2 Chronicles 23
Pulpit Commentary
And in the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and took the captains of hundreds, Azariah the son of Jeroham, and Ishmael the son of Jehohanan, and Azariah the son of Obed, and Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri, into covenant with him.
Verse 1. - Jehoiada strengthened himself (see our note, 2 Chronicles 12:1; 2 Chronicles 13:7). He nerved himself with courage, and that courage which results from conviction of duty and of ripe time to achieve it. The captains of hundreds (or, centurions of the royal guards) are not mentioned in the parallel by name, but the significant mention there (2 Kings 11:5-7) of five detachments (three "third parts," plus "two parts" of another body) tally with the number five, who are here mentioned by name. The five detachments probably summed up a force of nominally five hundred. It is interesting to note how often high religious enterprises have been due to the trusting mutual co-operation of very few to begin with, and them awakened and led by one. Of no one of these five named here is anything known more to his honour than this - that his name is here recorded. It is said with the most perfect simplicity of even Hebrew language, that he took them with him in covenant.
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.
Verse 2. - No mention is made in the parallel of the Levites, whom our writer is sure to signalize. The fathers of Israel. The sacredness of the phrase made it dear, above the narrowness of the distinctive appellation Judah, though the worthies all were gathered, as just;implied, out of "Judah."
And all the congregation made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said unto them, Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the LORD hath said of the sons of David.
Verse 3. - All the congregation; i.e. all who have been mentioned in vers. 1 and 2; for so the parallel makes plain. Made a covenant. This was the second wider and more embracing covenant. This covenant is between all the gathered representatives and the young king, Jehoiada no doubt putting all things into shape. And he said unto them, Behold, the king's son shall reign. The he is Jehoiada, as of course. In view of the last clause of ver. 4 - in the parallel, "Jehoiada showed them the king's son " - the likelier rendering of our text here is, Behold the king's son; he shall reign, as, etc. As the Lord hath said of the sons of David (see 2 Chronicles 6:16; 2 Chronicles 7:18; 2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Kings 2:4; 1 Kings 9:5). The hereditary nature of the monarchy (2 Samuel 7.), pervaded ever by the spirit of the covenant, is evidently glanced at. It is probable that the existence of Joash was news to those to whom Jehoiada, as the parallel has it, "showed... the king's son," so that double significance lies in the word "showed."
This is the thing that ye shall do; A third part of you entering on the sabbath, of the priests and of the Levites, shall be porters of the doors;
Verse 4. - The first thing that is to be observed is the distinct and repeated mention of the Levites, as those on whom the critical and onerous service that came of Jehoiada's resolution was devolved, while the parallel does not so much as mention them. It may next be noted that our first and second verses state the part that "the captains of hundreds" were called to perform in collecting the requisite number of Levites from the provincial cities of Judah. And once more it may be noted that whereas, while we abide close by our own text alone, nothing in the description of our vers. 4-10 occasions material difficulty, even when the perplexity, which is considerable, does enter, on consulting and endeavouring to reconcile the parallel, it is with extreme probability due to our not making sufficient allowance for the fact that the matter of the two accounts does not so much offer itself for reconciliation as for concurrent acceptance. We have now to follow the description of our own text. Of you entering on the sabbath; i.e. of you who enter on your period of duty on such a sabbath. See ver. 8, the "men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that were to go out on the sabbath." This alludes, as the next clause definitely says, to the weekly courses of the Levites, as described in 1 Chronicles 9:25; 1 Chronicles 24; 1 Chronicles 25. - the incoming and outgoing companies. Porters of the doors; i.e. "keepers of the doors of the temple" (1 Chronicles 9:19). This may correspond with the middle clause of ver. 6 in the parallel.
And a third part shall be at the king's house; and a third part at the gate of the foundation: and all the people shall be in the courts of the house of the LORD.
Verse 5. - A third part... at the king's house. It seems impossible to refer this to the royal palace, as some suppose from ver. 19 in the parallel. It probably designates the place where the child had been living in concealment. This portion of the description appears to correspond with the last clause of ver. 5 in the parallel. At the gate of the foundation. The Hebrew text here is יְסוד (Exodus 29:12; Leviticus 4:7; Habakkuk 3:13); in the parallel סוּר, a name only found there, and unintelligible - probably a corruption of the other word. The gate of the foundation is supposed to have stood at that corner of the area which was strengthened by additional works, where was the ravine separating Moriah and the hill to the south. All the people. Evidently the miscellaneous outside people are not here intended, who were not entrusted with the secret and the surprise that was to be, but the same all the people as are unmistakably designated in ver. 10; i.e. all who were appointed to officiate. The last clause in each of vers. 5, 6, 7 in the parallel go strongly to confirm the position that" the king's house "so far does not intend the royal palace, but such part of the house of the Lord as had been, and then still was, "about the king" (ver. 7, parallel); in order to keep watch "about the king,' they were set to keep watch of a certain part of "the house of the Lord."
But let none come into the house of the LORD, save the priests, and they that minister of the Levites; they shall go in, for they are holy: but all the people shall keep the watch of the LORD.
Verse 6. - But let none come... save the priests. Through this little chink we get some light confirmatory of the concurrent jurisdiction of the account in the parallel The express caution of this clause shows that there were others about, and others officiating, beside the Levites, who only have been mentioned hitherto in our text, except under the most generic designation (as before, so again in last clause of this verse) of "all the people." The last clause of this verse may cover the contents of ver. 7 in the parallel. The distinction between "the courts of the house of the Lord" (ver. 5), and "the house of the Lord" (ver. 6) is, of course, quite apparent.
And the Levites shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand; and whosoever else cometh into the house, he shall be put to death: but be ye with the king when he cometh in, and when he goeth out.
Verse 7. - And the Levites shall compass the king. The matter of ver. 8 in the parallel suggests nothing inconsistent with the express mention of the Levites here, but rather that the word "Levites" is desiderated there, and its significance perhaps accidentally overlooked, when the writer of Kings was using the original authorities and sources of his history.
So the Levites and all Judah did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest had commanded, and took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that were to go out on the sabbath: for Jehoiada the priest dismissed not the courses.
Verse 8. - All Judah; i.e. all those of Judah's provincial cities who had been honoured with summons to join in this great and solemn enterprise. Dismissed not the courses; i.e. the provincial Levites cooperated with the regulars of Jerusalem.
Moreover Jehoiada the priest delivered to the captains of hundreds spears, and bucklers, and shields, that had been king David's, which were in the house of God.
Verse 9. - Shields... King David's ... in the house of God. Some think these may have been the shields of gold that King David took from the servants of Hadadezer (2 Samuel 8:7, 11).
And he set all the people, every man having his weapon in his hand, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the temple, along by the altar and the temple, by the king round about.
Verse 10. - All the people; i.e., again, all those, not being Levites and priests, who had been trusted to assist. The parallel (ver. 11) summarizes them under the name the guard. It may be just noted, in passing, that, while the Hebrew text has in both places "shoulder," i.e. for the "side" of this verse, and the "corner" of the parallel, the Revised Version has harmonized the rendering, electing the rendering side. From the right side of the temple to the left side. This is equivalent to saying, those composing the guard were placed on the south and north sides. Along by the altar. This was the altar of burnt offerings in front of the perch, and close by which the young "king stood at his pillar," or on his pedestal (ver. 13), the rows of the guard bristling with weapons before and behind and round about him.
Then they brought out the king's son, and put upon him the crown, and gave him the testimony, and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, God save the king.
Verse 11. - Then they brought out. The parallel (ver. 12) has, "he brought out," etc. The last clause of our verse harmonizes even this simple point, indicating that the "they" designates "Jehoiada and his sons;" of which group Jehoiada himself was, of course, the greatest part. It will be noted that it is not said from what exact place Joash was brought out. Put upon him the crown and... the testimony. It is quite unnecessary, at any rate, to suppose that the testimony, as well as the crown, was put on the head of Joash. It may be taken for granted that the testimony was put into his hands (Deuteronomy 17:18-20; Deuteronomy 31:24-29). If something new and so out of the way as resting the testimony (i.e. the book of the Law) on the head were purported, it is likely that a distincter point would have been made of it. God save the king! Hebrew, יחְיִ הַמֶּלֶך: "Let the king live!" (1 Samuel 10:24; 2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Kings 1:25, 31, 34, 39).
Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she came to the people into the house of the LORD:
Verse 12. - When Athaliah heard the noise. The parallel (2 Kings 11:13-16) shows only two differences of any noteworthiness, and these will come under notice next verse. The noise; Hebrew, the voice; i.e. no doubt the voices of the people. Praising. The Hebrew is the piel participle; our corresponding phrase would be, "singing out the praises of the king," i.e. not any personal praises, but such as the cries of "Long live the king!" or, as our Authorized Version has it, "God save the king I"
And she looked, and, behold, the king stood at his pillar at the entering in, and the princes and the trumpets by the king: and all the people of the land rejoiced, and sounded with trumpets, also the singers with instruments of musick, and such as taught to sing praise. Then Athaliah rent her clothes, and said, Treason, Treason.
Verse 13. - At his pillar (see note on ver. 10). At the entering in. The parallel (2 Kings 11:14) has "as the manner was" (ךשׂךשׁ כַּמִּשְׁפָּט בַּמָּבוא). The reading in the parallel is quite explainable by such references as 2 Kings 23:3; 2 Chronicles 34:31). Such as taught. Piel participle of יָדַע; the meaning here probably being not literally the teaching confraternity as such, but the leaders, and in particular those who were appointed on this occasion to lead. Treason! קֶשֶׁר; interesting references are 2 Samuel 15:12; 1 Kings 16:20; Isaiah 8:12; Jeremiah 11:9; Ezekiel 22:25. The idea of the word is conspiracy, and Athaliah's eye read this at once, and not less promptly, that it amounted to treason to her.
Then Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains of hundreds that were set over the host, and said unto them, Have her forth of the ranges: and whoso followeth her, let him be slain with the sword. For the priest said, Slay her not in the house of the LORD.
Verse 14. - Brought out, וַיּוצֵא, for "commanded" in the parallel, וַיְצּו; and this is probably right, the Hebrew in our text probably a clerical or copyist's error. The ranges; שְׂדֵרות. This word is found only in three other places, viz. twice in the parallel (its vers. 8, 15), Revised Version "ranks," and in 1 Kings 6:9, where it is rendered in the Authorized Version "the boards," but in the Revised Version "the planks," and margin "rows." The ranges are commonly supposed to mean the ranks or rows of soldiers. The Vulgate (septa templi) has understood them to mean the precincts of the temple. The indications of the remarkable but not uncommon prepositional expression, אֶל־מִבֵּית (enjoying the analogy of ether compounded prepositional expressions, as אֶל־מִחוּצ אֶל־מִגֶּגֶנ) favours the idea that Jehoiada said, Have her forth from inside "the house of the Lord" (ver. 12), to within your ranks, and there take care to make a way for her, no one with immature zeal following to slay her there, at the jeopardy of his own life, for under no case let her be slain in the house of the Lord.
So they laid hands on her; and when she was come to the entering of the horse gate by the king's house, they slew her there.
And Jehoiada made a covenant between him, and between all the people, and between the king, that they should be the LORD'S people.
Verse 16. - Between him. The Revised Version reads "himself," which is the evident meaning. The parallel leaves out, however, mention of Jehoiada as party to the covenant, viewing him rather as the promoter of it.
Then all the people went to the house of Baal, and brake it down, and brake his altars and his images in pieces, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars.
Verse 17. - The house of Baal. It becomes plain that some building had been actually reared alongside, so to say, of the very temple itself, for Baal. Slew Mattan (Deuteronomy 13:6, 9). Brake... his images; Hebrew, צְלָמָיו; this is the more pronounced word, distinguished from מַצְּבות.
Also Jehoiada appointed the offices of the house of the LORD by the hand of the priests the Levites, whom David had distributed in the house of the LORD, to offer the burnt offerings of the LORD, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was ordained by David.
Verse 18. - Jehoiada appointed; i.e. reappointed or restored. The offices; פְקֻדות. Numbers 3:32, 36; Numbers 4:16; Numbers 16:29; 1 Chronicles 23:11; 1 Chronicles 24:3, 19; 1 Chronicles 26:30; 2 Chronicles 17:14; 2 Chronicles 23:18; 2 Chronicles 24:11; 2 Chronicles 26:11; see also Psalm 109:8; Isaiah 10:3 (comp. Job 10:12). The priests. There should, no doubt, be found the conjunction "and" after this word and before "the Levites," whom David had distributed (so 1 Chronicles 24:1-19; 1 Chronicles 25:8-31). In the Law of Moses (Numbers 18:1-7; 38:2). With rejoicing... singing... David (1 Chronicles 23:5; 1 Chronicles 25:1, 2, 5-7; and our 2 Chronicles 29:25-30).
And he set the porters at the gates of the house of the LORD, that none which was unclean in any thing should enter in.
Verse 19. - The porters (1 Chronicles 26:1-12).
And he took the captains of hundreds, and the nobles, and the governors of the people, and all the people of the land, and brought down the king from the house of the LORD: and they came through the high gate into the king's house, and set the king upon the throne of the kingdom.
Verse 20. - The high gate. There is some doubt as to what this gate was, whether the temple gate of 2 Chronicles 27:3, the chief gate of the outer court, or whether it was merely a palace gate, and not identified also with the precincts of the temple. It is called in the parallel "the gate of the guard."

And all the people of the land rejoiced: and the city was quiet, after that they had slain Athaliah with the sword.
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