Scripture Reading – 2 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 26

Our chronological study of the Scriptures continues today as we consider parallel accounts of the same historical events recorded in 2 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 26.

Once again, I encourage you not to become frustrated and attempt to remember the names and deeds of the kings of Israel and Judah. The critical aspect of our study is to embrace the insight the Scriptures give us into the ways of the LORD and His sovereign rule over the affairs of men and nations.

2 Kings 15 – Kings rise and fall, but the LORD reigns forever.


The Reign of Azariah (i.e., Uzziah), King of Judah (2 Kings 15:1-7)


His father was assassinated in a conspiracy (2 Kings 14:19), and Azariah (known as Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26) became king of Judah.  He was only sixteen when he ascended to Judah’s throne and reigned fifty-two years (2 Kings 15:1-2). Azariah was described as a king who did “right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kings 15:3), yet he failed to remove and destroy the “high places” where the people worshipped and sacrificed to idols (2 Kings 15:4).


2 Kings 15:5 stated with no explanation that Azariah (i.e., Uzziah) was smitten with leprosy by the LORD and forced to live in a “several” [separate] house from the palace (2 Kings 15:5a). Therefore, the king’s son, Jotham, handled the administrative matters of the palace, and judged “the people of the land” (2 Kings 15:5b).


To understand the cause for the king’s leprosy (which in the Scriptures symbolizes the dreadfulness of sin), we will turn to 2 Chronicles 26.

Azariah (i.e., Uzziah) was smitten with leprosy by the LORD

2 Chronicles 26 – Why did the LORD strike Azariah (i.e., Uzziah) with leprosy?


Uzziah’s (i.e., Azariah) Character and God’s Blessings (2 Chronicles 26:1-15)


The historical account of King Azariah (or Uzziah as he is called in 2 Chronicles 26) was written after the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity. The account that he was a good king is repeated here, and that “he sought God in the days of Zechariah [the high priest], who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he [Uzziah] sought the LORD, God made him to prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5).


Uzziah was a successful warrior, and God blessed him in warring against the Philistines (26:6-7), and the Ammonites paid him tribute (26:8). “God helped him…and his name spread abroad” (2 Chronicles 26:7-8). He reinforced the fortification of Jerusalem, and to secure the land, he “built towers in the desert, and digged wells” (essential in the dry, arid wilderness, 2 Chronicles 26:10). I especially admire the mention of Uzziah’s heart for the rural way of life, for we read, “he loved husbandry” (i.e., he loved to farm, 2 Chronicles 26:10).


He was a king with a farmer’s heart and was a gifted administrator who numbered and ordered his army and provided for his soldiers the necessary implements for war (2 Chronicles 26:11-15). Perhaps he was also a gifted engineer and strategist, for he is said to have “made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal” (2 Chronicles 26:15a). What those “engines” of war were, is a matter of speculation. Still, Uzziah achieved the admiration of his friends and foes (2 Chronicles 26:15b).

King Azariah (i.e., Uzziah) the Leper (2 Chronicles 26:16-23)

King Azariah (i.e., Uzziah) the Leper (2 Chronicles 26:16-23)

Tragically, when he was at the pinnacle of success in his 52-year reign over Judah, we read, “But when he [Uzziah; i.e., Azariah] was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense” (2 Chronicles 26:16). 

Bloated with pride from his achievements, the king trod upon a ground the LORD reserved for the priesthood. The chief priest Azariah and eighty priests with him confronted Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:17-18) and warned him, “It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God” (2 Chronicles 26:18).

Rather than humble himself and confess his sin, the king became enraged. Therefore, the LORD struck him, and leprosy was evidenced on his forehead (2 Chronicles 26:19).

Understanding the law regarding leprosy demanded a leper be put out from the living (Leviticus 13:45-46) to avoid the spread, and seeing the blight on the king’s face, the priests expelled Uzziah from the Temple, even as he sought to flee (2 Chronicles 26:20).

The king’s son, Jotham, reigned over the kingdom in his father’s stead, for the king was forced to live the rest of his life as a leper in a separate house from the palace (2 Chronicles 26:21). As a leper, he was denied burial in a royal tomb and was instead buried in a field near the place where the kings were buried.

Closing thoughts 

What a tragedy! The legacy of the great king gave testimony to his skill as a warrior, builder, and administrator, but sadly—his life and memory were tainted as a leper. The sum of Uzziah’s (i.e., Azariah) life, despite his achievements, reads simply, “He [was] a leper” (2 Chronicles 26:23).

What counsel might Uzziah offer us if he was allowed to challenge 21st-century believers? Indeed, he would warn:

Sinful pride and the failure to honor the Lord and keep His Commandments will risk your legacy and your life.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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