Fausset's Bible Dictionary


("strength of Jehovah".) UZZAIH or AZARIAH. (See AZARIAH.) (2Ki_14:2; 2Ki_14:22; 2Ki_15:1-7; 2Ki_15:13), "helped by Jehovah". The two names, as nearly equivalent, were used promiscuously; so the Kohathite Uzziah and Azariah (1Ch_6:9; 1Ch_6:24) king of Judah (2 Chronicles 26).

1. A Kohathite, ancestor of Samuel (1Ch_6:24).

2. Uzziah, king of Judah. After the murder of his father Amaziah Uzziah succeeded at the age of 16 by the people's choice, 809 B.C. Energetic, wise, and pious for most part of his 52 years' reign. His mother was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. He did not remove the high places, whereat, besides the one only lawful place, the Jerusalem temple, the people worshipped Jehovah. He recovered Elath or Eloth from Edom, which had revolted from Joram (2Ki_8:20), and "built" i.e. enlarged and fortified it, at the head of the gulf of Akaba, a capital mart for his commerce. "(See ZECHARIAH , who had understanding in the visions of God," influenced Uzziah for good so that in his days Uzziah "sought God"; he must have died before Uzziah's fall, and so cannot be the Zechariah of Isa_8:2, a Levite Gershonite of Hezekiah's reign (2Ch_29:13).

Uzziah was the biting "serpent" (Isa_14:28-31) to the Philistines, out of whose "root," after that "the rod of Uzziah which smote them was broken" by their revolt under the feeble Ahaz (2Ch_28:18), came forth a "cockatrice" and "fiery flying serpent," namely, Hezekiah (2Ki_18:8). Uzziah broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod; and built cities in the domain of Ashdod and in other domains of the Philistines; this avenged Judah's invasion by the Philistines under Jehoram (2Ki_21:16-17), when they carried away all the substance found in the king's house and his sons, all except the youngest Jehoahaz. Uzziah also smote the Philistines' allies in that invasion, the Arabians of Gurbaal, and the Mehunim of Mann (in Arabia Petraea S. of the Dead Sea); Ammon became tributary (compare Isa_16:1-5; 2Ki_3:4), and Uzziah's fame as a conqueror reached to Egypt, to whose borders he carried his conquests.

He built towers at the N.W. corner gate, the valley gate (on the W. side, the Jaffa gate, now opening to Hinnom), and the turning of the wall of Jerusalem, E. of Zion, so that the tower at this turning defended both Zion and the temple from attacks from the S.E. valley; and fortified them at the weakest points of the city's defenses. His army was 307,500, under 2600 chiefs, heads of fathers' houses; and they were furnished with war engines for discharging arrows and great stones. The Assyrian Tiglath Pileser II relates that in his fifth year (741 B.C.) he defeated a vast army under Azariah (Uzziah) king of Judah. (Rawlinson Anc. Mon., 2:131.) Uzziah also built towers in the desert of Judah, in the steppe lands W. of the Dead Sea, to protect his herds, a main constituent of his wealth, against the predatory bands of Edom and Arabia.

He dug many wells for cattle in the shephelah toward the Mediterranean, (not "the low country," but the low hills between the mountain and the plain) and in the plain (the mishor) E. of the Dead Sea from the Arnon to Heshbon and Rubbath Ammon; this Uzziah probably reconquered from Ammon (verse 8) who had taken it from Israel (Keil). Husbandmen and vinedressers he had in the mountains and in Carmel, for he loved husbandry, Hosea prophesied "in the days of Uzziah" a scarcity of food (Hos_1:1; Hos_2:9; Hos_4:3; Hos_9:2). So Amos (Amo_1:1-2; Amo_4:6-9; Amo_5:16-17). The precarious state of the supply of food in Israel undesignedly harmonizes with Uzziah's special attention to husbandry; as also the prophecy in the days of Uzziah's descendant, Ahaz, that "on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come there the fear of briers and thorns," etc. (Isa_7:25).

But "when he was strong his heart was lifted up to his destruction" (compare Isa_14:12-15), "pride going before destruction" as in Satan's, Babylon's, Tyre's, and antichrist's cases (Eze_28:2; Eze_28:17-23; Pro_16:18; Pro_1:32; Pro_1:2 Thessalonians 2). Uzziah wished, like Egypt's kings, to make himself high priest, and so combine in himself all civil and religious power. Azariah the high priest, therefore, with 80 valiant priests, withstood his attempt to burn incense (Exo_30:7-8; Num_16:40; Num_18:7) on the incense altar. In the very height of his wrath at their resistance a leprosy from God rose up in his forehead, so that they thrust him out, yea he hasted to go out of himself, feeling it vain to resist Jehovah's stroke. So Miriam was punished for trying to appropriate Moses' prerogative (Numbers 12).

Uzziah, being thus severed from Jehovah's house, could no longer live in fellowship with Jehovah's people, but had to dwell in a separate house, counted virtually as dead (Lev_13:46; Num_12:12) for the year or two before his death, during which Jotham conducted the government for him; "a several house" (2Ki_15:5), Beth ha-kophshi, "a house of manumission," i.e. release from the duties and privileges of social and religious intercourse with the people of God; Winer and Gesenius, from an Arabic cognate root "he was infirm," translated it "infirmary or lazar house," but the Hebrew has only the sense "free," and the Mosaic law contemplated not the cure of the patient, which could only be by God's extra. ordinary interposition, but his separation from the Lord's people. Isaiah recorded the rest of his acts first and last in a history not extant; "write" marks it as a history, "vision" is the term for his prophecy (Isa_1:1).

Isaiah wrote his first five chapters under Uzziah, and had his vision in the year of Uzziah's death (Isa_6:1, etc.). "They buried him with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper"; therefore not in the tombs of the kings, but near them in the burial field belonging to them, that his body might not defile the royal tombs, probably in the earth according to our mode. One great sin blots an otherwise spotless character (2Ch_27:2; Ecc_10:1). A mighty earthquake occurred in Uzziah's reign; Josephus (Ant. 9:10, section 4) makes it at the time of Uzziah being smitten with leprosy; the objection is, Amos prophesied "in the days of Jeroboam of Israel, two years before the earthquake" (Amo_1:1), and Jeroboam II died 26 years before Uzziah died; but what is meant may be, Amos' prophesying continued all the Israelite Jeroboam's days, and so far in the partly contemporary reign of the Jewish king Uzziah as "two years before the earthquake." (See AMOS.)

Amos thus would speak his prophecies two years before the earthquake, but not write them out in order until after it. However, Josephus may be wrong, as but for his statement the likelihood is the earthquake was not later than the 17th year of Uzziah's reign. Zechariah (Zec_14:5) alludes to the earthquake, the physical premonitor of convulsions in the social, political, and spiritual world; compare Mat_24:7. In the century from Jehu of Israel until late in Uzziah's reign over Judah the Assyrian annals are silent as to Scripture persons and events. Assyria's weakness just then harmonizes with the Scripture statement of the extension of Israel by Jeroboam II and of Judah by Uzziah. Only in the time of Assyria's weakness could such small states have attempted conquests such as those of Menahem (2Ki_15:16).

3. Of the sons of Harim; took a foreign wife (Ezr_10:21).

4. Father of Athaiah or Uthai (Neh_11:4).

5. Father of Jehonathan, one of David's overseers (1Ch_27:25).


Taken from: Fausset's Bible Dictionary by Andrew Robert Fausset (1821-1910)