The *LORD could not let men defeat him.
Verses 12-15 As the army of Judah attacked, God defeated the army of Zerah in front of them. The army from Cush ran away in terror from the battle. Asa’s army chased them all the way to the town called Gerar. Gerar was south east of Gaza and it was on the route back to Egypt. The *LORD and Judah’s army destroyed Zerah’s army. And Judah’s soldiers carried away a large quantity of valuable things from the enemy.
Asa killed so many of the army from Cush that they could not recover. The king of Egypt did not attack Judah again until the time of Josiah (35:20). Even then, King Neco of Egypt did not come to fight against Judah.
In the town called Gerar and the villages round it, lived the *Philistines. The *Philistines and *Israel were often fighting. It is probable that the *Philistines had helped Zerah. So, Asa attacked all the towns and villages round Gerar.
The local people were so afraid of the *LORD that they could not defend themselves against Asa. Asa’s men took away many valuable things from these towns and villages. They also attacked the camps of the *shepherds. And they took away their sheep, goats and camels. It is probable that these *shepherds had supplied food to Zerah.
Asa returned to Jerusalem with all that his men had taken.
Verses 1-7 The Spirit of God gave to Oded’s son, Azariah a message for King Asa. This is the only reference to Azariah, so we do not know any more about him. As Asa returned from the battle to Jerusalem, Azariah went to meet him. He spoke to Asa and to all the people that were with him.
The message that Azariah brings is a simple one. The message is as true for us as it was for Judah. If they were loyal to the *LORD, the *LORD would be with them. Those who look for God will find him (Deuteronomy 4:29). But they must obey the *LORD. If they *turn away from him, the *LORD will *turn away from them.
The recent battle was proof that the *LORD was with Asa. His success came from the fact that Asa and Judah had called out to God for his help. And God answered their prayers.
For a long time, *Israel had *turned away from the real God. They had neglected the *worship of their God. During the days of the judges, they did not have the law and the priests did not teach them. But they *turned to *worship other gods. In that state, they had a lot of trouble and many *disasters. But when they *turned again to the *LORD, he helped them.
The end of the message was an appeal for strong trust in God. Asa must continue as he had started. He had to continue in the work. And he had to bring the people back to *worship the *LORD. If he did do this then the *LORD would reward him for his work.
Verse 8 Asa obeyed the message that Azariah had given to him. Already he had done a lot to remove the images of the gods from Judah (14:3-4). Now he was bold and eager to complete the task. He started with Judah and Benjamin. He removed all the images of gods from these territories. Then he removed the images from the towns in Ephraim that he controlled.
Asa had *captured these towns in Ephraim from the northern *kingdom. We do not know when this happened. Probably it was after the battles with Zerah. Asa’s father Abijah had *captured towns in that region when he defeated Jeroboam (13:19).
Asa repaired the *altar that was in front of the entrance to the *LORD’s *temple. This was the *altar for *sacrifices by fire to the *LORD.
Verse 9 Many people from the northern *tribes still *worshipped the *LORD. Some of these people had come to live in Judah. But many more came to Asa from *Israel as he gathered the people together.
The territory of Simeon was in the south but many of that *tribe had gone to the north. Now people from Simeon returned to the south.
Verses 10-15 The third month was May to June. The 15th year of Asa’s rule was about 897 *BC. That was probably the year after Zerah’s attack.
The people came together in Jerusalem. They may have come for the *feast of *Pentecost, which was in the third month.
The people took the animals that they had brought from Gerar (14:14-15). And they *sacrificed 700 *oxen and 7000 sheep to the *LORD.
Then all the people agreed to obey the *LORD. They believed again the promise that the *LORD had made with *Israel. They promised to *worship the God of their *ancestors. And they promised that they would not *worship any other god. The punishment for those who did not obey that promise was death (Deuteronomy 17:2-5). This rule was for every person whether important or not important, male or female.
The people really meant what they agreed. They made their decision public with loud shouts of joy. As they shouted, there was the sound of *trumpets and *horns. The people were so happy as they gave themselves to the *LORD.
As they looked for him, so the *LORD met with them. They knew that the *LORD was with them. And if we look for him with all our heart and with all our mind, we will find him.
Because the nation *turned to the *LORD, he gave to them peace all round their borders.
Verses 16-18 Asa’s grandmother was Rehoboam’s second wife Maacah (11:20). As the queen mother, she had a lot of authority in the country and in the king’s family. But Asa was loyal to the *LORD rather than to his grandmother. He removed her from her function as the queen mother.
Maacah had made an image of *Asherah, which she *worshipped. That is why Asa removed her from her function. Then he broke that image into small pieces. And he burned those pieces in the Kidron Valley.
The Kidron Valley is between the east wall of Jerusalem and the *Mount of Olives.
Asa was loyal to the *LORD all his life. But he was not able to persuade all the people to follow him in this. Some of the people were not as loyal to the *LORD as he was. They continued to *worship at the high places and *altars of false gods.
These high places for *worship were in *Israel. This may mean that they were in the territory of the northern *kingdom. But the name *Israel sometimes means the *kingdom called Judah. Here it probably means Judah as the area that Asa was king over.
It was a custom for a king to give part of what he had won in battle to God. So, Asa probably brought to the *temple valuable things that he took from the battle with Zerah (14:9-15). The gifts from his father Abijah probably included valuable things from his battle with Jeroboam (13:19). Many of these things were silver and gold.
Verse 19 There was no war until the 35th year of Asa’s rule. This means no war with nations other than *Israel. All through his rule, *Israel and Judah had fought each other. Asa and Baasha fought wars all the time that they were kings (1 Kings 15:16). Baasha became king of *Israel in the third year of Asa’s rule (1 Kings 15:33). And Baasha died in the 26th year of Asa’s rule (1 Kings 16:8).
Verse 1 Baasha, the king of *Israel had been an enemy of Judah since he became king. He fought wars against Asa since that time (1 Kings 15:16). Now Baasha attacked Judah.
The way that Judah had *turned to the *LORD attracted many people in *Israel. It seems that many of them wanted to go to *worship at Jerusalem. This would make the rule of Asa stronger and the rule of Baasha weaker. So, Baasha started to make the town called Ramah much stronger. His purpose was to close the border between *Israel and Judah.
Ramah was on the main road about 5 miles (8 kilometres) north of Jerusalem. It was on high ground and it was a good place for a military camp.
Verses 2-3 Asa did not think that he could beat Baasha. So, he asked Ben-Hadad, king of Aram for help. But Ben-Hadad already had an agreement with Baasha. So, Asa sent to him gold and silver in order to persuade him to *turn from Baasha.
Asa took all of the gold and silver that was in the *LORD’s *temple (1 Kings 15:18). This gold and silver belonged to the *LORD and Asa should not have taken it. The rest of the gold and silver was from his palace. In this act, Asa did not trust in the *LORD. Asa did not ask the *LORD what he should do. Instead, he put his trust in a foreign king.
Asa’s father, Abijah, had a contract with Ben-Hadad’s father, Tabrimmon (1 Kings 15:18). But since then, Ben-Hadad had made an agreement with Baasha. So, Asa asked Ben-Hadad to cancel that agreement and to make a new one with him.
Verses 4-6 Ben-Hadad broke off his contract with Baasha. Then he attacked the towns in the north of *Israel. Among those towns were Ijon, Dan and Abel-maim.
Ijon was on the east side of the Leontes River. This river flowed from the Beqa Valley and into the Mediterranean Sea. Ijon was on a major road into *Israel. Abel-maim was about 8 miles (13 kilometres) south of Ijon. It was on the Jordan River where it flowed into *Israel. Dan was an important town about 4 miles (6 kilometres) east of Abel-maim.
The loss of these towns caused Baasha to stop work on Ramah. Asa’s men took materials from Ramah. They used them in the towns called Geba and Mizpah to add to their defences.
We do not know where Mizpah and Geba were. But we think that both towns were at or near the border between Judah and *Israel.
Verses 7-9 Hanani came to Asa to show him that his actions were wrong. Asa ought to have depended on the *LORD for help. He should not have made a contract with Ben-Hadad.
If Asa had been loyal to the *LORD, he would have defeated Baasha and Ben-Hadad. Ben-Hadad would have joined in Baasha’s attack against Judah. But the *LORD would have caused Asa to defeat both of their armies. Then he would have had peace. But because he was foolish, there would be wars for the rest of his rule and beyond his time.
Hanani reminded Asa how he had asked the *LORD for help against Zerah. Zerah had a much larger army than Judah. But the *LORD helped Asa to defeat them.
Now, as then, the *LORD searches for people who will give themselves to him. The *LORD wants such people who will be completely loyal to him. And he will be strong and he will work for their benefit.
Verse 10 Asa’s reaction to the *prophecy of Hanani was bad. What Hanani had said was true. But Asa was too proud to listen to it. He ought to have *repented and he ought to have *turned again to the *LORD. Instead, he was angry with Hanani. He was so angry that he put Hanani in prison. But his anger did not stop there. He became cruel to some of the people. Maybe these people had tried to support Hanani or they had agreed with him.
Verses 11-14 The record of Asa’s rule was in the book of the kings of Judah and *Israel. That book does not now exist. The author of Chronicles probably used that book as his main source.
Two years before his death, Asa had a bad disease in his feet. He went to the doctors with his problem but he did not pray to the *LORD. He ought to have asked God to make him well.
It is not wrong to go to the doctors. The *LORD does use the medical profession to make people well. But really it is the *LORD who makes people well (Psalm 103:3). Those who believe in the *LORD should pray to him first.
In those days, there was very little medical knowledge. Doctors now understand much better and they know a lot more. We believe that God usually cures people by medical means. But sometimes he does make people well without medical help.
Asa died and the people gave to him a great public funeral. They laid him on a bed with *spices so that people could say goodbye to him. Then they buried him in the grave that he had made for himself.
At times, he did not trust the *LORD. But he had been a good king.
Verses 1-2 Jehoshaphat was the 4th king of Judah. He was the son of Asa and Azubah. He was 35 years of age when he became king. This was the 4th year of the rule of Ahab in *Israel. Jehoshaphat ruled in Jerusalem for 25 years (1 Kings 22:41-42). He started to rule in 873 *BC and he died in 849 *BC.
Jehoshaphat was aware of possible attacks from *Israel. So, he made the cities in Judah strong to defeat any attacks. He made his army strong and he put soldiers in the cities to defend them. This included the cities that his father had *captured in Ephraim (15:8). Also, he made army camps with the soldiers ready for war.
Verses 3-5 Some translations have, ‘he lived as his father David did at first’. This suggests that David was not loyal to God later in his life. But David was loyal to God for all of his life. But it seems that the name David was probably not in the original book. So, the verse probably means this: Jehoshaphat lived as Asa did in his early years. Asa was loyal to the *LORD at first but later he was not so loyal.
Jehoshaphat was loyal to the *LORD and he did not *worship false gods. Because of this, the *LORD was with him.
King Ahab and the people in *Israel did *worship the false gods. They did not obey the God of their *ancestors. But Jehoshaphat did not live as they did. He obeyed the *LORD’s commands and he was loyal to his God. As he depended on the *LORD, so the *LORD made him a strong king over Judah.
It was the custom to give gifts to the king when he started to rule. Then, each year the leaders of the people would give gifts to the king. But Jehoshaphat was such a good king that all the people in Judah brought gifts to him. So, he became wealthy and his people respected him.
Verse 6 Asa had removed the high places for *worship. And he had cut down the *Asherah poles (14:2-3). But the people seemed to have made them again. Then Asa did not remove those places (15:17) but at that time, he was loyal to the *LORD. Now Jehoshaphat removed the high places for *worship. And he cut down the poles and the images of the false god *Asherah. But at the end of his rule, there were still high places where the people *worshipped false gods. Jehoshaphat desired to obey the *LORD but the people *turned from the *LORD (20:33).
Verses 7-9 During the last two years of Asa’s rule, he was too ill to rule well. Jehoshaphat shared the rule with his father. So, the third year may mean the first year after Asa’s death.
Usually the priests were the teachers of the people. But in his third year, Jehoshaphat sent 5 officials to teach in the towns of Judah. He sent two priests and 9 *Levites with these officials. They taught the people from the book of the law of the *LORD. Jehoshaphat realised that this was important. God’s people must know how God wants them to live.
The book of the *LORD’s law probably included the 5 books of Moses. They are the first 5 books that we have in our Bible. Some students call them the Pentateuch.
Verses 10-11 They were afraid of the *LORD in all the countries round Judah. So, no countries were prepared to attack Judah. It seems that the nations were afraid of Judah. They were afraid that Judah might attack them. So, they gave to Jehoshaphat gifts to make peace with him. Even the *Philistines, who had always been enemies of *Israel, brought gifts and silver to Jehoshaphat. The Arab people who lived to the south and west of Judah sent sheep and goats to him.
Verses 12-19 Jehoshaphat became rich and powerful. He built castles for the defence of his *kingdom. And he stored provisions in his towns in case there was an attack.
Also, he organised his army in or near Jerusalem. He arranged the soldiers in the army in groups of 1000 men and by their families. He had 5 main officers over the officers of 1000 men. From Judah there were Adnah, Johanan and Amasiah. And from Benjamin there were Eliada and Jehozabad.
Other soldiers were in the strong cities through all Judah.
Verse 1 Ahab was the king of *Israel. And he ruled from the city called Samaria. Ahab married the daughter of Ethbaal the king of Sidon. Her name was Jezebel. Then Ahab began to *worship the false god Baal.
Jehoshaphat and Ahab made an agreement together. This was in about 865 *BC. These agreements between kings often included a marriage between the two families. So, Jehoshaphat arranged the marriage of his son Jehoram with Ahab’s daughter Athaliah. Athaliah’s mother was Jezebel.
The probable reason for this agreement was that Assyria had become a strong nation. There was a danger that Assyria’s army could come against *Israel and Judah.
Jehoshaphat had much wealth and honour because God had been good to him. There was no need for him to help Ahab in this way. He should not have made such an agreement with the wicked King Ahab. And the marriage of his son to Athaliah caused many problems in Judah later (22:10).
Verses 2-4 In the 17th year of his rule, Jehoshaphat went to Samaria to meet with Ahab (1 Kings 22:51). This was some years after their agreement (1 Kings 22:1). Ahab made a great *feast for him and for those that were with him.
Before Jehoshaphat came, Ahab met with his officials. He said to them that Ramoth in Gilead is ours. But he probably thought that his army was not strong enough to fight against the people from Aram. So, Ahab urged Jehoshaphat to help him. Ahab wanted to win back Ramoth in Gilead from the people from Aram. Ramoth in Gilead had belonged to *Israel but the people from Aram had *captured it.
Ramoth in Gilead was to the east of the Jordan River. It was in the territory of Gad (Joshua 20:8). It was one of the cities of escape for those who had killed someone. The judge had to say whether they were guilty or innocent. They could stay there until then (Joshua 21:38). Also, it was on an important trade route.
Jehoshaphat agreed to go with Ahab to attack Ramoth in Gilead. Then he said that they should ask the *LORD. He should have asked the *LORD about it first.
Verses 5-6 Ahab did as Jehoshaphat had said. He called for 400 *prophets to come. These were the *prophets of the form of religion in *Israel. They were not loyal to the God of their *ancestors. They were *prophets of the gold *calf and perhaps of the god Baal. They were Ahab’s *prophets and not the *LORD’s *prophets (1 Kings 22:23). Their words were false. They spoke what would please the king. So, they answered Ahab, ‘Yes, God will give Ramoth in Gilead to the king.’
Jehoshaphat realised that these were not really *prophets of the *LORD. He did not trust the word of these *prophets. So, he asked if there was a *prophet of the *LORD. If there was one, then they should ask him.
Verses 7-8 Ahab replied that there was one other *prophet. They could ask him what the *LORD was saying. This *prophet was Micaiah, son of Imlah. He had *prophesied to Ahab before. Each time he had given to Ahab bad news. So, Ahab hated him. We have no record of these other *prophecies.
Then Ahab sent for Micaiah.
Verses 9-11 The two kings sat on their *thrones. All the *prophets started to *prophesy. Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah had made some iron *horns. *Horns were a sign of strength and iron *horns were even stronger. So, he said that, as with these *horns, Ahab would defeat the people from Aram. Zedekiah said that this was the word of the *LORD. And he probably believed that it was from the Spirit of the *LORD. All the other *prophets agreed that Ahab should fight. They all said that the *LORD would cause him to win.
Verses 12-15 The officer advised Micaiah to agree with the other *prophets. Micaiah answered that he could not do that. He had to speak what the *LORD told him. Then, when Ahab asked him, he agreed with the other *prophets. But by the manner of his answer, Ahab knew that this was not the truth. Micaiah did not say that this was the word of the *LORD. Ahab then told him to tell the truth. He wanted to hear what the *LORD had said to Micaiah.
Verses 16-22 Then Micaiah gave the true *prophecy from the *LORD. The attack on Ramoth in Gilead would fail. King Ahab would die in the battle. The armies of *Israel and Judah would run away. They ought not to go to war.
Ahab thought that Micaiah spoke against him. He did not believe that he would die in this battle. It also seems that Jehoshaphat did not believe it. If he had believed it, he probably would not have gone to the battle.
Micaiah had a *vision. In it, he saw the *LORD on his *throne. He saw the army of heaven each side of the *throne. God had intended the death of Ahab in the battle at Ramoth in Gilead. But someone had to convince Ahab to go to Ramoth in Gilead. Then a *spirit said that he would convince Ahab. He would make all the *prophets speak a lie. And God allowed that *spirit to do it.
No *spirit from God would lie like this. The *spirit was an evil spirit. But the *LORD allowed it to come. God is in control over all things. But for a time he allows Satan (God’s chief enemy) to do evil things.
Verses 23-24 An evil *spirit had lied to all the *prophets. And they all gave false *prophecies. That is, all except Micaiah. Zedekiah could not believe that an evil *spirit had put a lie in him. Such a statement made him angry. So, he hit Micaiah on the face.
Zedekiah believed that the Spirit of the *LORD had spoken to him. In his anger, he asked Micaiah a question. He did not believe that Micaiah had spoken words from the *LORD.
Micaiah answered the question. One day, Zedekiah will try to hide in shame. Then he will know that the Spirit of God was not in him. Probably this would be when his *prophecy had failed.
Verses 25-27 Ahab sent Micaiah back to the ruler of the city and to the king’s son Joash. It seems that Micaiah had been in prison. And now he went back to prison. There he would have only bread and water until Ahab returned in peace. But Micaiah knew that Ahab would not return in peace. We do not know what happened to Micaiah.
Verses 28-29 The two kings did not listen when Micaiah warned them. They believed the 400 false *prophets rather than the one *prophet who told them the truth. But, just in case Micaiah was right, Ahab decided to hide himself. He took off his royal clothes and he put on other clothes. But he told Jehoshaphat to wear his royal clothes. Perhaps he thought that the enemy would then attack Jehoshaphat. He would let Jehoshaphat die to keep himself alive.
Jehoshaphat probably knew that Micaiah was the true *prophet. But still he went with Ahab. Maybe he thought that Micaiah spoke only about Ahab’s death. And he believed that he would be safe. Maybe he went because he had promised to go (18:3).
They went to Ramoth in Gilead.
Verses 30-32 Ben-Hadad was the king of Aram. In a previous battle, Ahab had defeated the army of Ben-Hadad. Ahab should have killed Ben-Hadad but he let him go. Because of this, the *LORD said that Ahab would die (1 Kings 20:42).
Ben-Hadad’s plan was to kill Ahab. If Ahab died, he would win the battle. He told his army to concentrate on nobody else except the king of *Israel. So, they directed their fight against the king in royal clothes. But Jehoshaphat cried out. Then they realised that he was not the king of *Israel. So, they turned from Jehoshaphat.
Jehoshaphat cried out to the enemy, to his own men or to the *LORD. It was probably to the *LORD and the *LORD answered him. Jehoshaphat had put himself in this dangerous situation. But the *LORD was kind to him and he rescued him. The *LORD caused the enemy to turn from Jehoshaphat.
Verses 33-34 A soldier shot an arrow, which by chance struck Ahab.
The arrow struck King Ahab in a place between the bits of his *armour. He told his driver to take him out of the battle.
Ahab managed to lift himself up in his *chariot. He did not turn away from the enemy until the evening. In this, he showed a lot of courage. He did not want his army to know that the arrow had hurt him. If they had known, they would have run away from the enemy. But at sunset, he died.
They took the dead body to Samaria and they buried him there.
Verse 1 The battle of Ramoth in Gilead was the end of the war. Ahab was dead. The attack by the two kings had failed, and their armies had gone home. The people from Aram did not continue the fight into *Israel and Judah. The *LORD saved Jehoshaphat from the possible results of his bad decision to go with Ahab. So, Jehoshaphat returned in peace to his house in Jerusalem.
Verses 2-3 Jehu, son of Hanani went out to meet Jehoshaphat. Hanani was the *prophet who had met with King Asa about 50 years earlier. Asa had asked for help from the people from Aram when he should have asked for help from the *LORD (16:7-8). Hanani told Asa how the *LORD would punish him. About 35 years before this meeting with Jehoshaphat, the *LORD sent Jehu to Baasha king of *Israel. Baasha had done evil things, as Jeroboam had done before him. Jehu told Baasha that the *LORD would kill his family (1 Kings 16:1-7).
Now the *LORD sent Jehu to Jehoshaphat. The *LORD was angry with Jehoshaphat because he had gone to help Ahab. Ahab hated the *LORD and he did not *worship him. It was a serious error to make an agreement with Ahab. Jehoshaphat should not have made such an agreement.
But Jehoshaphat pleased the *LORD by the good things that he had done. He had removed the *Asherah poles. And he had tried to obey God. Jehoshaphat desired to be loyal to the God of his *ancestors.
Verses 4-7 Jehoshaphat went to every part of his *kingdom. He went from Beersheba in the extreme south to the mountains of Ephraim in the north. He went to the people to persuade them to *turn back again to the *LORD.
As he went, he appointed judges in each city. He gave to them serious and necessary advice. He told them that they were not responsible to any man. They must not give special benefit to any person. They were responsible to the *LORD who was with them. They had to know and to apply the law of the *LORD. The *LORD is the chief judge and he is their judge.
As judges, they must serve the *LORD well because of their fear of him. They had to be careful to do what is right. They must not accept gifts that might affect them in their work.
Verses 8-10 Jehoshaphat appointed judges in Jerusalem. These judges were *Levites, priests and heads of families. They were the judges in the chief court in the *kingdom. They were specialists in the law of the *LORD. Their job was to settle all problems that people had with each other, by their knowledge of that law. These judges lived in Jerusalem.
This chief court had two divisions. The first division was for the Law of Moses. The second division was for all other matters.
Then Jehoshaphat gave instruction to the judges. First, he told them that they must be loyal to the *LORD. And they must serve him with all their hearts and with all their minds. This is good advice for all who trust in the *LORD.
Then he talked about the kinds of problems that they must deal with. People from the cities would bring to them the legal problems that were too difficult for the local judges. Also, there would be all kinds of other problems for them to solve. But in all these matters, they must warn the people not to *sin against the *LORD.
Verse 11 There were two presidents over the courts in Jerusalem. Amaziah was the chief priest. He was the president over the first division of the court. He was responsible for all that was in the Law of Moses. Zebadiah was responsible for all matters that the second division of the court had to make decisions about. There were *Levites who served as officials on behalf of the judges.
In all their responsibilities, they should act with courage.
Verses 1-4 Jehoshaphat did not expect an attack by an army from Moab, Ammon, and the people called Meunites. The Meunites were a people from *Mount Seir in Edom. They may have come from a town called Maon. Maon was about 12 miles (19 kilometres) south and east of the city called Petra.
This army came from Edom, which was a territory to the east and south of the Dead Sea. The army came round the south of the Dead Sea. They had already beaten the people in En-Gedi. En-Gedi was a town about half way up on the western shore of the Dead Sea.
The news of this large army made Jehoshaphat afraid. But he trusted God rather than his own army. He called on all the people in Judah to ask the *LORD for help. He told the people not to eat any food but to pray to the *LORD. The people came together from all the towns of Judah to pray.
Verses 5-9 The people came to the *LORD’s *temple in Jerusalem. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in front of them. He stood in the new square. And he led the people in a prayer to the *LORD.
In Solomon’s *temple, there were two squares. It seems that either Asa or Jehoshaphat had repaired one of these squares. Also, it may be that they extended this square. So, they called it the new square.
The king’s prayer starts with statements that God rules in heaven and on earth. The *LORD is more powerful than all people. The *LORD gave the country of *Israel to the *descendants of Abraham for all time. The *LORD is the God of this people and they have built his *temple. Jehoshaphat then refers to the prayer of Solomon and to the *LORD’s answer to that prayer (6:28-30; 7:13-15).
Verses 10-13 When the *Israelites came from Egypt, God did not allow them to attack the nations of *Mount Seir. And God told them not to fight Moab and Ammon (Deuteronomy chapter 2). The people whom God did not allow *Israel to kill now attacked *Israel.
The *LORD gave *Israel to the *Israelites as their country. Now this large army had come to *capture the country from God’s people. Therefore, God should protect his country and he should punish those people.
Jehoshaphat did have a strong army (17:14). But maybe he could not get it to the battle quickly enough. They were not ready for war. Jehoshaphat would rather trust God than his army. If God were not with them, their strength would be like weakness. They would not be able to defeat the enemy. So, Jehoshaphat asked the *LORD for advice and help. He would depend on God and not on his own strength.
All the men, women and children in Judah stood there. They agreed with Jehoshaphat’s prayer.
Verses 14-19 Then the Spirit of the *LORD came upon Jahaziel. He was a *Levite and he was a *descendant of Asaph. Asaph lived when David was king. Jahaziel stood up among the people and he spoke to them a *prophecy from the *LORD.
They were afraid and the situation depressed them. But he told them that there was no cause for them to be afraid. The battle was God’s and God would fight it. The army of Jehoshaphat would not need to fight at all.
The army of Judah had to go the next day to the valley that leads to the Desert of Jeruel. They must get ready as if for battle. Then they would stand. And they would watch what would happen. The enemy would come through the Pass of Ziz.
The Pass of Ziz was a mountain path. It started about 7 miles (11 kilometres) north of En-Gedi. It went from the sea up to the Valley of Beracah, west of the town called Tekoa. The Desert of Jeruel was probably a flat area near Tekoa. The enemy would come this way to the Valley of Beracah, which leads to the Desert of Jeruel.
Jehoshaphat and the people believed what Jahaziel said. They all fell down and they *worshipped the *LORD. Then some of the *Levites stood up and they led the people to praise the *LORD.
Verses 20-21 Tekoa town was on a high hill. The Tekoa desert was to the east below the town.
As the *Israelites set out, Jehoshaphat stood in front of them. He gave to them this advice. ‘Trust in the *LORD and believe his *prophets.’ This is the best advice that anyone can give. It is quite as good for us today. If we trust in God, we will be strong. If we obey his word, we will succeed.
Jehoshaphat sent the *Levite singers in front of the army. They sang to the *LORD. They praised the *LORD. They thanked the *LORD for his love. They sang as if they had won the battle already. In effect, they had, because God had promised it.
Verses 22-23 As the *Israelites began to sing, the *LORD started the battle. He put men in places where they could surprise the enemy. We do not know who these men were. There is a tradition that they might have been *angels. But it is more probable that they were just men.
The enemy came to attack the *Israelites. But before they could reach the *Israelites, the *LORD defeated them. He caused confusion in the enemy camp. As a result, the soldiers from Ammon and Moab killed all the soldiers from *Mount Seir (that is Edom). Then the soldiers from Ammon and the soldiers from Moab fought against each other.
Verses 24-28 The men from Judah looked for the enemy camp. They expected to see a large camp. They should have seen hundreds of soldiers who were ready for war. But instead, they saw the dead bodies of the whole army.
The men from Judah took away everything valuable from the bodies and from the camp. They would have found *weapons and clothes. There would have been all the supplies for a large army. There was probably silver, gold and many other valuable things. There was so much that it took three days to complete this task.
On the 4th day, Jehoshaphat and his army praised the *LORD in the Valley of Beracah. Before this time, the name of the valley was probably not Beracah. But after this event, that was its name. The word Beracah means to praise or to bless.
Jehoshaphat led his army back to Jerusalem. The musicians led them into the city and to the *LORD’s *temple. There they praised the *LORD with joy.
Verses 29-30 News about the defeat of the men from Moab, Ammon and the people called Meunites went to all the countries round Judah. They knew that God had done this. So, they were too afraid of him to make war with Judah. So, there was a time of peace.
Verses 31-33 Jehoshaphat was a good king. In this, he was like his father Asa. But, unlike his father, he did not *turn from the *LORD. But he did not remove all the high places for *worship. He had removed the *altars for false gods. He had removed the *Asherah poles. But the people still *worshipped at high places. Perhaps they did *worship the *LORD there but they should have *worshipped him in the *temple.
Verse 34 Jehu wrote a record of all the events of Jehoshaphat’s rule. This record is in the book of the kings of *Israel. *Israel here means Judah.
Verses 35-37 We think that the word ‘later’ here refers back to the time immediately after the death of Ahab (18:4). Ahaziah became king in *Israel when his father Ahab died. He ruled for two years in Samaria. That was in the years 850 and 849 *BC. He was a wicked king. But during those two years, Jehoshaphat made an agreement with him. They decided to build ships in the town called Ezion-Geber.
Ezion-Geber was a port at the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba. The Gulf of Aqaba leads into the Red Sea. King Solomon had built ships at Ezion-Geber (1 Kings 9:26).
The ships were for trade with Tarshish. We do not know where this Tarshish was. There was a Tarshish that Jonah tried to go to (Jonah 1:3). That Tarshish was probably in Spain or in Sardinia.
It may be that the name Tarshish did not refer to a place. It might just mean trade with places a long way off. Both Solomon and Jehoshaphat wanted trade with Ophir. We do not know where Ophir was. But Solomon received a lot of gold from Ophir (8:17-18).
Jehoshaphat had not learned the lesson from his agreement with Ahab. The *LORD sent Eliezer to *prophesy against Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat ought not to have made an agreement with Ahaziah. Because he had done so, the *LORD destroyed the ships.
Probably Jehoshaphat did not do what he had promised to Ahaziah. He built ships at Ezion-Geber to trade with Ophir. When Ahaziah wanted his sailors to join with Jehoshaphat’s sailors, Jehoshaphat refused. But all of the ships broke up as they sailed from Ezion-Geber (1 Kings 22:48-49).
Verses 1-7 Jehoshaphat died in 849 *BC and they buried him in David’s city. Jehoram, his son replaced him as king. He was 32 years old when he became the king. He ruled for 8 years in Jerusalem. But he had joined in the rule of his father about 8 years earlier. Joram had become king of *Israel in the second year of Jehoram’s rule (2 Kings 1:17). That was in the 18th year of Jehoshaphat’s rule (2 Kings 3:1).
Jehoshaphat had 7 sons. He gave to each son strong cities and many precious things. He left Jehoram in Jerusalem in control of the *kingdom. Jehoram had shared the rule with Jehoshaphat for some years. So, there should have been no competition for the role of king. But as soon as he had control, Jehoram killed his brothers. Also, he killed some of the leaders of Judah.
Jehoram was not a good king like his father. He followed the ways of Ahab. His wife Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. When he made an agreement with Ahab, Jehoshaphat had arranged the marriage of Jehoram and Athaliah.
The *LORD did not destroy Judah because of his promise to David.
Verses 8-11 The nation called Edom was south and to the east of the Dead Sea. Since the time when David ruled, Edom depended on *Israel and then on Judah. There were some internal troubles in Edom and the king of Edom died. Then the people in Edom chose their own king. He decided to free Edom from the rule of Judah.
Jehoram took his army to fight against Edom. After a long and hard day, the army stopped for a night near a town called Zair (2 Kings 8:21). Jehoram and the *chariot officers were in a separate camp from the rest of the army. It seems that the guards did not do their job very well. During the night the army of Edom got to the camp of Jehoram and the *chariot officers. But Jehoram and the *chariot officers were able to get past the army of Edom.
The rest of Jehoram’s army ran away. They went back home. Jehoram could not make Edom obey him again. At the same time, the people in Libnah city got free from the rule of Judah. Libnah was a city to the south and west of Judah.
The failure of Jehoram was because he had *turned away from the *LORD. He had built again the high places to *worship false gods. He led the people away from the God of their *ancestors. He caused them to *worship foreign gods.
Verses 12-15 The *prophet Elijah was active in the time of Ahab, Ahaziah and the start of the rule of Joram. (See 2 Kings 1:17.) He *prophesied in the northern *kingdom, called *Israel. Joram became the king of *Israel in the second year of Jehoram’s rule in Judah. The second year of Jehoram’s rule was also the 18th year of Jehoshaphat’s rule (2 Kings 3:1). Some time before the *LORD took Elijah from the earth (2 Kings chapter 2), he wrote this letter to Jehoram. So that was after Jehoshaphat died in 849 *BC.
This is what Elijah wrote. Jehoram was a wicked king. He was not like Jehoshaphat or Asa. He lived the same as Ahab and his family. He caused Judah to *turn from the *LORD to the false gods of *Israel. He killed his brothers. So, the *LORD will punish him. The *LORD will punish Jehoram’s people and family. Jehoram will have a terrible disease that will in the end spill out his inner parts.
Verses 16-20 Because of his evil ways, the *LORD used the *Philistines and the Arabs to punish Jehoram. They attacked Judah and they took away Jehoram’s wealth and family. But they left his youngest son, Jehoahaz. Another name for Jehoahaz was Ahaziah.
This was probably a border attack and it did not reach Jerusalem. Jehoram’s palace was probably a palace in the south of Judah. Jehoram’s wife, Athaliah and his youngest son, Ahaziah were probably in Jerusalem. So, the *Philistines and the Arabs did not take them.
Then Jehoram became sick with a disease that the doctors could not cure. The disease got worse during a period of two years. In the end, his inner parts burst out. He died in terrible pain. So, all that Elijah wrote in his letter happened.
At the age of 40, the king died. He had ruled in Jerusalem for 8 years. When he died, nobody was sad. The people did not give any honour to him. They did not make a fire for him. And they did not bury him in the graves of the kings.
Verses 1-6 Ahaziah was the youngest son of Jehoram and Athaliah. The *Philistines and the Arabs had killed all of his brothers. So, the people made Ahaziah king in Jerusalem. He was 22 years old and he ruled for just one year (842 *BC). His mother was a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab’s father was Omri. Omri built Samaria. And he ruled there before Ahab did.
Jehoram was 18 or 19 years old when Ahaziah was born. He had no more sons before his death at the age of 40. But he did have sons before Ahaziah. At an early age, the royal princes had several wives. It was normal for them to have children as soon as they were able.
Joram was the king of *Israel. Ahaziah became king of Judah in the 12th year of Joram’s rule (2 Kings 8:25). They both died at the same time (2 Kings 9:24, 27).
His parents brought Ahaziah up in the ways of Ahab’s family. His mother and his grandmother were powerful women. They led the family away from the *LORD to *worship the god Baal. When Ahaziah became king, he followed the advice of his mother Athaliah. Also, he followed the bad advice of his mother’s relatives.
Ahaziah and King Joram went to Ramoth in Gilead. There they fought against Hazael, king of Aram. In the fight, Joram received a bad injury. He went to the town called Jezreel to recover from his injury. Then Ahaziah went to Jezreel to visit Joram.
Verses 7-9 Jehu, whose father was Nimshi, came to kill Joram. Jehu killed all of Ahab’s family. Ahaziah and the leaders of Judah were there when Jehu came to Jezreel. Ahaziah went out with Joram to meet Jehu. Then Joram and Azariah tried to run away from Jehu but Jehu killed Joram. Ahaziah hid in Samaria but Jehu’s men found him. There Ahaziah received an injury that he would not recover from. But he escaped to the town called Megiddo (2 Kings 9:27). And he died there. Ahaziah’s servants took him to Jerusalem and they buried him there. Because they respected Jehoshaphat, they gave Ahaziah a good funeral.
Jehu then met some of Ahaziah’s family and he killed them (2 Kings 10:14). So, there was nobody of the family of Ahaziah who could become king at that time. His children were too young and Jehu had killed all the other princes.
Verses 10-12 There was nobody in the royal family to replace Ahaziah. His sons were too young. Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah tried to murder all of his young sons. But a daughter of Jehoram, Jehoshabeath took and she hid one of these sons. His name was Joash. She was the wife of Jehoiada the priest. So, they hid the boy with his nurse in the *LORD’s *temple for 6 years. In this way, the *LORD preserved the family of David.
Athaliah did not know about Joash. She made herself the queen and she ruled Judah for 6 years (842 to 837 *BC). She was the only ruler in Judah who was not in the family of David.
Verses 1-3a Joash was now 7 years old. Jehoiada thought that it was now time to act. It was time to declare that Joash was the proper king of Judah. He made an agreement with 5 military leaders. Those officers then went through Judah to bring in the *Levites and family heads. They all came to the *temple. Then they all made an agreement to declare that Joash was king. They agreed to the plan that Jehoiada had made.
They did all of this in secret. Nobody told Athaliah because she was not popular.
Verses 3b-7 Then Jehoiada spoke to the *Levites. And he told them what to do. He showed them Joash the son of Jehoram. Joash was the right king because he was in the family of David.
The priests and the *Levites who would be on duty in the *temple were in three groups. One group would guard the *temple doors. One group would be at the royal palace. The third group would be at the *temple gate called the Foundation Gate.
All the rest of the people would be in the squares of the *temple. They included the priests and the *Levites who were not on duty. Also, they included the family heads and the military officers and men. Their task was to guard the *temple and not to allow anybody to go in.
Some of the *Levites had to guard the king. They had *weapons in their hands. If someone tried to go into the *temple, these guards would kill him.
Verses 8-10 All these people did as Jehoiada had said. As the group of priests and *Levites came off duty, they did not go home. They went to meet the people in the squares. The group that went on duty obeyed the words of Jehoiada.
In the *temple, there was a store of *weapons. King David had provided large and small *shields, and *spears. Jehoiada gave these *weapons to the military leaders. So, people with *weapons were near the *altar and on the north and south sides of the *temple.
Verse 11 Jehoiada and his sons made Joash king of Judah. To do this they did three things. They put the crown on his head. They gave to him a copy of the *LORD’s special promise. This was probably a *scroll of the Law of Moses. And they put oil on his head. Then all the people shouted, ‘Long live the king.’
Verses 12-15 The people shouted with joy. They sounded their *trumpets. They sang aloud as the singers and musicians led them. People ran to join in the party and to give a welcome to their new king.
Athaliah heard all this noise and she hurried to the *temple. She saw King Joash as he stood by his column at the entrance to the *temple. She had no idea about what was happening. She was surprised. And what she saw astonished her. She cried out, ‘*Treason! Treason!’
The king’s column or place was in the outer area of the *temple. They had brought him out of the inner area to stand by this column. Here all the people could see him.
Jehoiada the priest ordered the army to surround Athaliah with soldiers. He told them to take her away from the *temple. They took her to the Horse Gate and they killed her there.
Verses 16-17 During the rule of Jehoram and of Athaliah, the people had *turned away from the *LORD. They followed the ways of the family of Ahab. They *worshipped foreign gods. The main god that they *worshipped was Baal.
Jehoiada with the new king led the people to declare that they were the *LORD’s people. Then they destroyed the *temple of Baal. And they killed Mattan, the priest of Baal.
Verses 18-19 The priests and the *Levites established again the *temple *worship. They did as the Law of Moses taught. And they did as King David had set up.
Verses 20-21 Jehoiada led a procession from the *temple to the royal palace. In the procession were the military captains and all the most important people in Judah. They brought the king and they sat him on the *throne of Judah. All the people were happy that Joash was king. The city was at peace because Athaliah was dead.
Verses 1-3 Joash was the young son of Ahaziah and the grandson of Athaliah. He was 7 years old when he began to rule. He ruled over Judah for 40 years, from 837 to 797 *BC.
During the earlier years of his rule, Joash was loyal to God. But he did not remove the high places for *worship in Judah (2 Kings 12:2-3). He ruled well while Jehoiada was alive. But in later years, he *turned from the *LORD and from the *temple. Jehoiada was still alive in the 23rd year of the rule of Joash. So, Joash *turned from the *LORD probably in his last 10 or 15 years.
Athaliah’s actions had left nobody in the family of David to be king after Joash. So, Jehoiada arranged for Joash to be married at a young age to two wives. Joash had sons and daughters by these wives. One of them was probably Jehoaddan from Jerusalem. She was the mother of Amaziah (25:1). Joash died at the age of about 45 years. His son Amaziah began to rule when he was 25 years old.
Verses 4-7 During the time of Jehoram and Athaliah, they neglected the *LORD’s *temple. Before she killed them, Athaliah’s sons had broken into the *temple. They had taken many things from the *LORD’s *temple to use in the *worship of the *Baals. So, the *temple was in a bad state and it needed repair.
There were several forms of the god called Baal. Also, the plural Baals seems to refer to images of the gods. The word baal meant *lord or god. Baal was a name that people gave to many gods. So, Athaliah may have *worshipped several different gods.
Joash decided to repair the *LORD’s *temple. He told the priests and the *Levites to go to all the towns in Judah. He told them to collect money from the *Israelites. That money would then pay for the repairs to the *temple. But the *Levites were slow and they did not do it.
There were three sources of income for the *temple. There was the money that people gave for the work of the *temple. Also, when people visited the *temple they gave gifts for the *temple. And there was the tax that Moses charged (2 Kings 12:4). This tax was half a *shekel of silver for everyone who was over the age of 20 years (Exodus 30:11-16). The *Levites did not collect this tax money.
Jehoiada ought to have made the *Levites go to collect the tax. Joash asked him why he had not done so.
Verses 8-12 By the 23rd year of Joash’s rule the repairs had not started. So, he ordered the priests and the *Levites not to take any more money from the *temple stores for themselves. But he ordered them to take money from these stores. And he ordered them to give it to those who would repair the *temple.
The king told them to put a large box outside the *temple near the *altar at the south gate. The box had a lid on it. There was a hole in the lid for people to put their money in. The leaders made a declaration through all Jerusalem and Judah. It ordered all the people to bring their tax money and to put it in the box at the *temple. The leaders and people were happy and they paid this tax.
Each time that the box was full, the *Levites took it to the officers. There were two officers. One was the king’s secretary and the other was the chief priest’s officer. They counted the money and they put it into bags. The king and Jehoiada gave the money to those who repaired the *temple. And the *Levites put the empty box back in its place.
Verses 13-14 Those responsible for the work, the workers in stone, wood, iron and *bronze all worked hard. And they completed the task. The *temple was as good as it had ever been. All these workers were honest. There was no need to check how they used the money.
At the end of the job, they still had a lot of money. They brought this money to the king and to Jehoiada. With this money, they replaced all the holy things that Athaliah’s sons and other people had taken. They made all that they needed in the work of the *temple.
While Jehoiada was alive, they gave daily *sacrifices by fire to the *LORD.
Verses 15-16 Jehoiada lived for a long time. He died at the age of 130 years. This was older than Moses, who lived to 120. And it was older than Aaron, who lived to 123. Jehoiada probably became chief priest when the chief priest Amariah died (19:11).
Jehoiada had done many good things and the people respected him. He had been loyal to the *LORD and to the royal family all his life. He was an important helper to the king because Joash was not a strong king. While Jehoiada lived, he kept Joash loyal to the *LORD. As a special honour, they buried Jehoiada with the kings in the city of David.
Verses 17-19 While he was alive, Jehoiada gave good advice to King Joash. Jehoiada was like a father to him. From the age of about one year old, Jehoiada and Jehoshabeath brought him up. Jehoiada had shown Joash how he ought to live and how to rule Judah. Now that Jehoiada was dead, the weak king needed other advice.
The officials of Judah had supported the plan to make Joash king. They had agreed to Jehoiada’s plan. They hated the rule of Athaliah. And they were glad when she died. But in their hearts and minds, they had not *turned from the false gods of *Asherah and Baal. Now they came and they fell down in front of King Joash. They made him feel great and important. They tried to replace Jehoiada and they gave their advice to the king. And he followed their advice.
The leaders persuaded the king that it was not necessary to *worship God in the *temple. So, they and the king did not *worship in the *LORD’s *temple. Instead, they *worshipped at the high places. There they *turned from the *LORD and they *worshipped *Asherah and Baal. Then the people in Judah did the same as their leaders. This made the *LORD angry with the people.
The *LORD sent *prophets to warn the people. There were several *prophets from the time when Jehoshaphat ruled. These *prophets taught the people what God said. Among these were Elisha, Micaiah, Jehu, son of Hanani, Jahaziel, son of Zechariah, (20:14), and Eliezer, son of Dodavah (20:37). Then the *LORD sent Zechariah, son of Jehoiada. But the people refused to listen to the *prophets. The people would not *repent of their *sin. They would not *turn back to the *LORD.
Verses 20-22 The *LORD spoke to the people by Zechariah. He told the people that God had *turned away from them. That was because they had *turned away from God. Without God’s help, they could not be successful.
Zechariah was like a brother to Joash. Joash was alive and he was king only because of Jehoiada the priest. But that was not important to Joash. When the people plotted against Zechariah, Joash ordered them to kill him. They killed him with stones in the outer square of the *temple.
As Zechariah died, he prayed. He prayed that the *LORD would see it. And he prayed that the *LORD would punish Joash because of it.
Verses 23-25 Less than a year after Zechariah died, the army of King Hazael of Aram attacked Judah. They *captured the city called Gath. Gath was a city to the west of Judah in the territory of the *Philistines. Then Hazael’s army turned and it attacked Judah and Jerusalem. They killed many of the leaders of Judah. These leaders had led the people to *turn away from the *LORD.
Then Joash took all the valuable things from the *LORD’s *temple. Since the days of King Asa, the kings and people had given these as gifts to the *LORD. But Joash sent them all to King Hazael (2 Kings 12:17-18). The soldiers of Aram took all these things to King Hazael in Damascus. Damascus was the capital city of Aram. Then Hazael’s army went away from Jerusalem.
The army of Hazael was small. But they defeated the much larger army of Judah. That was a punishment from the *LORD because Joash and the people in Judah had *turned from him. They were not loyal to the God of their *ancestors.
In the battle, Joash received a bad injury. He lay in his bed in the house of Millo (2 Kings 12:20). That was probably in Jerusalem. Some of his officials came and they killed him in his bed. That was because Joash had killed Zechariah, son of Jehoiada. They buried Joash in Jerusalem. But they did not bury him in the graves of the kings. He was not good enough for that honour.
Verses 26-27 The two officials who killed Joash were sons of foreign women. Because they murdered the king, Amaziah killed them (25:3). Amaziah was Joash’s son.
In the book of the kings, there was a record of Joash’s life. It told how he ordered the repairs to the *LORD’s *temple. It recorded the *prophecies against him. And it contained details of his family.
Amaziah replaced his father, Joash as king.
Verses 1-4 Amaziah became king after his father Joash died. He was 25 years old and he ruled for 29 years in Jerusalem (796-767 *BC). For the first 14 years of his rule, Jehoash was the king in *Israel. Then for the rest of Amaziah’s rule, Jeroboam II was the king in *Israel.
Amaziah started his rule well. But he did not serve the *LORD with all his heart and with all his mind. He did not remove the high places for *worship where the people *sacrificed to other gods. Later in his rule, Amaziah *turned from the *LORD. He set up his own gods. He had brought these gods back from Edom.
Amaziah made himself safe and strong as the ruler of the *kingdom. Then he killed those who had murdered his father. But he did not kill their families. In this, he obeyed the word of the *LORD (Deuteronomy 24:16). Each person is responsible for his own *sins.
Verses 5-6 Amaziah counted all the men over the age of 20 years who were able to fight. He organised them with officers who were over units of 1000 men and over units of 100 men. He had 300 000 soldiers. This was a much smaller army than that of King Asa (14:8). This reduction was probably the effect of several wars. And the number of people in Judah may have been less than before.
During his rule, Jehoram lost control over Edom (21:8-10). Amaziah decided to fight against Edom and to establish his control over them. But he thought that his army was too small. He needed more men for the war that he wanted to fight. So, he hired a further 100 000 soldiers from *Israel. He paid 100 *talents of silver to hire these men. That was about three and three quarter tons of silver.
Verses 7-10 The *LORD sent a *prophet to Amaziah. He told the king that the *LORD was not with *Israel. He used the name Ephraim to mean *Israel. Ephraim was the centre of *worship for the false gods in *Israel. The army of Amaziah was strong enough for the battle. But if he took the men from *Israel with him the *LORD would be against him. The *LORD would help Edom to defeat Judah.
Judah should depend on God. They should not depend on *Israel or on any other nation.
Amaziah had paid a lot of money to hire the men from *Israel. But it was better to lose the money than to lose the war. The *LORD was able to give to Amaziah very much more than the loss of this money.
Amaziah obeyed the word of the *LORD. He sent the men from *Israel back to their homes. They were angry. They probably thought that this order was an insult. They had hoped to take very many things from the enemy. Now they had to go home with nothing.
Verses 11-12 Seir or Edom was the territory South of the Dead Sea and to the east. It had been free from the control of Judah for half a century. In about 785 *BC, Amaziah led his army into Edom. They met the army of Edom in the Valley of Salt. The Valley of Salt was about 6 miles (10 kilometres) south of the town called Zoar. Amaziah won the battle. And he went on to *capture the city called Sela. He changed the name of Sela to Joktheel (2 Kings 14:7). Sela was the capital city of Edom.
In the battles, Amaziah’s army killed 10 000 of the soldiers of Edom. They *captured 10 000 men. Then they threw these prisoners from a cliff so that they all died.
Verse 13 The soldiers from *Israel that Amaziah sent home attacked towns and villages in Judah. They had gone home to Samaria. Then they came back into Judah. They killed about 3000 people and they took valuable things.
Beth-Horon was about 10 miles (16 kilometres) from Jerusalem. It was near the border between Judah and *Israel.
Verses 14-16 Among the nations in the east, it was normal practice to take the gods of the enemy. This was evidence that the gods of the winner were stronger. So, Amaziah took the gods of Edom. The people in Edom gave *sacrifices and they burned *incense on *altars to these gods.
Amaziah should have given thanks to the *LORD. Instead, he set up the gods of Edom and he *worshipped them. He gave *sacrifices by fire to them. It made God very angry with Amaziah.
The *LORD sent a *prophet to him. The gods of Edom could not save Edom. The *LORD God had helped Amaziah to defeat Edom and its gods. So to *worship these gods was a stupid thing to do. Amaziah would not allow the *prophet to speak. He would kill the *prophet if he spoke again. But the *prophet did speak once more. He said that the *LORD would kill Amaziah. That was because of what he had done. And it was because he would not listen to the *prophet.
Verses 17-24 Amaziah would not listen to the advice of God and the *prophet. But he talked with the men who advised him.
He was so proud of his defeat of Edom that he wanted to fight *Israel. *Israel was much stronger than Judah. But the *LORD was acting in this because Amaziah asked for help from the gods of Edom. And the *LORD used this battle to punish Amaziah.
Jehoash answered Amaziah with a story. The purpose of the story was to show how silly it would be for Judah to fight against *Israel. The result of such a battle would be *disaster for Amaziah and for Judah. But Amaziah was too proud to listen to this good advice.
Jehoash attacked Judah and they fought at Beth-Shemesh in Judah. Beth-Shemesh was a town on the border of Judah. It was about 15 miles (24 kilometres) south and west of Bethlehem (Joshua 15:10). The army of *Israel defeated the army of Judah. All the men from Judah went to their homes. Then Jehoash *captured Amaziah.
Jehoash marched to Jerusalem and he took Amaziah with him. He broke down the wall from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate. The Ephraim Gate was on the west of the city. And the Corner Gate was probably on the north and west side of the city.
Jehoash took away the valuable things from the *LORD’s *temple. He took the valuable things from the palace. And he took some people away as prisoners.
Jehoash, the king of *Israel died in about 782 *BC. Then the son of Jehoash, Jeroboam II ruled *Israel in Samaria. He was the king there for the rest of Amaziah’s rule. Amaziah died in about 767 *BC.
Amaziah had *turned from the *LORD after the defeat of Edom. From the time that Jehoash defeated him, some people in Jerusalem plotted against him. It got too dangerous for him in Jerusalem. Then he ran away to the town called Lachish. It was a strong city in the south and west of Judah.
Men came from Jerusalem and they killed him in Lachish. That was in about 767 *BC. They took him back to the city of Judah and they buried him with his *ancestors. The city of Judah is Jerusalem.
There was a record of Amaziah’s rule in the book of the kings of Judah and *Israel.
Verses 1-5 Amaziah died in about 767 *BC. But Uzziah ruled in Jerusalem from about 790 *BC. That was about 23 years before Amaziah died. This may have been because Amaziah was a prisoner of King Jehoahaz for some time. Uzziah became king at 16 years of age and he ruled for 52 years. He became king about three years after Jeroboam II became king in *Israel at the age of 24 (2 Kings 15:1). Uzziah had another name. It was Azariah. (See 2 Kings 15:1.)
Uzziah built again the town called Eloth. Eloth was a port on the Red Sea in the territory of Edom. Uzziah made Eloth a part of Judah. It was important for Judah’s trade with countries in the east.
Uzziah was loyal to the *LORD for most of his life. But he did not remove the high places for *worship from Judah (2 Kings 15:4). While Zechariah was alive, Uzziah obeyed the *LORD. We do not know who this Zechariah was. But he taught Uzziah to be afraid of and to serve the *LORD. And as he obeyed the *LORD, the *LORD gave success to him.
Verses 6-8 Uzziah defeated the *Philistines. He broke down the walls of three of their towns. Gath was about 20 miles (32 kilometres) west of Hebron city. Jabneh was a small port near the town called Joppa. Ashdod was near the sea directly west of Jerusalem. Uzziah built new towns in the *Philistine territory so that he could control the *Philistines from those towns.
Uzziah defeated the Arabs and the people called Meunites. These Arabs lived in Gur Baal. We do not know where Gur Baal was. But it was probably to the south and east of Judah. The Meunites were a people from *Mount Seir in Edom. They may have come from a town called Maon. Maon was about 12 miles (19 kilometres) south and east of the city called Petra.
In all of these battles, the *LORD helped Uzziah.
There were people from the family of Ammon who lived to the east of the Jordan River. They paid taxes to Uzziah. And his power and authority extended even to the border with Egypt.
Verses 9-10 The Corner Gate was probably at the north and west corner of Jerusalem. The Valley Gate was at the south and west of Jerusalem. And the place where the wall turned was at the east of Jerusalem. Uzziah built buildings for defence at these three parts of the city. He repaired the damage that Jehoash had done in the time of Amaziah (25:23). Also, Uzziah built buildings for defence in the country.
Uzziah was very interested in his farms. These were in both the low lands and in the hills. He employed farmers to look after his animals, his fields and his *vineyards. Each of these activities depended on the supply of water. So, Uzziah dug many wells.
Verses 11-15 Uzziah appointed three chief officers. Jeiel was in control of the organisation of the army. Maaseiah’s job was to make sure that the army obeyed the orders from the most important officers. And Hananiah was the chief officer of the Army. He was over the 2600 family leaders. They in turn were officers over the army groups. The whole army was 307 500 men.
Uzziah gave to the army all the *armour and the *weapons that they needed. Also, he had new machines that the soldiers could shoot arrows or large stones from. He put these machines for use to defend the city and the towns.
Verses 16-23 When Uzziah became proud he went into the holy place in the *LORD’s *temple. Only the priests should go into that place. And he decided to burn his own *incense on the *LORD’s *altar. In this way, he did what was wrong. Only the priests could burn *incense on the *altar. God gave this task to them (Exodus 30:7-8; Numbers 16:40). Anyone else who came to this *altar should die (Numbers 18:7).
Azariah with 80 priests came to him. They told him that he should not do this thing. They told him to go from the holy place. And they told him that he was not loyal to the *LORD. So, Uzziah was angry with the priests. He held in his hand the pan that priests burn *incense in. Then the *LORD punished him with a skin disease in his head. The priests hurried him out of the *temple. And Uzziah rushed out. From that day, he could not touch other people. And he had to live in a separate house away from other people. (See Leviticus chapter 13.) He could not go again to the *LORD’s *temple.
For the rest of Uzziah’s life, his son Jotham ruled on his behalf. Jotham had control of the royal palace. This was from about 751 *BC until Uzziah’s death in about 738 *BC.
The *prophet Isaiah made a record of Uzziah’s rule. Isaiah saw a *vision of God in the year that Uzziah died (Isaiah 6:1). Also, he did have *visions about Judah during the rule of Uzziah (Isaiah 1:1). Maybe he wrote the record before he became a *prophet. Perhaps he collected the information and he wrote the record later.
When Uzziah died, they buried him near the graves of his *ancestors. Because of his skin disease, they could not bury him with his *ancestors. But the people gave honour to him as a good king.
Verses 1-4 Jotham ruled for 16 years from about 751 *BC to 735 *BC. He ruled in Jerusalem. His father Uzziah died in about 738 *BC. So, for 13 of his 16 years he ruled with his father. He was 25 years old when he began to rule. His mother was the daughter of Zadok. Probably Zadok was a *descendant of the famous priest with the same name (2 Samuel 8:17).
Jotham was loyal to the *LORD as his father had been. But he did not go into the holy place or burn *incense. The people continued to *sacrifice and to burn *incense at the *worship places (2 Kings 15:35). Uzziah and Jotham did not try to remove those places.
The Upper Gate, which Jotham built again, was on the north side of the *temple (Ezekiel 9:2). The wall of Ophel was to the south and east of the *temple. It was between the Kidron Valley and the Tyropoeon Valley. Jotham repaired the wall of the city that was in that area.
In many parts of Judah, Jotham built castles and other buildings for the defence of his *kingdom. The agreement between the kings of *Israel and Aram may have been the reason for this work (2 Kings 15:37).
Verse 5 Uzziah had control over Ammon (26:8). It seems that they tried to get free from the control of Jotham. So, Jotham fought with them and he defeated them. Then for three years, the people in Ammon paid a tax to Jotham. That tax included about three and three quarter tons of silver. And they gave to him wheat and *barley in volume about 575 000 gallons (2200 *kilolitres) of each.
Verses 6-9 Jotham involved himself in several wars. There is now no record of any of them except against the people from Ammon. There is a note that in those days *Israel and Aram came against Judah (2 Kings 15:37). That may have been at the end of Jotham’s life. But he was powerful in all these wars because he obeyed the *LORD.
The record of all that he did was in the book of the kings of *Israel and Judah. Jotham died and they buried him in David’s city. Then his son Ahaz became king.
Verses 1-4 Ahaz ruled from about 731 *BC. It seems that he ruled with his father Jotham for three or four years. Jotham died in about 735 *BC. Ahaz ruled in Jerusalem for 16 years and he died in about 715 *BC. He was 20 years old when he became king (2 Chronicles 28:1; 2 Kings 16:2). When he died in about 715 *BC, his son Hezekiah was 25 years old (29:1). So then, Ahaz would have been about 11 or 12 years old when Hezekiah was born. There are two possible explanations for this problem. Ahaz may have ruled with his father for a few years. So then, the age of 20 would be when he started to rule with Jotham. When he became king at the death of Jotham, then he would be older than 20 years. The other explanation may be that there was an error in later copies of the text. Some old copies say, ‘Ahaz was 25 years old when he became king.’
Ahaz was one of the weakest and the most wicked of all the 20 rulers of Judah. He did not serve the *LORD as his *ancestor David had done. He *turned away from the *LORD. And he served the *Baals as the kings of *Israel did. The Baals were the false of gods of the nations round *Israel.
Ahaz made images of the gods out of metal. He and the people *worshipped these images of the gods. He burned *incense to the god Molech in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom. Molech was the god of the people in Ammon. Ahaz *sacrificed his sons by fire to Molech. The *LORD had said, ‘Those who do this must die.’ (See Leviticus 20:1-5.) We do not know how many sons he had. But he did not *sacrifice Hezekiah, who ruled after him. This and other evil things were what the Canaanites had done. The Canaanites lived in the country before the *LORD gave it to *Israel.
The Valley of Ben-Hinnom was to the south of Jerusalem. It became the place of the most evil deeds in Judah (here and in 33:6). King Josiah made it the place to burn rubbish so that people could not *sacrifice their children to Molech. In Jesus’ time, they always burned the rubbish there. It became a place of continuous fire. And they called it Gehenna. It became a word picture of hell. Hell is the place where the fire never goes out (Mark 9:43).
Also, Ahaz burned *incense and he gave *sacrifices to the gods on the high places for *worship. And he did these things on the hills and under the trees.
Verses 5-8 Rezin was the king of Aram. He attacked Judah and he defeated Ahaz. The *LORD did not help or defend Ahaz. Rezin took many prisoners to his capital city, Damascus. Also, Pekah, the king of *Israel came against Judah. He killed many people and soldiers in Judah. The *LORD allowed him to do that because of the *sin of Judah’s people. In a later battle, Rezin and Pekah came to Jerusalem. They wanted a man called Tabeel to replace Ahaz as king of Judah (Isaiah 7:6). But Ahaz was too strong so they could not *capture the city. Rezin *captured the town called Eloth from Judah (2 Kings 16:5-6).
Maaseiah, the king’s son was probably not a son of Ahaz. The sons of Ahaz were probably too young to be in the battles. Maaseiah may have been a younger son of King Jotham.
The army of *Israel took a large number of people away as prisoners. They even took women and children. *Israel and Judah both came from the 12 *tribes of *Israel. So, the families of Judah and *Israel were relatives.
Verses 9-15 The *prophet Oded went out to meet the army of *Israel. We do not know anything else about this *prophet. He told them that God had used them to punish Judah. He did it because he was angry with Judah. But the army of *Israel did more than God wanted them to do. They were too cruel and their anger was too fierce. And they had taken away men, women and children from Judah to make them slaves.
From the days of Rehoboam, the 10 *tribes of *Israel had *turned from the *LORD. They were more guilty of this than the two *tribes of Judah. And in this action, they had *sinned against the *LORD.
Oded told them to send the prisoners back. Because they had *captured these people, the *LORD was angry with them.
Then some of the leaders of Ephraim went to meet the soldiers. The names of four of them are in the text. Ephraim here means the 10 *tribes of *Israel. They told the soldiers that they could not bring the prisoners into Samaria. To do so would add to the *sins of *Israel. The *LORD was already angry with them. So, the soldiers left the prisoners and the valuable things with the leaders.
The leaders looked after the prisoners. They used the valuable things to provide what these people needed. They gave clothes, food, drink and medicine to them. And they took the prisoners back to their own people. They took them to Jericho. Jericho was a city on the border between *Israel and Judah.
Verses 16-20 Ahaz and Judah were in serious trouble. The armies of *Israel and Aram attacked them from the north. The people from Edom attacked and they defeated Judah from the south and east. The people from Edom took away many prisoners. The *Philistines attacked Judah from the west. The *Philistines *captured several towns and villages from Judah. The *LORD was against Ahaz and Judah because they were not loyal to him.
Ahaz took valuable things from the *temple, from the palace and from the princes. He sent these as gifts to Tilgath-Pilneser III. He asked Tilgath-Pilneser to come and to help him against Aram and *Israel. Ahaz did not *repent and *turn to the *LORD for help. He should have *turned to the *LORD and not to another nation (Isaiah 7:11-12). God has the power to help those who put their trust in him. The *LORD was against him because he led the people to *worship false gods.
Tilgath-Pilneser ruled as king of Assyria from 745 *BC to 727 *BC. While he was king, Assyria became the strongest nation in the Middle East. In 732 *BC, Tilgath-Pilneser attacked and he defeated Aram. He killed King Rezin and he *captured Damascus city. But that was no real help to Judah. Aram had been as a defence between Assyria and *Israel. Now Assyria could fight against *Israel and Judah more easily. The *LORD would soon bring Assyria’s soldiers to fight against *Israel. Also, they would fight against Judah (Isaiah 7:17).
Then Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tilgath-Pilneser. While he was there, he saw an *altar to the gods of Damascus. He drew a picture of that *altar. Then he sent the picture to Urijah the priest in Jerusalem. Urijah built an *altar exactly like the one in Damascus. He put it in place ready for when Ahaz came home from Damascus (2 Kings 16:10-11).
Verses 22-25 The army of Damascus had beaten the army of Judah in battle. Ahaz thought that their gods had helped them. With the new *altar, he *sacrificed to their gods. The army from Assyria defeated the army of Damascus. People at that time believed that the army with the stronger gods would win a war. So, the gods of Assyria became the main gods of Damascus. So, when Ahaz *worshipped the gods of Damascus this probably included the gods of Assyria.
Ahaz went from bad to worse in his relations with the *LORD God. He took many things from the *LORD’s *temple and he broke them up. He stopped the *temple *worship and he closed the doors to the *temple. He built *altars to other gods all round Jerusalem. And he made high places to *worship other gods in every town in Judah.
The *LORD God of his *ancestors was very angry. The *worship of false gods is what ruined both *Israel and Judah.
Verses 26-27 Ahaz died in 715 *BC. In that same year, Tilgath-Pilneser attacked the *Philistines (Isaiah 14:28-29). When Ahaz died, Hezekiah became king of Judah. They buried Ahaz in Jerusalem but not in the graves of the kings.
Verses 1-2 Hezekiah became king when Ahaz died in about 715 *BC. He ruled in Jerusalem for 29 years to about 687 or 686 *BC. He had a very different character from that of his father. Hezekiah, like his *ancestor David, tried to serve the *LORD. He trusted the *LORD as no other king of Judah did. He removed the high places for *worship and he broke down the *Asherah poles (31:1). Unlike earlier kings, he did not *turn away from the *LORD all the days of his life. Because he trusted the *LORD, the *LORD was with him. And the *LORD gave to him great success.
Verses 3-11 As soon as he became king, Hezekiah opened the doors of the *temple. He started to repair all the damage that people had done during the rule of Ahaz. This was in the first month of the *temple year. The first month was the month Nisan, that is, about March or April. The *Israelites also have an ordinary new year, which starts in the month Tisri (about October).
Hezekiah started to prepare the *temple for the *worship of the *LORD. First, he had to get the priests and the *Levites ready for their work. He gathered them at the area for priests by the east gate of the *temple. He told them to get themselves ready to serve the *LORD. And he ordered them to clean the *temple of all rubbish and to make the *temple ready for *worship. This must include the removal of images and strange *altars from the *temple area.
Then he spoke about the failure of their *ancestors. They *turned from the *LORD and they closed the *temple. They did not *worship the *LORD, as he had demanded. Because of this, the *LORD was angry with Judah and with Jerusalem. That is why many of them died in battles. And that is why many of their people were still in *exile.
Hezekiah intended to *turn back to the *LORD. He wanted to start again the *worship of God in the *LORD’s *temple. He told the priests and the *Levites to do the tasks that the *LORD had called them to. Then he believed that the *LORD would not be angry with them.
Verses 12-14 Kohath, Merari, and Gershom were the three families that made up the *tribe of Levi (1 Chronicles 6:1). All the priests and the *Levites came from that *tribe.
Elizaphan was a grandson of Kohath (Exodus 6:22). King David appointed Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun with their families to lead the music and *worship in the *temple (1 Chronicles 25:1-6). The leaders of the *Levites were two from each of the three families. In addition, there were two leaders from Elizaphan’s family. And there were two leaders each from the three musical families. These men were the 14 leaders of the *Levites.
Verses 15-19 These 14 leaders with all the other *Levites made themselves ready for work in the *temple. Only the priests could go into the inner part. So, they went in. And they brought out all that should not be there. Then the *Levites took all those things and the rubbish to the Kidron Valley. The Kidron Valley was to the east of the *temple.
They started work on the first day of the month Nisan (March or April). And it took them a week to clear all the rubbish. Then the priests and the *Levites made the *temple holy for the *LORD. This took another 8 days. The *temple was ready for *worship by the 16th day of the month. That was two days after the *Passover *feast should have started.
They told the king that they had completed the task. They had cleaned the *temple and all that was in it. They had put back the things that Ahaz had taken out (2 Chronicles 28:24; 2 Kings 16:17).
Verses 20-24 As soon as he could, Hezekiah brought the leaders of Jerusalem to the *temple. They provided the right number of animals for *sacrifices. Then Hezekiah told the priests to give *sacrifices to the *LORD because of his *sins and the people’s sins. The priests gave these *sacrifices and they put some of the blood on the *altar.
The first *sacrifices for *sin were on behalf of the king and his family. The next *sacrifices were to clean the *temple. Then there were *sacrifices because of the *sins of the priests. Then there were *sacrifices because of the *sins of the people in Judah and *Israel.
The king and the people put their hands on the goats. This act was to confess their *sins. The animals would die so that God could take away those *sins.
Verses 25-30 Hezekiah told the *Levites to lead *worship as they had in David’s time. David with Gad and Nathan had appointed *Levites to lead in music. They appointed singers and those who played instruments of music. And David had provided the *cymbals, *harps, *lyres and *trumpets that they had to use.
Hezekiah ordered the priests to give the first *sacrifice by fire. Then the musicians started to sing and to play their instruments. And all the people *worshipped the *LORD. This continued until the priests had completed the *sacrifice by fire.
Then the priests gave all the other *sacrifices. The king and all the people there *worshipped the *LORD. The *Levites sang the songs of David and of Asaph. And all the people praised God with joy.
Verses 31-36 The people there had *turned back to the *LORD. The priests had given the *sacrifices because of their *sin. The removal of *sin has a purpose. That is to make people able to serve and to praise the *LORD. Now at Hezekiah’s invitation, they brought *sacrifices to give thanks to the *LORD.
The people brought a large number of animals for *sacrifices by fire. But there were too few priests to prepare the animals for *sacrifice. So, other *Levites had to help them. They could prepare the *sacrifices but only the priests could offer the *sacrifices.
There were priests who had not made themselves ready for the work in the *temple. They had not done as Hezekiah asked them to do (verse 5). Probably many of the priests had supported Ahaz in the *worship of other gods. A few years earlier, Urijah the priest had made a foreign *altar for Ahaz (2 Kings 16:10-16). The *Levites had done better than the priests had. But these priests now made themselves ready for the work.
There were three main types of *sacrifice. First, there were the *sacrifices because of *sin. Then there were the *sacrifices by fire for *dedication. And there were the *sacrifices for peace. At the *sacrifices for peace, the people shared a meal together and they gave thanks to God.
The regular *temple *worship had started again. And the people were happy about it.
Verses 1-5 The *Passover *feast should be on the 14th day of Nisan (March or April). There had not been such a *feast for several years. But Hezekiah had decided to do as the law said. He wanted to start again and to have the *feasts of the *LORD. There were not enough priests ready for the *feast at the proper time. And the people had not come for the *feast. So, the king and his officials decided to have the *feast one month late.
The king sent letters through the region of the 12 *tribes of *Israel. The letters even went to Beersheba in the south and to Dan in the north. The letters called all the *Israelites to come to Jerusalem for the *feast.
The *tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh include all the *tribes that had formed the *kingdom called *Israel. By this time, the people from Assyria had defeated *Israel. The people from Assyria took many *Israelites from their country (2 Kings 17:5-7). And they sent people from other nations to live in the country.
Before Hezekiah had become king of Judah in 715 *BC, the people from Assyria had defeated *Israel. Between 724 *BC and 722 *BC, Shalmaneser V of Assyria ruled over *Israel. In 722 *BC to 720 *BC, the next king of Assyria (Sargon II) sent most of the *Israelites into *exile. Also, he sent foreigners from Babylon and other places to live in *Israel.
Verses 6-9 The king sent men to all Judah and *Israel. They took letters to all *Israel. This included those *Israelites who remained in *Israel.
In the letters, Hezekiah appealed to the *Israelites to *turn again to the *LORD. Those whom he wrote to had not gone into *exile. The reason for the *exile was that the people had not been loyal to the *LORD their God. Those who had not gone into *exile had the chance to *repent. If they came back to the *LORD, the *exiles would come home again. So, Hezekiah invited them to come to the *temple in Jerusalem for the *Passover *feast.
Verses 10-12 Most of the *Israelites laughed and they insulted Hezekiah’s men. But some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun did come to Jerusalem. The people in Judah obeyed the king and they came.
Verses 13-14 There was a large crowd in Jerusalem for the *feast of bread without *yeast. This *feast started after the *Passover *feast, on the 15th day of the month. It lasted for 7 days (Exodus 12:19-20). The purpose of this *feast was to remind them how God had brought them out of Egypt (Exodus 12:1-32).
The people removed all the *altars that were for the *worship of false gods in Jerusalem. They threw all these things into Kidron Valley.
Verses 15-20 The people brought their young sheep for the *Passover. They killed the young sheep on the 14th day.
Many of the priests and *Levites had not made themselves ready for the *feast. Maybe they had joined with those who *worshipped other gods. But now they were ashamed. So, they prepared themselves and they gave *sacrifices by fire to the *LORD. Then they were ready to assist in the *temple. The *Levites gave the blood of *sacrifices to the priests. The priests put the blood on the *altar as Moses had taught them (Leviticus 1:11).
Many of the people had not made themselves ready for the *Passover. Those people may have touched a dead body. They may have had sex just before the *feast. They may not have washed in the proper way. So, the *Levites killed the sheep on their behalf. Usually the head of each family would kill the sheep for his family. These people, who were not ready for the *feast, did eat of the *feast. That was against God’s law. They might have become ill. But Hezekiah prayed for them. He asked the *LORD to forgive them. The *LORD did forgive them and he cured them.
Verses 21-22 All these people enjoyed the *feast of bread without *yeast for 7 days. There was much loud music to the *LORD. The *Levites praised the *LORD in song and with their instruments. And Hezekiah encouraged them.
They gave *sacrifices for peace on each of the 7 days. A part of each *sacrifice was for the *LORD. A part of each *sacrifice was for the priests. And the rest of each *sacrifice was for the people to eat.
Verses 23-27 The people had so enjoyed the *feast that they extended it by another 7 days. Hezekiah and his officials provided a lot of *bulls and sheep for *sacrifices and for food. Many more priests made themselves holy to be able to give all the *sacrifices. All the people from Judah and *Israel had a great time. Even the foreigners among them were happy.
When Solomon *dedicated the *temple, the people had extended that *feast by 7 days (7:9). There had been no *feast like it until now. That was because there was so much joy. And the people *worshipped God.
The priests, who were *Levites, blessed the people. They prayed to the *LORD and the *LORD heard their prayers.
Verse 1 After the *feasts, the people went through the towns of Judah and *Israel (Ephraim and Manasseh). They destroyed all the *altars and images that were for the *worship of false gods. Hezekiah had to destroy the metal snake that Moses made (2 Kings 18:4; Numbers 21:8-9). This snake had become an object to *worship.
Verses 2-8 Hezekiah introduced again the groups of priests and *Levites. In fact 24 groups helped in the service of the *temple. The groups served in turn. This was as David had organised them (1 Chronicles chapter 25). They gave the *sacrifices and they led the *worship in the *temple.
The king gave the animals for the regular *sacrifices. In a year, this would be about 1100 young sheep, 113 *bulls, 37 male sheep and 30 goats. Also, there would be flour, oil and wine to go with the animal *sacrifices.
Hezekiah told the people in Jerusalem to give what was due to the priests and to the *Levites. So then the priests and the *Levites could spend all their time in their work. The people obeyed the king. They brought grain, new wine and oil. They brought honey and fruit. They gave a tenth of all that they had.
Also, the people in the towns of Judah brought their gifts. They gave a tenth of all that they had. They put all these things in heaps. They started to give soon after the *feast of bread without *yeast. The third month was the time of the grain harvest. The 7th month was the end of the fruit harvest. So, they completed the heaps when the harvests had ended.
Hezekiah and his officials praised the *LORD.
Verses 9-10 It seems that Hezekiah was surprised at the size of the heaps. He wanted to know whether the gifts were sufficient for the priests and for the *Levites. Azariah told him that they had more than enough. There had been a good harvest and the people gave their gifts. Azariah saw that the good harvest came from God.
Verses 11-15 There would have been *storerooms in the *temple area. Maybe Hezekiah told the priests to clear these and to make them ready to store the heaps. Also, it may be that they needed to provide more *storerooms.
When the rooms were ready, the priests brought in all the gifts. These gifts were the regular 10th that the people gave to the *LORD. In addition, people brought in as holy gifts to the *LORD other gifts.
Hezekiah and Azariah appointed a team of men to manage the stores.
There was another team of 6 men under Kore’s authority. They were responsible for the supply of the gifts to the priests’ families and to the *Levites’ families.
Verses 16-19 They gave shares of food from the stores to all male *Levites who were three years old or older. It may be that the young *Levite boys went with their fathers to serve in the *temple. *Israelite mothers fed their babies at their breasts until they were about three years old. So, those younger than three did not need a share of the food.
The priests had shares of food because they served in the *temple. Also, the *Levites who were over 20 years of age had shares because of their work. In addition to these, all the families of the priests and of the *Levites received food from the stores.
In the days of Moses, the *Levites started their work at the age of 30. But David changed this and he made them start at 20 years of age (1 Chronicles 23:24).
Those priests and *Levites who lived in the country or in other towns received their share of the gifts.
Verses 20-21 Hezekiah was a good king. He was loyal to the *LORD his God. He organised the *worship of God in the *temple. He encouraged his people to serve and to obey God. He was sincere in his trust in the *LORD God. Because of his trust in God, he was successful.
Verses 1-5 The kings of Assyria had control over the whole region of *Israel and Judah. They achieved this after Ahaz had asked for help from Assyria (28:20-21). That was in about 734 *BC. Hezekiah paid taxes to Sargon II, the king of Assyria. But when Sargon died in 705 *BC, Hezekiah stopped the payment of these taxes.
In 701 *BC, Sennacherib, son of Sargon attacked Judah. He *captured many of the strong cities of Judah. And he intended to attack Jerusalem. Hezekiah offered to pay what Sennacherib would ask. Hezekiah paid 300 *talents of silver and 30 *talents of gold (2 Kings 18:13-16). But this did not satisfy Sennacherib.
That was in the 14th year of Hezekiah’s rule. Hezekiah had repaired the *temple and he had organised the priests. He had *turned the people back to *worship the *LORD their God. Now he received news of the approach of Sennacherib and his army. So, he prepared Jerusalem for the attack by the army from Assyria.
Hezekiah made sure that there was a good supply of water in the city. The water supply of the city depended on two fountains. They were the Gihon fountain in the Kidron Valley and the En-Rogel fountain about two miles further south. It may be at this time that he closed the upper channel of the Gihon fountain (32:30). But this task would have taken a fairly long time. So, perhaps he did it at an earlier date.
He made sure that there would not be a good supply of water for the people from Assyria. He and his people covered all the fountains and they changed the stream. This stream was probably the one that flowed into the Gihon valley. They dug a *tunnel to bring the water from the stream into the city.
He repaired the walls and he built more walls round the city. Then he made more *weapons for the defence of Jerusalem.
Verses 6-8 Hezekiah put army officers in control of the people. He tried to prepare the people to defend the city. The officers would train the people and they would lead the people in the fight. Near the city gate there was a large open area. Here the king met with his officers. And he spoke to them to encourage them. He said to them, ‘Sennacherib has a large army. His army consists of mere men. But the *LORD God is greater than the army of Assyria. The *LORD is on our side and he will fight for us. Therefore, there is no cause to be afraid of them.’
Here is something that is always true. The power of the *LORD with us is greater than any power that is with the enemy.
Verses 9-15 Sennacherib surrounded Lachish. Lachish was a town about 25 miles (40 kilometres) to the south and west of Jerusalem. He sent his chief officers to Jerusalem to speak to Hezekiah and to the people (2 Kings 18:17). The purpose was to make the people afraid. Sennacherib and his officers wanted the people to give in to them without a fight. He tried to destroy their trust in the *LORD their God.
Sennacherib said that God would not save them.
He said, ‘Your God is no better than the gods of other nations. What Hezekiah says is not true. And Hezekiah offended God when he took away the high places for *worship. Therefore, the people from Assyria will win. Not even the *LORD God is as strong as I am. The *LORD cannot save them from my army.’
It was not true that Hezekiah had offended God. But Sennacherib knew that there was not enough food. The people would die as a result of hunger and lack of water. So, he was confident that he would win.
Verses 16-19 Sennacherib’s officers spoke further against the *LORD. And he wrote letters to Hezekiah and he insulted the *LORD in those letters. In effect, he said that the *LORD was like the false gods of other nations.
But those gods had no power and they could not help their people. Men had made those false gods.
Also, Sennacherib’s officers shouted the same insults in *Hebrew to the people on the city walls. Their purpose was to make the people afraid.
Verses 20-21 Sennacherib’s army had probably come to a camp near Jerusalem. Hezekiah went to the *LORD’s *temple. He sent to Isaiah the *prophet to pray to the *LORD. They cried out to the *LORD for help. The *LORD answered them and he gave a *prophecy to Isaiah (2 Kings 19:21-34). That night, an *angel from the *LORD killed 185 000 men in the camp of the people from Assyria. So, Sennacherib could not attack Jerusalem. He returned to his own country, ashamed.
When he got home, Sennacherib went to the *temple of his god. The name of his god was Nisroch. About 20 years later, while he was *worshipping his god, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him (Isaiah 37:38). He died in 681 *BC.
Verses 22-23 So, the *LORD saved Hezekiah and Jerusalem from Sennacherib. This had a good effect on all the nations round Judah. They saw that the *LORD was with Hezekiah. They did not want the king of Judah to be their enemy. And so they brought many gifts to the *LORD and to Hezekiah.
Verses 24-26 Hezekiah became sick and he almost died. But he prayed to the *LORD. The *LORD sent Isaiah to him. Isaiah told him that the *LORD would cure him after three days. Also, the *LORD promised to give to him another 15 years. Hezekiah asked for something to show that the *LORD would do it. Then the *LORD caused the shadows to go back 10 steps (2 Kings 20:1-10).
The *LORD had saved Judah and Jerusalem. He had cured Hezekiah. But Hezekiah and the people became proud. They had not defeated the people from Assyria and there was no reason to be proud. Because he was proud, Hezekiah had shown all his wealth to the men from Babylon (2 Kings 20:12-18). Therefore, God was angry with Hezekiah and with the people. They *repented of their *sin. So, the *LORD did not punish them while Hezekiah was alive.
Verses 27-29 After the defeat of Sennacherib, Hezekiah became famous among the nations. Also, he became wealthy. He made special buildings to store all his wealth. Much of his wealth came as gifts from the nations and probably from trade with them. Also, he achieved wealth by his farms. He had many animals and he had a lot of food from his farms. He became wealthy because God was good to him.
Verse 30 Much of the water supply for Jerusalem came from two fountains, the En-Rogel fountain and the Gihon fountain. The En-Rogel fountain was about two miles to the south of the city. But the Gihon fountain was in the Kidron Valley.
Hezekiah dug a long *tunnel to bring the water from the Gihon fountain into the west side of the city. The workers dug from both ends to meet in the middle. They dug through the rock beneath Jerusalem. The *tunnel was about 1700 feet (520 metres) long. They put a stone in the *tunnel and they wrote about it on that stone. People who dug there in 1880 *AD found that stone.
Verse 31 It seems that Hezekiah was proud for several reasons. He was proud because of the defeat of Sennacherib. He may have been proud that the *LORD had cured him. And he was proud because he had become rich. Merodach-Baladan, king of Babylon heard that Hezekiah had been ill. So, he sent men to visit him. These men came with letters and gifts for Hezekiah. Because he was so proud, Hezekiah showed all of his wealth to these men. Then the *LORD told him that in the future the people from Babylon would come. They would take away all these things. And the people in Judah would go into *exile in Babylon (Isaiah 39:5-7).
Verses 32-33 Isaiah wrote about Hezekiah’s life and about his good deeds. This record was in the book of the kings of *Israel and Judah.
Hezekiah died in about 687 *BC. He had been a good king and the people respected him. They buried him in a place of honour.
His son Manasseh became king.
Verses 1-6 Manasseh was the king of Judah from about 687 *BC to 642 *BC. It seems that he ruled with his father Hezekiah for about 10 years before that. He was 12 years old when he started to rule. And he ruled for 55 years. He ruled more years than any other king of Judah or *Israel.
The people from Assyria were again in control over the whole region. Hezekiah had been free from that control. But Manasseh had to realise that the king of Assyria was his master. This may have been part of the reason for his *worship of the false gods.
The nations that were in the country before *Israel *worshipped many false gods. Manasseh built again the high places to *worship those gods. He built *altars to the Baal gods. He made images for *Asherah, the female god. And he *worshipped the sun, moon and stars. For these, he built two *altars in the *LORD’s *temple. He did the same as his grandfather Ahaz had done (28:3). He made his children go through fire in the Ben-Hinnom Valley. This was a *sacrifice to the god Molech. And he did many other evil deeds.
Verses 7-9 Manasseh made an image and he put it in the *LORD’s *temple. This image was probably an image of the female god *Asherah. This was an awful *sin and it was an insult to the *LORD God.
The *LORD had promised that the country would belong to the *Israelites. He had said that he would never remove them from that country. But this promise depended on their actions. They had to obey God’s commands. They had to do all that God told them by Moses. They had not obeyed the *LORD. They had not done as they should have done.
Manasseh led the people in Judah away from the *LORD. He led them into all the wicked ways of the nations. The people in Judah were worse than those nations that the *LORD had removed. And the *LORD was angry with Manasseh and with the people.
Verses 10-13 Manasseh and the people would not listen to the *LORD. Because of their *sin, the *LORD told them about the punishment that he would send upon them. Enemies would destroy Jerusalem and the people would go into *exile (2 Kings 21:10-15).
The *LORD sent officers from the king of Assyria. They tied Manasseh with chains and they took him to Babylon. No other records mention this event. Perhaps he joined Egypt’s army as they tried to get free from the rule of Assyria. It may be that Manasseh had involved himself in the affairs of Babylon. The brother of King Osnappar, Shamash-shum-ukin was the ruler in Babylon. He tried to free Babylon from the rule of Assyria. But Osnappar defeated the army of Babylon. These events were in about 652 to 648 *BC.
Manasseh suffered there in Babylon. He prayed to the *LORD. He *repented that he had been proud. And he *repented of his wicked deeds. He was humble toward the God of his *ancestors. And the *LORD heard him. He did not deserve it but the *LORD was kind to him. The *LORD caused the king of Assyria to free Manasseh. Manasseh returned to Jerusalem. The answer to his prayers convinced him that the *LORD was the real God. But this was too late to prevent the future punishment of Judah.
Verses 14-17 Manasseh built again the outer wall of Jerusalem. This wall was from the west side of Gihon to the Fish Gate. And the wall went round the hill called Ophel. Gihon and Ophel were on the south-east side of the city. The Fish Gate was to the north-west. Also, to make the cities of Judah stronger, he sent officers to them.
Manasseh had changed. Now he removed the foreign gods and the image that he had put in the *temple. He removed all the *altars that he had built in Jerusalem. He set up the *LORD’s *altar. He started again the *sacrifices to the *LORD God. He told his people to *worship the *LORD God of *Israel. He did not remove all the high places for *worship. But the people *worshipped the *LORD at those places.
Verses 18-20 The book of the kings of *Israel contained a record of the events of Manasseh’s rule.
The records showed:
· what he did before he *repented,
· what he did after he *repented.
They included the prayer that Manasseh had prayed to the *LORD.
Manasseh died in 642 *BC and they buried him in his palace. His son Amon then ruled in Judah.
Verses 21-25 Amon was king for only two years from 642 to 640 *BC. He was as wicked as his father had been. When Manasseh had removed the images of false gods, he had not destroyed them. Amon *worshipped these gods. He was proud like his father. He was even worse than his father had been. And he did not *repent of his *sin as his father did.
His servants killed him in his palace. Then the people killed those servants. Then Amon’s son, Josiah became king of Judah.
Verses 1-2 Unlike his father, Josiah was a good king over Judah. He was 8 years old in 640 *BC when he began to rule. He ruled for 31 years and he died in 609 *BC. He was the best king in Judah since the days of David. And he was loyal to the *LORD all of his life.
Verses 3-7 The power of the people from Assyria was becoming less. Their control over the region was not as strong as it had been. They had trouble from Babylon and from Egypt. The *kingdoms to the north attacked Assyria. Among those *kingdoms were the people from Media. Media is now part of Iran. Also, there were the people called Cimmerians and Scythians. Then there were internal problems. King Osnappar died in about 627 *BC. And two of his sons struggled to be king. In this time of trouble, the people from Assyria could not control what happened in the smaller countries. So, Josiah could rule as a free king and he could remove the gods of Assyria and the other gods.
In 632 *BC, when Josiah had been king for less than 8 years, he was only 15 years of age. At that time, he began to serve the *LORD, the God of his *ancestor David. Then 4 years later, in 628 *BC, he started to remove the false gods from his *kingdom. He removed the high places where the people *worshipped the gods. He removed the images of gods and the *Asherah poles.
Josiah led the people to destroy the *altars of the Baal gods and to destroy the *incense *altars. He broke the images and the *Asherah poles until they were just powder. He put the powder on the graves of those who had *worshipped those gods. Before he destroyed the *altars, he burned the bones of the priests of the gods on them.
Because of the weakness of the control of Assyria’s army, Josiah moved into territory that had been *Israel. He went to the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon all the way to Naphtali. Naphtali was in the north of *Israel. So, he destroyed the images and *altars of the false gods in all *Israel.
Verses 8-13 It took Josiah about 6 years to remove and to destroy the false gods. This does not mean that they completed the task. They had done the main work. But there was a need to continue to destroy false gods.
Then Josiah decided to repair the *temple. He sent three men to organise this task. The last main repairs to the *temple had been during the rule of Joash. That was about 200 years earlier.
They went to Hilkiah the chief priest. The people had brought money to the *temple for this purpose. So, the three men told him to get that money from the *Levites (2 Kings 22:4). It seems that the three officials went with Hilkiah. They took the money from the *Levites and they gave it to Hilkiah. Then, with Hilkiah, they gave the money to the men who were responsible to manage the work.
These managers employed the workers and the workers bought all the materials for the work. Nobody asked how the workers had used the money. That was because all the workers were honest (2 Kings 22:7).
The 4 managers who directed the work were *Levites. They were from two of the families of the sons of Levi. Those two families were Merari and Kohath. They were all skilled musicians. They managed the workers and the workers worked well.
Verses 14-17 The *Levites gave the money to Hilkiah and to the managers for the work of repair. At that time, in 622 *BC, Hilkiah found a book. It was the book of the *LORD’s law. The book contained the laws that the *LORD had given to Moses.
We are not sure what that book was. It seems that it was at least the book of Deuteronomy. But it may have included parts of Exodus and Leviticus. This book should have been with God’s *ark in the most holy place (Deuteronomy 31:26). At this time, the *ark had not been in its proper place (35:3). So, the book was not where it should have been.
Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, the royal secretary. Shaphan reported to the king that the work of repair had started. Then he showed the book to the king. And he read to the king from that book.
Verses 19-21 Josiah heard what the law of the *LORD said. He knew that this was God’s word. And it shook him. He realised how much he and his *ancestors had *sinned against God. He understood that the *LORD was angry with his people. Josiah was so sorry that he tore his clothes. He *repented of his *sin and he wept.
This book probably included what we call Deuteronomy. In that book, there are punishments for those who did not obey God (Deuteronomy 28:45). This would have upset Josiah.
Then Josiah gave orders to Hilkiah the chief priest, Shaphan the royal secretary and two other men. He sent them to ask God about the book. They went on behalf of Josiah, on behalf of Judah and on behalf of those who remained in *Israel. He was worried for all the 12 *tribes and not just for Judah.
Verses 22-28 Hilkiah and those with him went to talk with Huldah. She was a *prophet who lived in a new area of Jerusalem. She told them what the *LORD had to say to Josiah. Josiah’s actions were too late to stop the punishment of the *LORD on the people in Judah and in *Israel. The people were guilty. They had not been loyal to God. They had *worshipped false gods. And so God was angry with them. Now nobody could stop the *disasters that would come.
The *LORD saw the good reaction of Josiah. He saw that Josiah was not proud. Josiah *repented and he was sorry. So, the *LORD promised to delay the *disasters until after the death of Josiah.
Verses 29-33 Josiah took all the leaders, the priests and the *Levites to the *temple. Also, the people from Judah and from Jerusalem went with him. He read to them the book of the *LORD’s law. That book contained the promise that the *LORD had made with *Israel. Then Josiah promised to obey all the commands, rules and laws that were in the book.
Josiah told all the people to promise to obey the *LORD’s promise as well. And the people promised to do so.
Benjamin was the *tribe that joined with Judah to form the *kingdom called Judah. We think that ‘Jerusalem and Benjamin’ means the whole *kingdom called Judah.
Josiah removed the images of gods that remained in Judah and *Israel. There were still things in the *temple for Baal, *Asherah and the stars in the sky. He ordered the priests to take all these things and to burn them. He broke down the *altars on all the high places for *worship. He destroyed the *altar in Bethel that Jeroboam had made. He killed the priests of the false gods. And many other deeds he did to remove all the things for *worship of false gods (2 Kings 23:4-20).
He ordered the people to serve the *LORD. And while he lived, the people obeyed the God of their *ancestors. But the change in them was not a real change of heart and of mind. After the death of Josiah, the people soon *turned to false gods again.
Verses 1-6 After he read the book of the *LORD’s law, Josiah had a *Passover *feast in Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:21). He read in the book about the *Passover. The *LORD had brought the *Israelites out of Egypt many years before. The *LORD ordered the *Israelites to remember about that by this *feast each year. The *LORD told them to do it on the 14th day of the first month of the year. The first month in the *Jewish calendar is about March to April. So, Josiah ordered the people to have this *feast. This was in 622 *BC, his 18th year as king. The priests killed the young sheep on the 14th day of the first month.
Josiah organised the priests and the *Levites into their groups. And he encouraged them to do their duties in the *temple. The *Levites were ready to serve the *LORD. So, Josiah told them to bring the holy *ark back into the *temple. When Manasseh and Amon ruled, the *ark was probably not in the *temple. Perhaps loyal *Levites had taken it away to keep it safe. But for whatever reason the *ark was not where it should be. The *ark should stay in the most holy place in the *temple.
King David had arranged the priests and the *Levites in 24 groups. These were groups by family (1 Chronicles chapters 24-26). The groups served in the *temple in turn. Josiah organised the *Levites again into their groups. Then he told them to get ready to serve the *LORD in their family groups.
The *Levites prepared the young sheep on behalf of the people. It was the priests’ duty to kill the young sheep on behalf of themselves and on behalf of the people. In the days of Hezekiah, *Levites also killed the young sheep. That was because there were not enough priests ready to do it (30:17). So, at this *feast the *Levites killed the sheep (35:11).
Verses 7-9 Josiah provided sheep and goats enough for 30 000 families. Perhaps these families were poor and they could not bring their own young sheep. The *bulls were for *sacrifices by fire.
Hilkiah, Zechariah and Jehiel gave young sheep and *bulls to the priests. These animals were probably for the poorer priests who could not provide their own animals. Conaniah and his brothers gave sheep, goats and *bulls to the *Levites. Again, this may have been to provide for the poor *Levite families.
Verses 10-14 When all was ready, the *Passover *feast began. The *Levites killed the animals for the *Passover. Priests should have killed the sheep but there were not enough priests to do it. The *Levites gave the blood to the priests. The priests put some of the blood onto the *altar. The *Levites cut the skins off the sheep. Then they cooked these animals and they gave them to the people to eat.
The *Levites took some of the sheep and the *bulls for *sacrifices by fire. The people gave these animals as *sacrifices to the *LORD. The priests gave these *sacrifices by fire on behalf of the people.
Later, the *Levites prepared animals on behalf of themselves and on behalf of the priests. Those animals were both to eat at the *feast and for *sacrifices by fire.
Verses 15-16 Some *Levites had special duties to perform. These *Levites were the singers and the guards. The singers had to sing as each group of people came to *worship. Therefore, the singers could not leave their place. And the guards could not leave the gates. So, other *Levites prepared the *Passover and the *sacrifices on their behalf.
That day, they *worshipped God. They completed the *Passover *feast and they *sacrificed by fire to the *LORD. In this way, they obeyed the commands of King Josiah.
Verses 17-19 Those people who had travelled to Jerusalem for the *Passover stayed for the next 7 days. The 7 days after *Passover was the *feast of bread without *yeast.
This *Passover had been the best one since the days of the judges and Samuel. We do not know why this *Passover was better than those of previous kings. Perhaps it was because Josiah provided more animals than either David or Solomon. Perhaps the people were more eager than in previous *Passovers.
This *Passover was in the 18th year of Josiah’s rule. His 18th year was 623 to 622 *BC and this *Passover was in the month Abib in 622 *BC. Another name for Abib is Nisan. This month is about our March to April.
Verses 20-24 At that time, there were three powerful nations. They were Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. While these nations were about equal in power, Judah could be a free nation. But Assyria was becoming the weakest of the three nations. Babylon was becoming the most powerful and they fought with Assyria. King Neco of Egypt decided to try to help Assyria against Babylon. In 609 *BC he went to fight at Carchemish at the Euphrates River. To do this, Neco and his army had to pass through the territory of *Israel.
Josiah decided that he would not allow the soldiers from Egypt to pass through the territory of *Israel. He took his army to fight against Neco’s army. Neco tried to stop him. Neco did not want to fight against Josiah. He just wanted to pass through the territory. He said that God had sent him. So, to fight against Neco would be to fight against God.
Josiah would not listen to what Neco said. And he did not believe that it was from God. With his army, he set up his position in the open country in the Jezreel Valley. That was near Megiddo town. Josiah changed his clothes so that the enemy would not recognise him. Neco’s men shot arrows at Judah’s army. And an arrow hit Josiah.
Josiah was in a lot of pain. So, his men put him in another *chariot and they took him to Jerusalem. He died in Jerusalem. They buried him in the royal graves. He had been a good king and the people were sad at his death.
The Jezreel Valley has other names. These are the valley or plain of Megiddo and the valley or plain of Esdraelon.
Verses 25-27 Jeremiah was a *prophet during the rule of Josiah. He wrote songs for Josiah’s funeral. These songs were in a book of songs for funerals. This book is not the book of Lamentations, which Jeremiah wrote. We do not now have this book of songs. Later, Jeremiah wrote this about Josiah:
‘He did what was right and fair. So, everything was good for him. He helped people who were poor. And he helped those who needed his help’ (Jeremiah 22:15-16).
As with all the kings of Judah and *Israel, they made a record of his life. He tried to serve the *LORD all his life. He tried to obey all that he read in the book of God’s law.
Verses 1-4 When Josiah died, the people made his son Jehoahaz the king. Jehoahaz had the name of Shallum and he was Josiah’s 4th son (1 Chronicles 3:15; Jeremiah 22:11). He was 23 years old when he began to rule in Jerusalem. But he ruled there for just 3 months in the year 609 *BC. In this short time, he was not loyal to the *LORD. He did what was evil in the opinion of the *LORD (2 Kings 23:32).
Neco, the king of Egypt, tied Jehoahaz with chains and he took him to Egypt. Jehoahaz was in Egypt for the rest of his life and he died there. Neco *captured Jehoahaz because he wanted to control Judah.
King Neco made Judah’s people pay to him 100 *talents of silver and a *talent of gold. That amounts to three and three quarter tons (3750 kilos) of silver and 75 pounds (34 kilos) of gold.
Neco made Eliakim king of Judah and Jerusalem. Eliakim was two years older than his brother Jehoahaz. Neco gave to Eliakim the name, Jehoiakim.
Verses 5-8 Jehoiakim ruled for 11 years in Jerusalem from 609 to 598 *BC. He was a bad king. He built for himself a new palace and he lived in luxury. He forced his own people to do the work for him. And he did not pay them for their labour (Jeremiah 22:13-19). The *LORD sent Jeremiah and other *prophets to tell them about the *disaster that would happen. The *LORD gave to the king and to the people a chance to *repent. But they would not do so. The king did not kill Jeremiah but he did kill the *prophet Uriah (Jeremiah 26:20-23).
In 605 *BC, Prince Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated the army from Egypt at Carchemish (Jeremiah 46:2). As the soldiers from Egypt ran away, Nebuchadnezzar chased them. He defeated them again at a place in Syria called Hamath. In August 605 *BC, The king of Babylon, Nabopolassar died. So, Nebuchadnezzar had to return to Babylon to become king there. Soon after this, the army of Babylon continued to *capture territory to the south. Then Babylon ruled the whole territory from Egypt to the Euphrates River (2 Kings 24:7). This included Judah and the territory that had been *Israel. Jehoiakim now had to obey the king of Babylon instead of the king of Egypt.
Nebuchadnezzar took some of the things that were in the *temple. He put those things in the *temple of his god in his own country. He *worshipped a god called Merodach. Also, he took some of the best young men away into *exile (Daniel 1:1-3). That was the beginning of the 70 years of *exile in Babylon from 605-536 *BC. (See Jeremiah 29:10.)
Three years after that, in 602 *BC, Jehoiakim *turned against Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar sent an army to Jerusalem. This army had soldiers from Babylon, Aram, Moab and Ammon. They forced him to obey Nebuchadnezzar.
Later, Nebuchadnezzar came and he attacked Jerusalem. He caught Jehoiakim and he bound him with *bronze chains. He intended to take him to Babylon. But he may not have taken him there. Or perhaps he took him there but then Jehoiakim came back to Jerusalem. Jehoiakim died in 598 *BC. It is possible that someone murdered him (Jeremiah 36:30). His son Jehoiachin became king.
There was a record of Jehoiakim’s life in the book of the kings of *Israel and Judah.
Verses 9-10 King Jehoiachin was 18 years old. He was as bad as his father had been. He ruled in Jerusalem for just three months and 10 days. Then in March 597 *BC, Nebuchadnezzar’s army entered the city. Nebuchadnezzar himself came to Jerusalem. He took Jehoiachin as a prisoner to Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar took all the valuable things from the *temple. And he took many people from Jerusalem to Babylon. He took about 10 000 people from the city. This included Jehoiachin’s family, 7000 soldiers and all the business people (2 Kings chapter 24).
Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiachin’s uncle Mattaniah the king of Judah and Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar changed Mattaniah’s name to Zedekiah.
Verses 11-16 Zedekiah was a son of Josiah. He became king at the age of 21 in 597 *BC and he ruled for 11 years. He was the last of the 20 rulers of the *kingdom called Judah. But there is evidence that the people still considered Jehoiachin to be their real king.
Zedekiah was a bad king. He was not loyal to the *LORD. The *LORD spoke to him several times by Jeremiah the *prophet. But he was too proud and he would not listen to the *LORD.
Jeremiah told Zedekiah that he should give in to the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 38:17-18). But Zedekiah refused to do so. This was the last chance for Jerusalem. Because he refused, the army from Babylon destroyed Jerusalem.
The leaders of the priests were not loyal to the *LORD. And the people *worshipped false gods. The *LORD sent *prophets to warn them. He told them about the *disasters that would happen. He offered them a chance to *repent so that he could save them. But they refused the *LORD. And they laughed at the *prophets.
There was a new king in Egypt. He was Hophra. He came from Egypt with his army at the time that the army from Babylon was round Jerusalem. So, the army from Babylon went from Jerusalem (Jeremiah 37:5). It seems that because of this move by Hophra and his army, Zedekiah tried to free himself from Nebuchadnezzar’s control. He had made an agreement to serve Nebuchadnezzar. But he was not loyal to that agreement. He *turned to Egypt for help against Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 17:13-15). He expected Hophra to help him against the army from Babylon. But Jeremiah warned him that Hophra would return to Egypt. Also, Jeremiah told him that the army from Babylon would come again. He told him that they would destroy Jerusalem (Jeremiah 37:4-10). All that Jeremiah said happened.
Verses 17-21 The *LORD sent Nebuchadnezzar to punish Judah as he had warned them. So, the army of Babylon came again and it surrounded Jerusalem. After one and a half years, there was no more food in Jerusalem. In 587 *BC, the soldiers from Babylon broke down the walls of the city.
Zedekiah and his army ran from the city and they tried to escape. But the soldiers from Babylon caught them near Jericho town. They took Zedekiah to the town called Riblah in Syria to meet King Nebuchadnezzar. As Zedekiah watched them, they killed his sons. Then they took his eyes out so that he was blind. They bound him with chains and they took him to Babylon.
The soldiers from Babylon killed many of the people. Many people hid in the *temple area but that did not save them. The soldiers from Babylon killed the young people and the old people, men and women. And they took many people to be their slaves in Babylon. They were slaves for many years until the army of Persia *captured Babylon (in 539 *BC). The soldiers from Babylon left some of the poorer people in Judah. But they took all the valuable things from the *temple and from the houses of the rich people.
Then the soldiers from Babylon destroyed the *temple by fire. And they destroyed most of the buildings in Jerusalem.
Just a few people cultivated the fields for 70 years. The law said that the *Israelites should not cultivate the land on the 7th year (Leviticus 25:4-7). The land should have rest during each 7th year. For 490 years, the people had not given to the land the rest that was due to it (Leviticus 26:34-35). Now, it had 70 years of rest. These 70 years started in the 4th year of Jehoiakim (605 *BC.) and they ended in 536 *BC.
Verses 22-23 In October 539 *BC, the army of Cyrus king of Persia *captured Babylon. So, he became king of Babylon. In his first year as king of Babylon in 538 *BC, he wrote a letter. And he sent it everywhere in his entire *kingdom.
He recorded that the *LORD is the God of heaven. He said that God had given to him all the *kingdoms on the earth. And he said that God had told him to build a *temple for the *LORD in Jerusalem. So, he told the *Jews in *exile that they were free to return to Jerusalem. Cyrus wrote what Isaiah had *prophesied (Isaiah 44:28-45:5).
Jeremiah wrote that Babylon would rule Judah for 70 years. After that time, the *LORD would bring the *Jews back from their *exile (Jeremiah 29:10). The first *exiles went to Babylon in 605 *BC. Some of the *Jews returned to Jerusalem after 538 *BC. They started to build the *temple in 536 *BC.
God was still looking after his people.
AD ~ years after Christ was born.
altar ~ the special table that someone made out of stone or wood or metal; on it they burnt animals or they offered other gifts to God or to false gods.
ancestors ~ people in history that your family has come from.
angel ~ a messenger. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages.
ark ~ the ark of the *LORD or the ark of God; the Bible also calls it the ark of God’s special promise. It was a wooden box with gold all over the outside and the inside. It had two gold *cherubim on the top. (See Exodus 25:10-22.) The *Israelites kept the ark in the most holy place, first in the *LORD’s tent and then in the *temple.
armour ~ what a soldier wears to protect himself in battle.
Asherah ~ a female god.
Baal ~ a male god of the people who lived in Canaan before the *Jews came.
barley ~ a grain.
BC ~ years before Christ was born.
beka ~ equal to half a *shekel.
bronze ~ a metal that glows when it is in a fire. When a person polishes it, it shines in the light. And it is very strong.
bull ~ the male animal that mates with a cow.
calf ~ a calf is a young *bull or a young cow; the plural is calves.
capture ~ to fight for something and to make it yours as a result; or, to make somebody a prisoner.
cattle ~ *bulls and cows.
cedar ~ a kind of tree; or the wood from that tree.
chariot ~ a kind of cart that soldiers use to fight. Horses pulled it.
cherubim ~ special *angels.
cor ~ a quantity of grain equal to 57.5 gallons (220 litres).
cymbal ~ a musical instrument. A person hits two of them together and they make a loud noise.
dedicate ~ to give to God in a special way.
dedication ~ the ceremony when you *dedicate something to God.
descendant ~ a future member of a family or of a nation.
disaster ~ when something very bad happens.
donkey ~ an animal with long ears that carries people or goods.
exile ~ people who have to live in a foreign country are in exile. Such a person is an exile. The exile means the time when the *Jews were in exile.
feast ~ a large meal; but in this book a feast is often a special time when the people came together to *worship God.
grape ~ a fruit that people make wine from.
harp ~ a musical instrument that has many strings.
Hebrew ~ the language of *Israel. They wrote most of the *Old Testament in Hebrew.
horn ~ a thing like a pointed stick that grows on an animal’s head; or, a musical instrument.
incense ~ something that gives a sweet smell when it burns. The priests burned it when they praised God in the *temple.
Israel ~ Israel is the special name that God gave to Jacob. The people were called Israel because of him. So, Israel is the nation whose *ancestors were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The country that they live in is called Israel.
Israelites ~ the people whose *ancestors are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sometimes in the text, it refers to the people of the 10 *tribes in the north. Sometimes it refers to the two *tribes in the south. And often it refers to the 12 *tribes of *Israel.
Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything that belongs to a *Jew.
Jews ~ another name for the *Israelites.
kilolitre ~ a quantity of liquid equal to 1000 litres. It is about 260 gallons.
kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules; or, the people that a king rules over.
lampstand ~ a special thing that holds lamps. There were 7 lamps on it. The lamps burnt oil.
Levite ~ a person who belongs to the *tribe of Levi.
LORD ~ ‘LORD’ is the special name that God gave to himself. It means that God has always been.
lord ~ someone with authority such as the king.
lyre ~ a musical instrument with strings.
mount ~ a short word for mountain; small mountain.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.
oxen ~ large and strong animals that farmers used. Another word for oxen is *bulls.
palm ~ a tree.
Passover ~ one of the special *feasts when the *Jews remember how God brought them out of Egypt.
Pentecost ~ one of the special *feasts to thank God for the harvest of grain.
Philistines ~ people who lived to the south and west of Judah. They were a nation that fought with the *Israelites.
prophecy ~ a message from God; a gift of the Holy Spirit. But sometimes false *prophets tried to speak a prophecy.
prophesy ~ to speak a *prophecy.
prophet ~ person who speaks on behalf of God. He or she can sometimes say what will happen in the future. Some prophets *worshipped false gods. So, not all prophets spoke words from God.
repent ~ to change the mind; to turn away from *sin and to *turn to God.
Sabbath ~ the Sabbath was the 7th day of the week, which God told the *Israelites to keep as a special day.
sacrifice ~ something that people give to God. If it was an animal, the priests would burn all or part of it on an *altar. That was to say thank you to God, or to ask him to forgive. God made Jesus to be a sacrifice because of our *sins. To sacrifice is to give a sacrifice.
scroll ~ a very long piece of paper or other material that people wrote on; they fixed it round two pieces of wood.
shekel ~ equal to 0.4 ounces (11 grams) in weight.
shepherd ~ a sheep farmer.
shield ~ soldiers carried shields in their hands for protection in battle; they were like covers to protect the body from swords or from other *weapons. Solomon’s shields of gold were probably not for use in war.
sin ~ sin is the wrong things that we do. To sin is to do wrong, bad or evil deeds and not to obey God. Those who sin are sinners.
sling ~ a *weapon to throw stones.
soul ~ a part of a person that we cannot see. Our soul is in us while we are alive. It continues to live after we die.
spear ~ a long and thin *weapon of war, like a sword but they usually threw it.
spice ~ a vegetable substance with a sweet flavour or a strong smell, that they used in food or in *incense.
spirit ~ spirits are alive, but we cannot see them. There are good spirits that are usually called angels. Bad spirits (also called evil spirits, or demons) live in the air round us. Satan (God’s chief enemy) is their leader.
storeroom ~ a room that people keep stores in.
talent ~ weight equal to 75 pounds or 34 kilos.
temple ~ a special building for the *worship of God or of other gods. The *Jews had one in Jerusalem for the *worship of the real God.
thistle ~ a plant with sharp points on its leaves.
throne ~ the special chair for the king.
tower ~ a tall narrow building.
treason ~ when someone is not loyal to a government or to a ruler.
tribe ~ the *Israelites were divided into the 12 families of the sons of Jacob. These families are the 12 tribes of *Israel.
trumpet ~ a musical instrument; it makes a sound when a person blows into it.
tunnel ~ a passage that people dig under the surface of the ground.
turn ~ to decide to support someone. Or, to decide to oppose someone. If a person ‘turns away from God’, that person decides not to be loyal to God. If a person ‘turns to God’, that person decides to be loyal to God.
vineyard ~ a place where *grapes grow.
vision ~ a dream that God gives.
weapon ~ a tool of war; people use it in attack or in defence when in a fight (like a sword or a gun).
worship ~ to praise God and to give thanks to him; to show honour to God and to say that we love him very much. But some people worship false gods instead of the real God.
yeast ~ something that people put into bread; it causes the bread to rise as it bakes.
Albert Barnes’s Notes on the Bible ~ www.swordsearcher.com
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible ~ www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible ~ Nelson Reference, 1997
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary ~ Zondervan Classic Reference Series ~ Zondervan
Martin J Selman ~ 2 Chronicles: An Introduction and Survey ~ Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries ~ IVP
H G M Williamson ~ 1 And 2 Chronicles ~ The New Century Bible Commentary ~ Eerdmans Pub Co
J Barton Payne ~ 1, 2 Chronicles ~ The Expositor’s Bible Commentary ~ Zondervan
William Wilson ~ Old Testament Word Studies ~ Hendrickson Publishers, Jan 2005
Dr William Smith (editor) ~ Concise Dictionary of the Bible ~ John Murray; 4th Edition, London
John Bright ~ A History of Israel ~ Westminster John Knox Press; 4th edition, 2000
Bernhard W Anderson ~ The Living World of the Old Testament ~ Longman; 4th edition, 1988
Bibles ~ NIV, RSV, NRSV, NCV, ASV, CEV, GNB, GW, KJV, LITV, MKJV.
© 2010, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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