The Reign of Uzziah
26 1 The people of Judah then took Uzziah, who was only sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah. 2 The first thing he did after his father was dead and buried was to recover Elath for Judah and rebuild it. 3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king and reigned for fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem. 4 He behaved well in the eyes of God, following in the footsteps of his father Amaziah. 5 He was a loyal seeker of God. He was well trained by his pastor and teacher Zechariah to live in reverent obedience before God, and for as long as Zechariah lived, Uzziah lived a godly life. And God prospered him. 6 He ventured out and fought the Philistines, breaking into the fortress cities of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod. He also built settlements around Ashdod and other Philistine areas. 7 God helped him in his wars with the Philistines, the Arabs in Gur Baal, and the Meunites. 8 The Ammonites also paid tribute. Uzziah became famous, his reputation extending all the way to Egypt. He became quite powerful. 9 Uzziah constructed defense towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, the Valley Gate, and at the corner of the wall. 10 He also built towers and dug cisterns out in the country. He had herds of cattle down in the foothills and out on the plains, had farmers and vinedressers at work in the hills and fields - he loved growing things. 11 On the military side, Uzziah had a well-prepared army ready to fight. They were organized by companies under the direction of Jeiel the secretary, Maaseiah the field captain, and Hananiah of the general staff. 12 The roster of family leaders over the fighting men accounted for 2,600. 13 Under them were reinforcement troops numbering 307,000, with 500 of them on constant alert - a strong royal defense against any attack. 14 Uzziah had them well-armed with shields, spears, helmets, armor, bows, and slingshots. 15 He also installed the latest in military technology on the towers and corners of Jerusalem for shooting arrows and hurling stones. He became well known for all this - a famous king. Everything seemed to go his way.
16 But then the strength and success went to his head. Arrogant and proud, he fell. One day, contemptuous of God, he walked into The Temple of God like he owned it and took over, burning incense on the Incense Altar. 17 The priest Azariah, backed up by eighty brave priests of God, tried to prevent him. 18 They confronted Uzziah: "You must not, you cannot do this, Uzziah - only the Aaronite priests, especially consecrated for the work, are permitted to burn incense. Get out of God's Temple; you are unfaithful and a disgrace!" 19 But Uzziah, censer in hand, was already in the middle of doing it and angrily rebuffed the priests. He lost his temper; angry words were exchanged - and then, even as they quarreled, a skin disease appeared on his forehead. 20 As soon as they saw it, the chief priest Azariah and the other priests got him out of there as fast as they could. He hurried out - he knew that God then and there had given him the disease. 21 Uzziah had his skin disease for the rest of his life and had to live in quarantine; he was not permitted to set foot in The Temple of God. His son Jotham, who managed the royal palace, took over the government of the country. 22 The rest of the history of Uzziah, from start to finish, was written by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 23 When Uzziah died, they buried him with his ancestors in a field next to the royal cemetery. His skin disease disqualified him from burial in the royal cemetery. His son Jotham became the next king.