(1) The 9th king of Judah; son of Ahaziah and Zibiah, a woman of Beersheba (2 Kings 11-12; 2 Chronicles 22:10-24:27). Jehoash was 7 years old at his accession, and reigned 40 years. His accession may be placed in 852 BC. Some include in the years of his reign the 6 years of Athaliah's usurpation.
I. Ninth King of Judah
1. His Early Preservation:
When, on Athaliah's usurpation of the throne, she massacred the royal princes, Jehoash was saved from her unnatural fury by the action of his aunt Jehosheba, the wife of Jehoiada, the high priest (2 Kings 11:1,2; 2 Chronicles 22:10,11). During 6 years he was concealed in the house of Jehoiada, which adjoined the temple; hence, is said to have been "hid in the house of Yahweh"--a perfectly legitimate use of the phrase according to the idiom of the time.
2. The Counter-Revolution:
During these formative years of Jehoash's early life, he was under the moral and spiritual influence of Jehoiada--a man of lofty character and devout spirit. At the end of 6 years, a counter-revolution was planned by Jehoiada, and was successfully carried out on a Sabbath, at one of the great festivals. The accounts of this revolution in Kings and Chronicles supplement each other, but though the Levitical interest of the Chronicler is apparent in the details to which he gives prominence, the narratives do not necessarily collide, as has often been represented. The event was prepared for by the young king being privately exhibited to the 5 captains of the "executioners" (the Revised Version (British and American) "Carites") and "runners" (2 Kings 11:4; 2 Chronicles 23:1). These entered into covenant with Jehoiada, and, by his direction, summoned the Levites from Judah (2 Chronicles 23:2), and made the necessary arrangements for guarding the palace and the person of the king. In these dispositions both the royal body-guard and the Levites seem to have had their parts. Jehoash next appears standing on a platform in front of the temple, the law of the testimony in his hand and the crown upon his head. Amid acclamations, he is anointed king. Athaliah, rushing on the scene with cries of "treason" (see ATHALIAH), is driven forth and slain. A new covenant is made between Yahweh and the king and people, and, at the conclusion of the ceremony, a great procession is formed, and the king is conducted with honor to the royal house (2 Kings 11:19; 2 Chronicles 23:20). Thus auspiciously did the new reign begin.
3. Repair of the Temple:
Grown to manhood (compare the age of his son Amaziah, 2 Kings 14:25), Jehoash married two wives, and by them had sons and daughters (2 Chronicles 24:3). His great concern at this period, however, was the repair of the temple--the "house of Yahweh"--which in the reign of Athaliah had been broken up in many places, plundered, and allowed to become dilapidated (2 Kings 12:5,12; 2 Chronicles 24:7). To meet the expense of its restoration, the king gave orders that all moneys coming into the temple, whether dues or voluntary offerings, should be appropriated for this purpose (2 Kings 12:4), and from the account in Chronicles would seem to have contemplated a revival of the half-shekel tax appointed by Moses for the construction of the tabernacle (2 Chronicles 24:5,6; compare Exodus 30:11-16; 38:25). To enforce this impost would have involved a new census, and the memory of the judgments which attended David's former attempt of this kind may well have had a deterrent effect on Jehoiada and the priesthood. "The Levites hastened it not," it is declared (2 Chronicles 24:5).
4. A New Expedient:
Time passed, and in the 23rd year of the king's reign (his 30th year), it was found that the breaches of the house had still not been repaired. A new plan was adopted. It was arranged that a chest with a hole bored in its lid should be set up on the right side of the altar in the temple-court, under the care of two persons, one the king's scribe, the other an officer of the high priest, and that the people should be invited to bring voluntarily their half-shekel tax or other offerings, and put it in this box (2 Kings 12:9; 2 Chronicles 24:8,9). Gifts from worshippers who did not visit the altar were received by priests at the gate, and brought to the box. The expedient proved brilliantly successful. The people cheerfully responded, large sums were contributed, the money was honestly expended, and the temple was thoroughly renovated. There remained even a surplus, with which gold and silver vessels were made, or replaced, for the use of the temple. Jehoiada's long and useful life seems to have closed soon after.
5. The King's Declension:
With the death of this good man, it soon became evident that the strongest pillar of the state was removed. It is recorded that "Jehoash did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him" (2 Kings 12:2), but after Jehoiada had been honorably interred in the sepulchers of the kings (2 Chronicles 24:16), a sad declension became manifest. The princes of Judah came to Jehoash and expressed their wish for greater freedom in worship than had been permitted them by the aged priest. With weak complaisance, the king "hearkened unto them" (2 Chronicles 24:17). Soon idols and Asherahs began to be set up in Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah. Unnamed prophets raised their protests in vain. The high priest Zechariah, a worthy son of Jehoiada, testified in his place that as the nation had forsaken Yahweh, he also would forsake it, and that disaster would follow (2 Chronicles 24:20). Wrathful at the rebuke, the king gave orders that Zechariah should be stoned with stones in the temple-court (2 Chronicles 24:21). This was done, and the act of sacrilege, murder, and ingratitude was perpetrated to which Jesus seems to refer in Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51 ("son of Barachiah" in the former passage is probably an early copyist's gloss through confusion with the prophet Zechariah).
6. Calamities and Assassination:
The high priest's dying words, "Yahweh look upon it, and require it," soon found an answer. Within a year of Zechariah's death, the armies of Hazael, the Syrian king, were ravaging and laying waste Judah. The city of Gath fell, and a battle, the place of which is not given, placed Jerusalem at the mercy of the foe (2 Kings 12:17; 2 Chronicles 24:23,24). To save the capital from the indignity of foreign occupation, Jehoash, then in dire sickness, collected all the hallowed things of the temple, and all the gold of the palace, and sent them to Hazael (2 Kings 12:17,18). This failure of his policy, in both church and state, excited such popular feeling against Jehoash, that a conspiracy was formed to assassinate him. His physical sufferings won for him no sympathy, and two of his own officers slew him, while asleep, in the fortress of Millo, where he was paying a visit (2 Kings 12:20). He was buried in the city of David, but not in the royal sepulchers, as Jehoiada had been (2 Chronicles 24:25).
II. Twelveth King of Israel
1. Accession and Reign:
Jehoash reigned for 16 years. His accession may be placed in 813 BC. There were almost simultaneous changes in the sovereignties of Judah and of Assyria--Amazih succeeding to the throne of Judah in the 2nd year of Jehoash, and Ramman-nirari III coming to the throne of Assyria in 811 BC--which had important effects on the history of Israel in this reign.
2. Elisha and Jehoash:
During the three previous reigns, for half a century, Elisha had been the prophet of Yahweh to Israel. He was now aged and on his deathbed. Hearing of his illness, the young king came to Dothan, where the prophet was, and had a touching interview with him. His affectionate exclamation, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof" (2 Kings 13:14; compare 2:12), casts a pleasing light upon his character. On his lips the words had another meaning than they bore when used by Elish himself at Elijah's translation. Then they referred to the "appearance" which parted Elisha from his master; now they referred to the great service rendered by the prophet to the kingdom. Not only had Elisha repeatedly saved the armies of Israel from the ambushes prepared for them by the Syrians (2 Kings 6:8-23), but he had given assurance of the relief of the capital when it was at its worst extremity (2 Kings 6:24). To Jehoash, Elisha's presence was indeed in place of chariots and horse. The truth was anew demonstrated by the promise which the dying prophet now made to him. Directing Jehoash in the symbolical action of the shooting of certain arrows, he predicted three victories over the Syrians--the first at Aphek, now Fik, on the East of the Lake of Galilee--and more would have been granted, had the faith of the king risen to the opportunity then afforded him (2 Kings 6:15-19).
3. Assyria and Damascus:
An interesting light is thrown by the annals of Assyria on the circumstances which may have made these victories of Jehoash possible. Ramman-nirari III, who succeeded to the throne in 811 BC, made an expedition against Damascus, Edom and Philistia, in his account of which he says:
"I shut up the king (of Syria) in his chief city, Damascus. .... He clasped my feet, and gave himself up. .... His countless wealth and goods I seized in Damascus." With the Syrian power thus broken during the remainder of this ruler's reign of 27 years, it may be understood how Jehoash should be able to recover, as it is stated he did, the cities which Ben-hadad had taken from his father Jehoahaz (2 Kings 13:25). Schrader and others see in this Assyrian ruler the "saviour" of Israel alluded to in 2 Kings 13:5; more usually the reference is taken to be to Jehoash himself, and to Jeroboam II (compare 2 Kings 14:27).
4. War With Judah:
The epitome of Jehoash's reign is very brief, but the favorable impression formed of him from the acts of Elisha is strengthened by another gained from the history of Amaziah of Judah (2 Kings 14:8-16; 2 Chronicles 25:17-24). For the purpose of a southern campaign Amaziah had hired a large contingent of troops from Samaria. Being sent back unemployed, these mercenaries committed ravages on their way home, for which, apparently, no redress was given. On the first challenge of the king of Judah, Jehoash magnanimously refused the call to arms, but on Amaziah persisting, the peace established nearly 80 years before by Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:44) was broken at the battle of Beth-shemesh, in which Amaziah was defeated and captured. Jerusalem opened its gates to the victor, and was despoiled of all its treasure, both of palace and temple. A portion of the wall was broken down, and hostages for future behavior were taken to Samaria (2 Kings 14:13,14).
Jehoash did not long survive his crowning victory, but left a resuscitated state, and laid the foundation for a subsequent rule which raised Israel to the zenith of its power. Josephus gives Jehoash a high character for godliness, but, like each of his predecessors, he followed in the footsteps of Jeroboam I in permitting, if not encouraging, the worship of the golden calves. Hence, his conduct is pronounced "evil" by the historian (2 Kings 13:11). He was succeeded by his son Jeroboam II.
W. Shaw Caldecott
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