II Kings – Chapter 14

The Cedar and the Thornbush

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Yehoash, king of Judah, was succeeded by his son Amatzyah. (Remember, there were two kings named Yehoash. The one from Judah was the last surviving descendant of Solomon, who was hidden and raised in the Temple.) Amatzyah was like his father – overall good, but not righteous to the extent David had been. When his position was secure, he executed the assassins who had killed his father. He did not kill the assassins’ sons, because the Torah prohibits such behavior. (Such action could have been justified as a deterrent to future rebels, but Amatzyah wouldn’t have it.) Amatzyah defeated Edom in battle and became haughty; he thereupon challenged Yehoash, king of Israel, to war.

Yehoash, king of Israel, replied with a metaphor. “The thornbush wanted to marry his children to the cedar’s children. Not only is the thought ridiculous, the thornbush got trampled by an animal.” (In short, Yehoash was telling Amatzyah not to think too much of himself or he would come to regret it.) Amatzyah wouldn’t listen, so they went to war. Sure enough, Israel completely routed Judah. Yehoash captured Amatzyah, he breached the wall of Jerusalem, and he plundered the Temple and palace. (Even if the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were at war, Yehoash should still have refrained from plundering the Temple.) Yehoash of Israel reigned for 16 years. He died and was succeeded by his son Yaravam (Jeroboam).

Amatzyah lived for fifteen years after Yehoash died. There was a plot against him and he ran away to Lachish, but his enemies pursued him and killed him there. He was succeeded by his son Azaryah, who was 16 years old.

Yaravam (the second king of Israel to bear that name) was just as sinful as his namesake. He reclaimed land that had been captured from Israel in accordance with a prophecy from Jonah (which is not recorded). Even though Yaravam was evil, G-d saw the people were suffering and sent salvation through him. Yaravam reigned for 41 years and was succeeded by his son, Zecharyah.

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