The Word Made Fresh
1Joash was seven years old when his reign began, and he ruled forty years in Jerusalem. His mother was Zibiah of Beersheba. 2Joash did what was right in the LORD’s eyes as long as the priest Jehoiada lived. 3Jehoiada found two wives for him and he became the father of a number of sons and daughters.
4After some time passed Joash decided to restore the LORD’s temple. 5He summoned the priests and Levites and said, “Go to all the cities of Judah and ask for donations from the people to use in repairing your God’s temple year in and year out. Do it quickly.”
But the Levites didn’t act right away, 6so the king sent for Jehoiada the chief priest and asked him, “Why haven’t you ordered the Levites to bring in from Judah and Jerusalem the revenue Moses, the LORD’s servant, had required from the people of Israel to use for the covenant tent?” 7(Wicked Athaliah’s children had broken into the temple of God and used the sacred things from the LORD’s house to serve Baal.)
8So, at the king’s decree they made a chest and placed it outside the gate of the LORD’s temple. 9A proclamation was announced throughout Judah and Jerusalem to gather the tax for the LORD that Moses, God’s servant, had levied on Israel in the wilderness. 10The people and their leaders then rejoiced to give the tax and put the money in the chest. 11The Levites would bring the money to the king’s officials whenever the chest was full. The king’s secretary and the chief priest’s officials would empty it and then return it to its place. They did this day after day and the collections were abundant.
12The king and the priest Jehoiada would give it to those in charge of the work being done on the temple. They hired carpenters and masons to repair the LORD’s house, and artisans who were skilled in working with iron and bronze; and they repaired the temple of the LORD. 13Their work progressed until the LORD’s house was restored and made stronger. 14When they completed that work they returned the rest of the money to the king and the priest Jehoiada, and it was then used to make the tools needed for the burnt offerings, including dippers and containers of gold and silver. All the days of the priest Jehoiada they offered burnt offerings at the LORD’s temple.
15But Jehoiada grew old. He was one hundred thirty when he died. 16They buried him in the city of David among the tombs of the kings because he had done good things in Israel for God and the temple.
17After Jehoiada’s death the leaders of Judah came to the king and bowed before him, and the king listened to them. 18They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and began to worship their sacred totem poles and idols. Because of this God’s wrath afflicted Judah and Jerusalem, 19but the prophets sent to bring them back to the LORD were ignored.
20Then the spirit of God overcame Zechariah son of Jehoiada. He stood before the people and said, “God wants to know why you have ignored the LORD’s commandments. That is why you have not been prosperous. You have turned away from the LORD, so the LORD has turned away from you.”
21But there was a conspiracy against him, and at the king’s command they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the LORD’s temple. 22King Joash had forgotten the support that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had given him, and had his son put to death. As Zechariah was dying, he called out, “May the LORD see this and avenge me!”
23Towards the year’s end the Aramean army attacked Joash. They invaded Judah and Jerusalem and killed all the officials of the people and sent all the spoils they gathered to the king of Damascus. 24They attacked with only a small force, but the LORD delivered Judah’s huge army into their hands because they had turned away from the LORD, the God of their ancestors. So, Aram carried out justice against Joash.
25They left, leaving Joash badly wounded. His attendants plotted against him because of the murder of the son of the priest Jehoiada, and they put him to death lying in his bed. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. 26The conspirators were Zabad son of Shimeath the Ammonite and Jehozabad son of Shimrith the Moabite. 17The records of his sons, the many pronouncements against him and the details of the repairs done to the temple of God are contained in the Commentary on the Book of the Kings.
His son Amaziah succeeded him.
1-3: Under the tutelage of Jehoiada, Joash begins his reign which will last for 40 years, the same as David and Solomon. Jehoiada even chooses his wives.
4-7: Joash decides to repair the temple. He assembles the priests and Levites and tells them to go through the country and collect money for the project. He may still have been pretty young at the time; in any case, since they don’t get the order from Jehoiada, they don’t act. Joash finally catches on and summons Jehoiada and asks him why nothing is happening. We learn here the extent of Athaliah’s influence in turning the country to Baal worship, her children having confiscated some of the sacred accoutrements from the temple.
8-14: Joash summons Jehoiada, and in partnership with him things begin to happen. The king’s initial plan is modified. Instead of sending the priests into the countryside to take up collections they decide to put an offering chest in the temple and let the people bring in their offerings. Who do you think came up with this idea – Joash or Jehoida? The money comes in and the king and the high priest together oversee the repairs.
15-16: Jehoida dies at the age of 130 and is buried with honors. Judah is about to enter a new era.
17-19: This cursory note tells us a lot. Without Jehoiada, Joash gives in to popular demands and allows the people to return to practicing their version of religion. As a result, God’s wrath falls upon Judah, although the form it takes is not specified here. In 2 Kings 12:17-18, however, we read that King Hazael of Aram invaded Judah and threatened Jerusalem and Joash gave him much of the wealth of the temple to buy him off.
20-22: The priest Jehoiada’s son Zechariah publicly denounces the way the king has allowed things to be. Joash has him stoned to death. His last words are, “May the LORD see and avenge!” When prophets say stuff like that, you’d better watch out.
23-24: Now the chronicler reports the invasion of the Arameans, but without mentioning Hazael, and we now have additional details about the invasion: The Aramean army is small, but the army of Judah has come under such poor leadership that they cannot withstand them and are thus defeated; and many of the officials of the government are put to death by the Arameans.
25-27: Some further details emerge that are not reported in 2 Kings. We learn here that Joash has been severely wounded during the Aramean invasion. He is assassinated in his bed, and the reason his servants kill him is specifically because of the murder of Jehoiada’s son Zechariah. The warnings of a prophet of God are not to be taken lightly.
For much of his reign, Joash was subordinate to the chief priest Jehoiada. When Jehoiada died he abandoned the worship of the God of Israel and supported the pagan worship so many of the people had adopted under Athalia’s influence. Evil seems to always have a toehold in every human population, and it is always a struggle to remain faithful to God. Power corrupts.