2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 26.
The Reign of Uzziah.
THE SUCCESS OF UZZIAH. — V. 1. Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah (or Azariah), who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. V. 2. He built Eloth, the port on the Red Sea from which Hebrew merchants maintained trade relations with the East, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers. V. 3. Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. V. 4. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, walking in the fear of Jehovah and maintaining the right worship, according to all that his father Amaziah did, before he gave way to idolatry. V. 5. And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God, he was a prophetic teacher and a counselor of King Uzziah; and as long as he, the king, sought the Lord, God made him to prosper, gave success to his undertakings. V. 6. And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath and the wall of Jabneh and the wall of Ashdod, three of their most important cities, the leading cities of three city-states, and built cities about Ashdod, in the country tributary to this city, and among the Philistines, the latter thus being practically in total subjection to Judah. V. 7. And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gurbaal, apparently nomadic tribes toward the southwest, and the Mehunims, the Meunites, affiliated with the Edomites. V. 8. And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah, becoming tributary to him; and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt, both his fame and his authority extended over all the tribes inhabiting this entire country; for he strengthened himself exceedingly. V. 9. Moreover, Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the corner gate and at the valley gate and at the turning of the wall, at the points where defense was most urgently needed, where missiles could be hurled most successfully against an approaching enemy, and fortified them. V. 10. Also he built towers in the desert, for observation, defense, and shelter, and digged many wells, prepared cisterns to hold the water collected during the rainy season; for he had much cattle, both in the low country, between the mountains of Judah and the Mediterranean Sea, and in the plains, the great prairies east of Jordan and probably also south of the Wilderness of Judah, where good grazing was found; husbandmen also and vine-dressers in the mountains, where the best vineyards were situated, and in Carmel, the section of that name in the south of Judah; for he loved husbandry, he was greatly interested in farming. V. 11. Moreover, Uzziah had an host of fighting men that went out to war by bands, in small troops, or regiments, which served in rotation, according to the number of their account by the hand of Jeiel, the scribe, and Maaseiah, the ruler, these men being the mustering officers in a subordinate position, under the hand of Hananiah, one of the king's captains, the superintendent of the military muster-rolls. V. 12. The whole number of the chief of the fathers of the mighty men of valor, the chiefs of the father-houses, who were captains of the bands of the father-houses, were two thousand and six hundred. V. 13. And under their hand was an army, three hundred thousand and seven thousand and five hundred, that made war with mighty power, trained to make use of powerful courage in battle and of the efficiency gained through training, to help the king against the enemy. V. 14. And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, coats of mail, and bows, and slings to cast stones, a skill in which the Benjamites had always been proficient. V. 15. And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal, the first machines for throwing projectiles mentioned in history. And his name spread far abroad, and his power and authority at the same rate; for he was marvelously helped till he was strong. He conducted himself in everything as the representative of the Lord and was blessed by God accordingly. Before the Lord sends His judgments upon men, He often tries to have His goodness lead them to repentance.
UZZIAH'S ARROGANCE PUNISHED. — V. 16. But when he was strong, when he had gained so much power and occupied such an influential position among the nations, his heart was lifted up, in sinful pride and vanity, to his destruction; for he transgressed against the Lord, his God, and went into the Temple of the Lord, into the Holy Place, to burn incense upon the altar of incense, this being the privilege of the priests alone, Ex. 30, 7. 27; Num. 18, 1-7. V. 17. And Azariah, the priest, that is, the head-priest, the high priest, went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord that were valiant men, men in the vigor of their strength; v. 18. and they withstood Uzziah the king, strongly remonstrated with him for his blasphemous intention, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests, the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense, the daily burning of incense at the morning and evening sacrifice being an important part of their duty. Go out of the Sanctuary, for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honor from the Lord God, an emphatic way of saying that he had loaded dishonor, shame, and resentment from the Lord upon himself. V. 19. Then Uzziah was wroth, as a wilful sinner is apt to be if confronted and called to order, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense, all ready to usurp the rights of the priests; and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord from beside the incense altar. It was a sudden punishment of the Lord, such as that which had come upon Miriam, Num. 12. 10, an emphatic way of correcting the presumption of the king. V. 20. And Azariah, the chief priest, and all the priests looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, the mark was unmistakable. And they thrust him out from thence, lest his uncleanness defile the Sanctuary; yea, himself, filled with terror at this turn of events, hasted also to go out because the Lord had smitten him, a fact which was obvious to him as it was to the priests. V. 21. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death and dwelt in a several house, literally, "a house of separation," a hospital or infirmary, being a leper, to whom all direct intercourse with other people was prohibited; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord, he was not permitted to enter the Temple again. And Jotham, his son, was over the king's house, judging the people of the land, as coregent with his father. V. 22. Now, the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah, the prophet, the son of Amoz, write, for he was prophet in Judah at this time, Is. 1, 1. V. 23. So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings, in the plot of ground adjoining the tombs, but not inside the royal sepulchers; for they said, He is a leper. And Jotham, his son, reigned in his stead. Azariah and the other priests offer a fine example to the ministers of the New Testament. The latter also should guard the rights of the sanctuary and not permit the State to usurp the rights of the Church. History reports more than one instance in which members of the government and entire governments were punished for interfering with the work of the Church.