PROMISE AND PRIVILEGE CAN QUICKLY DEGENERATE INTO APOSTASY WHEN WE REJECT GOD’S WORD AND FOLLOW WORLDLY COUNSEL
Andrew Hill: The Chronicler features the reigns of three kings following the execution of the usurper Athaliah: the child-king Joash, his son and successor Amaziah, and son and successor Uzziah (also known as Azariah, 2 Kings 15:1). The narrative continues a pattern introduced with King Jehoram, that of framing each royal record with an opening and closing regnal resume. Typically, the opening resume consists of formulaic expressions containing basic information: the accession age, the length and place of reign, the identification of the queen mother, and a theological review. Likewise, the closing resume usually includes a citation of source formula, a succession formula, and a notice of death and burial formula. . .
Theme and structure are intertwined in this section. The pattern of early success contrasted with later failure ties the records of Joash, Amaziah, and Uzziah as a literary unit. This is in keeping with the Chronicler’s keen interest in the theology of divine retribution, especially the immediate impact of reward and punishment in the king’s reign. Thus, each royal record consists of two parts: a rehearsal of blessing and prosperity as a result of the king’s obedience to God, followed by a report of his apostasy and its detrimental religious and political consequences. This motif is not new, as the same literary pattern characterized Rehoboam (chs. 11-12) and Asa (chs. 14-16). But sadly, something has changed in these royal reports, as Selman carefully observes: “Positive balancing factors at the end of these reigns are no longer to be found.”
Iain Duguid: How did a temple restorer become a prophet killer? Kings introduces Joash’s reign by stating, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him,” but immediately modifies the positive assessment by stating that high places continued (2 Kings 12:2–3). Kings tells of temple restoration but concludes with details of submission to Syria and assassination. The Chronicler seeks to clarify by omitting 2 Kings 12:3 and by recounting Joash’s actions centering on the renewal of the temple and its utensils “all the days of Jehoiada the priest” (2 Chron. 24:1–16); he then provides a theological rationale for the reversals as being “after the death of Jehoiada,” when the king and the “princes of Judah . . . abandoned the house of the Lord,” rejecting prophetic warnings—with disastrous consequences (vv. 17–27).
A clear contrast is seen between the period when Joash was under Jehoiada’s mature, faithful oversight, with its temple restoration, and his later listening to “the princes of Judah,” resulting in their serving “the Asherim and the idols” (v. 18). Only after persistent rejection of “prophets,” culminating in the killing of Zechariah, was retributive judgment evident. . .
The two halves of the chapter are tied together by the contrasting burials of Jehoiada the priest and of Joash the king (vv. 15–16, 25). The priest was honored like a king because he had done what the king ultimately failed to do: “He had done good in Israel, and toward God and his house” (v. 16).
(:1-3) PROLOGUE – OPENING SUMMARY OF REIGN OF JOASH
A. (:1a) Age and Duration of His Reign
“Joash was seven years old when he became king,
and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem;”
B. (:1b) Identification of His Mother
“and his mother’s name was Zibiah from Beersheba.”
C. (:2) Moral Evaluation
“And Joash did what was right in the sight of the LORD
all the days of Jehoiada the priest.”
Raymond Dillard: The Chronicler has divided the reign of Joash into two distinct periods: the good years while Jehoiada influenced the king, and the bad years after Jehoiada’s death; this is a characteristic feature in the Chronicler’s accounts of the individual kings. This division is already implicit in the wording of 2 Kgs 12:3 , that Joash did the right “for all his days while Jehoiada instructed him” (though for a contrary reading, see Williamson, 319; Gray, 583). The Chronicler omits the mention in Kings that Joash did not remove the high places (2 Kgs 12:4 ); since this would be out of character with his presentation of the early years of Joash, the matter of the high places is delayed to 24:18.
D. (:3) Wives and Children
“And Jehoiada took two wives for him,
and he became the father of sons and daughters.”
Raymond Dillard: Jehoiada’s securing wives for Joash addressed the dynastic threat that had brought him to the throne. Through the subsequent children the Davidic dynasty would begin to rebuild and broaden after the murders of members of the royal house during the reigns of Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah. V 3 is unique to Chronicles: beyond the concern with rebuilding the Davidic household, for the Chronicler numerous progeny were a token of divine blessing (1 Chr 14:2–7; 25:4–5; 26:4–5; 2 Chr 11:18–23; 13:21). The additional material the Chronicler inserted regarding the wives and children of Joash was apparently drawn from the source he cites (24:27).
I. (:4-16) THE GOOD YEARS OF KING JOASH –
MENTORSHIP OF JEHOIADA AND RESTORATION OF THE TEMPLE
A. (:4-7) Initial Failed Attempt to Fund the Restoration of the Temple
Raymond Dillard: Royal initiative was crucial to the building of the temple at the time of David and Solomon; here royal initiative leads to its restoration. However, royal initiative and precedent would also have led the priests and Levites to expect the royal treasury to bear much of the expense. The king instead seeks to finance the restoration work by reallocating some of the temple income used for the maintenance of the cultic staff to the building project. The priests respond with inaction.
1. (:4) Decision to Restore the Temple
“Now it came about after this that Joash decided
to restore the house of the LORD.”
Frederick Mabie: Joash’s repair and restoration of the temple are similar to the later efforts of Hezekiah (29:3-36) and Josiah (34:8-13). Such refurbishing provided a tangible way for the ruler to show his devotion to God. As such, emphasis is placed on the involvement of many sectors of the community (cf. vv. 9-12) as well as the skill and carefulness of those involved in the process of restoration (cf. v. 13).
2. (:5) Delinquent Response of the Levites to Collection Instructions
a. Collection Instructions
“And he gathered the priests and Levites, and said to them,
‘Go out to the cities of Judah, and collect money from all Israel to repair the house of your God annually,
and you shall do the matter quickly.’”
b. Delinquent Response of the Levites
“But the Levites did not act quickly.”
Iain Duguid: Details in 2 Kings 11:6–8 suggest that Jehoiada regarded his first priority to be the support of priests, with little attention given to the building (a question of budget allocations!).
August Konkel: There is no indication when Joash first tried to refurbish the temple. After the first failure to raise funds, Joash summoned Jehoiada a second tie, in his twenty-third year (2 Kings 12:6). Failure to collect the temple tax might have been the result of the king’s intervention in what was regarded as a priestly jurisdiction. Over time disagreement had arisen between crown and priesthood over funding the restoration work; priests looked to the royal treasury, but the king wanted to reallocate temple money. The king censured Jehoiada for his failure to act and proposed a plan of action that put the offering on a more voluntary basis.
3. (:6-7) Desperate Need for Funds to Restore the Temple
a. (:6) Calling Jehoiada on the Carpet
“So the king summoned Jehoiada the chief priest and said to him, ‘Why have you not required the Levites to bring in from Judah and from Jerusalem the levy fixed by Moses the servant of the LORD on the congregation of Israel for the tent of the testimony?’”
b. (:7) Calling Out the Desecration of the Sanctuary
“For the sons of the wicked Athaliah had broken into the house of God and even used the holy things of the house of the LORD for the Baals.”
Andrew Hill: The favorable report concerning Joash’s reign centers on the dual themes of the renovation of Yahweh’s temple and the figure of Jehoiada as the ideal high priest. The temple of Solomon has apparently fallen into a general state of disrepair. In addition, Athaliah not only usurped the Davidic throne but also seized the temple and implemented Baal worship there. The desecration of the sanctuary included structural damage as well (24:7). The reference to the “sons of . . . Athaliah” (24:7) is puzzling, since she had them murdered. Perhaps the expression is used figuratively to denote her followers or adherents, or perhaps her sons conspired in the desecration of the temple before their deaths.
J.A. Thompson: Some commentators suggest that the term “son” is flexible in meaning and could refer to “adherents” (NEB). Yet others, by a very slight emendation, read “her builders” (boneyha), suggesting that the temple materials as well as its “dedicated things” had been used in building temples for the Baals.
B. (:8-14) Revised Successful Plan to Collect Funds for the Restoration Project
1. (:8-11) Generous Donations Deposited Daily at the Temple
Raymond Dillard: Donations to the first temple were not brought in the form of coins—that would be an anachronism. Judging from the analogies with Mesopotamian temples prior to the use of coinage, offerings of precious metals would have come in the form of ingots, ores, and amalgams of various grades. Some temple personnel served primarily as goldsmiths or assayers; these would refine, hammer, and cast the offerings into the desired shapes for temple paraphernalia, make ingots for storage in the temple treasury, and make repairs to damaged implements. Foundries were commonly associated with Mesopotamian temples, and one can infer that the temple in Jerusalem probably had a similar operation.
a. (:8) Establishing a Chest at the Temple Gate for Donations
“So the king commanded, and they made a chest and set it outside by the gate of the house of the LORD.”
b. (:9) Entreating the People to Bring Donations Per Law of Moses
“And they made a proclamation in Judah and Jerusalem to bring to the LORD the levy fixed by Moses the servant of God on Israel in the wilderness.”
c. (:10) Enthusiastic Response of All the Officers and All the People
“And all the officers and all the people rejoiced and brought in their levies and dropped them into the chest until they had finished.”
d. (:11) Emptying of Chest on Regular Basis as Donations Abounded
“And it came about whenever the chest was brought in to the king’s officer by the Levites, and when they saw that there was much money, then the king’s scribe and the chief priest’s officer would come, empty the chest, take it, and return it to its place. Thus they did daily and collected much money.”
Andrew Hill: Joash brokers a compromise with the priests to the effect that the people will bring their taxes and offerings to the temple rather than contribute to Levitical “collection agents” (2 Kings 12:6-8; 2 Chron. 24:8-11). In addition, laborers are contracted to do the repair work instead of using the Levites as construction workers. . .
A chest or collection box is stationed near the altar (in the courtyard) outside the gate of the temple building (2 Kings 12:9; 2 Chron. 24:8). Joint oversight of the funds deposited in the chest is provided by a royal and priestly official (2 Kings 12:10; 2 Chron. 24:11).
Workers, including carpenters, masons, and smiths, are hired and paid directly from the funds deposited in the temple collection box (2 Kings 12:10-12; 2 Chron. 24:12-13). Presumably these funds include the three types of revenues specified by Joash: the annual tax, personal vows, and freewill offerings (2 Kings 12:4).
Raymond Dillard: The Chronicler frequently draws parallels between the tabernacle and the first temple. The joyous, unfettered giving of the wilderness community (Exod 36:4–7) was repeated in the history of the first temple (1 Chr 29:1–9; 2 Chr 24:9–10); for the Chronicler this spirit of joyous giving was of homiletical relevance to encourage a similar attitude toward the second temple in his own day.
2. (:12-14) Governing Diligence in Administering the Funds and Overseeing the Work
a. (:12) Compensating Skilled Workers
“And the king and Jehoiada gave it to those who did the work of the service of the house of the LORD; and they hired masons and carpenters to restore the house of the LORD, and also workers in iron and bronze to repair the house of the LORD.”
b. (:13) Completing the Restoration per Divine Specifications
“So the workmen labored, and the repair work progressed in their hands, and they restored the house of God according to its specifications, and strengthened it.”
J.A. Thompson: The “original design” came from God (1 Chr 28:11-19), and the reformers did not want to try to improve on it. The diligence of the workers further reveals the celebratory atmosphere of this revival.
c. (:14a) Committing the Excess Funds to Utensils for Temple Service
“And when they had finished, they brought the rest of the money before the king and Jehoiada; and it was made into utensils for the house of the LORD, utensils for the service and the burnt offering, and pans and utensils of gold and silver.”
J.A. Thompson: The workers’ integrity was such that they could be relied on to use only what was needed for the job. As the Chronicler informs us, they finished their work considerably under budget. The reference to the regular burnt offerings is intended as an indication that there was full cultic faithfulness throughout Jehoiada’s lifetime.
d. (:14b) Continually Offering Burnt Offerings
“And they offered burnt offerings in the house of the LORD continually all the days of Jehoiada.”
Raymond Dillard: “As long as Jehoiada lived” (v 14). These words form an inclusio with 24:2. They reflect the regular practice of the Chronicler to use chronological notes to divide the accounts of individual reigns into good and bad periods; the transition to the record of Joash’s apostasy begins with the similar notice at the beginning of v 15.
C. (:15-16) Death and Burial of Jehoiada
1. (:15) Death
“Now when Jehoiada reached a ripe old age he died; he was one hundred and thirty years old at his death.”
August Konkel: The priest Jehoiada lived to the extraordinary age of 130 years (2 Chron 24:15), longer than great figures such as Moses. Living to such and advanced age was a sign of blessing.
2. (:16) Burial
“And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done well in Israel and to God and His house.”
Raymond Dillard: By virtue of his regency over his young ward Joash, Jehoiada was somewhat a priest/king, and he is given a royal burial among the graves of the kings, a sharp contrast to the burial of Joash (24:25). The role played by Jehoiada may reflect also the growing influence of the high priest in the absence of a monarchy during the post-exilic period.
Frederick Mabie: Jehoiada’s death notice (vv. 15-16) reads more like a Judean regnal summary than a death notice for a priest. This final summary of his life reflects a number of subtle editorial strokes that work to portray Jehoiada’s actions in a kinglike manner, including
– the phraseology that Jehoiada “showed his strength” (cf. 23:1),
– his leading in national covenant ratification (23:1, 3),
– his oversight of reforms to ensure adherence to Mosaic and Davidic instructions (cf. 23:18-19),
– his selection of wives for Joash (24:3), and
– his burial in the royal cemetery (v. 16, an honor not given to Joash himself, cf. v. 25).
Thus, it can be argued that Jehoiada to an extent functioned as a surrogate king in a manner similar to Samuel during the reign of Saul (note that both were king-makers with extensive national authority). Obviously, Joash’s young age at his enthronement would have necessitated a significant degree of assistance with his royal responsibilities at the beginning of his reign.
II. (:17-24) THE BAD YEARS OF KING JOASH –
POOR COUNSEL, APOSTASY AND REJECTION OF PROPHETIC WARNINGS
Andrew Hill: The Chronicler informs us that the king is led astray by the counsel of the officials of Judah (24:17). The expression “paid homage” (hwh; lit., “do obeisance”) may suggest that the leaders of the clans of Judah exploit a character weakness in Joash through flattery. The elders prefer to return to the policies of Joash’s father, Ahaziah, for unspecified reasons. Perhaps the “old ways” are now custom in Judah, or such religious policy is advantageous socially and economically. For the Chronicler, however, to abandon the temple is to abandon God (24:18).
August Konkel: Materialism is exceedingly deceptive and pervasive. Upon the passing of the priest, it immediately began to assert its ugly influence in Judah. The influence of Athaliah had been subdued, but its impulses were ever present, and at the first opportunity the king was pressured to make changes. The wealth of the Phoenicians and their trading empire was constantly alluring. One of the ways to realize those benefits more readily was with the revival of their religion. The impression given is that the change effected by Jehoiada was more a coercive force than a real change of life and values. Another generation had arisen in the decades following the coronation of Joash, and the dramatic transformation of those events had faded. The king himself succumbed to the demands for change. . .
Power, greed and materialism invariably breed violent conflict. The king, incapacitated by the wounds of war, became particularly vulnerable to conspiracy. The mothers of the conspirators who killed Joash were both foreign women, perhaps a reminder of the danger of turning to foreign worship. Materialism and greed leave a terrible legacy. Jehoiada, the faithful priest, was buried as a king; Joash, the privileged king, was buried in disgrace.
A. (:17-19) Apostasy of Joash
“But after the death of Jehoiada”
Key indicator that divides the two periods of the reign of Joash. Jehoiada had been the godly influence. With him out of the picture, Joash quickly became spiritually compromised.
1. (:17b) Wayward Counsel Followed
“the officials of Judah came and bowed down to the king,
and the king listened to them.”
2. (:18a) Worship of True God Abandoned if Favor of Idolatry
“And they abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols;”
J.A. Thompson: It is evident that despite Jehoiada’s restraining influence, the Asherah poles and idols continued to be served. A common story in Israel and elsewhere is that despite religious reforms directed from the top by a leader or leaders, popular forms of religion linger on and break out again when restraints are lifted.
3. (:18b) Wrath of God Unleashed
“so wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their guilt.”
4. (:19) Warnings from the Prophets Ignored
“Yet He sent prophets to them to bring them back to the LORD;
though they testified against them, they would not listen.”
Frederick Mabie: Despite his anger at the rapid abandonment of covenantal faithfulness by Joash and the Judeans, God emphatically demonstrated his love, patience, and grace for his covenantal people by repeatedly sending prophets to proclaim his word to urge the people to return to God in obedience. The summary of God’s (unsuccessful) efforts to bring his people back to himself is reminiscent of the closing verses of Chronicles reflecting on the tragedy of the exile:
“The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.” (2Ch 36:15-18)
Raymond Dillard: Though the Chronicler demonstrates the coherence of action and effect by showing judgment for wrongdoing, sanctions are ordinarily imposed only after a prophet offers hope of escape through repentance and forgiveness (Williamson, 323). Many prophets confronted Joash (24:19, 27), but the writer elaborates only on the death of Zechariah (24:20–22).
B. (:20-22) Attack against Zechariah
1. (:20) Divine Indictment Delivered by Zechariah = Son of the Priest
“Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, ‘Thus God has said, Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He has also forsaken you.’”
Iain Duguid: The tragedy is expressed: Joash “did not remember” (from Hb. zakar), a play on the name “Zechar-iah” (“The Lord has remembered”); to “remember” involves acting on the basis of what is called to memory. A further wordplay is evident as Zechariah called for the Lord to “avenge” (Hb. darash, “seek” [cf. ESV mg.]); since the king did not “seek” God, the Lord was to “seek” the king, leading to judgment.
2. (:21) Death of the Prophet by Stoning in Temple Courtyard
“So they conspired against him and at the command of the king
they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the LORD.”
Raymond Dillard: There is great irony in the passage: Zechariah, the son of the priest who had saved the throne for Joash, is murdered in the place where Joash was protected during the coup; Jehoiada, who had preserved the sanctity of the temple from bloodshed, installed the king who would murder his own son there. Joash falls to treason (24:25), just as Athaliah (23:13) had before him.
J.A. Thompson: Matthew 23:35 and Luke 11:51 may refer to this incident. If that is the case, then Jesus was referring to all the martyrs from the beginning of the canon (Abel, in Genesis) to its end (Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, in Chronicles). This probably indicates that Chronicles stood last in the Hebrew canon in Jesus’ time, as it does today. A difficulty is that Matthew’s version mentions “Zechariah the son of Berachiah,” that is, not the Zechariah of this text but the author of the Book of Zechariah. But as far as we know, the son of Berachiah was not martyred in the temple courtyard, and it seems apparent that Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, is intended.
Frederick Mabie: Amazingly, the king and the people plot the murder of Zechariah, and the prophet is stoned to death (the punishment for a false prophet; cf. Dt 13:5; 18:20). What is especially striking about this low moment in the history of the Judean monarchy is that Zechariah had been like a brother to Joash, as Jehoiada (Zechariah’s father) had been a father figure to Joash from his days as an infant rescued from the murderous rampage of Athaliah (2Ch 22:10-12).
3. (:22) Dastardly Betrayal by Joash
a. Betrayal of Kindness Shown by Jehoiada
“Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which his father Jehoiada had shown him, but he murdered his son.”
J.A. Thompson: This was a dastardly act. Joash had “forgotten” the kindness shown to him by Jehoiada. In short, he had no sense of loyalty or gratitude. The verb used for “killed” (harag) is used also of the execution of the idolatrous priest Mattan in 23:17 and of the death of Joash in v. 25.
b. Dying Appeal of Zechariah to Divine Vengeance
“And as he died he said, ‘May the LORD see and avenge!’”
C. (:23-24) Aramean Invasion Constituted Divine Judgment
1. (:23) Devastating Defeat
“Now it came about at the turn of the year that the army of the Arameans came up against him; and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, destroyed all the officials of the people from among the people, and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus.”
2. (:24a) Divinely Enabled
“Indeed the army of the Arameans came with a small number of men; yet the LORD delivered a very great army into their hands, because they had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers.”
3. (:24b) Defined as Disciplinary
“Thus they executed judgment on Joash.”
Raymond Dillard: The “turn of the year” was in the spring, at the beginning of the dry season and a period of reduced agricultural activity after harvest; it was “the time when kings go off to war” (1 Chr 20:1; 2 Sam 11:1; 1 Kgs 20:26). The coup of Jehu had left both the Northern and Southern kingdoms in a condition of great military weakness; Hazael was quick to exploit the advantage, reducing the army of Jehoahaz in the North to no more than needed for a good parade (2 Kgs 13:7), and taking tribute from Joash in the South.
In the holy war ideology of Israel, Yahweh fought for his people so that a small force could overcome a larger (13:3–18; 14:8–15; 1 Kgs 20:27; 1 Sam 14:6; Judg 7; cf. 25:7–8); here the reverse happened: due to the infidelity of Joash, with Yahweh’s aid a smaller enemy force overturned the army of Judah.
(:25-27) EPILOGUE – CLOSING SUMMARY OF REIGN OF JOASH
A. (:25-26) Conspiracy to Murder Joash
1. (:25) Murder and Burial of Joash
“And when they had departed from him (for they left him very sick), his own servants conspired against him because of the blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest, and murdered him on his bed. So he died,”
“and they buried him in the city of David,
but they did not bury him in the tombs of the kings.”
Raymond Dillard: The Chronicler commonly uses burial notices to exhibit a theme important to him: righteous kings are buried in honor, while the ignominy of the unrighteous extends even to their interment (16:14; 21:19–20; 26:23; 28:27). In this context the refusal to bury the unrighteous Joash in the tombs of the kings contrasts sharply to the burial of the righteous priest Jehoiada there (24:16).
2. (:26) Conspirators
“Now these are those who conspired against him:
Zabad the son of Shimeath the Ammonitess,
and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith the Moabitess.”
Andrew Hill: According to the Chronicler, Joash’s officials conspire against him in retaliation for the murder of Zechariah (24:25b). Interestingly, the writer is careful to note that prominent among the conspirators are Zabad and Jehozabad – both sons of non-Hebrew women (24:26). It is as if the Chronicler seeks to emphasize the irony of the situation since these “mixed-blood” Israelites have a greater sense of justice than the king and citizens of Judah.
B. (:27a) Record of Deeds of Joash
“As to his sons and the many oracles against him and the rebuilding of the house of God, behold, they are written in the treatise of the Book of the Kings.”
C. (:27b) Succession
“Then Amaziah his son became king in his place.”