King Amaziah benefitted from his father Jehoash’s 40 year reign in Judah because most of that time the nation was peaceful. It was near the end of Johoash’s reign that war broke out with Syria and Jehoash was able to keep the damage to a minimum by paying Hazael king of Syria to leave Jerusalem.
After wining a battle with Edom, Amaziah made the mistake of antagonizing Jehoash king of Israel. “Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Isreal, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face” (2 Kings 14:8). Amaziah’s comment was the equivalent of challenging Jehoash to a dual.
Jehoash was a seasoned warrior that had defeated the Syrian army three times (2 Kings 13:25). Jehoash’s response to Amaziah’s challenge indicates he was not impressed with Amaziah’s victory over Edom. “Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry at home: for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?
Amaziah’s reckless behavior resulted in Judah being defeated by Israel’s army. In order to humiliate Amaziah and leave him in a vulnerable position, Jehoash broke down a 600 foot section of the wall of Jerusalem. He also raided the temple, “and he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the LORD” (2 Kings 14:13-14).
Jehoash’s intention in defeating Amaziah was not to protect his own nation, but to diminish Judah’s strength, both physically and spiritually. Amaziah’s foolishness put his people at risk and left Judah vulnerable to attack. “And they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: and he fled to Lachish” (2 Kings 14:19).