2 Chronicles 27 – Jotham
Jotham = “Adonai is perfect/flawless/complete” (abbr. Yah + tamim)
Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jerushah the daughter of Zadok. He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah had done; however, he did not enter the temple of the LORD. But the people continued acting corruptly.
From these verses we can discern a few things:
1. Jotham learned from both the good and bad examples of his father Uzziah. The things Uzziah did well Jotham imitated. The pride that led Uzziah to presumptuously walk into the Holy Place as though a priest Jotham avoided.
2. Sixteen years represents stability. His was a good reign.
3. Like his father Jotham was probably not a strong leader, at least as far as influence is concerned. Both were good kings; but we are told that, in spite of his good example, the people continued acting corruptly. The word continued demonstrates that this problem already had existed for some time.
2 Kings 15:32-38 (compromise – high places left standing)
This corruption underlay what appeared to be a time of general prosperity. It is easy to misread material prosperity as an automatic sign of God’s approval. But let’s consider what the prophets Hosea and Amos wrote during good kings Uzziah’s and Jotham’s reigns:
Hosea Chapter 1
He built the upper gate of the house of the LORD, and he built extensively the wall of Ophel.
One of the signs of godly leadership is when priority is given to the things of God. Just as Uzziah had fortified the walls of Jerusalem, Jotham made the Holy City and the Beit HaMikdash a priority. He beautified the Temple by building the upper gate. The ophel in a city was the high point of the city. In the case of Jerusalem, it referred to the City of David, which was along the southeastern edge of the Temple Mount.
Article: archaeological evidence for Jewish presence in Jerusalem 10th c. BC
Moreover, he built cities in the hill country of Judah, and he built fortresses and towers on the wooded hills.
This may have been a continuation of the building programs his father had undertaken. These cities and fortresses were part of a comprehensive plan for military readiness. Trusting in Adonai doesn’t mean we neglect due diligence in our respective endeavors. But they would also bring increased revenue where no cities or perhaps only small settlements had previously existed.
He fought also with the king of the Ammonites and prevailed over them so that the Ammonites gave him during that year one hundred talents of silver, ten thousand kors of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. The Ammonites also paid him this amount in the second and in the third year.
Corollary reading re: Ammonites:
2 Samuel 10:1-6 (Don’t disrespect David
One commentator notes that 100 talents of silver was over 3 tons! At today’s silver price (22.90/oz.), that’s about $2.2 million!
This is typical of the relationships between enemy countries. Upon the conclusion of battle, the victor received tribute from the vanquished. For those who wonder whether Jotham picked a fight with the Ammonites unnecessarily, we should remember that, back in Chapter 20, the sons of Ammon came against Jehoshaphat unprovoked.
2 Kings 15:37-38 notes that during Jotham’s reign, the southern kingdom of Judah began to suffer invasion from a wicked alliance between Aram (Syria) and Israel. This will play heavily into our study on Ahaz next time.
So Jotham became mighty because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God.
As we have seen, Jotham wasn’t perfect. You don’t have to be perfect to be in God’s favor. But if you want earthly success, you would do well to order your ways in accordance with God’s Word.
Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, even all his wars and his acts, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And Jotham slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David; and Ahaz his son became king in his place.
His epitaph being positive, we may confidently say that Ezra (or whoever penned Chronicles) approved of the kingship of Jotham. He learned from his father’s successes and failures. He wasn’t perfect, and his godly lead wasn’t exactly followed by the rest of Judah; but 16 years of peace and prosperity is a good thing!