August 12, 2015.
Daily Reading: II Kings 11-15.
Background: II Kings 6-10.
Concepts and Connections.
Athaliah and Joash: After the assassination of Ahaziah by Jehu in chapter 9, the story picks up here with the mother of Ahaziah seeking to destroy the royal family and set herself up as the ruler of the nation. Fortunately, Ahaziah’s sister took one of his sons, Joash, and hid him from the queen mother, saving his life and preserving Davidic lineage for the throne of Judah. When the time came, Jehoiada the priest paved the way for Joash to assume the thrown that was rightfully his in the place of the queen mother. With this help, Joash was proclaimed king and Athaliah was brought out to be killed in the ranks, so that she would not die by the sword in the house of the Lord. When Joash was made king over Judah, the people rejoiced. Joash (also spelled Jehoash) began his reign at age seven, under the guidance of Jehoiada the priest.
Repairing the temple: In the previous chapter, we read how Joash was set up as king by Jehoiada the priest, and here we find that Jehoiada continued to guide Joash as he grew up (taking the throne at only age seven). At some point during his reign, Joash decided to commission the priests to make repairs to the temple. However, it seems that this commission was put on the back burner, and by the twenty-third year of his reign, no repairs had been made. Thus, Joash confronted the priests and essentially gave the job that he had commissioned to the priests over to professional workmen. This new plan, which seems to more aptly utilize the skill of the people, worked much better. Even the administration of funds and labor worked efficiently, as each man worked honestly, taking only their fair wage. Finally, repairs were actually being made to the house of the Lord as Joash had originally intended. When Hazael of Syria came up to fight against Jerusalem, Joash acted wisely, essentially paying him off, so that he returned to Syria and did not take Jerusalem. Though he acted to avoid conflict from the outside, Joash didn’t see the conspiracy that would lead to his assassination from amongst his own servants. Jozacar and Jehozabad struck him down and Amaziah his son reigned in his place.
1. Jehoahaz: At the beginning of this chapter, we learn a little bit about Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, who began to reign over Israel during the reign of Joash in Judah. Jehoahaz did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord continually gave Isreal into the hand of Hazael, kind of Syria, and Ben-Hadad, Hazael’s son after him. It is interesting to note that even in the midst of this evil, even when the people are far away from God, when Jehoahaz seeks the Lord in Israel’s oppression, the Lord sends a savior to deliver them out of the hand of the Syrians, at least for the time being. This is an example of the love of God being shown in the midst of evil. The people did not respond well, however, and continued to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and Syria continued to destroy them, just as had been prophesied in II Kings 8:10. After 17 years of reign, Jehoahaz died and his son Joash (also spelled Jehoash, not to be confused with the Joash of the previous chapter), began to reign in his place, doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord.
2. Joash and Elisha: Though Joash did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, at one point during his reign, he seeks out Elisha the prophet because of the distress that Syria is causing Israel. Elisha was sick to the point of death when Joash comes to see him, but regardless, Elisha intends to help Joash. With the shot of an arrow eastward, Elisha proclaims that the arrow of the Lord’s victory was over the Syrians, for He would given them into the hands of the Israelites. However, when Joash was told to strike the ground with the arrows, he only strikes three times. At this, Elisha gets upset with Joash, for he should have struck the ground more times, as the arrows represented the victory of the Lord. Because he only struck the ground three times, the Lord would only give victory into the hands of Israel three times. Joash indeed was able to gain victory over Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, three times. Elisha then dies, and they bury him, and as another man is being buried, in haste to get away from a marauding band, the dead man is thrown into the grave of Elisha, and is immediately revived when he touches the bones of Elisha. This could be a good indication of the double portion of Elijah’s spirit that had been given to Elisha when Elijah was taken into heaven (see II Kings 2). Joash, king of Israel, died and his son Jeroboam (Jeroboam II) reigns in his place.
1. Amaziah: Switching back to the narrative of the kings of Judah, Amaziah, the son of Joash (Joash of Judah, as described in chapters 11-12, not the Joash of Israel in the previous chapter), began to reign in Judah, and he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, at least to a degree. He put do death those who had killed his father, but he did not kill their sons, according to what was written in the book of the Law that the son should not bear the iniquity of the father (see Deuteronomy 24:16). As Amaziah gained confidence through his victories over the Edomites, he got over zealous and wanted to go up against Israel to fight against them. Jehoash, who was reigning in Israel at that time (see chapter 13), warned Amaziah to not be over confident and to simply rejoice in his victories against the Edomites, but Amaziah wouldn’t listen to Jehoash, but went to war with him anyway. Just as Jehoash had warned, Amaziah lost, was captured and Jehoash took the spoils of war from the house of the Lord and the king’s house in Jerusalem. As we read in the previous chapter, Jehoash would die, leaving Jeroboam his son to reign in his place, but Amaziah would live 15 years after the death of Jehoash. A conspiracy was made against him in Jerusalem, and he was killed in Lachish, the city to which he fled. Azariah his son reigned in his place, starting when he was 16 years old.
2. Jeroboam II: After the death of Joash (king of Israel, not the Joash of Judah), his son Jeroboam reigned in his place, and he would reign for 41 years, doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He lived up to his name, as he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin. It is important to note that even though Jeroboam was a wicked king, the Lord still had compassion on His people and saved them by the hand of Jeroboam. After Jeroboam died, Zechariah his son reigned in his place.
1. Succession of kings of Judah: Azariah (another name for Azariah is Uzziah) the son of Amaziah began to reign over Judah when he was 16 years old. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, at least to the extent that his father Amaziah had done, still not removing the high places where the people offered sacrifices (likely to other gods). The unique think about Azariah, however, was that he was a leper and had to live in a separate house (see Leviticus 13). His son Jotham was put in charge of his household and governing the people, and when Azariah died after reigning for 52 years, Jotham took over at the age of 25, and reigned for 16 years. He too did what was right in the sight of the Lord to the extent of his father and grandfather. The Lord began to send Syria against Judah during the days of Jotham. Jotham then died and Ahaz his son reigned in his place.
2. Succession of kings of Israel: A relatively quick succession of five kings of Israel are detailed in the middle of this chapter. The list begins with Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam, who would rule for 6 months. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and was assassinated by Shallum the son of Jabesh, who then reigned in his place (thus fulfilling the prophecy made to Jehu that his sons to the fourth generation would sit on the throne, see II Kings 10:30). Shallum would reign for one month before Menahem the son of Gadi would come and assassinate him to reign in his place. Menahem (from Tirzah) would also do what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He would reign for 10 years, bribing Assyria with a thousand talents of silver (exacted from the people) to leave the land alone. When he died, his son Pekahiah would reign in his place, ruling for two years all together. He too did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the captain of his guard, Pekah the son of Remaliah, conspired against him and killed him. Pekah began to reign in his place, ruling for 20 years, doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord. During Pekah’s reign, the Assyrians began to capture some land from Israel and take people captive. Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah, killed him and reigned in his place.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Proverbs 14-15.
It is good to learn about history.