II Kin. 14:21, 22; 15:1-26; 32-38; II Chron. 26:1-27:9
After the death of King Amaziah, his son, Azariah began to reign over Judah. He had a fifty-two-year reign and was mostly well pleasing to God during that time. The prophets, Jonah, Amos, Hosea and Isaiah began prophesying during the reigns of Jeroboam II of Israel and Azariah of Judah.
While Azariah ruled Judah, they enjoyed much prosperity. God helped him to capture many cities in the area. He had much personal farm land and many cattle. Judah also had a strong army with “modern” weapons.
As Israel had forgotten God during their prosperity, Azariah also became prideful. Idolatrous nations around Judah looked upon their kings as gods and priests. The king was in charge of the offerings to their gods. Under the Law of Moses, only priests were permitted to perform the religious rituals associated with worshipping the Lord. Azariah took it upon himself to go into the temple and to burn incense to God.
Azariah, the priest, with eighty other priests confronted the king because of his trespass of the sanctuary. King Azariah was highly angered by the confrontation with the priests and was struck with leprosy. He spent the remainder of his years in an isolated house cut off from the house of the Lord, the king’s house and from his people. His son, Jotham was in charge of the king’s house until Azariah’s death at which time, he became king of Judah.
Jotham was twenty-five years of age when he became king of Judah and he reigned for sixteen years. Since he had been over the king’s house while his father, Azariah was isolated because of leprosy, Jotham’s transition onto the throne was relatively uneventful. He continued in his father’s way of following the Lord, but the people were corrupt.
King Jotham built cities and fortresses and was successful in a war against the Ammonites. He was a mighty king because he had, “prepared his ways before the Lord his God.” At the time of his death, there was much unrest in Israel, Syria and Assyria. He was succeeded by his son, Ahaz.
During a period while the prophets, Jonah, Amos, Hosea and Isaiah prophesied, Jeroboam II, Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah and Pekah reigned as kings in Israel. Jeroboam’s reign ended and Pekah’s reign began during the last fifteen years of that time. All of those kings were displeasing to God because they continued in the sins of the first Jeroboam of Israel.
Zechariah succeeded his father, Jeroboam and served only six months before being assassinated by Shallum. His death fulfilled the promise that God had made to his great-great grandfather, Jehu that his sons would only serve to the fourth generation.
The tumult continued to build as Shallum was himself assassinated by Menahem after only a month on the throne. Assyria was becoming stronger and more powerful after a period of weakness that had occurred during the reign of Israel’s King Jeroboam II. Menahem paid King Pul of Assyria a thousand talents of silver to keep him from attacking Israel. That was only a temporary relief from the prophesied disaster predicted by God’s prophets.
After Menahem’s death, his son, Pekahiah became king of Israel. He also continued in the evil ways of his predecessors. Assassination seemed to be the rule during that era. Pekahiah was king for only two years before being killed by Pekah.