2 Chronicles 24
Pulpit Commentary
Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Zibiah of Beersheba.
Verse 1. - His mother's name... Zibiah of Beersheba. We do not read, in the brief account of Ahaziah, Joash's father, whom he married. Nothing is as yet known of Zibiah, but there must be some significance underlying the mention of her name and native place, or known place of residence. The references Amos 5:5 and Amos 8:14 may possibly contain the clue, in holding up Beersheba as the most idolatrous of idolatrous places. Beersheba offers another reference of unhappy associations (1 Samuel 8:2). As a terminus of the land, "Dan to Beersheba" (Judges 20:1; 2 Samuel 24:2; 1 Chronicles 21:2); as a terminus of the divided Judah, "Beersheba to Mount Ephraim" (2 Chronicles 19:4), "Geba to Beersheba" (2 Kings 23:8); and as a terminus of this Judah yet reduced after the Captivity, "Beersheba to the valley of Hinnom" (Nehemiah 11:30);-its mention is notorious. The references Genesis 21:31 and Genesis 26:18, 31-33 are full of interest, as bearing on the way in which the spot is first known in Bible history.
And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.
Verse 2. - All the days of Jehoiada. Of the "forty years" mentioned in the former verse, these "days of Jehoiada" will cover, some, at any rate, say, two years more than "twenty-two years;" for compare our vers. 6, 12-15 with the parallel, 2 Kings 12:6, 7, 9, noting the thenceforward silence there respecting Jehoiada, and even making ample allowance for it.
And Jehoiada took for him two wives; and he begat sons and daughters.
Verse 3. - That special note is made of Jehoiada's selecting of the wives may at any rate point to the suggestion that he was all a father to Joash, and both for his own sake and the kingdom's sake anxious as to the character of the women by whom a new kingly seed should take rise in place of that destroyed by Athaliah (2 Chronicles 22:10). Our 2 Chronicles 25:1 leaves it probable that "Jehoaden of Jerusalem" was one of these, though it is likely enough that Joash married, whether her or some one else, before he had reached the age of twenty-one. It is also quite likely that we may read between the lines, that in selecting two wives for his young and loved ward, Jehoiada hoped and prayed that Joash might not fall by sin like Solomon's (1 Kings 11:3) and that of others of the kings of both Judah and Israel.
And it came to pass after this, that Joash was minded to repair the house of the LORD.
Verse 4. - To repair. The idea of this verb (חָדַשׁ) is that of making new.
And he gathered together the priests and the Levites, and said to them, Go out unto the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year, and see that ye hasten the matter. Howbeit the Levites hastened it not.
Verse 5. - To repair. The idea of this verb (חָזַק) is that of making strong. From year to year. The compound adverbial expression חָדֵּי, here used for "from," era-braces the idea of" unfailingly from year to year." The command given here to the priests and Levites is expressed very differently, though in no degree contadictorily, in the parallel (see its vers. 4, 5). The addition is there found, "every man of his acquaintance;" this expression may glance at the very supposable circumstance that the priest and Levite collecting deputations would naturally go respectively to the towns and cities where they had been located beforetime. A slight ambiguity is perhaps occasioned by the impression that the fourth verse (in the parallel) produces - that the priests and Levites should wait to receive, e.g., in Jerusalem. This, however, is sot what is said, and need not, therefore, be made into a difficulty. Howbeit the Levites hastened not. We are not told why this delay was, nor does the subsequent narrative seem to elucidate it, further than this - that the delay somehow seemed to rest with Jehoiada, as the king appealed to him for explanation.
And 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, according to the commandment of Moses the servant of the LORD, and of the congregation of Israel, for the tabernacle of witness?
Verse 6. - Jehoiada the chief; so. priest, for comp. our ver. 11; 2 Chronicles 19:11; 2 Chronicles 26:20. In each of those instances the Hebrew text shows הָראשׁ, and the Authorized Version "chief" except inconsistently in our ver. 11. Revised Version "chief" in all the instances. The name "priest" occurs just about six hundred and sixty-six times in the Old Testament, the title "high" or "chief priest" only about twenty-six times, the first occurrence being in Leviticus 21:10, the last Zechariah 6:11; and both set forth by the Hebrew adjective גָּדול, as also in fifteen other of the occurrences. Seven times the word רלֺאשׁ is the word employed, and שָׂרֵיthe other two times. In these last two cases, however (Ezra 8:24, 29; Ezra 10:5), it is not "high priests" nor "chief priests" that are perhaps even really intended, but the "princes" of the priests, or those who, for whatever reasons of personal characteristics, were chief. Out of Judah and out of Jerusalem. The statement here is precise, that the call of money was to be made both in the cities of Judah and in the metropolis Jerusalem. The collection; Hebrew, מַשְׁאַת; Revised Version, better, the tax of, etc. Of this we read in Exodus 30:13-15; Exodus 38:25, 26; Numbers 1:30. It was of the uniform amount of half a sanctuary shekel, for rich or poor, and was ordered to be set apart "for the service of the tabernacle of the conregation," here called in the Authorized Version the tabernacle of witness; Revised Version, the tent of the testimony. Exodus has מועֵד for our חָעֵדוּת. This source of money for the holy design of Joash is again most specifically stated in our ver. 9. The version of this whole transaction seems rather confusing as given in the parallel, where ver. 4 mentions three sources of money, without any quotation as such of the ordained tax of Moses, which was apparently the first of those three, and where ver. 8, at first blush at any rate, might seem to imply recusant priests. The meaning, however, is probably the contrary, the verse purporting that the priests consented to forego what they had been accustomed on receiving to apply to some personal or current-funds purpose, and who consented to forego the superintending of the outlay of the money on. the repairing, that it might be done with more expedition by "scribe" and high priest" (ver. 10; comp. ver. 16; both of the parallel). All these details the writer of Chronicles passes over, only pursuing the essential business, Joash's pious resolve, the delay in its execution, and how he finally overcame the obstructive delay.
For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD did they bestow upon Baalim.
Verse 7. - The sons of Athaliah. This verse's testimony against Athaliah's sons explains 2 Chronicles 21:17, and is explained and corroborated by it. That wicked woman; Hebrew, הַמִּרְשַׁעַת; fem. noun, derivative of רַשַׁע; meaning strictly in the abstract, "the wickedness," equal to that incarnation of wickedness. All the dedicated things; i.e. the holy vessels, treasure, and holy furniture of the house of the Lord, had they desecrated, and robbed' them thence to squander them on their various Baals (2 Chronicles 17:3).
And at the king's commandment they made a chest, and set it without at the gate of the house of the LORD.
Verse 8. - A chest; Hebrew, אֲרון אֶחָד, "one chest." This is more accurately described in ver. 9 of the parallel. Without at the gate of the house of the Lord; i.e. in the court opposite the porch, and, as we learn from the parallel, by the side of the altar of burnt offering. Now, not the priests generally, but simply those who kept the door (probably the north door, Ezekiel 11:35), receiving the contributions of the people at their hands, into their own hands deposited them in the one chest.
And 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.
Verse 9. - (See notes on ver. 6.)
And all the princes and all the people rejoiced, and brought in, and cast into the chest, until they had made an end.
Verse 10. - Until they had made an end; Hebrew, לְכִּלֵּה, piel infin. The meaning can scarcely be till enough was obtained, because day after day, as the next verso tells us, the chest was brought; but either till those who had come that day to give had all given in their contributions, or, as some think with much less probability, till the chest was full for the day. At the same time, the clause, occupying only one word in the original, may quite possibly purport to state summarily by anticipation that the same system was observed to the end, and the method of the chest not departed from.
Now it came to pass, that at what time the chest was brought unto the king's office by the hand of the Levites, and when they saw that there was much money, the king's scribe and the high priest's officer came and emptied the chest, and took it, and carried it to his place again. Thus they did day by day, and gathered money in abundance.
Verse 11. - Unto the king's office. Not "office" in the modern technical business sense; the meaning is the care, charge, or custody of the king, the Hebrew word being פְקֻדַּת; nor does this necessitate the supposition of the personal care of the king. The body of this verse leaves it quite open to possibility, in harmony with the usage of the Hebrew language and its idiom, that the process described took place, if necessary, more than once in a day, and, on the other hand, not necessarily every evening. The change of the number of the verb in "they emptied," etc., and the apparent statement that those who emptied also carried back the chest, betoken that while the king's scribe (1 Kings 4:3) and the high priest's officer stood by, the usual Levite functionaries did the work. The phrase, day by day, is not necessarily equivalent to every evening, but to time after time.
And the king and Jehoiada gave it to such as did the work of the service of the house of the LORD, and hired masons and carpenters to repair the house of the LORD, and also such as wrought iron and brass to mend the house of the LORD.
Verse 12. - Gave it to such as did the work of the service; i.e. the persons responsible for the work, or "that had the oversight of it" (2 Kings 12:11). Carpenters. It is preferable to render here literally workmen or workers. Probably this clause purports that those responsible, as above, hired masons and workmen. And also such as wrought. Supply the preposition found in the Hebrew text, "to" before "such," and render again the same word (חָרָשֵׁי) literally, workers of iron and brass.
So the workmen wrought, and the work was perfected by them, and they set the house of God in his state, and strengthened it.
Verse 13. - The work was perfected by their hands. The margin gives the literal rendering, "healing" or health, or, i.e., recovery, "went up upon the work." The lively figure of the Hebrew word used (אֲרוּכָה) is very intelligible. The term is employed in only five other places, viz. Nehemiah 4:7 (Authorized Version, "The walls were made up;" Revised Version better, The repairing of the walls went forward); Isaiah 58:8; Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 30:17; Jeremiah 33:6; in each of which four instances, in both Authorized Version and Revised Version, the literal rendering "health" or "healing" is found. In his state; equivalent to in its stateliness, perhaps the idea of the Hebrew word מַתְכֻּנְהּו [only used four other times, and then rendered once "tale" (Exodus 5:8), twice "composition" (2 Chronicles 30:32, 37), once "measure" (Ezekiel 45:11)], being measure, or proportion, or rate.
And when they had finished it, they brought the rest of the money before the king and Jehoiada, whereof were made vessels for the house of the LORD, even vessels to minister, and to offer withal, and spoons, and vessels of gold and silver. And they offered burnt offerings in the house of the LORD continually all the days of Jehoiada.
Verse 14. - And to offer withal. The insertion of the italic type in the Authorized Version "withal" unnecessarily helps suggest uncertainty in this rendering, while the Revised Version gives that word in the ordinary type; margin, both Authorized Version and Revised Version, gives "pestles." The Hebrew word is (הַעֲלות) the hiph. turin, of the familiar verb עָלָה or plural of עֲלי with article prefixed; this word, however, seems to occur only once (Proverbs 27:22), and then in the singular number. The rest of the money... made vessels for the house of the Lord. This passage may harmonize not unsatisfactorily with the parallel (2 Kings 12:13), and on the very suggestion of the circumstantial evidence that arises from the place in which the information of our own text is found, by laying emphasis on the expression,."the rest of the money." The writer of Kings meant that nothing interfered with, nothing whatsoever ran even with the execution of the substantial work of reparation of the building, and he neglects to record that finally a remanet of money being available, vessels were made of it for the inner furnishing of the house.
But Jehoiada waxed old, and was full of days when he died; an hundred and thirty years old was he when he died.
Verse 15. - But Jehoiada... died; an hundred and thirty years old. This good man, husband of Jehoram's daughter (2 Chronicles 22:11), only comes to view in virtue of what his wife did, and what he did,; on behalf of Joash the infant and Joash the king for the good of the nation or kingdom of Judah. We seem to know too little of him, and the parallel supplies considerably less than our text in Chronicles. His age, as stated in this verse when he died, seems very improbable, and for a very clear and admirable putting of the case, see Lord Arthur C. Hervey's article in Dr. Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 1:944. There is, however, no manifest or even suspicious symptom of corruptness in the text just here, supported as it is by the Septuagint and Josephus, by the stress laid on his old age, whether it showed a hundred and thirty years, or thirty years or fifty years (as have been variously suggested) fewer; the little fact, otherwise looking very significant, that the expression, full of days, is used beside only of Abraham, Isaac, Job, and David, loses its pertinence in that very circumstance that it is used of David, whose age was in no way extreme. The age of the other three, however, exceeded this reputed age given to Jehoiada!
And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house.
Verse 16. - The honour done Jehoiada well belonged to him, not only for his goodness, his greatness, his practical services to the kingdom, but for the fact that those practical services had entailed the necessity of his standing in loco regis for some time. His royal alliance with Jeheram's daughter, and, if it were so, his extreme patriarchal age, may all have contributed to the honour now put upon him. Little stress can be laid, however, upon this last consideration, failing any other allusion to it, or any emphasized statement of what we have in our ver. 15.
Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them.
Verse 17. - The princes. These turned aside from the better part they had performed (2 Chronicles 23:13, 20). Made obeisance; Hebrew, יִשְׁתַּחֲווּ. This is the word that is used of the sheaves of the brethren of Joseph bowing down, according to his dream, to his sheaf; it is also the repeatedly used word of the worship paid to Jehovah the true God, and to idols and false gods. The word occurs nearly two hundred times. The obeisance of these princes, therefore, on this occasion lacked nothing of the most pronounced character, and the worst species of flattery gained its disastrous ends. Joash must have been now about thirty-six years of age; he was seven years old when he began to reign, he had reigned twenty-three years before the restoring of the temple (2 Kings 12:6), and a few years had elapsed since. The words of the princes, to which Joash hearkened, are not supplied by the parallel, which indeed at once proceeds to speak of the threatening attitude of the Syrian king Hazael, and of how Joash bought him off. Our next verse, however, shows to what end those words tended.
And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.
Verse 18. - Served groves; Revised Version, the Asherim, correctly (see note, 2 Chronicles 14:3). For this their trespass. Comparing the emphatic language of ver. 23," destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people," we may conclude that stress is to be laid on the pronoun "their" in the present verse. The worship of the true God was not left by the whole people, and we are not told it was by the king; but (very probably through want of moral courage) he incurred the severest sort of blame, and was without even the excuse of strong personal temptation.
Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear.
Verse 19. - Prophets. The name of only one, Zechariah, as in next verse, is given (see by the side of this verse the emphatic and touching language of 2 Chronicles 36:14-16).
And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you.
Verse 20. - Came upon; margin, clothed; Revised Version margin, clothed itself with (1 Chronicles 12:18). Compare the beautiful expression of Revelation 1:10, I was in the Spirit;" it was not merely that the Spirit deigned to visit St. John in Patmos, but so possessed him that he was in the Spirit. The son of Jehoiada; i.e. very possibly grandson of Jehoiada (Jehoiada's great age the rather countenancing this interpretation) and "son of Barachias" (Matthew 23:35). That ye cannot prosper. The Hebrew text says, "and ye will not prosper." This clause may read all the more forcibly if kept under the dominance of the why of the former, reminding us of such appeals as "Why will ye die?" etc. (2 Chronicles 15:2; Deuteronomy 18, throughout). Reading these two clauses in the preterite or present tense will make them neither less forcible nor less correct, so indicating that they, the princes and the nation, were already beginning to eat the fruit of their ways, and "rumours of war," if not war itself, were on them.
And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD.
Verse 21. - Stoned him. Yet this was their Law's punishment for themselves, for idolaters (Leviticus 20:2). At the commandment of the king. The king, who had yielded to the flattering obeisance and worship of the princes, is now driven on a grievous length further. In the court of the house of the Lord. So Matthew 23:35, "between the temple [Revised Version, 'sanctuary'] and the altar."
Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it.
Verse 22. - Remembered not the kindness (Genesis 40:23). The Lord look upon it, and require it. So, too, the Revised Version, which also, according to its custom, removes the italic type from the two neuter pronouns "it." But probabaly a better and correcter rendering is, "The Lord will see and will require" (for it is not necessary to regard this as a prayer of Zechariah); and thus bring it into comparison with those divinest prayers of the Saviour and of St. Stephen. The words on dying Zechariah's lips were perhaps rather the vivid reminiscence of his own well-versed knowledge of the Law, or "the Scriptures" (Genesis 9:5; Genesis 42:22). The sentence of the dying priest and prophet in one, is, by the writer of Chronicles at any rate, directed in its fall with fearful straightness to the door of Joash the king himself. Remarkable as is the absence of the matter of this and the five preceding verses from the parallel, it will not escape notice how it is implied in vers. 17,18 there, while the inclusion of it here is again in patent harmony with the great object of the writer.
And it came to pass at the end of the year, that the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus.
Verse 23. - At the end of the year; Hebrew, תְּקוּפַת; margin, both of the Authorized Version and the Revised Version, revolution. The word is found three other times, Exodus 34:22; 1 Samuel 1:20; Psalm 19:7. The versions, of course, express correctly what is meant, but probably the season of spring is also conveyed (2 Samuel 11:1; 1 Chronicles 20:1). The host of Syria. Their king was Hazael (2 Kings 12:17), whether actually with them is perhaps not certain, but the last clause in the verse just quoted would seem to convey that impression. He was King of Damascus (Aram, or Syria), and having already temporarily mastered Israel (2 Kings 13:3, 4, 22), the way was paved to Gath (2 Chronicles 11:8; 2 Chronicles 17:11), whence wistful eyes were bent on Jerusalem, nearly thirty miles distant thence. Destroyed all the princes of the people; i.e. as in the next verse. And sent all the spoil. Whether intended so here or not, probably the strict subject of the verb in this clause is Joash and his counsellors (ver. 18 in parallel), in their fright - and just fright - helpless after the slaughter chronicled in our following verse, bribing off Hazael and his host, as in parallel. The suggestion is most plausible that tidings of Zechariah's martyrdom and of the occasion of it were the very incentive to Hazael's incursion, and an illustration of the "means" by which God works, and by which he wrought his purpose in this instance. The spoil of them. If this means only the spoil of the defeated army strictly, then our text gives no trace of the contents of ver. 18 in parallel just alluded to; but the frequent dislocation incident to copied extracts and matter borrowed from original sources, and so often evidenced in the present history, when we have been comparing the two derived accounts to which we are indebted for it, incline us to the above view, as one quite open at any rate to possibility.
For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the LORD delivered a very great host into their hand, because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash.
Verse 24. - Came with a small company... the Lord delivered a very great host (so Leviticus 26:8; Deuteronomy 28:25, etc.). So they executed judgment against Joash. The Hebrew says literally, "and on Joash they executed judgments." What the judgments were we do not read, but surely it is probable that they are glanced at in the next verse, "For they left him in great [or, 'many'] diseases," or perhaps "in great illness" (2 Chronicles 21:15).
And when they were departed from him, (for they left him in great diseases,) his own servants conspired against him for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he died: and they buried him in the city of David, but they buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings.
Verse 25. - They left him in great diseases. See note above, and observe further that this parenthetic clause, as treated in both Authorized Version and Revised Version, prepares the way for what follows, and especially for the fact that it was on his bed that they slew him. Render thus, And after they had betaken themselves away, whereas they left him sorely ill, his own servants conspired... and slew him in his bed. His own servants. These had the opportunity the rather at hand, in that he was so ill and in bed. That he died by the conspiring together of a couple of servants, whose foreign and heathen maternity is particularly recorded, was the more ignominious end for him, who had commanded Zechariah to be openly stoned - a death highly honourable in comparison. The parallel (2 Kings 12:20) adds that it was in "the house of Mille, which goeth down to Silla" (for the explanation of which passage, see note ad loc.), that the servants' conspiracy to kill Joash took effect. The sons of Jehoiada. We know of only one son, Zechariah; there may have been other sons, or other lineal relations of Jehoiada may be covered by the word "sons." We are not obliged to interpret the avenging act of the servants as one to which their own pious and patriotic zeal led them, which, considering their maternal pedigree, is perhaps something unlikely, though of course not impossible, but one to which they were incited by the retributive providence of him who held their hearts also in his hand. In a word, it was a deed done for the bleed - required (see note and references under ver. 22). Not in the sepulchres of the kings. See note on ver. 16, and references there quoted; as also the ambiguous expression of the parallel (ver. 21), "They buried him with his fathers in the city of David."
And these are they that conspired against him; Zabad the son of Shimeath an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith a Moabitess.
Verse 26. - Zabad. The name Jozachar of the parallel is probably the correct word, and a copyist's corruption may with some plausibility be argued as the cause of the form Zabad in our text. The parallel omits the names of the mothers' nationality. Shimrith. The parallel has Shomer, probably an Hebraized form of the Moabitish name of our text.
Now concerning his sons, and the greatness of the burdens laid upon him, and the repairing of the house of God, behold, they are written in the story of the book of the kings. And Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.
Verse 27. - His sons. We only know of one, Amaziah, his successor. The burdens laid upon him. Some explain this expression of the tribute and bribe Joash had to pay Hazael; others of prophetic "burdens" uttered against him; and others (much favoured by the position of the clause just before the repairing of the house, etc.) of the task which he had so voluntarily undertaken, the money-raising and all (Ezekiel 24:25; comp. our vers. 6, 9, 11). The repairing; Hebrew, וִיסור. Render, with the Revised Version, the rebuilding. The story of the book of the kings. The Revised Version renders the Hebrew text (מִדְּרַשׁ סֵפֶר) "the commentary of the book of the kings," probably to be followed by the words, "of Judah;" the parallel has "the book of the Chronicles [סִפֶד דִּבְרֵי הַיָמִים] of the kings of Judah" (see our Introduction, 1 Chronicles, § 5, pp. 7-10.). The word rendered "story" or "commentary" in our text is employed only once beside (2 Chronicles 13:22). Its verbal root, however, is found about a hundred and sixty-two times, invariably in the sense of inquiring, and almost invariably rendered in the Authorized Version by the word "inquire," or "seek;" so that perhaps the word "study" or "pursuit" might, idioms being allowed for, be the nearer rendering. It is rabbinic literature mostly that has determined the preference for the word "commentary."

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