The Antiquities of the Jews, 9.186–9.204

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

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1861. Now, in the second year of the reign of Joash over Israel, Amaziah reigned over the tribe of Judah in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan, who was born at Jerusalem. He was exceeding careful of doing what was right, and this when he was very young; but when he came to the management of affairs, and to the government, he resolved that he ought first of all to avenge his father Je-hoash, and to punish those his friends that had laid violent hands upon him: 187so he seized upon them all, and put them to death; yet did he execute no severity on their children, but acted therein according to the laws of Moses, who did not think it just to punish children for the sins of their fathers. 188After this he chose him an army out of the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, of such as were in the flower of their age, and about twenty years old; and when he had collected about three hundred thousand of them together, he set captains of hundreds over them. He also sent to the king of Israel, and hired a hundred thousand of his soldiers for a hundred talents of silver, for he had resolved to make an expedition against the nations of the Amatekites, and Edomites, and Gebalites: 189but as he was preparing for his expedition, and ready to go out to the war, a prophet gave him counsel to dismiss the army of the Israelites, because they were bad men, and because God foretold that he should be beaten, if he made use of them as auxiliaries; but that he should overcome his enemies, though he had but a few soldiers, when it so pleased God. 190And when the king grudged at his having already paid the hire of the Israelites, the prophet exhorted him to do what God would have him, because he should thereby obtain much wealth from God. So he dismissed them, and said that he still freely gave them their pay, and went himself with his own army, and made war with the nations before mentioned; 191and when he had beaten them in battle, he slew of them ten thousand, and took as many prisoners alive, whom he brought to the great rock which is in Arabia, and threw them down from it headlong. He also brought away a great deal of prey and vast riches from those nations. 192But while Amaziah was engaged in this expedition, those Israelites whom he had hired, and then dismissed, were very uneasy at it, and taking their dismission for an affront, (as supposing that this would not have been done to them but out of contempt,) they fell upon his kingdom, and proceeded to spoil the country as far as Beth-horon, and took much cattle, and slew three thousand men.

1932. Now upon the victory which Amaziah had gotten, and the great acts he had done, he was puffed up, and began to overlook God, who had given him the victory, and proceeded to worship the gods he had brought out of the country of the Amalekites. 194So a prophet came to him, and said, that he wondered how he could esteem these to be gods, who had been of no advantage to their own people who paid them honors, nor had delivered them from his hands, but had overlooked the destruction of many of them, and had suffered themselves to be carried captive, for that they had been carried to Jerusalem in the same manner as any one might have taken some of the enemy alive, and led them thither. 195This reproof provoked the king to anger, and he commanded the prophet to hold his peace, and threatened to punish him if he meddled with his conduct. So he replied, that he should indeed hold his peace; but foretold withal, that God would not overlook his attempts for innovation. 196But Amaziah was not able to contain himself under that prosperity which God had given him, although he had affronted God thereupon; but in a vein of insolence he wrote to Joash, the king of Israel, and commanded that he and all his people should be obedient to him, as they had formerly been obedient to his progenitors, David and Solomon; and he let him know, that if he would not be so wise as to do what he commanded him, he must fight for his dominion. 197To which message Joash returned this answer in writing: “King Joash to king Amaziah. There was a vastly tall cypress tree in Mount Lebanon, as also a thistle; this thistle sent to the cypress tree to give the cypress tree’s daughter in marriage to the thistle’s son; but as the thistle was saying this, there came a wild beast, and trod down the thistle: 198and this may be a lesson to thee, not to be so ambitious, and to have a care, lest upon thy good success in the fight against the Amalekites thou growest so proud, as to bring dangers upon thyself and upon thy kingdom.”

1993. When Amaziah had read this letter, he was more eager upon this expedition, which, I suppose, was by the impulse of God, that he might be punished for his offense against him. But as soon as he led out his army against Joash, and they were going to join battle with him, there came such a fear and consternation upon the army of Amaziah, as God, when he is displeased, sends upon men, and discomfited them, even before they came to a close fight. 200Now it happened, that as they were scattered about by the terror that was upon them, Amaziah was left alone, and was taken prisoner by the enemy; whereupon Joash threatened to kill him, unless he would persuade the people of Jerusalem to open their gates to him, and receive him and his army into the city. 201Accordingly Amaziah was so distressed, and in such fear of his life, that he made his enemy to be received into the city. So Joash over threw a part of the wall, of the length of four hundred cubits, and drove his chariot through the breach into Jerusalem, and led Amaziah captive along with him; 202by which means he became master of Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of God, and carried off all the gold and silver that was in the king’s palace, and then freed the king from captivity, and returned to Samaria. 203Now these things happened to the people of Jerusalem in the fourteenth year of the reign of Amaziah, who after this had a conspiracy made against him by his friends, and fled to the city Lachish, and was there slain by the conspirators, who sent men thither to kill him. So they took up his dead body, and carried it to Jerusalem, and made a royal funeral for him. 204This was the end of the life of Amaziah, because of his innovations in religion, and his contempt of God, when he had lived fifty-four years, and had reigned twenty-nine. He was succeeded by his son, whose name was Uzziah.

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