2 Chronicles 26


‘Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah. He was the one who rebuilt Elath and restored it to Judah after Amaziah rested with his ancestors. Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jekoliah; she was from Jerusalem. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done. He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success.’ 2 Chronicles 26:1-5

Uzziah King Of Judah

Uzziah, 1 Chronicles 3:12 / Isaiah 1:1 / Isaiah 6:1, also known as Azariah in 2 Kings, began to reign in the Southern Kingdom of Judah from 767 B.C. to 740 B.C. Jeroboam II of the northern kingdom reigned at the same time as Uzziah.

Some commentators suggest that Azariah was his throne name, and Uzziah was his adopted name. We do know that the name Azariah means the Lord helps, and the name Uzziah means the Lord strengthens.

In 2 Kings 14:22, the writer tells us that Uzziah rebuilt Elath which was Solomon’s port city on the shore of the Red Sea, 1 Kings 9:26. We also know that Uzziah led Israel with a strong army, 2 Chronicles 26:6-15. He did what was right in God’s eyes, which was rewarded with a long reign of 52 years, however, he didn’t removed the high places.

These high places had become very important both socially and religiously for the Northern and Southern kingdoms. They were places where sacrifices were made and offerings were made to the false gods.

In effect these high places took God’s people away from God, hence why both kingdoms fell into idolatry over and over again. Yes, the temples of Baal were destroyed but these high places remained, 2 Kings 15:1-4.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘His was a long and powerful reign indeed. He successfully defended Judah against the belligerent Ammonites, Philistines and Arabians, developed a strong standing army, and rebuilt the nation’s fortifications. He even reopened the Red Sea port of Elath, and promoted commerce. Elath is the same as Ezion-Geber.’

‘He went to war against the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod. He then rebuilt towns near Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabs who lived in Gur Baal and against the Meunites. The Ammonites brought tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread as far as the border of Egypt, because he had become very powerful. Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate and at the angle of the wall, and he fortified them. He also built towers in the wilderness and dug many cisterns, because he had much livestock in the foothills and in the plain. He had people working his fields and vineyards in the hills and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil. Uzziah had a well-trained army, ready to go out by divisions according to their numbers as mustered by Jeiel the secretary and Maaseiah the officer under the direction of Hananiah, one of the royal officials. The total number of family leaders over the fighting men was 2,600. Under their command was an army of 307,500 men trained for war, a powerful force to support the king against his enemies. Uzziah provided shields, spears, helmets, coats of armor, bows and slingstones for the entire army. In Jerusalem he made devices invented for use on the towers and on the corner defences so that soldiers could shoot arrows and hurl large stones from the walls. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.’ 2 Chronicles 26:6-15

The military accomplishments of Uzziah were fearsome. He suppressed the Philistines, 2 Chronicles 21:16, Arabians, 2 Chronicles 20:1, Meunites, Judges 10:12, and the Ammonites.

In an effort to secure the land of Judah, he built watchtowers both in Jerusalem and in the areas from where invading armies might come. The extent of his military campaigns secured territory to as far as Israel’s border with Egypt.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Refuges for the flocks and the herdsmen in the wild pasture country on the borders of the holy land, especially toward the south and southeast. Judaea depends largely for its water-supply on reservoirs in which the rain-fall is stored. These are generally cut in the natural rock, and covered at top.’

Notice that Uzziah didn’t add much to the military strength of the nation by his conquests. His army exceeds that of his father Amaziah by 7,500 men only, 2 Chronicles 25:5.

He provided, shields, spears, coats of armour, bow and slingstones for the whole army. The slingstones were used in war by the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Greeks, Romans, and others. The Benjamites used them, Judges 20:16, and by the ten tribes, a century before Uzziah, 2 Kings 3:25.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following, concerning the devices he invented.

‘This is the very first imitation on record of any warlike engines for the attack or defence of besieged places and this account is long prior to any thing of the kind among either the Greeks or the Romans. The Jews alone were the inventors of such engines and the invention took place in the reign of Uzziah, about eight hundred years before the Christian era. It is no wonder that, in the consequence of this, his name spread far abroad, and struck terror into his enemies.’

‘But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him in. They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honoured by the LORD God.” Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the LORD had afflicted him. King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house—leprous and banned from the temple of the LORD. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land. The other events of Uzziah’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. Uzziah rested with his ancestors and was buried near them in a cemetery that belonged to the kings, for people said, “He had leprosy.” And Jotham his son succeeded him as king.’ 2 Chronicles 26:16-23

Power appears to gone to Uzziah’s head and as a result he became unfaithful to God, 1 Chronicles 10:13, it was this this same pride and unfaithfulness that would lead the entire nation into exile, 1 Chronicles 5:25 / 1 Chronicles 9:1 / 2 Chronicles 33:19 / 2 Chronicles 36:14.

Uzziah appears to have deliberately determined to invade the priest’s office, and so, repeating the sin of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, Numbers 16:1-35. He has obviously become arrogant and full of himself because of all the victories he has won.

His arrogance led him to assume the authority of the Levitical priests and their work in the temple. He stood against eighty priests who tried to stop him from burning the incense, which was only allowed by the priests, Numbers 16:35 / Numbers 18:7.

God struck Uzziah with leprosy because he wasn’t a priest and he wasn’t authorised to burn incense in the temple, 2 Chronicles 26:16-23 / 1 Samuel 13:13.

Notice that he lived in a separate house, this was common practice for those who had leprosy, Leviticus 13:45-46. Because God struck him with leprosy, Jotham, his son, administrated both his house and the nation in his later years.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘What Uzziah actually violated here was the divine instructions of God himself through Moses in the Pentateuch, Exodus 29:29. Saul lost his kingship for failing to respect those very restrictions.’

He died in the year when Isaiah had his vision, Isaiah 6:1, he wasn’t buried with his ancestors, but near them, 2 Kings 15:7, this too was common practice for those who had leprosy as they were classed an unclean. When Uzziah died, Jotham became the king of Judah, 2 Kings 15:5.

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