Week 44 is the week of Tisha B’Av, the only 24-hour fast day in the Jewish calendar other than Yom Kippur. Tisha B’Av marks the the day in which both the first and second Temples were destroyed, as well many other tragedies in Jewish history. It was on Tisha B’Av that the spies sent to the Land of Israel by Moshe came back with a negative report. After the people also reacted negatively, it was decreed that the Jewish people would spend 40 years in the desert.
The Haftorah verses speak of the Land resting for forty years. These forty years seem to be in direct contrast with the forty years spent in the desert. In the verse following that of the Haftorah, interestingly, just like the last battle in the 40 years in the desert were against Midian, so too, Israel now faced oppression from Midian after 40 years in which there was relative calm. Like on Tisha B’Av, Israel was delivered into the hands of its enemies because it displeased G-d. (This appears related to last week’s section of gemara Sotah, which describes Pinchas as the Mashuach Milchamah in the war against Midian).
Daf Mem Dalet (Folio 44) of Sotah speaks of the laws regarding the impurity of a dead body. It also speaks of other cases of people exempt from fighting a milchemet reshut: those that are engaged to be married, and those that are afraid. The daf also begins another chapter on the Eglah Arufah, the ritual of beheading of a calf in the case of an unsolved murder outside of a Jewish city. Many of these topics, particularly the first and the last, appear related to Tisha B’Av, a date marked by death and destruction. Also, Tisha B’Av is deeply related to those that fear war, similar to the fear that engulfed the Jewish people when they heard the report of the spies.
Uzziah, also known as Azariah, was the son of Amaziah and one of the most successful kings of Judah. His counterparts in Israel were Jeroboam ben Jehoash (31 years), Zechariah (6 months), Shallum (1 months), Menachem ben Gadi (10 years), Pekahiah ben Menahem (2 years), and Pekah ben Remaliah (8.5 years).
The beginning of his reign, while Uzziah was still young, saw a great devastation of Judah, with attackers plundering and pillaging it from every border. However, once Uzziah came of age and had a frim grasp of his throne, he was able to extensively develop the country, both militarily and economically.