King Uzziah of Judah
26 1-3 After the death of King Amaziah, the people of Judah crowned his son Uzziah king, even though he was only 16 at the time. Uzziah ruled 52 years from Jerusalem, the hometown of his mother Jecoliah. During his rule, he recaptured and rebuilt the town of Elath.
4 He obeyed the Lord by doing right, as his father Amaziah had done. 5 Zechariah was Uzziah's advisor and taught him to obey God. And so, as long as Zechariah was alive, Uzziah was faithful to God, and God made him successful.
6 While Uzziah was king, he started a war against the Philistines. He smashed the walls of the cities of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod, then rebuilt towns around Ashdod and in other parts of Philistia. 7 God helped him defeat the Philistines, the Arabs living in Gur-Baal, and the Meunites. 8 Even the Ammonites paid taxes to Uzziah. He became very powerful, and people who lived as far away as Egypt heard about him.
9 In Jerusalem, Uzziah built fortified towers at the Corner Gate, the Valley Gate, and the place where the city wall turned inward. 10 He also built defense towers out in the desert.
He owned such a large herd of livestock in the western foothills and in the flatlands, that he had cisterns dug there to catch the rainwater. He loved farming, so he had crops and vineyards planted in the hill country wherever there was fertile soil, and he hired farmers to take care of them.
11 Uzziah's army was always ready for battle. Jeiel and Maaseiah were the officers who kept track of the number of soldiers, and these two men were under the command of Hananiah, one of Uzziah's officials. 12-13 There were 307,500 trained soldiers, all under the command of 2,600 clan leaders. These powerful troops protected the king against any enemy. 14 Uzziah supplied his army with shields, spears, helmets, armor, bows, and stones used for slinging. 15 Some of his skilled workers invented machines that could shoot arrows and sling large stones. Uzziah set these up in Jerusalem at his defense towers and at the corners of the city wall.
God helped Uzziah become more and more powerful, and he was famous all over the world.
Uzziah Becomes Too Proud
16 Uzziah became proud of his power, and this led to his downfall.
One day, Uzziah disobeyed the Lord his God by going into the temple and burning incense as an offering to him. 17 Azariah the priest and 80 other brave priests followed Uzziah into the temple 18 (A) and said, “Your Majesty, this isn't right! You are not allowed to burn incense to the Lord. That must be done only by priests who are descendants of Aaron. You will have to leave! You have sinned against the Lord, and so he will no longer bless you.”
19 Uzziah, who was standing next to the incense altar at the time, was holding the incense burner, ready to offer incense to the Lord. He became very angry when he heard Azariah's warning, and leprosy suddenly appeared on his forehead! 20 Azariah and the other priests saw it and immediately told him to leave the temple. Uzziah realized that the Lord had punished him, so he hurried to get outside.
21 Uzziah had leprosy the rest of his life. He was no longer allowed in the temple or in his own palace. That's why his son Jotham lived there and ruled in his place.
22 Everything else Uzziah did while he was king is in the records written by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 23 (B) Since Uzziah had leprosy, he could not be buried in the royal tombs. Instead, he was buried in a nearby cemetery that the kings owned. His son Jotham then became king.
King Jotham of Judah
27 Jotham was 25 years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled from Jerusalem for 16 years. Jerushah his mother was the daughter of Zadok.
2 Jotham obeyed the Lord and did right. He followed the example of his father Uzziah, except he never burned incense in the temple as his father had done. But the people of Judah kept sinning against the Lord.
3 Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple and did a lot of work to repair the wall near Mount Ophel. 4 He built towns in the mountains of Judah and built fortresses and defense towers in the forests.
5 During his rule he attacked and defeated the Ammonites. Then every year for the next three years, he forced them to pay 3.4 tons of silver, 1,000 tons of wheat, and 1,000 tons of barley.
6 Jotham remained faithful to the Lord his God and became a very powerful king.
7 Everything else Jotham did while he was king, including the wars he fought, is written in The History of the Kings of Israel and Judah. 8 After he had ruled Judah 16 years, he died at the age of 41. 9 He was buried in Jerusalem, and his son Ahaz became king.
King Ahaz of Judah
28 Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled from Jerusalem for 16 years.
Ahaz was nothing like his ancestor David. Ahaz disobeyed the Lord 2 and was as sinful as the kings of Israel. He made idols of the god Baal, 3 and he offered sacrifices in Hinnom Valley. Worst of all, Ahaz sacrificed his own sons, which was a disgusting custom of the nations that the Lord had forced out of Israel. 4 Ahaz offered sacrifices at the local shrines, as well as on every hill and in the shade of large trees.
Syria and Israel Attack Judah
5-6 (C) Ahaz and the people of Judah sinned and turned away from the Lord, the God their ancestors had worshiped. So the Lord punished them by letting their enemies defeat them.
The king of Syria attacked Judah and took many of its people to Damascus as prisoners. King Pekah of Israel later defeated Judah and killed 120,000 of its bravest soldiers in one day. 7 During that battle, an Israelite soldier named Zichri killed three men from Judah: Maaseiah the king's son; Azrikam, the official in charge of the palace; and Elkanah, the king's second in command. 8 The Israelite troops captured 200,000 women and children and took them back to their capital city of Samaria, along with a large amount of their possessions. They did these things even though the people of Judah were their own relatives.
Oded the Prophet Condemns Israel
9 Oded lived in Samaria and was one of the Lord's prophets. He met Israel's army on their way back from Judah and said to them:
The Lord God of your ancestors let you defeat Judah's army only because he was angry with them. But you should not have been so cruel! 10 If you make slaves of the people of Judah and Jerusalem, you will be as guilty as they are of sinning against the Lord.
11 Send these prisoners back home—they are your own relatives. If you don't, the Lord will punish you in his anger.
12 About the same time, four of Israel's leaders arrived. They were Azariah son of Johanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai. They agreed with Oded that the Israelite troops were wrong, 13 and they said:
If you bring these prisoners into Samaria, that will be one more thing we've done to sin against the Lord. And he is already angry enough with us.
14 So in front of the leaders and the crowd, the troops handed over their prisoners and the property they had taken from Judah. 15 The four leaders took some of the stolen clothes and gave them to the prisoners who needed something to wear. They later gave them all a new change of clothes and shoes, then fixed them something to eat and drink, and cleaned their wounds with olive oil. They gave donkeys to those who were too weak to walk, and led all of them back to Jericho, the city known for its palm trees. The leaders then returned to Samaria.
Ahaz Asks the King of Assyria for Help
16-18 Some time later, the Edomites attacked the eastern part of Judah again and carried away prisoners. And at the same time, the Philistines raided towns in the western foothills and in the Southern Desert. They conquered the towns of Beth-Shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco, Timnah, and Gimzo, including the villages around them. Then some of the Philistines went to live in these places.
Ahaz sent a message to King Tiglath Pileser of Assyria and begged for help. 19 But God was punishing Judah with these disasters, because Ahaz had disobeyed him and refused to stop Judah from sinning. 20 So Tiglath Pileser came to Judah, but instead of helping, he made things worse. 21 Ahaz gave him gifts from the Lord's temple and the king's palace, as well as from the homes of Israel's other leaders. The Assyrian king still refused to help Ahaz.
The Final Sin of Ahaz and His Death
22 Even after all these terrible things happened to Ahaz, he sinned against the Lord even worse than before. 23 He said to himself, “The Syrian gods must have helped their kings defeat me. Maybe if I offer sacrifices to those gods, they will help me.” That was the sin that finally led to the downfall of Ahaz, as well as to the destruction of Judah.
24 Ahaz collected all the furnishings of the temple and smashed them to pieces. Then he locked the doors to the temple and set up altars to foreign gods on every street corner in Jerusalem. 25 In every city and town in Judah he built local shrines to worship foreign gods. All of this made the Lord God of his ancestors very angry.
26 Everything else Ahaz did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27 (D) Ahaz died and was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the royal tombs. His son Hezekiah then became king.