2 Kings 12
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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 Beersheba.
Ch. 2 Kings 12:1-16. Joash reigns well but the high places are not removed. The house of the Lord is restored (2 Chronicles 24:1-14)

1. Jehoash began to reign, and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem] The R.V. puts the words into the usual order in these recitals, by placing ‘began’ before ‘Jehoash’ and ‘he reigned’ before ‘forty years’.

And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.
2. all his days] In the original there is a division here in the verse, and the pronoun which both A.V. and R.V. render ‘wherein’ should, as the text stands, be translated ‘because’. This statement that Jehoash did what was right all his days is opposed to the narrative in Chronicles. The LXX. appears not to have had ‘his’ in connexion with ‘days’, for the rendering is ‘he did what was right all the days during which Jehoiada instructed him’. The necessity for being consistent with Chronicles has led to the rendering of the relative by ‘wherein’.

But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.
3. But [R.V. Howbeit] the high places were not taken away] Worship having been permitted there before the temple was erected, it was difficult to draw the people away from them, as they would be nearer at hand than the one place set apart for sacrifice, viz. Jerusalem, and they would also have acquired a degree of consecration from long use.

And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD, even the money of every one that passeth the account, 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,
4. And Jehoash said to the priests] Even if we had not the definite statement which stands 2 Chronicles 24:7 of the depredations made on the temple by the sons of Athaliah, we can understand how under her rule the temple would be neglected and allowed to get out of repair. Hence the need which Jehoash recognised. It must have been some years after his accession when he gave these orders to the priests. At seven years old he would not be sensible of what was needed in such a matter.

All the money of the dedicated [R.V. hallowed] things] The change is to the rendering of the same word in verse 18 of this chapter. The money here spoken of is that which was given for the provision of vessels and implements for temple-service. Cf. 1 Kings 7:51 and the verses preceding.

even the money of every one that passeth the account] R.V. in current money. The R.V. is supported by the rendering of A.V. in Genesis 23:16 where the same participle is used as in this verse. We are not however to understand by ‘current’, money that was coined, which neither in Abraham’s time nor in Joash’s was in use among the Jews. They employed pieces of silver of varying weight, and the weighing was the mode of estimating its value. The translation of A.V. makes the word refer to the numbering which is described in Exodus 30:12, where the Israelites are directed to pay half a shekel each, as redemption money, on attaining the age of twenty years.

the money that every man is set at] R.V. the money of the persons for whom each man is rated. The literal rendering of the Hebrew is ‘each man the money of the souls of his estimation’. The allusion is to such vows, and the assessments connected with them, as are described in Leviticus 27:2-8, in the case of those who made special singular vows, e.g. of a Nazirite.

the money that cometh [R.V. that it cometh] into any man’s heart to bring] These were freewill offerings. Of the nature and occasions of such freewill offerings cf. Leviticus 22:18-23; Deuteronomy 16:10, with the parallel passages.

There are three kinds of offerings mentioned in the verse. (1) Current money offered for the provision of vessels and other things required for the temple. (2) The money which the priests were instructed to assess on those who had bound themselves by vows. (3) Voluntary gifts of which the appropriation was not prescribed. The offerings are said in Chronicles to be such as had been prescribed by Moses and by the congregation of Israel for the tabernacle of witness.

Let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance: and let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found.
5. let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance] This passage is not easy to understand until we have along with it the parallel account of the Chronicler. From 2 Kings it might be thought that the words of Jehoash applied to such offerings as were made at the temple, and then it would be hard to see what a man’s acquaintance had to do with such a matter. But in 2 Chron. we are told that the priests and Levites were bidden ‘to go out unto the cities of Judah and gather money of all Israel’. Hence nothing was more natural than that each should go among the people to whom he was best known, and from whom he would have the best chance of bringing in contributions, Josephus (Ant. IX. 8. 2) says that ‘the priests and Levites were sent through the whole land to ask half a shekel from each person for the furniture and restoration of the temple, which had been broken up by Joram and Athaliah and her sons’.

and let them repair] R.V. they shall repair. This is literal, and besides allows more emphasis to be given to the pronoun ‘they’ which is placed in a marked position in the original. The wish of the king at first was to put the whole matter in the charge of the priest.

the breaches] The Hebrew word, which the LXX. merely transliterates (βεδέκ), is found only in this chapter and 2 Kings 22:5, and in Ezekiel 27:9; Ezekiel 27:27. But in the last-mentioned passages it is used of the filling up, by calking, of the chinks in ships. Hence we can understand the sort of decay which had taken place in the temple-building. Years of neglect had allowed the walls to crumble and crack and similar damages to arise in every part.

But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house.
6. In the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash] By which time he must have attained the age of thirty and was able to act with decision. According to the Chronicler the first order had been, ‘See that ye hasten the matter. Howbeit the Levites hastened it not’. That account also makes Jehoiada more personally responsible than he is here represented to have been. ‘The king called for Jehoiada the chief, and said unto him, Why hast thou not required of the Levites to bring in out of Judah and out of Jerusalem the collection?’

the priests had not repaired the breaches] We are not told why this was so, though the king asked the question. They had evidently been receiving the money, for the king’s order in the next verse is ‘Take no more money’.

Then 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 deliver it for the breaches of the house.
7. Why repair ye not the breaches?] No answer is given to this question either here or in 2 Chronicles. There can be no doubt that with the decay of the house of the Lord, the decrease of the offerings had also taken place. The priests and Levites had perhaps found much difficulty in increasing the sums collected, and in apportioning what they received between their own maintenance and the restoration-fund. There seems to have been no blame attached to them by the king, and the explanation they offered, whatever it may have been, was so far satisfactory that the priests which kept the door of the house were placed in charge of the box that was provided for the offerings.

now therefore receive [R.V. take] no more money] The collection which had at first been ordered (2 Chronicles 24:5) was now to cease. There was to be no going round to gather, but public offerings were to be made beside the altar when the worshippers came to Jerusalem. This seems to be the true principle, and calculated in all cases to stimulate bounty towards good works.

And the priests consented to receive no more money of the people, neither to repair the breaches of the house.
8. the priests consented to receive no more money … neither to repair] R.V. that they should take no more money … neither repair. They had clearly found the work beyond them, and were glad to be relieved both of the collection and the laying out of the fund. This consent of theirs is not alluded to by the Chronicler.

But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, 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.
9. But Jehoiada the priest took a chest] The Chronicler says ‘At the king’s commandment they made a chest’. It is manifest that both king and priests were at one in changing the plan for raising a repair-fund. But it is not without interest to note that the narrative of Chronicles, which is assumed to bring the priest into prominence everywhere, here omits Jehoiada’s name from the story.

set it beside the altar] In Chronicles it is said to have been ‘set without at the gate of the house of the Lord’. The altar spoken of here is the brasen altar for burnt offerings which was outside the temple, in the court, before the porch of the temple. So the description in Chronicles appears to be a little less exact than in the verse before us. But the words which are added here ‘on the right side as one cometh into the house of the Lord’ may have given rise to the Chronicler’s more vague description ‘at the gate of the house of the Lord’. The account in Kings is to be preferred as drawn from some contemporary record and compiled earlier than the narrative in Chronicles.

all the money that was brought] In 2 Chronicles 24:9-10 we are told that when the chest was set ‘they made a proclamation through Judah and Jerusalem to bring in to the Lord the collection that Moses, the servant of God, laid upon Israel in the wilderness. And all the princes and all the people rejoiced, and brought in, and cast into the chest, until they had made an end’. While the money had been given by individuals at their homes, and with no united action, the preparations had languished. The new arrangement put life into the work. The givers saw that others were giving as well as they, and found that a sum was being gathered of which regular account was kept, so that there was now some hope that the work would be completed. Josephus exactly hits the feeling which would be created in this way when he says πολὺν ἄργυρον καὶ χρυσὸν φιλοτιμούμενοι καὶ συνεισφέροντες ἤθροισαν. The spirit of cooperation was invoked and the contributors saw that success was likely to attend what they were doing. Hence their zealous efforts. The history is not without its value in our own days.

And 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 up in bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the LORD.
10. when they saw that there was much money in the chest] They could tell this by lifting, and beside this the priests were eye-witnesses of the liberal contribution.

the king’s scribe] This was the royal secretary, through whom the king would be kept acquainted with the progress of the fund. It appears from 2 Chronicles 24:11 that the chest was carried unopened unto the king’s office by the Levites, and that the examination and disposal of the contents took place there.

the high priest] The Chronicler says ‘the high priest’s officer’. Josephus says the king was present at the opening. What is meant by these varying statements is that these two were always represented and that now and then no doubt both king and high priest were there in person.

came up] To the place whither the chest had been brought for examination and to be emptied.

put up in bags] The literal meaning ‘bound up’ is given on the margins of A.V. and R.V. The verb is used of putting money together in a packet (Deuteronomy 14:25). We must understand the proceeding to be in connexion with uncoined gold and silver. First it was tied up in some way into parcels, and then by weighing its value was found.

and told the money] i.e. As we should now say ‘counted’ it. But the total value was found by weighing. The old use of ‘tell’ for ‘count’ occurs several times in the O.T. ‘Cf. Psalm 147:4 ‘He telleth the number of the stars’. So Jeremiah 33:13, ‘The flocks pass under the hands of him that telleth them’. Compare Milton, L’Allegro 67,

‘And every shepherd tells his tale

Under the hawthorn in the dale’.

i.e. he counts the number of his sheep to see that none have been lost during the night.

And 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,
11. they gave the money, being told] R.V. that was weighed out. Here by employing a different word the writer makes plain what was meant by the previous ‘telling’ or ‘counting’. The Chronicler adds that when this was done, the chest was carried back to its place, and that they did this from day to day, i.e. from time to time, and gathered money in abundance.

into the hands of them that did the work] Explained by the following clause as ‘the overseers’, the chief men who had charge of the restoration. The priests and the king’s officer did not pay the workmen, but gave sums in gross over to the contractors.

and they laid [R.V. paid] it out to the carpenters and [R.V. and the] builders] Both nouns are defined, as are also ‘the masons and the hewers of stone’ in the next verse. R.V. inserts the article there also.

And 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 repair it.
12. and to buy timber and hewed stone] R.V. And for buying timber and hewn stone. The whole passage thus becomes, as the Hebrew makes it, dependent on the previous verb ‘they paid it out’, so that the overseers are represented as paying all wages and buying all materials.

Howbeit there were not made for the house of the LORD bowls of silver, snuffers, basons, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money that was brought into the house of the LORD:
13. Howbeit [R.V. But] there were not made for the house of the Lord] The compiler of Kings makes mention of certain vessels and implements which were not made at this time and from these contributions. Such were cups of silver, snuffers, basons, trumpets, and vessels of gold or vessels of silver, &c. as here recited. The Chronicler on the other hand dwells on such things as were made, and his list comprises ‘vessels to minister and to offer withal, and spoons, and vessels of gold and silver’. The one it will be seen says that vessels of gold and silver were made, the other that vessels of gold and silver were not made. But both writers are referring to the class of articles they have mentioned before. So of gold and silver there were not made cups, snuffers, basons &c., but vessels for ministration and spoons were made. They do not necessarily contradict each other.

bowls [R.V. cups] of silver] An attempt has been made in R.V., to give the same renderings to the same words in the enumeration of vessels for the temple. Hence the change here and 1 Kings 7:50 and Jeremiah 52:19. The Hebrew word is rendered ‘cup’ in Zechariah 12:2 by A.V., and on the margin of 2 Samuel 17:28. The word very frequently signifies ‘a threshold’. Hence the LXX. here has θύραι = doors.

But they gave that to the workmen, and repaired therewith the house of the LORD.
14. but [R.V. For] they gave that to the workmen] R.V. to them that did the work. The Hebrew expression is the same as in verse 11, and signifies the overseers, not the craftsmen.

Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully.
15. the men into whose hand they delivered] This must refer to certain treasurers into whose care each new chest full of offerings was entrusted. These were selected at first as being men who were sure to deal uprightly, and to them, without demanding any account, all was given over, and through their hands it was passed on to the overseers and contractors, and thus distributed to the workmen.

to be bestowed on workmen] R.V. to give to them that did the work. The same expression and with the same signification as in verses 11 and 14.

The trespass money and sin money was not brought into the house of the LORD: it was the priests'.
16. The trespass money] R.V. The money for the guilt offerings. ‘Guilt offering’ was adopted by R.V. in Leviticus 5:1-6 and throughout the law for the ‘trespass-offering’ of A.V., to accord with the verb and the adjective which are rendered in that leading passage ‘to be guilty’ and ‘guilty’. ‘Trespass money’ occurs nowhere else but in this verse.

sin money] R.V. the money for the sin-offering. On this see Leviticus 5:7-12. ‘Sin money’ is found nowhere else.

it was the priests’] See Leviticus 14:13. ‘For as the sin-offering is the priest’s, so is the trespass (R.V. guilt) offering’.

Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.
17–21. Hazael threatens to attack Jerusalem, but is bought off by Jehoash. A conspiracy is formed against Jehoash, and he is murdered (2 Chronicles 24:23-27)

17. Hazael] See chap. 2 Kings 8:8.

fought against Gath] Gath was one of the five great cities of the Philistines, though it is not clear whether at this time it was in the hands of Judah or of the Philistines. It lay almost directly west between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean. Before he came to Gath, Hazael must have made his way through the northern kingdom of Israel.

Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem] It is needful to mention here those events in the history of Judah which the Chronicler records before the story of the Syrian invasion, but which are not noticed in 2 Kings. Jehoiada the high priest died at the age of 130, and was buried with great honour among the kings of Judah. After that Jehoash, following the persuasions of the princes of Judah, fell away into idolatry, and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem. God sent them prophets but they gave no ear. Among others Zechariah the son of Jehoiada rebuked both king and people for their transgressions, and at the king’s commandment the people stoned him to death in the court of the house of the Lord. So Jehoash slew the son of his benefactor, and Zechariah when dying appealed to God against his countrymen and their king, saying, ‘The Lord look upon it and require it’. The Syrian expedition is evidently regarded by the Chronicler as a visitation from God for these sins of the land. But he gives us also some details which are required for the understanding of 2 Kings. It seems strange when we read here that Jehoash made the large sacrifices described in the next verse because Hazael had merely set his face (i.e. formed the design) to go up to Jerusalem. But when this is supplemented by the statement (2 Chronicles 24:23-24) that the host of Syria had come to Judah and Jerusalem, and had destroyed all the princes of the people, and had sent the spoil to the king of Damascus (i.e. Hazael), and also that a very great host of Judah had been conquered by a small company of Syrians, we are at no loss to understand the sacrifices which Jehoash made to buy off so formidable an enemy.

And 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.
18. hallowed things] See above on verse 4.

kings of Judah had dedicate] No doubt there were occasions in almost every reign when the king was able to give from his conquests some gift as a thankoffering to God for success. Hence the sacred treasures would come to be of great value.

and he went away from Jerusalem] Since Hazael is not mentioned by the Chronicler as present in this expedition, and the spoils are described as being sent away to him, we may conclude that what he is here said to have done was done by the hosts of Syria which he sent forth. In Chronicles, though nothing is said there about the way in which Jehoash bribed the Syrians to depart, we learn that for some reason or other they did depart without prosecuting the siege of Jerusalem.

And 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?
19. And [R.V. Now] the rest of the acts of Joash] Here and in the next verse the shorter form of the king’s name is introduced. Some of the acts of Joash have been noticed above on verse 17. The compiler of Kings seems to have thought it unnecessary to mention anything but the way in which the true heir was restored to the throne, and how in his days the temple was restored, the family of David and the service of Jehovah taking as it were new root at this time.

And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla.
20. And his servants arose] The Chronicler tells us that the Syrians left the king suffering from ‘great diseases’, perhaps from wounds received in some battle against the Syrians. He adds also that it was because of the blood ‘of the sons of Jehoiada’ that the conspiracy was formed against Joash. From which it would seem that not Zechariah only but the whole family of Jehoiada had been put to death by the ungrateful king.

slew Joash in the house of Millo] R.V. smote Joash at &c. We see from 2 Chronicles that the king was lying sick at this place. So it probably was some royal residence, or some part thereof. On ‘Millo’, the name of some part of the fortifications of Jerusalem, cf. 1 Kings 9:15. Perhaps the place indicated in this verse may have been part of that fortress. The ‘house of Millo’ is mentioned before this, in Jdg 9:6, but that passage has no connexion with this. The Hebrew ‘Beth-Millo’, translated ‘house of Millo’, may have been one proper name which we ought to retain without translation, as in so many other words formed with ‘Beth’ as a prefix.

which goeth down to Silla] R.V. on the way that goeth down to Silla. The LXX. and other versions take ‘Silla’ as a proper name, but we have no knowledge of it except from this place.

For 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.
21. For Jozachar [R.V. Jozacar] the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer] In 2 Chron. the names of the conspirators are given as ‘Zabad the son of Shimeath an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shemrith a Moabitess’. Between זבד Zabad and זכר Zacar, the abbreviated form of Jozacar, it is easy to see how a mistake might arise from the similarity of the Hebrew letters. The Chronicler who mentions the nationality of the mothers gives their names both in the feminine form. In Kings the last two letters from שׁמרית (Shemrith) have fallen out and so the name has become שׁמר (Shomer). Although these names are without doubt historical it is very remarkable (as Thenius points out) how when they are translated they recall Zechariah’s last words ‘The Lord look upon it and require it’. For they signify ‘Jehovah-remembers’, the son of ‘Hearer;’ and ‘Jehovah-gives’, the son of ‘Watcher’.

and they buried him with his fathers] i.e. In the city of David, but as the Chronicler records, not in the sepulchres of the kings. The words of the Chronicler about the ‘greatness of the burdens’ laid upon Jehoash refers to the many prophetic oracles which were uttered against him in consequence of his evil deeds. Cf. for that sense of the word ‘burden’ Isaiah 13:1, and many other passages of that prophet. On the margin R.V. in such cases, gives ‘oracle concerning’.

and Amaziah his son] The Chronicler (2 Chronicles 24:27) speaks of the ‘sons of Jehoash’; we know nothing however of any son but Amaziah, though it is said (2 Chronicles 24:3) ‘Jehoiada took for Jehoash two wives, and he begat sons and daughters’.

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