U-Turn Here--- and Now!
Explore the Bible Series
February 13, 2011
Background Passage: II Kings 11:1-17:41 (II Chronicles 25:17-24; 25:5-8
Lesson Passage: II Kings 17:5-9, 13-15, 18-20
This lengthy lesson brings us near a conclusion of the freedom and political independence of God’s people; indeed, our materials record the disastrous end of the Northern Kingdom, at the hands of the Assyrians. Judah lasted another century and a half, but, in time, she will provoke God’s judgment in the form of Babylonian invasion. These chapters contain a dizzying catalog of the kings of Israel and Judah, chronicling the dreadful idolatry and violence of the ear. Thankfully, we find some respite from the idolatry, in Judah, but, even there, we encounter the ruinous effects of paganism on the culture.
It is easy to get lost in this protracted list of kings; so, in the interests of clarity, I have included a brief summary of the royal lines, in Judah and Israel. Hopefully, this chart will prove helpful. These lists come from An Introduction to the Old Testament, by Edward J. Young (these are, of course, approximate dates, as set by Young).
Kings of Judah (dates in parenthesis)
Ahaziah (c. 842): II Kings 8
Athaliah (c. 842-836): II Kings 11
Joash (c. 836-797): II Kings 13
Amaziah (c. 797-779): II Kings 14
Uzziah (c. 779-740): II Kings 15
Jotham (c. 740-736): II Kings 15
Ahaz (c. 736-728): II Kings 16
Kings of Israel (dates in parenthesis)
Jehu (c. 842-815): II Kings 8
Jehoahaz (c. 814-798): II Kings 13
Jehoash (c. 798-783): II Kings 14
Jeroboam II (c. 783-743): II Kings 14
Zechariah (c. 743): II Kings 15
Shallum (c. 743): II Kings 15
Menahem (c. 743-737): II Kings 15
Pekaiah (c. 737-736): II Kings 16
Pekah (c. 736-730): II Kings 16
God did not abandon his people, even as they immersed themselves in idolatry. During this period, the Lord sent several prophets to warn and instruct Judah and Israel: Elisha, Joel, Amos, Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, and Jonah (sent to Nineveh).
I. Joash of Judah (11:1-12:21)
A. The illegitimate reign of Athaliah (11:1-3): This pagan woman was probably the daughter of Ahab and the granddaughter of Omri, kings of Israel. She married Jehoram, king of Judah, and she introduced Baal worship to the Southern Kingdom. After the death of her son Ahaziah (See II Kings 9:14-29), Athaliah seized the throne of Judah. She tried to consolidate her power by assassinating the members of her own family; and, in doing so, she nearly obliterated the royal line of David. Thankfully, her sister-in-law Jehosheba managed to hide her young nephew, Joash. For six years a cadre of guards protected the boy, hiding him in the confines of the Temple. II Chronicles says that Jehosheba (spelled “Jehoshabeath” in II Chronicles 22:11) was married to a priest named Jehoiada.
B. The early life of Joash (11:4-20): Apparently, Joash (also known as Jehoash) was about a year old when Athaliah seized power. For six years Jehosheba hid the boy, under armed guards, in the safety of the Temple. When the child reached seven, the guards brought the boy from the Temple, and, in doing so, established his legitimate claim to the throne. The guards killed Athaliah, and Jehoiada, acting on the king’s behalf, began to purge the land from of Baal worship.
C. The reign of Joash (12:1-21): In general, Joash obeyed the Law of Moses, but his religious reforms did not completely eradicate Baal worship from Judah. Gradually, Joash affected repairs on the Temple, but dramatic decline occurred when Hazael, king Syria, threatened Jerusalem. Joash played the coward and gave tribute to Hazael, tribute taken from the offerings collected to maintain the Temple. II Chronicles 24:20-27 record the miserable end of Joash’s reign. He reverted to the paganism and betrayed Jehoiada, who had showed the king such great loyalty and kindness. Hazael reneged on his agreement with Joash and mortally wounded the king of Judah. Disgusted by the king’s scandalous behavior, Joash’s servants assassinated their unfaithful master.
II. Political and Religious Circumstances in Israel (13:1-25)
A. Jehoahaz of Israel (13:1-9): The son and successor of Jehu, Jehoahaz indulged the pagan tendencies of his forefathers. For a brief time, he turned to the Lord, but his reforms had little influence on his subjects.
B. Jehoash of Israel (13:10-13): Like his fathers before him, Jehoash perpetuated paganism in Israel.
C. The death of Elisha (13:14-25): Elisha’s absence from the narrative, in Chapters Eight through Twelve may indicate that the pagan kings of Israel managed to marginalize the prophet. Sickness overtook the prophet, and short before his death, King Jehoash (Joash) came to grieve for the ailing Elisha. After his death, Israel was plagued by military threats from the Moabites and Syrians. Elisha’s remarkable, miraculous powers continued, even after the prophet’s demise, and the Lord gave Israel some military success over their adversaries.
III. Additional Political Intrigues in Judah and Israel (14:1-17:5)
A. Amaziah of Judah (14:1-22): Amaziah, son of Joash and father of Uzziah, generally followed the ways of the Lord. He avenged his father’s assassination, but showed mercy to the sons of Joash’s murderers. He enjoyed success against Edom , but he overstepped his military power by provoking a war with Israel, the forces of King Joash (Jehoash) of the Northern Kingdom. After a grave defeat in battle, at the Battle of Beth-shemesh, Amaziah was murdered at Lachish.
B. Jeroboam II of Israel (14:23-29): Though this evil king enjoyed some military accomplishments, he continued in the idolatrous patterns that plagued the royal lineage of Israel.
C. Azariah (Uzziah) of Judah (15:1-7): Uzziah enjoyed a long and prosperous reign, extending Judah’s power to boundaries not seen since the rule of King Solomon. Generally, he served the Lord, and God prospered his labors; however, Chronicles tells of his indiscretion in desecrating the worship in the Temple, and the Lord struck him with leprosy. After his illness, his son Jotham ruled as regent, but, in all probability, Uzziah continued to direct the political affairs of Judah.
D. Zechariah of Israel (15:8-12): Zechariah, a descendent of Jehu, governed for only six months; then, he was murdered by Shallum, son of Jabesh.
E. Shallum of Israel (15:13-15): He ruled Israel for a month; then, he was assassinated by Menahem, son of Gadi.
F. Menahem of Israel (15:16-22): His reign lasted ten years, and he proved a horribly wicked monarch, idolatrous and murderous. He attacked his own countrymen, at Tiphsah, because they resisted him. To punish the people, he cut open the pregnant women of the city. Also, he paid tribute to the Assyrian King Pul (Tiglath-Pileser III). This arrangement signaled the beginning of the end for Israel.
G. Pekahiah of Israel (15:23-26): After his father’s death, Pekahiah ruled Samaria for two years, and he was murdered by his successor, Pekah, a military officer who opposed the king’s obeisance to the Assyrians.
H. Pekah of Israel (15:27-31): After twenty years as king of Israel, he was assassinated by Hoshea.
I. Jotham of Judah (15:32-38): Jotham probably served as regent after his father, Uzziah (Azariah) contracted leprosy. He was a good man who, nonetheless, failed to conform his subjects to the Law of Moses. His sixteen year reign was characterized by some prosperity and marginal military success. God, displeased with Judah’s pagan tendencies, provoked the aggression of Syria and Israel, against Judah.
J. Ahaz of Judah (16:1-20): Foreign pressures continued to plague Ahaz, and he turned to Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, to deliver Judah from Syria and Israel. Ahaz paid a handsome tribute to the Assyrians, and he built a replica of a pagan altar, in Jerusalem, to honor Tiglath-Pileser. The text also describes the human sacrifices offered by Ahaz.
K. Hoshea of Israel (17:1-6): After murdering Pekah, Hoshea began a tumultuous nine-year reign as king of Israel. Shalmaneser V, successor to Tiglath-Pileser III, came to power in Assyrian, and he besieged Israel, imprisoning Hoshea in the process. The pagan imperialists carried Israel into exile and devastated the land.
IV. The Captivity of Israel (17:7-41)
A. Israel’s spiritual failures (17:7-23): The passage points out three fundamental sins committed by Israel and Judah.
1. They failed to appreciate the kindness of Jehovah (vv. 7-8): God had shown great mercy to Israel, dating to the miraculous deliverance from Egyptian bondage; nevertheless, Israel failed to remember the lessons of history and heritage.
2. They gave themselves to paganism (vv. 9-23): Israel never completely abandoned the worship of the Lord; rather, they compromised the legitimate worship of Jehovah with the pagan practices of Canaan. Their disobedience was both public and private and degenerated into child sacrifice, as in the days of Ahaz.
3. They refused to heed the prophetic warnings graciously sent by God (vv. 13-14): As stated earlier, God sent a host of capable, faithful prophets to challenge and correct the people; yet, they would not listen.
B. The resettlement of Israel (1724-41): After exiling the native population of Israel, Assyria repopulated the land with pagan settlers who created a hybrid religion, part Hebrew and part pagan. The historian who wrote this portion of II Kings detailed that this mongrel religion continued to his day.