UZZIAH (Heb. for " Yah[weh] is [my] strength"), more correctly AZARIAH (Hebrew for " Yah[weh] helps "), son of Amaziah, grandson of Joash I., and king of Judah (2 Kings xiv. 22, xv. 1-7). Of his long reign of fifty-two years little is recorded. He recovered Elath at the head of the Aelanitic Gulf, evidently in the course of a successful campaign against Edom (a possible reference in Isa. xvi. i); we read further in 2 Chron. xxvi. of great wars against Philistines, Arabians and Meunim, of building operations in Jerusalem (probably after the attack by Joash), and of political and social reforms. The prosperity which Judah enjoyed during this period (middle of 8th century) is illustrated by the writings of Amos and by the earliest prophecies of Isaiah (e.g. ii. 6 sqq.). In his old age Uzziah was a leper (2 Kings xv. 5), and the later history (2 Chron. xxvi. 16 sqq.) regarded this as a punishment for a ritual fault of which the king was guilty; whilst Josephus (Ant. ix. 10. 4) records the tradition that on the occasion of his transgression the land was shaken by the terrible earthquake to which Amos i. i and Zech. xiv. 5 refer. During Uzziah's seclusion his son Jotham acted as regent. The growing power of Judah, however, aroused the jealousy of Israel, which, after the death of Jeroboam (2), had fallen on evil days (see MENAHEM). Jotham 's victory over Ammon (2 Chron. xxvii. 5) could only increase the hostility, and preparations were made by Israel for an alliance with Damascus which culminated in an attack upon Judah in the time of Jotham 's son, Ahaz (q.v.).
The identification (Schrader, McCurdy, etc.) of Azariah with Azriyau of Ja'udi, the head of a North Syrian confederation at Hamath (Hainan) overcome by Tiglath-Pileser IV. (738 B.C.), conflicts with the chronological evidence, with what is known of Uzziah's life and policy, and with the historical situations represented in the Biblical narratives (see Winckler, Alttest. Forschungen , i. 1-23; S. A. Cook, Ency. Bib. col. 5244; Whitehouse, Diet. Bib. iv. p. 844 seq. ; id. Isaiah, p. 9 seq.; Skinner, Kings, p. 359). On the other hand, the interrelation of events in Palestine and Syria during this period combine with the sudden prominence of Judah (under Uzziah) and the subsequent anti-Judaean and anti-Assyrian coalition (against Ahaz) to suggest that Uzziah had been supported by Assyria (cf. Winckler, Keilinschr. u. d. Alte Test., 3rd. ed., p. 262). In fact, since the Biblical evidence is admittedly incomplete, and to a certain extent insecure, the question of the identification of Azariah of Judah and Azriyau of Ja'udi may be reopened. See H. M. Haydn, Journ. of Bibl. Li<.,xxviii.(1909),pp.i82-i99, and artt. JEWS, 13 (beginning), 15; PALESTINE, Old Test. Hist. (S. A. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)