The Word Made Fresh
1In Jehoash’s twenty-third year as king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu began his seventeen-year reign over Israel in Samaria. 2In the LORD’s judgment he was a bad king who followed the evil practices of Jeroboam son of Nebat in leading Israel into sin. 3The LORD was angry with Israel and let them be defeated over and over by King Hazael of Aram and by King Ben-Hadad son of Hazael. 4But then Jehoahaz turned to the LORD and the LORD listened to his plea because of the way the king of Aram made Israel suffer. 5So, the LORD sent them a leader who helped them escape the oppression of the Arameans, and Israel lived in peace as before.
6However, they still committed the same sins perpetrated by Jeroboam and the kings who followed him. Their sacred idol in Samaria remained in place, 7and Jehoahaz was left with only fifty cavalry soldiers, ten chariots and ten thousand foot-soldiers because the king of Aram had beaten them so badly.
8An account of the reign of Jehoahaz, his deeds and his strength, is recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel. 9Jehoahaz died and was joined with his ancestors. He was buried in Samaria. His son Jehoash was king after him.
10Jehoash began his reign in the thirty-seventh year of king Jehoash of Judah. He ruled from Samaria for sixteen years. 11He, too, did evil in the LORD’s eyes, committing all the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat. 12The reign of Jehoash, all his deeds and his war with King Amaziah of Judah are recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel. 13He died and was joined with his ancestors and was buried with the kings of Israel in Samaria. He was succeeded by Jeroboam.
14Elisha had become ill with a fatal disease, and king Jehoash of Israel went to visit him, crying out, “My father, my father, see the chariots and horsemen of Israel!” 15Elisha told him, “Get your bow and arrows,” and he did. 16Then he said, “Draw the bow,” and he drew it. Then Elisha placed his hand on the king’s hands 17and said, “Open the window toward the east, and Jehoash opened it. Elisha said, “Shoot!” and he did. Elisha said, “That is the LORD’s arrow of victory over Aram. You shall fight the Arameans in Aphek and overcome them.”
18Then Elisha said, “Take the remaining arrows and strike the floor with them.” Jehoash struck the floor three times. 19The man of God was angry with him then. He said, “You should have struck the floor five or six times. Then you would defeat Aram until they were wiped out completely. Now you will only win over them three times.” 20Then Elisha died and was buried.
In those days marauding bands of Moabites would make forays into Israel in the spring. 21One of those bands was seen while a man was being buried, and they hastily threw his body into Elisha’s grave, and as soon as his body touched Elisha’s bones he sprang to life and stood on his own two feet.
22King Hazael of Aram pressed Israel all during the reign of king Jehoahaz, 23but the LORD was merciful and compassionate toward them because of the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and would not let them be destroyed or cast aside through all these years since.
24When Hazael died his son Ben-Hadad succeeded him as king of Aram. 25King Jehoash, son of King Jehoahaz of Israel, recaptured from Ben-Hadad towns that had been taken from his father. He defeated Ben-Hadad three times and recovered all the towns for Israel.
1-9: We catch up now on what has been happening in Israel during the long 40-year reign of King Jehoash of Judah. Jehu’s son Jehoahaz came to the throne when he died and ruled in Samaria for 17 years. He did not undertake the reforms in Israel that Joash had taken in Judah, and as a result Israel was constant prey to their more powerful neighbors to the north and east, the Arameans under King Hazael (whom Elisha had anointed) and his successor Ben-Hadad. After suffering a number of defeats that apparently resulted in part of the population being carried off as captives, Jehoahaz asks the LORD for help, and is answered. An unnamed “savior” comes to their rescue and the people are returned to their homes. But Israel is left with a skeleton army and an almost non-existent cavalry. And, of course, Jehoahaz does not eliminate the rival cult in Samaria, and for this he is judged to be a wicked king. His son Jehoash succeeds him. There are several cases in which the names of the kings of Israel and Judah are the same or almost so, and it can get rather confusing.
10-13: So, we have two kings with the same name. Jehoash of Israel reigns for 16 years. We are told nothing of his reign in chapter 13 other than that he was an evil man who didn’t eliminate the rival cult established by Jeroboam, and that he made war against King Amaziah of Judah (see chapter 14).
14-19: Elisha is taken ill, and King Jehoash of Samaria goes to visit him. He greets Elisha with the exclamation Elisha uttered when he saw Elijah taken up by the whirlwind. Perhaps he is thinking that he will be able to get a double portion of Elisha’s spirit as Elisha had of Elijah’s. Elisha seems willing to put him to the test and tells him to shoot an arrow out the window. Joash does, and Elisha tells him that the arrow represents a victory over the Arameans. Next, Joash is to take the arrows left in his quiver and strike the ground with them. He strikes the ground three times, and Elisha is angry, saying that he will only defeat the Arameans three times, and that will not be enough to put an end to them.
20-21: One last Elisha miracle story. They bury him, but then we read that a marauding band of Moabites is spotted in the area and another corpse is thrown in haste into the same grave. Upon coming into contact with Elisha’s bones (it doesn’t say how much time has passed since Elisha’s death) this second corpse is resuscitated and comes back to life and stands up. We don’t know what happened to him after that.
22-23: There is war between Jehoash of Israel and Hazael of Aram all during the reign of Jehoash, but God doesn’t allow Hazael to be completely successful. God still loves Israel because of the permanent covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
24-25: Hazael dies and is succeeded by Ben-Hadad, and Jehoash recovers some of the captured territory.
All the sins of Israel are traced back to Jeroboam who instituted a rival cult so the people of the ten northern tribes wouldn’t go to Jerusalem to worship and make sacrifices. Every king after Jeroboam continued to uphold the same apostasy. Even though God is angry with them, God still loves them and tries to woo them back by sending prophets like Elijah and Elisha. Verse 23 is one of the most comforting verses in scripture. God may punish us by letting us suffer the consequences of our sinfulness, but God never stops loving us. God never stopped loving Israel, and finally sent the Son to atone for them and all of us.