2 Chronicles 26:3-23 – Uzziah
SummaryBecause this politically powerful king died as a leper, the Chronicler suggests that his pride in taking priestly duties for himself accounts for his ignominious demise.
AnalysisUzziah is the third king in the Chronicler's triptych of kings who started out well but ended poorly. In Uzziah's case it is easy to see why this approach was necessary. The account in 2 Kings had reported that Uzziah (sometimes called Azariah in Kings) built Elath, restoring it to Judah (2 Kings 14:22), and that God had stricken Uzziah with leprosy (15:5). The conflicting notices of blessing and judgment generated the present form of the Chronicler's presentation.
The initial evaluation of Uzziah's reign sets the scene, "He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done" (v. 4). Though identical to the evaluation in 2 Kings 15:3, the Chronicler's overall evaluation of Amaziah is not altogether positive (25:2), which suggests some of the ambiguity that Uzziah's reign evoked. The Chronicler's familiar cultic terminology appears as well. Uzziah's "seeking the LORD" (darash) characterizes the positive period of his reign and is rewarded with building projects and military victory (vv. 5-15, no parallel in 2 Kings). His cultic offense in burning incense, however, is labeled ma'al (v. 18, "done wrong," NRSV), the Chronicler's chief indicator of infidelity. Here, it leads to leprosy, banishment from the temple, and burial in a field--though still classified as royal burial with his fathers (vv. 16-23); 2 Kings 15:7 claims he was buried in the city of David. This is probably accurate since an inscription detailing the transport of Uzziah's bones has been discovered in Jerusalem.