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CRITICAL NOTES.] This chapter parallel with 2 Kings 11:4-20, evidently from same source, although presenting certain points of difference. In Ki. narrative related from civil point of view, in Chronicles writer concerns himself mainly with the ecclesiastical aspect of the transaction [Speak. Com.]. Joash is made king (2 Chronicles 23:1-11); Athaliah slain (2 Chronicles 23:12-15); and worship restored (2 Chronicles 23:16-21).
2 Chronicles 23:1-11.—Joash made King. J. strengthened, braced himself to the effort from which he had previously shrunk [Speak. Com.]. Captains, centurions of royal guards loyal to legitimate heir of crown. Covenant for overthrow of Athaliah’s tyranny. 2 Chronicles 23:2. Gathered, probably at time of festivals, to disarm suspicion. Israel, i.e., Judah. 2 Chronicles 23:3. Congregation, select Levites and trusty persons, collected by captains from various cities. Said, Jehoiada said, pointing to Joash. Lord (2 Samuel 8:12-13). 2 Chronicles 23:4. Ye. Levites received orders, in Ki. orders to royal guard given. Entering, Levites released each other every Sabbath day (1 Chronicles 9:25). Porters, watchmen. Doors, Hebrew thresholds. 2 Chronicles 23:5. Courts, people not admitted ordinarily, on this occasion allowed to witness proceedings. Remember Athaliah had completely desecrated the entire enclosure [Speak. Com.]. 2 Chronicles 23:6. Watch, see that no worshippers of Baal forced their way in. 2 Chronicles 23:7. Compass, Levites not engaged as indicated to surround king at entrance and exit. 2 Chronicles 23:8. Dismissed, not to keep a sufficient force for the occasion; armed them within temple courts to avoid suspicion (2 Chronicles 23:9), and equipped “all the people,” i.e., combined princes, guards, and Levites, who surrounded the king. 2 Chronicles 23:11. Testimony, The law according to which he was to rule (Deuteronomy 17:18).
2 Chronicles 23:12-15.—Athaliah is slain. She is permitted to enter outer court without a guard. 2 Chronicles 23:13. Pillar, platform on which king elevated to be seen. Treason, conspiracy. She was taken out of temple grounds to horse gate (for king’s mules), and there slain (2 Kings 11:16-18; 2 Kings 23:2; 2 Kings 23:6; 2 Kings 23:12).
2 Chronicles 23:16-21.—Jehoiada’s reforms. J. represented the Lord (2 Kings 11:17); ratified the covenant to be the Lord’s people (2 Chronicles 23:16); destroyed temple of Baal (2 Chronicles 23:17); and arranged for restoration of priests and Levites, singers and porters. 2 Chronicles 23:20. Brought down, escorted king to palace, through high gate, chief gate of outer court (gate of guard, 2 Kings 11:19). Quiet, a bloodless revolution (except Athaliah’s death) and free from tyranny and idolatry.
JOASH MADE KING.—2 Chronicles 23:1-11
Six years of Athaliah’s tyranny had ripened the people for revolution. They were weary and ready for change. Agents and managers at hand, and the revolution was successful.
I. The measures adopted. “Every step was taken in accordance with the usages which had been gradually gaining head during the previous reigns, and all the means which his office placed at the disposal of Jehoiada were freely employed” [Stanley].
1. He concerted with the leaders of the army. Indirect communication with the five officers of loyal guard, whom he bound by solemn oath.
2. He enlisted the co-operation of the Levites. These divided into three bands: one to guard the king, the other two posted at doors and gates. Captains and military officers entered the temple unarmed to lull suspicion, and furnished with sacred armoury. All courts of temple filled with those favourable to the cause, and secret kept wonderfully. “The words of the wise are heard in quiet” (Sir. 9:17).
II. The leading man to arrange them. Jehoiada chief in this conspiracy. A man of prudence, piety, and commanding position. United by marriage with the royal family, he sought to overturn the usurper, and restore lawful sovereignty. As high priest it was his duty officially to watch over the temple and execute the laws of God. In his signal services to God, his king, and country he was supported by chief authorities civil and religious, counselled by the prophets of his time, and directed by divine guidance. He earned a foremost name in Israel, and was buried with honour in the city of David.
III. The time in which the measures were carried out. Success depends upon time, the exact moment as well as method. The Sabbath was the day fixed. Needful to have as large a force as possible. Those detained who under other circumstances would have gone home. But the excitement of the moment did not make J. forget the sanctity of God’s house. None but priests and ministering Levites permitted to enter, and strict orders given to take Athaliah out of its precincts.
IV. The success which attended the execution of the measures. At the given signal the king was exhibited and crowned. Bystanders clapped hands together and raised the national shout, “Long live the king.” Trumpeters announced the royal inauguration. Athaliah entered the temple, saw the fatal hour was come, rent her royal robes, and cried out, “Conspiracy, conspiracy!” but the temple was kept from pollution; the throne of David was preserved, and the worship of God restored. A revolution carried out with tact, unanimity, and with little bloodshed. “All the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet.”
THE REFORMS OF JEHOIADA.—2 Chronicles 23:15-21
Only part of work done by overthrow of tyranny and death of Athaliah, to complete revolution government must be settled and interests of religion secured.
I. The national covenant was renewed. A covenant with Israel “to be unto him a people for inheritance” (Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 27:9; Exodus 19:0). A threefold covenant by which the king bound himself to rule according to divine rule, and the people pledged themselves to be loyal to him as God’s representative—by which the king and people agreed to “be the Lord’s people.” Sensible of obligation to God, we are bound closer to one another. Men first give themselves to the Lord and then to us (2 Corinthians 8:5). Starting in this spirit they are more likely to prosper in families, churches, and kingdoms.
II. The idolatry of Baal was destroyed. This immediate fruit of the renewal of covenant. Baal’s temples, altars, and images shattered to pieces by popular fury. Beside the altar fell the priest of Baal, for God commanded that seducers to idolatry should be put to death (Deuteronomy 13:5-6). Sins must be forsaken and overcome; every usurper in heart and life dethroned, and God’s reign supreme over all.
III. The worship of Jehovah was restored. Priests were appointed to their courses, and sacrifices duly offered. Singers and porters arranged according to former custom. Praise and thanksgiving filled the courts of God’s house, and worship restored in its ancient purity.
IV. The throne of Judah was established. The young king wonderfully preserved, was brought down from the temple to the palace, seated on the throne—“the throne of the kings of Judah” (2 Kings 11:19)—and crowned as lawful sovereign. “Through the priesthood the lineage of David had been saved and the worship of Jehovah restored in Judah, even more successfully than it had been in Samaria through the prophets” [Stanley].
V. The priesthood was elevated to highest honour. “During minority of Joash, Jehoiada virtually reigned. The very office in some sense created by him. He raised the priesthood to an importance which (with single exception of Eli) it had never before attained in history of the Jewish nation, and which it never afterwards altogether lost. The name of ‘High Priest,’ which had not been given to Aaron, or Eli, or Zadok, was given to him, and afterwards continued to his successors. He was regarded as a second founder of the order, so that in after days he, rather than Aaron, is described as the chief” [Stanley].
TEMPLE WORSHIP RESTORED AND ESTABLISHED.—2 Chronicles 23:15-21
Reparation of this venerable fabric first object, and one of the great events of his reign. From Joash seemed to come the impulse. “Joash was minded to restore the house of the Lord.” It had suffered from neglect, been spoiled of its treasures, and only a faded remnant of former splendour.
I. In its structure and worship. Its outward form, its foundations had been injured, “broken up” (ch. 2 Chronicles 24:7) by Athaliah’s workmen taking away stones for her own temple. Priests had not taken care to repair the breaches, but the king zealous. Sad to see ministers dilatory in sacred duties, professors with mere form becoming careless and hypocritical! Spiritually its worship was restored in purity and attraction. Officers appointed for departments, lawful sacrifices offered, and true service revived.
II. In its method of support. An account of measures adopted (2 Kings 12:0). Three sorts of money levied—redemption money, estimation money, and freewill offerings. This method seemed to have failed for some reason, and the plan adopted in chapter 24 (cf. outline).
III. In its principles and design. Its purpose to remind of God and his claims, to afford the privilege of meeting and praising God. In teaching it set moral before ritual, intoned the minds of kings, the lives of the people, and the traditions of the nation. From God came restoration from danger, elevation to honour, and prosperity to all ranks. Hence needful to have a fixed place to cultivate reverence and social fellowship; to embody order and devotional life. Common worship is the necessity of our nature and the command of Scripture; the indestructive principle of Sabbatic law and temple ritual. The recognition of God—the formal recognition of him by the people as Ruler, Saviour, and Portion—is the germinal moral principle of duty and religion.
“One place there is—beneath the burial sod,
Where all mankind are equalised by death;
Another place there is—the fane of God,
Where all are equal who draw living breath.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 23:10-13. Joash made King.
1. Presented in the temple.
2. Crowned with the diadem and testimony. “It is the first direct example of a coronation. The diadem, probably a band studded with jewels, was placed on his head by the high priest, and upon it the sacred ‘testimony,’ which, in the reign of Jehoshaphat, had been raised into new importance. It seemed like the intimation of a limitation to the king’s despotic power—an indication that he was not to be, like David, above, but beneath the law of his country” [Stanley].
3. Anointed with sacred oil. According to Hebrew text, 2 Kings 11:12, by people; to LXX. (of same), by Jehoiada; to 2 Chronicles 23:11, by Jehoiada and his sons.
4. Accepted by the nation. Trumpets and shouting, “God save, lit. Long live the king” (2 Chronicles 23:11). A form used among Continental nations, as the French “Vive le Roi.” “Our own form of loyal acclamation comes from the ritual of daily responses and of the ancient coronation service, ‘Domine, salvum fac Regem,’ which is taken from Psalms 19:9, as in Sept. and Vulgate Versions. Coverdale translation (1537) gives ‘God save the new kynge’; Geneva (1560) ‘God save the kynge.’ The Authorised Versions of 1539 and 1572 had ‘God send the kynge life’ ” [J. H. Blunt].
2 Chronicles 23:11. The crown and the testimony. Two important symbols. The crown the sign of power, and the law the sign of theocratic wisdom. “Finely are both the crown and the book presented to the king, that he might be not only mighty, but also wise, or (as we may say) know God’s word and right. Thus even now we make kings with a sword and book” [Luther].
2 Chronicles 23:12-15. Death of Athaliah.
1. By secret plot.
2. By agency of high priest.
3. By co-operation of the people.
4. As a righteous judgment. “This woman ruled viciously, selfishly, without regard to patriotic instinct or patriotic right, and having filled the cup of her iniquity, the people arose, and Athaliah was slain with the sword” [Parker]. Athaliah might well have written, as Mary Queen of Scots did in a window at Fotheringay Castle:—
“From the top of all my trust
Mishap hath laid me in the dust” [Trapp].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 23". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany