II Kings 13

 

 

 

THE REIGN OF JEHOAHAZ (vs. 1-9)

 

The writer returns in this chapter to the history of the Israelite kingdom, taking

it up from the death of Jehu, which was recorded in the closing verses of ch.10.

He sketches briefly the reign of Jehu’s son and successor, Jehoahaz, in the

present section, after which he passes to that of Jehu’s grandson, Jehoash

or Joash. The Syrian oppression was the great event of Jehoahaz’s reign.

 

 

1  In the three and twentieth year of Joash” -  rather, as in Josephus

(‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:8. § 5), in the one and twentieth year. This is a correction

required by v. 10 and also by ch. 12:1. It seems unnecessary to enter into a

lengthy discussion of the point, since all the synchronisms of the later kings

of Israel and Judah are in confusion, and appear to be the work of a later

hand -  “the son of Ahaziah (compare ch. 11:2; II Chronicles 22:11) King

of Judah, Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in

Samaria,” - literally, reigned over Israel. The “later hand,” which inserted

the synchronism, neglected to bring the two portions of the verse into

agreement. Our translators have sought to cover up his omission by

translating malak “began to reign,” and then supplying “and reigned” in the

next clause -  “and reigned seventeen years.”  (so also Josephus, l.s.c.).

 

2  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,” - There is no

reason to believe that Jehoahaz re-introduced the Baal-worship, or sinned in

any other flagrant way than by maintaining the calf-worship at Dan and Bethel.

Jehu had done the same (ch.10:29), as had all previous kings of Israel from the

time of Jeroboam. The honor of God, however, required that idolatry of

whatever kind should be punished, and the Samaritan kingdom could not

otherwise be saved from destruction than by, “casting away all the works of

darkness” and returning to the pure worship of Jehovah. Hence Jehu himself,

notwithstanding the good service that he had done in crushing the Baal-

worship, was chastised by God (ch. 10:32-33) on account of his continuance

in the “sin of Jeroboam;” and now Jehoahaz was even more signally punished.

The longer and the more obstinately the sin was continued, the more severe did

the punishment become.  and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of

Nebat (compare ch.10:29, where the exegetical clause is added, “To

wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan”) which made Israel

to sin; -  (compare I Kings 15:26; 16:19, 26; 22:52); he departed not

therefrom.”  This is emphatic. Jehoahaz kept up the worship to the full, and

in no way suffered it to decline.

 

3  And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.” - We

know so much less of the nature of the calf-worship and of the rites which

accompanied it, but we must remember the coarse, lewd dancing which

accompanied the first calf-worship (Exodus 32:19), for which death was

not thought too heavy a penalty (Ibid. v. 27), and the almost universal

combination of unchastity with idolatrous ceremonies, which raises a

suspicion that those who frequented the shrines at Dan and Bethel were

not wholly innocent of impurity – “and he delivered them into the hand of

Hazel King of Syria,” - The national sins of Israel were mostly punished in

this way, by the sword of some foreign foe. Hazael had been already made

an instrument for the chastisement of Jehu (ch. 10:32-33). Now he

was to chastise Jehoahaz still more severely – “and into the hand of

Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days.”  -  literally, all the days. Not

certainly all the days of the two kings Hazael and Benhadad, for Benhadad

was entirely worsted in his war with Joash (vs. 24-25), but either all the

days of Jehoahaz, or all the days that God had appointed for the duration

of the calamity. It is perhaps against the former interpretation that Hazael

appears to have outlived Jehoahaz (vs. 22-24); but Ben-hadad may have

warred against him as his father’s general (v. 25) during his father’s

lifetime.

 

4  And Jehoahaz besought the Lord,” -  literally, besought the face

of the Lord (compare I Kings 13:6). Jehoahaz, as Josephus says, “betook

him-self to prayer and supplication of God, entreating that He would deliver

him out of the hands of Hazael, and not suffer him to continue subject”

(‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:8. § 5). He did not turn from his sin of idolatry, perhaps did

not suspect that it was this sin which had provoked God’s anger; but in a

general way he repented, humbled himself, and besought God’s mercy and

assistance“and the Lord hearkened unto him” -  God accepted his

repentance, all imperfect as it was, so far as to save the people from the

entire destruction with which it was threatened by the severe measures

of Hazael (v. 7), to continue the national existence (v. 23), and ultimately

to restore the national prosperity (v. 25 and ch. 14:25-27). But He did not

remove the oppression, as Josephus imagines, in Jehoahaz’s time. V. 22

makes this fact absolutely certain - “for He saw the oppression of Israel,

because the King of Syria oppressed them.”  Oppression is always

hateful to God, even when He is using it as his instrument for chastising

or punishing a guilty people. He “sees” it, notes it, lays it up in His

remembrance for future retribution (compare Exodus 3:7; Isaiah 10:5-12).

(On the nature and extent of the oppression of this period, see v. 7, and the

comment)

 

5  (“And the Lord gave Israel a savior, so that they went out from under

the hand of the Syrians:” -  A “savior” means a deliverer from the hand of

the Syrians [compare Judges 3:9, 15; Nehemiah 9:27, where in the Hebrew the

word used is the same]. The special “deliverer” was probably in the mind of

the writer, Jeroboam II, by whom he says, in ch. 14:27, that God “saved”

Israel; but Joash, who began the deliverance (v. 25), may also be glanced at - 

and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents,” - Here, as so often

elsewhere [I Kings 8:66; 12:16; Zechariah 12:7], the word “tents” is a mere

archaism for “abodes, houses.” Israel had dwelt in tents until the going down

into Egypt, and again from the time of quitting Egypt to the entrance into

Canaan; and thus the word ohel had acquired a secondary meaning of

abode,” “dwelling-place.” In the time which followed on the deliverance

from the Syrian yoke, the Israelites of the ten tribes were no longer

engaged in marches and countermarches, in battles, skirmishes, or sieges,

but quietly abode in their several houses -  “as beforetime.” - i.e. as in the

peaceful time before the attacks of Hazael began.

 

6   “Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of

Jeroboam, who made Israel sin,” -  The house of Jeroboam” is an unusual

expression in this connection, and is scarcely appropriate, since every

house” had acted in the same way -  “but walked therein:  and there

remained the grove also in Samaria.”)  “The grove in Samaria”

was that idolatrous emblem which Ahab had set up at Jezebel’s suggestion

(I Kings 16:33), the nature of which has been much disputed. Some

think that it was “an image of Astarte”  but more probably it was a mere

emblem, analogous to the Assyrian “sacred tree.” Its material may sometimes

have been wood, but was perhaps more usually metal. The mistranslation

grove originated with the Septuagint translators, who uniformly rendered

hr;cea} by a]lsov.  It is surprising that Jehu did not destroy the asherah

together with the other idolatrous erections of Ahab in Samaria (ch. 10:26-28);

but, for some reason or other, it seems to have been spared, and to have been

still standing. So long as it stood, even if it did not attract the religious

regards of any, it would be a standing dishonor to God, and would so

increase the sin of the nation. Hence its mention in this passage.

 

7   “Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty

horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen;” -  This verse

seems to be an exegetical note on v. 4, which perhaps it once followed

immediately, the parenthetic section (vs. 5-6) having been added

later, as an afterthought, either by the original writer, or perhaps by a later

hand. The meaning seems to be that Hazael limited the standing army of

Jehoahaz to fifty horsemen, ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen, not

that he slew the entire military population except this small remnant. The

policy of limiting the forces to be maintained by a subject-king was one

known to the Romans, and has often been adopted in the East. The

limitation left the country at the mercy of all its neighbors (see v. 20) –

for the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the

dust by threshing.” -  Possibly this means no more than an utter destruction –

a trampling in the dust, as we phrase it (see Jeremiah 51:33; Micah 4:12-13;

and perhaps Isaiah 21:10). But it may be an allusion to that destruction of

prisoners by means of a threshing instrument, which was certainly sometimes

practiced (II Samuel 12:31; Proverbs 20:26), and which is made a special

charge against Damascus (Amos 1:3)

 

8  Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, and all that he did,

and his might,” -  rather, his prowess, or his valor. Though defeated and

reduced to subjection by the Syrians, yet Jehoahaz had distinguished

himself, and shown his own personal courage, in the course of the war.

are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of

Israel? (ch. 1:18). The regular use of the phrase is one of the indications

that the two Books of the Kings are by one author, and form one book.

 

9  And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers;” - and they buried him in

Samaria (compare I Kings 16:28; ch. 10:35; v.13). The kings of Israel from

the time of Omri were buried in the capitol, Samaria, as those of Judah were

in Jerusalem. It is uncertain whether they had one common mausoleum, like

the kings of Judah (II Chronicles 28:27), but it is most probable that they had.

To rest with their fathers in the same royal sepulcher was to be duly honored

at their death; to be excluded from it was a disgrace -  “and Joash his son

reigned in his stead.”

 

 

THE REIGN OF JOASH (vs. 10-25)

 

The writer passes from the reign of Jehoahaz, Jehu’s son, to that of Joash,

Jehu’s grandson, which he seems to have intended at first to dispatch in the

short space of four verses (vs. 10-13). He afterwards, however, saw reason

to add to his narrative, first, an account of an interview between Joash and

Elisha, shortly Before the death of the latter (vs. 14-19); secondly, an account

of a miracle wrought soon afterwards by means of Elisha’s corpse (vs. 20-21);

and thirdly, a brief notice of Joash’s Syrian war (vs. 22-25).

 

10  In the thirty and seventh year of Joash King of Judah” -

Three years before his death, since he reigned forty years (ch. 12:1). The two

Joashes were thus contemporary monarchs for the space of three years –

began Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz to reign ever Israel in Samaria,

and reigned sixteen years.”  The construction is the same as that

of v. 1, and is equally ungrammatical. Our translators again amend the

faulty phrase by introducing the words “and reigned” The “sixteen years”

of the reign of Joash are confirmed by Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:8. § 6), but

still present some difficulty (see the comment on ch. 14:23).

 

11  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord; he

departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who

made Israel sin; but he walked therein.”  Josephus says that Joash was a

good king, and quite unlike his father in disposition (‘Ant. Jud.,’ l.s.c.); but

he is not likely to have had any independent data for judging of his

character. Our author seems to include both son and father in the same

category (v. 2). The narrative contained in v. 14 is probably the

foundation of the historian’s favorable judgment.

 

12  And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, and

his might wherewith he fought against Amaziah King of Judah (see

ch. 14:11-14), are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the

kings of Israel?”  Either this and the next verses have been displaced

from their rightful position by some accident, or the author at one time

intended to terminate his account of Joash at this point. The formula

used is one, which regularly closes the reign of each king. The proper place

for it would have been after v. 25.

 

13  And Joash slept with his fathers; and Jeroboam sat upon his

Throne:” -  That Joash should call his eldest son Jeroboam, after the

founder of the kingdom, indicated a thorough approval of that founder’s

policy and conduct, and perhaps a hope that he would be to the apparently

decaying kingdom a sort of second founder. The name means, “he whose

people is many,” and was thus anticipative of that great enlargement of the

Israelite kingdom, which took place under him (ch. 14:25-28). and Joash

was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel (see the comment on v. 9).

 

14   “Now Elisha, was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died.”

Elisha, who was grown to manhood before the death of Ahab (I Kings

19:19), must have been at least eighty years old at the accession of Joash:

His illness was therefore probably the result of mere natural decay.  “And

Joash the King of Israel came down unto him,” - The visit of a king to a

prophet, in the way of sympathy and compliment, would be a very unusual

occurrence at any period of the world’s history. In the East, and at the

period of which the historian is treating, it was probably unprecedented.

Prophets waited upon kings, not kings upon prophets: If a king came to a

prophet’s house, it was likely to be on an errand of vengeance (ch. 6:32),

not on one of kindness and sympathy. The act of Joash certainly

implies a degree of tenderness and consideration on his part very

uncommon at the time, and is a fact to which much weight should be

attached in any estimate that we form of his character. He was, at any rate,

a prince of an amiable disposition -  “and wept over his face” - i.e., leaned

over the sick man as he lay on his bed, and shed tears, some of which fell

on him — “and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and

the horsemen thereof.”  As Elisha had addressed Elijah, when he was

quitting the earth (ch. 2:12), so Joash now addressed the dying

Elisha, using exactly the same words, not (certainly) by a mere

coincidence. Joash must have known the circumstances of Elijah’s

departure, which had probably been entered before this in the ‘Book of the

Kings,’ and intended pointedly to allude to them. “O my father, my father,”

he meant to say, “when Elijah was taken from the earth, thou didst exclaim

that the defense of Israel was gone” (see the comment on ch. 2:12): “how

much more must it be true that it is gone now, when thou art on the point

of departure! He left thee as his successor; thou leavest no one!”

 

15  And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows.”  The

prophet was moved, no doubt, by a sudden inspiration.  He was bidden to

assure the weeping king of victory — speedy victory-over Syria. The

defense of Israel would not fail because he — a mere weak instrument by

whom God had been pleased to work — was taken from the earth. God

would bless the king’s own efforts. “Take bow and arrows,” he exclaims

under the prophetic afflatus. “Take them at once into thine hands, and do

my bidding.” Words would not have been enough; greater assurance and

conviction was produced when prophecy took the shape of a symbolical

action (compare I Samuel 15:27; I Kings 11:30; Isaiah 20:3; Jeremiah 13:1-11;

18:3-4). So the Spirit of the Lord moved the prophet to the performance

of a symbolical act, or set of acts, which the historian now proceeds to

describe. “And he took unto him how and arrows.”  Joash would take

these from the hands of his attendants, who might be carrying his own

special weapons after him, since they would wait upon him not merely as

attendants, but as guards.

 

16  And he said to the King of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow,”

literally, let thine hand ride upon the bow; i.e. “Take it into active use — place

thine hands as thou dost commonly for shooting — and he put his hand

upon it — he did as Elisha commanded — and Elisha put his hands upon

the king’s hands.”  Elisha, it would seem, rose from his bed, and took the

attitude of an archer, covering the king’s two hands with his own hands,

and making as if he too was pulling the bow, so that the shooting should be,

or at least appear to be, the joint act of himself and the king. The intention

was, no doubt, to show that the power which was to be given to the bow

shot was not the king’s own power, but “came from the Lord through the

mediation of his prophet.”

 

17  And he said, Open the window” - Though glass was unknown,

or at any rate not applied to windows, yet the windows of sitting-rooms,

and still more of bedrooms, had latticed shutters, which partially excluded

the light and the air, and could be opened and closed at pleasure (see the

comment on  ch. 1:2). The prophet ordered the shutter to be opened, that the

king might shoot from the window. He addressed, not the king, whose hands

were both engaged, but his own servant, or one of the royal attendants –

eastward.” Not so much in the direction of Syria, which was north-east of

the Israelite territory, as in the direction of Gilead and Bashan, which had

been the scene of Hazael’s victories (ch. 10:33), and was now to be the scene

of his reverses. Aphek lay almost duo east of Shunem, where it is probable

that Elisha was. “And he opened it.” - or, and one opened it, or they opened

it. The Hebrew idiom allows of this indefinite use of the third person singular.

“Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he i.e. Elisha — said, The

arrow of the Lord’s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria:”

- rather, an arrow.  This is,” the prophet meant to say, “an arrow symbolical

of deliverance about to come from Jehovah, of deliverance from the cruel

oppression of the Syrians” — and not merely of deliverance, but of victory.

for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek,” - The Aphek intended is

probably that which lay east of the Sea of Galilee, at the distance of about

three miles, in lat. 32° 49’ nearly. This place was on the direct route between

Samaria and Damascus, and had already been the scene of one great victory

gained by Israel over Syria (I Kings 20:26-30). The site is marked by the modern

village of Fik -  “till thou have consumed them.” -  literally, till consuming —

i.e., till the army which thou shalt defeat at that place is destroyed utterly.

We have no account of the fulfillment of this prophecy, but may regard the

defeat as one of those touched on in v. 25.

 

18  And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them.”  Elisha

bade the king take into his hand the remainder of the arrows which the

quiver contained. This the king did, and held them in a bunch, as archers do

when they have no quiver. “And he said unto the King of Israel, Smite

upon the ground.  And he smote thrice, and stayed.”  Joash struck with the

arrows against the floor three times, and then paused, thinking he had done

enough. He did not enter into the spirit of the symbolical act, which

represented the smiting and slaying of enemies. Perhaps he had not much

faith in the virtue of the symbolism, which he may even, with the

arrogance of a proud and worldly minded man, have thought childish.

 

19  And the man of God was wroth with him,” - Elisha was angered

at the lukewarmness of Joash, and his lack of faith and zeal. He himself,

from his higher standpoint, saw the greatness of the opportunity, the

abundance of favor which God was ready to grant, and the way in which

God’s favor was stinted and narrowed by Joash’s want of receptiveness.

Had the king been equal to the occasion, a full end might at once have

been made of Syria, and Israel might have been enabled to brace herself

for the still more perilous struggle with Assyria, in which she ultimately

succumbed“and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times;

then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it:” -  It has been

suggested that Joash associated the number three with the notion of

completeness, but in this case the prophet would scarcely have been angered.

It is far more consonant with the entire narrative to suppose that he stopped

from mere weariness, and want of strong faith and zeal. If he had been

earnestly desirous of victory, and had had faith in the symbolical action

as divinely directed, he would have kept on smiting till the prophet told

him it was enough, or at any rate would have smitten the ground five or six

times instead of three. He abstained because he was wanting in the

proper zeal for obtaining the full promises of God. Had it been otherwise,

the complete success obtained by Jeroboam II  (ch. 14:25-28) might

have been anticipated by the space of fifteen or twenty years – “whereas

now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice (compare v. 25, which declares

that this prophecy was exactly accomplished).

 

20  And Elisha died, and they buried him.”  There had been no

burial of Elijah, who  “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (ch. 2:11).

All the more anxious, therefore, would the Israelites be to bury their

second great prophet with due honor. They prepared him, no doubt, one of

those excavated sepulchers which were usual at the time and in the country

a squared or vaulted chamber cut in the native rock. St. Jerome says

that the place of his sepulture was near Samaria (‘Epitaph. Paulae’), and

this is sufficiently probable; but in the Middle Ages his grave was shown at

Ruma, in Galilee (Ewald, ‘Hist. of Israel,’ vol. 4. p. 122, note 3).

According to Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 9:8. § 6), his funeral was magnificent.

“And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of

the year.”  It seems to be implied that this was a usual occurrence. Just as

the Syrians in the days of Naaman made marauding raids into the land from

time to time (ch. 5:2), so now the Moabites each spring made an

incursion. The weakness of Israel is strongly marked by this fact, and still

more by the penetration of the Moabites so deep into their country.

Amos 2:1 perhaps glances at these incursions of Moab.

 

22  And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that,” -  “They” is

used indefinitely of some unnamed Israelites.  Certain persons, it does not matter

who, were burying a man, i.e. about to bury him, and were carrying the corpse to

the grave, when an interruption occurred -  “behold, they spied a band of men;

and they cast the man into the sepulcher of Elisha:” - There was no time

for ceremony. Hastily, and somewhat roughly, it may be, the bearers of the body

thrust it into Elisha’s tomb, which happened to be at hand, and from the mouth of

which they were able to remove the closing stone. They did not “throw” the body

in, but pushed it in  - “and when the man was let down” - The man was not

let down.” Our translators seem to have been unacquainted with the Jewish mode

of burial.  They imagine that Elisha’s tomb is a pit dug in the ground from the

surface downwards, like a modern grave, and the man has therefore to be “let

down,” or to “go down” (marginal translation) into it. The Revised Version

avoids the mistranslation, but weakens the force of the original. Translate,

and when the man came“and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived.”

 The violent push given to the corpse imparted to it a movement which brought it

in contact with the bones, i.e. the body of Elisha, as it lay, wound in its grave-

clothes, but not in a coffin, on the floor of the sepulchral chamber. At the

moment of contact the dead man came to life — “revived” -  “and stood up

on his feet.”  In many Jewish tombs the sepulchral chamber would allow of this.

 

22   “But Hazael King of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.”

 The author, having parenthetically related the extraordinary miracle wrought by the

instrumentality of Elisha’s corpse, returns to the subject of the Syrian oppression.

He had, in vs. 14-19, dwelt upon the promises of victory given by the prophet to

Joash. He is now bent on relating their fulfillment. But before doing so he

recapitulates. V. 22 refers back to v. 3, and v. 23 to vs. 4-5.

 

23  And the Lord was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them,”

Even in His wrath God, thinketh upon mercy.  While He was still punishing Israel

by the sword of Hazael, He was yet careful not to make a full end, not to allow

the affliction to proceed too far.  He still preserved the nation, and kept it in being –

and had respect unto them,” -  i.e. “considered them — kept them in His

mind — did not permit them to slip out of his recollection” — “because of His

covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” -  God’s covenant with Abraham,

Isaac, and Jacob was a covenant of mercy. By it He had pledged Himself to

multiply their seed, to be their God, and the God of their seed after them, and to

give to their seed the whole land of Canaan for an everlasting possession

(Genesis 17:4-8). This covenant bound Him to extend His protection over the

people of Israel so long as they had not utterly and entirely cast off their allegiance

(compare ch.17:7-18) – “and would not destroy them.” -  They were

persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (II Corinthians

4:9). The national life might seem to hang by a thread, but the thread had not snapped

- “neither cast He them from His presence as yet.” The writer has it in his mind

that ultimately they were cast away, rejected, removed out of God’s sight (ch.17:18,

20, 23); but it was not “as yet”there was still an interval of a century,

or a little more, before the blow fell, and the nation of the ten tribes ceased to exist.

(Above, “as yet” is highlighted in red – Judah saw Israel’s mistakes and did the

same – there came a time even for Judah, “there was no remedy” (II Chronicles

36:14-16) – Reader, if you in our culture today are making the same mistakes in

our culture, which Israel and Judah did in the Old Testament, I would take

no comfort in the century delay of the Lord’s judgments, because in the end times,

Jesus said that things  will get so bad that if those days were not shortened,

there should no flesh be saved” that when these things come to pass that

this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled”i. e.

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ and then the Judgment – [Matthew 24:22,34]

– CY – 2011)

 

24  So Hazael King of Syria died;”  - His death is a new fact, not involved in

anything that has been previously stated. It appears by v. 22 that he outlived

Jehoahaz -  and Benhadad his son reigned in his stead.”  Hazael, the

usurper, gave his eldest son the name of the monarch whom he had murdered.

It was an old royal name in Syria (I Kings 15:18), having been borne by at least

two of Hazael’s predecessors.

 

25  And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of

Benhadad the son of Hazael the cities, which he had taken out of the

hand of Jehoahaz his father by war.”  The capture of these cities by

Ben-hadad had not been previously mentioned. It appears by the

present passage, compared with v. 22, that, during the lifetime of his

father, Benhadad had led expeditions into the land of Israel, acting as his

father’s representative and general, and had made himself master of several

Israelite towns. These were now recovered by Jehoash. They lay probably

in the Cis-Jordanic territory. “Three times did Joash beat him; and

recovered the cities of Israel” -  (compare v. 19). Thrice defeated, Hazael

was forced to abandon his conquests in Western Samaria. He retained,

however, the trans-Jordanic territory, which was not recovered by the

Israelites till the reign of Jeroboam II. (see ch.14:25).

 

 

                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God” – (Romans 11:22)

 

                        God’s Severity and God’s Goodness

       alike Shown in the History of Israel under Jehoahaz (vs. 1-7)

 

  • GOD’S SEVERITY. Two sins only are noted as existing among the

            people at this time — the calf-worship, and the maintenance of the “grove”

            or asherah (v. 6). One of these, the worship of the calves, was ancestral.

            It had been an established usage for a hundred and twenty years, and had

            been upheld by every king from the date of its institution.  The people at

            this time accepted it without question, and were probably quite unconscious

            that it was a sin at all, The other sin, the maintenance of the asherah, was

            negative rather than positive-the emblem (phallic) still stood erect; it had

            not been removed — but it is not said that it was worshipped. Yet

            God, in his severity, visited the people for these two sins heavily, terribly

            (vs. 4 and 7). He did not accept thoughtlessness, unconsciousness,

            absence of any evil intention, as an excuse. His honor was impugned by

            both practices, and He is very jealous of His honor. To leave the asherah

            standing, not to break it down, was to show a want of zeal for the purity of

            religion, for the honor of God, for the true faith, for virtue, for decency. To

            be indifferent to the calf-worship, to tolerate it, to continue it, was to live

            in constant violation of the second commandment. God could not, would

            not, tolerate this. If the conscience of the nation had gone to sleep, He

            must rouse it. By sharp pains, by severe afflictions, by actual agonies, if

            necessary, He must stir them from their self-satisfaction, awake them to

            self-examination and keen searchings of heart, and so bring them to a sense

            of their sinfulness, if not to a distinct recognition of their special sins.

            (Now reader:  In light of the above, Do you not think that God will judge

            America because of sexual immorality, abortion, homosexuality, vulgarity

            in speech and entertainment [movies; music], covetousness, greed,

            worship of mammon, etc?  If you do not believe this, you will know when,

            like Zedekiah, you hide yourself in your inner chamber – I Kings 22:25 –

            CY – 2011  - “Prepare to meet thy God O Israel – Amos 4-12)

 

  • GOD’S GOODNESS. As soon as any relenting is shown, as soon as

            the king acknowledges God’s hand in his punishment, and turns to Him

            and entreats His aid, even although he does not put a stop to the practices

            by which God’s anger has been provoked (v. 6), yet the Divine compassion

            is stirred. “The Lord hearkened unto him” (v. 4). A savior is given, in the

            Divine counsels, if not at once in fact. The nation’s fall is arrested, its life

            prolonged. O faithful Christian, if God heard Jehoahaz, how much more

            will He hear thee, if thou callest upon Him! The Lord gave Israel a deliverer,

            but Jehoahaz did not live to see him. God hears the cry of those who

            earnestly call upon Him, and helps them; but the time, and place, and

            manner of His aid are retained in His own discretion. Do not despair if thy

            prayer does not seem to be heard, and the Lord delays His assistance. He

            knows that fitting season as well as he knows what is useful to us.

 

 

                                    The Persistency of Evil (v. 6)

 

“There remained the grove.” One would have thought that, in such a reformation

as that of Jehu (ch. 10:15-28), there would have been a clean sweep, or, at any rate,

that Ahab’s pet idolatries (I Kings 16:33) would have gone. But no! Evil is terribly

persistent. “The evil that men do lives after them,” and not in men’s recollections

only, but in fact.  No reformation ever sweeps away at once all that it was intended

to sweep away. “The grove remains.” How many heathen superstitious survived the

supersession of heathenism by Christianity! How many iniquitous laws continue in

all countries after every attempt that is made to reform the laws! How many abuses

remain after each removal of abuses!  The result is partly through the fault of the

reformers, who are careless about doing their work thoroughly, and cease their

efforts while much still remains to be done; but it is also caused in part by the

tenacity of life which the things that need to be swept away possess in themselves.

And, as evil is thus persistent in communities, so is it also in the character of

individuals.  A man makes a great effort at self-reformation, changes his rules of

conduct, his habits, the whole method of his life, as he thinks; but in some corner

there still lurks a remnant of the old leaven, which shortly reasserts itself, and too

often leavens the whole mass with its corrupting influence. (Matthew 12:43-45 –

but thanks be unto God it is not so with Jesus Christ because when He

 cleanses, He keeps us and presents us spotless before God in heaven!

{I Corinthians 1:8; II Peter 3:14} – CY – 2011)  The lesson to be learned is

watchfulness and perseverance. By care, by consideration, and by constant

effort, the persistency of evil may be met and counteracted. God’s Holy Spirit

 is always ready to assist our endeavors; (I Corinthians 10:13) and, whether

in a community or in an individual, continued effort, divinely aided, will prevail

at last.

 

 

                                    Sickness Unto Death (v. 14)

 

            “Time and chance happeneth to them all  - (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

 

(Reader, we live in a sinful world.  Good things happen to bad people and

bad things happen to good people.  The above quote by Solomon, was

probably spoken in the same vain as “vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” –

{Ecclesiastes 1:2} -  I know that God is behind all things and that what

Solomon would call “time and chance” would certainly be under God’s

control but I want to use the following because such a great prophet as

Elisha, had a sickness from which he died.  May this be an encouragement to

all with serious or terminal illnesses to trust your/our condition to the Lord –

Solomon would no doubt, again call our plight “every man the plague of

his own heart!” [I Kings 8:38] - CY – 2011)

 

  • A LESSON OF PERSEVERANCE AND EFFORT TO THE VERY

      END. Elisha, though stricken with a mortal disease, does not give himself

            up to inaction, or cease to take an interest in the affairs of this life. On the

            contrary, he has his country’s welfare most deeply at heart, and initiates

            and carries through a scene, in which his physical powers must have been

            severely tasked, for encouraging king and people in their death-struggle

            with Syria, and assuring them of final victory. The confidence inspired may

            have been a serious factor in the result. Elisha, at his age, might have been

            excused, had he remained wholly passive, and received the king’s visit as

            the compliment which it was intended to be; but he could not be content

            without utilizing the visit to the utmost. He rouses the king from his

            despair (v. 14); inspires in him hope, courage, energy; promises him

            success, actively participates in the symbolic drama, which at once

            indicates and helps forward the result aimed at. We may learn from this

            that, while we live, we have active duties to perform; we are not

            exauctorati (discharged from service, as the military)  till the last summons

            comes; on our sick-bed, on our deathbed, we may still be agents for good

            we may advise, exhort, incite, rebuke evil (v. 19), and be active ministers

            of good, impressing men more than we ever did before, when we speak

            from the verge of the grave, and having our “strength made perfect in

             weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9)

 

 

                                                Life in Death (vs. 20-21)

 

The miracle wrought by the instrumentality of Elisha’s bones would seem to have been

designed for three main ends or purposes:

 

  • FOR THE HONOR OF THE PROPHET - that so he might have in his

            death (as Elijah had had in the method of his departure) a testimony from

            God that he was approved by Him, and that He would have him respected

            and honored by his countrymen. Worship of relics was not a Jewish

            superstition; and thus there was no danger of those ill results which

            followed on the alleged miracles wrought by the bodies of Christian

            martyrs. Those who witnessed or heard of the miracle in Elisha’s tomb

            were led to venerate the memory of the prophet, to whom so great a

            testimony had been given; and might thence be moved to pay greater

            attention and stricter obedience to what they knew of his teaching.

 

  • FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE NATION. The death of

            Elisha was no doubt felt as a national calamity. Many, besides the king,

            must have seen in it the loss to the nation of one who was more to it than

            chariots and horsemen” (v. 14). Despondency, we may be sure,

            weighed down the spirits of numbers who might think that God, in

            withdrawing His prophet, had forsaken His people. It was a great thing

            to such persons that they should have a clear manifestation that, though

            the prophet was gone, God still continued present with His people,

            was still among them, ready to help, potent to save. The more

            spiritually minded might view the miracle as symbolical, and interpret it to

            mean that, as the dead man had sprung to life again on contact with Elisha’s

            bones, so the dead nation should, as it were, rise out of his tomb and

            recover itself, once more standing on its feet, in full possession of

            all its energies.

 

  • FOR THE HONOR OF GOD, AND THE SHOWING FORTH OF

      HIS TRANSCENDENT POWER. To give life is among the highest of

      the Divine attributes. It is God’s special privilege, one that He cannot

            communicate to a creature. Even modern scientists bow their heads before

            the mysterious, inconceivable act, and confess that they find it impossible

            to present it distinctly to their consciousness. (Though this last statement

            was probably written 200 years ago, it is still true today – “thou hast

            appointed his bounds that he cannot pass” – [Job 14:5] - CY –

            2011)  But to give life to that which is held by death, in which decay is

            begun, which is under the law of dissolution and corruption, is a still more

            incomprehensible thing, stranger, more astonishing. And to crown all by

            bringing the new life out of death, making a dead corpse the source

            out of which vitality shall leap forth to fresh energy, is to surpass

            all that the most lively fancy could imagine of wonderful, and almost to

            reconcile contradictions. (Dear Reader, consider what Job said again,

            [Job is the oldest book in the Bible] – “For I know that my redeemer

            liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

            And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh

            shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall

            behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”

            {Job 19:25-27} – and Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life:

            he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

            and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall NEVER DIE.

            Believest thou this?” [John 11:25-26] - CY – 2011)  God willed at this

            time to show that He could effect even this marvelous thing — make death

            give life to that which was recently dead — educe from one dead in him the

            vital power that should resuscitate and reanimate another also dead, and

            make a tomb — the place of death — the scene of the transformation!

             “O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy Name;

            for thou hast done wonderful things” (Isaiah 25:1); {Reader, don’t forget

            to read vs. 6-9 of the same chapter where God promises to destroy “death”-

            CY – 2011}  Truly “wonderful art thou in thy doing towards the children

            of men” (Psalm 66:4). The miracle of Elisha’s bones is no argument for

            relic-worship. Relic-worship implies a belief that a virtue exists in the

            remnants of a deceased saint’s body, which enables them of themselves

            to exercise a miraculous power. Elisha’s bones were never thought to

            possess any such property. (Reader, this is just an excellent example of

            the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD“But our God is in the heavens:

            He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.” [Psalm 115:3] – may

            I recommend Genesis 17 – Names of God – El Shaddai - by Nathan Stone

            this web site – CY – 2011) – Elisha’s bones were not exhumed, placed

            in cases, or exhibited to the faithful to be touched with the hand or

            kissed by the lips. It was understood that God had been pleased to work

            one miracle by them; it was never supposed that they might be expected to

            work any more. They were therefore suffered to remain in the tomb

            wherein they had been from the first deposited. It was not till the time of

            Julian that any importance was attached to them; though then we must

            conclude that they had become objects of reverential regard, since the

            Apostate took the trouble to burn them.

 

 

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