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26 1-3 After Amaziah’s death, the Judahites chose Uzziah, who was 16 years old, as their next king. During his reign he recaptured the port city of Eloth for Judah, bringing economic growth to the nation. Uzziah, son of Amaziah and Jechiliah of Jerusalem, reigned 52 years in Jerusalem. He acted just as his father Amaziah and his grandfather Joash had—following the Eternal initially, then turning away from Him.

While Zechariah the seer was alive, Uzziah followed the True God, listening to Zechariah’s messages from God as Joash had listened to Jehoiada’s counsel, and the True God blessed the king in battles, in building, and in wealth as long as he was obedient. He attacked the Philistines and tore down the walls of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod. To further weaken their nation, Uzziah built cities around Ashdod, the Philistine capital city, and elsewhere among the Philistines. Just as the True God helped him against the Philistines, He gave Uzziah victory over the Arabians in Gur-baal and the Meunites. Then the Ammonites paid tribute to Uzziah, and his political strength was infamous all the way to Egypt’s border.

In Jerusalem, Uzziah commissioned the building of towers at the corner gate, the valley gate, and in the wall’s corners to further fortify the city. 10 In the wilderness, he commissioned more towers and the digging of cisterns for his many livestock in the lowland and plain. And because he so cared for the land, he employed plowmen in the fertile fields and vinedressers in the hills to make the ground productive.

11 Uzziah maintained a standing army ready for battle with numbered divisions and weapon specialties. Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah the official (supervised by Hananiah, a royal officer) maintained the records of the divisions. 12 Each division was led by a tribal leader who was also a heroic soldier. The 2,600 heroic soldiers 13 controlled a talented army of 307,500 soldiers who helped the king battle his enemies. 14 Uzziah provided shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows, and sling stones to the army. 15 In Jerusalem, he positioned catapults to shoot arrows and great stones, a new invention by ingenious men, in the towers and on the corners of the city wall. Because of his impressive army, many of the surrounding nations knew about Uzziah and how God helped him win battles.

16 But when Uzziah had built his army and he no longer thought he needed God’s help in battles, he became prideful and corrupt. He was unfaithful to the Eternal One, his True God, entering the Eternal’s temple to burn incense on the altar.

As the king, not even he has the right to burn incense on the incense altar. Only priests could lawfully do this.

17 Azariah the priest and 80 other brave priests of the Eternal followed the king into the temple to stop him.

Priests: 18 Uzziah, you cannot burn incense to the Eternal. Only the priests, the sons of Aaron, have been consecrated for that action. Leave the temple now. You have sinned and will no longer be blessed by the Eternal One, the True God.

19 Uzziah was furious at the priests for forbidding him, the king, to do something. As he stood next to the incense altar in the Eternal’s temple holding the censer, the king’s forehead erupted with leprosy, an inflamed skin disease. 20 Azariah the chief priest and all the priests saw how the Eternal struck the king with leprosy on his forehead. As Uzziah rushed for the door, the priests hurried him out because the disease made him ritually unclean and unable to approach the temple. 21 For the rest of his life, King Uzziah was cursed with leprosy, so he was banned from the Eternal’s temple and lived away from society. During his absence, his son Jotham was in charge and judged the Southern Kingdom.

Uzziah’s sin is a desecration of the temple. He is not consecrated, so he cannot burn incense there. By doing so, he makes the temple ritually impure. God responds with an appropriate punishment: Uzziah makes God’s house impure, so He makes Uzziah’s body impure.

22 The prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, wrote about the rest of Uzziah’s actions. 23 When Uzziah died, the people with his family buried him near his ancestors in a field that belonged to them. He was not buried in the same tomb as his ancestors because his skin disease made him unclean. Then his son, Jotham, succeeded him as king.

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