Amaziah, King of Judah

Amaziah Becomes King of Judah and Does Right, but Becomes Overconfident and Loses Everything

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Joash had been assassinated, and his son, 25-year-old Amaziah, began to reign in Judah. Amaziah endeavored to do what was right. His first act was to execute those who had murdered his father, Zabad and Jehozabad. Although customary, he didn't execute their children, upholding the law as written in Deuteronomy 24:16, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.”

Next, Amaziah reviewed the men of Judah and assembled and organized 300,000 able to fight. He also hired 100,000 men out of Israel. But a man of God came to him and said, “O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the Lord is not with Israel -- not with any of the children of Ephraim. But if you go, be gone! Be strong in battle! Even so, God shall make you fall before the enemy; for God has power to help and to overthrow.”

When Amaziah asked about the loss of the money that he had invested in the men of Israel, the man of God said, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this.” That was good enough for Amaziah, so he sent the men from Israel home, which made them furious. The outcome was victorious. Amaziah led his men against the Edomites and killed 10,000. Then he took 10,000 more to the top of a rocky peak and threw all of them off. The rest of the Edomites ran for their lives. Enraged, the hired men of Israel that Amaziah sent home attacked cities of Judah, killing 3,000 people and stealing many valuables.

Unaware of Israel's actions, Amaziah robbed the temples in Edom and brought their idols back to Jerusalem where he set them up as his gods, and bowed down and burned incense to them. A prophet of God came to express God's great displeasure and he confronted Amaziah. “Why have you sought the gods of the people, which could not rescue their own people from your hand?” But Amaziah defied him. “Have we made you the king's counselor? Cease! Why should you be killed?” The prophet replied, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not heeded my advice.”

Soon Amaziah was advised about the Israelite's attacks on Judean cities. Amaziah sent a message to Israel's King Joash, inviting him to battle. Joash warned Amaziah that because he had become overconfident, he would be better off staying home, but if he insisted on fighting, he would lose. Arrogant Amaziah refused to listen. So Joash brought his men against Amaziah at Bethshemesh, 12 miles west of Jerusalem. There he badly beat Amaziah's men.

Joash seized Amaziah, and took him back to Jerusalem. Joash then broke down 600 feet of Jerusalem's wall, taking all the gold and silver out of the temple, as well as much of the king's treasure, and also took captives with him back to Samaria.

Amaziah lived 15 years after the death of Joash, but the people of Judah never forgot their humiliation at Bethshemesh and they hated him for it. After 29 years, they conspired to kill him in Jerusalem. He tried to escape and made it as far as Lachish, but the men followed him and killed him there. They brought him Jerusalem and buried him, and took Amaziah's 16-year-old son, Uzziah, and made him king over Judah. (2 Kings 14:1-21; 2 Chronicles 25)

Written by: Pete Miller