Jotham, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 14, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

The reign of King Jotham in Judah is an interesting one. Although he was technically king for 16 years, his reign was overlapped fairly significantly by his father King Uzziah before him.

King Uzziah stopped serving as king of Judah before he actually died because he was suddenly afflicted with leprosy after directly disobeying God. While he was forced to quarantine due to his disease, his son Jotham took over to fulfill the duties of the king. It’s debated whether Jotham was actually considered to be the king while Uzziah was still alive. In 2 Chronicles 26:21, we read that “Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.” Then in verse 23, we read, “Uzziah rested with his ancestors and was buried near them in a cemetery that belonged to the kings, for people said, ‘He had leprosy.’ And Jotham his son succeeded him as king.”

So, the first years of Jotham’s reign as king were overshadowed by the fact that his father was still alive. There is little significant written about him in his account in 2 Kings 15:32-38, so we’ll look at the passage about him in 2 Chronicles 27:1-9 for a few more details.

King Jotham was considered a good thing in that he followed God. The first part of 2 Chronicles 27:2 tells us, “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the LORD.” The author clearly notes the distinction between King Uzziah and his son King Jotham. While King Uzziah’s reign started out good and obeying God, it ended in great disobedience to God; King Jotham’s reign was good and he mostly obeyed God throughout.

But, the second half of verse 2 notes that, “The people, however, continued their corrupt practices.” Second Kings 15:35 elaborates on that a bit more: “The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.” Even though King Jotham himself did not worship idols, he still allowed idolatry and the worship of pagan gods to happen among the people by not getting rid of the high places where they would conduct such sacrifices.

Overall, King Jotham’s reign was a good and prosperous time for the people of Israel. King Jotham rebuilt one of the gates of the temple and he also worked on the wall of Jerusalem that needed repairs. He also built towns, forts, and towers in various areas of Judah, all of which demonstrated the nation’s prosperity during this time (verses 3-4).

The other main thing that King Jotham is known for was the war with the Ammonites, as described in verse 5: “Jotham waged war against the king of the Ammonites and conquered them. That year the Ammonites paid him a hundred talents of silver, ten thousand cors of wheat and ten thousand cors of barley. The Ammonites brought him the same amount also in the second and third years.” King Jotham and the nation of Judah had victory over the Ammonites because the king was following God, and because of that, Judah was rewarded with material wealth from the Ammonites.

There are references in other historical works outside of the Bible to other wars that King Jotham fought while leading the nation of Judah. But King Jotham’s reign is summarized in verse 6: “Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God.” Everything he did, whether mentioned in the Bible or not, was because he was obedient to God.

It is unclear from Scripture exactly when King Jotham’s reign ended. There are historical references that indicate that his son King Ahaz actually took over reigning before King Jotham died, though the language of verse 9 indicates that it was the usual progression of his death, then his son succeeded him. However, the cause of death is unknown; we know from verse 8 that he was 25 when he became king and he reigned for 16 years, so he would have only been 41 years old at the time when he stopped being king, whether by death or because he appointed his son to take over.

What can we learn from King Jotham of Judah? King Jotham was not remembered for much significance in Judah’s history, as evidenced by the fact that little was recorded about him. But it is clear that God blessed King Jotham and the nation of Judah because of the king’s obedience to God, even if the people were still worshiping idols at the high places.

When God calls us to follow Him in obedience and we do, that’s not always something that gets noticed or even remembered. We don’t follow God for the intent of being remembered for the amazing things we’ve done; we follow God and are obedient to Him simply for the sake of following the God who created us, redeemed us, and sustains us. King Jotham followed God and wasn’t remembered for much; we, too, may not be remembered for much by following God, and we need to be okay with that. The point of following God is not to receive recognition from others but to give glory to God.

What’s your motivation for following God? Are you looking for recognition for the things you do to follow God, or are you following God because of who He is?

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