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.
Verse 1. - In the seventh year of Jehu. Athaliah began to reign very soon after the accession of Jehu (2 Kings 11:1), and reigned six full years (ver. 3). The first year of Joash was thus parallel with Jehu's seventh. Jehoash - or Joash, as he is called sometimes in Kings (2 Kings 11:2; 2 Kings 13:1, 10), and always in Chronicles - began to reign; and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem - the writer of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 24:1) and Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 9:8. § 4) agree - and his mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba. Josephus calls her "Sabia."
And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.
Verse 2. - And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him. So the Septuagint, the Vulgate, Luther, De Wette, Keil, Bahr, and our Revisers. Only Ewald and Thenius attempt to make the passage contradict Chronicles by translating, "Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days, because Jehoiada the priest had instructed him." But this translation is very forced and unnatural. The writer evidently intended to add a qualifying clause to his statement that Joash reigned well "all his days," but did not wish to draw too much attention to it.
But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.
Verse 3. - But the high places were not taken away. So it had been with the best of the previous kings of Judah, as Asa (1 Kings 15:14) and Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:43); and so it was with the other "good" kings (2 Kings 14:4; 2 Kings 15:4, 35) until the reign of Hezekiah, by whom the high places were removed (see below, 2 Kings 18:4). We must remember that it was Jehovah who was worshipped in the "high places," not Baal, or Moloch, or Ashtoreth (see the comment on 1 Kings 15:14). The people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. The people, not the king, in the earlier portion of his reign; but in the later portion, probably the king also (see 2 Chronicles 24:17, 18).
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,
Verses 4-16. - The repair of the temple. It is rather surprising that the temple had not been thoroughly repaired by Jehoiada during the long minority of Joash, when he must practically have had the sole management of affairs. Probably he did repair the worst of the damage done by Athaliah's orders (2 Chronicles 24:7), which may have been very considerable, but neglected the restoration of such portions of the edifice as appeared to him of secondary importance, as the walls of the courts and the outbuildings. Joash, however, when his minority came to an end, and he succeeded to the administration of the state, took a different view. To him the completion of the repairs seemed a pressing business. Probably he thought the honor of God required the entire obliteration of Athaliah's wicked proceedings, and the renewal of the temple's old glories. His six years' residence within the temple precincts may have also inspired him with a love of the building as a building. Verse 4. - And Jehoash said to the priests. The initiative of Joash is strongly marked, alike in Kings and Chronicles (2 Chronicles 24:4). The general weakness of his character, and want of vigor and decision, make it the more surprising that he should in this particular matter have shown himself capable of taking his own line and adhering to it (ver. 7). He has scarcely received from historians the credit that is due to him for his persistent and successful efforts to accomplish an object which was for the honor of religion, and which was yet not pressed forward by the priesthood. Certainly he was no mere puppet of the priestly order. All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the Lord; rather, all the money of the holy gifts that is brought into the house of the Lord; i.e. all that ye receive from the people in the way of money. This money accrued from three sources, which the king proceeded to enumerate. First, even the money of every one that passeth the account; i.e. the census money - the aggregate of the half-shekels received from the males of above twenty years old, whenever a census was taken (Exodus 30:12-16). The rendering, "current money," preferred by Thenius, Bahr, and our Revisers, is shown by Keil to be untenable. Secondly, the money that every man is set at; i.e. the redemption money, derived in part from the payments made for redeeming the firstborn (Numbers 18:15, 16); in part from the sums which the priests exacted from such as had vowed themselves (Leviticus 27:2-8), or those belonging to them, to God. And [thirdly] all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house of the Lord; i.e. all the free-will offerings that should be made in money by any of the Israelites.
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.
Verse 5. - Let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance. The money was to be gathered of "all Israel," out of all "the cities of Judah" (2 Chronicles 24:5). The priests of each locality were to be the collectors, and would therefore gather "of their acquaintance." As we cannot suppose that very much would accrue from either the first or second source, since a census was rarely taken, and personal vows were not very common, we must regard the command of Joash as, in the main, the authorization of a general collection throughout the kingdom of voluntary contributions towards the temple repairs, and so as analogous to the "letters" which our own sovereigns, or archbishops, issue from time to time for collections in churches for special objects. And let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found. The "breaches," or dilapidations, may have been caused, partly by the neglect of necessary repairs during the reigns of Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah; but they were mainly the result of the willful violence of Athaliah (2 Chronicles 24:7). Apparently, the damage done must have been very great.
But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house.
Verse 6. - But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of King Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house. No charge is made against the priests of malversation or embezzlement. They had simply been negligent. Probably very little money had come in; and they had not been very active in their endeavors to obtain larger contributions. It must be remembered that what went to the fabric fund would, for the most part, be a deduction from the ordinary revenue of the temple, which was not, perhaps, much in excess of the ordinary demands upon it. We can, therefore, quite understand that the king's policy would not be popular with the priests (see 2 Chronicles 24:5). Still, it is to be observed that they are not said to have executed no repairs, but only not to have "made haste" and completed their task by the time that the king looked for its completion.
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.
Verse 7. - Then King Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest. So, too, the writer of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 24:6). The king did not take the matter into his own hands, but consulted with the head of the priestly order on the best steps to take in order to expedite the repairs. He made no" charge," delivered no "rebuke." He did not "remove the administration of the funds from the hands of the delinquent order" (Stanley). On the contrary, he left it in their hands (vers. 9-11). Two changes only were made:
1. A public chest was set up conspicuously in the temple court, near the great altar, and the people were invited to bring their contributions to the temple, and hand them to the priests, who should straightway deposit them in the chest in the sight of the congregation.
2. The chest was opened from time to time, and the money counted, in the presence of the high priest and of a royal secretary. It was then delivered over to "the overseers of the house" - persons, probably, of the priestly order - appointed by Jehoiada (2 Kings 11:18), who disbursed it to the carpenters and masons (2 Kings 12:11, 12). The chest was a sort of tangible evidence to the people of the purpose to which their contributions would be applied, and naturally stimulated their giving. The presence of the king's officer at the counting of the money, was equivalent, not really to an "audit" (Stanley), but to a publication of the accounts, and would prevent any suspension of the work, so long as it was clear that the money found in the chest had not been expended. Thus a new impetus was given to the movement. The measures taken completely answered. Contributions flowed in rapidly, and in a few years the whole work was accomplished (see 2 Chronicles 24:13, 14). And the other priests, and said unto them, Why repair ye not the breaches of the house? This shows that no repairs were going on 'in the twenty-third year of Joash, but not that none had been done previously. Now therefore receive no more money of your acceptance. This was a revocation of the order given in ver. 5, and necessarily put an end to the local collections, which that order required. But deliver it for the breaches of the house. If the priests were not to "receive the money," they could not "deliver" it. Obscurity is introduced by the desire for extreme brevity. In point of fact, they were to "receive" (ver. 9), but in a new way.
And the priests consented to receive no more money of the people, neither to repair the breaches of the house.
Verse 8. - And the priests consented to receive no more money of the people - i.e., to put an end to the local collections ordered in ver. 5 - neither to repair the breaches of the house; i.e. neither to be responsible severally for laying out the money which they collected in repairs.
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.
Verse 9. - But Jehoiada the priest took a chest. The writer of Chronicles says, "At the king's commandment, they made a chest" (2 Chronicles 24:8). The suggestion was probably the king's, but the ecclesiastical and civil authorities worked harmoniously in the business. And bored a hole in the lid of it - as hundreds of thousands have done since his time - and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the Lord. The altar intended is, of course, the altar of burnt offering, which was in the court of the temple, directly opposite the porch. The chest was placed outside the sanctuary (2 Chronicles 24:8), and, indeed, outside the porch, on the right hand as one entered into the court by the north door. It was thus very conspicuous. And the priests that kept the door - i.e. the door of the court - put therein all the money that was brought into the house of the Lord. The priests received the money from those who offered, at the gate of the court, and, proceeding to the chest, dropped it in through the aperture. A man could not see that all which he had given was put in, but he reckoned on the good faith of the priest, and was satisfied.
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.
Verse 10. - And it was so, when they saw that there was much money in the chest. "When they saw" means "when they perceived." They would not see that the chest was becoming full, but would know by the weight, and perhaps by the sound which the money made when it was dropped in. That the king's scribe. "Royal secretaries" were common in ancient Persia, and often acted as the king's commissioners (Herod., 3:128; Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 8:6. § 16; 'AEcouom.,' 4:8). Such persons are seen on the Assyrian sculptured slabs, with a roll of paper or parchment in one hand, and a pen in the other, taking account for the king of the spoil brought in from foreign countries (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 86). And the high priest. Since the time of Joshua, the high priest had been called simply "the priest." The restoration of the full title (hae-cohen hag-gadol) marks the increasing power of the priests and the diminishing power of the kings under the later monarchy. Came up, and they put up in bags, and told, the money that was found in the house of the Lord. Money was ordinarily put up in bags, containing a certain definite amount, the mouth of the bag being then tied round with a string (see 2 Kings 5:23; and comp. Proverbs 7:20; Isaiah 46:6; Haggai 1:6). Hence putting money up in bags was sometimes called, as in this place, "binding it." No doubt they "told," or counted, the money first, and put it in the bags afterwards; but υ}στερον πρότερον ισ α very common figure of speech.
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,
Verse 11. - And they gave the money, being told - rather, after weighing it - into the hands of them that did the work, that had the oversight of the house of the Lord. It must be remembered that no coins existed as yet; and the lumps of silver which passed as shekels and half shekels, were of very uncertain weight. To know the value of the money in each bag, it was necessary, not only to count the pieces, but to weigh each bag separately. The bags, when weighed, were handed over by the high priest and the royal secretary to the officers whom Jehoiada had appointed (2 Kings 11:18) to have the general superintendence of the "house." And they laid it out to the carpenters and builders, that wrought upon the house of the Lord. The "paid it out" of our Revisers is better than "laid it out." The overseers of the temple paid over to the carpenters and the builders, from time to time, such money as was needed for the work done or doing.
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.
Verse 12. - And to masons; rather, to the masons. The "masons" (goderim) are the actual artisans who worked under instructions from the "builders." And hewers of stone - or, stone-cutters - rather, those who sawed up the stones on the spot, than those who hewed them in the quarries - and to buy timber and hewed stone to repair the breaches of the house of the Lord. The writer of Chronicles mentions "workers in iron and brass" (bronze) also (2 Chronicles 24:12). Probably, when once the work was taken thoroughly in hand, it was found that repairs of all sorts and kinds were needed. The temple had stood for a hundred and thirty-six years, and up to this time it had, so far as we know, undergone no repairs at all. Certainly none are mentioned. And for all that was laid out for the house to repair it. This general clause shows how wide were the powers of the overseers. The suspicions and jealousies which modern writers have imagined contrast remarkably with the general confidence and trust which seem to have prevailed among all those concerned in the repairs.
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:
Verse 13. - Howbeit there was not made for the house of the Lord bowls of silver, snuffers, basins, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money that was brought into the house of the Lord; i.e. while the repairs were incomplete, while the work was still going on, no portion of the money taken from the chest was expended in the purchase of new sacred vessels, whether of gold or silver, whether howls, or snuffers, or basins, or trumpets the whole was rigidly applied to the renovation of the temple building. There is no contradiction between this statement and that of the writer of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 24:14), who tells us that, after the entire repairs were completed, the surplus money was expended in this way, on the purchase of "vessels to minister and to offer, spoons, and vessels of gold and silver." We can well understand that, after the spoiling of the temple by successive kings to buy off enemies - by Rehoboam to content Shishak (1 Kings 14:26), by Asa to gratify Benhadad (1 Kings 15:18), and by Joash himself (ver. 18) to procure the retreat of Hazael from the siege of Jerusalem, the vessels of the temple must have required renovating almost as much as the fabric itself; and when it was found that there remained a surplus over and above all that was needed for building purposes, we cannot wonder that it was applied to the renewal of the vessels, absolutely essential as they were for the service of the sanctuary.
But they gave that to the workmen, and repaired therewith the house of the LORD.
Verse 14. - But they gave that - i.e., the whole money contributed - to the workmen - equivalent to "the carpenters, builders, masons, hewers of stone," etc., mentioned in vers. 11, 12 - and repaired therewith the house of the Lord; i.e. expended the money on the repairs.
Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully.
Verse 15. - Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen. Society rests upon faith and trust. In all business transactions confidence must be reposed in some one, whose character is the guarantee of his honesty. In the case before us, the overseers of the temple were the persons trusted to expend the money aright (see ver. 11). The overseers (2 Kings 11:18) had been appointed by the high priest. For they dealt faithfully; i.e. honestly.
The trespass money and sin money was not brought into the house of the LORD: it was the priests'.
Verse 16. - The trespass money. When a man had injured another, he was bound by the Law to make compensation to the injured party at the valuation of the priest, with the addition of one-fifth more than the value (Leviticus 6:2-6; Numbers 5:6-8). The compensation was, primarily, to be made to the man himself; secondarily, if he were dead, to his nearest kinsman; finally, if he had left no kinsman, to the priest. And sin money. According to the Law, the priest was entitled to no money with a sin offering; but it seems to have become customary to make the priest who offered it a voluntary gift, to compensate him for his trouble. Such free gifts the priest was by the Law (Numbers 5:10) entitled to receive. Was not brought into the house of the Lord - i.e. it was not deposited in the chest, or applied to the repairs, but - it was the priests'.
Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.
Verses 17, 18. - The war of Joash with Hazael. A considerable gap occurs between vers. 16 and 17. We learn from Chronicles some particulars of the interval. Not long after the completion of the repairs, Jehoiada, who had lived to a good old age in complete harmony with the monarch, expired. His piety, and his good services, as preserver of the house of David, as restorer of the temple-worship, and joint-repairer with Joash of the temple itself, were regarded as entitling him to extraordinary funeral honors; and by general consent he was interred within the city of Jerusalem, in the sepulchers of the kings (2 Chronicles 24:16). His removal led to a fresh religious revolution. "The Jewish aristocracy, who perhaps had never been free from the licentious and idolatrous taint introduced by Rehoboam and confirmed by Athaliah, and who may well have been galled by the new rise of the priestly order, presented themselves before Joash, and offered him the same obsequious homage that bad been paid by the young nobles to Rehoboam. He... feeling himself released from personal obligations by the death of his adopted father, threw himself into their hands. Athaliah was avenged almost upon the spot where she had been first seized by her enemies" (Stanley, 'Jewish Church,' vol. 2. p. 345). Joash began by allowing the reintroduction of idolatry and grove-worship (2 Chronicles 24:18), and then, when remonstrated with by Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, who had succeeded his father in the office of high priest, had the remonstrant set upon by the people and slain. The writer of Chronicles closely connects this murderous deed with the Syrian war, which followed it within a year (2 Chronicles 24:23), and was generally regarded as a Divine judgment. Verse 17. - Then Hazael King of Syria went up, and fought against Gath. Hitherto Judah had been safe from any attack on the part of Syria, since Israel had been interposed between the two powers. Now, however, that Hazael had conquered from Jehu the entire trans-Jordanic territory (2 Kings 10:33), the case was wholly altered - Judah and Syria had become conterminous along the line of the lower Jordan, and Syria could invade Judaea at any moment. It is surprising that Gath should have been the special object of attack, since Oath (Abu-Gheith) lay remote from the Syrian frontier, in the southwestern part of Judaea, and could only be reached from Syria by an enemy who was not afraid of leaving Jerusalem behind him. Gath, when last mentioned, was a Judaean city, and was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:8); but it was originally Philistine (1 Samuel 5:17), and the Philistines had recovered it before the time of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6). To which power it belonged when Hazael made war upon it is uncertain. And took it - probably took it by storm, and plundered it, but did not attempt an occupation - and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem. If Gath be Abu-Gheith, as appears probable, it would be distant from Jerusalem not less than forty miles in a direct line. If Hazael, however, was returning to the trans-Jordanic country taken from Israel, it would lie in his way, and might naturally tempt him to make a dash at it, more especially as he was flushed with victory.
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.
Verse 18. - And Jehoash King of Judah took all the hallowed things. The writer of Chronicles tells us that, first of all, there was a battle. "The army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the Lord delivered a very great host into their hand" (2 Chronicles 24:24). The loss was especially heavy among the nobles, who officered the Jewish army. Much plunder was taken by the visitors (2 Chronicles 24:23). Then, probably, the siege of the city was commenced, and Joash, like Rehoboam and Asa before him (1 Kings 14:26; 1 Kings 15:18), and Hezekiah subsequently (2 Kings 18:15, 16), had recourse to the temple treasures, and with them bought off the invader. It is noticeable that Athaliah had not deprived the temple of them previously. That Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated. Though Jehoram and Ahaziah apostatized so far as to maintain the Baal-worship in Jerusalem, and even to force attendance on it (2 Chronicles 21:11), yet they did not relinquish altogether the worship of Jehovah. That Jehoram called his son, Ahaziah, "possession of Jehovah," and Ahaziah one of his sons, Joash, "whom Jehovah supports," is indicative of this syncretism, which was common in ancient times, but against which pure Judaism made the strongest possible protest. And his own hallowed things - i.e., the gifts which he had himself made to the temple - and all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of the Lord. This was probably not much; but some "vessels of gold" had been made (2 Chronicles 24:14) out of the residue of the money subscribed for the repairs. And in the king's house. The royal palace had been plundered by the Arabs and Philistines combined in the reign of Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:16, 17); but in the thirty years that had since elapsed there had been time for fresh accumulations. And sent it to Hazael King of Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem. The personal presence of Hazael at the siege seems to be here implied, while 2 Chronicles 24:23 rather implies his absence. Perhaps he was absent at first, but joined the besiegers after a while.
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?
Verses 19-21. - The close of the reign of Joash - his murder by his servants. Again the narrative of Kings is to be supplemented by that of Chronicles. From Chronicles we learn that, before the withdrawal of the Syrians, Joash had fallen into a severe illness, which confined him to his apartment (2 Chronicles 24:25). This gave opportunity for conspiracy. Among the courtiers were two, perhaps more, whom the fate of Zechariah had grieved, and who were probably opposed to the entire series of later changes in religion which had been sanctioned by Joash (2 Chronicles 24:17, 18). These persons "made a conspiracy," which was successful, and "slew Joash on his bed" (2 Chronicles 24:25). They then buried him in Jerusalem, but "not in the sepulchers of the kings." Verse 19. - And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are they not written in the chronicles of the kings of Judah? This formal phrase, with which he concludes his account of almost every Jewish king (1 Kings 14:29; 1 Kings 15:7, 23; 1 Kings 22:45; 2 Kings 8:23; 2 Kings 14:18; 2 Kings 15:6, etc.), cannot be regarded as an acknowledgment by the author of any special or designed reticence with respect to the reign of Joash. We must suppose him unconscious of any such design. He had to omit much in every case; in the present he happened to omit all the darker shades; and the result was an over-favorable portraiture of the monarch. But, in the providence of God, complete historical justice was secured by the labors and researches of a second inspired writer.
And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla.
Verse 20. - And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy. By "his servants" officers of his household are probably intended, attendants whose position would give them ready access to his person. And slew Joash in the house of Millo. Joash had probably transferred his residence to "the house of Mille." - the great fortress built by David (2 Samuel 5:9) and Solomon (1 Kings 9:15, 24) in Jerusalem - for greater security during the siege; and, being there prostrated by sickness, could not remove from it when the siege was over. Which goeth down to Silla. No commentator has succeeded in explaining this passage. There is no other mention of Silla; and it is difficult to understand how a fortress could be said to "go down" to any place. Our Revisers' conjecture - "on the way that goeth down to Silla" - may be accepted as a possible explanation; but it implies that a word (בַּדֶּרֶך) has dropped out of the text.
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.
Verse 21. - For Jozachar the son of Shimeath; called in Chronicles "Zabad," probably through a corruption of the text. His mother, Shimeath, was, according to Chronicles (2 Chronicles 24:26), an Ammonitess. And Jehozabad the son of Shomer. For "Shomer" we have in Chronicles "Shim-rith," which is the feminine form of "Shomer," and we are told that she was a Moabitess. The Jews were at all times fond of taking wives from Moab and Ammon (Ruth 1:4; 1 Kings 11:1; Ezra 9:1, 2; Nehemiah 13:23), despite the prohibition of mixed marriages in the Law (see Deuteronomy 7:3). His servants, smote him, and he died (for their motives, see the introductory paragraph), and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David. Some critics (as Thenius and Dean Stanley) see a contradiction between this statement and that of 2 Chronicles 24:25, that he was "not buried in the sepulchers of the kings;" but, as Bertheau, Keil, and Bahr observe. "the two statements are not irreconcilable," since he may have been regarded as "buried with his fathers," if his grave was anywhere in Jerusalem, even though he was excluded from the royal burying-place. And Amaziah his son reigned in his stead. (For the reign of Amaziah, see 2 Kings 14:1-20.)