2 Kings 14:23–29 (NIV)✞: Jeroboam II Reigns in Israel
A short passage which sums itself up nicely in the first few verses:
23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. 25 He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.
As a side note, it’s interesting to me that this passage references the prophet Jonah; I don’t know how often that happens but it seems interesting to me to have one part of the Old Testament referencing another part.
Verses 26–27✞ go on to give what almost sounds like an explanation: this happened because the LORD saw that His people were suffering, and, since He had not said he would “blot out1 the name of Israel from under heaven,” He saved them via Jeroboam.
After Jeroboam’s death his son Zechariah succeeds him as king of Israel.
The ESV Study Bible has some good context on Jeroboam II restoring Israel’s lost land:
2 Kings 14:25 He restored the border of Israel. The Assyrian assault on the area north of Israel (alluded to in 13:5) seriously weakened the kingdoms of that region, including Syria, and this allowed Jehoash to recapture some Israelite towns from the Syrians (13:25). In the immediately subsequent years, the Assyrian kings only infrequently ventured out on military campaigns to their west, and in this context Jeroboam II of Israel was able to further the Israelite recovery begun by his father, extending the borders of Israel from the Sea of the Arabah in the south (the Dead Sea, Josh. 3:16; 12:3) to the northern Lebo-hamath (“entrance to Hamath,” a city or geographical feature associated with Hamath in central Syria). Jeroboam was thus able to restore the territory of northern Israel to Solomonic proportions (1 Kings 8:65). Jonah the son of Amittai (cf. Jonah 1:1) had prophesied that Jeroboam would accomplish this, although Jonah was not the only prophet active during this period and his was not the only message for Israel (cf. Hos. 1:1; Amos 1:1).
So we read about a good man in the last passage (morally speaking) in Judah who nevertheless was a bad king. Here we see the opposite: Jeroboam II is a bad man (morally speaking) but is a good king of Israel. Like all of the kings of Israel he “did evil in the eyes of the LORD,” but he managed to enlarge the borders of the country. From his perspective, I’m pretty sure he would have summarized his own tenure as king as being very successful; from the Bible’s perspective—i.e. from God’s perspective—he was not.
So this brings up a couple of points:
- As discussed in the previous post, we shouldn’t go into the Bible (Old Testament or New) with a simplistic view of the world in which good people get rewarded by God and bad people get punished. That does sometimes happen but there are also many cases of bad people doing well and good people suffering. In the grand scheme of things God will judge rightly, but in the temporal world we live in we often see delays in that justice – to the point that we might not even see justice happening within the span of a person’s lifetime! The Bible doesn’t pretend otherwise.
- God’s perspective is not our perspective. As mentioned, Jeroboam II—and probably all of his contemporaries and modern historians—would have likely called his kingship successful. He enlarged the borders of his territory to reclaim land that had been taken from Israel! Even I’d call that a success, for a king of a nation. But the Bible isn’t looking at Jeroboam II through the lens of whether he was a good king, it’s looking at him through the lens of whether he followed the LORD, which he didn’t.
- “Blot out” is an old-fashioned writing term that’s found its way into modern English. If a writer had made some kind of mistake in a manuscript they would use additional ink to “blot” what they’d written – that is, they’d cover it over with ink, making it unreadable. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t an idiom in the Hebrew, it is more likely an English idiom that we use when translating the Hebrew text. ↩