2 Kings 13-15: Elisha's Death & 8 Kings of Israel

A consequence of this disloyalty to God is the instability of their throne. There is a constant struggle for the throne as worldly ideas pollute the people of Israel. Instead of being content to appoint God's heir to the throne, they vie for power and kill for what they desire.

Introduction

2 Kings 13-15 details the succession of many kings in the northern kingdom. Although Judah also struggled to be faithful to God, Israel remained in sin without God-fearing kings for majority of it's existence. A consequence of this disloyalty to God is the instability of their throne. There is a constant struggle for the throne as worldly ideas pollute the people of Israel. Instead of being content to appoint God's heir to the throne, they vie for power and kill for what they desire.
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Jehoahaz

Jehu's son, Jehoahaz, becomes king of Israel during the 23rd year of Judah's king Ahaziah. He continued to lead Israel down evil paths during his 17 year reign. Because of this, God allows Syria to over take Israel. Eventually Jehoahaz calls on God for aid. Per God's covenant that He would never completely abandon them, He sends a savior, but Israel does not repent or return to God.

God's decision to rescue Jehoahaz and the northern kingdom when they called on Him, despite knowing that they would not truly repent should remind us that we are never wrong to seek out God. God wants us to come back to Him and will always give us that chance, no matter what we have done. Of course, when we choose to seek out God, we should also choose to repent and follow God from then on out (unlike Jehoahaz).
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Jehoash

Once again, we find a king that shares his name with another king. This makes it crucial that when reading Kings and Chronicles, we pay close attention to determine who is being discussed. Jehoash of Israel not only shares a name with Jehoash of Judah, but their reigns overlap. Jehoash of Israel reigns for 26 years and is caught up in the re-ignition of the war with the southern kingdom. He is challenged by Jehoash of Judah's son Amaziah, and although he is reluctant to go to battle, eventually Jehoash delivers a crushing blow to Judah.

It is sad to read that while Syria and Assyria were battering the people of God, they were battling themselves. This problem occurs throughout the world on so many levels it's impossible not to see how this problem relates to today. A house divided cannot stand, but in almost every case you can think of, the house is divided. The U.S. allows division between race or political affiliation to incite violence and dictate possibly the worst election in the history of the United States. Our churches split because of in house fighting. This is not the way to build a strong body for Christ. While sometimes these divisions may be unavoidable because those we are divided with are truly against God, we have to remember that these divisions will inevitably leave us vulnerable to attack, so we should prepare for the worst.
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Elisha's Death

Photocredit: FreeImages.com/Iddo Tal
The second of the 2 major prophets discussed throughout Kings, Elisha dies of an illness during Jehoash of Israel's reign. Fortunately Jehoash is able to consult with him about the fate of the northern kingdom before he dies.

Elisha uses a bow and arrow to prophesy that Israel will conquer Syria in Aphek. Elisha instructs the king to smite the ground with the arrows. When the king only does so 3 times, Elisha is upset. Elisha says that now they will only smite Syria 3 times, whereas if he had smote the ground more times, they would have utterly defeated them.

As Elisha has prophesied, Jehoash smites Syria 3 times. During this time Syria's king, Hazael, dies and his son Benhadad becomes king. Something tells me he named his son Benhadad before he killed the previous king Benhadad—though it is possible he did so after out of guilt.

After Elisha dies, Moabites also begin attacking Israel. During this battle a deceased soldier is dumped with Elisha's bones. When the body touches Elisha's bone, the soldier is revived. This last miracle is performed in death and a testament to how truly miraculous God is.
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Jeroboam II

After Jehoash, Jeroboam II takes over as king. Although he is not a direct descendant of Jeroboam I, nor referred to as Jeroboam II, many people refer to him as such to differentiate bettwen the two king's of the northern kingdom.

Jeroboam reigns for 41 years, possibly the longest reign for a king in the northern kingdom, despite his evil ways. Jonah, the famous prophet, served during this era. One accomplishment of Jeroboam II is the expansion of the kingdom, though he does not reclaim all of what Solomon had. His son Zachariah takes over after he dies.
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Zachariah

During the 38th year of Azariah's reign, Zachariah is made king of Israel; however, his reign only lasts 6 months. He is killed by Shallum, the son of Jabesh, and Shallum takes over as king. Like most kings of Israel, Zachriah does evil in the sight of the Lord.
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Shallum

By using the information given, we know that Shallum begins his reign during Azariah's 38th or 39th year, depending on when during Azariah's 38th year Zachariah becomes king. The text, however, tells us that Shallum began reigning during Uzziah's 39th year. The name Uzziah is used interchangeably for Azariah in both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, implying that they are the same person.[2] Reading verses like 2 Chronicles 26:1 confirms this. Although it seems odd that the authors used different names for the same king, I think this is cultural. Imagine if someone 3000 years from now, who had no knowledge of Latin based languages, and particularly not English, heard the names Charles and Chuck. They would assume these were distinct names with no relation to each other. However, as native speakers of the language, we know that Chuck is a nickname for Charles, thus if you introduce us to a Charles then begin referring to him as Chuck, we will know you are still referring to Charles. The audience of the writers of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles would have known these names were referring to the same person and may have even called the king by both names (think P. Diddy vs. Puff Daddy).
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Menahem

Menahem enters into power by killing people in a city called Tiphsah. Apparently they did not welcome him, and his temper got the best of him. We know he was a ruthless person because he even killed the pregnant women of the city in his anger. Menahem sets up a power base in Israel's old capital of Tirzah, which probably made the people of Tirzah quite happy. Once the capital moved from their city to Samaria, they probably felt abandoned and possibly suffered economic losses. Their rallying power was enough to gain Menahem the crown to rule over all Israel from Samaria. Menahem reigns in Samaria for 10 years. Although it is not stated, I'm sure the people of Tirzah were disappointed Menahem didn't bring the capital back to them. In the same way Donald Trump has abanndoned his rallying cry for middle America, Menahem probably just used the people at Tirzah to gain power.

During Menahem's reign a king of Assyria named Pul invaded. Menahem gives Pul 1000 talents of silver, which allows him to keep his throne. Menahem taxes the people of Israel 50 shekels of silver each to give to Pul so that Pul will not attack them. This is further proof that the people were not in tune with God. God promised a self-sufficient nation, not one that had to buy their freedom.

Pul is the same as the historical Tiglath-pileser III who ruled Assyria from 745 to 727bc. It is thought that Pul or Pulu was either his personal name or a Babylonian name, as he uses this name when he takes over the throne of Babylon in about 729bc.[1]
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Pekahiah

In Azariah's 50th year, Menahem's son Pekahiah becomes king of Israel. Pekiah only reigns for 2 years and continues in the sins of Israel's previous kings. The son of one of Pekahiah's captains conspires against him and kills him in the palace. We are given the name of the lead conspirator (Pekah), as well as 2 of his followers—Argob and Arieh. Together, they take 50 Gileadites to overwhelm the king. After his death, this rebel is crowned king.

Pekah

Pekah takes the throne during the 52nd year of Azariah.

Notice that at least 4 different kings have come and gone during Azariah's reign. When we follow God, we inherit longevity in all things. Many people abandon God for power, money, or fame, but whatever they accomplish is short lived. Think of all the celebrities that die young and athletes who file for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, there are local singers in your churches and coaches at your high school who are just as great in these roles. However these people are enjoying long happy lives because they followed God's path. That's not to say you can't be in a high position of power, because clearly Azariah was also a king. However, it is to say you must be following God's Will and God's Way to hang on to any power you receive. In our world today, it is less likely that the position of power you want and God's Will will be compatible.

Pekah reigns for 20 years and continues the trends of the other kings of the northern kingdom, leading Israel further into sin. During Pekah's reign Pul comes back, this time identified as Tiglath-pileser. He begins to carry away people as captives of Assyria. This is the beginning of the coming exile that caused the tribes of the northern kingdom to be lost "forever." This may also be the source of dissatisfaction in Israel that causes Hoshea, the son of Elah, to rise up and kill Pekah. As expected, Hoshea takes the throne of Israel in his stead.
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References

  1. Donald John Wiseman. "Tiglath-pileser III: King of Assyria". Encyclopædia Britannica. December 1, 2000
  2. W. Shaw Caldecott. "Uzziah (Azariah)". International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online; visited February 2017

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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