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B.—Athaliah’s Reign, and Fall
2 Kings 11:1-12.11.20. (2 Chronicles 22:10 to 2 Chronicles 23:21.)
1And [But] when [omit when] Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah [—when she] 1saw that her son was dead, [then] she arose and destroyed all the seed royal. 2But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons which were [who were to be] 2slain; [,] and they hid him, even [omit from and to even: read and put] 3him and his nurse, [omit,] in the bed-chamber [store-room, and hid him] from Athaliah, so that he was not slain. 3And he was with her hid in the house of the Lord six years. And Athaliah did reign over the land.
4And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard [centurions of the life-guards and of the runners] 4and brought them to him into the house of the Lord, and made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the Lord, and shewed them the king’s Song of Song of Solomon 5:0 And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that ye shall do; A third part of [those of] you that enter in on the sabbath shall even be keepers of the watch of the king’s house; 6And a third part shall be at the gate of [omit of] Sur; and a third part at the gate behind the guard [runners] 5so shall ye keep the watch of the house, that it be not broken down [to prevent entrance]. 7And two parts of [omit two parts of] all [those of] you that go forth on the sabbath [—of both sorts of soldiers—] 6even they shall keep the watch of the house of the Lord about the king. 8And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand: and he that cometh within [breaketh through] the ranges [ranks] 7let him be slain: and be ye with the king as he goeth out and as lie cometh in. 9And the captains over the hundreds did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest commanded: and they took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that should go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. 10And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give king David’s spears 8and shields, that were in the temple of the Lord. 11And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner [hand wall] of the temple [house] to the left corner [hand wall] of the temple [house] along by [towards] the altar and the temple. 12And he brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king [lit. Live the king].
13And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard9and of the people, she came to the people into the temple of the Lord. 14And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar [was standing on a platform] as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced [were rejoicing] and blew [blowing] with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, treason. 15But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges [through the ranks]; and him that followeth her kill 10with the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house of the Lord. 16And they laid hands on her [made room for her on either hand]; and she went by the way by the which the horses came into the king’s house: and there was she slain.
17And Jehoiada made a [the] covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord’s people; between the king also and the people. 18And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the Lord. 19And he took the rulers over hundreds, and the captains, and the guard, and all the people of the land; and they brought down the king from the house of the Lord, and came by the way of the gate of the guard [runners] to the king’s house. And he sat on the throne of the kings. 20And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet: and [but] they slew [had slain] Athaliah with the sword beside [at] the king’s house.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Introductory Remarks—The parallel account in the Chronicles is, in some places, word for word the same as the one before us. It cannot, however, have been copied from this record, for it not only varies in particular details, but also contains additions, and those such as the Chronicler cannot possibly have invented himself, e. g., the names of the five centurions and their fathers (2 Chronicles 23:1). It is, therefore, very generally admitted that the two accounts are derived from one and the same original record, from which the author of the books of Kings and the Chronicler each took different extracts according to the stand-point of each. The record before us is not only older, but it is also clear and definite, so that when it is regarded by itself simply it presents no difficulties. These do not present themselves until we turn to the story in Chronicles, which is, it is true, in some cases more full and detailed, but which is, on the whole, far less clear. In any attempt at reconciliation, therefore, we must not, as Keil does, make the Chronicles the standard, but must start from the record which here lies before us. Noteworthy as the additions and variations in the Chronicles may appear, they can only be accepted in so far as they are not contradictory to this account.
2 Kings 11:1. But Athaliah, &c. We may suppose that she had carried on the government as queen-regent (גְּבִירָה cf. 1 Kings 15:13; 1 Kings 11:19), [In the latter place it is applied to a queen-consort, as in Jeremiah 13:18; Jeremiah 29:2. In 1 Kings 15:13 and here it is applied to the queen-mother. It is a title which implies more actual political power and influence than מַלְכָּה. The queen-mother has always been, and is, a personage of influence in oriental countries. For the importance of this role in the Israelitish monarchy, and for the influence exerted on the history by some of the individuals who filled it (Bathsheba, Maacah, Athaliah, Jezebel), see Stanley’s Lectures, 2d ser. p. 432], during the absence of her son at Ramoth and at Jezreel (2 Kings 8:28-12.8.29), and now she took the royal authority directly into her own hands. In order to establish herself on the throne, she proceeded in the usual manner of oriental usurpers (see above, on chap. 10). She slew all the “seed royal,” i.e., all the male members of the royal house who might eventually become pretenders to the throne. The forty-two “brethren of Ahaziah,” who were slain by Jehu (2 Kings 10:13 sq.), were not, therefore, all the princes there were, but a certain portion of them, especially those who were grown up.
2 Kings 11:2. Jehosheba was the sister of Ahaziah, but not the daughter of Athaliah. She was the daughter of another wife of king Jehoram. According to 2 Chronicles 20:11, she was the wife of Jehoiada, the priest—a statement the truth of which Thenius unjustly questions. It explains Jehoiada’s conduct most satisfactorily. The Chronicler has וַתִּתֵּן, after הַמּוּמָתִים, and this word must here be supplied. חֲדַר הַמִּטּוֹת is not the “bed-chamber” (Luther, E. V.) either of the royal princes (Clericus), or of the priests and levites (Vatablus), but the room of the palace in which the beds, mattresses, and coverlets were stored, and where no one lived. The child, who was an infant at the breast, was temporarily hidden here, and then he was brought, for greater security, into the house of Jehovah, i.e., into a room adjoining the temple, or into one of the temple chambers, so that he was under the care of the high-priest. With her, i.e., with the wet-nurse, whose care he yet needed; not, “with Jehosheba” (Thenius), for she could not remain concealed for so long a time. The nurse remained with him, after he was weaned, as his attendant until his sixth year. Instead of אִתָּה the Chronicler has, less precisely, אִתָּם, with them, i.e., in their family. The priest and Jehosheba kept him in concealment. The Sept. translate אִתָּם, in Chronicles, by μετ’ αὐτῆς, which they also give for אִתָּה in Kings. We cannot infer, with Keil, that he was concealed “in the house of the high-priest, in one of the courts of the temple,” for there is no hint anywhere that the high-priest and his family lived in any part of the temple-building (cf. Nehemiah 3:26 sq., from which the contrary seems more probable).
2 Kings 11:4. And the seventh year Jehoiada sent, &c. For שָׁלַח the Chronicler has הִתְחַזַּק, i.e., “he took courage.” It seemed to Jehoiada doubtful whether he ought to keep the prince any longer in concealment. Perhaps also the government of Athaliah had become more and more unendurable. In 2 Kings 11:15; 2 Kings 11:18 he is called simply הַכֹּהֵן, whereby he is designated as high-priest. Cf. 2 Kings 12:11. The centurions were the commanders each of a hundred men of the life-guards and the runners (see notes on 1 Kings 1:38; 1 Kings 14:27). The Chronicler gives the names of these centurions and of their fathers, which he can only have obtained from the original document which served as authority both for him and for the writer of this history. As there are five names given we may infer that the entire life-guard consisted of 500 men. It is to be noticed that their agreement is not called a שֶׁקֶר, as in the case of Baasha, Zimri, &c., but a בְּרִית. Only Athaliah calls it שֶׁקֶר, 2 Kings 11:14. The oath which Jehoiada took of them in the holy place can only have been to this effect, that they would bring about the elevation of the prince to the throne, but, for the present, would keep the intention to do so secret. He then showed the prince to them. In the account in Chronicles the words: “And took an oath of them in the house of Jehovah, and showed them the king’s son,” are wanting. Instead, we read there: “And they went about in Judah, and gathered the levites out of all the cities of Judah, and the chief of the fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. And all the congregation (i.e., the collected representatives of the people) made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he (Jehoiada) said unto them, Behold, the king’s son shall reign as the Lord hath said of the sons of David.” There is no contradiction here, for we may well suppose that Jehoiada at first only admitted the five chiefs into the secret, and won their adhesion, but that they, before they proceeded to carry out the plan proposed (2 Kings 11:5 sq.), sought to assure themselves of the support of the levites and of the representative family chiefs, and invited them to one of the three great yearly festivals, at which they were accustomed to visit Jerusalem according to the law, so that their presence there would not attract attention. [See appendix to this section for a detailed comparison of the two accounts.]
2 Kings 11:5. And he commanded them, &c. Jehoiada’s plan was to take military possession of the two places, which here were of prime importance, the palace and the temple. In the latter was the young prince, who was then to be crowned and anointed; in the former was the throne, of which he was afterwards to take possession. 2 Kings 11:5-12.11.6 treat of the taking possession of the palace; 2 Kings 11:7-12.11.8 of that of the temple. It should be particularly observed that Jehoiada’s words are addressed to the centurions of the life-guard and of the runners (2 Kings 11:4). Therefore when he says (2 Kings 11:5): A third part מִכֶּם; and (2 Kings 11:7): both sorts בָּכֶם, he means of course no other than the soldiers under the command of these captains, who are distinctly mentioned, in 2 Kings 11:9, as their “men,” so that it is simply impossible to understand by it, “levites.” The entire body of men at their disposal consisted, therefore, of those who had to undertake guard-duty on the sabbath, and of those who were released from service on that day. Those who entered upon service at that time were to hold control of the palace at three points; one third at the בֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ, by which we have to understand here the royal residence proper, in distinction from the less important accessory buildings connected with it (2 Kings 11:5, in which, it may be remarked in passing, וְשָׁמְרוְ must be read instead of וְֹשׂמְרֵי. The Sept. add after φυλακὴν οἴκου τοῦ βασιλέως, the words: ἐν τῷ πυλῶνι.) The second third-part was to hold the gate סוּר. No gate by this name is mentioned elsewhere. According to the signification of the stem סוּר, to depart from the way, it can refer only to the exit or side-door of the palace. The third third-part received the charge בַּשַּׁעַר אַחַר הָרָצִים, or, as it is called in 2 Kings 11:19 simply, שַׁעַר הָרָצִים. [The “runners” were probably couriers whose line of duty was to act as the king’s messengers. This gate was probably so called, because it was the one before which they were usually stationed, either on guard-duty, or awaiting commands which were directed to their department of the service, or both.—W. G. S.] Since the new king held his solemn entry into the palace through this gate (2 Kings 11:19), it must have been the chief gate; through which there was the most direct approach to the royal residence. It was “behind” the runners, since their usual station was before it. The word מַסָּח is not a proper name (Luther: Massa; Vulg.: Messa), but means repulse, defence, that which wards off, from נסח, to ward off, and it is in apposition to מִשְׁמֶרֶת. It may be referred to all three of the third-parts, since all three were intended to ward off and expel every one who might desire to gain admission to the palace. This was the duty assigned to those who commenced duty on the sabbath. Those who were released on that day were to guard the temple (2 Kings 11:7). They were not to be divided up into subdivisions to do duty at separate posts, but their two יָדוֹת were to form שְׂדֵרוֹת and to take the young king in their midst (2 Kings 11:8) By יָדוֹת are meant, in distinction from שְׁלִשִׁית (2 Kings 11:5-12.11.6) the two different sorts of soldiers, according to their weapons and duties, i.e., the life-guards and the runners. שְׂדֵרוֹת are the ranks, in which they were to arrange themselves, between which the king went out of the temple into the palace. Any one who broke through them and ventured inside was to be slain (2 Kings 11:8). “Let it be observed with what accuracy בָּכֶם is used in 2 Kings 11:7, where the reference is to a distinction of functions, and מִכֶּם in 2 Kings 11:5, where the reference is to merely numerical subdivisions of the force” (Thenius). The final words of 2 Kings 11:8 : And be ye with the king as he goeth out and as he cometh in, belong to the directions which Jehoiada gave for the division of the numbers and of the functions of the soldiers for this especial case. They cannot, therefore, be taken as of general signification, referring to all the life of the king, under all circumstances: “In all his business, or, in all his movements” (Keil), as in Deuteronomy 28:6; Deuteronomy 31:2, but they refer to the execution of this plan, and are to be understood of the movement of the king from the temple to the palace (Thenius). In 2 Kings 11:9 sq. follows the actual execution of the commands of Jehoiada which have been imparted in the preceding verses.
2 Kings 11:10. And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give, &c. Instead of the sing. הַחֲנִית, the Chronicler has the plural הַחֲנִיתִים, and all the ancient versions present the plural in the verse before us. It seems that it stood originally הַחֲניתֹת (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3), and the last ת was lost by an error in copying (Keil). “We must understand that these were not David’s own weapons, but some which he had captured, and placed in the temple as an offering. According to Ewald, whose opinion Thenius approves, Jehoiada gave these weapons to the captains, “in order to begin and consecrate the enterprise on which they were about to enter, of restoring the family of David to the throne, by using the weapons of the great ancestor of that family.” But perhaps his only reason for distributing these arms among them was, that those who had retired from service at the palace had left their weapons there. The centurions divided these weapons among their soldiers, as 2 Kings 11:11 expressly mentions, among the “runners,” not, therefore, among levites. When the men were thus armed, they were stationed: “From the right-hand side of the house to the left-hand side of the house, along towards the altar and the temple,” so that they surrounded and covered the person of the king. The meaning is that they shut off the space from the temple-building proper to the altar, and that the king stood in the midst of this space. Whether one row stood across the front from side to side, and two others parallel, along the side (Bertheau), or whether one row stood from the right-hand corner of the temple to the altar, and the other from the altar to the left-hand corner (Thenius), must be left undecided. Not until after the troops had been thus arranged, did Jehoiada lead out the young prince into the midst of the open space (2 Kings 11:12). הָעֵדוּת does not mean the insignia regia (Clericus), or the phylacteries (Deuteronomy 6:8, Grotius), but, the Law, and, if not the whole Pentateuch, at least the Decalogue, which is so often called the “Testimony” (Exodus 25:21; Exodus 16:34, &c.). This was probably given into his hands as a symbol of what is declared to be the law for the king in Deuteronomy 17:19, whereas the diadem was placed upon his head (2 Samuel 1:10). He was then anointed (1 Kings 1:39). To clap the hands was a sign of delight and approval (Isaiah 55:12). Besides the armed force, the priests, and the levites, a multitude of people was also present (2 Kings 11:14), which denotes that the coronation took place on a feast-day, when the people collected in Jerusalem from all parts of the country. The acclamations of the people are in the same words as in 1 Kings 1:25.
2 Kings 11:13. And when Athaliah heard the noise, &c. As worshipper of Baal, who, at that time, had his own temple in Jerusalem (2 Kings 11:18), Athaliah took no part in the feasts of the worshippers of Jehovah, in the Jehovah-temple, and, on this day, she paid the less heed to what was going on in the temple, inasmuch as the change of the guards in the palace had taken place as usual, and nothing indicated any unusual disturbance. The great outcry, which she either heard herself, as she well might in view of the short distance from the palace to the temple, or which was reported to her by her attendants, aroused her suspicions, so that she betook herself thither. Josephus states that she went out of the palace with her own troops (μετὰ τῆς ἰδίας στρατιᾶς), and that, when she came to the temple, the priests allowed her to enter, but the guards prevented her guards from following; that Athaliah, when she saw the crowned boy, cried out, and commanded that he who had dared to try to usurp her authority should be put to death, and that thereupon Jehoiada gave orders that she should be led out and executed outside of the temple. [That the queen should have gone down in person into the temple, without guards or attendants, to quell what must have appeared to be a mere vulgar riot, is certainly an astonishing incident—W. G. S.] The words הָרָצִין הָעָם cannot be translated: “Of the people who flocked to the spot” (Luther, after the Vulg.). “The text must have read originally הָרָצִין וְהָעָם, and the ו must have fallen out by a copyist’s error” (Thenius, Keil). The Chronicler transposes the words: הָעָם הָרָּצִים, and adds: וְהַמְהַלְלִים אֶת־הַמֶּלֶךְ, i. e., the people who were flocking together and hailing the king. The רָצִים are, however, in this context, always the “runners” who formed a part of the royal guards (2Ki 11:4; 2 Kings 11:6; 2 Kings 11:11; 2 Kings 11:19), so that the word can mean nothing else in 2 Kings 11:13, and the text of the Chronicles cannot, with any good reason at all, be preferred.
2 Kings 11:14. The king stood עַל־הָעָמּוּד, i.e., not “at the column” (Luther) [or, “by a pillar” (E. V.)], but at the appointed, traditional place, which was reserved for the king, by established usage (בַּמִּשְׁפָּט), as in chap, 2Ki 23:3; 2 Chronicles 34:31. Thenius understands by it “the top step of the stairs which led up to the temple,” but this would not be any especial position, because the priests passed and stood there every day. Evidently a particular place is meant, an elevated dais or platform (Vulg.: tribunal), which was reserved for the king alone, for, when Athaliah saw the prince standing there, she knew at once what the transaction was which was being accomplished. The people, who stood in the forecourt, could not have seen the king, if he had stood on the top of the temple-steps, on account of the altar ten cubits high which stood in the court of the priests. The platform in question must have stood before the altar, at the entrance to the inner fore-court (בַּמָּבוֹא 2 Chronicles 23:13), so that the king, when he stood upon it, was the first object to strike the eye of Athaliah as she entered. Solomon had caused just such arrangements to be made (2 Chronicles 6:13; see Exeg. on 1 Kings 8:22)—The Vulg. incorrectly renders הַשָּׂרִים by cantores, the Sept. by οἱ ᾠδοί, and Luther by “singers,” as if the word were הַשָּׁרִים. They are the centurions, as in 2 Kings 11:4; 2 Kings 11:9. The word is correctly translated in the Sept. and Vulg. versions of Chronicles by οἱ ἄρχοντες, and principes.—הַחֲצֹצְרוֹת, trumpets, for trumpeters. Since the word occurs in 2 Kings 12:14, in the enumeration of the utensils of the temple, and is also used in Numbers 10:2 to designate the trumpets or horns of the priests, and since, moreover, 1 Chronicles 15:24 (2 Kings 13:8), the priests appear as מַחְצְצרִים בַּחֲצֹצְרוֹת, we can think here only of levites or priests as the persons who were blowing the trumpets.—And all the people of the land, i.e., “the multitude which was present” (Bertheau), as in 2 Kings 11:13, not, “the entire force of militia, which was present in Jerusalem” (Thenius).—Athaliah rent her clothes, not so much in grief as from terror, like Joram, 2 Kings 6:30.
2 Kings 11:15. But Jehoiada the priest commanded, &c. The centurions of the life-guard are here designated as commanders of the army in general. “The readers are to be reminded by this addition that the military forces were willing to obey Jehoiada” (Bertheau).—Have her forth through (or between) the ranks, לַשְּׂדֵרֹת, i.e., within the ranks, “so that she was led through the ranks, and was hindered from taking any measures in accord with her adherents” (Bertheau). Any one who might desire to take her part, or to assist her, was to be slain.—יָשִׂימוּ לָהּ יָדַיִם (2 Kings 11:16), i.e., not, as Luther [and the E. V.] translate, following the Sept. (ἐπέβαλον αὐτῇ χεῖρας), and the Vulg. (imposuerunt ei manus), “They laid hands on her,” but, as the Chaldee version renders it, and as almost all the expositors understand it: “They made for her two sides,” i.e., they made room for her, opening the ranks on both sides, “formed in rank and escorted her out” (Keil). By מְבוֹא הַסּוּסִים, the entrance-way for horses into the royal stables is to be understood, so that it is not the “horse-gate” (Nehemiah 3:28), as Josephus understands, for this was a gate of the inner city, and led into the city, not into the palace. She was not to be conducted by the way into the palace, because the new king was to make his solemn entry into the palace by this. It does not follow, however, that Athaliah was “to die shamefully and disgracefully by the stables” (Thenius), for the royal stables were not, as such, a shameful or unclean place.
2 Kings 11:17. And Jehoiada made the covenant, &c. Not a covenant (Luther), but the covenant, i.e., the covenant of Jehovah with Israel, which had been broken by the false worship of Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah. This covenant was solemnly renewed. It attached primarily to the relation between the king and people on the one hand, and Jehovah on the other (they were to be Jehovah’s people and belong to Him, Deuteronomy 4:28), then, also, to the relation between the king and the people. The people was to be, from that time on, once more the people of God; it was to worship and serve Him alone. The king was to rule according to the “testimony,” i.e., the Law of Jehovah, which had been solemnly put into his hands, and the people were to be loyal to the legitimate king of the family of David. The immediate and necessary consequence of this renewal of the covenant was the destruction of the temple of Baal, with its altars and idols (2 Kings 11:18). When and by whom this temple was built is nowhere stated. It is most probable that it was erected by Jehoram, under the influence of Athaliah (2 Kings 8:18), as the one in Samaria was built by Ahab, under the influence of Jezebel (1 Kings 16:32). Thenius is wrong in inferring from 2 Chronicles 24:7, that this temple was erected “in the enclosure of the temple of Jehovah,” for that passage says only that Athaliah and her sons had plundered the Jehovah-temple of all which they could use in the worship of Baal. There can be no doubt that we must understand it to refer to a building on another elevation. It is certain also that Mattan, the priest of Baal who was slain, did not perform his functions in the same place with Jehoiada. [The grounds which lead Bähr to believe that the temple of Baal was not on Mount Moriah are not satisfactory. Every indication which we have in regard to it goes to show that it was there. Mount Moriah is just the spot which would have been chosen for the site of a temple by any nation of ancient times which might have lived at Jerusalem. There was no other elevation near or convenient. The “old city” was perhaps in some places a little higher than Mount Moriah, but it presented no sharp and clear elevation, such as those which ancient nations always chose as sites of temples, if there was one in the neighborhood. The other hills were too far away. It would be little in accord with the character of Athaliah to suppose that she gave up the best site, which was, at the same time, one of the grandest in the world, according to the taste in those matters, to the Jehovah-religion, and sought another for her own favorite deities. The Jehovah-religion may have been strong enough in Judah to force a compromise, and maintain a joint possession of the mountain. 2 Chronicles 24:7 says that Athaliah and her sons had “broken down” or “torn down (פָּרְעוּ) the house of God” Just how much that means we cannot perhaps determine, but the temple was standing and available for worship, &c., at this time, as we see, and it may well be meant that they broke down such portions of the walls of the courts, &c., as was necessary to get room for the temple of Baal. See also 2 Kings 12:5 (Exeg.) and 2 Chronicles 24:7. Still farther, if 2 Kings 11:18 is in its proper chronological position before 2 Kings 11:19, and is not, as Thenius thinks, to be taken as belonging after it in order of time, then it gives a strong ground for believing that the temple of Baal was on Mount Moriah. They stayed to tear it down before they formed the procession, and left the temple-mountain to “go down” and escort the king into the palace. It cannot be regarded, therefore, as “beyond doubt” that Mattan and Jehoiada did not perform their functions in the same place. That the latter did not like the juxtaposition, we may well believe, but if the question was whether to share Mount Moriah with the worshippers of Baal, or to remove the Jehovah-worship from it, or to give up the Jehovah-worship altogether, we may easily imagine what course he would have chosen.—W. G. S.]—Duncker, whom Weber again follows, deduces from the sentence: The priests appointed פְּקֻדֹּת over the house of the Lord, the arbitrary conclusion that, in spite of the victory of the priestly party, “Nevertheless the number of the servants of Baal was so great, and their courage was so little broken, that it was necessary to protect the temple of Jehovah against their attacks by especial guards” Thenius also thinks that there is reference here to a kind of temple-officers which had not existed before, “by whom a new desecration of the temple by the worship of false gods was to be prevented” We must understand by it, as is expressly stated 2 Chronicles 23:18, the overseers who were appointed by David (1 Chronicles 25:0.), and who, during the time that idolatry prevailed, had not been regularly kept up, or perhaps had not been appointed at all. That the article is wanting cannot be decisive to the contrary. [So Keil. Ewald, Thenius, and Bunsen, on the contrary, think that they were intended to protect the temple against the attacks of the heathen. The Chronicler develops this short note into an elaborate statement, as he does all the notices of the origin of any ritual formalities or hierarchical organizations. It is not clear, however, that it should have been thought necessary, just at the time when the Jehovah-religion could once more count on the support of the throne, to appoint new and permanent officers to protect the temple from heathen attacks and desecrations. Moreover, this clause, thus understood, makes the position of 2 Kings 11:18 before 2 Kings 11:19 probably incorrect as regards the order of time. Shall we understand that they stayed to appoint temple-officers before completing the inauguration of the king? It would be most reasonable to understand it to state simply that they appointed a guard to stay and protect the temple from any sudden attack of the enraged worshippers of Baal, while all the rest went to escort the king into the palace, and see him mount the throne.—W. G. S.] According to 2 Kings 11:19, the centurions mentioned in 2 Kings 11:4, with their troops, the life-guards and the runners, escorted the king down (וַיֹּרִידוּ) from the House of Jehovah in a solemn procession arranged (וַיִּקַּח) by the priest Jehoiada. Escorted him down, it is said, because there was a ravine between Mount Moriah and Mount Zion, over which at that time there probably was no bridge. They came through the “Gate of the Runners” (the Chronicler gives בְּתוֹךְ instead of דֶּרֶךְ, by way of explanation) into the palace, where the throne stood, upon which the king seated himself. The Gate of the Runners belonged therefore to the palace. The Sept. take בֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ as a direct genitive, οἴκου τοῦ βασιλέως. It was unquestionably the chief gate, for the solemn entry would not take place through any other (Thenius). Ewald, Thenius, and Bertheau connect וְהָעִיר שָׁקָטָה with the following, in opposition to the massoretic punctuation: “And the city remained quiet when they slew Athaliah with the sword:” that is to say, her adherents remained peaceful and did not venture to make any movement to save her. But, in that ease, the words “with the sword” would be unnecessary. The correct interpretation of the words is rather that the concluding sentence is intended to append to 2 Kings 11:16 an emphatic statement of the manner in which she was put to death, and, at the same time, to call attention to the fact that, by her death, the last member of the house of Ahab was removed, and the legitimate authority of the house of David was restored. In this interpretation this sentence brings the account to a well-rounded close.
Appendix.—In the exegetical explanations which precede, only the less important variations of the Chronicles have been noticed, and no account has been taken of the grand divergence of the two narratives in their general conception of the occurrence, in order that the continuous elucidation of the text before us might not be too much interrupted, and in order that no confusion might arise. The chief variation now, one which runs through the entire account, is, that, according to the Chronicler, it was not the centurions of the royal guards, but the priests, the levites, and the family-chiefs, by whose aid Jehoiada accomplished his reformation (2 Chronicles 23:2); furthermore, that the first third of the priests and levites who entered upon service on the sabbath were appointed לְשֹׁעֲרֵי הַסִּפִּים, i.e., to be gate-keepers of the threshold, the second to guard the king’s house, and the third to keep the gate הַיְסוֹד (2 Kings 11:4-12.11.5); finally, that the two classes of priests and levites, those who entered upon, and those who were released from, service, remain together (2 Kings 11:8), so that, in general, it is only the temple, and not the royal palace at various points, which is guarded. Modern criticism explains these variations as “arbitrary alterations” of the Chronicler, which he adopted “out of preference for the tribe of Levi, in order to. ascribe to the priest-caste an honor which belonged to the prætorians”(Thenius, De Wette). This assertion is, to say the very least, exaggerated. No suspicion of falsehood can attach to the idea that the priests and levites participated in the coronation and inauguration of the new king, especially seeing that the main object to be gained by this was the abolition of idolatry (2 Kings 11:17 sq.). The plan of the enterprise, according to the account before us, did not proceed from the centurions of the prætorian guard, but from the head of the priest-class, and it would be astonishing and unnatural if the high-priest had excluded all his comrades in rank, office, and family, from participation in a transaction which was not only political, but also religious, and which took place in the temple. This participation was a matter of course, all the more seeing that the act, according to all the indications (see notes on 2 Kings 11:4; 2 Kings 11:13), took place on a feast, at which priests and levites were bound to be present. The author does not, therefore, exclude them, he rather takes their participation for granted, as we see distinctly from 2 Kings 11:14. Still less does the Chronicler exclude the prætorian guard from participation; he even gives what this author does not give in regard to them, viz., the names of the centurions and of their fathers, and thereby he shows how important their part in the work appeared to him, and also shows that he had not forgotten them, but desired that they should be kept in honorable remembrance. He could not, therefore, have had any intention of robbing them of any honor which belonged to them, and conferring it upon the levites. But while this author permits the participation of the levites to remain unemphasized, as something which was a simple matter of course, the Chronicler, who certainly looks at the history more from the priestly, levitical standpoint, feels bound to give it greater prominence. There is no contradiction between the two accounts in this respect. The case is somewhat different, however, in regard to the other detailed variations. The three localities which were to be held, each, according to the Chronicler, by one third of the priests and levites, cannot possibly have been all in the temple, for the בֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ, the guard of which is entrusted (2 Kings 11:5) to the second third, can only be the king’s house or palace, not “the place in the temple where the young king was (in concealment)” (Keil). The “Gate יְסוֹד,” which was entrusted to the third third, was, as no one doubts, the same which is called in Kings (2 Kings 11:6) the “Gate סוּר.” It appears there distinctly as a gate of the palace. Probably יְסוֹד is only another reading for םוּר. A temple-gate with this name is not mentioned anywhere else. The סִפִּים, which the first third are to guard (2 Kings 11:4), might, according to 1 Chronicles 9:19, be a locality in the temple, but it is utterly impossible that they should be identical, as Keil assumes, with the “Gate of the Runners” in the account here before us (2 Kings 11:6), for this gate is distinctly mentioned in 2 Kings 11:19 as the one through which the king, after the procession had left the House of Jehovah, was conducted into the palace. According to this account, that gate was guarded by the third third of that portion of the troops under the command of the centurions which entered upon duty on that day, and not by priests and levites, who, of course, never mounted guard at the palace. These variations of the two accounts cannot be reconciled, and we are absolutely forced to admit that the Chronicler, although he made some more detailed extracts from the original document than the author of the Book of Kings, nevertheless did not accurately discriminate between the priests and levites and the military life-guard, and did not keep separate the shares of the two in the transaction. Keil asserts, in order, in spite of this, to bring the two accounts into accord: Jehoiada “determined to carry out the project chiefly by the aid of the priests and levites, who relieved each other, in the service of the temple, on the sabbath, and he entrusted the chief command of these forces to the captains of the royal life-guard, that they, with the force of priests and levites under their command, might take possession of the approaches to the temple, in order to repel any attempt of the military to force an entrance, and might protect the young king. These captains came into the temple without weapons in order not to attract attention, therefore Jehoiada gave them the weapons of king David, which were laid up in the temple.” But the account of the Chronicler says nothing of any commission of the command over the priests and levites to the centurions, and this account directly contradicts any such notion (see above, on 2 Kings 11:5), [not to say anything of the very great intrinsic improbability that any such arrangement—putting military leaders in command of priestly forces—would ever have been adopted, or that, if it had, it would have worked well.—W. G. S.] According to the account before us it is impossible to exclude the troops ordinarily under the command of the centurions from a share in the transaction. It was almost more necessary to get possession of the palace than of the temple, because the king was to make his solemn entry into it, and mount the throne after his coronation. It is not an argument against the notion that a guard was set over the palace, that Athaliah came down out of it to the people in the temple. There was no object in preventing her from coming out; the guard was set to prevent any one from getting in (מַסָּח 2 Kings 11:6). There is no force in the citation of Josephus (Antiq., 7. 14, 7): “Each of the twenty-four classes of priests took charge of the worship for eight days from sabbath to sabbath,” or in the observation that “it is not known that any such arrangement was observed with respect to the life-guards or any other portion of the army,” for of course all regular guards had to relieve each other at definite times, and the record says distinctly that this was the custom of the troops who were under command of the centurions.
HISTORICAL AND ETHICAL
1. The elevation of Joash to the throne of Judah has great importance in the history of redemption, inasmuch as God’s guidance and protection of the house of David appears in it, and as it is a confirmation of the promise given to this house that it should never be extinguished, and that its light should never fail (2 Samuel 7:13 sq.; 1 Kings 11:36; 1Ki 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19; cf. Psalms 132:17). In the kingdom of Israel the dynasties changed; one overthrew the other and destroyed it; with Jehu the fourth had already begun. In the kingdom of Judah, on the contrary, the house of David had maintained itself until this time. But now, when Jehu had killed Ahaziah and forty-two of his relatives, and all the remaining royal seed had been destroyed by Athaliah, it appeared that the line of David also was at an end. But God wonderfully ordered it so that an infant of this house escaped the massacre and was saved. He remained concealed for years, and it must have been believed that David’s lamp had gone out forever, when suddenly the sole remaining offshoot of the house of David ascended the throne, and, with the murderess Athaliah, the last survivor of the house of Ahab perished. As the fulfilment of the promise to protect the house of David must have been recognized in this event, there was in it at the same time, for every faithful servant of Jehovah, a pledge that the God of Israel would protect this house also for the future in any calamities; and so He did, until finally, according to the promise, the great “son of David” came, who was not only the “lamp” of David, but the light of the world, whose kingdom shall have no end (Luke 1:32-42.1.33; Luke 1:69).
2. All the mischief which the relationship contracted by Jehoshaphat with the house of Ahab (1 Kings 22:0, Hist § 1) had brought upon Judah, culminated in the reign of Athaliah, which brought Judah and its royal house to the verge of ruin. Athaliah was a faithful copy of. her mother Jezebel, fanatical, idolatrous, imperious, and cruel. As her mother had controlled Ahab, so she controlled Jehoram and her son Ahaziah. It was she who transplanted idolatry into Judah, which had, until then, been faithful to Jehovah. Under her influence a temple of Baal was built in Jerusalem itself. She plundered the temple of Jehovah and took all the sacred implements for use in the service of Baal (2 Chronicles 24:7). After the death of her son she usurped the royal authority, so that a woman came to sit upon the throne, a thing which had never taken place before and never took place afterwards, and which not only was in direct contradiction with one of the essential duties which devolved upon a king of Israel, who, as such, was to be a “servant of God,” but also was contrary to the express provision of the law. Maimonides, in the tract Melachim, draws this inference, thus: “They place no woman on the throne, for it is said (Deuteronomy 17:15): ‘Thou shalt in any wise set him king,’ not queen. So also, in all positions of dignity and authority, they place only men.” Athaliah’s usurpation of the throne was the dissolution of the Israelitish monarchy. In order to maintain herself in her usurped authority, she put to death, not, like other usurpers, her opponents, but those who were connected with her own family, her own nephews and grandchildren. The ground for this “senseless crime” (Ewald) cannot be sought in the fact that she desired to annex Judah to Israel, for Jehu was reigning there, but only in the blind and passionate love of power of this “wicked” woman (2 Chronicles 24:7), and in her raging hate against the house of David, to which all true servants of Jehovah adhered. For six years she pursued her own courses undisturbed, and believed herself secure, when finally the legitimate heir to the throne, who had escaped the massacre by God’s evident protection, appeared and was anointed king. As her mother Jezebel had stood upon her majesty in her dealings with Jehu, and had believed that she could command, so she came, proud and insolent, into the house of Jehovah, and, forgetting the illegitimacy of her own authority, founded, as it was, solely upon violence, she cried out: “Treason, treason!” But again, as her mother had heard her doom pronounced: “Throw her down!” so she hears the command: “Have her forth! and him that followeth her kill with the sword.” As there was no one who took the part of the hated woman, she died, abandoned by all her servants, a just and disgraceful death. Thereby Judah and its royal house were saved. Racine concludes his tragedy Athalie, with these words:
Par cette fin terrible, et due à ses forfaits,
Apprenez, roi des Juifs, et n’oubliez jamais,
Que les rois dans le ciel ont un juge sévère,
L’innocence un vengeur, et l’orphelin un père.
3. The high-priest Jehoiada is, for his time, a very remarkable character. Although, through his wife Jehosheba, he was connected with the idolatrous court, and although he was entrusted with an office which, under the circumstances, was doubly difficult, yet he held firm and true to the God of Israel, and to the legitimate dynasty. The Lord had given the last heir of this line into his hands, and, at the peril of his life, he protects him for years in concealment, guarding him as his own child, and waiting in faith and patience until Jehovah shall give means and ways to restore the apparently exterminated royal house. As the yoke of the tyrannical woman became more and more unendurable, he “strengthened himself” [i.e., took courage, made up his mind] (2 Chronicles 23:1), and put his hand to the work. He did not wish to open the way to the throne for the young heir by deceit or craft, by cruelty and bloodshed. In the first place he admits the captains of the military guard into the secret, and makes sure of their assistance; then he causes the priests and levites, and the heads of all the families, i.e., the representatives of the people, to be summoned to Jerusalem for a public festival. He. does not wish to do anything by himself alone, but with the consent of the different classes among the entire people. His plan bears witness, not only to his wisdom and prudence, but also to his patriotism. He takes all his measures in such a way that the end is accomplished without tumult or violence, but yet without chance of failure. It is not selfishness and love of power, but pure and disinterested love to Jehovah and to His people which is his motive. Only when Athaliah stigmatizes the restoration of the legitimate order of things as treason and insurrection, puts herself on the defensive, and calls for armed opposition to the movement, does he give orders to lead the crowned monster, as Dereser justly calls her, out of the sanctuary, and deliver her over to her well-deserved fate. His next care then is to renew the covenant between the king and people, exhorting the former to fidelity to the law, and the latter to fidelity to the king. Then finally he leads the king to the throne, and the people put an end to the idol-worship. If ever a man stood pure and blameless in the midst of such a bold, difficult, and far-reaching enterprise, then Jehoiada, the ideal Israelitish priest, did so here.
4. Our modern historians see, in the elevation of the descendant of David to the throne of his fathers, a priest-revolution, just as they see, in the elevation of Jehu, a prophet-revolution. So Duncker (Gesch. d. Alt., s. 417), whom Weber (Gesch., s. 241) follows, states it thus: “The priests of the temple at Jerusalem had yielded to the foreign worship much more easily than the prophets in Israel. The example and the success of the latter gradually exercised an influence upon Judah. After the prophets of Israel had brought about the ruin of the house of Omri, the priests tried to overthrow the last remnant of this family in Judah also.… The fall of Joram of Israel, and perhaps also the hope of finding in Joash, the son of Ahaziah, whom the priests held in concealment from Athaliah in the temple, an easy tool for priestly influence, induced the high-priest Jehoiada to undertake the overthrow of the queen.” Winer (R.-W.-B., i. s. 111) also presents the incident in a similar manner: “The priests saved her (Athaliah’s) grandson, Joash, with the help of a princess, in the temple. When he had grown up he was secretly anointed king, and Athaliah was put to death in a popular insurrection excited by the priests.” Here we have another specimen of that history-making which ignores what the text says, and states, as assured historical fact, that which it does not say. That the priests in Judah gave way more easily to the Baal-worship than the prophets of Israel; that they, encouraged by the example and success of the latter, dethroned and murdered Athaliah, and regarded Joash as one who would probably prove an easy tool in their hands; that the priests saved Joash and hid him in the temple; that he was secretly anointed king, and that then a popular rising was instigated by the priests; of all that, there is nothing in either record. On the contrary, both agree in stating that the sister of king Ahaziah, without any assistance from the priests, took away the infant, and hid him in the palace itself, in the bed store-room, and that she then hid him, for greater security, in the temple, which was under the charge of her husband, the high-priest. These two near relatives of the prince were, for six years, the only ones who knew of his existence. Not until the seventh year did Jehoiada admit any one to the secret, and then not the priests, but the captains of the military guard, and he took of them an oath of secrecy. They it was who summoned the chiefs of the people, and the priests, and the levites, to the festival at Jerusalem, and who took the lead in carrying out the plan. The young prince was not anointed “secretly,” but as openly as possible. Not only the priests, but also the captains of the royal guard, the representatives of the people, and the people themselves, shouted their acclamations to the new king. The coronation took place without violence, without any scene of public disturbance. The city is quiet, and the people joyful (2 Kings 11:20). How can anyone then speak of a “popular rising instigated by the priests?” Criticism here comes into contradiction with itself. It declares the record in Chronicles unreliable and unhistorical, because it gives such prominence to the participation of the priests and levites, whereas the record in Kings only mentions the captains of the guard, and yet it says that the entire enterprise was conducted by the priests. But it is radically perverse and false to regard the incident as a revolution or a revolt. That Athaliah, as even De Wette expresses it, “usurped the throne of David,” that she took the royal authority into her own hands, that she destroyed all the remaining seed-royal, that was a revolution. What Jehoiada undertook, not by himself, but in harmony with all ranks, and with the representatives of the people, was a repeal of the revolution, and a restoration of the constitutional, divine as well as human, order. It would have been contrary to conscience and to duty, if Jehoiada had gone down to the grave with the secret that there was yet living a legitimate heir of the throne of David. It was most natural that he should take the initiative in the restoration of the legitimate monarchy, because he had the prince under his care, and no one knew anything about him but Jehoiada and his wife. Moreover, it was doubly his duty, as chief of those whose calling it was to guard and teach the law, i.e., the covenant of God with Israel (Malachi 2:7; Deuteronomy 33:10; Leviticus 10:11), to labor to the end that the organic law of the kingdom, which was a theocracy, should be maintained; and, when this law was trodden under foot by the usurping sovereign, no one was so much bound as he to restore it, that is, to renew the covenant. In the kingdom of Israel, where, since Jeroboam, there was no longer any lawful priesthood (2 Chronicles 11:13 sq.), it was the prophets who had to watch over the covenant of Jehovah and to fight for it. In Judah, on the contrary, “the diminished and weakened priesthood, together with the true Jehovah-prophets, had to form the opposition to the patronage of paganism” (Ewald). Jehoiada’s enterprise did not aim to bring about the dominion of the priesthood, but that of the legitimate theocratic dynasty. He, therefore, turned first to the servants of the crown for assistance—aimed to have the new king inaugurated by their power. After this was accomplished, he restored the priestly offices. He aimed at nothing more and nothing less than the restoration of the original theocratic constitution.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Kings 11:1-12.11.3. Queen Athaliah. (a) Her wicked plans, 2 Kings 11:1. (Idolatrous and fond of power, like her mother Jezebel, she takes the royal authority into her own hands, in self-will and contrary to right, and murders all the male seed, in order to put an end forever to the house of David. Würt. Summ.: We see here whither ambition and love of rule may lead men. Athaliah does not spare her own innocent grandchildren, but causes them to be put to death, only in order that she may be called queen, and may remain such. Sir 3:29 sq.). (b) The frustration of her plans, 2 Kings 11:2-12.11.3. (Job 5:12; Psalms 2:4; Psalms 33:10. Würt. Summ: No one can tread down him whom God sustains. Thus, Pharaoh would have been glad to destroy Israel; Saul would have slain David; Herod, the child Jesus; they could not accomplish it, however; they only injured themselves and perished, just as Athaliah did also.)
2 Kings 11:1. Jehoshaphat’s marriage of his son with a daughter of the house of Ahab, although he brought it about in a good intention, produced the result that Athaliah ruled over Judah, and brought the dynasty of David to the brink of ruin. Neue Würt. Summ.: So, many a quiet, humble, God-fearing family has been brought into calamities, affecting both body and soul, by a thoughtless marriage. The hope that those who are brought up by godless parents will themselves reform and turn to the fear of God has very slight foundation.
2 Kings 11:1-12.11.4. Krummacher: King Joash. (a) The great danger which threatened him; (b) but how gloriously he was protected, and (c) how high he was elevated.
2 Kings 11:1. When she saw, &c. That which should have made her hesitate and bow in humility to God’s judgment, only made her insolent and blood-thirsty. That is the judgment which obstinacy and wilfulness bring upon themselves.
2 Kings 11:2. Calw. Bib.: We have an instance in Jehosheba how, even in the midst of godlessness in a family, any one who will can make an exception.—Jehosheba stole him. That was not “stealing” the child, but saving him. What can a woman do better and nobler than to save an infant child from danger of soul and body, and take him under her protection for the sake of God and His promises?
2 Kings 11:3. “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” He watches over helpless infants, and holds His protecting hand over them (Matthew 18:10; Psalms 91:11-19.91.13).—Krummacher: Joash is a voiceless, yet a mighty, preacher of the security of the elect of God.—When the godless appear to have succeeded in the attainment of their objects, and believe that they have conquered, the very moment of their victory is the unperceived commencement of their ruin. The cross of Christ was the victory of His enemies, but this very victory was what brought about their total defeat.
2 Kings 11:4-12.11.12. Joash’s Elevation to the Throne. (a) How it was determined upon and prepared, 2 Kings 11:4-12.11.8. (Jehoiada took the initiative in it, for it was his right and duty. It was no rebellion and conspiracy against a just authority, but a fact by itself. Rebels violate law and right in order that they may rule; Jehoiada restored law and right, and did not wish to rule; he remained what he was. He conducted himself with courage, but also with wisdom and prudence. See Historical, § 3). (b) How it was carried out and accomplished, 2 Kings 11:9-12.11.12. (With the participation and approval of the different classes of the entire people, without conspiracy, bloodshed, or violence; in the house of God, whose servant the king was; the crown and the law were given into his hands; he was anointed; significant symbols of his calling as king of the people of God.)
2 Kings 11:4. Jehoiada, a faithful priest, such as is pleasing to God (1 Samuel 2:35). It is not hard to proclaim the word of God, when the mighty and great of this world hold to it, but the faithfulness which is needed in the stewards of God’s mysteries is that which will not be stayed or impaired, when the great of this world despise and persecute the word; which will sail against the wind of courtly or popular favor, and will persevere in patience (1 Corinthians 4:1-46.4.2).—Würt. Summ.: The servants of the Church in the New Testament have not the same calling as the high-priests in the Old, so that they have not to meddle with worldly affairs.—Where spiritual and worldly authority go hand in hand, where both unite for the sake of God and for His cause, there the Lord gives blessing and prosperity.
2 Kings 11:5 sq. Kyburz: Jehoiada teaches us by his example that we ought not to shun either danger or labor in a just cause, but also that we should go prudently to work.
2 Kings 11:9 sq. To take weapons in hand and risk one’s life for one’s country, redounds to the glory and honor of any nation.
2 Kings 11:12. The word of God says: “By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth” (Proverbs 8:16). Therefore kings should be crowned in the house of God. Starke: The crown and the law of the Lord belong together. God give to Christendom princes who love His Word!
2 Kings 11:13-12.11.16. Athaliah’s Fall, (a) Her last appearance, 2 Kings 11:13-12.11.14. (She comes boldly and impudently into the midst of the people, blinded to their disposition towards her. Insolently relying upon her imagined majesty, she commands resistance to the movement which is in progress—a faithful type of many tyrants. Pride goes before a fall.) (b) Her terrible end, 2 Kings 11:15-12.11.16. (Abandoned, despised, and hated by all the people, who rejoice over her fall, she goes to meet her doom, and receives the fate which her deeds deserve. “All they that take the sword,” &c. Matthew 26:52. She is punished by that by which she had sinned.)—And all the people rejoiced. That was no forced joy, produced at command, but a natural and sincere joy. It is great good fortune for a people when its dynasty is preserved. It may and ought to rejoice in the house of God, when God has released it from tyranny and usurpation.—Kyburz: Sedition! treason! is the cry of Joram, Jezebel, and Athaliah, and of all those who are themselves most to blame for it (Acts 24:5).
2 Kings 11:17-12.11.20. The Results of Athaliah’s Fall. (a) The renewal of the covenant, 2 Kings 11:17; (b) the destruction of the Baal-worship, 2 Kings 11:18-12.11.19; (c) the rest and peace of the land.
2 Kings 11:17. The abolition and extermination of all which is bad and perverse is necessary, but it is beneficial only when the construction of what is true and good is added to it (Jeremiah 1:10). The reformers of the sixteenth century not only denied and protested, but at the same time they also laid the foundation, other than which none can be laid, and on this they built the Church.—The covenant which Jehoiada renewed. (a) The covenant of the king and the people with God. (The basis and fountain of all national prosperity. An irreligious state is a folly and an impossibility; it is no-thing.) (b) The covenant between king and people. (It is built upon the former. There is prosperity in a country only when the prince rules before and with God, and the people is obedient through obedience to God. Without this fundamental condition all constitutions, laws, and institutions, however good they may appear, are useless.) Lange: No relation of subjects and rulers is sound if it has not the covenant with God as its basis on either side.
2 Kings 11:18. “The zeal of thine house” (John 2:17). That applies here to an entire people. (Calw. Bibel: It is a grand national event when a people destroys its idols.) He who stands by God and His word tolerates neither gross nor refined idolatry. Where there is decided faith in the living God, the altars of the false gods fall of themselves.—The offices in the House of God. God is a God of order, therefore these offices are necessary (Ephesians 4:11-49.4.12).
2 Kings 11:19-12.11.20. Würt. Summ.: Where there are pious and faithful rulers, the people should rejoice, should thank God for them, and pray fervently to him for their prolonged life, so that they may lead a peaceful and godly life under their government.
2 Kings 11:20. Starke: Governments which are founded in blood always end disastrously.
2 Kings 11:1; 2 Kings 11:1.—[The chetib, וראתה, is to be retained. Athaliah is put in independent construction at the head of the sentence, as general subject, and then what she did is stated in detached sentences. The construction is made smoother if we take away the ו, but the style then loses some of its liveliness. So Thenius and Keil.]
2 Kings 11:2; 2 Kings 11:2.—The keri הַמּוּמָתִים is confirmed by 2 Chronicles 22:11. The chetib הַמֻּמָותִים [should be punctuated הַמְּמוֹתִים.—W. G. S.] mortes, cannot without violence be translated as Keil proposes: “Those who were doomed to death.”—Bähr. [Ewald raises the question whether the chetib cannot be punctuated מְמוּתִים and explained as a participle hofal, in which the chief vocal force has been concentrated in the second syllable. He cites several cognate instances of considerable force, § 131, d, note.—On the use of the participle for a preterit future, see Ewald, § 335, b, and cf. Genesis 19:14; Exodus 11:5; Judges 13:8.]
2 Kings 11:2; 2 Kings 11:2.—[After הממותים supply וַתִּתֵּן from 2 Chronicles 22:11; cf. Exegetical.]
2 Kings 11:4; 2 Kings 11:4.—[The chetib, מְאָיוֹת is only a longer and more original form for the keri, מֵאוֹת, “since מֵאָה is contracted from מַאֲיָה.” Ewald, § 267, d.—לְ here forms a periphrasis for the genitive.]
2 Kings 11:6; 2 Kings 11:6.—[I.e., before which the runners generally kept guard.]
2 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 11:7.—[יָדוֹת does not mean “parts” in the same sense as הַשְּׁלִשִׁית מִן means a fraction of. Its first meaning is hands, and so parts like hands, that is, two branches of one subject, as the two hands are parts of one person. It refers to the two military divisions, life-guards and runners, of which the squad which retired on the Sabbath was composed. The preposition בְּ after it marks these as component or essential parts. See further the Exegetical notes on the verse.]
2 Kings 11:8; 2 Kings 11:8.—[I. e., any one who strives to break through the cordon of guards thus posted so as to penetrate either into the palace or the temple.]
2 Kings 11:10; 2 Kings 11:10.—[We must read the plural הַחֲנִיתִים, as in Chron. “The sing. in a collective sense is not a probable construction in prose” (Thenius).]
2 Kings 11:13; 2 Kings 11:13.—[The Aramaic form of the plural in &־ִין רָצִין) is very rare in Hebrew prose. It occurs in 1 Kings 11:33; 2 Samuel 21:20 (chetib). In poetry it is more frequent. Ewald, § 177, a.]
2 Kings 11:15; 2 Kings 11:15.—[הָמֵת, inf. abs. for imper.—W. G. S.]
C.—The reign of Joash (or Jehoash)
2 Kings 11:21 to 2 Kings 12:21 (2 Chronicles 24:0)
21Seven years old was Jehoash when he began to reign.
2 Kings 12:1 In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign; and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zibiah of Beer-sheba. 2And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein [because] Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. 4And Jehoash said to the priests, All the [consecrated] money [omit of the dedicated things] that is [wont to be] brought into the house of the Lord, even the money of every one that passeth the account [current money, both], the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man’s heart to bring into the house of the Lord, 5let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance: and let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach [every defect which] 11 shall be found. 6But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house. 7Then king Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest, and the other priests, and said unto them, Why repair ye not the breaches of the house? now therefore receive no more money of your acquaintance, but [save that ye] deliver it for the breaches of the house. 8And the priests consented to receive12 no more money of the people, neither to repair the breaches of the house. 9But Jehoiada the priest took a chest,13 and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the Lord: and the priests that kept the door put therein all the money that was brought into the house of the Lord. 10And it was so, when they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king’s scribe and the high priest came up, and they put [it] up in bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the Lord. 11And they gave the money, being told, into the hands of them that did the work, that had the oversight of the house of the Lord: and they laid it out to the carpenters and builders, that wrought upon the house of the Lord, 12and to masons, and hewers of stone, and to buy timber and hewed stone to repair the breaches of the house of the Lord, and for all that was laid out for the house to repair14 it. 13Howbeit there were not made for the house of the Lord bowls of silver, snuffers, basins [for sprinkling], trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money that was brought into the house of the Lord: 14but they gave that to the workmen [commissioners], and repaired therewith the house of the Lord. 15Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: 16for they dealt faithfully. The trespass-money and sin-money was not brought into the house of the Lord: it was the priests’.
17Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem. 18And Jehoash king of Judah took all the hallowed things that Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own hallowed things, and all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of the Lord, and in the king’s house, and sent it to Hazael king of Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem.
19And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Judah? 20And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla. 21For Jozachar the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, smote him, and he died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Kings 11:21. Jehoash was seven years old, &c. The parallel record in 2 Chronicles 24:0 is indeed more detailed than the one before us, and supplements it in some essential particulars, but it is not by any means an “actual transmutation” of it (Bertheau). Both accounts may well have been drawn from the same original document, since they are word for word the same in some parts.—The name of the mother of Jehoash is given, as is usual in regard to the kings of Judah throughout the history. On Beersheba see note on 1 Kings 19:3.—The words in 2 Kings 12:2 : All his days that Jehoiada the priest instructed him, cannot have the sense that Jehoash did, his whole life long, that which was right in the sight of God (Thenius, Ewald), for this was not true in view of what is related in 2 Chronicles 24:17-14.24.25, which is confirmed by Matthew 23:35, and which Thenius himself admits must have “historical foundation.” The Chronicler writes: “All the days of Jehoiada the priest,” i. e., so long as Jehoiada lived. The sense is, therefore, that Jehoash did what was right because, and so long as, Jehoiada was his instructor. Hence the Sept. translate; πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας, ἃς ἐφώτιζεν αὐτὸν ’Ιωιαδὲ ὁ ἱερεύς; and the Vulgate: cunctis diebus, quibus docuit eum Jojada sacerdos; so also De Wette and Luther [and the E. V.]. Keil: “All his days that, i. e., all that part of his life in which Jehoiada instructed or guided him.” For the use of אשׁר he refers to Ew. § 331, c, 3. [The suffix is repeated after אשׁר except in general expressions of time, place, and manner.] For the suffix in ימיו he refers to 2 Kings 13:14. The athnach cannot be held to be decisive in this case. For the rest, it does not follow, when we translate: “All his days, because Jehoiada instructed him,” that he continued to do well even after Jehoiada’s death. Grotius remarks on the statement: “Sic bonus Nero, quamdiu Seneca usus est magistro. [If the suffix in ימיו is retained, then the massoretic punctuation is correct; the athnach has its ordinary force; אשׁר must be translated “because;” and the sense is that he was a good king all his life long, because of the good instruction which he received in his youth from Jehoiada. That is the simple grammatical statement of the book of Kings. If the ו at the end of ימיו can be sacrificed, then the athnach must be removed and Jehoiada is a genitive depending on ימי. Let it be observed that this suffix is neglected in the versions of the Chron., Sept., and Vulg., quoted above. The sense then is that he was good as long as Jehoiada lived. This last has in its favor that it is consistent with the account in Chron. Bähr translates by “because,” preserving the suffix in ימיו, and tries to interpret the other meaning into this translation. The words: “He did well all his days, because Jehoiada was his instructor,” would never suggest that he ceased to do well after his teacher died. This attempt is fruitless, and we must make choice between the alternatives presented above—either to sacrifice the suffix in ימיו, and bring the account here into consistency with that in Chron., or to hold to the text and admit the discrepancy. It is a proceeding which a sound criticism cannot approve, to alter the text in the interest of supposed reconciliations. The rendering of the E. V. saves the suffix, and still produces the other sense by translating אשׁר, “wherein,” but this is entirely contrary to the usage of the language. It would require a prep. and suffix after אשׁר, referring back to ימיו.—W. G. S.] On sacrifices on the high places, see note on 1 Kings 3:2.
2 Kings 12:4. And Jehoash said to the priests, &c. The temple had fallen out of repair, not so much on account of its age (it had only been standing for 130 years) as because it had not been properly preserved under the previous reigns, nay, even had been injured by Athaliah and her sons, and the money intended to keep it in repair had been misappropriated to the worship of Baal (2 Chronicles 24:7). The king therefore called upon the priests, whose calling it was, to take measures for the restoration and repair of the building, and, to this end, to collect the same tax which Moses had once laid for the purpose of building the tabernacle (2 Chronicles 24:6). כַּל כֶּסֶף הַקֳּדַשִׁים וגו, i. e., all the sliver which was wont to be brought into the sanctuary, and to be given for its purposes. This is now defined more particularly by the following words, כֶּסֶף עֹבֵר, i. e., not “floating money,” irregular income, money from mere accidental gifts (Ewald), but current money (Luther: das gang und gebe ist. Cf. Genesis 23:16, where the expression cannot be taken in any other way). It does not mean coined money, for the Hebrews had no coined money before the exile, so far as we know, but pieces of silver which had a fixed weight, and which were weighed out from man to man in the transaction of business. The reason why this kind of money was called for was, that “it was to be paid out at once to mechanics for their labor” (Thenius). Keil, following the rabbis, insists upon the translation: “money of the numbered,” referring back to Exodus 30:13 sq. (כָּל־הַעֹבֵר עַל־הַפְּקֻדִים); but against this translation there is the decisive consideration that it does not say: “money of him who passeth among the numbered,” but simply: “money which passes over,” that is, which passes from hand to hand in the transaction of affairs. The special cases are then mentioned in which this kind of money usually came into the treasury. The first is the one mentioned and ordained Leviticus 27:2 sq. (cf. Numbers 18:15), when any one fulfilled a vow. In this case, the priest had to fix the sum to be paid according to the sex, age, &c., of the one who had made the vow. This ransom was appropriated in the time of Moses to the support of the sanctuary. The second case was where any one brought money as a gift to the sanctuary of his own free will.—According to the account in 2 Chron., the king ordered the priests to go out through the cities of Judah, and to collect the tax year by year. This does not contradict the statement before us, but rather serves to explain the words in 2 Kings 12:5 : “every man of his acquaintance.” The dependence was upon free-will offerings, as was the case in reference to the tabernacle (Exodus 35:21); the priests and levites were to exert themselves to collect these, each one in his own city and in his own circle. It is to be observed that the king did not demand of the priests that they should give up, for the repairs of the temple, any income which properly came to themselves, but that he only laid claim, for this purpose, to the funds which Moses had ordained should be used in this way.
2 Kings 12:6. But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year, &c. According to 2 Chronicles 24:5, the king had commanded the priests to hasten, “but they did not hasten.” Even in the 23d year of the reign of Jehoash, i. e., in the year in which there was a change of occupant of the throne of Israel (2 Kings 13:1), the priests had not yet attended to the repairs of the temple, or, at best, had only attended to them very imperfectly. We cannot tell how long before his 23d year he had commanded them to see to it, but it was certainly not in his first year, when he was only seven years old. He now proposes that he will take the matter into his own hands, and adopt other measures for accomplishing it, to which they agree. This interpretation is enforced by יֵאֹתוּ, 2 Kings 12:8 : “they consented” (Sept., συνεφώνησαν, cf. Genesis 34:15; Genesis 34:22-1.34.23), which cannot possibly mean: “They were obliged to yield to the determination of the king” (Thenius). תִּקְחוּ and the following words, 2 Kings 12:7, “It was placed בְּשַׁעַר of the House of the Lord, do not contain a strict command, but rather a proposal: nolite ergo amplius accipere (Vulg.), otherwise the corresponding statement would be that they “obeyed,” not that they “consented.” Only after the king had taken the matter into his own hands did he give orders (2 Chronicles 24:8) to make a chest, &c. [The commentators differ widely in their judgment of the conduct of the priests in this matter, some seizing eagerly upon an incident which reflects discreditably upon them, others insisting upon a construction which shall exonerate them entirely. Bähr does not take up the point distinctly in this place. Yet 2 Kings 12:8 is very obscure, and it is important for its elucidation to understand the attitude of the priests. The disposition of the priests is the key to the situation, and the correct conception of that point is the key to the correct exegesis of the verse. The impression is unavoidable that the first effort failed because it was in the hands of the priests. The payments in liquidation of vows were appropriated to the support of the worship. According to the Chronicler an especial demand was made for free-will offerings for the repairs, and “that which it came into the heart of any man to give” must be understood of offerings for this special end. Otherwise we might think that it referred simply to pious gifts, which the priests were wont to retain for themselves, and which the giver expected that they would retain. If we adopt the statement of the Chronicler, then, it is clear that the priests could not have used the money for themselves without embezzlement. In any case the re-appropriation to the repairs of the temple of sums which they had probably been using for some time (especially during the prevalence of idolatry) for their own support, must have curtailed their resources. That they gave them up willingly, is not to be supposed. Sums thus appropriated, but left in the administration of persons all whose interests were opposed to this use, would not probably be found to suffice for an energetic prosecution of the work. This would also check the zeal, and stop the offerings, of the people. The systematic revenue of the priests under the Mosaic constitution had been broken up during the time of apostasy; they had been obliged to make use of all the revenues of whatever kind for their own support; and the incident does not seem, when viewed fairly, to prove any extraordinary selfishness on their part. The king now, seeing that the measures he had taken to accomplish his object had only served to frustrate it, ordered them not to receive any more money for themselves, but to devote all they received to this object. Between 2 Kings 12:7-12.12.8 a discussion must be understood in which the priests explained the defects in the practical workings of this scheme, and the result was an agreement that they should neither serve as collectors of the money nor be responsible for the repairs. They put the whole matter out of their hands. (See Histor. § 3.)—W. G. S.]
2 Kings 12:9. But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, &c. The king did not even now exclude the priests from all share in the work, but took his measures in conjunction with the chief-priest, and also appointed “the priests that kept the door” to receive the money. The chest had a hole in its lid, into which the money was dropped. It was locked, and was only opened when it was full. Its position was by the side of the altar, on the right as one entered the temple. Instead of this we read in Chronicles: חוּצָה, i. e., “outside.” It did not, therefore, stand in the middle of the priests’ court (Thenius), but outside of it, at the entrance-gate which was on its right. According to 2 Chronicles 24:9-14.24.10, the king caused this arrangement to be proclaimed throughout the whole country; it was joyfully heard, and the people now gave abundantly. [The most reasonable explanation of this is, that, under the new arrangement, a man saw his gift placed in the chest. He knew that this was inaccessible to all except the appointed officers, and that his gift was, therefore, sure to be applied to the object for which he gave it. The share of the priests was reduced to the mechanical duty of receiving the money and placing it in the chest.—W. G. S.] When the chest was full, the priest sent his scribe, i. e., a civil secretary, and, in his presence, the chest was opened. This “was done, not out of distrust of the priests, but because the repairs were a matter of state interest, and not merely an affair of the priests. The temple was the chief sanctuary of the nation, of the theocracy, and it was under the supervision of the king” (Lisco). The money was bound up in bags and counted (cf. 2 Kings 5:23). (The Chronicler has וִיעָרוּ for וַיָּצֻרוּ, i. e., they emptied out. So the Vulg. also on the verse before us: effundebantque et numerabant pecuniam.) “The binding up in bags is mentioned before the counting because the pieces were not counted separately. They were bound up in bags and these were weighed in order thus to estimate the sum which had been received” (Keil).—Them… that had the oversight of the House of the Lord, to whom the money was given (2 Kings 12:11), are those who had to oversee the building. According to 2 Chronicles 34:12, they were levites. The keri המפקדים is supported by 2 Kings 22:5. The sense remains the same. These overseers then paid the wages to the artisans of different kinds, and purchased the necessary building materials.—The statement in 2 Kings 12:13-12.12.14 does not contradict 2 Chronicles 24:14. It is there stated that, when the building was finished, and still some money remained, this was placed at the disposition of the king and the high-priest, who used it to procure gold and silver utensils. On these utensils, see 1 Kings 7:50.—No accounts were demanded of the overseers of the building, we are told in 2 Kings 12:15, because they were implicitly trusted. 2 Kings 22:7 shows that there is no reference here to a presumed infidelity of the priests, for the same words are used there, where the priests had not had anything at all to do with the work. It is only intended to call attention to the conscientiousness with which this work was taken in hand, inasmuch as the most trustworthy men were charged with it. The remark in 2 Kings 12:16 has a similar object, viz., to show that the priests did not suffer on account of the new arrangement, but that the revenues which properly belonged to them, those from the trespass-offerings and the sin-offerings, were still given to them. On the trespass-offerings, see Numbers 5:8 sq., and Leviticus 5:16. According to the law, the priest received no money from the sin-offering. We must, therefore, suppose that it had become customary to give them a voluntary gift of money besides the flesh of the sacrifice (Leviticus 6:24).
2 Kings 12:17. Then Hazael, king of Syria, went up, &c. This expedition belongs to the time when Jehoiada was already dead, and Jehoash had fallen into sin, as is clear from 2 Chronicles 24:15-14.24.22. As Gath, one of the five cities of the Philistines (Joshua 13:3), lay much farther south than Samaria, and was almost due west of Jerusalem towards the sea-coast, this expedition against it forces us to assume that Israel had been already conquered by Hazael (2 Kings 13:3). We must leave undecided whether Gath at that time belonged to Judah, or had fallen again into the possession of the Philistines. As Jerusalem was not far off, the conqueror was led to attack it next, but he was induced, by the surrender of the treasures, to withdraw. It is certain that 2 Chronicles 24:23 sq. does not refer to another, earlier expedition, as Thenius asserts. That account does not contradict the one before us; on the contrary it supplements it “most fittingly, for it is very improbable à priori that Jehoash purchased peace by this heavy sacrifice, until after he had suffered the shameful defeat of which the Chronicler gives an account. Moreover, the fact that the Syrians withdrew without prosecuting their victory farther is explained by this peace thus purchased” (Bertheau).
2 Kings 12:18. And Jehoash…. took all the hallowed things, &c. Clericus answers the question why, if there was such a store of these valuable articles, they were not used for the repairs, instead of collecting taxes and offerings, as follows: Credibile est, res consecratas, quarum hic fit mentio, vasa fuisse sacra, quae vendere aut in monetam constare et cudere nolebant, ut servarentur in extremæ necessitatis casus, qualis hic erat, ubi Jerosolymæ et totius regni agebatur. In regard to the implied statement that offerings had been dedicated by Jehoram and Ahaziah, who walked in the way of the house of Ahab (2 Kings 8:18; 2 Kings 8:27), let it be observed that these kings did not formally abolish the worship of Jehovah, but only introduced the worship of Baal by the side of it, and, in order not to come into an open conflict with the people and the influential priesthood, they even made offerings to the temple of Jehovah. The utensils which, according to 2 Chronicles 24:7, Athaliah and her sons had taken from the temple, and misappropriated to the service of Baal, “had no doubt been restored to their original purpose before the occasion mentioned in 2 Kings 11:18” (Thenius).
2 Kings 12:20. And his servants arose, &c. The Chronicler here gives a very essential addition to the narrative. He states in detail the reasons for the conspiracy, and the occasion of it. The conspirators murdered the king in his bed, where he was confined by wounds, probably by those received in the war with the Syrians.—בֵּית מִלֹּא Thenius translates: “In the castle-palace.” Millo was a castle or tower, it is true (see above, note on 1 Kings 9:15; cf. 2 Samuel 5:9), but בֵּית can hardly refer to a particular building inside this castle. If it did, we should need to have הַמִּלֹּא, with the article, as in the other places. As a complete fortress in itself, Millo might be called בּית. The more definite description הַיֹּרֵד סִלָּא is itself obscure. No one of the explanations proposed deserves decided preference to the others. All the old versions take סִלָּא as a proper name, and this certainly seems more correct than to consider it identical with מְסִלָּה, a street, as Grotius and Thenius do, or with סֻלָּם, slope or ascent, as Ewald does.—In 2 Kings 12:21, instead of: “Jozachar, the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad, the son of Shomer,” the Chronicler has: “Zabad, the son of Shimeath, an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad, the son of Shimrith, a Moabitess.” We must give the preference to this latter statement as the more complete, for the designation of the two mothers instead of the two fathers, as an Ammonitess and a Moabitess, cannot be an invention of the Chronicler, but is taken from the original document. Perhaps it is stated to show that the murderers were not of Jewish descent, but came from foreign mothers. “זָבָד is a mistake for זָכָר, and this is a shorter form for יוֹזכר” (Keil), and שֹׁמר may have arisen from the defective form שִׁמרת by dropping the ת. [“Although the names (as given in Kings) are certainly historical, yet it is very remarkable that the etymology of them, Jehovah-remembers, son of Hearing, and Jehovah-awards, son of Watcher, suggests the last words of Zechariah: ‘Jehovah sees it and will requite it’ ” (Thenius).] The further statement of the Chronicler: “and they buried him in the city of David, but they buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings,” does not contradict this record. “He was buried in the city of David, where his fathers were buried, but not in the sepulchres of the kings” (Bertheau), probably on account of the action mentioned in 2 Chronicles 24:17 sq.
HISTORICAL AND ETHICAL
1. The author chooses out of the history of the forty years’ reign of Jehoash the restoration of the temple, of which he speaks particularly, and passes over the other incidents which the Chronicler narrates. He would hardly have done this if he had seen in this restoration nothing more than a matter of ordinary business routine, a necessity which had arisen in the course of time. The temple, as the dwelling of Jehovah in the midst of His people, is the visible sign and pledge of the covenant (see note on the Temple after the Exeg. section on 1 Kings 6:0). The covenant of Jehovah was solemnly restored and renewed at the elevation of the rescued scion of the house of David to the throne, and the temple, the sign and pledge of this covenant, which had become dilapidated, and had been plundered, under Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah, could not be left in that condition. On the contrary, it must be the chief task of the new king of the dynasty of David, who had sworn to the covenant on his accession, to restore the temple during his reign. As David was the founder, and Solomon the builder, of the House of Jehovah, so Jehoash, with whom the House of David recommenced, as it were, was the restorer of the sanctuary. We have here, therefore, a theocratic action, a physical confession of faith, and a seal upon the renewal and restoration of the covenant. This is why it is so especially mentioned as the most important incident in the reign of Jehoash. The reason why Jehoash, when he undertook the restoration of the temple, unquestionably at the instigation of Jehoiada, did not carry out the work at the expense of the royal treasury, but called upon the whole people to contribute, as Moses had once done for the tabernacle (Exodus 25:2-2.25.9), was not that “the crown was not then by any means able, as it had been in Solomon’s time, to carry out such, works by itself” (Ewald), but rather, in order that the entire people might give a physical proof that it had renewed the covenant with Jehovah (2 Kings 11:17).
2. King Jehoash was not by any means a ruler who was distinguished for intellect and strength. Lack of independence, and moral weakness, were the most noticeable features of his character. He had in Jehoiada the support which he needed. After the death of this counsellor and guide, he became, although he was already advanced in life, vacillating, and fell into evil courses. It was a great weakness on the part of one who had renewed the covenant with Jehovah, and rebuilt the temple, to yield to the entreaties of the chiefs of Judah, who flattered him by their cringing sub-missiveness, and to allow them (2 Chronicles 24:17 sq.) the forbidden, lascivious worship of Astarte (see Exeg. on 1 Kings 11:5). It was something more than weakness that he caused Zechariah, the son of his former counsellor, to be stoned, when he condemned this mistaken course, and predicted calamity (2 Chronicles 24:20 sq.). No less weak was his conduct in his dealings with Hazael. Instead of making a vigorous opposition to him, trusting in God, as Hezekiah did (chap. 19), he surrendered to him, although he had only a small force, all the consecrated offerings which his ancestors had made to the temple, and all those which he himself had dedicated up to this point in his reign, in order to induce him to withdraw (2 Kings 12:18 sq.; 2 Chronicles 24:24). [Observe, however, the Exegetical note on 2 Kings 12:17, quotation from Bertheau, at the end.—W. G. S.] It is very possible that he had embittered the people against him by all this, and thus given occasion for the conspiracy, as a result of which he fell. “He was the first king of Judah who came to a violent end at the hands of his own subjects, and the discontent was so great that he was not even buried in the royal sepulchres. Such was the disgraceful end of one whose childhood was marked by such wonderful providences” (Schlier). He shows us, by his example, whither weakness in a prince may lead. It is not only a something wanting, but it is the weightiest sin. Ewald contradicts himself when he says, basing the statement upon בָּל־יָמָיו, 2 Kings 12:2 : “He adopted the principles of his teacher with such docility that he remained true to them even after he came of age,” and then says again, a few pages further on: “Heathenism may indeed have gained a footing again under his weak rule.” This view also contradicts the statement in 2 Chronicles 24:22, whose historical truth is admitted. Thenius also forces the words כָּל־יָמָיו in such a way that he calls Jehoash a “praiseworthy king,” and speaks of his “good reign,” and of his “continuous good conduct.” In regard to the narrative of the Chronicler, which is inconsistent with this view, he remarks, giving it a strained and unnatural construction: “Probably this command (to stone Zechariah) was given by Jehoash in a moment of rage, and was forced from him, as it were, by Zechariah’s enemies.” But, even if we let this pass, the “purchase of a peace from Hazael by a shameful surrender” was not the act of a. “praiseworthy king;” and the murder of Jehoash was not a “mere act of revenge.” The pains which are taken to present this king in any other light than that in which he appears in these two biblical records, are all spent in vain. The opinion that “Psalms 51:0 contains a prayer of Jehoash in deep penitence for his error” (Thenius), must be regarded as very mistaken. Neither can it be inferred from these historical records, as it is by Vaihinger (in Herzog, Realencyc., vi. s. 717), that the prophet Joel belongs to the time of this king, and that his prophecies apply to the events of this reign.
3. In regard to the conduct of the priests in reference to the restoration of the temple which the king had commanded, the opinions are very divergent. The assertion of J. D. Michaelis and De Wette, that the priests had embezzled the funds collected for this object, is to be summarily dismissed. Thenius goes still further, and says: “They (the priests) did nothing towards carrying out the project, because the royal command appropriated a part, probably no insignificant part, of the revenues of the priests, in the intention of diminishing their arrogance.… The priesthood may have fallen greatly in a moral point of view since Athaliah’s influence had brought the Jehovah-religion into neglect, and their attention may have been exclusively directed to their own selfish interest.… Probably the priests had kept the free-will offerings, which were intended for the repairs of the temple, entirely for their own use, contrary to law.” But the text does not say that the king intended to restrict the revenues of the priests; on the contrary, it is expressly stated (2 Kings 12:16) that this was not done. Neither is there any hint of any moral decay in the priesthood. [The idea that the priests were guilty of any arrogance which needed curbing is certainly imported into the case. It is à priori very unlikely that they would be guilty of this fault on emerging from the circumstances in which they had been during the previous years. Arrogance is the sin of long and great prosperity. The à priori probability that the priesthood had suffered in morale during the prevalence of idolatry is great, also that their revenues had been greatly impaired.—W. G. S.] The king would never have commissioned them to undertake the management of this work, if they had had the reputation of being dishonest in money matters. Still less, if unfaithfulness and cheating on their part had been the cause that the contributions did not flow in in sufficient abundance, would he have “asked these priests for their consent (2 Kings 12:8) to the change of his first arrangements, and to the new measures which he proposed. Moreover, he would not have charged the priests who guarded the door to receive the money and put it in the chest, which arrangement still left them an opportunity for dishonesty” (Keil). [The circumstantial description of the box, its arrangement and position, show that it was intended to free the priests from any suspicion, just or not, which attached to them. If the suspicion was unjust, they were most interested in a public arrangement for the reception of these contributions which should free them from it. It is enough to suppose that, when all the money, that intended for themselves and that intended for the repairs, came into their hands, the distribution of it according to the intentions of the givers may have been uncertain and imperfect. At any rate, the givers could not be certain that their money would reach its destined object. Any such popular distrust would, according to all experience, speedily reduce the contributions to a very languid flow. The chest-arrangement now accomplished two objects. It permitted the giver to divide his offering for the temple from the offering for the priests, and to see for himself that it was at once put where it could not be applied otherwise than as he intended. The true force of 2 Kings 12:16 is that, at this time, the revenues of the temple were divided and definitely appropriated, and that the sorts of revenue there mentioned were specifically set apart for the support of the priests. When the priests’ share in the transaction was limited to the reception of the money and its immediate deposition in a receptacle, which is expressly declared to have been in the most public place in the temple enclosure, it was impossible to suspect them any longer of dishonesty, unless they were most accomplished rogues. There is no express mention of any dishonesty in the record, but this arrangement with the chest has unquestionably suggested a suspicion which has always been felt by readers of the passage. See also bracketed note under Exegetical on 2 Kings 12:8.—W. G. S.] On the other hand, the reason for the new scheme was not “simply this, that the first plan had proved inadequate for the purpose,” because the king “had not appropriated any definite sum for the repairs of the temple, but had left it to the priests to pay for the repairs out of the gross sum received” (Keil). The text itself gives the true reason in clear and definite words (2 Chronicles 24:5): “The levites hastened it not,” as the king had commanded them. [If this were the only reason, the pertinency of the arrangement with the chest would not be apparent.—W. G. S.] The reason was not, therefore, dishonesty and embezzlement on the part of the priests and levites, but their lack of zeal, their indifference and neglect in an affair in which they, as servants of the sanctuary, ought to have been most interested. It is as impossible to acquit them of all blame as it is to convict them of dishonesty. When a chest was placed in the temple for the sole purpose of receiving the offerings for this purpose, and when particular officers were designated to take charge of the fund, there was an end of the languid activity of the priests and levites in the collection of the contributions. Each one who came to the temple brought his gift cheerfully, as is distinctly stated in 2 Chronicles 24:10. De Wette’s assertion that the Chronicler “smoothed over” the matter, out of his well-known affection for the priesthood, is entirely arbitrary, for the record does not contain a syllable about unfaithfulness; it states, on the contrary, that it was the priests who received the money and placed it in the chest, under the second plan.
[From the note on 2 Kings 12:8 and the inserted remarks in the above section, it will be seen that this delineation of the “conduct of the priests” in this matter is not satisfactory. If we look at the record without unfair partisan feeling either against or in behalf of the priests, we cannot avoid the conviction that their fault was not limited to a want of zeal in the collection of funds, but that it was connected with their administration of the money. In 2 Kings 12:4 the king charged them to take certain moneys and use them for the repairs of the temple. He addressed them because they were the proper parties to be commissioned to do this work. It was not until they proved incompetent, in some way or other, that it was taken out of their hands, or that they gave it up. The revenues which are specified in 2 Kings 12:4 are, 1, that at which “every man is set,” which is to us very obscure, but is probably correctly explained in the Exegetical note on the verse; and 2, free-will offerings which the priests were to solicit of their acquaintances. In the king’s twenty-third year the work had not been done. There was fault somewhere. In 2 Kings 12:7 the king’s address distinctly implies that the work had not been done because the money which had been received from the “acquaintances” of the priests had not been appropriated to this purpose. Various reasons for this are suggested in the translator’s note on 2 Kings 12:7, which are sufficient without assuming that the priests had dishonestly taken for themselves what had been intended for another use. It is very probable that the revenues had never been distinguished in a manner sufficiently definite, or that, if they had formerly been definitely distinguished and appropriated, they had been used indiscriminately for the support of the priests, during the troubles of the last two reigns, and had not all together more than sufficed for this purpose. 2 Kings 12:16 implies that the various revenues were now definitely appropriated, and one of the advantages of the chest-plan was that it served to distinguish them. The reply of the priests to this reproach and command (2 Kings 12:7) is not given, but they consented to yield up the entire work and the entire responsibility. This gap between 2 Kings 12:7-12.12.8 is the place at which the various inventions, more or less derogatory to the priests, find entrance. It is as fair as any supposition which can be made, and accords as well with 2 Kings 12:8, to suppose that they denied the imputation, pointed out the difficulty in distinguishing the revenues intended for the temple from those intended for the priests, and surrendered the responsibility both for the money and for the work. The plan then adopted, which put this money by itself, and out of the control of the priests, proves conclusively that the work had not been accomplished because the money intended for it passed through their hands. Their administration of it had been defective, to say the least; it is not necessary to conclude that it had been intentionally dishonest.—W. G. S.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
(2 Chronicles 24:0 is to be compared throughout as a supplementary record.) 2 Kings 12:1-12.12.21. The Reign of King Jehoash. (a) During Jehoiada’s life-time, 2 Kings 12:1-12.12.16; (b) after his death, 2 Kings 12:17-12.12.21.
2 Kings 12:1-12.12.4. Kyburz: Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child! (Ecclesiastes 10:16) but blessed is the nation, the youth of whose prince is in just and holy guidance. Such good fortune had Judah under the guardian care of the wise and experienced Jehoiada.—That which appears to be the greatest misfortune for a child, to be left fatherless and motherless at an early age, often becomes a great blessing in the gracious Providence of God. What would have become of Jehoash if he had been brought up at the court of his idolatrous father and his depraved mother? God gave him in Jehoiada far more than he had lost in his father and his mother.—There is no greater blessing possible for a young prince, who comes to the throne in his youth, than to have a wise counsellor. Would that God might give to every prince a Jehoiada! The first duty of a prince is to pray God for such an one, and to listen to his counsel.—None need instruction more than those who are called to govern; there is no more responsible calling than that of instructing those who will have to rule. Unfortunately this task is rarely entrusted to those who, like Jehoiada, are fitted for it by age, learning, experience, and piety. Würt. Summ.: We ought to pray to God for wise counsellors, to thank Him for them, to pray for long life for them, and to regard it as a heavy divine punishment when He takes them away (Jeremiah 3:4).
2 Kings 12:3. The same: Rulers ought not to allow themselves to be restrained from carrying out what is good and right from any fear of persons, lest they may possibly incur the disfavor of the people. There never was a prince who was not himself guilty of faults and errors, as we see here from the example of Jehoash, who did not abolish the sacrifices on the high places.
2 Kings 12:4-12.12.16. The Restoration of the Sanctuary. (a) The king’s command to undertake it; (b) the conduct of the priests in the matter (see Historical, § 3). It is true that God does not dwell in temples made with hands (1 Kings 8:27; Acts 7:48); we can worship Him as well in a ruin as in the most magnificent church. But when the building, in which a congregation assembles to worship God, to hear His word, and to receive the means of grace, is left ruinous, God does not receive the honor which belongs to Him. Where the churches fall to ruins, there religion and piety also fall into decay; but where there is love of God and joy in His word, there no ruinous churches are seen. A time in which magnificent palaces, theatres, and ball-rooms are repaired or built at great expense, but in which the houses of God are left small, wretched, dirty, and ruinous, is a time of religious decay, and resembles the time of Athaliah in Judah.—The apostle says of the Christian church: “For ye are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16). This temple also may in time become ruinous through unbelief, worldly life and behavior, and immorality. Where are the congregations in which there is nothing ruinous or decayed, in which nothing could be improved? How many are in ruins and are ready to fall! He who destroys the temple of God, or allows it to be destroyed, him will God destroy (1 Corinthians 3:17). We cannot indeed repair those breaches by money. They can only be repaired by coming to the living stone, which is rejected of men, but which is chosen of God (1 Peter 2:4-60.2.6).
2 Kings 12:4-12.12.5. The congregation ought to be called upon to contribute to religious objects, which can only be accomplished by expending money. How long a time often elapses before means enough are collected even for the most necessary objects, not to mention that many give unwillingly (2 Corinthians 9:7).
2 Kings 12:6-12.12.8. Works which are pleasing to God cannot be accomplished by careless hands. They are only accomplished where zeal is united with perseverance, patience, and fidelity.—There have always been such careless, indifferent priests and pastors, and there are such yet. They execute their traditional, official duties, but only by routine, and from a sense of duty, not with zeal and enthusiasm. No zeal for the kingdom of God (John 2:17) and for the salvation of souls can be noticed in them. How many a congregation has fallen into decay and remained so, because those who were appointed to be the builders of it, who ought to have repaired and built it, have not raised their negligent hands (Hebrews 12:12). “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully” (Jeremiah 48:10). Although no earthly king may ever call them to account, yet the heavenly king, before whose judgment-seat they must appear to give an account of their office, will ask: “Why repair ye not the breaches of the house?”
2 Kings 12:10 sq. Würt Summ.: In former times, under the papacy, the church authorities excluded all secular persons from the affairs which belonged to the clergy: under the gospel, in some places, secular persons aim to exclude the clergy from all participation in church affairs, and claim to rule alone; so the matter is always wrongly treated, and men go from one mistake to another; this should not be so.—Public account should be rendered of all moneys and gifts which are collected for religious or benevolent purposes, in order that it may be known that they are applied as was designed, and that the giver may be encouraged to further liberality.
2 Kings 12:11-12.12.12. The laborer is worthy of his hire. Wages ought to be given punctually to diligent and faithful workmen (Jeremiah 22:13; Leviticus 19:13).
2 Kings 12:13-12.12.14. What is necessary and useful is always to be preferred to what is beautiful; only when the former is provided may the latter be thought of. How often the contrary course is pursued.
2 Kings 12:15. What a proud thing it is for builders and workmen when they can be trusted, and it is not necessary to oversee them. When work is carried on honestly and faithfully, then God’s blessing follows.
2 Kings 12:16. Starke: To every one his own, to God what is God’s, to the priests what is theirs (Sir 7:32; 1 Corinthians 9:11).—Let not anything which justly belongs to any one be taken from him.
2 Kings 12:17-12.12.21. The Pall of King Jehoash and its Consequences, (a) As long as Jehoiada lived, Jehoash did what was right: when he had lost this support he fell (2 Chronicles 24:15-14.24.22). “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). “It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace” (Hebrews 13:9). How many have begun in the spirit and ended in the flesh (Galatians 3:3). The best instruction cannot preserve against a fall, if the heart is not firm and strong. Only he who endures unto the end shall be saved, therefore: “Be thou faithful,” &c. (Revelation 2:10). The noblest commencement is vain, if the end is perverse and wicked; on the contrary: “All is well that ends well.” (b) At the time when Jehoash had sinned so grievously, one calamity after another came upon him; first, the great defeat (2 Kings 12:17-12.12.18), by which he lost all his treasures, then, the conspiracy which cost him his life (2 Kings 12:20-12.12.21). So the words of the dying prophet (2 Chronicles 24:22) were fulfilled: “The Lord look upon it and require it!” (2 Chronicles 24:22). So Jehoash was taught what calamities it brings to abandon the Lord God (Jeremiah 2:19). The Lord rewards every one according to his works, whether in this or the next world. What a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Jehoash was marvellously preserved as an infant (2 Kings 11:2-12.11.3), he ends his life wretchedly.—Starke: This is an example how near the ruin of a man is when he abandons the good to which he was educated from his youth up, nay, even is glad to be rid of those who annoy him by their warnings.
2 Kings 12:18. A man may buy with money his acquittal from a human tribunal, but not from the just judgment of God; nothing helps here but repentance and a new life (Ezekiel 18:26-26.18.28).
2 Kings 12:20-12.12.21. All the people shouted to the child-king: “Long live the king!” and rejoiced and blew the trumpets. Conspiracy and murder were the end of his forty-years’ reign. Sic transit gloria mundi.
2 Kings 12:5; 2 Kings 12:5 (6 of the Hebrew text).—[בָּדֶק at the end is a predicate defining אשׁר, all which shall be found… defective, i.e., all the defective places which shall be found. Cf. 2 Kings 8:12.]
2 Kings 12:8; 2 Kings 12:8 (9).—[קְחַת for קַחַת, the fem. inf. shortened before makkeph. Cf. Ewald, § 213, a.]
2 Kings 12:9; 2 Kings 12:9 (10).—[אחד—אֲרוֹן אֶחָד is commonly adjective, but is sometimes used as a dependent substantive, as here. Ew. § 286, d.]
2 Kings 12:12; 2 Kings 12:12 (13).—[חָזְקָה, fem. abstract subst. In verbs which denote a state we find that the infin. is often supplanted by the subst. which expresses the abstract of the verbal idea. “For repairs” = to repair, with which, however, the object must be supplied (Böttcher, § 277, 8).—W. G. S.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Kings 11". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany