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Wednesday, June 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 12

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5

Second Kings - Chapter 12 AND Second Chronicles - Chapter 24

Joash Reigns in Judah –Commentary on 2 Kings 12:1-5 AND 2 Chronicles 24:1-5

The parallel accounts of Kings and Chronicles start off both with details of the reign of Joash. He was seven years old when his reign commenced, and Jehu had reigned seven years in Israel. Joash’s father, Ahaziah, had been slain by Jehu when the little king was an infant, but he had been crowned only after the end of his wicked grandmother, Athaliah’s interregnum. Joash’s mother was Zibiah, a woman from Beer-sheba in the south of Judah, but nothing more is known of her. The reign of Joash extended for forty years and might have been much longer had he remained faithful to the Lord, but it was cut short by his assassination.

Both accounts are careful to note that Joash’s reign was right in the sight of the Lord as long as the good priest Jehoiada was his regent and counselor. It is surprising, however, that the high priest did not have the high places removed while he was regent. The people continued to offer their private sacrifices and to burn incense to false gods in these places. Jehoiada secured two wives for Joash, who bore to him sons and daughters.

During this time Joash conceived the need to repair the temple, which contained breaches, probably from its neglect during the time since Jehoshaphat. Certain of the funds which came into the temple by the worshippers were to be devoted to this work. These included all things dedicated by those making votive offerings, the assessment of those for dedication of self, field, animal, etc., and all the freewill offerings. It was to be received by the priests and used to repair any breach found in the temple. The Levites were charged to go about the land in an attempt to raise the funds needed, and to do so in haste. However the Levites were not obedient to the charge to hasten the work, and it remained undone. They were like many people today who make a pretense of doing the Lord’s work, but never do so (cf. Ezekiel 33:31; Matthew 21:28-31).

Verses 6-16

Temple Repair –Commentary on 2 Kings 12:6-16 AND 2 Chronicles 24:6-16

There is no indication of the age of Joash when he first command­ed the repair of the temple, but this passage shows that in the twenty­-third year of his reign the work had still not been done. At that time the king would have been still a young man of thirty years, but his reign would have been more than half completed. He then called Jehoiada and the other priests and demanded why they had not done the work as com­manded. He referred to the commandment of Moses concerning such funds as authority to have so used the money (see Exodus 30:11-16).

The temple must have been in very disreputable condition, for it is mentioned that it had been broken up by Athaliah and its vessels used in her Baal worship. Yet it had been twenty-three years since her execution, and it is certainly remarkable that the good Jehoiada would not have been diligent to make the needed repairs. Yet God’s people regularly become too satisfied with things as they are and are lax in going forward in His work (Titus 3:1). It seems also that the priests may have felt the money belonged to them for their personal use, for the king commanded that they were to take no more such from their acquaintances.

Jehoiada cooperated with the renewed effort to raise the money for repair of the temple. He took a chest, bored a hole in the lid, and placed it by the door at the entrance of the temple. Here the people coming in with their monetary offerings would find it. The priests who had their station at the door would take this offering from the people and put it into the chest. The proclamation also went throughout the land that the money should be brought in according to the manner in which the Israelites in the wilderness brought their offerings for the construction of the tabernacle (see above citation). The effort was received by the people with rejoicing, and they contributed much as had their forefathers in the name of Moses.

Every time the chest was filled the king would send his scribe and the high priest would send his chief officer. They would take the chest, empty its contents, bag the money and return it to its place by the door before the altar. When a sufficient amount had been accumulated the work was begun. Carpenters, masons, stoneworkers and the other artificers were employed to repair the breaches of the temple. All the money was used to pay the workmen and to purchase materials needed. None of it was melted down to fashion basons, bowls, and other utensils until all the other work was done. The people were so wholeheartedly behind the work that there was no dishonest dealing. It was unnecessary to have an accounting of the money spent (see Romans 12:17).

The priests did not suffer loss, for the money collected through the trespass and sin offerings was sufficient for their needs (Philippians 4:19). In the end there was money left over from which they made vessels of gold and silver to replace those stolen and defiled by the wicked Athaliah. The offerings were resumed according to the Levitical directions and so continued for as long as Jehoiada lived. Jehoiada lived to be an extremely old man, dying at the age of a hundred and thirty years. He was so honored and revered the people buried him in the tombs of the kings in the city of David. His epitaph was, "He did good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house." Though he was a Levite priest, not in the lineage of David, he conducted his life in the manner of the great king (see Acts 13:36).

Verses 17-21

End of Joesh- Commentary on 2 Kings 12:17-21 AND 2 Chronicles 24:17-27

The Chronicles section, verses 17-22, precede the remaining section of Kings in the story of Joash. It reveal a sad event in the career of the king and illustrates his moral lack of persuasion. As long as Joash had the strength of the old priest, Jehoiada, to strengthen and bolster him he was an exceptional leader of the people. But he was like many today who will stand for God when others take the leadership, but who fail when left to stand alone (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

The pagan-minded princes of Judah approached the king after Jehoiada’s death, fawning over him with their flattery, and persuaded him to forsake the house of the Lord and to allow the people to reinstitute the worship of idols in the groves and in the hills and mountains. God was highly displeased with their trespass of His covenant, which they had renewed in the inception of Joash’s reign. He sent His prophets to preach to them and rebuke them for their relapse into idolatry.

Notable among those raised up at this time was the son and successor of Jehoiada, and the priest Zechariah. The gist of Zechariah’s messages was a three-point sermon: 1) The commandment of God has been transgressed; 2) Judah cannot prosper, having forsaken the Lord; 3) God has forsaken those who have forsaken Him. His preaching was bitter gall to the princes, and with the permission of the king they made a conspiracy against Zechariah and stoned him to death in the temple before the very altar of sacrifice which portrayed the coming atonement of the Messiah.

The Scripture makes note of this sorry behavior of Joash against the son of Jehoiada, who had saved his life and brought him to the kingship. In the very place where Joash allowed Zechariah to be murdered he had stood as a child and had the holy anointing oil poured on his head by the hand of Jehoiada and Zechariah and other of the high priest’s sons. Verse 25 indicates that Joash allowed the murder of all Jehoiada’s sons. Jesus alluded to this despicable deed of bloodshed (Matthew 23:34-36), foretelling that God would judge the pious Pharisees who turned against Him.

It is also interesting to note the contrast of law and grace in this incident of the stoning of Zechariah and that of the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:60). Under the letter of the law Zechariah correctly prayed at his death, "Lord look upon it, and require it" (verse 22). In the efficacy of grace Stephen could pray, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 7:60).

God was not long bringing His judgment upon Joash and the princes of Judah in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prayer. Hazael, Israel’s nemesis, took a small force of men and raided the Philistine cities, taking Gath their major city. He then decided to assault Jerusalem. He should not have been able to succeed, for his forces were few in comparison to those of Judah, and he was far removed from his own country, capturing and killing the princes who had persuaded Joash to forsake God, and sending the booty to his city of Damascus. In desperation Joash gathered up all the gold and silver he could, stripping both the temple and the palace, and finally bought off Hazael, persuading him to return to his own country.

Judah was broken and humiliated, rightly blaming the king for his part. Though still a comparatively young man Joash was afflicted with some disease connected with these reverses. Many people held him accountable for the murder of Zechariah and his brothers. Ashamed and sick Joash took to his bed, and two of his servants came and killed him in bed, thinking to avenge the blood of the priests and thus to win the favor of the people. The men were sons of foreign women, one an Ammonitess, the other a Moabitess. Verse 27 of Chronicles hints of "burdens" which fell on Joash before his death, but does not reveal them. Doubtless his apostasy increased his burden of rulership, though nothing specific is related than his repair of the temple. It is hard to assess the spiritual condition of Joash, but he appears to have perhaps been a rebellious servant of the Lord who paid for his backsliding in his suffering and untimely death (cf. Lu 8:13). Joash was buried in the city of David, but was not accorded as great honor as was Jehoiada, his mentor, for he was not buried in the tombs of the kings.

Emphases from these chapters: 1) God’s men will stand stronger when others stand with them; 2) it is shameful, but true, that many put selfish needs ahead of the Lord; 3) God’s servants should display absolute integrity in their service; 4) at the end one’s life should be commendable before God and men; 5) the unjust will add to their sins in attempt to justify past deeds; 6) superior force counts nothing in those who forsake the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 12". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-kings-12.html. 1985.
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