AMAZIAH (ăm-a-zī'a, Heb. ’ămatsyâh, whom Jehovah strenghtens). 1. The ninth king of Judah (including Athaliah), of the lineage of David through Rehoboam (1Chr.3.12), succeeding his father Joash who had been murdered by conspirators (2Kgs.12.21). Seemingly he was co-regent with his father, who was sick (2Chr.24.23-2Chr.24.25), for we read concerning Joash that the departing Syrians “left Joash severely wounded,” and the conspirators subsequently “killed him in his bed.” Jehoash of Israel came to the throne in the thirty-seventh year of Joash of Judah (2Kgs.13.10). Amaziah began to rule in the second year of Jehoash of Israel, which would be the thirty-ninth year of Joash of Judah (2Kgs.14.1). Since Joash ruled for forty years (2Chr.24.1), there must have been a co-regency for at least a year.
The account of Amaziah is found chiefly in 2Kgs.14.1-2Kgs.14.29, with a parallel and supplementary account in 2Chr.25.1-2Chr.25.28. Amaziah came to the throne when twenty-five years old and ruled for twenty-nine years, doing right as did his father “but not wholeheartedly,” for the high places were not taken away and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense. His first act was to execute his father’s murderers, though he spared their children, as Moses had ruled in Deut.24.16. He then assembled an army of 300,000 men of Judah, appointed captains over thousands and hundreds (2Chr.25.5-2Chr.25.6), and hired an additional 100,000 men of Israel for one hundred talents of silver. Warned by a man of God against using the Israelite mercenaries, Amaziah protested the loss of his one hundred talents but was assured, “The Lord can give you much more than that.” He dismissed the Israelites, who returned home in anger, raiding certain cities of Judah along the way and taking much spoil (2Chr.25.13).
In the meantime Amaziah went against Edom and took Sela (2Kgs.14.7), possibly the rock-city now identified as Petra. He killed ten thousand Edomites in battle and put to death another ten thousand captives by hurling them from “the top of a cliff” (2Chr.25.11-2Chr.25.12). He brought back the gods of the Edomites and bowed down to them, burning sacrifices, for which his destruction was foretold (2Chr.25.14-2Chr.25.16). Amaziah then challenged Jehoash of Israel to war. In reply Jehoash likened Amaziah to a “thistle” making demands of a “cedar” and advised him to be content with his victory over Edom. Amaziah persisted, so they joined in battle at Beth Shemesh. The men of Judah were routed; Amaziah was captured and returned to Jerusalem. Six hundred feet (188 m.) of Jerusalem’s wall facing Israel was broken down, after which Jehoash returned to Samaria, taking along hostages and treasures from the house of God and the house of the king. Fifteen years later a conspiracy made Amaziah flee to Lachish, but he was followed and killed. His body was brought back to Jerusalem for burial.
2. A priest of Bethel during the reign of Jeroboam II. He complained to Jeroboam about the prophet Amos and advised him to go back to Judah. Amos prophesied his death in a foreign land and the tragic end of his wife and family (Amos.7.10-Amos.7.17).
3. A Simeonite, whose son Joshah was among those who killed the remnant of Amalekites who had fled to Mount Seir (1Chr.4.34, 1Chr.4.43).
4. A Levite in the ancestry of the Ethan who served in the tabernacle about the time of David (1Chr.6.45, 1Chr.6.48).——CEC
Three lesser figures also bear the name. 1. Amaziah, the overseer of Simeon and the father of a certain Joshah (1 Chron 4:34) about which no other record is given.
2. Amaziah, a Levite, the son of Merari (1 Chron 6:45). One of the singers placed over the Temple service of the Tabernacle which stood in front of the area where Solomon later constructed the Temple.
3. A minor figure named Amaziah is mentioned as a priest at the shrine of Bethel during the reign of the second Jeroboam. He attempted to deter Amos from prophesying there and reported the prophet’s words against Jeroboam to the king (Amos 7:10-17).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(’amatsyah, ’amatsyahu, "Yahweh is mighty"; 2Ki 14:1-20; 2Ch 25). Son of Jehoash, and tenth king of Judah. Amaziah had a peaceable accession at the age of 25. A depleted treasury, a despoiled palace and temple, and a discouraged people were among the consequences of his father’s war with Hazael, king of Syria. When settled on the throne, Amaziah brought to justice the men who had assassinated his father. Amaziah verbal citation of De 24:16 in 2Ki 14:6, forbidding the punishment of children for a father’s offense, shows that the laws of this book were then known, and were recognized as authoritative, and, in theory, as governing the nation. His accession may be dated circa 812 (some put later).
1. The Edomite War:
The young king’s plan for the rehabilitation of his people was the restoration of the kingdom’s military prestige, so severely lowered in his father’s reign. A militia army, composed of all the young men above 20 years of age, was first organized and placed upon a war footing (2Ch 25:5; the number given, 300,000, is not a reliable one). Even this not being considered a large enough force to effect the project, 100 talents of silver were sent to engage mercenary troops for the expedition from Israel. When these came, a man of God strongly dissuaded the king from relying on them (2Ch 25:7 ff). When this was communicated to the soldiers, and they were sent back unemployed, it roused them to "fierce anger" (2Ch 25:10).
2. Its Occasion:
Amaziah’s purpose in making these extensive preparations for war, in a time of profound peace, is clear to the Southeast of Judah lay the Edomite state, with its capital at Petra. For many years Edom had been subject to Jehoshaphat, and a Hebrew "deputy" had governed it (1Ki 22:47). In the reign of his son and successor, Jehoram, a confederacy of Philistines, Arabians and Edomites took Libnah and made a raid on Jerusalem. A band of these penetrated the palace, which they plundered, abducted some women, and murdered all the young princes but the youngest (2Ch 21:17; 22:1). The public commotion and distress caused by such an event may be seen reflected in the short oracle of the prophet Obadiah, uttered against Edom, if, with some, Obadiah’s date is put thus early
3. The Victory in the Valley of Salt:
From that time "Edom .... made a king over themselves" (2Ch 21:8), and for fifty years following were practically independent. It was this blot on Jerusalem and the good name of Judah that Amaziah determined to wipe out. The army of retaliation went forward, and after a battle in the Valley of Salt, south of the Dead Sea, in which they were the victors, moved on to Petra. This city lies in a hollow, shut in by mountains, and approached only by a narrow ravine, through which a stream of water flows. Amaziah took it "by storm" (such is Ewald’s rendering of "by war," in 2Ki 14:7). Great execution was done, many of the captives being thrown from the rock, the face of which is now covered with rock-cut tombs of the Greek-Roman age.
4. Apostasy and Its Punishment:
The campaign was thus entirely successful, but had evil results. Flushed with victory, Amaziah brought back the gods of Edom, and paid them worship. For this act of apostasy, he was warned of approaching destruction (2Ch 25:14-17). Disquieting news soon came relating to the conduct of the troops sent back to Samaria. From Beth-horon in the south to the border of the northern state they had looted the villages and killed some of the country people who had attempted to defend their property (2Ch 25:13). To Amaziah’s demand for reparation, Jehoash’s answer was the contemptuous one of the well-known parable of the Thistle and the Cedar.
5. Battle of Beth-shemesh:
War was now inevitable. The kings "looked one another in the face," in the valley of Beth-shemesh, where there is a level space, suitable to the movements of infantry. Judah was utterly routed, and the king himself taken prisoner. There being no treasures in the lately despoiled capital, Jehoash contented himself with taking hostages for future good behavior, and with breaking down 400 cubits of the wall of Jerusalem at the Northwest corner of the defense (2Ki 14:13,14; 2Ch 25:22-24).
6. Closing Years and Tragical End:
Amaziah’s career as a soldier was now closed. He outlived Jehoash of Israel "fifteen years" (2Ki 14:17). His later years were spent in seclusion and dread, and had a tragical ending. The reason for his unpopularity is not far to seek. The responsibility for the war with Jehoash is by the inspired writer placed upon the shoulders of Amaziah (2Ki 14:9-11). It was he who "would not hear." The quarrel between the kings was one which it was not beyond the power of diplomacy to remedy, but no brotherly attempt to heal the breach was made by either king. When the results of the war appeared, it could not be but that the author of the war should be called upon to answer for them. So deep was his disgrace and so profound the sense of national humiliation, that a party in the state determined on Amaziah’s removal, so soon as there was another to take his place. The age of majority among the Hebrew kings was 16, and when Amaziah’s son was of this age, the conspiracy against his life grew so strong and open that he fled to Lachish. Here he was followed and killed; his body being insultingly carried to Jerusalem on horses, and not conveyed in a litter or coffin (2Ki 14:19,20; 2Ch 25:27,28). He was 54 years old and had reigned for 29 years. The Chronicler (2Ch 26:1) hardly conceals the popular rejoicings at the exchange of sovereigns, when Uzziah became king.
In 2Ch 25:28 is a copyist’s error by which we read "in the city of Judah," instead of "in the city of David," as in the corresponding passage in Kings. The singular postscript to the record of Amaziah in 2Ki 14:22 is intended to mark the fact that while the port of Elath on the Red Sea fell before the arms, in turn, of Amaziah and of his son Uzziah, it was the latter who restored it to Judah, as a part of its territory. Amaziah is mentioned in the royal genealogy of 1Ch 3:12, but not in that of Mt 1. There is a leap here from Jehoram to Uzziah, Ahaziah, Jehoash and Amaziah being omitted.
W. Shaw Caldecott