II Kings 12

 

 

            The Reign of Jehoash (the uncontracted form of Joash) (vs. 1-21)

 

 

The writer of Kings is extremely brief and incomplete in his account of the reign of

Joash. He seems to have had a great tenderness for him, and to have determined that

he would put on record nothing to his discredit. We have to go to II Chronicles 24 

for a complete account, and for an estimate of the real character of the king and of his

reign. Both writers appear to have drawn from the same original document, but the

writer of Kings made large omissions from it. In a few points only is his narrative

fuller than Chronicles.

 

3  In the seventh year of Jehu” -  Athaliah began to reign very soon after the

accession of Jehu and reigned six full years (ch.11:1-3). The first year of Joash was

thus parallel with Jehu’s seventh. Jehoash— or Joash, as he is called sometimes

in Kings (Ibid. v. 2; ch.13:1,10), and always in Chronicles — “began to reign; and

forty years reigned he in Jerusalem and his mother’s name was Zibiah of

Beersheba. Josephus calls her “Sabia.”

 

2   “And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days

wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.”  The writer evidently intended

to add a qualifying clause to his statement that Joash reigned well “all his

days,” but did not wish to draw too much attention to it.

 

3  “But the high places were not taken away:”  So it had been with the best of

the previous kings of Judah, as Asa (I Kings 15:14) and Jehoshaphat (Ibid. ch.

22:43); and so it was with the other “good” kings (Ibid. ch. 14:4; 15:4, 35) until the

reign of Hezekiah, by whom the high places were removed (ch. 18:4). We must

remember that it was Jehovah who was worshipped in the “high places,” not Baal,

or Moloch, or Ashtoreth (see the comment on I Kings 15:14) – “the people

still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.”  The people, not the

king, in the earlier portion of his reign; but in the later portion, probably the

king also (see II Chronicles 24:17-18).

 

 

                             The Repair of the Temple (vs. 4-16)

 

 It is rather surprising that the temple had not been thoroughly repaired by Jehoiada

during the long minority of Joash, when he must practically have had the sole

management of affairs. Probably he did repair the worst of the damage done by

Athaliah’s orders (II Chronicles 24:7), which may have been very considerable, but

neglected the restoration of such portions of the edifice as appeared to him of

secondary importance, as the walls of the courts and the outbuildings. Joash,

however, when his minority came to an end, and he succeeded to the administration

of the state, took a different view. To him the completion of the repairs seemed a

pressing business. Probably he thought the honor of God required the entire

obliteration of Athaliah’s wicked proceedings, and the renewal of the temple’s

old glories. His six years’ residence within the temple precincts may have also

inspired him with a love of the building as a building.

 

4   “And Jehoash said to the priests,” -  The initiative of Joash is

strongly marked, alike in Kings and Chronicles (II Chronicles 24:4).

The general weakness of his character, and want of vigor and decision,

make it the more surprising that he should in this particular matter have

shown himself capable of taking his own line and adhering to it (v. 7). He

has scarcely received from historians the credit that is due to him for his

persistent and successful efforts to accomplish an object which was for the

honor of religion, and which was yet not pressed forward by the

priesthood. Certainly he was no mere puppet of the priestly order “all the

money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the

Lord,” -  rather, all the money of the holy gifts that is brought into the house

of the Lord; i.e. all that ye receive from the people in the way of money.

This money accrued from three sources, which the king proceeded to

enumerate. First, “even the money of every one that passeth the account,”

- i.e. the census money — the aggregate of the half-shekels received from

the males of above twenty years old, whenever a census was taken

(Exodus 30:12-16).   Secondly, “the money that every man is set at;” –

 i.e. the redemption money, derived in part from the payments made for

redeeming the firstborn (Numbers 18:15-16); in part from the sums which the

priests exacted from such as had vowed themselves (Leviticus 27:2-8), or those

belonging to them, to God - “and [thirdly] all the money that cometh into any

man’s heart to bring into the house of the Lord,” -  i.e. all the free-will

offerings that should be made in money by any of the Israelites.

 

5   “Let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance:” -  The

money was to be gathered of “all Israel,” out of all “the cities of Judah

(2 Chronicles 24:5). The priests of each locality were to be the collectors, and

would therefore gather “of their acquaintance.” As we cannot suppose that very

much would accrue from either the first or second source, since a census was rarely

taken, and personal vows were not very common, we must regard the command of

Joash as, in the main, the authorization of a general collection throughout

the kingdom of voluntary contributions towards the temple repairs, and so

as analogous to the “letters” which our own sovereigns, or archbishops,

issue from time to time for collections in churches for special objects – “and

let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach

shall be found.”  The “breaches,” or dilapidations, may have been caused,

partly by the neglect of necessary repairs during the reigns of Jehoram,

Ahaziah, and Athaliah; but they were mainly the result of the willful

violence of Athaliah (II Chronicles 24:7). Apparently, the damage done

must have been very great.

 

6  “But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of King

Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house.” No

charge is made against the priests of malversation or embezzlement. They

had simply been negligent. Probably very little money had come in; and

they had not been very active in their endeavors to obtain larger

contributions. It must be remembered that what went to the fabric fund

would, for the most part, be a deduction from the ordinary revenue of the

temple, which was not, perhaps, much in excess of the ordinary demands

upon it. We can, therefore, quite understand that the king’s policy would

not be popular with the priests (II Chronicles 24:5). Still, it is to be

observed that they are not said to have executed no repairs, but only not to

have “made haste” and completed their task by the time that the king

looked for its completion.

 

7  “Then King Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest,” - The king did not take

the matter into his own hands, but consulted with the head of the priestly order

on the best steps to take in order to expedite the repairs. He made no “charge,”

delivered no “rebuke.” He did not “remove the administration of the funds from the

hands of the delinquent order”. On the contrary, he left it in their hands (vs. 9-11).

Two changes only were made:

 

  • A public chest was set up conspicuously in the temple court, near the

            great altar, and the people were invited to bring their contributions to the

            temple, and hand them to the priests, who should straightway deposit them

            in the chest in the sight of the congregation.

 

  • The chest was opened from time to time, and the money counted, in the

            presence of the high priest and of a royal secretary. It was then delivered

            over to “the overseers of the house” — persons, probably, of the priestly

            order — appointed by Jehoiada (ch. 11:18), who disbursed it to the

            carpenters and masons (vs. 11-12). The chest was a sort of tangible

            evidence to the people of the purpose to which their contributions

            would be applied, and naturally stimulated their giving. The presence of the

            king’s officer at the counting of the money, was equivalent, not really to an

            audit, but to a publication of the accounts, and would prevent any suspension

            of the work, so long as it was clear that the money found in the chest had not

            been expended. Thus a new impetus was given to the movement. The

            measures taken completely answered. Contributions flowed in rapidly, and

            in a few years the whole work was accomplished (II Chronicles 24:13-14).

           

“and the other priests, and said unto them, Why repair ye not the breaches

of the house?”  This shows that no repairs were going on ‘in the twenty-third year

of Joash, but not that none had been done previously – “Now therefore receive

no more money of your acquaintance,” - This was a revocation of the order

given in v. 5, and necessarily put an end to the local collections, which that order

required – “but deliver it for the breaches of the house.”  If the priests were

not to “receive the money,” they could not “deliver” it. Obscurity is introduced

by the desire for extreme brevity. In point of fact, they were to “receive” (v.9),

but in a new way.

 

8  “And the priests consented to receive no more money of the people,”

i.e., to put an end to the local collections ordered in ve. 5 — “neither to repair

the breaches of the house.”  i.e. neither to be responsible severally for laying out

the money which they collected in repairs.

 

9   “But Jehoiada the priest took a chest,” -  The writer of Chronicles says,

“At the king’s commandment, they made a chest” (II Chronicles 24:8). The

suggestion was probably the king’s, but the ecclesiastical and civil authorities

worked harmoniously in the business – “and bored a hole in the lid of it”

 — as hundreds of thousands have done since his time — “and set it beside the

altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the Lord:”  The altar

intended is, of course, the altar of burnt offering, which was in the court of the temple,

directly opposite the porch. The chest was placed outside the sanctuary (Ibid.), and,

indeed, outside the porch, on the right hand as one entered into the court

by the north door. It was thus very conspicuous – “and the priests that

kept the door i.e. the door of the court — put therein all the money

that was brought into the house of the Lord.” -  The priests received the

money from those who offered, at the gate of the court, and, proceeding to

the chest, dropped it in through the aperture. A man could not see that all

which he had given was put in, but he reckoned on the good faith of the

priest, and was satisfied.

 

10  “And it was so, when they saw that there was much money in the chest,”

 “When they saw” means “when they perceived.” They would not see that the

chest was becoming full, but would know by the weight, and perhaps by the sound

which the money made when it was dropped in - “that the king’s scribe” –

(the royal secretary) -  Such persons are seen on the Assyrian sculptured slabs,

with a roll of paper or parchment in one hand, and a pen in the other, taking

account for the king of the spoil brought in from foreign countries – “and the

high priest” - Since the time of Joshua, the high priest had been called

simply “the priest.” The restoration of the full title (hae-cohen hag-gadol)

marks the increasing power of the priests and the diminishing power of the

kings under the later monarchy – “came up, and they put up in bags, and

told, the money that was found in the house of the Lord.”  Money was

ordinarily put up in bags, containing a certain definite amount, the mouth

of the bag being then tied round with a string (ch. 5:23; and compare Proverbs

7:20; Isaiah 46:6; Haggai 1:6). Hence putting money up in bags was sometimes

called, as in this place, “binding it.” No doubt they “told,” or counted, the money

first, and put it in the bags afterwards.

 

 

11  And they gave the money, being told — rather, after weighing it

into the hands of them that did the work, that had the oversight of the

house of the Lord:” - It must be remembered that no coins existed as yet;

and the lumps of silver which passed as shekels and half shekels, were of very

uncertain weight. To know the value of the money in each bag, it was necessary,

not only to count the pieces, but to weigh each bag separately. The bags, when

weighed, were handed over by the high priest and the royal secretary to the

officers whom Jehoiada had appointed (ch. 11:18) to have the general

superintendence of the “house - “and they laid it out to the carpenters and

builders, that wrought upon the house of the Lord.”  The “paid it out” of

our Revisers is better than “laid it out.” The overseers of the temple paid over

to the carpenters and the builders, from time to time, such money as was needed

for the work done.

 

12  “And to masons;” rather, to the masons. The “masons” (goderim) are the

actual artisans who worked under instructions from the “builders” -  “and hewers

of stone” — or, stone-cutters — rather, those who sawed up the stones on the

spot, than those who hewed them in the quarries — “and to buy timber and

hewed stone to repair the breaches of the house of the Lord,” – II Chronicles

24:12 mentions “workers in iron and brass” (bronze) also. Probably, when

once the work was taken thoroughly in hand, it was found that repairs of

all sorts and kinds were needed. The temple had stood for a hundred and

thirty-six years, and up to this time it had, so far as we know, undergone

no repairs at all. Certainly none are mentioned – “and for all that was laid

out for the house to repair it.” This general clause shows how wide were

the powers of the overseers. The suspicions and jealousies which modern writers

have imagined contrast remarkably with the general confidence and trust which

 seem to have prevailed among all those concerned in the repairs.

 

13  “Howbeit there was not made for the house of the Lord bowls of silver,

snuffers, basins, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the

money that was brought into the house of the Lord:” - i.e. while the repairs

were incomplete, while the work was still going on, no portion of the money taken

from the chest was expended in the purchase of new sacred vessels, whether of

gold or silver, whether bowls, or snuffers, or basins, or trumpets the whole was

rigidly applied to the renovation of the temple building. There is no contradiction

between this statement and that of  II Chronicles 24:14, which tells us that, after

the entire repairs were completed, the surplus money was expended in this way,

on the purchase of “vessels to minister and to offer, spoons, and vessels of

 gold and silver.” We can well understand that, after the spoiling of the temple

by successive kings to buy off enemies — by Rehoboam to content Shishak

(I Kings 14:26), by Asa to gratify Benhadad (Ibid. ch. 15:18), and by Joash

himself (v.18) to procure the retreat of Hazael from the siege of Jerusalem, the

vessels of the temple must have required renovating almost as much as the

fabric itself; and when it was found that there remained a surplus over and

above all that was needed for building purposes, we cannot wonder that it

was applied to the renewal of the vessels, absolutely essential as they were

for the service of the sanctuary.

 

14  “But they gave that i.e., the whole money contributed —to the

workmen — equivalent to “the carpenters, builders, masons, hewers of stone,”

etc., mentioned in vs. 11-12 — and repaired therewith the house of the

Lord.” -  i.e. expended the money on the repairs.

 

15  “Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they

delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen:” -  Society rests upon

faith and trust. In all business transactions confidence must be reposed in some

one, whose character is the guarantee of his honesty. In the case before us, the

overseers of the temple were the persons trusted to expend the money aright

(v. 11). They had been appointed by the high priest. (v. 18) -  “for they dealt

faithfully.” -  i.e. honestly.

 

16  “The trespass money” - When a man had injured another, he was

bound by the Law to make compensation to the injured party at the

valuation of the priest, with the addition of one-fifth more than the value

(Leviticus 6:2-6; Numbers 5:6-8). The compensation was, primarily, to be made

to the man himself; secondarily, if he were dead, to his nearest kinsman; finally, if

he had left no kinsman, to the priest – “and sin money” -  According to the Law,

the priest was entitled to no money with a sin offering; but it seems to have become

customary to make the priest who offered it a voluntary gift, to compensate him for

his trouble.  Such free gifts the priest was by the Law (Ibid. v.10) entitled to

receive – “was not brought into the house of the Lord:” -  i.e. it was not

deposited in the chest, or applied to the repairs, but — “it was the priests’.”

 

                       

                        The War of Joash with Hazael (vs. 17-18)

 

A considerable gap occurs between vs. 16 and 17. We learn from Chronicles some

particulars of the interval. Not long after the completion of the repairs, Jehoiada, who

had lived to a good old age in complete harmony with the monarch, expired. His

piety, and his good services, as preserver of the house of David, as restorer of the

temple-worship, and joint-repairer with Joash of the temple itself, were regarded as

entitling him to extraordinary funeral honors; and by general consent he was interred

within the city of Jerusalem, in the sepulchers of the kings (II Chronicles 24:16).

His removal led to a fresh religious revolution. The Jewish aristocracy, who

perhaps had never been free from the licentious and idolatrous taint introduced

by Rehoboam and confirmed by Athaliah, and who may well have been galled

by the new rise of the priestly order, presented themselves before Joash, and

offered him the same obsequious homage that had been paid by the young nobles to

Rehoboam.  He... feeling himself released from personal obligations by the death of

his adopted father, threw himself into their hands. Athaliah was avenged almost upon

the spot where she had been first seized by her enemies.  Joash began by

allowing the reintroduction of idolatry and grove-worship (Ibid. v. 18),

and then, when remonstrated with by Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, who had

succeeded his father in the office of high priest, had the remonstrant set upon by

the people and slain (Ibid. vs. 20-22) - The writer of Chronicles closely connects

this murderous deed with the Syrian war, which followed it within a year (Ibid.

v. 23), and was generally regarded as a Divine judgment.  (We cannot overlook

the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:35 –“That upon you may come all

the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel

to Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the

altar.” Zechariah, the minor prophet, was the son of Berechiah; but we read nothing

of his being slain in the temple or elsewhere. The only other prophet of this name in

the Bible is one mentioned in the above reference in the Chronicles, who was stoned

by the people at the command of Joash, in the court of the house of the Lord. “And

when he died,” it is added, “he said, The Lord look upon it, and require it.” This

makes his case correspond to that of Abel, the voice of whose blood cried unto

God from the ground. He is also the last prophet whose death is recorded in the

Old Testament, and the guilt of whose murder, the Jews say, was not purged till the

temple was burned under Nebuchadnezzar. It seems to be a kind of proverbial

saying which the Lord here uses, equivalent to “from the first murdered saint to

the last,” taking the arrangement of the Hebrew canon of Scripture, and regarding

the Books of Chronicles as the conclusion of Jewish history. This [though it would

exclude the murder of other prophets, e.g. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc.] would

all be plain enough and quite appropriate to the context were it not that the

Zechariah thus referred to was the son of Jehoiada, not of Barachias. But

there are two solutions of this difficulty suggested; and, allowing either of

these, we may confidently assert that the above-named prophet is the

personage intended.)

 

17  “Then Hazael King of Syria went up, and fought against Gath,” - Hitherto

Judah had been safe from any attack on the part of Syria, since Israel had been

interposed between the two powers. Now, however, that Hazael had conquered

from Jehu the entire trans-Jordanic territory (ch. 10:33), the case was wholly altered

- Judah and Syria had become conterminous along the line of the lower Jordan,

and Syria could invade Judaea at any moment. It is surprising that Gath should have

been the special object of attack, since Gath (Abu-Gheith) lay remote from the

Syrian frontier, in the southwestern part of Judaea, and could only be reached from

Syria by an enemy who was not afraid of leaving Jerusalem behind him. Gath, when

last mentioned, was a Judaean city, and was fortified by Rehoboam (II Chronicles

11:8); but it was originally Philistine (I Samuel 6:17), and the Philistines had

recovered it before the time of Uzziah (II Chronicles 26:6). To which power it

belonged when Hazael made war upon it is uncertain – “and took it — probably

took it by storm, and plundered it, but did not attempt an occupation — and

Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.”  If Gath be Abu-Gheith, as

appears probable, it would be distant from Jerusalem not less than forty

miles in a direct line. If Hazael, however, was returning to the trans-Jordanic

country taken from Israel, it would lie in his way, and might naturally tempt him

to make a dash at it, more especially as he was flushed with victory.

 

18 “And Jehoash King of Judah took all the hallowed things” -

The writer of Chronicles tells us that, first of all, there was a battle. “The

army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the Lord

delivered a very great host into their hand” (II Chronicles 24:24). The

loss was especially heavy among the nobles, who officered the Jewish

army. Much plunder was taken by the visitors (Ibid. v.23).  Then, probably,

the siege of the city was commenced, and Joash, like Rehoboam and Asa

before him (I Kings 14:26; 15:18), and Hezekiah subsequently  (ch.18:15-16),

had recourse to the temple treasures, and with them bought off the invader. It is

noticeable that Athaliah had not deprived the temple of them previously – “that

Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had

dedicated,” -  Though Jehoram and Ahaziah apostatized so far as to maintain the

Baal-worship in Jerusalem, and even to force attendance on it (II Chronicles 21:11),

yet they did not relinquish altogether the worship of Jehovah. That Jehoram called

his son, Ahaziah, “possession of Jehovah,” and Ahaziah one of his sons, Joash,

“whom Jehovah supports,” is indicative of this syncretism, which was common in

ancient times, but against which pure Judaism made the strongest possible protest -

“and his own hallowed things i.e., the gifts which he had himself made to the

temple — and all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of

the Lord,” – This was probably not much; but some “vessels of gold” had been

made (II Chronicles 24:14) out of the residue of the money subscribed for the

repairs -  “and in the king’s house,” -  The royal palace had been plundered by

the Arabs and Philistines combined in the reign of Jehoram (Ibid. ch.21:16-17);

but in the thirty years that had since elapsed there had been time for fresh

accumulations – “and sent it to Hazael King of Syria: and he went away from

Jerusalem.”  The personal presence of Hazael at the siege seems to be here

implied, while (Ibid. ch. 24:23) rather implies his absence. Perhaps he was absent

at first, but joined the besiegers after a while.

 

 

                        The Close of the Reign of Joash

                                                and

                  His Murder by His Servants (vs. 19-21)

 

Again the narrative of Kings is to be supplemented by that of Chronicles. From

Chronicles we learn that, before the withdrawal of the Syrians, Joash had fallen into

a severe illness, which confined him to his apartment (IIChronicles 24:25). This gave

opportunity for conspiracy.  Among the courtiers were two, perhaps more, whom

the fate of Zechariah had grieved, and who were probably opposed to the entire

series of later changes in religion which had been sanctioned by Joash (Ibid. vs.

17-18). These persons “made a conspiracy,” which was successful, and

“slew Joash on his bed” (Ibid. v. 25). They then buried him in Jerusalem, but

“not in the sepulchers of the kings.”

 

19  “And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are

they not written in the chronicles of the kings of Judah?”  This formal

phrase, with which he concludes his account of almost every Jewish king

(ch. 8:23; 14:18; 15:6; I Kings 14:29; 15:7,23; 22:45), cannot be regarded

as an acknowledgment by the author of any special or designed reticence with

respect to the reign of Joash. We must suppose him unconscious of any such

design. He had to omit much in every case; in the present he happened to omit

all the darker shades; and the result was an over-favorable portraiture of the

monarch. But, in the providence of God, complete historical justice was

secured by the labors and researches of a second inspired writer.

 

20  “And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy,” -  By “his

servants” officers of his household are probably intended, attendants whose

position would give them ready access to his person – “and slew Joash in the

house of Millo,” -  Joash had probably transferred his residence to “the house

of Millo.” — the great fortress built by David (II  Samuel 5:9) and

Solomon (I Kings 9:15, 24) in Jerusalem — for greater security during

the siege; and, being there prostrated by sickness, could not remove from it

when the siege was over – “which goeth down to Silla.”  No commentator has

succeeded in explaining this passage. There is no other mention of Silla;

and it is difficult to understand how a fortress could be said to “go down”

to any place.

 

21  “For Jozachar the son of Shimeath,” - called in Chronicles Zabad,”

probably through a corruption of the text. His mother, Shimeath, was, according to

II Chronicles 24:26, an Ammonitess - “and Jehozabad the son of Shomer,” –

 For Shomer we have in Chronicles “Shim-rith,” which is the feminine form

of Shomer,” and we are told that she was a Moabitess. The Jews were at all

times fond of taking wives from Moab and Ammon (Ruth 1:4; I Kings 11:1;

Ezra 9:1-2; Nehemiah 13:23), despite the prohibition of mixed marriages in the

Law (see Deuteronomy 7:3) – “his servants, smote him, and he died

(for their motives, see the introductory paragraph), and they buried him

with his fathers in the city of David:” -  Some critics see a contradiction

between this statement and that of II Chronicles 24:25, that he was “not buried

in the sepulchers of the kings;” but, the two statements are not irreconcilable,

since he may have been regarded as “buried with his fathers,” if his grave was

anywhere in Jerusalem, even though he was excluded from the royal burying-place -

“and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.”  (For the reign of Amaziah, see

ch. 14:1-20.)

 

 

                        Psychological Profile of Joash (v. 2)

 

The most prominent trait in the character of Joash was his lack of independence and

moral weakness. He had no strength of will, no stamina; in the expressive, if inelegant,

language of our times, “no backbone.” He must always lean upon some one. Let us

look at Joash:

 

  • IN HIS YOUTH. At this time he was so fortunate as to have a natural

            prop and support in Jehoiada, his uncle by marriage, and his guardian

            during the years of his minority. Jehoiada’s was a strong character, and the

            life of Joash, while Jehoiada guided his steps, if not marked by any

            strikingly great actions, was correct, exemplary, worthy of praise. There

            was piety and right feeling in the pains, which he took to promote the

            restoration of the temple, and prudence in the measures whereby he

            succeeded in effecting his purpose. The measures may have been —

            probably were — suggested by Jehoiada; but the king deserves some

            credit for adopting them.  As the writer of Kings says, “Joash did that

            which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada

            the priest instructed him (v. 2).  But Jehoiada could not live forever. He

            reached a very advanced age; but at last he “waxed old and died”

            (II Chronicles 24:15), and Joash was left to manage as he might without him.

            Let us look at him now:

 

  • IN HIS MIDDLE AGE, AFTER THE DEATH OF JEHOIADA.

            Apparently his weakness is known, and it is at once assumed that he must

            put himself under directors. The “princes of Judahgo to him, pay him

            court, flatter him probably, at any rate offer him unusual honors. And at

            once he succumbs, and places himself under their influence. We cannot

            suppose him not to have been aware of what he was doing. He must have

            known the leanings of the “princes,” and have understood that, in adopting

            them as his advisers, he was giving up all the traditions of his earlier life,

            and taking a new departure. Such lightness would not have been surprising

            in a mere youth; but Joash was now at least thirty years of age, probably

            more, and might have been expected to have formed and settled his

            principles and his character. Still, experience shows that even thirty years

            of a pious life, if it has been passed “under tutors and governors,” does not

            fix a man’s future in the same line — nay, often leads him to an almost

            irrepressible desire for revolt, and for departing widely from his

            antecedents. The desire is a temptation of the devil, and, if yielded to, has

            devilish results; but it is very often yielded to. Nero’s outbreak after he

            had got rid of Seneca is the most palpable historical example; but the

            experience of most persons must have shown them scores of instances of

            men, trained and brought up in good courses till middle life, (mid-life

            crisis????? – CY -2011) and then suddenly set free to take their own line,

            who have plunged into dissipation, impiety, and wickedness of all kinds.

            The case of Joash is extraordinary, not in its general features, but in the

            lengths to which he went. Under the influence of the “princes,” he allowed

            the Baal-worship to be reintroduced, and gave it free tolerance.

            When prophets remonstrated, and Zechariah denounced God’s vengeance

            on those who had forsaken Him (II Chronicles 24:19-20), then Joash,

            unaccustomed to opposition, was so exasperated that he went the length of

            murder — murder of a high priest within the precincts of the temple, by the

            cruet death of stoning, and murder of one for whom he ought to have had

            a special kindness, in remembrance of the vast benefits which he had

            received from his father (Ibid. v. 22). It is quite possible — nay, probable

            that Joash (like Henry II. in the case of Becket) did not deliberately

            determine on the murder — that hasty words, uttered in extreme

            exasperation, were seized upon by his too-officious servants, and carried

            out in act before he could retract them. But this only emphasizes his

            weakness. A well-intentioned prince, yielding to evil influences, sanctions

            the most atrocious crime that the temple ever witnessed (Matthew 23. 35)

            and through his weakness involves the nation in guilt greater than any that

            had been incurred by the doings of the most wicked of preceding monarchs.

 

 

Inconvenience of Setting Priests and Ministers to “Serve Tables” (vs. 4-8)

 

However convinced we may be of the honesty of the priests and Levites concerned

in collecting money at this time for the repairs of the temple, it is undeniable that their

proceedings in the matter created distrust and dissatisfaction. We know too little of

the monetary arrangements previously in use among the Jews to see with any real

clearness what exactly the complaint of the laity was, or how far the priests and

Levites had a satisfactory answer to it. Probably the rules given were not

sufficiently definite; and it may also well have been that the priests and Levites were

not sufficiently versed in business transactions to understand completely what the

rules laid down expressed. We must remember that, in the early Church, when the

apostles had to occupy themselves with money matters, it was not long before

complaints arose (Acts 6:1), and the apostles refused any longer to “serve tables.”

The very foundation of society is a division of labor. In an organization like that of the

Church, whether Jewish or Christian, it is of extreme importance to disconnect

the performance of high spiritual functions from the duty of receiving,

apportioning, and disbursing large sums of money. This is so:

 

  • BECAUSE, AS A GENERAL RULE, THE MOST SPIRITUALITY

            MINDED OF MEN ARE THE MOST INAPT FOR THE DETAILS OF

            BUSINESS.  Different qualities of mind, qualities offering a strong

            contrast, and very rarely united in the same person, are requisite for

            success in business and for winning souls to God; also intimate

            acquaintance with an entirely different set of facts is in each case necessary.

            Spiritually minded men are in many instances woefully deficient in worldly

            knowledge, know nothing of book-keeping by double entry, and even find

            a difficulty in remembering the multiplication table. Their faculties are

            suited for something higher than “serving tables,” and to employ them in

            such service is to waste valuable material in work for which it is wholly

            unsuited.

 

  • BECAUSE, IF BUSINESS TBANSACTIONS ARE ILL MANAGED,

            SUSPICIONS ARISE, AND GOD’S MINISTERS SHOULD BE

            ABOVE SUSPICION. A minister’s usefulness is gone if once he is

            suspected in money matters (“Filthy lucre” – I Peter 5:2).  It is seriously

            impaired, even if nothing is proved against him beyond incapacity and

            blundering. Many a clergyman has got into most serious trouble by

            undertaking work of a worldly kind, which he never ought to have

            undertaken, and failing in the proper management of it, though his

            honesty was quite unimpeachable.

 

  • BECAUSE THE TIME GIVEN BY MINISTERS TO BUSINESS

            MATTERS MIGHT BE BETTER SPENT IN THE PROPER WORK

            OF THE MINISTRY. This was what the apostles felt (Acts 6:2-4); they

            wished to give themselves wholly to “the ministry of the Word and to

            prayer.” Modern clergymen have, in addition, parochial visiting and

            reading to employ them, both making large demands upon their time, and

            impossible to be shifted upon others. A congregation will, in ninety-nine

            cases out of a hundred, derive far more benefit from their minister having

            an additional hour a day, or two hours a day, for reading, than from his

            spending the time in slaving at accounts, collecting .the children’s pence,

            looking after clubs, and bargaining for coals or blankets. The study of the

            Bible, with all the new light which is thrown upon it by recent

             scholarship and research, is imperative; and it is also essential that

            a clergy man should have such a knowledge of the current and

             tendencies  of modern thought as is only to be maintained by very

            diligent reading of the popular literature, periodical and other, of

            the day.

 

  • BECAUSE IT PROMOTES HARMONY AND UNION IF THE

            LAITY ARE EMPLOYED IN THE BUSINESS MATTERS OF THE

            DISTRICT, OR CHURCH, OR PARISH. In almost every parish or

            congregation there will be among the laity persons quite fit to undertake

            the functions whereof we have been speaking. And such persons will in

            most cases be gratified by being asked to undertake them. They will be

            glad to be associated with the clergyman in parochial matters, and to

            relieve him of a portion of his burdens. It will be a satisfaction to them to

            be doing some work for Christ and His Church, to feel that they are a part

            of the organization, and that by their gratuitous service they are furthering

            the cause of their Lord and Master. And the greater fellowship which will

            thus take place between them and their spiritual guides will foster good

            feeling and mutual regard and respect.

 

 

Church Building Restoration is a Good Work Acceptable to God (vs. 4-15)

 

David’s desire to build God a house is often mentioned to his honor (II Samuel 7:2;

I Chronicles 17:1-15; II Chronicles 6:7; Acts 7:46).  Solomon’s reputation for piety

and zeal rests mainly upon the pains which he took to erect for God’s worship a

noble and suitable edifice (I Kings chps. 8 and 9; Acts 7:47). The “repairing of

 the house of God” (II Chronicles 24:27) by Joash obtained him his place among

the good kings (here – v. 2). Josiah’s restoration (ch. 22:3-7) helped to put

him in the higher category of those who were in no way defective.  Zerubbabel and

Jeshua were long held in honor, because they builded the house, and set up a

holy temple to the Lord”.  It was the great glory of Judas Maccabaeus that he

cleansed and “renewed the sanctuary” (I Maccabees 5:1). If God is to have any

outward worship at all, if nations are to honor him openly, if men are to join in

common prayer for mutual encouragement and edification, there must be buildings

for the purpose; and natural reverence requires that they shall be kept solely for

the purpose. He who provides such buildings does a good work; he who

repairs them when they need it, or restores them when they have gone to

decay, shows the same spirit as the original builder, and deserves scarcely

less praise. Of course, we assume that both builders and repairers and

restorers do their work in a proper frame of mind, and from proper

motives; otherwise church-building, like almsgiving or any other good

work, may cease to be pleasing to God, or may even become an “offense”

to Him. Church-builders and church-restorers should see:

 

  • THAT THEY DO NOT THEIR WORK FOR SHOW OR FOR THEIR

      OWN GLORY. This their conscience will readily tell them if they honestly

      consult it.

 

  • THAT THEY DO IT NOT IN A SPIRIT OF MERE AESTHETICISM,

            OUT OF A LOVE OF ART. (There is a danger here that is associated

            with the commandment to not make “graven images”.  “God is a Spirit

            and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth” –

            [John 4:24] – Still, should we not give our best to “the Master?”

            Does the upkeep and presentation of church house premises carry

            over into our dress? – CY – 2011)

 

  • THAT THEY DO IT NOT OUT OF STRIFE, OR JEALOUSY, OR

            EMULATION, BUT WITH A SINGLE EYE TO GOD’S HONOR

            AND GLORY AS THEIR MAIN OBJECT. As some preached the

            gospel out of strife (Philippians 1:15) in the apostles’ time, so it may be

            that occasionally nowadays the desire of surpassing a neighbor, or

            outshining a rival, may be at the root of men’s munificence in church-

            building and chapel-building. As “dead flies cause the ointment

            the apothecary to stink” (Ecclesiastes 10:1), so a wrong motive takes

            away all its sweet savor from a good action.

 

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