“In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign. Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem.” (II Kings 15:1-2)
“Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah.” ( II Chronicles 26:1)
Amaziah was killed during an uprising against him during Jeroboam II’s twenty seventh year, as a result of his adopting the gods of the Edomites in his later years. The people chose his sixteen year old son Azariah, also known as Uzziah to be their next king. One of his first actions as king was to reclaim and rebuild the city Eloth.
“He built Eloth, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.” (II Chronicles 26:2)
Like Amaziah, as a young man, Uzziah sought to please God, although, like many of the kings of Judah, he did not completely eliminate false doctrine and unscriptural practices, which had been ignored for so long they were no longer considered a problem.
“And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done; Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places.” (II Kings 15:3-4)
“And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.” (II Chronicles 26:5)
Like his grandfather Joash, Uzziah followed the Lord as long as there was a strong preacher to keep him in line. Unfortunately, like Joash and Amaziah, when he got older, he turned away from God. As long as he served God, God blessed him.
“And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines. And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gurbaal, and the Mehunims.
And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly.” (II Chronicles 26:6-8)
With God’s help, Uzziah was able to subdue the Philistines and occupy their land, building settlement among them like Israel has done among the Palestinians on the West Bank. In addition he was able stop the Arabs from using Edom as a base for raiding Judah. The ammonites in present day Jordan negotiated a treaty, paying tribute to maintain the peace on the East. Egypt was aware of his power and avoided conflict on the southwest.
“Moreover Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the corner gate, and at the valley gate, and at the turning of the wall, and fortified them. Also he built towers in the desert, and digged many wells: for he had much cattle, both in the low country, and in the plains: husbandmen also, and vine dressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry.” (II Chronicles 26:9-10)
Uzziah built up Judah’s infra-structure, fortifying Jerusalem and setting up outposts in the desert to protect the borders. He spent a lot of effort making the available land more useable by digging wells for raising cattle and irrigating crops, because he enjoyed farming and raising cattle, including the central mountains and along the Dead Sea.
“Moreover Uzziah had an host of fighting men, that went out to war by bands, according to the number of their account by the hand of Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah the ruler, under the hand of Hananiah, one of the king's captains. The whole number of the chief of the fathers of the mighty men of valour were two thousand and six hundred. And under their hand was an army, three hundred thousand and seven thousand and five hundred, that made war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy.” (II Chronicles 26:11-13)
Uzziah maintained a standing army of over three hundred ten thousand men, which was a strong deterrent to potential enemies, His army was also fully equipped with the most technologically advanced weapons.
“And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones. And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong.” (II Chronicles 26:14-15)
Most armies of the day were composed of volunteers and many had only basic weapons such as a sword and spear. Uzziah’s men all had shields and helmets to protect them, as well as bows and arrows for longer distance fighting. They carried a sling for when their supply of arrows was exhausted, and the habergeon, a sort of long battle axe for fighting men on horseback.
He also had various types of catapults, built and installed on permanent fortifications to help defend them from attack. Such weapons would not become widely used until much later. As a result, he had a reputation as being a good king to leave alone. It must have seemed like he was invincible.