Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
2 Chronicles 25:1
The statement as to the duration and spirit of the reign agrees with Kg2 14:1-6, except that in Ch2 25:2 the estimation of the spirit of the reign according to the standard of David, "only not as his ancestor David, but altogether as his father Joash did," which we find in the book of Kings, is replaced by "only not with a perfect heart;" and the standing formula, "only the high places were not removed," etc., is omitted.
2 Chronicles 25:5
The succeeding section, Ch2 25:5-16, enlarges upon Amaziah's preparations for war with Edom, which had revolted under Joram of Judah, Kg2 8:22; upon the victory over the Edomites in the Valley of Salt, and on the results of this war; - on all which we have in Kg2 14:7 only this short note: "he smote Edom in the valley of Salt 10,000 men, and took Selah in war, and called its name Joktheel unto this day." But the more exact statements of the Chronicle as to the preparations and the results of this war and victory are important for Amaziah's later war with Kings Joash of Israel, which is narrated in Ch2 25:17. of our chapter, because in them lie the causes of that war, so fatal to Amaziah; so that the history of Amaziah is essentially supplemented by those statements of the Chronicle which are not found in 2 Kings.
The preparations for the war against Edom, and the victory over the Edomites in the Valley of Salt. - Ch2 25:5. Amaziah assembled Judah, i.e., the men in his kingdom capable of bearing arms, and set them up (ordered them) according to the princes of thousands and hundreds, of all Judah and Benjamin, and passed them in review, i.e., caused a census to be taken of the men liable to military service from twenty years old and upward. They found 300,000 warriors "bearing spear and target" (cf. Ch2 14:7); a relatively small number, not merely in comparison with the numbers under Jehoshaphat, Ch2 17:14., which are manifestly too large, but also with the numberings made by other kings, e.g., Asa, Ch2 14:7. By Joram's unfortunate wars, Ch2 21:17, those of Ahaziah, and especially by the defeat which Joash sustained from the Syrians, Ch2 24:23, the number of men in Judah fit for war may have been very much reduced. Amaziah accordingly sought to strengthen his army against the Edomites, according to Ch2 25:6, by having an auxiliary corps of 100,000 men from Israel (of the ten tribes) for 100 talents of silver, i.e., he took them into his pay. But a prophet advised him not to take the Israelitish host with him, because Jahve was not with Israel, viz., on account of their defection from Jahve by the introduction of the calf-worship. To Israel there is added, (with) all the sons of Ephraim, to guard against any misunderstanding.
Amaziah is to go alone, and show himself valiant in war, and the Lord will help him to conquer. This is without doubt the thought in Ch2 25:8, which, however, does not seem to be contained in the traditional Masoretic text. האל יכשׁילך can hardly, after the preceding imperatives - do, be strong for battle - be otherwise translated than by, "and God will cause thee to stumble before the enemy." But this is quite unsuitable. Clericus, therefore, would take the words ironically: sin minus, tu vadito, etc.; i.e., if thou dost not follow my advice, and takest the Israelites with thee to the war, go, show thyself strong for the war, God will soon cause thee to stumble. But אם כּי can never signify sin minus. Others, as Schmidt and Ramb., translate: Rather do thou go alone (without the Israelitish auxiliaries), and be valiant, alioquin enim, si illos tecum duxeris, corruere te faciet Deus; or, May God make thee fall before the enemy (De Wette). But the supplying of alioquin, which is only hidden by De Wette's translation, cannot be grammatically justified. This interpretation of the יכשׁילך would be possible only if the negation לא אם כּי stood in the preceding clause and יכשׁילך was joined to it by ו. The traditional text is clearly erroneous, and we must, with Ewald and Berth., supply a לא or ולא before יכשׁילך: God thou (alone), do, be valiant for battle, and God will not let thee come to ruin.
(Note: Even the old translators could make nothing of the present text, and expressed the first clause of the verse as they thought best. lxx, ὅτι ἐὰν ὑπολάβης κατασχῦσαι ἐν τούτοις; Vulg., quod si putes in robore exercitus bella consistere; after which Luth., "denn so du komest das du eine knheit beweisest im streit, wird Gott dich fallen lassen fr deinen Feinden.")
After this we have very fittingly the reason assigned: "for with God there is power to help, and to cause to fall."
Amaziah had regard to this exhortation of the prophet, and asked him only what he should do for the 100 talents of silver which he had paid the Israelite auxiliary corps; to which the prophet answered that Jahve could give him more than that sum. Amaziah thereupon dismissed the hired Ephraimite mercenaries. יבדּילם, he separated them (sc., from his army prepared for battle), viz., the band, that they might go to their place, i.e., might return home. The ל before הגּדוּד is nota accus., and להגּדוּד is in apposition to the suffix in יבדּילם. But the auxiliaries thus dismissed returned home full of wrath against Judah, and afterwards fell upon the border cities of Judah, wasting and plundering (Ch2 25:13). Their anger probably arose from the fact that by their dismissal the opportunity of making a rich booty in war was taken away.
But Amaziah courageously led his people into the Valley of Salt, and smote the Edomites. התחזק, as in Ch2 15:8, refers back to חזק, Ch2 25:8 : he showed himself strong, according to the word of the prophet. As to the Valley of Salt, see on Sa2 8:13 and Ch1 18:12. Besides the 10,000 slain in the battle, the men of Judah took 10,000 other Edomites prisoners, whom they cast from the top of a rock. This statement is wanting in Kg2 14:7, where, instead of it, the capture of the city Sela (Petra) is mentioned. The conjecture of Thenius, that this last statement of the Chronicle has been derived from a text of the Kings which had become illegible at this place, has already been rejected as untenable by Bertheau. Except the word סלע, the two texts have nothing in common with each other; but it does suggest itself that הסּלע ראשׁ, the top of the rock (which has become famous by this event), is to be looked for in the neighbourhood of the city Selah, as the war was ended only by the capture of Selah. Besides the battle in the Valley of Salt there were still further battles; and in the numbers 10,000, manifestly the whole of the prisoners taken in the war are comprehended, who, as irreconcilable enemies of Judah, were not made slaves, but were slain by being thrown down from a perpendicular rock.
The Ephraimite host dismissed by Amaziah fell plundering upon the cities of Judah, and smote of them (the inhabitants of these cities) 3000, and carried away great booty. They would seem to have made this devastating attack on their way home; but to this idea, which at first suggests itself, the more definite designation of the plundered cities, "from Samaria to Bethhoron," does not correspond, for these words can scarcely be otherwise understood than as denoting that Samaria was the starting-point of the foray, and not the limit up to which the plundered cities reached. For this reason Berth. thinks that this attack upon the northern cities of Judah was probably carried out only at a later period, when Amaziah and his army were in Edom. The latter is certainly the more probable supposition; but the course of events can hardly have been, that the Ephraimite auxiliary corps, after Amaziah had dismissed it, returned home to Samaria, and then later, when Amaziah had marched into the Valley of Salt, made this attack upon the cities of Judah, starting from Samaria. It is more probable that the dismissal of this auxiliary corps, which Amaziah had certainly obtained on hire from King Joash, happened after they had been gathered together in Samaria, and had advanced to the frontier of Judah. Then, roused to anger by their dismissal, they did not at once separate and return home; but, Amaziah having meanwhile taken the field against the Edomites with his army, made an attack upon the northern frontier cities of Judah as far as Bethhoron, plundering as they went, and only after this plundering did they return home. As to Bethhoron, now Beit-Ur, see on Ch1 7:24.
Amaziah's idolatry. - Ch2 25:14. On his return from smiting the Edomites, i.e., from the war in which he had smitten the Edomites, Amaziah brought the gods (images) of the sons of Seir (the inhabitants of Mount Seir) with him, and set them up as gods, giving them religious adoration.
(Note: This statement, which is not found in 2 Kings 14, may, in the opinion of Berth., perhaps not rest upon a definite tradition, but be merely the application of a principle which generally was found to act in the history of Israel to a particular case; i.e., it may be a clothing in historical garments of the principle that divine punishment came upon the idolatrous king, because it does not agree with the statement of Kg2 14:3. In that passage it is said of Amaziah: He did what was right in the eyes of Jahve, only not as David; altogether as his father Joash had done, did he. But Joash allowed his princes, after Jehoiada's death, to worship idols and Asheras, and had caused the prophet Zechariah, who reproved this idolatry, to be stoned. These are facts which, it is true, are narrated only in the Chronicle, but which are admitted by Bertheau himself to be historical. Now if Amaziah did altogether the same as his father Joash, who allowed idolatry, etc., it is hard indeed to see wherein the inconsistency of our account of Amaziah's idolatry with the character assigned to this king in Kg2 14:3 consists. Bertheau has omitted to give us any more definite information on this point.)
In order to turn him away from this sin, which would certainly kindle Jahve's wrath, a prophet said to Amaziah, "Why dost thou seek the gods of the people, who have not delivered their people out of your hand?" The prophet keeps in view the motive which had induced the king to set up and worship the Edomite idols, viz., the belief of all polytheists, that in order to make a people subject, one must seek to win over their gods (cf. on this belief that remarks on Num 22:17), and exposes the folly of this belief by pointing out the impotence of the Edomite idols, which Amaziah himself had learnt to know.
The king, however, in his blindness puts aside this earnest warning with proud words: "Have we made thee a counsellor of the king? Forbear, why should they smite thee?" נתנּוּך is spoken collectively: We, the king, and the members of the council. And the prophet ceased, only answering the king thus: "I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this (introduced Edomite idols), and hast not hearkened unto my counsel." The prophet calls his warning "counsel," referring to the king's word, that he was not appointed a counsellor to the king.
2 Chronicles 25:17
The war with Joash, king of Israel. - Instead of following the counsel of the prophet, Amaziah consulted (sc., with his public officials or courtiers), and challenged King Joash of Israel to war. The challenge, and the war which followed, are also narrated in Kg2 14:8-14 in agreement with our account, and have been already commented upon at that place, where we have also considered the occasion of this war, so fatal to Amaziah and the kingdom of Judah, on account of which has been handed down to us only in the supplementary narrative of the Chronicle. לך in Ch2 25:17 for לכה, come, as in Num 23:13 and Jdg 19:13. - In Ch2 25:20 the chronicler explains Amaziah's refusal to hear the warning of Joash before the war with him, by a reference to the divine determination: "For it (came) of God (that Amaziah still went to war), that He might deliver them (the men of Judah) into the hand, because they had sought the gods of Edom." בּיד נתן, to give into the power of the enemy. - In Ch2 25:23, הפּונה שׁער is a manifest error for הפּנּה (Kg2 14:13). Were הפּונה, the gate that turns itself, faces (in some direction), correct, the direction would have to be given towards which it turned, e.g., Eze 8:3. - וגו וכל־הזּהב, Ch2 25:24, still depends upon תּפשׂ, Ch2 25:23 : and (took away) all the gold, etc. In Kg2 14:14, ולקח is supplied.
2 Chronicles 25:25
The end of Amaziah's reign; cf. Kg2 14:17-20. - Although conquered and taken prisoner by Joash, Amaziah did not lose the throne. For Joash, contented with the carrying away of the treasures of the temple and of the palace, and the taking of hostages, set him again at liberty, so that he continued to reign, and outlived Joash by about fifteen years.
On the book of the kings of Judah and Israel, see the Introduction.
On the conspiracy against Amaziah, his death, etc., see the commentary on Kg2 14:17. יהוּדה בּעיר, in the city of Judah, is surprising, since everywhere else "the city of David" is mentioned as the burial-place, and even in our passage all the ancient versions have "in the city of David." יהוּדה would therefore seem to be an orthographical error for דויד, occasioned by the immediately following יהוּדה.