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4. Jehoahaz’s evil reign in Israel 13:1-9
Jehoahaz reigned over the Northern Kingdom from 814 to 798 B.C. Because Israel continued to disregard the Mosaic Covenant, God allowed the Arameans to dominate her. Hazael ruled Aram from 841 to 801 B.C., and his son, Ben-Hadad III, succeeded him. The date that Ben-Hadad III’s reign ended seems to have been about 773 B.C. [Note: See the chart of Aramean kings named in 2 Kings in my comments on 8:7-15 above.]
Aram’s oppression moved Jehoahaz to seek Yahweh’s help, which He graciously provided in spite of the king’s unfaithfulness. The deliverer God raised up (2 Kings 13:5) was probably King Adad-Nirari III of Assyria (810-783 B.C.) who attacked Damascus as well as Tyre, Sidon, Media, Edom, and Egypt. [Note: J. Barton Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament, p. 132; Merrill, "2 Kings," pp. 280-81.] The Arameans consequently stopped attacking Israel and turned to defending themselves against their neighbor to the east, Assyria. Another way God disciplined Israel at this time was by reducing her army through casualties (2 Kings 13:7). This had begun in Jehu’s reign (2 Kings 10:32-36) but continued during Jehoahaz’s administration.
|Neo-Assyrian Kings [Note: From idem, Kingdom of . . ., p. 336.]|
Jehoash of Israel’s assessment 13:10-13
Jehoash of Judah (called Joash in 2 Kings 13:1 of the NASB) was already on the throne when Jehoash of Israel (called Joash after that in the NASB) came to power. The northern king ruled for 16 years, the first five as sole ruler and the last 11 as coregent with his son Jeroboam II. Jehoash continued the policies of his predecessors in Israel.
5. Jehoash’s evil reign in Israel 13:10-25
Again two kings with the same name ruled over the Northern and Southern Kingdoms at the same time, though they ruled contemporaneously for only about two years (798-796 B.C.). Jehoash of Israel’s dates are 798-782 B.C., and Jehoash of Judah’s are 835-796 B.C.
Elisha’s prophesy and death 13:14-21
Jehoash of Israel had respect and affection for Elisha. He anticipated the loss that the death of God’s spiritual warrior would be to Israel (2 Kings 13:14). He recognized that Israel’s real defense lay in Yahweh’s angelic army and in Elisha’s spiritual warfare for her (2 Kings 13:14; cf. 2 Kings 2:12).
"The prophet is the man whose prayer is better than chariots and horsemen. Trust in the words of the prophet means that horses and chariots can be abandoned." [Note: Beek, p. 8. Cf. 2:12.]
Elisha gave the king a prophecy of Israel’s future deliverance because Jehoash had humbled himself before God (2 Kings 13:15-19).
"Elisha instructed Israel’s king to pick up his bow (2 Kings 13:15). When he had done so, the prophet placed his own hands on those of the king, thereby indicating that what he was about to do would be full of spiritual symbolism (2 Kings 13:16)." [Note: Patterson and Austel, p. 225.]
The bow and arrows were symbols of the strength and victory God would give Jehoash. By taking them in hand the king was symbolically becoming God’s agent of power. Elisha put his own hands on the king’s to illustrate that the king’s power would come from Yahweh, whom Elisha represented. The east window opened toward Aram from Israel. By shooting the first arrow Jehoash was appropriating the victory symbolized by the arrow. As he shot, Elisha explained to him that the arrow represented victory over Aram at Aphek (cf. 1 Kings 20:30). The prophet then instructed Jehoash to shoot the remaining arrows at the ground. The Hebrew makes this translation preferable. He was to strike the ground by shooting the arrows at it.
"It is . . . a symbolic action, like that of Joshua thrusting with a spear at Ai (Joshua 8:18)." [Note: Wiseman, p. 241.]
Elisha was angry when Jehoash shot only three more arrows because in doing so the king was demonstrating weak faith. Jehoash knew what shooting the arrows signified (2 Kings 13:17). Perhaps the king did not believe God could or would give him as much victory as Elisha had implied. He failed to trust God even though he knew what God had promised.
Elisha’s ministry spanned at least 56 years. [Note: Thomas L. Constable, "2 Kings," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p. 504.] When he died, friends evidently buried him in a cave or rock tomb, as was customary then. Apparently the men who placed the body of their dead friend in Elisha’s tomb observed his resuscitation. Undoubtedly they told their story everywhere, and probably King Jehoash heard it. Such a sign of God’s power, working even through His prophet’s corpse, would have encouraged the king as he looked forward to meeting Aram in battle. It would also have rebuked him for his lack of faith. The story would have impressed on everyone who heard it the great power of Yahweh that brought blessing (life) to others through His faithful servants. Since Elisha was dead there was no question that the power was Yahweh’s, not the prophet’s.
"As he was a man of power in life (chaps. 2-7), moving and persuasive even in stories told about him (2 Kings 8:1-6), so now his awesome powers continue working in death, confirming the prophet and foreshadowing the victory to come." [Note: Long, p. 166.]
Jehoash of Israel’s victories 13:22-25
The basis of God’s continuing mercy to Israel was not her goodness but God’s in remaining faithful to the Abrahamic Covenant (2 Kings 13:23; cf. 1 Kings 8:44-50; Genesis 13:14-17). As Elisha had predicted, Jehoash defeated the Arameans three times (2 Kings 13:25; cf. 2 Kings 13:18-19), but he did not destroy them completely (cf. 2 Kings 13:19).
Why did the writer place the record of the resuscitation (2 Kings 13:20-21) within the story of the Aramean army’s defeat (2 Kings 13:14-25)? Probably he intended the resuscitation incident to illustrate the fact that God would also revive Israel by defeating Aram, as he had revived the dead man. One writer argued that the man who revived was only apparently dead, which is possible since in that culture people were buried almost immediately after they died. [Note: H. L. Ellison, The Prophets of Israel, p. 54.]
In this record of his life, Jehoash appears to have been a spiritually sensitive man whose confidence in God was weak, but he also perpetuated the Jeroboam cult.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany