CRITICAL NOTES.] This chapter parallel with 2 Kings 12; gives same order of events with fresh matter and in different style. Joash's interest in religion under guidance of Jehoiada (2Ch ); forsakes the God of his fathers after death of Jehoiada (2Ch 24:15-22); distressed by Syrians and put to death by his servants (2Ch 24:23-27).
2Ch .—Zeal of Joash under influence of Jehoiada. Days, Jehoiada lived after accession of Joash twenty-three years (2Ki 12:6). Idolatry of king confined to last ten or fifteen years. 2Ch 24:3. Two wives, anxious to secure succession to throne, and limit licence which kings permitted themselves (1Ki 11:3; 2Ch 11:21; 2Ch 13:21). 2Ch 24:4. Repair, renew, strengthen. Levites hastened not, through limited funds or indifference (2Ch 24:5). 2Ch 24:6. Collection, tax assigned by law for tabernacle; half a shekel from every one (Exo 30:12-16; Exo 38:25). 2Ch 24:7. Sons, Ahaziah and elder brothers (2Ch 21:17), devoted to idolatry, and who carried out their mother's designs against temple. 2Ch 24:8. Chest, full particulars 2Ki 12:9. 2Ch 24:9. Collection, contributions flowed in after proclamation. 2Ch 24:10. End, until enough to complete restoration. 2Ch 24:12. Did work, overseers of work (2Ki 12:11). 2Ch 24:13. Perfected, lit. the healing (binding, cf. Neh 4:1; Jer 30:17) went up (was laid, Jer 8:22). State, lit. on its measure, original proportions Exo 30:32. 2Ch 24:14. To minister, refurnishing temple with utensils, &c.
2Ch .—Joash declines after the death of Jehoiada. This paragraph not in Kings. Full of days, not applied to many. Years unparalleled from Exodus downwards. Many dispute this age, others see no reason to do so. 2Ch 24:17. Obeisance, flattered the king, requested toleration for idolatry. Hearkened, yielded to them. 2Ch 24:19. Prophets, names not mentioned, except Zech., who warned of danger. 2Ch 24:20. Spirit came clothed. 2Ch 24:21. Conspired, they would inflame the king, urge him to extreme measures. Stones, the punishment for idolators (Lev 20:2). Court, between temple and altar (Mat 23:35). 2Ch 24:22. Said, dying words of Zech. utterance of prophetic doom.
2Ch .—Syrian invasion and death of J. End, turn of the year; time of such expeditions. Came, led by Hazael, whom Joash bribed to withdraw from siege (2Ki 12:18). Destroyed, a mere handful of men inflicted humiliating defeat upon collected force of Israel (2Ch 24:24). 2Ch 24:25. Departed, pressed on against Jerusalem after defeat of Joash's army, but retreated because enriched by gold of temple (2Ki 12:18). Diseases; plural of intensity, sore distress. Bed, where he lay sick. 2Ch 24:26. Zabad, Zachar perhaps originally, as letters are of like form; in Kings, Jozachar. Shim., Ki. Shomer. Mothers only given. 2Ch 24:27. Burdens, according to common usage in prophetic writings (2Ki 9:25; Isa 13:1; Lam 2:14) are denunciations of coming evils [Keil] (2Ch 24:19). Story (marg.), commentary, the memoir contained in state annals.
REGARD FOR GOD'S HOUSE.—2Ch
Remarkable that first movement should come from the king and not the priest to restore temple. Jehoiada had permitted it to remain unrepaired during the whole period of his regency. Now Joash, not regardless of the place which had given him shelter, displays zeal.
I. In repairing its physical Structure. "Mindful to repair (renew) the house," which was in decay. No right to permit dilapidations in God's house than in private property. We should keep it in repair, make it attractive and durable outside as well as inside. Many more concerned for their own than for God's house; build and adorn for themselves, but neglect God. "Is it time for you, O you, to dwell (at ease) in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?" (Hag ).
II. In urging others to interest themselves in this work. J. consulted officers, advised them to collect expenses from the cities, reproved the high priest, and urged all to diligence. "See that ye hasten the matter" (2Ch ). Too long had they been negligent. The honour of God and the interests of the nation demanded exertion. Shamefully remiss are many who ought to be awake and first. Let us be alive ourselves, and excite others to the work. "Nothing of worth or weight can be achieved with half a mind, with a faint heart, with a lame endeavour," says South.
III. In creating a fund to keep it in repair.
1. A tax was levied upon the people (2Ch ). Priests ordered to collect the three kinds of money (cf. 2 Kings 12), but were careless, and did not call upon the people, or people had little confidence in management of priests that they were reluctant to pay dues. What money was collected not applied to proper use. "The breeches of the house were not repaired."
2. A freewill offering box was provided. The general levy failed. A chest made, hole bored into lid, and placed at door to receive voluntary offerings of people. A separation thus made between money for repairs, "incidentals," and money for support of priests. This novel, touched the hearts of the people. Cheerfulness and sufficiency the result (2Ch ). Need of reform in management of Church finances. Great deficiency in serious consideration, conscientious liberality, enlightened system and Christian patriotism.
IV. In the lawful use of the fund thus created. Formerly money sadly misappropriated.
1. Duly audited by proper persons. The Levites took the box to "the king's scribe, and the high priest's officer came and emptied it," counted it, put it into bags, labelled and sealed as customary, and delivered them to overseers of building to pay workmen and buy necessary materials.
2. Thus nothing misappropriated. Nothing lost. Confidence in financial business. No account exacted, overseers honest, and surplus, after repairs, appropriated to purchase of temple furniture (2Ch ). This a type of apostolic method, an example to the Christian Church.
V. In the completion of the work begun. Many hindrances. Prevalence of idolatrous customs, official dilatoriness, failure of first plan, and lethargy of people. But work went on, priests ashamed, and consented to measures adopted. All difficulties finally overcome. "The work was perfected (healed), restored to beauty, set in its measure and proportion, and strengthened in durability and structure" (2Ch ).
The foregoing outline may suggest other thoughts. I. It is natural for the believing heart to regard the house of God. Its interests ever dear to the Christian. To him the temple is the house of bread—his Bethlehem; the centre of attraction, fellowship, and joy. It is instinctive for him to mind it, as it is natural for the hart to pant after the waterbrook, or doves to fly to their windows. II. When men pay due regard to God's house, they will provide for its interests. They build, and keep the fabric in repair; provide for sustenance of its agencies, and perpetuation of its worship; always and everywhere revere the place in which God is publicly worshipped. III. In thus providing for the interests of God's house, they promote the welfare of the nation. Both intimately connected. Associations of worship affect the education, culture, and morals of the community. Public worship is the secret power of the Church, the nurse of virtue in the nation.
NATIONAL RELAPSE INTO IDOLATRY.—2Ch
A great change after death of Jehoiada. Many took part in revolution which dethroned Athaliah and placed Joash on the throne, on political not religious grounds. Dislike to rule of a woman, a foreigner, without zeal for pure religion, hence relapse.
I. Beginning with the demands of the princes. "The princes of Judah" came to king (2Ch ). Worldly-minded, hating priestly power, and tired with thirty years' pure and simple worship, yearned for seductive rites of heathenism. They requested permission to worship in high places, not to be put to expensive and frequent journeys to Jerusalem. Advised the king to be more tolerant and less under priestly dominion. By unusual humility, framed a plausible and inoffensive petition, which was granted.
II. Encouraged by the concessions of the king. Flattered by their "obeisance to the king," he hearkened to them. Pleased and weak-minded, their requests were more agreeable than the dictates of Jehoiada used to be. Princes often flattered and drawn into ruin by those who promised liberty. George III., after his accession, reproved a high dignitary for fulsome adulation, and issued an order prohibiting any clergyman called to preach before him from paying compliments to him.
III. Protested against by the warnings of the prophet. Z., son of J., urged people from a prominent place not to transgress the commandments of the Lord. This would never prosper, but bring national disaster. Prompted by irresistible influence, he boldly protested against prevailing tendencies. But denunciations unpalatable to the king, roused fierce passions of multitude, and a band of miscreants, instigated by Joash, put him to death (cf. Mat ). But the death of the prophet not the destruction of his message.
IV. Punished in awful judgments upon the nation. The dying words, a prophetic doom of Z., fulfilled at end of the year. Syrians invaded the land, princes of people destroyed, and immense spoil sent to Damascus. How suggestive the words, "a small company of men" overcame "a very great host"! To men who estimate everything by great numbers and dazzling splendour, this would be a striking calamity. "Wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass."
THE DEATH OF JOASH.—2Ch
I. An end embittered by painful malady. "They left him in great diseases," which long confined him in bed. Plural of intensity, a severe malady. Charles IX. of France, author of Parisian massacre, died in great distress. Kingly dignity wards not off loathsome disease.
II. An end brought about by conspiracy. Not even permitted to die peaceably in his own bed. Perhaps in hope of recovery or escape, his own servants conspired against him. A punishment degrading, depriving death of mitigations and friendships.
III. An end considered as divine judgment. God smites wicked men in everything; end of one trouble beginning of another. The winds of divine judgments rise from every quarter, bend and break, and no escape from tempest. J. plagued with the Syrians and smitten with terrible disease, met with untimely death, and refused official honour in burial. The memory of the wicked doomed to perish. "Let him not be written with the righteous."
LIFE AND CHARACTER OF JOASH
The beginning well in outward actions and national government. But evident from the history that the rectitude of administration was owing to his preserver and tutor, not to his enlightened principles and sincere convictions.
I. The instability of his religion.
1. He was zealous for God under restraint. "Was minded to repair the house," in excitement and prosperity, but zeal died out. "When the sun went down the reflected brightness went with it."
2. He degenerated when that restraint was taken away. He depended upon wise counsel and piety of Jehoiada; when prop removed he fell. Had no root in himself, and left to his own resources, could not stand. Circumstances not principles made him what he was. When these changed he changed. His religion was temporary and superficial. He only "did right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest" (2Ch ).
II. The honour and disgrace of his reign. A mixed reign, marked with singular honour and stained with remarkable disgrace.
1. Honourable reforms. He rebuilt and restored temple. Established its order and worship, and thus removed national scandal. He reproved officers in their languid work, adopted efficient means to finish it, and at length the temple stood in grandeur and dignity in which it was left by ancestors, the glory of his own reign and administration of Jehoiada.
2. Disgraceful crimes. Like Nero, after death of his teacher Seneca, the philosopher, he was stained with crimes. He not only made shipwreck of faith, but in a period of ten years, the restorer of the temple became an idolator; the ward of Jehoiada was the murderer of his son. A reign under excellent guardians (like many in the middle ages and modern times, German Emperors Otto III. and Henry IV., in many respects Louis XIV. of France) at first, ended in humiliation and war. The memory of a king hopeful in beginnings stands marked with blood and the ways of Cain.
III. The disastrous end of his life. Complicated in deeds of violence. Horrid outrage on a prophet of God—base ingratitude to a family who had preserved his life—atrocious treatment of a true Hebrew prophet—illegal exercise of power and authority as king—some of his acts. Invasion and defeat, severe disease, and smitten while languishing on his bed, by his own servants. "But they buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings." The murderer of the son not permitted to sleep with that father whose memory he outrageously dishonoured. From this review learn—
1. The responsibility of those to whom care of young persons is entrusted.
2. Caution those yet under guardianship of friends and tutors.
3. The awful end of those who turn aside from hopeful beginnings.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2Ch . Under minority of Joash.
1. The king well trained and prepared for duty.
2. High priesthood increased in dignity. "Name ‘High Priest' not given to Aaron, Eli, or Zadok, given to him and his successors; regarded as second founder, and in after days described as chief" [Stanley].
3. Morality lax. National religion mixed with worship "in high places." Temple neglected, and money misappropriated.
2Ch . The alms chest. "It is a curiously circumstantial record of a church restoration fund belonging to a period 2,730 years distant from our own time, and perhaps in the lifetime of Homer" [Blunt].
2Ch . Jehoiada. As guardian-priest and patriot. Honoured in age, burial, and reputation, yet lacking in zeal and energy. Melancthon orthodox and learned, but accomplished no great reformation. Luther inferior in some respects, a man for his times and work, bold and zealous, and, under God, effected deliverance from Popery, and the Reformation.
2Ch . Murder of Zechariah 1. Horrid outrage on a prophet of the Lord. A sacred person, a Hebrew patriot.
2. An instance of base ingratitude. To a family who had preserved his life.
3. A deed of violence involving great criminality. Illegal and unjust exercise of power, bringing retribution upon king and nation. The last words, "The Lord require it," not vindictive (then a great contrast to those of Stephen, Act ), but a prophetic warning to Jews (Mat 23:35) in time of Jesus and to us. "The act produced a profound impression. It was a later Jewish tradition, but one which marks the popular feeling, that this crowning crime of the House of Judah took place on the Sabbath day, on the great Day of Atonement, and that its marks were never to be effaced. The sacredness of the person and of the place, the concurrent guilt of the whole nation—king, nobles, and people—the ingratitude of the chief instigator, the culmination of long tragedy of the House of Omri, the position which the story held in the Jewish canon, as the last great murder of the last Book of the Old Testament, all conspired to give it the peculiar significance with which it is recorded in the Gospels as closing the catalogue of unrighteous deaths, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah.… who was slain between the temple and the altar" [Stanley].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 24
2Ch . Hasten. "That I may be of the number of those that spend themselves with labour, and not of those who waste in rust and laziness. Lord! let me rather wear out in the work, than consume (like a garment laid by with moths) for want of use" [Swinnock's "Christian Man's Calling"]. "I like to be at my post, doing my duty; indifferent whether one set or another govern, provided they govern well" [Sir J. Moore].
2Ch . Money. We see here a distinct indication of a practice still followed in the East where large sums of money are concerned, as in the disbursements of the Government, and in the taxes and tributes paid to the Crown. The money in such cases is deposited in long narrow bags, each containing a certain sum, and carefully sealed with the official seal [Kitto]. In East in present time a bag of money passes (for some time at least) currently from hand to hand, under the authority of a banker's seal, without any examination of its contents [Burder].
2Ch . Left the house of the Lord. A man's conception of worship really reaches his life. Let him lose his reverence for the Bible, for God, for man, however much he may boast of it, will in that measure go down. The victory of the enemy will be easy and complete. It cannot be a fatal offence, it may be thought, to neglect the assembly of ourselves together at least occasionally, to regard other occasions of coming together as of equal importance with meetings in the Church. It cannot be wrong surely to elevate certain kinds of intellectual inquiry into a species of worship on the Lord's day; all these thoughts are most insidious, full of temptation, and when perverted, it is in innumerable cases not the lower that is lifted up, but the higher that is degraded or impoverished [Dr. Parker].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 24". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany