Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
In the three and twentieth year of Joash the son of Ahaziah king of Judah Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years.5. Jehoahaz and Jehoash of Israel, Elisha’s Death
1. The reign of Jehoahaz and his death (2Kings 13:1-9)
2. Jehoash King of Israel (2Kings 13:10-13)
3. Elisha and Joash (2Kings 13:14-19)
4. The death of Elisha (2Kings 13:20-21)
5. Hazael and his death (2Kings 13:22-25)
Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, reigned after the death of his father (2Kings 10:35) and here we learn that he also followed in the abominable worship which Jeroboam had instituted in Bethel and in Dan. The Lord delivered therefore Israel into the hands of Hazael of Syria and into his son’s hand. Jehoahaz prayed to the LORD and the LORD, so abundant in mercy, hearkened, for He saw the oppression of Israel, because the King of Syria oppressed them. Verses 5 and 6 form a parenthesis. The seventh verse tells of the havoc which the King of Syria had wrought among Israel. The prayer of Jehoahaz, though heard, was not fully answered at once. The parenthetic verses (5 and 6) must be looked upon as giving a summary of the entire history; God sent a saviour and yet they continued in their sins. Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, was the first one through whom a partial deliverance was wrought (verse 25) and the full deliverance came under the grandson Jeroboam II (2Kings 14:25-27). We have here a good illustration of how the Lord hears prayer and how in His sovereignty and all-wise purposes He may delay the answer for many years. It should be enough for God’s people to know that prayer is heard and to leave the answer with Him, who does all things well. And so Jehoahaz saw nothing but oppression (verse 22) though he had turned unto the LORD and had prayed. It was a trial of faith.
After his death his son Jehoash (also called Joash, distinguished from the King of Judah of the same name) reigned. There was no change for the better. Verses 10-13 are another brief summary giving briefly the character of his reign, his death and his successor.
The deathbed scene of Elisha and Joash’s visit follows. Over sixty years Elisha had been the prophet of God. The last we heard of this great man of God was when he sent his messenger to anoint Jehu. Forty-five years had passed and no ministry of Elisha is recorded. He was quite forgotten and neglected. The same was the case with Daniel in Babylon. When apostasy advances, the Lord’s true prophets are not wanted; they share the rejection of the Lord and His Truth. Joash then visited the dying prophet. From this we may gather that his abode was known and that Joash realized that Elisha’s death would be a great loss. He utters the same words which Elisha spoke when Elijah went to heaven. He wept and still his words were the words of unbelief, as if with Elisha’s death “the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof,” the protection and blessing for Israel would have an end. Then follows the symbolical shooting of the arrows and the smiting of the ground. Halfheartedly the unbelieving king enters into that which Elisha had made so plain. It was Joash’s lack of faith, indicated by smiting the ground but thrice, which made the complete victory over the Syrians impossible. Only “three times did Joash beat him (Hazael’s son Ben-hadad) and recovered the cities of Israel” (verse 25). If he had faith it would have been five and six times.
Elisha had died. A corpse about to be buried was hastily cast into the sepulchre of Elisha, where his bones rested. “And when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood up on his feet.” This final miracle bears a great and blessed testimony. Here an application must be made concerning Him who is foreshadowed in Elisha’s ministry of grace. It is by faith in Him who died that sinners receive life and are raised up from the dead. To touch Him in faith means to live. And Israel, moreover, is typically represented by the dead man and through Him who died for that nation, Israel is yet to live.