II Chronicles 24
This chapter contains the entire career of Joash, and is answered to by the
twelfth chapter of II Kings. It tells of:
· Joash’s fidelity to God, and His worship and temple, while Jehoiada’s
life lasted (vs. 1-14);
· his departure from God and permission of idolatry afterwards (vs. 15-22);
· the punishment he received at the hands of the Syrians (vs. 23-24); and
· of his miserable end (vs. 25-27).
The differences between our chapter and the parallel, in respect of what it both omits
and supplies, are much larger than usual, and are very interesting and suggestive in
the character of them. These points will be marked particularly in the notes
underneath as they occur.
1 "Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty
His mother’s name…
in the brief account of Ahaziah, Joash’s father, whom he married. Nothing
is as yet known of Zibiah, but there must be some significance underlying
the mention of her name and native place, or known place of residence.
The references Amos 5:5 and 8:14 may possibly contain the clue, in
As a terminus of the land, “Dan to
I Chronicles 21:2); as a terminus of the divided
Ephraim” (ch. 19:4), “Geba to
(Nehemiah 11:30); its mention is notorious. The references Genesis 21:31 and
26:23, 31-33 are full of interest, as bearing on the way in which the spot is
first known in Bible history.
2 "And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the
days of Jehoiada the priest." All the days of Jehoiada. Of the “forty years”
mentioned in the former verse, these “days of Jehoiada” will cover, some, at
any rate, say, two years more than “twenty-two years;” for compare our
vs. 6,12-15 with the parallel, II Kings 12:6-7, 9, noting the thenceforward
silence there respecting Jehoiada, and even making ample allowance for it.
Moral Weakness (vs. 1-2)
The extremely interesting circumstances under which Joash came to the
throne (ch. 23.) make us wish that there was something satisfactory to
record of him when he sat upon it. Unfortunately, it is not so. One work in
particular he wrought (see next homily) for which he deserves honor, but
his character stands before us as that of an essentially weak man. He did
what was right all the days of Jehoiada, but no longer. He allowed one
man, to whom he was much indebted, to influence him aright; so far he did
well. That, however, is not saying very much, for it would have been
ingratitude indeed, of the deepest dye, if he had not been guided by those
who first saved his life, and then, as the greatest risk to themselves, seated
him upon the throne of his fathers. But goodness that goes no deeper than
that is essentially weak; the worth that has to be propped up by a human
hand, and that falls to the ground when the sustaining hand is withdrawn, is
of small account. It has taken no root; it will have no length of life; it will
bring forth no flowers and fruits. MORAL WEAKNESS is:
prophet of the Lord has no word of general commendation, though he has
words of rebuke to utter (vs. 19-20). With them God “is not well
pleased.” And man is also and equally dissatisfied. Men that are wrong and
strong will find their advocates; indeed, they find all too many to honor
and praise them, both while they live and when they are departed. But men
that are good and weak find none to admire them. They may start, as Joash
apparently did, with fair intentions and blameless desires, but they have no
force of character, and being “driven with the wind and tossed,” carried
about hither and thither according to the passing breeze, they are the object
of disregard, if not of positive contempt. There is nothing honorable or
admirable in them.
some good during one half of their life, or at different parts of their life; but
the good they then do is counterbalanced by the harm they work during the
other half or on other occasions; and no one can say which prevails over
the other. The measure of many a man’s life-influence is a nice sum in
spiritual subtraction; and when everything is known it will perhaps be
found to be a “negative quantity.” It is a poor and a pitiful thing to see a
man first building up and then pulling down; one day working with the
people of God and the next associating with the enemies of true and pure
religion; subscribing to a Christian charity and attending a demoralizing
spectacle; pulling in contrary directions. What can such a man do? What
witness can he bear, what work achieve, what contribution bring to the
great end we should have in view — the elevation of our kind? That will be
represented by a cypher — or something worse.
natural endowment, and rests with our Creator and not with ourselves; that
men receive from him either strength and force of will or else pliancy of
spirit, sensitiveness of soul and readiness to be affected by influences from
outside. This is true, in part; but it is not the whole truth. We must not
make our heavenly Father responsible for our short-comings. Moral
weakness is a defect of character. It is the result of A WRONG CHOICE!
Ø Let a man give himself, as he should, in FULL SURRENDER TO GOD,
whoso he is and whom he is most sacredly bound to serve, to that DIVINE
SAVIOUR who has bought him with the price of his own redeeming blood,
and he will then be in the way of gaining single-heartedness and strength.
Ø Let him be regularly and repeatedly renewing his act of self-dedication.
Joash did, when he was a child, pledge himself to the service of Jehovah
(ch. 23:16). But he was then too young to understand all that
such a covenant meant. He should have continually renewed that solemn
pledge. We have the amplest opportunities and invitations to reconsecrate
ourselves to the service of Christ, and if we accept these, we shall retain
our thorough loyalty to Him, and then we shall not be moved and swayed,
but be “steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the
Lord” – (I Corinthians 15:58)
Ø Let him gain strength from above. There is an unfailing Divine resource
on which all the good may draw. “When I am weak, then am I strong,”
said Paul (II Corinthians 12:10). For when he was most conscious of his
own insufficiency, then he looked up for help to the “Lord of all power
and might,” to Him who can and will “strengthen us with strength in
our soul,” who will “strengthen us with all might by His Spirit in the
inner man” (Ephesians 3:16), who will make us strong:
o to endure;
o to overcome;
o to bear witness; and
o to labour in the holy fields of Christian work.
3 "And Jehoiada took for him two wives; and he begat sons and
daughters." That special note is made of Jehoiada’s selecting of the wives
may at any rate point to the suggestion that he was all a father to Joash,
and both for his own sake and the kingdom’s sake anxious as to the
character of the women by whom a new kingly seed should take rise in
place of that destroyed by Athaliah (ch. 22:10). Ch. 25:1 leaves it probable
that “Jehoadan of
that Joash married, whether her or some one else, before he had reached the
age of twenty-one. It is also quite likely that we may read between the lines,
that in selecting two wives for his young and loved ward, Jehoiada hoped
and prayed that Joash might not fall by sin like Solomon’s (I Kings 11:3)
and that of others of the kings of both
The Early Years of Joash (vs. 1-3)
Ø His father. Jehoahaz, Ahaziah, or Azariah (ch. 21:17; ch. 22:1, 6),
Jehoram’s youngest son, who ascended the throne on
his father’s death, reigned one year, was slain by Jehu (ch. 22:9), and
himself bad, he was a good man’s son (ch. 22:9).
Ø His mother. Zibiah of Beersheba, concerning whom nothing is known.
Perhaps beautiful, as her name “Gazelle” may suggest; considering who
her husband was, it will not be safe to say she was good, though the
place she came from once had an aroma of piety about it (Genesis 21:33).
Ø Early begun. When seven years old. Such early promotion would not
have been safe for the kingdom (Ecclesiastes 10:16) or good for
himself had Jehoiada not been beside him as counselor of his
inexperience, and, in fact, as virtual ruler.
Ø Long continued. Forty years. Shorter by fifteen than that of Manasseh
(ch. 33:1), his occupation of the throne was only one year shorter than that
of Asa (ch. 16:13), and as long as that of Solomon (ch. 9:30).
Ø Promising. “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.” But:
Ø Imperfect. “The high places were not taken away; the people still
sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places” (II Kings 12:3). And:
Ø Unstable. He behaved well only so long as Jehoiada lived to counsel,
and perhaps restrain him.
was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem (ch. 25:1). Perhaps:
Ø Good policy, to ensure a succession to the throne. But:
Ø Bad morality, and against the Law of God, though recommended by a
pious priest, and sanctioned by the example of godly kings. Joash’s
subsequent declension may have been in part due to this.
Ø That early greatness is not always accompanied by early goodness.
Ø That many begin to run well in youth who nevertheless decline in after years.
Ø That religious education is not sufficient in itself to overcome the force
of inbred corruption.
Ø That permanence is an indispensable quality in all moral and spiritual
Ø That all the opinions of a good man are not necessarily good.
Ø That good men sometimes occasion sin in others.
4 "And it came to pass after this, that Joash was minded to repair the house
of the LORD." To repair. The idea of this verb (חָדַשׁ) is that of making new.
5 "And he gathered together the priests and the Levites, and said to
them, Go out unto
the cities of
money to repair the house of your God from year to year, and see
that ye hasten the matter. Howbeit the Levites hastened it not."
To repair. The idea of this verb (חָזַק) is that of making strong.
From year to year. The compound adverbial expression חָדֵּי, here used
for “from,” embraces the idea of” unfailingly from year to year.” The
command given here to the priests and Levites is expressed very
differently, though in no degree contradictorily, in the parallel (see its vs. 4-5).
The addition is there found, “every man of his acquaintance;” this
expression may glance at the very supposable circumstance that the priest
and Levite collecting deputations would naturally go respectively to the
towns and cities where they had been located beforetime. A slight
ambiguity is perhaps occasioned by the impression that the fourth verse (in
the parallel) produces — that the priests and Levites should wait to
receive, e.g., in
not, therefore, be made into a difficulty. Howbeit the Levites hastened
not. We are not told why this delay was, nor does the subsequent narrative
seem to elucidate it, further than this — that the delay somehow seemed to
rest with Jehoiada, as the king appealed to him for explanation.
6 "And the king called for Jehoiada the chief, and said unto him, Why
hast thou not
required of the Levites to bring in out of
Moses the servant of the LORD, and of the congregation of Israel,
for the tabernacle of witness?" Jehoiada the chief; sc. priest, for compare
our v. 11; ch. 19:11; 26:20. In each of those instances the Hebrew text shows
הָראשׁ and the Authorized Version “chief” except inconsistently in our
v. 11. Revised Version “chief” in all the instances. The name “priest”
occurs just about six hundred and sixty-six times in the Old Testament, the
title “high” or “chief priest” only about twenty-six times, the first
occurrence being in Leviticus 21:10, the last Zechariah 6:11; and
both set forth by the Hebrew adjective גָּדול, as also in fifteen other of the
occurrences. Seven times the word רלֺאשׁ is the word employed, and
שָׂרֵי the other two times. In these last two cases, however (Ezra 8:24, 29; 10:5),
it is not “high priests” nor “chief priests” that are perhaps even
really intended, but the “princes” of the priests, or those who, for whatever
reasons of personal characteristics, were chief. Out of Judah and out of
made both in the cities of
collection; Hebrew, מַשְׁאַת; Revised Version, better, the tax of, etc. Of this
we read in Exodus 30:13-15; 38:25-26; Numbers 1:30. It was of
the uniform amount of half a sanctuary shekel, for rich or poor, and was
ordered to be set apart “for the service of the tabernacle of the
conregation,” here called in the Authorized Version the tabernacle of
witness; Revised Version, the tent of the testimony. Exodus has מועֵד
for our חָעֵדוּת. This source of money for the holy design of Joash is again
most specifically stated in our v. 9. The version of this whole transaction
seems rather confusing as given in the parallel, where v. 4 mentions three
sources of money, without any quotation as such of the ordained tax of
Moses, which was apparently the first of those three, and where v. 8, at
first blush at any rate, might seem to imply recusant priests. The meaning,
however, is probably the contrary, the verse purporting that the priests
consented to forego what they had been accustomed on receiving to apply
to some personal or current-funds purpose, and who consented to forego
the superintending of the outlay of the money on the repairing, that it
might be done with more expedition by “scribe” and high priest” (v. 10;
compare v. 16; both of the parallel). All these details the writer of
Chronicles passes over, only pursuing the essential business, Joash’s pious
resolve, the delay in its execution, and how he finally overcame the
7 "For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the
house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the
LORD did they bestow upon Baalim." The sons of Athaliah. This verse’s
testimony against Athaliah’s sons explains ch. 21:17, and is explained and
corroborated by it. That wicked woman; Hebrew, הַמִּרְשַׁעַת - feminine noun,
derivative of רַשַׁע; meaning strictly in the abstract, “the wickedness,” equal
to that incarnation of wickedness. All the dedicated things; i.e. the holy vessels,
treasure, and holy furniture of the house of the Lord, had they desecrated,
and robbed them thence to squander them on their various Baals (ch. 17:3).
8 "And at the king’s commandment they made a chest, and set it without
at the gate of the house of the LORD." A chest; Hebrew, אֲרון אֶחָד
“one chest.” This is more accurately described in v. 9 of the parallel.
Without at the gate of the house of the Lord; i.e. in the court opposite the porch,
and, as we learn from the parallel, by the side of the altar of burnt offering. Now,
not the priests generally, but simply those who kept the door, receiving the
contributions of the people at their hands, into their own hands deposited
them in the one chest.
9 "And they made a proclamation through
bring in to the LORD the collection that Moses the servant of God
10 "And all the princes and all the people rejoiced, and brought in, and
cast into the chest, until they had made an end." Until they had made an end;
Hebrew, לְכִּלֵּה, piel infinitive. The meaning can scarcely be till enough was
obtained, because day after day, as the next verse tells us, the chest was brought;
but either till those who had come that day to give had all given in their
contributions, or, as some think with much less probability, till the chest was full
for the day. At the same time, the clause, occupying only one word in the original,
may quite possibly purport to state summarily by anticipation that the same system
was observed to the end, and the method of the chest not departed from.
11 "Now it came to pass, that at what time the chest was brought unto
the king’s office by the hand of the Levites, and when they saw
that there was much money, the king’s scribe and the high priest’s
officer came and emptied the chest, and took it, and carried it to his
place again. Thus they did day by day, and gathered money in
abundance." Unto the king’s office. Not “office” in the modern technical
business sense; the meaning is the care, charge, or custody of the king, the
Hebrew word being פְקֻדַּת; nor does this necessitate the supposition of the
personal care of the king. The body of this verse leaves it quite open to
possibility, in harmony with the usage of the Hebrew language and its
idiom, that the process described took place, if necessary, more than once
in a day, and, on the other hand, not necessarily every evening. The change
of the number of the verb in “they emptied,” etc., and the apparent
statement that those who emptied also carried back the chest, betoken that
while the king’s scribe (I Kings 4:3) and the high priest’s officer
stood by, the usual Levite functionaries did the work. The phrase, day by
day, is not necessarily equivalent to every evening, but to time after time.
A Good Intention Well Carried Out (vs. 4-11)
Ø The reparation of the house of the Lord.
o What this signified. The reconstruction, not of the whole but of such
parts of the temple walls and edifices as had been overturned and
destroyed. A project both becoming and right — becoming that
Jehovah’s house should be restored to its pristine completeness
and beauty (I
Chronicles 22:3); right, inasmuch as on
been devolved the duty of protecting and preserving it (ch. 7:16-22).
In the same way is it proper for, and incumbent on, believers to have
regard to the strength and beauty, symmetry and adornment, not
merely of the material edifices, but also and chiefly of the spiritual
temples of the Christian Church.
o Why this was needed. On account, not of the ravages of time upon its
massive masonry, but of the demolition it had suffered at the hands of
Jehoram) in order to construct the
walls and pillars, altars and images, had just been broken in pieces by
religion, as well as by systems of no religion, have breaches sometimes
been made in the Christian Church — adherents seduced from the faith,
doctrines obscured, perverted, or rendered inoperative — which demand
the utmost efforts of Christians to repair, even after the false systems,
like Baal’s temple, have been shattered to pieces.
o By whom this was projected. By Joash, who, even if not impelled by
higher motives, certainly had reason to remember the house in which his
infant years had been sheltered, and himself when a boy had received
his crown. If Joash moved in this matter of his own accord, the fact
spoke well for his goodness; if even he required to be urged to it by
Jehoiada — which is not stated — the fact that he listened to the
priest attested the reverence he possessed for Jehovah’s servant.
The pity was that neither his goodness nor his reverence were deeply
rooted or permanent.
o When this was moved. “After this,” an indefinite note of time which
might mean either after the revolution or after Joash’s marriages. If the
former, which is doubtful, the king evinced praiseworthy alacrity —
if his business demanded haste (v. 5), much more did God’s
(ch. 15:15; 31:21; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Romans 12:11); if the latter, his
dilatoriness was not without blame (Matthew 6:33).
Ø The replacement of the dedicated things which had been bestowed upon
the Baalim (v. 7). Not the dedicated things Solomon had brought into the
temple (ch. 5:1); the spoil, in articles of gold and silver, David had taken
from his enemies (I Kings 7:51), since these had been pillaged and carried
off by Shishak (ch. 12:9); probably the silver, gold, and vessels dedicated
by Abijah, Asa (ch. 15:18), and Jehoshaphat (II Kings 12:18); the spoil
taken by the first from Jeroboam (ch.13:16), by the second from the Cushites
(ch. 14:12), and by the third from the Ammonites (ch. 20:25).
for the undertaking.
Ø The plan that failed.
o What it was. That the priests and Levites should in all the cities of
amount levied from each man should be “the tax of Moses the servant
the Lord, and of the congregation of
testimony” (v. 6); and that this should be done annually (v. 5). In
II Kings 12:4, the money is defined as of three sorts (Keil):
§ The “money of the numbered,” or, “of every one that passeth
the numbering,” i.e. the poll tax of half a shekel required of
every Israelite as a ransom for his soul (Exodus 30:12-16);
§ the “money of the persons for whom each man is rated,” i.e.
the sums arising from the redemption of devoted persons
(Leviticus 27:1-8); and
§ “the money that it cometh into any man’s heart to bring into
the house of the Lord,” i.e. the free-will offerings of the people.
According to another interpretation (Bahr), only the two last
sorts were intended, and the phrase, “money of the numbered,”
should be rendered “in current money” (Revised Version) —
the reason for this instruction that the contributions should be
in current money being, it is said, that the money “was to be
paid out at once to mechanics for their labour” (Thenius).
o Why it failed. Not because the priests embezzled the money (J. D.
Michaelis, De Wette), which is not stated, and should not be
suggested, but probably because of:
§ their dilatoriness in setting about the work entrusted to them
— that the work should have been entrusted to them was the
first mistake in the proposed plan;
§ the difficulty they had in gathering in the money, which from
the manner of its levying had the appearance of a compulsory
payment — this the second mistake in the proposed plan; and:
§ the too lavish expenditure demanded by their own personal
necessities (a legitimate charge upon the collected funds),
leaving too small a balance for the work of temple-repairing —
that the priests should have been left to distribute the taxes
and offerings of the people between their own needs and the
public requirements was the third mistake in the proposed plan.
“If self the wavering balance shake,
It’s rarely right adjusted.”
The result was that in the three and twentieth year of Joash —
the year of a
new reign in
had done little or nothing in the way of repairing the breaches
of the temple (II Kings 12:6).
Ø The plan that succeeded.
o The details of the new plan. According to II Kings, the work of
collecting money for themselves, the temple worship, and the repair
of the building was no more to be entrusted to their hands, neither
were these three items of expense to be in future defrayed out of a
common fund; but the trespass-money and sin-money should be
assigned to the priests for the first two of these purposes, as the
Law of Moses prescribed (Leviticus 5:16; Numbers 5:8), while the
taxes and the free-will offerings should be devoted to the third
(II Kings 12:7-16). According to the Chronicler, whose statements
are supported by those of the Book of Kings, by Joash’s
command a chest or collection-box of wood was made with a hole
bored in its lid, and placed “without at the gate of the house of the
Lord,” i.e. in the outer court “beside the altar as one cometh into
the house of the Lord” (II Kings 12:9). Next a proclamation was
themselves, of their own free will and pleasure, bring in the temple
rates prescribed by the Law, and the free-will offerings to which they
were impelled by their own hearts, and deposit these, unseen by any
eye BUT JEHOVAH’S, into the box. Again, it was arranged that,
as often as the chest or box was full, it should be conveyed by the
hands of the Levites into the king’s office, where the money should
be emptied out by or before the king’s secretary and the high priest’s
assistant, who should put it into bags, weigh it and hand it over to
them “that did the service of the house of the Lord,” after which
the chest should be carried back again to its place at the temple gate.
o The recommendations of the new plan. It avoided the mistakes of the
first scheme. It put the work into the hands of a board of oversight
better fitted to command the confidence of the community. It avoided
the irritating weapon of compulsion, and relied upon the free will of the
people, even with regard to the levying of taxes. It simplified the
financial arrangements by keeping the money given for the temple
separate from that paid to the priests.
o The success of the new plan. The people entered into it as their
forefathers had done when invited to contribute towards the building
of the tabernacle (Exodus 35:21, etc.), universally — “all the princes
and all the people cast into the chest;”
§ cheerfully, with no sense of constraint or compulsion upon
them — “they rejoiced;”
§ liberally — money was “gathered in abundance;”
§ unweariedly — not once or twice merely, but
§ regularly and constantly they went on with their collecting
“until they had made an end,”
i.e. of the enterprise they had in hand, the repairing of the temple.
The above principles should regulate Christian giving, which
§ universal — “every one of you” (I Corinthians 16:2);
§ cheerful — “God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7);
§ liberal —“see that ye abound in this grace [of liberality] also”
(ibid. ch. 8:7); and
§ constant — “to do good and to communicate forget not”
Ø The cost of materials was defrayed. “Timber and hewn stone,” at least,
had to be bought (II Kings 12:12).
Ø The wages of workmen were paid. Masons, carpenters, and workers in
iron and brass were hired.
Ø The necessary vessels were constructed. The surplus money, after
meeting the above charges, was devoted to the manufacture of gold and
silver utensils for the temple service. “So the workmen wrought,” etc.
Ø The duty of Christian giving, which may be inferred, a fortiori, from this
example of the
Ø The superiority of the voluntary over the compulsory system of raising
money for religious purposes, even should the latter be. deemed
Ø The propriety of financial boards, especially those connected with the
Church, being above suspicion.
Ø The wisdom of aiming at simplicity in schemes for receiving the
contributions of the faithful.
Ø The advantage of adopting such measures as shall place Church
treasurers beyond the reach of temptation.
12 "And the king and Jehoiada gave it to such as did the work of the
service of the house of the LORD, and hired masons and carpenters to
repair the house of the LORD, and also such as wrought iron and brass to
mend the house of the Lord." Gave it to such as did the work of the service;
i.e. the persons responsible for the work, or “that had the oversight of it”
(II Kings 12:11). Carpenters. It is preferable to render here literally workmen
or workers. Probably this clause purports that those responsible, as above,
hired masons and workmen. And also such as wrought. Supply the
preposition found in the Hebrew text, “to” before “such,” and render again
the same word (חָרָשֵׁי) literally, workers of iron and brass.
13 "So the workmen wrought, and the work was perfected by them,
and they set the house of God in his state, and strengthened it."
The work was perfected by their hands. The margin gives
the literal rendering, “healing” or health, or, i.e., recovery, “went up upon
the work.” The lively figure of the Hebrew word used (אֲרוּכָה) is very
intelligible. The term is employed in only five other places, viz.
Nehemiah 4:7 (Authorized Version, “The walls were made up;”
Revised Version better, The repairing of the walls went forward);
Isaiah 58:8; Jeremiah 8:22; 30:17; 33:6; in each of which four
instances, in both Authorized Version and Revised Version, the literal
rendering “health” or “healing” is found. In his state; equivalent to in its
stateliness, perhaps the idea of the Hebrew word מַתְכֻּנְהּו [only used four
other times, and then rendered once “tale” (Exodus 5:8), twice “composition”
(ibid. ch. 30:32, 37), once “measure” (Ezekiel 45:11)], being measure, or
proportion, or rate.
14 "And when they had finished it, they brought the rest of the money
before the king and Jehoiada, whereof were made vessels for the house
of the LORD, even vessels to minister, and to offer withal, and spoons,
and vessels of gold and silver. And they offered burnt offerings in the
house of the LORD continually all the days of Jehoiada."
And to offer withal. The insertion of the italic type in the
Authorized Version “withal” unnecessarily helps suggest uncertainty in this
rendering, while the Revised Version gives that word in the ordinary type;
margin, both Authorized Version and Revised Version, gives “pestles.”
The Hebrew word is (הַעֲלות) the hiph.
plural of עֲלי with article prefixed; this word, however, seems to occur
only once (Proverbs 27:22), and then in the singular number. The rest
of the money… made vessels for the house of the Lord. This passage
may harmonize not unsatisfactorily with the parallel (II Kings 12:13),
and on the very suggestion of the circumstantial evidence that arises from
the place in which the information of our own text is found, by laying
emphasis on the expression, "the rest of the money.” The writer of Kings
meant that nothing interfered with, nothing whatsoever ran even with the
execution of the substantial work of reparation of the building, and he
neglects to record that finally a remanet of money being available, vessels
were made of it for the inner furnishing of the house.
Church Renovation (vs. 4-14)
We have an interesting description of a very old instance of:
Ø Dilapidation, or the condition of being out of repair. In this case there
had been profanation, deliberate injury, spoliation (v. 7); but always there
will be waste and decay even in “the house of the Lord.” The elements of
nature do not spare the most sacred sanctuary.
Ø An energetic leader. Joash signalized his otherwise ordinary career by
taking this matter much to heart and taking it thoroughly in hand. He
prompted Jehoiada himself; he incited the hesitating priests (vs. 5-9); he
called forth the energy of the people themselves.
Ø Cooperation. “All the princes and all the people rejoiced ” when they
were zealously engaged in the work, and the masons and the carpenters did
their part regularly and faithfully (II Kings 12:15).
Ø Liberality. When the chest was made the people responded freely; they
all “cast into it until they made an end,” until there was “much money,”
“money in abundance.” When an appeal is made to the spontaneous
liberality of Christian men, in a cause that is recognized to be good, there is
usually a response. If under the Law there was this readiness to give, how
much more should there be such forwardness and consecration of
substance under the more constraining influences and for the far higher
privileges of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Ø Perseverance under discouragement. The king charged the priests and
Levites to “hasten the matter. Howbeit the Levites hastened it not” (v. 5).
But the enthusiastic king was not to be daunted; he would not let this
slackness on the part of those who should have been eager and diligent
constitute any serious stumbling-block. He used his ingenuity to devise
other and more effective measures, and his determination prevailed, as it
will prevail. If we allow a good work to be dropped because some of our
coadjutors are found wanting, we shall do but little. A holy perseverance
under discouragement is the condition of success. As with the leaders, so
with those that follow; the workmen must patiently continue until the work
is perfected. Then comes the crowning circumstance, viz.:
Ø The use of the building for the worship of God (v. 14). We pass on to
that which is far more important:
Ø It may be that the cause of Christ is quite “out of repair.” Some “sons of
Athaliah” have come in and done devastating work. Where there was all
that satisfied the observant eye of the Divine Lord:
o there is now a sad decline and decay;
o there is feebleness where there should be strength,
o barrenness where there used to be fruitfulness,
o poverty and paucity where there once was fullness,
o there are unsightly and blameworthy breaches in the walls.
Then there arises in some heart:
Ø A strong, compelling eagerness to repair. First it fills one heart, then it is
communicated to another and another; finally it moves “all the people,”
and they resolve that the flagging cause of Christ shall be revived.
Ø Then they give themselves to:
o penitence for past neglect;
o prayer for Divine inspiration and guidance;
o solemn renewal of first vows of dedication;
o active and energetic work.
Ø Their reconsecration is crowned with sacred joy, and with a happy
restoration to the end for which they were called into existence (v. 14).
All this is based upon:
of Christ has declined, it is because the spiritual life of the individual men
has been languishing. There has been:
Ø a cooling of love,
Ø a lessening of faith,
Ø an abatement of zeal,
Ø a lack of devotion.
What is needed is:
Ø A sense of departure and loss.
Ø A humbling of the heart before God.
Ø A reconsecration of heart and life to the Redeemer.
Ø A patient continuance in well-doing.
15 "But Jehoiada waxed old, and was full of days when he died; an
hundred and thirty years old was he when he died."
But Jehoiada… died; an hundred and thirty years old.
This good man, husband of Jehoram’s daughter (ch. 22:11),
only comes to view in virtue of what his wife did, and what he did,; on
behalf of Joash the infant and Joash the king for the good of the nation or
supplies considerably less than our text in Chronicles. His age, as stated in
this verse when he died, seems very improbable, and for a very clear and
admirable putting of the case, see Lord Arthur C. Hervey’s article in Dr.
Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ 1:944. There is, however, no manifest or even
suspicious symptom of corruptness in the text just here, supported as it is
by the Septuagint and Josephus, by the stress laid on his old age, whether it
showed a hundred and thirty years, or thirty years or fifty years (as have
been variously suggested) fewer; the little fact, otherwise looking very
significant, that the expression, full of days, is used beside only of
Abraham, Isaac, Job, and David, loses its pertinence in that very
circumstance that it is used of David, whose age was in no way extreme.
The age of the other three, however, exceeded this reputed age given to
16 "And they buried him in the city of
he had done good
The honor done Jehoiada well belonged to him, not only for
his goodness, his greatness, his practical services to the kingdom, but for
the fact that those practical services had entailed the necessity of his
standing in loco regis for some time. His royal alliance with Jeheram’s
daughter, and, if it were so, his extreme patriarchal age, may all have
contributed to the honor now put upon him. Little stress can be laid,
however, upon this last consideration, failing any other allusion to it, or any
emphasized statement of what we have in our v. 15.
A Noble Character and a Useful Life (vs. 15-16)
These are two things which are not always closely associated, though they
are very frequently found together; they certainly were thus united in the
person and experience of Jehoiada. In him we have:
Ø Was based upon true piety. Jehoiada was the man he was because he
was a faithful servant of Jehovah. He was rich “toward God.” His mind
and heart were turned toward Him, to worship in His house, to study
and to do His will, to promote His glory. Everything else that was good
in him rested on his religious conviction and practice as on a sure
foundation; every other virtue took its root and found its source and
spring in that.
Ø Acquired great strength. By the exercise and cultivation of his piety and
moral worth, by his confidence in God, and by all that he daily gained
from God in response to his devotion, he acquired great force of
goodness. He was a man that “seemed to be a pillar,” and who was
such; a strong stay, which no antagonism could remove, no treachery
undermine. He “stood foursquare to all the winds that blew.” Men felt
that in him they would find a determined and powerful enemy to
whatever evil thing they might propose.
Ø Shone forth in unselfish service. He fearlessly and nobly risked
everything in order to rid his country of a vile usurper, and place upon
the throne one that would rule in righteousness. And though he
certainly lent all the weight of his influence to the support of the
sovereign, he does not appear to have arrogated any undue authority
(see v. 6). He was actuated by a pure, magnanimous devotion to the
highest interests of his country. So he lived:
Ø He effected a most desirable and salutary revolution; overturning a
dynasty that had no right to the throne, and restoring the family of
David; exchanging an idolatrous ruler for one that reigned in the
fear of God.
Ø He solemnly pledged the people to the service of Jehovah, and arranged
for systematic services in His temple (ch. 23:16-18).
Ø He sustained the hand of Joash in his work of repairing the temple. This
we might assume, but this the words of the text, “toward his house,”
Ø He did much (as the following verses show) to maintain the worship of
God in the land, against all reactionary influences, whether at court or
among the princes or the people.
except the judges and kings as those whose official positions gave them
quite exceptional opportunities, we may safely say that there are not
more than three or four men who rendered such distinguished service
to their country as Jehoiada the priest. He was well worthy, when he
died in an honored old age, to be “buried among the kings.” Probably
few kinglier men than he have been “gathered to their fathers.”
Ø That honor rests upon faithful service, on true usefulness — such
honor as is worth possessing.
Ø That usefulness is the product of excellency of character. Men may be
eloquent, ambitious, capable, endowed with large administrative
abilities, but if they are not unselfish, if they do not know how to
subordinate their own aims and interests to the public weal, they are
as likely to be harmful as helpful in their course. Only solid worth of
character, rectitude allied with patriotism and philanthropy, is any
security for substantial usefulness.
Ø That character is only sound when it is sacred; that it is only the man
who reveres God, and who places himself and his life under Divine
guidance, on whom we can thoroughly rely. All other defenses and
inspirations fail. “The fear of God” of which the devout Israelite
spoke, the love and service of Jesus Christ of which we speak, —
this is the rock on which to build a noble character and a useful life.
The Life, Death, Burial, and Epitaph of a Great Man (vs. 15-16)
Ø Pious; i.e.
o Good. No man really pious who is not inwardly good.
o Sincere. As a priest of Jehovah, he was under solemn covenant to lead
a holy life.
o Courageous. It required no small heroism to stand forth as a servant of
Jehovah in the days of Ahaziah and Athaliah.
Ø Useful. “We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths,” etc.
(Bailey). Jehoiada’s life was spent, not in indolence, but activity; this
activity was directed, not by personal ambitions, but by considerations of
public advantage, and ceased not until the close of his life. Besides
discharging the multifarious duties devolving upon him as high priest of the
nation, he practically became the nation’s leader during the times of
Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah; the nation’s savior, effecting the
overthrow of Athaliah, the preservation of Joash, and in him the
continuance of David’s throne; and the nation’s ruler, acting as regent
during Joash’s minority, and as prime minister of Joash until the end came.
In particular, to him the nation owed the preservation of its king, its
throne, its religion, its temple.
Ø Long. Nevertheless, the end came, though long delayed. He died “full of
days,” satisfied with living, like:
o Abraham (Genesis 25:8),
o Isaac (ibid. ch. 35:29),
o David (I Chronicles 23:1), and
o Job* (Job 42:17), an old man of a hundred and thirty years, the longest
recorded life of any Hebrew, the patriarchs excepted. “What man is
he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?”
etc. (Psalm 34:12-14).
* The following is taken from Job 42:16-17:
16 “After this lived Job an hundred and forty years,” - It has been
concluded from this statement, combined with that at the close of v. 10,
that Job was exactly seventy years of age when his calamities fell upon him
(‘Dict. of the Bible,’ vol. 1. p. 1087, note); but this is really only a
conjecture, since the statement that “God added to all that had been Job’s
to the double,” does not naturally apply to anything but his property. We
may, however, fairly allow that he could scarcely have been less than seventy
when his afflictions came, having then a family of ten children, who were all
grown up (ch.1:4). In this case, the whole duration of his life would have been
210 years, or a little more, which cannot be regarded as incredible by those
who accept the ages of the patriarchs, from Peleg to Jacob, as respectively
239, 230, 148, 205, 175, 180, and 147 years – “and saw his sons, and
his sons’ sons” - i.e. his descendants — grandchildren, and great-grandchildren -
“even four generations.” According to the Hebrew inclusive practice of
reckoning, we may regard his own generation as included.
17 “So Job died, being old and full of days.” The lowest estimate places the
occurrence of the afflictions of Job at the time when he was a little more than fifty.
Thus his age at his death would be at least a hundred and ninety.
Ø To himself a gain. (Philippians 1:21.)
o A blessed repose after life’s labors: (Isaiah 57:2; Daniel 12:13;
II Thessalonians 1:7; Revelation 14:13). “After life’s fitful labor he
sleeps well” (‘Macbeth,’ act 3. sc. 2).
o A splendid exchange for time’s vanities: “length of days for ever and
ever” (Psalm 21:4; 37:18; John 10:28; Hebrews 11:10, 16; I Peter 1:4;
o A magnificent reward for earth’s services (Psalm 16:11; 17:15;
Proverbs 3:35; John 12:26; Romans 2:7; Revelation 2:7, 17, 26).
Ø To Joash a loss. (II Kings 2:3.) Jehoiada’s death the removal of:
o the saviour of his infancy;
o the teacher of his boyhood;
o the counselor of his manhood.
Whether Joash recognized the greatness of his loss may be doubtful. The notion
that he felt the decease of the grey-haired priest as something of a relief is not
Ø To the nation a calamity. (II Samuel 3:38.) Born to be a king, Joash
lacked the capacity to rule. The fittest man to have sat upon the throne
was Jehoiada. Only Divine providence does not always assign men the
posts for which they are best qualified. The incompetency of Joash would
proved a curse to
his elbow. So long as Jehoiada kept his hand upon the helm, the ship of
state sailed over stormiest seas with safety; when death compelled his grasp
to relax, the vessel’s rocking amid the tumbling waves showed how
capable a pilot he bad been.
Ø National. The people paid him public funeral rites. Not the king alone, but
the entire realm lamented him, and joined in the sad ceremonial of
consigning his lifeless body to the tomb. Public funerals are often gigantic
Not of such sort was this of the great priest of
Ø Royal. The grandeur of his obsequies equalled that lavished on the
funerals of kings. Of some kings, among whom Joash must be numbered
(v. 25), it is recorded that the people declined to honor them with royal
burial (ch. 21:19-20; 26:23; 28:27); of Jehoiada, though not a
king, except in nobility of soul, it is written, his people “buried him in the
sovereign greater than many, and equal to the best.
One sentence of three
clauses: “He did good in
toward God, and towards his house.” Nothing more offensive to good
taste and refined feeling, not to say more untrue to fact, than the fulsome
and extravagant paragraphs which often appear on tombstones.
Ø Simple. All who read might understand, and, understanding, might verify
from their own experience, assisted (if need were) by the recollections of
others. The last place at which to make a display of eloquence and rhetoric
is the grave’s month. What is here recorded of this uncrowned King of
Ø Sufficient. What more or better could be testified of any man than that in
his lifetime he:
o had done good,
o lived a life of piety towards God, and philanthropy towards man,
o promoted God’s glory and advanced man’s good,
o furthered God’s kingdom and increased man’s happiness?
Ø The possibility of combining statesmanship and piety.
Ø The commanding influence of religion when associated with talent and rank.
Ø The advisability of looking beyond man in both Church and state, since
statesmen and priests are not suffered to continue by reason of death.
Ø The certainty that a life of philanthropy and piety will sooner or later
Ø The fitness of rewarding with becoming honor in death those who
sincerely and successfully serve their generation when in life.
17 "Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of
obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them." The princes.
These turned aside from the better part they had performed (ch. 23:13, 20).
Made obeisance; Hebrew, יִשְׁתַּחֲווּ. This is the word that is used of the sheaves of
the brethren of Joseph bowing down, according to his dream, to his sheaf; it is
also the repeatedly used word of the worship paid to Jehovah the true God, and
to idols and false gods. The word occurs nearly two hundred times. The
obeisance of these princes, therefore, on this occasion lacked nothing of
the most pronounced character, and the worst species of flattery gained its
disastrous ends. Joash must have been now about thirty-six years of age; he
was seven years old when he began to reign, he had reigned twenty-three
years before the restoring of the temple (II Kings 12:6), and a few years
had elapsed since. The words of the princes, to which Joash hearkened,
are not supplied by the parallel, which indeed at once proceeds to speak of
the threatening attitude of the Syrian king Hazael, and of how Joash bought
him off. Our next verse, however, shows to what end those words tended.
18 "And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, an served groves
and idols: and
wrath came upon
Served groves; Revised Version, the Asherim, correctly (see note, ch. 14:3).
For this their trespass. Comparing the emphatic language of v. 23, "destroyed
all the princes of the people from among the people,” we may conclude that
stress is to be laid on the pronoun “their” in the present verse. The worship of
the true God was not left by the whole people, and we are not told it was by the
king; but (very probably through want of moral courage) he incurred the severest
sort of blame, and was without even the excuse of strong personal temptation.
19 "Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD;
and they testified against them: but they would not give ear."
Prophets. The name of only one, Zechariah, as in next verse, is given (see by
the side of this verse the emphatic and touching language of ch. 36:14-16).
20 "And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada
the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus
saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD,
that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, He
hath also forsaken you." Came upon; margin, clothed; Revised Version
margin, clothed itself with (I Chronicles 12:18). Compare the beautiful
expression of Revelation 1:10, "I was in the Spirit;” it was not merely
that the Spirit deigned to visit John in
that he was in the Spirit. The son of Jehoiada; i.e. very possibly grandson
of Jehoiada (Jehoiada’s great age the rather countenancing this
interpretation) and “son of Barachias” (Matthew 23:35). That ye
cannot prosper. The Hebrew text says, “and ye will not prosper.” This
clause may read all the more forcibly if kept under the dominance of the
why of the former, reminding us of such appeals as “Why will ye die?” etc.
(ch. 15:2; Deuteronomy 18, throughout).
clauses in the preterite or present tense will make them neither less forcible
nor less correct, so indicating that they, the princes and the nation, were
already beginning to eat the fruit of their ways, and “rumors of war,” if
not war itself, were on them.
21 "And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the
commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD."
Stoned him. Yet this was their Law’s punishment for
themselves, for idolaters (Leviticus 20:2). At the commandment of the
king. The king, who had yielded to the flattering obeisance and worship of
the princes, is now driven on a grievous length further. In the court of the
house of the Lord. So Matthew 23:35, “between the temple [Revised
Version, ‘sanctuary’] and the altar.”
22 "Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada
his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he
said, The LORD look upon it, and require it. Remembered not the kindness
(Genesis 40:23). The Lord look upon it, and require it. So, too, the Revised
Version, which also, according to its custom, removes the italic type from the
two neuter pronouns “it.” But probabaly a better and correcter rendering is,
“The Lord will see and will require” (for it is not necessary to regard this as a
prayer of Zechariah); and thus bring it into comparison with those divinest
prayers of the Saviour and of Stephen. (Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60)The words on
dying Zechariah’s lips were perhaps rather the vivid reminiscence of His
own well-versed knowledge of the Law, or “the Scriptures” (Genesis 9:5;
42:22). The sentence of the dying priest and prophet in one, is, by the writer of
Chronicles at any rate, directed in its fall with fearful straightness to the
door of Joash the king himself. Remarkable as is the absence of the matter
of this and the five preceding verses from the parallel, it will not escape
notice how it is implied in vs. 17-18 there, while the inclusion of it here is
again in patent harmony with the great object of the writer.
The Downward Career of a King (vs. 17-22)
Ø When it came. “After Jehoiada’s death,”, when the weakling king,
having lost his counselor, was left to the guidance of his own vain heart
and foolish understanding. Temptations mostly assail men in their moments
of weakness. Eve was probably assaulted in the absence of Adam
(Genesis 3:1); David, certainly, in the absence of Nathan (II Samuel 11:2);
Job, when enfeebled through affliction (Job 2:9); Peter, when deprived
of strength through over-confidence (John 13:27). The devil is too wary a
warrior to besiege a heart when at its strongest.
Ø How it looked.
o Extremely pleasing; flattering to his vanity and satisfying to his pride.
o Perfectly harmless. What they asked may be assumed to have been
liberty to worship the Asherim and the idols (v. 18); not that the king
should do so, though secretly they may have hoped he would, but
merely that toleration should be granted to them. Tempters seldom
show all their hands at once; if they did, their temptations would fail
(Proverbs 1:17). To the tempted also evil courses commonly appear
safe when first embarked upon; though afterwards their true characters
are discovered, when too late.
Ø How it fared. It prospered. Joash, poor fool! swallowed the bait. “He
hearkened unto them,” because either he lacked courage to refuse, or
desired, in return for their flattery, to please them (Daniel 11:32).
Ø The princes. These “left the house of the Lord God of their fathers,” i.e.
abandoned the worship of Jehovah, of which the temple was the center,
and embraced the abominable superstitions of the northern kingdom and of
Ø The people. The language of the Chronicler (v. 18), as well as of
20), implies that
well as princes, had transgressed; and, indeed, it is hardly likely that the
princes would have ventured upon this step had they not been able to count
upon the sympathy, if not the direct support, of the community.
Ø The king. Though “not stated that Joash himself worshipped idols”
(Bertheau), and though, perhaps, at first he did not, it is too apparent,
from the moral deterioration he suffered, as well as from the judgment
he endured, that his offense was more than “not strictly maintaining the
worship of Jehovah” (Bertheau).
Ø Its instruments. The prophets; in particular, Zechariah the son —
perhaps grandson (Eadie, Ebrard, Lange, Morison) — of Jehoiada (v. 20),
called also Barachias (Matthew 23:35). The prophets, of whom
many have appeared in this book:
o Nathan (ch. 9:29),
o Ahijah (ch. 10:15),
o Azariah (ch.15:1),
o Hanani (ch. 16:7),
o Micaiah (ch. 18:8),
o Jehu (ch. 19:2),
o Jahaziel (ch. 20:14),
o Elijah (ch. 21:12) —
were the recognized medium of communication between God and the people.
The prophets at this time sent to testify for Jehovah against the people are
not named, with one exception; which may suggest that one may be an
honored, true, and faithful servant of God in Church or state, and may
render important services to both without having his name chronicled on
the registers of time.
Ø Its tenor. A testimony against the nation, in terms similar to those of
Zechariah. Their idol-worship was:
Ø A direct transgression of Jehovah’s commandments (Exodus 20:3-5, 23;
23:13; Leviticus 26:1, 30; Deuteronomy 4:15-19; 27:15).
Ø An express violation of the covenant into which they had entered with
Jehovah (ch. 23:16).
Ø A fatal obstacle to their prosperity, whether national or individual
(Numbers 14:41; Deuteronomy 28:29; Psalm 1:3-4 , 16:4; 97:7; Jonah 2:8).
Ø A sure sign of their abandonment by God (ch. 12:5; 15:2;
Deuteronomy 31:16-17; Joshua 24:20; I Chronicles 28:9).
Ø Its reception. “They would not give ear.” Unwilling to obey, they would
not listen. The truth was unpalatable, and hence they rejected it. They
loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil
(John 3:19); they hated the truth, because it condemned them
(Psalm 50:17; Amos 5:10).
Ø Atrocious inhumanity. Murdered by his countrymen, the princes of
collateral descendant of the royal line, his mother having been Ahaziah’s
sister (ch. 22:11).
Ø Revolting cruelty. Stoned with stones. Lapidation, a peculiarly Jewish
form of punishment, is described in the Mishna. “The condemned, if a man,
was led naked to the place of torture, but a woman was allowed to retain
her clothes. The offender was always taken out of the city … All that was
necessary was that the place should be in a valley, or foss, with steep
banks, from the top of which one of the witnesses threw the accused down.
If he fails on his back and is killed, well and good; if not, another witness
throws a stone on his chest. The first stones were cast at the head, so as to
hasten death and shorten the sufferings of the victim. There were no
regular executioners. In the time of the kings, the sovereigns appointed
men to carry
out the sentence” (Stapfer, ‘
pp. 112, 113; cf. Keil’s ‘Archaologie,’ § 153). This terrible mode of
executing capital punishment the Law reserved for aggravated offences
(Leviticus 20:2, 27; 24:14; Numbers 15:35), in particular for
practicing and enticing to idolatry (Deuteronomy 13:10). Victims
of stoning were, in Old Testament times:
o Achan (Joshua 7:25),
o Naboth (I Kings 21:13),
o Hadoram (ch. 10:18),
in New Testament times:
o Stephen (Acts 7:58),
o Paul (Acts 14:19), and
o (perhaps) Antipas (Revelation 2:13).
Ø Gross profanity. Murdered in the court of Jehovah’s house, “between
the sanctuary and the altar” (Matthew 23:35), always regarded as an
aggravation of the original crime (Lamentations 2:10), and a special
form of defilement (Ezekiel 9:7). Jehoiada would not shed there the
blood of Joash’s grandmother (ch. 23:14); Joash did not
hesitate to spill there the blood of Jehoiada’s son.
Ø Horrible impiety. Murdered, although a prophet of Jehovah (I Kings
19:10); murdered, because he told them the truth (compare John 8:40);
murdered by men themselves guilty of death and deserving to be stoned
(see above); murdered in Jehovah’s house and before His altar, in defiance
of His Law and contempt for His religion.
Ø Monstrous ingratitude. Murdered “at the king’s commandment;” done
to death by a man to whom his father (or grandfather) had given life,
education, a crown, a kingdom, a reformed religion, a settled country
(ch. 22:11-23:21). The vocabulary of vituperation has been
exhausted to set forth the wickedness, odiousness, and loathsomeness of
this vice. It has been likened to “a sharp-toothed vulture,” “a marble-
hearted fiend, more hideous than the sea-monster;” it has been spoken of
as “the most detestable act” a person can commit, a vice more abominable
“than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness;” a monster whose tooth is
keener than the winter wind. Nor is it too much to say that, amongst this
hideous crew of God-forsaken wretches, Joash stands pre-eminent. A
creature as mean and despicable the earth surely is seldom called on to
support and nourish.
Ø Unavoidable avengement. Zechariah himself, feeling this, ere his eyes
closed and his lips became silent in death, uttered a prayer or invocation,
“The Lord look upon it, and require it,” in reality a prediction which soon
became a history. Contrast the prayer of Stephen for his murderers
(Acts 7:60). Zechariah the murdered prophet, and Stephen the
martyred deacon, each embodied and illustrated the spirit of the
dispensation under which he lived; that under which Zechariah lived, a
o of law and penalty,
o of wrath and condemnation;
that under which Stephen flourished, a dispensation:
o of grace and mercy, and
o of forgiveness and justification (II Corinthians 3:7-11).
Ø The danger of listening to flattery; it makes men, even kings, foolish.
Ø The duty of resisting the first approaches of temptation. Obsta
Ø The downward course of sin — Facilis descensus Averno (Virgil,
Ø The folly of forsaking God; it can only end in being forsaken by God.
Ø The courage needed to be a true servant of God in any age. He who
would speak for God will often require to speak against man.
Ø The surest evidence of original and innate depravity is the fact that men
do not naturally care for, but rather dislike, and are averse to, God’s Word.
Ø The certainty that they who will live godly must suffer persecution.
God’s witnesses are often slain (Revelation 11:7).
Ø The baseness of ingratitude towards God; inferred from that of
ingratitude towards man.
Ø The contrast between the Law and the gospel; illustrated by Zechariah’s
imprecation and Stephen’s invocation.
Ø The certainty of Divine retribution: God will avenge His saints (Luke 18:7-8)
23 "And it came to pass at the end of the year, that the
came up against
him: and they came to
destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and
sent all the
spoil of them unto the king of
At the end of the year; Hebrew, תְּקוּפַת; margin, both of the
Authorized Version and the Revised Version, revolution. The word is
found three other times, Exodus 34:22; I Samuel 1:20; Psalm 19:7.
The versions, of course, express correctly what is meant, but
probably the season of spring is also conveyed (II Samuel 11:1;
I Chronicles 20:1). The host of Syria. Their king was Hazael (II Kings
12:17), whether actually with them is perhaps not certain, but the last
clause in the verse just quoted would seem to convey that impression. He
was King of
(ch. 11:8; 17:11),
whence wistful eyes were bent on
miles distant thence. Destroyed all the princes of the people; i.e. as in the
next verse. And sent all the spoil. Whether intended so here or not, probably
the strict subject of the verb in this clause is Joash and his counselors (v. 18 in
parallel), in their fright — and just fright — helpless after the slaughter chronicled
in our following verse, bribing off Hazael and his host, as in parallel. The
suggestion is most plausible that tidings of Zechariah’s martyrdom and of the
occasion of it were the very incentive to Hazael’s incursion, and an illustration
of the “means” by which God works, and by which He wrought His purpose in
this instance. The spoil of them. If this means only the spoil of the defeated
army strictly, then our text gives no trace of the contents of v. 18 in
parallel just alluded to; but the frequent dislocation incident to copied
extracts and matter borrowed from original sources, and so often
evidenced in the present history, when we have been comparing the two
derived accounts to which we are indebted for it, incline us to the above
view, as one quite open at any rate to possibility.
24 "For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men,
and the LORD delivered a very great host into their hand, because
they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. So they executed
judgment against Joash." Came with a small company… the Lord delivered
a very great host (so Leviticus 26:8; Deuteronomy 28:25, etc.). So they
executed judgment against Joash. The Hebrew says literally, “and on
Joash they executed judgments.” What the judgments were we do not read,
but surely it is probable that they are glanced at in the next verse, “For they
left him in great [or, ‘many’] diseases,” or perhaps “in great illness” (ch. 21:15).
25 "And when they were departed from him, (for they left him in great
diseases,) his own servants conspired against him for the blood of
the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he
died: and they
buried him in the city of
not in the sepulchers of the kings." They left him in great diseases. See note
above, and observe further that this parenthetic clause, as treated in both
Authorized Version and Revised Version, prepares the way for what follows,
and especially for the fact that it was on his bed that they slew him. Render thus,
And after they had betaken themselves away, whereas they left him sorely ill, his
own servants conspired… and slew him in his bed. His own servants.
These had the opportunity the rather at hand, in that he was so ill and in
bed. That he died by the conspiring together of a couple of servants, whose
foreign and heathen maternity is particularly recorded, was the more
ignominious end for him, who had commanded Zechariah to be openly
stoned — a death highly honorable in comparison. The parallel
(II Kings 12:20) adds that it was in “the house of Mille, which goeth down to
Silla” (for the explanation of which passage, see note ad loc.), that the
servants’ conspiracy to kill Joash took effect. The sons of Jehoiada. We
know of only one son, Zechariah; there may have been other sons, or other
lineal relations of Jehoiada may be covered by the word “sons.” We are not
obliged to interpret the avenging act of the servants as one to which their
own pious and patriotic zeal led them, which, considering their maternal
pedigree, is perhaps something unlikely, though of course not impossible,
but one to which they were incited by the retributive providence of Him
who held their hearts also in His hand. In a word, it was a deed done for the
blood — required (see note and references under v. 22). Not in the
sepulchers of the kings. See note on v. 16, and references there quoted;
as also the ambiguous expression of the parallel (v. 21), “They buried
him with his fathers in the city of
26 "And these are they that conspired against him; Zabad the son of
Shimeath an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith a Moabitess."
Zabad. The name Jozachar of the parallel is probably the correct word, and a
copyist’s corruption may with some plausibility be argued as the cause of the
form Zabad in our text. The parallel omits the names of the mothers’ nationality.
Shimrith. The parallel has Shomer, probably an Hebraized form of the Moabitish
name of our text.
27 "Now concerning his sons, and the greatness of the burdens laid
upon him, and the repairing of the house of God, behold, they are
written in the story of the book of the kings. And Amaziah his son
reigned in his stead." His sons. We only know of one, Amaziah, his successor.
The burdens laid upon him. Some explain this expression of the tribute and
bribe Joash had to pay Hazael; others of prophetic “burdens” uttered
against him; and others (much favored by the position of the clause just
before the repairing of the house, etc.) of the task which he had so
voluntarily undertaken, the money-raising and all (Ezekiel 24:25; compare
our vs. 6, 9, 11). The repairing; Hebrew, וִיסור. Render, with the
Revised Version, the rebuilding. The story of the book of the kings. The
Revised Version renders the Hebrew text (מִדְּרַשׁ סֵפֶר) “the commentary
of the book of the kings,” probably to be followed by the words, “of
of the kings of
text is employed only once beside (ch. 13:22). Its verbal root, however, is found
about a hundred and sixty-two times, invariably in the sense of inquiring,
and almost invariably rendered in the Authorized Version by the word
“inquire,” or “seek;” so that perhaps the word “study” or “pursuit” might,
idioms being allowed for, be the nearer rendering. It is rabbinic literature
mostly that has determined the preference for the word “commentary.”
The Sad and Strange Unreliableness of Human Disposition
and Life Here (vs. 1-27)
One of the strangest of all the sadnesses of human life is the uncertainty
and unreliableness of human disposition, which it is so constantly exposing
to view. Not only has the fairest promise vanished (like the sun of many a
morning) long before the character could be supposed to be firm or even
fairly formed, but after the period justly esteemed critical has passed, after
fruit has set, and even after some fruit has been gathered ripe, alas for the
failures and falls, the disappointments and distressing desolation, which
have laid waste the scene! The turn in the life of Joash, with his miserable
end, of which this chapter bears record, is a very distinct and typical
instance of what has been and is still often. And in reading the present
chapter, we are forcibly reminded of the apostle’s language “All these
things were written for our admonition.” (I Corinthians 10:11) We cannot
afford to regard the contents of this chapter as of merely historic interest; they
are of terrible though kindly import for modern life and ALL LIFE! In
connection with this thought, the following points may be picked out in the
matter of the present history. The life which thus in its afternoon, let us say,
turned aside to evil, was:
AND FIRST REARING OF IT, ALMOST MIRACULOUSLY SAVED
AND GUARDED — THE VERY CREATURE OF
CHILD OF DIVINE CARE AND WATCHFUL LOVE. Many an analogy
really every whit as strong and impressive may be found and instanced by
the practical preacher here; also cases which may be well within the
knowledge of the parish or the country.
BOTH FOR THE GREATNESS AND THE WORTHINESS OF ITS
BEST AND MOST FAITHFUL OF FRIENDS. These friends had been of
the kind that well remind us of the psalm of Joash’s ancestor; for his
“father and mother had indeed forsaken him,” when “the Lord took him
up” (Psalm 27:10), in the persons of the priest and his wife. All. the
incalculable advantages of the best of early associations and religious
prepossessions had been the happy portion of Joash, now — when every
recollection and reminiscence should have been gilding itself with
fresh sacredness — to be flung away to the winds, as though they were
presences to the mind as much to be dreaded as in fact they were worthy
to be cherished.
SURPRISINGLY VIOLENT AND ABSOLUTE; AND ITS MOTIVE AS
SURPRISINGLY UNJUSTIFYING OF IT. This apparently absolute
reversal of what had hitherto seemed character and goodness was above all
witnessed to by one central blackest blot in the conduct of Joash. Guiltily
did he forget the debt his own very pulse and beating heart owed to the
preservers of his life, when he commanded that Zechariah, the son of their
love, be stoned to death for his righteous remonstrance and warning. His
dying words, “The Lord look upon it, and require it,” no doubt did not
mark the spirit of unforgivingness; they did mark, and justly, the turpitude
of the sin which was bound to “find out’ the perpetrator of it! And then the
motif of the conduct of Joash! It is written in v. 17. The brief suppressed
language, which does there write it, tells the more significantly of its
dishonourableness and despicableness, only fit to shun the eye of day! And
the warnings of the Lord God of the fathers of Joash and his people, are so
touchingly expressed, especially in v. 19! These preclude the possibility
of our deducting anything of blame from Joash, on the ground of his being
taken unawares, or surprised by some sudden gust of temptation. This type
of thing has indeed numbered its antitypes, times without number; but was
it not thus forcibly delineated, deeply graven or etched, that whoso should
have eyes to see might see, and ears to hear might hear? (Christ remembered
it! - Matthew 23:35 – CY – 2016)
ALIKE THE REVULSION OF MAN AND THE SOLEMN
RETRIBUTION OF GOD. With what smitten wonder our awed thought
follows unwittingly, but trembles to essay to track the ways of God’s
hidden judgment, when the account of this present life is once summed up,
— hidden because that account is summed up! What solemn need for
Ø to watch and pray;
Ø to walk humbly;
Ø to take heed how he stands; and
Ø to remember the warnings of those of whom this is the record, that
they “did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey
the truth?” (Galatians 5:7)
Sad Successive Stages (vs. 17-25)
With the seventeenth verse of this chapter there commences a very painful
record. From one who had been so mercifully spared, so admirably trained,
so bountifully blessed, as was King Joash, much better things might have
been expected. It is the melancholy story of rapid degeneracy, and a
miserable and dishonorable end.
grounded” in reverence and in attachment to Jehovah, as soon as the
directing and sustaining hand of Jehoiada was missed, Joash gave heed to
the evil counsel of the reactionary “princes of Judah” and “left the house of
the Lord.” The young may be habituated to sacred services, and they may
be brought up in the practice of good behavior, but if they have not fully
and firmly attached themselves to the Divine Lord whose praises they have
been singing and whose will they have been respecting, their piety will not
endure. “Being let go,” being released, as they must be in time, from the
human restraints that hold them to the right course, they follow the bent of
worldly inclination; it may be that they yield to the solicitation of unholy
passion; but they decline from the path of Christian worship and godly
service. It is a melancholy sight for the angels of God, and for all earnest
human souls, to witness — that of a man who knows what is best, who has
stood face to face with Christ, who has often worshipped in His house, and
perhaps sat at His table, declining to lower paths, “going after Baal,” letting
another power than that of his gracious Lord rule his heart and occupy his
servant of the Lord, Jehoiada, was well succeeded by a faithful son,
Zechariah. He did his work right nobly, and testified against the apostasy
of the king and court. But the monarch, in the haughtiness of his heart,
resented the rebuke of the Lord’s prophet, and only aggravated his offence
by persecution and even murder (vs. 20-21). Thus sin slopes down, and
at some points with sad and startling rapidity. When God’s rebuke is heard,
coming through the voice of one of His ministers, or coming in His Divine
providence; and when that rebuke, instead of being heeded and obeyed, is
resented by the rebellious spirit, then there ensues a very rapid spiritual
decline. Men go:
Ø “from bad to worse,”
Ø from indifference or forgetfulness to hostility,
Ø from doubt to disbelief,
Ø from laxity to licentiousness,
Ø from wrongness of attitude to iniquity in action.
To resent the rebuke of the Lord is to inflict upon ourselves the most serious,
and too often a mortal, injury.
Ø Humiliating defeat in battle (vs. 23-24).
Ø Bodily sufferings (v. 25).
Ø A violent and miserable death (v. 25).
Ø Dishonor after death (v. 25).
In the case of the spiritual transgressor now, the penalty that has to be
Ø Grave and grievous spiritual decline.
Ø The serious displeasure of the Divine Master.
Ø The loss of the esteem of the truest and best human friends.
Ø Condemnation in the day of judgment.
Divine Retributions; or, the Predictions and Prayers
of a Dying Man, Coming True (vs. 23-27)
predicted that prosperity should
no longer attend
her apostasy from Jehovah (v. 20); and, before breathing his last, had
prayed, and so practically predicted (James 5:16), that Jehovah would
avenge his murder upon the king, his princes, and people (v. 22). That
this incursion of Hazael (I Kings 19:15), who had first assassinated
Benhadad II. and seized upon the throne (II Kings 8:7-15), and whose
historicity is guaranteed by an inscription on Shalmaneser’s black obelisk,
which says, “In my eighteenth
year, for the sixteenth time the
crossed. Hazael of Damascus to battle came … . In my twenty-first
campaign, to the cities of Hazael of Damascus I went. Four of his
fortresses I took” (‘Records,’ etc., 5:34, 35; Schrader, ‘Keilinschriften,’ p.
206) — that this incursion of the Syrian monarch into Judaean territory, as
far even as to Jerusalem, was an installment of the wrath which the nation’s
apostasy had stirred up against itself, several things convinced the
Ø The time when it happened. “At the end,” or revolution, “of the year.”
No doubt Divine judgment often tarries, and when it does men are apt to
question its existence (Psalm 50:20-21). But sometimes it hastens on the
heels of crime, as it did in the cases of:
o Cain (Genesis 4:8-13),
o Pharaoh (Exodus 14:27),
o Israel in Shittim (Numbers 25:4),
o the murderers of Ishbosheth (II Samuel 4:12),
o Ahab (I Kings 22:34-37),
o Haman (Esther 7:10),
o Judas (Acts 1:18; Matthew 27:5),
and others; and their observers instinctively exclaim, “Verily there is a
God that judgeth in the earth” (Psalm 58:11).
Ø The success it attained.
o The Syrian army, having probably conquered Israel, succeeded in
capturing Gath, one of the five cities of the Philistines (Joshua 13:3),
which David annexed to Judah (I Chronicles 18:1), and which may
still have belonged to the kingdom of Jonah.
o Next it moved upon Jerusalem, which was not far distant, and defeated
the Judaean troops in a pitched battle, in which all the princes of Judah
were cut off, and Joash himself seriously wounded.
o As an inducement to make peace and withdraw his forces from the
capital, Hazael obtained from Joash “all the hallowed things that
Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah his fathers, kings of Judah,
had dedicated,” which had been recovered from the temple of Baal
(v. 7), “and his own hallowed things, and all the gold that was found
in the treasures of the house of the Lord and in the king’s house”
(II Kings 12:18).
o That which specially revealed the hand of God in this disaster was not
so much the extent as the incidence of it. The blow descended, indeed,
upon the common people, who are chief sufferers in most wars; but in
this instance a striking fitness was visible in the cutting off of the
princes who had instigated the sovereign and his subjects to idolatry,
and in the despoliation of the temple, which they had desecrated
by their idolatries.
o The weapon it employed. A small army, which had routed Judah’s
large host. This was reversing the experience of Judah, as, e.g.,
when Asa with five hundred and eighty thousand soldiers defeated
Zerah with a million of infantry and three hundred charioteers
(ch. 14:10). As Asa’s victory was due to Jehovah’s help, so Joash’s
surrender was explicable only on the supposition that Jehovah had
forsaken him and Hazael been commissioned to execute
wrath upon him.
Ø When? “After the Syrians had departed from him.” Though he had
escaped the doom which sought him on the battlefield, it seemed as if
justice would not suffer him to live (compare Acts 28:4). Scarcely had the
Syrians departed than the sleuth-hound of retribution was again upon his
trail. Only wounded by soldiers’ spears, he was slaughtered by assassins’
Ø Where? In his castle-palace at Mille (II Kings 12:20), and on his bed,
i.e. while invalided by his wounds. Death found him in a fortress, behind
which he doubtless expected to be secure, and at a moment when, perhaps,
that expectation was high through the healing of his wounds.
Ø By whom? His own servants, whose names are given: “Zabad [or
Jozakat, Kings] the son of Shimeath an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the
son of Shimrith a Moabitess.” Led astray by those who should have been
his servants, the princes, he was put to death by his actual servants. He had
betrayed his country to foreign gods, by men of foreign extraction he was
destroyed. Divine retributions frequently correspond to the character of the
offence they punish.
Ø Why? Because of the “blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest.” They
meant to reward him for his defiant deed against Zechariah. How they
came to champion the cause of Jehoiada’s murdered son is not said.
Perhaps they shared the popular feeling, which had never wholly approved
of the murder; and when they witnessed the disaster which had come upon
their arms, with the judgment that had fallen on the princes, they concluded
that Zechariah’s blood must be avenged if prosperity was again to return to
Judah; and believing they would find, in the public mind, approval for their
action, they dispatched the wounded man upon his bed at Mille. Their
calculations concerning the verdict of the people were not astray. Nobody
regretted Joash’s untimely end. His subjects “buried him in the city of
David,” where his fathers lay entombed, but they suffered not his carcass
to desecrate the mausoleum of the kings.
Ø The overruling providence of God. Things come to pass at His ordering.
Ø The certainty that sin will be punished. Though judgment be delayed, it
is not averted.
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