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This is with reference to the two chapters :

2 Chronicles 26 Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah.
2 He built Eloth, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.
3 Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Jecoliah of Jerusalem.

and

2 Kings 15 In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign.
2 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.

It's pretty clear that both the chapters are referring to the same person? Then why are the names mentioned differently?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Rashi asks this question, and he argues that because they are obviously the same person, there must have been a name change:

In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam: Is it possible to say so? Did not Uzziah and Jeroboam reign simultaneously, as I explained shortly before this (14:22)? What, then, is the meaning of the verse, “In the twenty seventh year of Jeroboam… Azariah… became king” ? That from that year, he reigned a plagued kingship. We learn that he was stricken with “zaraath” in the twenty-seventh year of his reign.

Rashi is referring to tza'arat ("leprosy", but it's not really that), with which the king is afflicted a few verses later in Kings:

וַיְנַגַּע יְהוָה אֶת-הַמֶּלֶךְ, וַיְהִי מְצֹרָע עַד-יוֹם מֹתוֹ, וַיֵּשֶׁב, בְּבֵית הַחָפְשִׁית; וְיוֹתָם בֶּן-הַמֶּלֶךְ עַל-הַבַּיִת, שֹׁפֵט אֶת-עַם הָאָרֶץ.

5 And the LORD smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a house set apart. And Jotham the king's son was over the household, judging the people of the land.

The tzadi (first letter) in "tza'arat" doesn't appear in "Azariah", so I guess this is an argument based on similar sound and circumstances.


Please note: This answer was written for a neutral, academic audience and is not intended to be interpreted in the context of a religious belief or doctrine.

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Is the implication that when the king acquired the disease, he also acquired the name Azariah? Do we know of other examples of this practice? (Your answer is worth a +1, but I'm not sure if Rashi's is in this case. ;-) –  Jon Ericson Nov 26 '12 at 17:13
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There are other renamings (Hoshua -> Yehoshua, Avram -> Avraham, Yaakov -> Yisrael, and I remember but can't find a question here about a human-originated name change somwehere in kings/chronicles/samual/judges). But I'll have to go digging for derogatory renamings (which this seems to be). I wouldn't give Rashi a +1 without more support either. :-) –  Gone Quiet Nov 26 '12 at 17:22
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Nabal maybe? I was even thinking of the more specific case of renaming because of disease. Even today we see examples of people getting new names to go with new positions (popes and some royals, for instance). I suppose there's no reason to assume that Uzziah approved of the name; it could have been conferred by history. Neither name is derogatory in meaning or related to the disease, as far as I can tell. –  Jon Ericson Nov 26 '12 at 17:33
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