The citizens of Jerusalem would flee their town via this valley in the Mount of Olives. They would reach Azal, probably a small town beside the Mount of Olives. Apparently, this was the same place where people fled during the reign of King Uzziah of Judah (781-740 BCE). The Book of Amos in its first chapter mentioned an earthquake that took place at that time sometime around 760-750 BCE. This must had made a big impact on people, because Zechariah mentioned it some 250 years later. In the end, Yahweh, their God would come with his holy ones. Thus, all the fugitives would be with Yahweh.
In a play on words, Micah wailed against 10 small Judean towns near where he lived. One of the largest towns mentioned was the old Philistine town of Gath that King Uzziah (781-740 BCE) had conquered. Micah used the same terminology as in 2 Samuel, chapter 1, about Gath, since there should be no weeping for that town. Then Micah turned to 5 small towns that are difficult to determine where they were. Beth-leaphrah literally means rolling around in dust. Shaphir literally means the fair one. Thus, the good-looking people of this town of Shaphir should keep going in their naked shame. On the other hand, the people of Zaanan did not come out to fight from their town. Beth-ezel was mourning and not supporting Yahweh. The people of Maroth were waiting anxiously for something good to happen. Yet Yahweh sent a disaster that went as far as the gates of Jerusalem.
This book was written by the prophet Amos. Apparently, he was a shepherd from Tekoa, a small village in Judah. However, he seemed to be talking about the powerful northern kingdom of Israel when King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE), the son of King Joash (798-783 BCE), was the king of Israel. At that same time, the king of Judah was King Uzziah (781-740 BCE). This all took place 2 years before the earthquake. However, it is difficult to precisely date this earthquake, but it could probably be around 760-750 BC.
Hosea was a prophet during the last days of the kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BCE. He also was the earliest Israelite written prophet that we know of. This work of Hosea is considered the first of the 12 minor prophets. In a classic prophetic phrase, the word of Yahweh came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, who may have been a prophet himself. At that time, the kings of Judah were King Uzziah (781-740 BCE), King Jotham (740-736 BCE), King Ahaz (736-716 BCE), and King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE), spanning nearly 100 years. Meanwhile, the king of Israel mentioned here was only King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE), the son of King Joash (798-783 BCE). That would eliminate all the Judean kings after King Uzziah. The last 4 kings of Israel were King Menahem, (743-738 BCE), King Pekahiah (738-737 BCE), King Pekah (737-732 BCE), and King Hoshea (732-724 BCE), but they were not mentioned here.
King Ahaz (736-716 BCE) was the grandson of King Uzziah, mentioned above, and the son of King Jotham (740-736 BCE) who ruled Judah. At the same time, King Rezin was the Syrian king of Aram from 792-732 BCE. He joined with the northern Israelite King Pekah (743-732 BCE) to attack Jerusalem. However, they were unable to mount an attack against Jerusalem. The story of King Ahaz can be found in 2 Kings, chapter 16 and 2 Chronicles, chapter 28.
Now we have the call of Isaiah. Should this not have been at the beginning of this book? Here it is found with a series of oracles about the war with the Assyrians. King Uzziah, also known as King Azariah, had been King of Judah from around 792-742 BCE, about 50 years. He ruled first with his father King Joash and then with his son King Jotham, when he was struck with leprosy, as noted in 2 Kings, chapter 15, and 2 Chronicles, chapter 26. In this vision, Isaiah saw Yahweh sitting on his high lofty throne in the Temple in the year aht King Uzziah had died, 742 BCE.
This Book of Isaiah purports to be the visions of a man named Isaiah the son of Amoz. He came to Judah and Jerusalem during the time that King Uzziah (781-740 BCE) was king. He also was there when King Jotham (740-736 BCE), the son of Uzziah was king. His son King Ahaz (736-716 BCE) was also the king of Judah. Finally, he was around when King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE) was the king of Judah. Thus the prophetic life of Isaiah extended from at least 742-701 BCE if not further, during the time there were 4 kings in Judah, spanning almost 100 years. The name Isaiah means that “Yahweh gives salvation.” We do not know much about his early life, probably born around 765 BCE. The so-called Minor Prophets of Amos, Hosea, and Micah lived around the same time in the 8th century BCE. The northern kingdom of Israel in Samaria came to an end around 724 BCE. There were indications of Isaiah’s activity in 2 Kings, chapters 18-20, and 2 Chronicles, chapter 32 in a more summary fashion. However, the influence of Isaiah the prophet was profound.
“King Jotham was twenty-five years old when he began to reign. He reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerushah daughter of Zadok. He did what was right in the sight of the Yahweh just as his father King Uzziah had done. However, he did not invade the temple of Yahweh. However, the people still followed corrupt practices.”
Now we are back to 2 Kings, chapter 15. King Jotham had actually been the caretaker of the Judah kingdom while his father suffered from leprosy. He was only 25 when his father died, but it is not clear how long his father had leprosy. He took over the crown and ruled for another 16 years so he would have died at age 41. His mother Jerushah or Jerusha is only mentioned here and nowhere else. There were 4 other people with the name of Zadok in the biblical literature. Since he had assisted his father while he was still alive, he was considered a good king, like his father. However, he did not enter the Temple like his father when he was struck with leprosy. But like his father, the people still followed the corrupt practices of the high places of non-Yahweh worship in Judah, even though there is no explicit mention of the high places like in 2 Kings.
“All the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old and made him king to succeed his father King Amaziah. He built Eloth and restored it to Judah, after the king slept with his ancestors. King Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign. He reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. He did what was right in the sight of Yahweh, just as his father King Amaziah had done. He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought Yahweh, God made him prosper.”
Once again, this biblical chronicler used 2 Kings, chapter 15 as his basic text. King Uzziah ruled for a long time. The text says 52 years but the title and most charts put it at 42 years. He may have been a regent king ruling with his father, since his father King Amaziah was so unpopular. Also there is a question about his name. Here he is referred to as King Uzziah, but in 2 Kings, he was named King Azariah. This is the problem with names that are so close except for a consonant or two. He was 16 when he came to rule. His mother’s name was Jecoliah who was from Jerusalem, like his grandmother. Thus their names were similar. He was a righteous king who followed Yahweh. The text mentions that he followed his father, Azariah, but we just saw that his father was unfaithful to Yahweh. Nevertheless, King Uzziah conquered Elath, which was near the Red Sea. As usual there was no reference to the kingdom of Israel as in 2 Kings. Also there was no mention of the fact that the high places of worship still existed.