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2 Chronicles 26:23 (ESV) reads:

And Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the burial field that belonged to the kings, for they said, “He is a leper.” And Jotham his son reigned in his place.

Overall, it sounds like the passage is saying that Uzziah was buried with the other kings ("with his fathers in the burial field"). But the "for they said" clause then seems out of place. Still, there's nothing here that I can see explicitly saying that Uzziah was buried apart from his fathers, and several statements saying he was buried with his fathers.

Nonetheless it's apparently common to interpret this as Uzziah being buried separately from them. The Reformed Study Bible says:

Uzziah was buried away from the royal family in relative dishonor because of the curse of leprosy.

The Moody Bible Commentary says something similar ("Uzziah was nevertheless buried... near... but not actually with the other kings").

Can this understanding be defended on the basis of this verse in and of itself? Or does it rely on other passages that more clearly define a) where kings were buried or b) what was done with lepers? How so?

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The principle reason for the near unanimous sense of commentators that Uzziah was buried apart from his ancestors -- seemingly reading against the natural sense of 2 Chronicles 26:23 -- has to do with the relation of this verse to its counterpart in 2 Kings 15:7:

+--------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+
|           2 Kings 15:7               |           2 Chron 26:23              |
+--------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+
| And Azariah slept with his fathers   | And Uzziah slept with his fathers    |
| and they buried him with his fathers | and they buried him with his fathers |
| in the city of David,                | in the burial field                  |
|                                      | that belonged to the kings,          |
|                                      | for they said, “He is a leper.”      |
| and Jotham his son reigned           | And Jotham his son reigned           |
| in his place.                        | in his place.                        |
+--------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+

The Chronicler seems to wish to clarify that Uzziah's remains are not in "the city of David" as the (probably) earlier account of Kings had it, but rather that his (still royal) burial was distinguished from them.

The burial notices involving the "city of David" in Kings and Chronicles (the only books where this formula occurs) are as follows:

  • 1 Kgs 2:10; 11:43; 14:31; 15:8, 24; 22:51;
  • 2 Kgs 8:24; 9:28; 12:22; 14:20; 15:7, 38; 16:20;
  • 2 Chr 9:31; 12:16; 13:23; 16:14; 21:1, 20; 24:16, 25; 27:9

It is the contrast of Kings and Chronicles regarding Azariah/Uzziah's burial that accounts for the statements by the Chronicles commentators. Sara Japhet's note (I & II Chronicles [OTL; WJK/P, 1993], p. 887) may be taken as representative:

Japhet

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Josephus indicates that King Uzziah was buried alone according to Antiquities 9:10.4 §227. In the Masoretic Text, the phrase "in the burial field that belonged to the kings" appears as follows in the Hebrew:

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According to the HAL, this Hebrew phrase speaks to a field adjoining the burial area of the kings. enter image description here One limestone inscription found in Jerusalem and dated to the First Century indicates that the bones of Uzziah were later reinterred to another unknown location. That is, the Aramaic inscription suggests that Uzziah was buried alone as was already mentioned by Josephus.


References:

Baker, D. W., & Millard, A. R. (1996). “Uzziah.” In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.). Leicester, England; Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1220-1221.

Koehler, Ludwig, Baumgartner, Walter, Richardson, M.E.J., & Stamm, J.J. (1999). The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1308.

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    Helpful info! The Loeb edition is available for that Josephus citation; that link goes directly to the passage of interest.
    – Dɑvïd
    Nov 23 '15 at 10:46
  • Thanks; this is great (upvoted earlier)! Still, I think David's answer is slightly more on target with what I'm looking for. Nov 24 '15 at 16:50
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The Hebrew into english is unclear, so many translations state this verse as you did in your question, many other translations such as NRSV "23 Uzziah slept with his ancestors; they buried him near his ancestors in the burial field that belonged to the kings, for they said, “He is leprous.”[a] His son Jotham succeeded him." But offer, little to no reason, for the translation difference. I even looked on the NET bible and no reason was given. I went to the JPS and it as well translated it as you did in your question. so there is, so far as I can see, no clear answer for you.

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