Amaziah's Reign

As soon as Amaziah felt himself secure on the throne of Judea, he slew his father's assassins. However, he abided strictly by the laws of the Torah. He punished only the guilty persons and not their children. In general Amaziah took care not to break any of the traditions and laws of the Jewish faith, although he personally was not up to the religious standards of the pious kings of the House of David.

Amaziah concentrated all his energies and efforts upon strengthening the military power of his country, which had suffered so much during the rule of his predecessors. He drafted all young men over twenty. But his plans demanded more than the approximately three hundred thousand men of which his army consisted. He, therefore, approached his neighbor, King Joash of Israel, and asked for an additional one hundred thousand soldiers, in return for an advance payment of one hundred talents of silver. However, a prophet came to King Amaziah, telling him that G‑d was against this close association with the idolatrous Northern Kingdom of Israel, and ordered him to send the hired army home. Amaziah obeyed and forfeited the money paid in advance. The soldiers from Israel returned, but feeling insulted because they had been rejected by the King of Judah, they looted and destroyed entire cities on their way back to Israel.

Amaziah Defeats Edom

As soon as Amaziah saw that his military power was sufficiently strong, he prepared himself for war against Edom, the province which had thrown off the yoke of Judea under King Joram. Since then the king of Edom had spared no effort to strengthen their position and fortify their cities, especially their capital, Sela. Built on a high rock, it was made impregnable by a double ring of strong forts. Amaziah succeeded in defeating Edom's army and capturing Sela. But intoxicated with this victory, the king and the soldiers from Judea gave vent to their wrath, and slew many thousands of the Edomites. Many cities were laid waste, and the entire region around Sela was incorporated into the land of Judea. Amaziah was severely rebuked for his harsh treatment of the defeated enemy, and the prophets and priests warned him of the coming retribution.

Amaziah's Sin

Following the heathen custom of the time, Amaziah brought the idols of the vanquished nation to Jerusalem, put them up in public, and worshipped them. The prophets and priests were horrified at this action, and the king's own brother Amoz, the father of the prophet Isaiah, came to him and chastised him for it. Amoz told him that G‑d had serious punishment in store for him, and that his fate was sealed.

Having won a brilliant victory over Edom, King Amaziah aspired to even greater glory. He challenged King Joash of Israel to a battle. In a scathing reply, Joash bade him enjoy the glory of his victory over Edom at home. He warned the arrogant king of Judea of the consequences should he force war upon Israel.

But Amaziah disregarded the warning. When the two kings met in battle at Beth-Shemesh in Judah, Amaziah was defeated. Joash then advanced upon Jerusalem, plundered the capital, and returned to Samaria rich with spoil and many hostages. Amaziah himself was taken prisoner, but was later released.

Thus, through his rash campaign against Israel, Amaziah lost the prestige he had gained by his victory over Edom. Moreover, he abandoned the worship of G‑d and turned to idolatry. The disaffection among the people grew, and they formed a conspiracy against the king. Informed of this danger, Amaziah fled to Lachish, a fort in the South-west, where he had many friends and followers. His opponents proclaimed his son Uzziah king of Judea, but they tried everything in their power to eliminate Amaziah. Lachish, however, was a well fortified town and its people stood by the old king. Finally, after fifteen years of relentless efforts, his opponents succeeded in getting into the city and slaying Amaziah, twenty-nine years after he had ascended the throne of Judea.