|Uzziah appears under different spellings in the Bible - OZIAS,
Uzziah is the son and successor of Amaziah, and king of
Judah. According to biblical records Uzziah reigned for 52 years (c.
791-739 BCE), but Assyrian records indicate that he reigned for 42 years
Uzziah's reign marked the height of Judah's power.
He fought successfully against other nations and exacted tribute
from the Ammonites. Judah
expanded its boundaries westward with settlements in Philistia.
During this period the nation prospered, and desert areas were reclaimed
by water conservation. Jerusalem's
walls were reconstructed, towers were added, and engines of war were
mounted at strategic points. A
large army was also maintained during his reign. The nation's prosperity under Uzziah was considered to have
been a result of the king's fidelity to Yahweh.
According to the biblical record, Uzziah's strength caused him to
become proud, which led to his downfall.
He attempted to burn incense in the Temple, an act restricted to
priests. When the priests
attempted to send him from the Temple, the king became angry and was
immediately stricken with leprosy.
His son Jotham ruled for his father until Uzziah died.
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FUNERARY INSCRIPTION OF UZZIAH,
KING OF JUDAH
"Hither were brought /the bones of Uzziah/ King of Judah/ Do not
The epitaph once marked the place, now unknown, where the bones of
King Uzziah were re-interred many centuries after his death in the
eighth century BC. It is written in Aramaic, a language spoken in Israel
during the Second Temple period (as were Hebrew and Greek) and in style
of script that dates it to the latter part of the Second Temple period.
The Bible, which records Uzziah's deeds, fortification projects, and
conquests, also describes his burial (2 Chron.26:23): "Uzziah
slept with his fathers in the burial field of the kings, because, they
said, he was a leper." Evidently the leper king was not buried in
the royal tombs within the City of David, but elsewhere, probably
outside the city walls. Josephus also relates (Antiquities of the Jews,
IX, 10, 4) that "he was buried alone in his gardens." It is
not clear whether Uzziah's disease was leprosy in the modern sense, but
certainly those suffering from what Bible terms "leprosy" had
to live in isolation and be buried in a place set apart from usual
burial sites. The removal of Uzziah's remains from the original burial
place may have been connected with the expansion of the city at the end
of the Hasmonean period or in Herod's reign.
The inscription was discovered more than fifty years ago in the
collections of the Russian Orthodox monastery on the Mount of Olives.
There was, however, no record of the place where it had been found at
the end of nineteenth century.
This is the only ancient object known on which the name of a king of
Judah appears; its importance is therefore considerable, even though it
dates from a period much later than Uzziah's reign.