Reference: 2 Chronicles 25:17-19
Back Story: In Judah (composed of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin), Amaziah was king. Initially, King Amaziah followed God. King Amaziah determine too finish the subjugation of Edom started by his father King Joash. King Amaziah mustered an army of 300,000 fighting men from Judah and Benjamin. In addition, he hired 100,000 fighting men from Israel, paying them upfront a hundred talents of silver.
Then, a man of God came to King Amaziah and told the king that if he took Northern Kingdom soldiers with him into battle, God would cause him to lose the battle with Edom. King Amaziah believed the man of God. He sent the Israelite soldiers home, despite having already paid them. The Israelites soldiers were furious. They wanted the opportunity to participate in the battle and to plunder the Edomite lands. While King Amaziah was fighting the Edomites, Israelite soldiers raided towns belonging to Judah. They killed three thousand people and carried off great quantities of plunder.
King Amaziah led his army to the Valley of Salt where they killed 10,000 Edomites. They captured 10,000 Edomite soldiers who they killed by throwing off a cliff. When King Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought back images of the gods of Seir, their chief city. King Amaziah set them up in Jerusalem as his own gods, bowed down to them, and burned sacrifices to them.
Story Line: God was angry with King Amaziah for his idol worship and sent a prophet to him. The prophet asked the king, “Why do you consult this people’s gods, which could not save their own people from your hand?” (2 Chronicles 25:15 NIV). While the prophet was speaking, King Amaziah interrupted him and told the prophet that if he continued speaking he would be struck down. The prophet stopped but told Amaziah that God would destroy the king because he worshiped idols and would not listen to the prophet’s counsel.
After consulting with his advisors, King Amaziah challenged King Jehoash of Israel to meet him face to face; in other words King Amaziah challenged King Jehoash to battle. Probably, the reason for King Amaziah’s challenge was Israel’s plunder of Judah’s lands while Amaziah was fighting the Edomites. Because a king’s subjects paid taxes, they had every expectation that their king would keep them safe. King Amaziah couldn’t ignore Israel’s murder of 3000 people or their plunder of the land.
Rather than immediately agreeing to Amaziah’s challenge, Jehoash sent a message back to Amaziah in the form of a parable and a warning.
“A thistle in Lebanon sent a message to a cedar in Lebanon, Give your daughter
to my son in marriage.’ Then a wild beast in Lebanon came along and trampled
the thistle underfoot. You say to yourself that you have defeated Edom, and now
you are arrogant and proud. But stay at home! Why ask for trouble and cause
your own downfall and that of Judah also?” 2 Chronicles 25:17-19 NIV
Pondering Relationships: The interpretation of Jehoash’s parable was that he and the Israelites were the majestic cedar of Lebanon while Amaziah was an insignificant thistle. By identifying himself and Israel as the cedar of Lebanon King Jehoash coopted for Israel the name “cedar of Lebanon,” a term used to refer to the Israelite nation from the time before they entered the Promised Land. To King Jehoash, Amaziah’s challenge was as ludicrous as if he asked for King Jehoash’s daughter for Amaziah’s son. In ancient time sons of kings married daughters of kings only if the kings were equals in terms of land and wealth. Clearly, King Jehoash perceived that there was no equality between himself and the King of Judah. He was much more powerful than Judah’s king.
King Jehoash went even further in his insult to King Amaziah by issuing this warning. King Jehoash identified King Amaziah as arrogant because he defeated the Edomite; but, King Amaziah was asking for trouble if he persisted with the challenge to Israel. The battle would result in King Amaziah’s and Judah’s downfall. King Jehoash was convinced that even though King Amaziah won a decisive victory over the Edomites, he and his army was more experienced; they won three major battles against Aram. Further, Judah and Benjamin were two tribes versus the ten tribes Israel. Israel had more fighting men than Judah.
The spiritual interpretation of the parable King Jehoash offered to King Amaziah was that King Amaziah’s pride would lead to his destruction. King Amaziah didn’t realize that his success over Edom was due to God being on his side. After King Amaziah’s decision to worship Edom idols and not allow God’s prophet to advise him, God left King Amaziah. Now, he would go into battle against King Jehoash and Israel with no divine assistance.
King Amaziah refused to listen to King Jehoash or the prophet that God sent to him. The two kings met in battle at Beth Shemesh, a town inside Judah near the border of Dan. The Bible gives no details about the battle, e.g., number of men on each side; however, in the battle King Jehoash captured King Amaziah. King Jehoash took King Amaziah to Jerusalem. There, King Jehoash tore down 600 feet of wall around Jerusalem – the area that made Jerusalem most vulnerable to attack. Jehaosh took gold and silver from God’s temple along with the palace treasures. King Jehoash returned to Samaria with hostages. The NIV Study Bible proposed that King Jehoash took King Amaziah with him to Samaria where King Amaziah remained until King Jehoash died. Then, King Amaziah was allowed to return to Judah.
King Amaziah lived about 15 years after Jehoash died. From the time Amaziah turned away from God, Jerusalem leaders conspired against him. Sometime after King Amaziah returned to Jerusalem, he fled the city because he feared for his life. Nonetheless Jerusalem conspirators sent men to Lachish and assassinated King Amaziah.
Reflection: “ When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Proverbs 11:2 NIV). Ponder a time when you were particularly proud of an accomplishment. What happened next? Was there a subsequent time of disgrace?
So many kings are identified in the Bible, that it is difficult to keep them all straight; however, these two are an object lesson for us in the 21st century. If you want to learn more about Bible kings, you can purchase my book Lesser Known Bible Characters. It has an entire chapter on Bible kings. Go to http://CarolynRothMinistry.com/
Copyright: August 9, 2015: Carolyn A. Roth