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AMAZIAH (Heb. (אֲמַצְיָה(וּ; "yhwh is strong" [or "yhwh adopted"]), the name of two biblical figures.

(1) King of Judah, son of Joash son of Ahaziah. Amaziah reigned for 29 years (ii Kings 14:1–20; ii Chron. 25) but the synchronism with the reign of Jeroboam ii (ii Kings 14:23) presents chronological problems. Amaziah's mother was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem (ii Kings 14:2; Jehoaddan in ii Chronicles 25:1). The period of his ascension to the throne was difficult both for internal and external reasons because of the serious conflicts between King *Joash, his father, and the sons of *Jehoiada the priest, which brought about the murder of Joash (ii Chron. 24:20–26). During the first years of his rule he did not have the power to punish his father's murderers. "But when the kingdom was established unto him" he punished the murderers without harming their children or families. ii Kings 14:6 and ii Chronicles 25:4 stress that Amaziah acted in accordance with "the book of the law of Moses… Parents shall not be put to death for children, nor children be put to death for parents: a person shall be put to death only for his own crime" (cf. Deut. 24:16). This moderation toward his father's murderers, as well as his political acts in which he procured the participation of the family heads in Judah, brought quiet back to Judah. Consequently, aided by the family heads, Amaziah succeeded in raising a powerful force to fight Edom. At first, he wanted the army of Israel to participate in this war, but when he realized the opposition this had aroused among various sectors of the people, he gave up the idea of receiving help from the Israelite army although its mobilization had already cost him dearly; the Israelite regiment returned home embittered (ii Chron. 25:6–10).

Amaziah won a great victory in Edom in the Valley of Salt, captured Sela, which he named Joktheel (ii Kings 14:7; ii Chron. 25:11–13), but did not succeed in conquering all Edom. It is possible that Amaziah, by forgoing the help of the Israelite army in the war against Edom, caused bitter conflicts between Judah and Israel. These were apparently mainly caused by the acts of plunder and murder committed in various settlements in Judah by the Israelite contingent, which was sent back to its own country after its departure from Judah (ii Chron. 25:13). It is possible that Amaziah's reaction to these deeds was a result of the influence of public opinion in Judah which displayed excessive sensitivity toward the Israelite actions against Judah in view of the strengthened self-confidence of the Judeans after their victory over Edom. Amaziah proclaimed war against Joash, king of Israel, and though Joash sought to prevent this war, Amaziah went ahead with it. It may even have been impossible for him to act otherwise since the official reply of Joash included the parable of the thistle and the cedar – a parable with a derisive design and humiliating content that was offensive to both Judah and Amaziah (ii Kings 14:8–10; ii Chron. 25:17–19). In the war between Amaziah and Joash near Beth-Shemesh, Judah was soundly defeated. Amaziah was taken captive, and Joash ordered that a wide breach be made in the northern part of the wall of Jerusalem to facilitate the conquest of Jerusalem by Israel (ii Chron. 25:23). Apart from this, Joash looted much treasure from the Temple and the palace of the king, and, to assure the fulfillment of the peace terms that he imposed upon Judah, took hostages. According to ii Chronicles 25:14–16, Amaziah was guilty of worshipping the "gods of the children of Seir"; this sin brought about a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem in his last days. He fled to Lachish and was murdered there; his body was later buried in the tombs of the kings in Jerusalem (ibid. 15, 16, 27). It can be assumed that for political reasons Amaziah took several images of Edomite idols and set up their cult in Jerusalem. This, combined with the defeat he sustained in the war against Joash, brought about a cooling of relations between the king's court and the family heads. According to ii Chronicles (25:25), Amaziah was murdered 15 years after the defeat of Judah in the war at Beth-Shemesh, and it is therefore difficult to regard the murder as a consequence of the defeat alone. It is certain that in the course of time political causes were added which brought about a complete rift between him and the nobles.

[Joshua Gutmann]

In the Aggadah

The aggadah quotes an ancient tradition that Amaziah was a brother of Amoz (the father of Isaiah; Is. 1:1; Meg. 10b). It was on the latter's advice that the king dismissed the army he had gathered from among the Ephraimites (ii Chron. 25:7–10; sor 20). His method of killing of the 10,000 Edomite captives (ii Chron. 25:12) is severely criticized. "Death by the sword was decreed upon the descendants of Noah, but he cast them from a rock." As a result he was exiled (Lam. R. introd. 14).

The chronological difficulties presented by differing scriptural references to the lives and reigns of various kings are solved by the statement that Amaziah did not rule for the last 15 years of his life, the kingdom being administered by his son, Uzziah, who, in turn, left the administration to his son (Jotham) for 20 years (sor 19).

(2) A priest of the king's sanctuary at Beth-El in the time of *Jeroboam II, son of Joash; one of the opponents of the prophet *Amos (Amos 7:10ff.). Amaziah sent Jeroboam the essence of one of the prophecies of Amos: "Jeroboam shall die by the sword and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land." Amaziah accused him of conspiracy and drove Amos away to Judah. Following this decree of expulsion, Amos repeated his prophecy against Israel, and declared the dire fate in store for Amaziah. Apparently the impetus for this conflict between the prophet and the priest came from the prophetic activity of Amos in the northern kingdom which was directed against the worship in the temples of the state, in general, and against that of the temple of Beth-El, in particular (Amos 3:14; 4:4; 5:5–6; 9:1).

[Joshua Gutmann]


Bright, Hist, 237f.; Tadmor, in: H.H. Ben-Sasson (ed.), Toledot Am Yisrael bi-Ymei Kedem (1969), 126f.; Y. Liver (ed.), Historyah Ẓeva'it shel Ereẓ Yisrael bi-Ymei ha-Mikra (1964), 201f. (2) Rost, in: Zahn-Festgabe (1928), 229–36; R.L. Honeycutt, Amos and his Message (1963), 132 ff. add. bibliography: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, ii Kings (ab; 1988), 154; S. Paul, Amos (Heb.; 1994), 121–25; H. Stoebe, in: vt, 39 (1989), 341–54.