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Uzziah (Heb: Yah is my strength), son of Amaziah, was king of Judah in the eighth century BC.[1] Coming to the throne at the age of 16, he would reign for fifty-two years.

After defeating the Edomites in battle, his father Amaziah had brought images home to worship. Soon after that he learned of a conspiracy to kill him, so he fled to Laish. When the assassins killed his father, Uzziah was made king in Jerusalem. He would reign in his father's place for years before coming to be full king at Amaziah's death.

Generally a good king, having put away his father's idolatry, he erred in his zealous worship of Yahweh, bringing incense into the temple when only priests were allowed to do that. The high priest Azariah caught him in the act, and the result was a punishment from God: leprosy. The king had to live by himself for the last 11 years of his reign. His son Jotham would rule from the throne for those years.

Etymology

The usual spelling of the name is \uZzYaH, (root: \ZYH; "\" = ayin), ooziyah, meaning "Yah is my strength." This reflects a period in his father's life when things were going well. An alternate reading of Azariah that is \aZaRiYah (root: \ZRYH), azariyah, differs only with the introduction of an "R". This was the name of the priest that reprimanded the king in his latter days. Most scholars believe this to be a scribal error. The names are not only connected in history, but can sound alike according to ones dialect. Azariah means "Yah has helped." This name fits the time of Amaziah as well, but creates an unnecessary contradiction.

History

Uzziah was born to Amaziah, son of Jehoash of Judah, in the thirtieth year of his grandfather's reign. The days of Jehoash had begun in turmoil, and ended badly when Amaziah was about ten years old. After his grandfather was assassinated, word spread that his father was also a target. Much of Amaziah's reign was from the safety of Laish, but Uzziah began to manage the affairs of state at the age of 16 when his father was living in exile.

Under the influence of a prophet named Zechariah, Uzziah flourished. His name was a household name all the way to Egypt, as he sought to keep the Law of God. In the height of his career, he promoted peace by having an imposing army with the latest in military hardware. His armies were able to impose order, and get the Ammonites to pay for it.

His last days, though, did not go well. Though he did not sin grievously, in his pride he disregarded the "separation of powers" by seeking to bring incense into the temple to burn at the alter only there for the priest. The high priest Azariah and his staff stood up against the well respected king. More importantly, God stood against him, inflicting his with leprosy. Since the Law was explicit, the king could not repeat his error until the leprosy left him. He died with the leprosy in a private villa, sharing rule with his son for eleven years.

Verses

  1. 2 Kings 14:21; 2 Chron. 26:1 (Link)

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